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The easiest way for me to describe Over the Garden Wall is that it was everything I wished Spirited Away had been for me. There's a whole lot of Miyazaki-esque elements to this, being a whimsical and zany yet also spooky and dark story with folkloric elements that are completely invented, and the sheer magic and atmosphere are fantastic. To be sure, the latter is also true for Spirited Away, but I could never connect to it beyond those elements. Here, the characters feel much stronger and the series-of-events plot structure is much neater, in part because there aren't as many quests and recurring subplots within the story that conflict with the episodic plot, and the fact that this is a true journey rather than events in and around one location makes the Wonderland-esque series of events feel more natural.
The characters themselves are very good. They start out fairly basic, but the development happens nicely, and despite a one-dimensional villain, the rest of the cast has a lot of depth, and the Big Bad is fine for the type of story they're telling.
The imagination in this series is fantastic. There are so many great fantasy and spooky ideas that just feel so right despite being 100% original. Ideas like a bell that controls someone's will, a lantern that keeps souls alive, a village of pumpkins with a sinister secret, a civilization of frogs...it's one of the most creative and enchanting things I've ever seen.
The animation is good, too, with a nicely subdued palette and some heavy vintage-Halloween influences in several of the denizens of the forest. There are dips into Fleischer territory and Ghibli vibes abound, and the whole thing is done so well that all of these things can coexist in one amazing work.
The tonal decisions are great at creating an old-timey fantasy feel, with every element of the story being from some past time period, right down to the styles of every musical sequence, which are all decidedly not-Broadway in sound, instead going for faithful recreations of older genres, including jazz, ragtime, and opera. It's great.
All that talk, and I haven't begin to trawl the depths of what makes this cartoon so nuanced and realized. Please, if you are a fan of a good story, good animation, good folklore, watch this series. It won't disappoint.
Over the Garden Wall is a peculiar sort of fantasy/fairy tale series that sits in between Adventure Time, Studio Ghibli and the works of Max Fleischer, and it is perfect viewing for a rainy Sunday afternoon. Two step-brothers wander through a world, looking for the way out, with the help of a rude bird and an indifferent frog. At ten short episodes, the entire thing can be watched in one go as a feature length movie, which is exactly what I did.
The similarities to Adventure Time, Studio Ghibli, and Max Fleischer aren’t just in its big eyed, surreal aesthetics and gorgeous animation; Over the Garden Wall shares the same dark wit, hidden behind a twee façade. This is an adventure with singing animals and child heroes, but it is more about teenage social awkwardness, deception, and cracking word play:
Despite all its references to 1930s cartoons, Over the Garden Wall has very modern sensibilities hidden in its inconsequential details, like the fact that the two brothers happen to be step-siblings, or that one of the boys has a crush on a black girl (who’s real face is never seen). It wouldn’t occur to a lot of creators to flavor purely incidental information that way, defaulting them to being "regular brothers" and a "normal girl". Taken in hand with the fact that homosexuality has only just began to feature in Western cartoons in the last few years, we've come a long way to start seeing such relationships in children’s shows be treated as unexceptional.
So if you like old timey animation, smart repartee, clever twists, bizarro characters and adorable floof, give it a watch. I would recommend this to anyone.
I enjoyed this story a lot more than I thought I would. The world of the Unknown is not annoying and "random," but genuinely captures the same sense of mystery and whimsy as a good folk tale. The characters, despite seeming stock and flat on the surface, have surprising amounts of depth and nuance. Wirt is believably flawed, Greg is just the right mixture of annoying, innocent, and cute, both grow and develop as the story goes on, and the various side characters are all used juuuust right, with none of them overstaying their welcome.
The plot, despite being largely concentrated into the second half of the story, is there, and it forms a nice capstone to the "road trip" story of the first portion. And the beautiful art and animation pays homage to every piece of American folk art since the Revolution, including a great interlude set in an old turn-of-the-century cartoon.
