As Wirt (Elijah Wood) and Greg (Collin Dean) step Over the Garden Wall, they embrace an entirely dissimilar world to what they previously knew. Sinister woods and haunting figures lurk in the shadows, admonishing them to change course. The sylvan dominion is cavernous and engrossing, swallowing up whomever dares to enter its territory, by virtue of the Beast.
An animated miniseries created by Patrick McHale for Cartoon Network, it was based on the 2013 short animation Tome of the Unknown. Being a visually enchanting ensemble bearing a gothic atmosphere, it is abundant in macabre elements pertaining to the festivity of Halloween. A miscellany of enthralling decorums imbue a reminiscence of Franklin, Nils Holgersson, Hansel and Gretel, The Secret of Nimh and lastly The Elm-Chanted Forest.
The puzzling display and order of events, structured so as to offer a type of reversed chronology allow the spirit of inquiry to steadily build up, preparing for the culmination of excitement.
The chapter introductions possess a fetching, yet eerie image, with skeletal details and pieces so impressive, they seem julienned from the works of Edward Gorey. The instrumental is captivating, perfectly fitting in the forlorn setting, on occasions effusing glimpses of frolicking scenes, as the young boys are gallivanting through the seemingly unknown grounds. Quite jazzy, as the Song of the North Wind or spine-chilling, much like the Beast Song. Nevertheless, sometimes it got sweet and dazzling, as Greg was singing Potatoes and Molasses, to cheer up the jaded spirits of the fleecy pupils; Ms. Langtree didn’t seem to mind it!
Clocking in at almost two hours, the ten short chapters sewed a gripping plot, with enough material to tug at emotions and leave viewers awestruck long after the ending. Rated PG due to the lugubrious and scary tonality of the miniseries, Over the Garden Wall clearly isn’t the type of animation or story to be aimed for a particular age group, being appropriate for people of any age, a matter which is gratifying, conferring the show both depth and responsiveness.
Beautifully written and expertly animated, it focuses on the two half-brothers, Wirt and Greg, who so daftly get attached to a monosyllabic frog, Jason Funderburker and a mysterious bluebird named Beatrice.
Following the initiative of escaping a ‘crime scene’ in which witches were gathered for a pagan Halloween ritual (not entirely true), the youngsters jump over the cemetery’s garden wall and tumble over a tall mound arriving into unfamiliar lands.
From this point on, the intriguing animation sheds light on the various passersby and phenomena they encounter, protracting the visuals into the memory as a result of the rich details provided by McHale. As he pondered about the intricacies of emotions and hope, the knowledge of childhood was transposed into the real world, gaining philosophical input.
Having said that, the maleficent characters, the Beast, Adelaide, the evil spirit and so forth have the intention of triggering the dormant vibrancy of children by instilling constructive fear, whereas the virtuous characters are equally complex, carrying the burden of evil or remorse – a matter evaluated throughout the short span of the miniseries.