Blu-ray Review: Lu Over the Wall



Musaaki Yuasa is an animation director who is full of surprises. His Mind Game was a fever dream of love and violence that was adults only. Night Is Short, Walk On Girl was a drunken late night stroll through Kyoto that could make a fun date movie. But then out comes Lu Over the Wall about a teenage band and a mermaid that’s perfectly cool for teenagers and even younger kids. He’s not an animator who has decided to use his name as a brand for a viewer expectation. Lu Over the Wall retells the story of The Little Mermaid in a way that won’t get it confused by Disney or Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo.

Kai Ashimoto is stuck in a seaside town with his father and grandfather. There’s not much going on in the town since tourism is down and so is fishing. He feels like he’s going to be trapped. He seems to wish that he was with his mother after the divorce. He’s pretty introverted and doesn’t like to tell people what he’s thinking in His only escape is secretly recording songs and releasing them on the internet. After years as a solo artist, he’s asked to join a band that practices on an island. Their music attracts a curious fan named Lu. She starts dancing and singing along as they play. Kai finds himself getting out of his emotional shell when he’s around her. What he doesn’t realize at first that Lu is a mermaid. Turns out his family and the rest of the town are not fans of the merfolk since it means bad things on many levels including the local fishing industry. Kai is stuck between his number one fan and a town that he doesn’t quite love.

Lu Over the Wall is fun film and reflects it the animation style which goes from a realistic town to inflated memories. The film also deals with the over commercialism of thing when after Lu’s true nature is exposed. The town goes overboard with a theme park and stage show to bring attention and quick tourist cash. This is Little Mermaid meets a marketing department. There’s a fine moment when Lu realizes she’s being used by all the wrong people. But even with such adult messages, the film is still fine for kids who enjoy mermaid tales and dream of starting a rock band. What’s amazing about Musaaski Yuasa is that you know his movies are good, you just have to do a quick check to figure out what age the movie is good for.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the beauty in the background paintings of the seaside town. The audio is 5.1 DTS-MA HD in Japanese, English and French. The subtitles are in English and French.

DVD with the movie and all the bonus features.

Audio Commentary With Filmmakers is in Japanese, but English subtitles appear on the screen so you can follow along. There is talk about how they were marking Lu at the same time as Night Is Short.

Interview With Director Masaaki Yuasa (28:14) is in Japanese with English subtitles. Yuasa talks about how he approached Lu differently from his previous projects so more people could enjoy it.

Trailers And TV Spots (4:41) has the fear that mermaid are attracted to music.

Shout! Factory and GKIDS present Lu Over the Wall. Directed by Masaaki Yuasa. Screenplay by: Reiko Yoshida & Masaaki Yuasa. Starring: Hoshino Gen, Kana Hanazawa, Hiroshi Kamiya, Ryuji Akiyama, Kazuya Nakai, Yuhko Kaida. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 92 minutes. Released: February 5, 2019.

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