Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, this show, this sweet little mini series, this golden show! I am always looking for good cartoons, in a weird way the shorter the better (short and sweet right). However, most short cartoons were canceled (for example: Clone High or Mission Hill). This is not the case for OTGW, which plays like a movie, 10 episodes multiplied by each episode's 11 minute run time is only 110 minutes (or an hour 50 minutes). Yet what I imagined would simply be some odd Adventure Time show about two brothers in the woods turned out to be so much more.
The animation is sweet, dark and fluid. The backgrounds are very well done, especially because they are of nature. This really helps keep a deep and real feeling throughout the show, as these two simple cartoons are traveling through a dark and dementedly palpable world. Speaking of the world may I mention that it has two great things going for it (and these two things blend well together). One: it takes aspects form the 1700's, 1800's and early 1900's and Two: this fantasy world is American. I'm not some horn tooting nephew of Uncle Sam, but I am proud to see any show or animation really take advantage of 350 odd some years of "American" (Europeans in America) history, music, culture and atmosphere. This can add to the creep factor, but also grows on you. This show feels like it was made by an American Hayao Miyazaki; in the same way HM uses his Japanese culture to heighten the world. The magic and old time world in this show and Hayao's worlds are so familiar in a completely different way. Plus the two have old women with giant heads, spirits, magic, nature, human like frogs, adventure, strong females, and young protagonists in a fairytale environment. The world actually feels like the "Frog and Toad" books I read as a child.
Don't let me forget that this show is also a musical in a sense. As many cartoons do now (I'm looking at you Adventure Time) the characters sing in every episode, accompanied by fantastic music (that matches the various American eras), and I quite enjoy the opening song as well.
The voice acting is superb with Elijah Wood, an actual child (which I appreciate in animation) by the name of Collin Dean, and Melanie Lynesky taking center stage. Yet Christopher Lloyd and many others provide there talents too. The characters themselves are very real and multidimensional. Wirt is one of the best heroes in a long time, with a fantastic arc and a very unsure demeanor, Greg (his brother) is an adorable, optimistic and surprisingly bright boy who lives in his own cute little world, but not so cute that he doesn't also live in the real world, and Beatrice is a sassy, brave and loyal friend. I also like the clean character designs, I mean they're simple but also fluid, fresh and different.
I don't want to spoil any part of the story, but I will say all your questions are answered and everything wraps up beautifully. The episodes are unique but they are all touched upon again, connect, and add to this singular plot. Sometimes you will start somewhere unexpectedly new (or rather without precise context) and this can be disconcerting, yet it does make sense. And more importantly the episode will start somewhere and stay somewhere, 11 minutes never flew by so quickly on a river ferry or a grammar school (the music also contributes to the speed of the episodes). Nod of course to writers: Tom Herpich, Amalia Levari, and Patrick McHale. Also the director Nate Cash (this show also has great directing)
Over the Garden Wall is so great, and I'm writing this right after finishing the show, that's how great it is. It is dark and bizarre at times (not too dark for most children), but it is also a true adventure with lots of light and hope inside bleakness. And it is the perfect blend of real and surreal that fantasy deserves, there's plenty wacko s@#$ but the story and motives aren't wacko. By episode 2 I was definitely hooked, and by episode 6 I was pretty sure it was going to get my 10/10. I had some doubts with episode 8, yet I was won over during the episode and of course with the show's end. An end that perfectly wraps up everything in a neat bow. Episode 9's "surprise" is also so exciting and sets up the tenth to be a sort of finale, but again this is really just a movie, and its so short that there is no fear that one wouldn't finish it and consequently love it.
And that's its beauty and why it is a ten starred masterpiece. Kids movies are very rarely so, long, weird, and have such a unique flow (and all the other great stuff from earlier), children's shows will have extra stories and characters than they often need (and again not have all that stuff from earlier). This is like the "True Detective" of children's animated television shows. And the world, oh my gosh the world, I know I already talked about this but whatever. I've just never seen anything like this, and when you wrap all these great elements together you get a perfect show. I recommend everyone see this show and I will be going back over the Garden Wall very soon, to enjoy it even more...
p.s I forgot to mention it's funny too
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