Mermaids are the new vampires, so Masaaki Yuasa’s bouncy anime Lu Over the Wall incorporates vampiric elements into its mermaid mythos, because why not? Indeed, “because why not?” seems to be the guiding impulse behind this colorful trifle about a teenager named Kai (the voice of Michael Sinterniklaas), a talented musician who’s been sulking ever since his family moved from Tokyo to a small fishing village. He reluctantly agrees to help classmates Yuho (Stephanie Sheh) and Kunio (Brandon Engman) with their band, creating music that attracts a little mermaid named Lu (Christine Marie Cabanos). Calling the mermaid little isn’t just an easy Disney allusion; she’s a wee thing, which combined with her limited vocabulary, wide smile, and desire to spread love and friendship makes her come across like a precocious five-year-old, or perhaps the Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype taken to its logical conclusion. Her relationship with Kai remains largely platonic, though Lu’s own music makes humans dance uncontrollably, causing all hell to break loose in Kai’s historically mermaid-phobic village. Oh, and direct sunlight is fatal to Lu and her bite can turn humans and dogs into mer-creatures, so again, she’s a skosh vampiric. Even by anime standards, Lu Over the Wall is best enjoyed by disconnecting your logic circuits and just enjoying the pretty colors and sounds.
Lu Over the Wall
Directed by Masaaki Yuasa
Opens May 11, Angelika Film Center and Landmark 57 West
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 9, 2018