Hi everyone. It’s Mokugyo, an anime and manga loving writer from MANGA.TOKYO. While I love watching movies which are based on manga or novels, I also love watching original anime movies. This is because they are often more creative and challenging. Although many anime movies are screening in Japan, original anime movies are still rare. Directors who make original anime movies must have proven track records.
Lu Over the Wall (Yoake Tsugeru Lu no Uta) was directed by one such director, Masaaki Yuasa, who is renowned among anime fans in Japan for his own unique style. This movie is his latest work and I’m going to talk about it in this article.
What is Lu Over the Wall?
Lu Over the Wall is an original anime directed by Masaaki Yuasa that premiered in May 2017. Anime fans probably know his name as he directed a lot of great anime before.
TV Anime Ping Pong PV
For instance, the TV anime series Ping Pong, which was aired in 2014. The original manga created by Taiyo Matsumoto is unique and the anime adapted well that uniqueness. Its characters designs are quite different from other anime. The scenes of ping pong tournaments are superb, full of speed and action.
The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl 90 second Trailer
The anime movie The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl (Yoru wa Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome) premiered in April 2017. It’s based on a popular novel set in Kyoto. It depicts a story of a strange night from the different perspectives of a boy and a girl. Yuasa is particularly good at depicting unique movements in his characters. It’s satisfying to watch the deformed characters move around wildly. The Night is Short, Walk on Girl is an anime with character movements that take advantage of the whole screen.
Lu Over the Wall is an anime that demonstrates Yuasa’s achievements and possibilities. Its deformed and strange characters freely move around all over the big screen. It’s an adolescent story about an introverted boy growing up while encouraged by a little mermaid whom he unexpectedly encounters.
Lu Over the Wall and Ponyo: Are they similar?
Lu Over the Wall is set in a fictional, quiet fishing town. The story of a human boy who meets a little mermaid in a town beside the sea reminds us of Ponyo directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Some viewers actually pointed out the similarity between the two. However, Lu Over the Wall has different charms.
One of the differences is that the protagonist, Kai, is a middle school student whose only interest is uploading his music to the Internet. The introverted, gloomy Kai transforms thanks to Lu, who reacts well to his music. It’s a coming-of-age story of an adolescent boy, which is quite different from Ponyo.
Natural disaster occurs in both stories. However, the reactions of Ponyo and Lu are quite different. It might be interesting to watch this movie to intentionally find the differences from Ponyo.
Moves Around! A Wild Animation
Lu Over the Wall Trailer
The characters in Lu Over the Wall move around quite a lot. Although Ponyo is also quite lively, Lu’s movements are different from Ponyo’s. For instance, in its trailer video which I embedded above, watch the way how Lu moves in the water. She can change water like a cube and move around, which is a really interesting depiction.
Lu’s father, who looks like a shark, appears on screen wearing a suit. His powerful action scene in the latter half of the anime is amazing. I can’t say any further because I don’t want to spoil your viewing. At this moment, I can only say it’s the must-watch scene of the movie.
Other than that, there are many scenes which are only possible in this kind of animation, such as that of a particular character steering a boat at tremendous speed, the unique movement of Kai walking down the stairs in front of his house, and the transforming process of Kai’s face in the water. They demonstrate the real talent of Yuasa and this anime movie is full of such pleasurable surprises.
Music Plays a Key Role
Ponyo was a movie full of impressive music. Music is one of the themes in Lu Over the Wall and plays more vital role in the movie. The music Kai creates attracts both band members and Lu herself. The once introverted and gloomy Kai has changed because of the power of music. The singing scene of Kai in the latter half of the movie has significant meaning to the story.
There are many dance scenes in the movie. These scenes reminded me of good-old Disney movies. Yuasa believes that to dance is to move one’s legs, therefore the dances in the film feature a lot of leg movement. These dance scenes make the movie much more joyful to watch.
Between Dreams and Reality
One of the themes of the movie is the analogy between dreams and reality. One characters wants to leave the forlorn fishing town and play an active role in the big city, whereas another left the big city and came back to the fishing town to work. The story talks about getting away from the reality of living in a small fishing town with a decreasing population, and moving out to a world full of dreams. Some consider mermaids a destructive existence, whereas others think of them as good. There are various analogies between dreams and reality which create a different charm from that of Ponyo.
Dogs hardly appear in the trailer, but the movie has many canine characters and they play an active role. It’s said that it was an idea of the scriptwriter to incorporate dogs into the story. Although Yuasa himself is more of a cat person, he always wanted to depict a place full of dogs, like an animal shelter. Many dogs are involved in the story as a result. Yuasa said that he was wondering if guide dogs, which work for humans, are happy, and what happiness means for dogs. These considerations apply to Lu, a mermaid who cooperates with humans. A character like Lu, who is pure and has strong powers, becomes more attractive because she is part of a different existence from that of humans.
The World of Lu
Lu Over the Wall holds is unique among Japanese anime. It’s a coming-of-age story, a love story between humans and mermaids, and a story of struggle between dreams and reality. It’s a little less well-known as it has only just premiered overseas, and won’t be arriving in other countries until later this year. I believe Lu Over the Wall deserves to be watched and enjoyed by more anime fans.
All reviews for Lu Over the Wall
Quick Review: Lu Over the Wall – A Movie Full of Anime’s Pleasurable Surprises