Lu Over the Wall

In this family-friendly anime from Japanese writer-director Masaaki Yuasa, a dispirited teen whose parents have divorced moves with his father from Tokyo to a small fishing village, where he finds an unlikely confidante in a sweet, mermaid-like creature, or ningyo, named Lu. The boy discovers that Lu is one of several ningyo living in the ocean beyond the town’s walls, and that music makes these merfolk grow legs and dance, inspiring humans to do the same. The townspeople fear the creatures, so the hero, a fish out of water himself, attempts to unite the two worlds in musical harmony. The loose and dizzy animation style feels crude at first but ultimately registers as fluid and surreal, culminating in a psychedelic sequence near the end. Unfortunately Yuasa and cowriter Reiko Yoshida stay at surface level with the narrative, missing an opportunity to delve into the impact of divorce.