Now that I’ve seen more than enough anime to last me a lifetime, I find I must now approach prospective shows with more of an open mind than before, which is why, more and more, I’m choosing to watch western cartoons as opposed to anime. So when one of my good friends suggested I try Gravity Falls, her latest obsession, it really didn’t take much convincing! Gravity Falls revolves around the bizarre lives of Mabel and Dipper, twins banished to their crazy uncle’s, and who, soon after arriving, experience all manner of supernatural goings-on- and it’s really very good, a lot better than some of the anime I’ve seen, and that’s why I’ve decided to write about it!!
The first thing that surprised me about Gravity Falls was its outright weirdness. I mean, anime and cartoons aren’t exactly known for being realistic, but unlike many shows, Gravity Falls had its roots in the normal- it all begins when our twins are sent to live with their uncle in the American countryside in order to “get some fresh air”- hardly the most hair-brained of setups when you compare it to those of some other shows- it’s not set in the future, prehistoric times, or some fictional land, and its main characters aren’t talking sponges, or vice-ridden robots for one! So when their new lives turn out to be anything but normal, it really catches you off guard!! In one episode Mabel dates a group of gnomes, in another Dipper learns how to be a man off of a herd of minotaurs- mental, huh? It’s like this this show totally exceeds your expectations the simple setup allows you to have of it.
And because so much of what the show launches at you is unexpected, it’s completely and utterly hilarious! Often nothing is more funny than having all the daft expectations you’ve built up inside your head subverted, chewed up and thrown up in your face. If I’m going to get all technical about it (my favourite thing to do), I believe the term for it is surreal humour, and boy is this show surreal… But it’s also humorous in other ways, the references it makes to pop culture, for example. My favourite episode was an episode called ‘Fight Fighters’- a loose parody of the Street Fighter games. During it SF’s insistence on having its characters’ fathers killed off, having to walk over, instead of eating, the food power-ups, and characters’ inability to stand perfectly still was mocked, amongst other things. Needless to say, as this was all something I was very familiar with, I found this very funny. This is also another example of this subversion of expectations- it pointed out, and made us question why we, without a moment’s hesitation, accepted such insanity in the game in the first place. And it wasn’t just Street Fighter that got this treatment, but Legend of Zelda, reality TV, DDR, and Halloween. Whatever kind of interests you had as a kid, or even have now, this show probably refers to ‘em, and makes you wonder why you’ve never seen just how mental they are before now!
But even with how weird, and surreal, Gravity Falls can be, it’s still accessible, as many of its characters are the kind you’d see, and are familiar with in your daily life. There’s Mabel, the boy-obsessed, to the point of it being creepy (“Take me with you…”) sister, Stan, the kooky uncle (a time-honoured trope), Wendy, the teen with attitude who’s sooo out of Dipper’s league, and Robbie, Dipper’s love rival, who, despite being a jerk, ladies love, because he plays the guitar, and wears jeans that are way too tight for him. Because you can recognise, and identify with, these characters, it makes them easier to like, commiserate with, or laugh at, which is mega important for a show to pull off, lest you not connect with the characters, or the story, increasing your chances of dropping the show like a hot potato.
Perhaps because of all these things it does right, Gravity Falls has this real air of confidence about it, like, you watch it, and you really feel as though everything’s done intentionally, and is done because producers know it works for the show. I couldn’t help but enjoy shows like Code Geass, and Panty and Stocking, and many SHAFT productions for much the same reason- they’re all just so enthusiastic in their presentation, it’s almost impossible to stop yourself from being swept up by them! And I feel the importance of such a thing is often understated, which is a shame, because little else can be more important than (‘scuse me for sounding pretentious) pouring love into something you’ve created. If you love something you’ve made, and that’s obvious to others, they’re so much more likely to love it themselves, like, ‘yeah, this is awesome!’ And, to return to my opening statement, this is definitely something that applies to Gravity Falls, and is something I attribute a large portion of my enjoyment to!!
So yeah, if you haven’t already seen the show, take a break from your crappy, clichéd, harem-infested animu, and do it already! I promise you, you’ll have a riot!