Life is Strange and Gravity Falls

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I recently finished watching the Gravity Falls season two midseason finale. I’ll stay vague as to not spoil anything, but in it the main character Dipper’s trust for certain characters is tested and I was left on a cliffhanger like you wouldn’t believe. I was shocked and emotionally torn for a while after watching it. After thinking on it a lot I realized that I love Gravity Falls for a lot of the same reasons that I love Life is Strange.

If you have been following me at all then you’ll know that I’m in love with Life is Strange (if you don’t, just read my review on this blog). However, up until this point I haven’t really mentioned Gravity Falls. Gravity Falls is this brilliant animated show that is halfway through its second season on Disney Channel/DisneyXD. I recently got caught up on it and my god it is amazing, especially the second season.

Both Gravity Falls and Life is Strange deal with supernatural mysteries as the basis for their plots. Max, the protagonist of Life is Strange, is struggling to figure out the nature of her ability to rewind time and her premonitions regarding the destruction of her hometown. Dipper, the protagonist of Gravity Falls, is trying to solve the supernatural mysteries surrounding the eponymous town of Gravity Falls. Gravity Falls also avoids the boring pitfalls of most shows on kid’s channels by having a well-developed main plot that links the episodes, especially in season two. Unlike most other shows where each episode is completely independent of any other, Gravity Falls is continuously acknowledging what has come before and that there is a continuity to the events of the show. Even little things, like in one episode Dipper’s great uncle Stan (Grunkle Stan as he is called) cuts his hand and two episodes later still has a bandage on it. Because it doesn’t also have to appeal to kids Life is Strange is much darker than Gravity Falls; however, despite their different tones, I get many of the same, great feelings when experiencing either.

One reason is their sense of place (something I mention often when talking about fiction, as I consider it to be extremely important). Both are set in the Pacific Northwest (on Gravity Falls there is actually a character named Pacifica Northwest – there are a lot of great names in the show). Life is Strange and Gravity Falls are set against expansive forests and small towns filled with mysteries and secrets. Scenes like that in Episode 2 of Life is Strange where Max and Chloe are walking along some train tracks with nothing but the quiet forest around them make me want to visit Oregon. Gravity Falls reinforces that with the quaintness of the Mystery Shack (the tourist trap Grunkle Stan owns) and episodes featuring the forests surrounding the town such as “Land Before Swine” and “Enter the Bunker.”. They have different art styles but evoke the same sense of beauty and mystery from their settings.

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Without a doubt the number one reason I love both of these as much as I do is their characters. My favorite parts of each Life is Strange episode are the quiet moments Max and Chloe share, such as the railroad scene mentioned or the pool scene in Episode 3. Dontnod, the studio responsible for Life is Strange, know to focus on their characters and how important moments like those are. Likewise, Alex Hirsch, the creator and showrunner of Gravity Falls, said in an interview with AVClub.com that “Gravity Falls is a show about mysteries and magic but first and foremost it’s a show about characters.” Gravity Falls really hits its stride in season two and begins to develop its characters much more. Gravity Falls can be especially dark for a “children’s show” and I would say that it has great characters and writing even without that disclaimer. One of season two’s episodes deals with a character’s sense of abandonment from his father leaving him as a child. Dipper likes an older girl named Wendy and they don’t just shrug it off. The girl he likes has a real conversation with him about how she’s too old for him. Most shows, for kids or not, wouldn’t care and would put them in a relationship. And once season two rolls Wendy becomes an awesome badass in her own right. Gravity Falls lets it characters experience hardship and real emotions. I play Life is Strange and I watch Gravity Falls for the exact same reason: I love the characters.

Gravity Falls also deserves a shout out for its exceptional humor. Most episodes have me uproariously laughing. With smart references to things like Street Fighter, Tron, and an incredible episode satirizing dating sims Gravity Falls’ humor nails it.

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One of my favorite bits of dialogue so far is this exchange between Dipper and a manotaur (yes, I meant manotaur) named Testosteraur.

Dipper: “Maybe you’re not man enough…”
Testosteraur: “Not man enough? NOT MAN ENOUGH?! I have three Y chromosomes, six adams apples, pecs on my abs, and FISTS FOR NIPPLES!”

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The dialogue is so great and can be so absurd when it wants to be. Other highlights are when a pig becomes super intelligent, gains the ability to speak, and is voiced by none other than Neil deGrasse Tyson, or a secret agent with a birth disorder that prevents him from experiencing humor.

For those of you anguishing in the wait for Episode 4 of Life is Strange you should check out Gravity Falls, it’ll make the wait a lot easier. Likewise, for anyone anxious for Gravity Falls’ return this July go and play Life is Strange, it’s well worth your time. And if you haven’t checked out either, well then what are you waiting for?!

Have you seen Gravity Falls? What’re your favorite moments? Comment below! And if you enjoyed this piece stay tuned here, GamesWithFriendsWrites.WordPress.com, for more writings and reviews. You can also check out my YouTube channel, Games With Friends (link at top of page), for my Let’s Plays and commentary on great games, both recent and old. Enjoy!

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