I don’t usually write long reviews for the shows I watch, because typically I can get out my opinions in about a paragraph and move on. But for shows like Over The Garden Wall, it demands all of my attention and words.
Over The Garden Wall was recommended to me by a friend and after watching the whole show in an evening I can say that it’s a great show, which for me to say this is a big deal since I find most modern kid’s shows awful and stupid. While there are a few exceptions, Over The Garden Wall has easily risen to the top of my list of enjoyable and lovable cartoons.
WARNING: There will be spoilers. Read at your own risk!
Over The Garden Wall explores the story of two brothers trying to find their way home after becoming lost in “The Unknown”. From there the brothers come across strange people and creatures, learning more of the cautionary tales of the Beast. It seems very simplistic on the surface, but as the show and story progress, there’s much more to it and I really appreciated it for it. Kid’s shows these days don’t try to be deep or profound, but Over The Garden Wall takes a step in the right direction of how a kid’s show – especially a cartoon – should be.
Part of the reason why I enjoy Over The Garden Wall so much is because of its sense of humor. Unlike most cartoons such as Spongebob Squarepants, it doesn’t rely on slapstick or crude humor to be funny or move the plot forward – it relies on its fun character interactions and writing to be entertaining. The show has plenty of touching and deep moments but the whole show is so well-paced that it never feels out of place.
But ultimately what I find so great about the show is the ending. It’s heavily implied that the Unknown Wirt and Greg experienced was the afterlife, and their journey served as a testament of their resolve to return to the real world or stay in the afterlife, a theme personified many times throughout the show. It was extremely well done and satisfying with hints of ambiguity and uncertainty that leads to a lot of thought-provoking questions.
I really enjoyed the dynamic of the main trio Wirt, Greg, and Beatrice. Each character has a unique personality and outlook on life, and their banter makes for some of the most enjoyable moments in the show. Greg was hilarious, random, and his curiosity was a fun contrast to Wirt and Beatrice’s more pessimistic attitudes. But most of all I appreciated the focus on Wirt’s character development, especially in the final episodes. He almost gives up hope, and it isn’t until he takes full responsibility for the situation he and his brother are in that he’s able to ultimately grow and gain confidence, something that he’s been struggling to have throughout Over The Garden Wall.
While the main trio was my favorite, most all of the side characters were just as interesting and well written. They had distinct character designs and unique personalities as well. I also really enjoyed that the show played around with character stereotypes and flipped them on their head, in particular Jason Funderberker and Sara. It’s expected for Jason to be the jock while Sara’s the gorgeous crush out of Wirt’s league – but the opposite is true. Jason is a total dweeb while Sara’s a quirky sweet girl who’s just as dorky as Wirt is. Not only do these characters play with the idea of these character stereotypes, but it also emphasizes the growth Wirt gets throughout the show. Wirt is constantly doubting himself and finding excuses to not have to leave his comfort zone, but these characters emphasize that his doubts were excuses so that he wouldn’t have to face his fears.
The animation in Over The Garden Wall seems simplistic, but the painted backgrounds make for unique settings in each episodes and the character and creature designs are diverse and memorable and the movement is consistently fluid and natural looking. The two styles complemented each other nicely to create memorable set pieces and a fun viewing experience.
The music in Over The Garden Wall is gorgeous. Each track is beautifully composed with just a hint of eeriness at times. The vocals are equally excellent and appropriate to the respective characters with entertaining lyrics. In particular, I find the song “Into The Unknown” perhaps the most beautiful and fascinating song in the show with its ominous lyrics and Jack Jones’ deep, rich singing voice.
The voice acting and singing in Over The Garden Wall is extremely well done, and perhaps one of the best English voice acted series I’ve ever heard. The voices fit the characters perfectly and are genuinely emotional. It’s clear to see the voice actors are invested in the story and characters and its easy for the audience to pick up on this as well.
Over The Garden Wall has given me hope that cartoons can become something more than pandering to a young audience assumed to be too incompetent to understand a layered meaningful story and characters. The character development and story is extremely well done with aspects that can be enjoyed by both children and adults.