"Turning Enemies into Friends"
What You Need To Know:
Though too long, LU OVER THE WALL is cute and charming. It has many quirky, funny touches typical of Japanese animated movies. For example, Lu turns all the dogs trapped in an animal shelter into merfolk dogs that happily swim around in the ocean. LU OVER THE WALL is full of jeopardy. It has a strong moral worldview about making friends of enemies, having courage, overcoming one’s fears, and helping others in danger. However, there are some Romantic fantasy elements about magical mermaids and following your dreams in LU OVER THE WALL.
LU OVER THE WALL is a dubbed English version of a Japanese animated movie where a 14-year-old boy in a small fishing town joins a two-member band and befriends a singing mermaid, who causes trouble for him and his town due to a misunderstanding. Though a bit too long, LU OVER THE WALL is cute and charming, with the typical quirky Japanese humor viewers encounter in many Japanese animated movies, but it has some Romantic fantasy elements about magical mermaids, and a Buddhist priest makes a couple brief appearances to mete out general, but harmless moral dictums.
As the movie opens, young Kai loves to create music on his computer but spends his days sulking after he and his family moved to the small fishing town of Hinashi, where his grandfather lives and rents out boats. Kai’s mother abandoned the family and moved back to Tokyo to pursue a career.
Kai’s classmates, a girl named Yuoh and a boy named Kunio, invite him to play keyboard in their band. Reluctantly, Kai agrees to try it out. Kai’s friends like to practice on an abandoned island where Yuoh’s grandfather tried to build an amusement park. Yuoh’s wealthy father runs the family’s fish packing company.
The band’s first practice session using Kai’s music attracts an unexpected guest, a young mermaid, Lu, whose fins turn to feet when she hears catchy beats. Lu’s singing causes humans to compulsively dance, whether they want to or not!
Kai forms a brotherly friendship with Lu. Lu just wants to be friends with humans and do away with the traditional antagonism between merfolk and the humans in Hinashi. However, Yuoh gets jealous and runs away. Her father and the townspeople falsely think Lu ate Yuoh. They imprison Lu, but their rash actions put the whole town in grave danger.
LU OVER THE WALL contains lots of quirky, funny touches that are typical of many Japanese animated movies, especially movies with fantasy elements like this one.
For example, Lu’s green seaweed hair has little fish swimming around in it. Also, her father, who looks like a large shark with a moustache, dons a fancy suit and walks into town when he learns his daughter is trying to befriend the townspeople. Since direct sunlight causes the merfolk to catch fire, he carries a large umbrella. Another very cute bit is when Lu discovers that all the stray dogs in town are locked in an animal shelter. Using her magical powers, Lu engulfs the shelter with ocean water. As the dogs swim around, she bites each dog, and they turn into merfolk with dog faces and bodies. From then on, the merfolk dogs periodically appear and participate in some of the movie’s strange but funny shenanigans.
LU OVER THE WALL has lots of jeopardy when the townspeople falsely accuse Lu of eating Kai’s friend. The townspeople are afraid of change and adventure. They’re also suspicious and afraid of the merfolk, who they think always bring disaster, including Kai’s grandfather, who keeps admonishing Kai not to trust the merfolk. In fact, all the townspeople admonish their children not to dream big and never to leave the small town for the big city to pursue their dreams. Their attitude causes them to feel happy and relieved whenever someone departs for the big city, fails and returns. At one point, Kai learns that his own father had an interest in music, but his interest was stifled by Kai’s grandfather.
Thus, there are several messages in LU OVER THE WALL.
First, the movie tells viewers to abandon their fears and anxieties, relax and purse their dreams, goals and gifts. In the movie, Kai is afraid of swimming, but with Lu’s help, he gets over his fears and learns how. The movie also encourages viewers to turn enemies into friends and to have a joyful attitude. After all, happy and joyful people are more likely to do good, while unhappy and angry people are more likely to do bad. Thus, for example, Yuoh’s father is not very happy, but her grandfather exudes happiness and joy in almost every scene he appears. Consequently, it’s Yuoh’s father, who’s one of the leaders in the town who wants to harm and imprison the mermaid, when Yuoh disappears. Also, when Kai abandons his sullen attitude and becomes part of the band, he starts to find some happiness and joy and become a better person.
There are some Romantic fantasy elements to the movie’s messages. The town is also under a curse because of its mistreatment of the merfolk, but the curse is broken eventually. In addition, the mermaid’s singing appears to have some magical properties because it makes people dance whether they want to or not. The mermaid can also magically manipulate water. However, for the most part, the movie portrays a positive, morally uplifting review. Also, in a couple scenes, the local Buddhist priest appears and offers a couple general moral dictums and encouragement, but it’s relatively harmless. Mostly, it’s Kai, Lu, and their budding friendship that’s the catalyst for positive change in LU OVER THE WALL. They help save the town and diffuse the antagonism between the humans and the merfolk.
MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for younger children.