Saturday, December 17, 2016

Over the Garden Wall: An American Homage to Anime

This week I decided to take a different turn yet again and watch something that wasn't made in Japan. I watched the Cartoon Network miniseries that came out in 2013, Over the Garden Wall. I think that it's worth writing about this show because despite it not being "anime" per se, I felt that it did have heavy influences from Studio Ghibli films and was pretty unique for a children's cartoon out here in the states. Earlier this year when I attended Fanime in San Jose I did see a couple people dressed up like Wirt, the main character and if people are still dressing up as someone from a one time show that came out in 2013, then I figure there must be something good about it if it's still able to hold up three years later. (Another less important reason was that I totally forgot I had to write this post and because this series is only ten episodes that are eleven minutes long I figured 'Hey, why not?')

This show is about two brothers, Greg and Wirt, who get lost in the woods behind a graveyard on Halloween night and embark on a journey to find their way home. Wirt (voiced by Elijah Wood) is described as being a lame pushover has to take charge of his eccentric brother and elude the beast of the woods who takes lost children who have given up hope of returning home and turns them into trees. Over the Garden Wall really brought me back to the time where I used to religiously watch Cartoon Network for its shows like Flapjack, Chowder, and Regular Show, but mainly Flapjack. The art style and the subtle creepiness of all of the surrounding situations was extremely reminiscent of the series. Another less related movie Over the Garden Wall reminded me of was Spirited Away. When I was describing Over the Garden Wall to my sister I told her that it was basically America's version of Spirited Away. There was even one scene of the two boys getting off a boat with some human-like frog monsters that vividly brought back memories of the monsters in Spirited Away crossing the bridge and arriving at the inn. 

One of my favorite episodes featured a town of skeleton monsters that dressed up in pumpkins to celebrate their large pumpkin monster chieftain and the bountiful harvest for the year. It was a really weird and creepy episode and I think it serves as a stepping stone to show how strong the show gets from there onwards. While it's not an outright horror television show and is definitely geared toward a younger audience it has horror elements throughout. In the first episode a wolf monster gets caught in a water well and crushed as it keeps turning, in later episodes there are monsters like a witch in the woods who wants the boys to serve as her slaves, or the woodsman who wanders through the woods with his ax cutting down trees to create oil to keep the lantern with his daughters soul alight. There is even one scary lady who upon first sight is pretty much the American version of Yubaba, the witch from Spirited Away. I guess I would say that Over the Garden Wall is a Halloween show, creepy and scary, but not necessarily horror.

Definitely give Over the Garden Wall a chance though! The story was really enveloping despite it being such a short show and the whole thing was really unique as far as content from Cartoon Network goes. If you enjoy fantasy monsters and Halloween themed anything then I highly recommend this to you. It does get dark at times but overall it was a very enjoyable show to watch. Again, if you like Studio Ghibli films and also shows like the Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack then this show was pretty much made for you. I'm really glad I watched it and I think this is going to be something I watch every year at Halloween now.


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