Lu Over the Wall
- Episodes : 12
- Genre : Adventure, Music, Fantasy
- Airing Date : May 11th 2018
- Studios : Science SARU
Lu Over the Wall Introduction and Story (Spoilers)
We have heard many tales of mermaids throughout history, terrifying stories from ancient times about monsters that would drag you to your death beneath the waves. We’ve seen stories of mermaids on the big screen where a young lady leaves the sea and has adventures in New York with Tom Hanks and John Candy. We’ve even listened to their songs in classically animated tales with singing crabs. The story of Lu Over the Wall is about a middle school boy named Kai who lives in a small costal village after moving there from Tokyo. He is a talented composer of electronic music, uploading the files to the internet, but in general he is depressed. His friends, the red-headed, rambunctious, twin-tailed, lead singer Yuho and the guitar playing, worrying about his future and his hair line Kunio, invite him to join their rock band. The group decides to practice in an abandoned amphitheater at an abandoned theme park on an island just off the coast. The band, named Sirens, fills the park with sound which attracts a small, curious, little creature with water-like hair and a love of music named Lu. The music has the power to turn her flipper tail into legs and those legs love to dance. She dances and sings like there is no tomorrow. Her dancing and singing is infectious, causing anyone in her vicinity to begin dancing. The kids and the little mermaid become friends, Lu wanting only to be liked and have fun.
A village legend tells of how mermaids eat people and bring disaster. It’s a legend that is taken very seriously by some like Kai’s grandfather who believed his own mother was a victim of the mermaids. The feelings of suspicion begin to get the better of the town when a child goes missing; it turns their feelings against the merfolk. A curse handed down from ancient times is activated and the town and its people are put in great danger. We are quickly given the question: will the town get over its prejudice and will the merfolk forgive them and help them save the town? We won’t completely spoil it for you; you’ll have to watch.
What we like about Lu Over the Wall
We liked a lot of things about Lu Over the Wall. The art style doesn’t rely on CG or attempts at being truly lifelike; the frames look and feel hand drawn. The hand-drawn style is similar to that of the Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars. You tend to get a warmer, softer feeling in the drawings. The light looks warm as it filters through the clouds. We see a lot of contrast in this film between shadow and light. A large monolithic island stands near the harbor of the fishing village putting most of the town in near perpetual shadow creating some really dramatic scenes. The musical score was creative, too. You often get a lot of idolish pop in modern anime, and we’re not saying that’s bad (we love you, Muse) but it is refreshing to have a rock soundtrack with strong electric chords and audio with a bit of that reverb. Kai’s lyrics also feel like you’d find them on the XM channel Lithium, the home of alternative and grunge, as they have an angsty feel to them. The story also has a great pace. You don’t feel like the story is slowing down or has a long pause in the action. We’re not saying the action is a breakneck pace either, it moves at a steady pace that always keeps you interested and the plot moving.
Should you head to the theaters on the May 11th to see Lu Over the Wall? We would say yes. The film is delightful. You sit down and can be swept away by the fun and innocence in this reimagining of the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale. The story is a great update with a few cultural twists as well. promising anime that delivers on bringing suspenseful scenes by channeling them through the character’s expressions. The plot of the anime is pretty straight-forward. There is an issue with this though. Will the writers be able to come up with a more interesting arc to put in the plot? If you observe carefully, Kakegurui has a story flow similar to those that you see in shounen manga/anime, where an underdog mysterious character comes in and destroys anyone that stands in his/her way. So perhaps we’ll see a tournament arc in the next season hopefully?
1. The Director
Masaaki Yuasa has a track record of some great works such as Ping Pong: The Animation, Space Dandy, Adventure Time, and Devilman Crybaby. You can also see some of his influences in the story, like the storyline of interspecies understanding stemming from Disney’s Fox and the Hound or the artistic style of the 1968s Yellow Submarine. He is also dedicated to the productions on a personal level having founded the animation studio Science Saru.
2.Unique Character Design
We openly admit that the moe style is currently the most popular style of anime coming out of Japan and probably will be for some time. This character design is most certainly not moe. Kai, Yuho, Kunio, and Lu do not possess the common moe-ish traits. You won’t see overly large eyes, big boobs, frilly clothing and girls with garters. The connection you make with the characters is more about the role in the story, the dialogue, and their connection to the other characters.
The story is obviously directed at a younger audience, garnering a PG rating in U.S. theaters. You don’t get one adolescent joke in the entire film. You will hear no comments about Yuho’s flat chest or judgements on beauty at all. You don’t even get a remark when Yuho goes up a ladder in a skirt and is followed by one of the boys. Lu isn’t like that other little mermaid; Lu is the most un-Disney-like princess in the sea. She is short, has water for hair, and is generally goofy looking but not one comment is made about her appearance. The remarks about appearance, or lack thereof, was just one of the things that make this film special.
1. Not Shoujo, Not Shounen
The story doesn’t really fit into most of the modern anime genre. Lu Over the Wall, if anything, is a simple story promoting kindness and understanding. The setting may be fantastical in a fishing village were mermaids exist, but it’s not so fantastical that you couldn’t see yourself driving through that village and not thinking it was special in any way. You don’t have any overarching plot with the fate of the world in the balance. You doesn’t have any great quests either. The story of Lu Over the Wall is really about the Merfolk and the villagers and neighbors, understanding each other.
2. No Romance, No Epic Plot, No Giant Robots
The story isn’t an epic romance. You don’t get the star-crossed lover theme, either. Lu and Kai’s relationship doesn’t develop that way. They’re friends and simply like each other. You don’t get a confession by one of the side characters or the hint of romance between Tuho and Kunio. The fear that everyone is going to die isn’t there in the mood. Yes, the village is put in danger by a curse but it is in no way a genocidal comet crashing into a mountainside like in Your Name. We mention there aren’t any giant robots because some of us just always want robots because giant robots are cool, not because they’d fit into the plot at all.
On the surface, Lu Over the Wall has the simplistic style and plot of a picture book. The simple character designs of the humans and the whimsical design of the merfolk could easily be translated to the still page and continue to evoke smiles. We know the surface of this book is also like the surface of the water, hiding the greater life underneath. The general message of kindness and understanding was pervasive throughout the entire story. Kai felt alone and out of place after moving from Tokyo and Tuho and Kunio chose to include him in their fun. Lu wanted to learn about the surface world and in spite of the language barrier, she and Kai were able to connect through music. The people of the village are fearful of the merfolk because they have been known to bite people and drag them down into the water -- all because they didn’t understand the merfolk were trying to save them. We also have to come back to the number three reason: the innocence of it all. We live in a world where we judge people on their looks and with the exception of one statement about Kunio potentially going bald, no other comments are made about appearances. You don’t hear the villagers say we fear the merfolk because they look different, it’s because they don’t understand the merfolk. The two peoples overcome the misunderstanding through acts of kindness, and don’t we need more of that in this world? Make time to get to know Lu and her friends this week.