Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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Lu Over the Wall
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.
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.
Rated PG for some peril and thematic elements
• Audio Commentary with Director Masaaki Yuasa
• TV Spots
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.
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
Runtime: 113 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 5th, 2019
Recommendation: Fun Watch