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Asian cinema: Japanese films

Lu Over the Wall film review: Japanese anime mermaid tale may sound cute, but is vicious in places

Lu Over the Wall is about inclusiveness and references the work of Hayao Miyazaki – especially in terms of creature design – but presents a much more brutal and less fabled view of life and is probably not intended for children

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2018, 12:37pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2018, 12:37pm

3/5 stars

Much more conventional than his far-out Night Is Short, Walk on Girl (also opening in Hong Kong this week), Masaaki Yuasa’s Lu Over the Wall still shows a highly individual approach to anime.

The theme of inclusiveness is pertinent, if not original, and the story is nothing out of the ordinary. But the animation techniques are imaginative and expressive, and enjoyable in their own right.

Yuasa’s tale focuses on Japanese mermaids – called ningyo – which are more monster-like than their Western (and Chinese) counterparts. In it, a young high-school rock band reside in a fishing village where mermaids are feared, as they are rumoured to eat people.

Practising on a secluded island, the musicians meet a mermaid, Lu (voiced by Kanon Tani). She goes on to provide the voice for the band, as well as some magical special effects for their shows. The band are a hit in the town, but jealousy results when the mermaid gets all the attention. Calamity ensues.

Night Is Short, Walk on Girl film review: cool, crazy Japanese anime a postmodern trip into the future

The film references the work of Hayao Miyazaki, especially in terms of creature design, but it presents a much more brutal and less fabled view of life – the storyline may sound cute, but it is vicious in places. The animation, which is accomplished, ranges from a typical 2D anime look to some bright, semi-abstract experiments with colour that occasionally veer into graphic design.

Although it features mermaids, Lu Over the Wall is probably not intended for young children.

Lu Over the Wall opens on March 22

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