Lu Over the Wall - Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray / Media Reviews' started by Michael Scott, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    Lu Over the Wall


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    Movie: :3.5stars:
    Video: :4.5stars:
    Audio: :4stars:
    Extras: :2.5stars:
    Final Score: :4stars:



    [​IMG] Movie

    Masaaki Yuasa is one of those eclectic directors that really doesn’t seem to have much of a connection with the straight forward tales of Studio Ghibli. I mean, he’s the same director who gave us the bizarre Mind Game, The Night is Short and Walk on Girl, and is well known for using mind bending psychadelic story lines complete with odd visuals and PG-13 to R ratings for his films (if they’re ever rated in the U.S.). When I think of Studio Ghilbli I think of fantastic fantasy adventures, straight forward romances, and deep dramas that spell out a heart breaking tale. It’s just how the studio is structured, and when I saw Masaaki Yuasa’s name attached to a Studio Ghibli trailer I HAD to check this out. It’s like watching David Fincher or Terrance Malick attempt a martial arts film. You can’t wrap your mind around the concept, but you HAVE to see it in action.

    Unlike Terrence Malick directing a martial arts film, Lu Over the Wall is not a mindbending, warped, or twisted film. In fact, it’s a fairly straight forward film (about as straight forward of a movie as you’re going to get from the eclectic director), but it DOES have a really unique feature to it. The movie animated entirely in Flash.

    Kai (Shota Shimoda) is a reclusive young man who has a fascination with making collaborative music online. He’s a bit “odd” to most people, but part of that is due to the fact that his parent’s marriage has just dissolved and his father has taken him back to the little fishing village where his grandfather lives. It’s a bit of an adjustment but Kai is doing fine until a local girl named Yuho (Minako Kotobuki) makes the connection with his online music creator persona and the boy in her own town and invites him to jam with her and her friend Kunio (Soma Saito). Kai’s not wildly interested in making new friends, but he IS drawn into their little band when he finds out that they practice on Merman island, a forbidden island that his grandfather has warned him about in regards to mermen and mermaids who are drawn to music and eat the innocent.
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    Kai’s not the superstitious kind, but he figures that a taboo island is the best place to fuel his creativity, so the boy sets out along with his new found friends Kunio and Yuho to jam away. Lo and behold, it looks like his grandfather is partially right. An honest to goodness Mermaid named Lu pops out of the water after being attracted to Kai’s music. Lu is the exact opposite of what the superstitions painted her out to be, as she’s not a man eating monster. Instead she’s a precocious little female with a desire to sing and dance to fresh music, somehow magically compelling everyone around her to sing and dance with them (whether they want to or not). Naturally the trio try to keep Lu’s existence a secret, but something as fantastical as a talking mermaid who wants to dance is something that’s not going to be kept secret for very long. Soon the island is swarming with tourists bringing in cash, but this poor little fishing village is NOT prepared to handle the influx of non natives, a fate that’s almost worse than being eaten by a mermaid to them!

    Lu Over the Wall is about as straight forward of a film that you will ever get from Yuasa, and it really is a fun movie. The bizarre director tones it down a LOT for this film, and I liken it to Lady in the Water for M. Night Shyamalan. Instead of his usual twists and turns with a massive killer twist at the end, it was a straight forward fantasy with Shyamalan’s typical dialog quirks. Lu Over the Wall follows in that comparative vein. Instead of being a bizarre mind bender of epic proportions, with a story line that meanders and is more akin to Pablo Picasso narratively, Lu is a sweet tale of a mermaid coming out to a superstitious town (albeit with some weird visual styles and the same quirky dialog that we know from Yuasa).

    Lu is a rather predictable tale that we’ve seen in Anime forever, but it’s actually aimed at younger generations and works in that little sub genre of Anime (most Anime is actually aimed at adults and varnishes itself with a childlike veneer to make it self sellable to that generation). The colors are bright and cheery, Lu herself is a delight to watch, and the FLCL style of animation makes it a whacky good time.




    Rating:

    Rated PG for some peril and thematic elements




    Video: :4.5stars:
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    Lu Over the Wall is a well animated film (most Studio Ghibli masters are excellent) and Shout Factory has done an exquisite job with the transfer. The Flash animated picture is resplendent with rather dark shades of blue, green and reddish mingled together into a breathtaking display in 1.78:1 AVC. The film itself shows some rather flat looking characters (in the line of FLCL), but that is really due to the Flash animation style than any encode issue. The details are crisp and clean, with perfect delineation and fantastic color saturation. There’s a few flickers of judder as the screen pans, and I noticed some crush in the backgrounds, but there was no signs of aliasing, haloing, or other digital artifacts in sight. My end conclusion, this is a fantastic looking Blu-ray disc and is another feather in Studio Ghibli and Shout Factory’s hat.







    Audio: :4stars:
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    Shout Factory presents Lu Over the Wall with a pair of DTS-HD MA tracks in both English and the original Japanese Dub. There is also a French track in 5.1 Dolby digital, and I can already hear you guys rolling your eyes. Yes, I’m going to recommend the original Japanese dub as I’m a purist and both tracks are nearly identical in sonic replication. The dialog is clean and clear as usual, and as you would expect from a film about music there is a lot of great tunes throughout that really liven up the soundstage. The bass is punchy and weighty, and the surrounds used quite extensively, whether that be with the musical numbers, or with the action scenes that film provides. It never truly EXCELS as a legendary track, but everything on the disc is done really really well.





    Extras: :2.5stars:
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    Interview with Director Masaaki Yuasa
    • Audio Commentary with Director Masaaki Yuasa
    • Trailers
    • TV Spots









    Final Score: :4stars:

    Lu Over the Wall is a fun little Studio Ghibli jaunt from one of Anime’s most eccentric directors. It’s a simple little film, and one that’s a lot of fun despite the derivative nature of the story line. The one main negative that I have to admit is that Lu is a bit on the bloated and convoluted side for a children's film, clocking in at just under 2 hours. That makes it a LITTLE harder for the average young one to stick around, especially with a few sup blots that don't really get resolved as neatly as I would have liked. Lu is adorable, and the animation style is fascinating to watch (the flat style of the Flash animation suits Masaaki Yuasa’s use of smooth and flat artistic vision that he employs with the rest of the film). The whole world actually has gotten Lu by now, with the USA seeming to be the last of the larger nations that have released the 2017 film. Shout Factory’s Blu-ray is very solid, with great video and good audio, and a moderate amount of extras to go along with the presentation. It’s a fun watch and a solid buy if you like Studio Ghibli films, and definitely earns the mark of one of the famous studio’s most unique offerings. Good Watch.



    Technical Specifications:

    Starring: Kanon Tani, Shota Shimoda, Shin'ichi Shinohara, Akira Emoto, Soma Saito, Minako Kotobuki, Soichi Abe
    Directed by: Masaaki Yuasa
    Written by: Masaaki Yuasa, Reiko Yoshida, Stephanie Sheh (English Version), Amanda Celine Miller (English Version)
    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1, AVC
    Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DD 5.1
    Subtitles: English, French
    Studio: Shout Factory
    Rated: PG
    Runtime: 113 Minutes
    Blu-ray Release Date: February 5th, 2019






    Recommendation: Fun Watch

     
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  2. Jack

    Jack Moderator
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    Cool Michael, Mermaid movies seem to be popular these days. Are we going to get an Aquaman type of movie with a Mermaid super hero do you think ?
     
  3. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    Lol. You're right .Mermaids in general are becoming quite popular. Who knows before more live action films start showing up
     
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  4. tripplej

    tripplej AV Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the review. Will check it out. :)
     
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