Review of Over the Garden Wall (2014)

Moving picture, 110 minutes

Seen in 2020.

Two half-brothers walk through a land of Grimm-like fairytale logic, unsure of where they came from and where they’re going.

A little gem, carefully balanced between stereotypical US cartoon (episodic, anthropomorphic, musical) and serialized drama. Comedy has the upper hand but the darker episodes have more than a little of the atmosphere you get in folktales following the Black Death: Dark wastelands on the border of domestication where monsters meet disjointed fragments of Christian imagery. It takes talent to range so freely from the Merrie Melodies (1931) vibe of episode 8 to the primary-narrative “key” in episode 9 to the showdown in episode 10. The whole thing, but especially the giant Auntie Whispers, resembles Spirited Away (2001). The creator’s original plan, ca. 2004–2006, was apparently darker. I would gladly have gone without the anthropomorphism and the picaresque, but the whimsical little Greg adds a lot. Jason Funderberker—that vibrato!—is a good name for a frog.

References here: Hilda (2018).

moving picture animation fiction series