In Masaaki Yuasa’s energetically animated Lu Over the Wall, shy student Kai makes an interesting discovery with music.
Because of his social anxiety, Kai separates himself from other students at school as he sticks to his specific routines and his hidden fascination for Merfolk, a species of assumably killer sea creatures. That theory is debunked, however, when Kai accidentally lures a mermaid named Lu with a catchy tune.
While Kai and Lu draw (unintentional) motivations from last year’s Oscar winner The Shape of Water, Lu Over the Wall wears it’s Studio Ghibli influences on its sleeve. Ponyo is the primary reference since both films include an adorably innocent deep sea dweller with versatile emotion and limited vocabulary. As well, both films dedicate a portion of the story to saving a small town from epic flooding. But, reminders of Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro also spring to mind when Lu’s father – a disguised fish of grand stature – watches her from a distance.
Though Yuasa owes great debt of gratitude to the classic work of Hayao Miyazaki (and, to an extent, Walt Disney during those jovial dance numbers), Lu Over the Wall finds its own voice through engaging music and its resonant message of artistic self-fulfillment. It’s imaginable for young audiences to absorb, and handled with enough humour and heart for older movie goers to appreciate. The positivity is matched with a lovely soundtrack and some of the best eye-popping flash animation you’ll ever seen.
Don’t let Lu Over the Wall float away from you. It’s currently the front runner for the best animated movie of the year.
Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:
Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie