One of the most affecting animations in years comes from cultural familiarity.

Adventurers lost in the woods is a trope varying widely in execution, from German fables to Dungeon and Dragons tutorials, but a unique blend of self-reference and uncanny mystery makes Over The Garden Wall one of the most effective.

Where these stories are often told to children, Over The Garden Wall pushes the boundaries of what are to be considered children. Those beginning to find themselves, those learning about the strange world they find themselves in – these are cultural children, children that may have a strange unshakable notion of what’s happening around them but not much more.

Essayist Grace Lee picks apart the dense and beautiful show to find its inner weirdness. Its reality and its fiction are so closely connected that differentiating between both requires vast cultural knowledge, though that may not even solve the eerie feeling that you’ve been here before.

More to Read: