When was the last time you had a love at first sight with some kind of media? Before Over the Garden Wall, I don’t know when that last time was for me when I really fell for something so deeply. In the two years since it came out, I’ve watched it more times than I can count on two hands, and I recently watched through it again last weekend. T’is the season. I’m not the first person to rave about Over the Garden Wall, and I won’t be the last, but even if I don’t have anything new to add, I want to rave about it just a little.
It’s the story of two boys and a bluebird lost in the woods, trying to find their ways home and their misadventures on the way. There’s so much about that simple premise that speaks to me. That gets the certified Ethan style stamp from the simple premise alone, so the show wrings out a little bit of nostalgic love from me.
The characters are so flawed but lovable. Wurt’s a teenager, but his complaining isn’t to the point of annoying; it fits nicely in the expected part of being a teenager, and he has enough good points to really like him. Plus, his costume is cool. His little brother Greg is infectiously positive. It’s adorable how naive and wonderful everything is to him. Once or twice he hit the plain stupidness, but for a child/comic relief he had as much character as Wurt. I loved the episode devoted to his leadership dream, for example! Beatrice is older than the two boys, and she’s often the voice of reason, the older sister. Anyway, the characters all so fun and voiced so well. I only know Elijah Wood though. There were other minor and semi-minor characters throughout the show, and they were all fantastic too. The Woodsman is the biggest, and, voiced by Christopher Lloyd, he plays the perfect balance between mysterious guardian and bad guy. It reminded me of his performance as the librarian/pagemaster in Pagemaster.
The style is gorgeous, all friendly pastels but with a good sense of macabre. It had a feel similar to some of the Studio Ghibli movies (I got particularly Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle vibes) and the anime Mushishi. Of course, one of the biggest draws is the soundtrack (just officially released last week, by the way), which the show would have been lesser without. They’re all really special, and the songs have been one of my go-to October soundtracks.
There’s a consistent narrative, both for the story and for the characters. Like many of the best stories, I feel like this was a lot about growing up, facing your fears, that sort of thing. From my favorite movie, Coraline, to Over the Garden Wall (constantly called my favorite television program for two years), that’s what I love, growing up.
As for the ending and wrapping up this story, the narrator put it best: “And so the story’s complete, and everybody’s satisfied with the ending.” That indeed.