- Genre : Supernatural, adventure
- Episodes: 1 movie
- Studio: Science Saru
Kai has recently moved from Tokyo to his parent’s childhood town of Hinashi. A sleepy little coastal village, entirely dedicated to the fishing industry which sustains it and trying desperately to reinvent itself as a tourist destination. It doesn’t exactly offer the excitement and stimulation of big town life for a teenage boy, but Kai soon discovers that this town has a secret all its own.
Did you know that I actually use to write movie synopses for the various festivals that come to my town? Most of them are big now and can afford to pay for professionals or people who can actually write. Pffth I say! See – I know words.
Lu is another movie I saw at a film festival this year. I have in fact seen a number of Masaaki Yuasa’s past works, namely Mind Game, Genius Party and the fantastic Ping Pong (I also found out while writing this that he directed single episodes of both Space Dandy and Adventure Time, which really impressed me for unclear reasons). Although the stories tend to be hit or miss, the visuals are always interesting and Lu was no exception. Yuasa was also in attendance and present the movie to us. This meant that the room was packed and the ambiance was cheerful and excited. It probably coloured my viewing, so take that for what it’s worth.
First let me say that the visuals were indeed striking. The designs were not exactly intricate but quite unique and worked perfectly within the context of the story. I actually loved how the characters would slip into silhouettes during certain scenes to symbolically represent their detachment from the events currently happening. However, what was really impressive was the animation itself. The movements have an old school feel. Real old school – 1950’s type, golden age of Disney, animation. People move with exaggerated bounciness to their limbs, turning every little gesture into an event, and everyone has their own particular gait and style. You can easily tell one character from another by the way they move alone, and not just the main cast. This is always impressive to me!
Before the showing, Mr. Yuasa explained that unlike his previous works, this was a completely original movie and he tried to make something which was more suitable for the whole family. In this regard, he certainly succeeded. Lu Over the Wall is clearly a children’s movie and although there are plenty of enjoyable moments don’t expect too much wit or depth here. You can see a certain innocence in the character designs, especially Lu herself and as far as plot goes, everything is straight forward, the morals are spelled out and problems are resolved neatly and completely. I would describe it as E.T. meets Tsuritama but possibly for an even younger audience.
Music also plays a big part of the movie and is integral to the plot. Happily soundtrack is fantastic. I really loved the music throughout, and had to stop myself from bopping in my seat and annoying everyone around me. OK…I didn’t quite manage stop myself and people around me were indeed annoyed.
People’s take away from movies are always colored by their own experiences, of course. I lost my dad when I was pretty young but he was really a fantastic dad. The very best I’ve ever had! This movie shows us a series of apparently single dads (not a mom in sight) who truly and deeply care for their children and this warmed my shriveled little heart to no end. Most prominently is Lu’s dad, a monstrous looking shark man who turns out to courteous, extremely affable, well-liked by everyone in town and completely single-mindedly devoted to the safety and happiness of his daughter. Even as a mute character, you can easily understand how much he cares for Lu. Then there is Kai’s dad, who is introduced early on as somewhat beleaguered, and we are given the impression of a man who’s lost his dreams. We see only furtive glances of him but we are told that he has separated from Kai’s mom and the story seems to imply that it was not his choice, he has stopped playing music and he now works at the fishing processing plant and lives with his own father. A disillusions looser.
But then the movie turns the sad sack trope on its head when he simply and calmly explains to his son that he chose to come back to his hometown because he loved it, not because he was out of options, and that although he and his mother had gone their separate ways “he is still rooting for her”. I don’t remember that last time I thought to myself, well that’s a healthy divorce. Once we actually get to know Kai’s dad, we meet a gentle, optimistic man who truly wants his son to have every possible opportunity in life. In other words, a real winner.
Like I said, this story is for the most part rather surface level but very sweet. If you’re looking for a movie to watch with a young child that won’t give them nightmares – this one’s a pretty good choice. It’s also a great example of something different in sound design and animation if technical aspects of anime are interesting to you. Random thingy: during the Q&A with the director, he told us that he chose “doggymaids” rather than “kittymaids” because they were cuter. Apparently in Japanese it’s the “maid” par that gets added instead of the “mer” part. I didn’t get to ask if he was married but I’m going to
cyberstalk research the question.
Favorite character: Lu no Papa and Kai no Papa
What this anime taught me: Never trust sushi
When life gives you lemons; ask for tequila and salt
Suggested drink: Fish Bowl
- Every time someone mentions Tokyo – take a sip
- Every time someone mentions Kai’s mom – take a sip
- Every time someone gets turned into a mercreature – take a sip
- Every time Ebina gets mad – take a sip
- Every time someone eats fish/seafood – get a snack
- Every time Kai’s grandpa is making an umbrella – take a sip
- Every time Lu says Kai – take a sip
- Every time someone bursts into dance – bounce
- Every time Kai is mixing – take a sip
- Every time someone plays music – clap