The thematic elements are rich and deep, but well-articulated enough for audiences young and old to understand and appreciate them. And while the scares were pretty scary, all of them serve what G. K. Chesterton once told us was the point of fairy tales; not that there are scary monsters in the world, but that if one is clever and brave that monsters can be beaten.
It does have one flaw, and I'll just say it: this "miniseries" would've worked better as a slow-burn-paced film. As a series, it can run into problems of pacing and focus, but by welding each segment together into a roughly feature-length film they are largely overcome. If you haven't already, give it a try, and think of it as a single movie rather than a miniseries.
The series is pretty decent, but it isn't amazing. There are three main characters, but I found Gregory, Wirt's little brother, a bit annoying; Beatrice and Wirt were the most interesting characters, but Wirt constantly digging his own grave was a bit annoying. Beatrice was cute enough, but she isn't there for a good chunk of the series, which is unfortunate.
The series as a whole is somewhat hit and miss; part of the fun of it is how ridiculous the situations in it can be. A number of the episodes have really great anticlimaxes, but by the end of the series it felt like there were almost too many of them - if there is a twist every time, it is predictable.
The animation is decent enough but usually isn't anything special; some of the environmental shots are really great, and I liked Beatrice's model, but I never really bonded with the animation style for the humans. Still, it is pretty fluid and is decent enough to look at.
On the whole, the ideas that the series plays with are fun and interesting, but I kind of felt like the series never really followed through on a lot of them, and the end of the series felt a bit abrupt, with the resolution between Wirt and Beatrice feeling a bit underwhelming.
I really wanted to like this series more than I actually did, so maybe that says something about it.
"Over a Garden Wall" is one of the best cartoons I ever seen. It's not just a show, it's an experience.
I won't talk too much, because my words simply can't do it a justice. But the best way do describe it it's a old Disney charm, with Gravity Falls feeling of mystery and Steven Universe humor (of character, not necessary his entire world). The story is great, characters are interesting and visuals are simply gorgeous.
If you like a fairy tale like mood, then this is definitely for you. If you're more of a action guy, give it a shoot anyway. I mostly watch things like Ben 10 or Avatar Aang, but this still loved it.
Personally I suggest watching it in one sitting (it's only 1h 40 min), after episode 4 you'll have trouble stopping.
Wirt and Greg are great protagonists first of all and the Comingof Age elements in this series are weaved in brilliantly with this story's narrative
The Comedy, horror, and bleak elements in this series blend really well to create a unique world and atmosphere.
Did I mention the other characters? Yeah the other characters are just as brilliant and seamlessly fuse with the Central Theme of the story (expect the unexpected) due to their Hidden Depths
The plots, unlike most cartoons, are creative. They are filled with Plot Twists (expect the unexpected guys), creative settings, and a unique atmosphere.
The art style and animation is stellar and well done. Some of the best animation I have ever seen in a cartoon (I would deem this better than Gravity Falls)
The mysteries are built up instead of dragged out with filler which is a HUGE plus. The show also gradually gets darker as it gets closer to the real mystery (There are some pretty horrifying stuff in this show. I'm surprised this show doesn't have a Nightmare Fuel page)
(extremely minor) Adding Real Life into this mix and making everything All Just a Dream was sorta cliche but it still got its points across with an extremely well written story and great Character Development.
Like go watch it. RIGHT NOW!
This is one of the highlights of the year for me. Over the Garden wall is one of the best cartoons I have ever seen. I think I just found a new favorite cartoon.
Seriously, this almost makes me wish for a full length series even though the miniseries format works extremely well and is one of the best things Cartoon Network has ever done in my opinion.
Where to begin on what this show gets right? Well first off, the characters, are some of the most fleshed out characters I have ever seen (remember that this is a miniseries) in a Cartoon Network show and the plot just has so many twists and turns as it builds up to its biggest mystery.
The setting, is BEAUTIFUL! One of my new favorite settings in a cartoon! The art style gives it a storybook sort of feel as if you are reading it with voice actors added in. I love it!
The only minor gripe I have is that Real Life sorta takes away some of the whimsy but nevertheless, this is one of the best cartoons I have seen in a while and I hope you watch it!
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