My last post on the Gravity Falls shorts produced during the series’ long hiatus focused about three disparate mini-series with only two shorts each. This one (and the next) had considerably more longevity with six shorts to their name. As much as I would have liked to have seen more of the previous ones, I understand that there’s only so many gags and short story ideas you can milk from a handful of secondary characters.
These shorts are framed as vlogs shot by Dipper chronicling some of the smaller unexplained mysteries of Gravity Falls. Also each one seems to end with a piece of a mysterious photo from the Journal…
The first short begins on a startling note with Dipper’s initial vlog being interrupted by a screaming little creature that resembles a hybrid of the three main characters of Nickelodeon’s AAAHH! Real Monsters. Dipper gets Mabel to help him capture it when it goes after their stash of leftover Summerween candy (continuity!) but find themselves bonding over a kid’s two favorite things – high fructose snacks and television.
“Stan’s Tattoo” investigates something perhaps a few have you may have noticed in some of the still frames I’ve captures – a tattoo on Grunkle Stan’s back just barely peeping out from his undershirt. Dipper’s attempts to inconspicuously uncover this mystery are always hampered by Grunkle Stan being one step ahead of his game – leading to one of the best jokes in the entire series when Dipper resorts to peeking while Stan is in the shower.
An abandoned mailbox stands in the middle of the woods. Dipper and Soos leave behind a letter to see who picks it up, but the answer is one they never saw coming…
Out of all the unusual citizens of Gravity Falls, few are so strange as “Lefty”, a guy at the bowling alley who is only seen from the left. Since this is animation they have a lot of fun with perspectives in this one, as there’s no way this could be pulled off in real-life (and not just for the reason Dipper finds out).
Dipper stumbles across a giant tooth near the lake and one misty evening he and Mabel (and Bear-O, Mabel’s creepy dummy companion) set out to find where it came from. This is my favorite of the Dipper’s Guide shorts. How Dipper and Mabel work off each other is hysterical, and it captures the atmosphere and tension of a found-footage horror movie better than 90% of the professional ones ever made.
The Hide-Behind is in fact a real Native American legend. Here’s Gravity Falls’ version of this unseeable creature. Can Dipper capture a creature that you can never see coming?
And that’s Dipper’s Guide to the Unexplained. I enjoy the creativity of the creatures and enigmas Dipper tries to unravel and most of the humor hits its mark. My main problem with these shorts is that it takes the Lost approach to these mysteries, where it starts by setting up a mystery that has us saying –
-but by the end of the short has us going –
I’m also not a fan of how some of these shorts like The Mailbox and Lefty portray Mabel, with her either screwing up Dipper’s discoveries with her nonchalant disregard or playing him off as a paranoid wreck. I like to think that they were put into production before Alex Hirsch laid down the rules for how Dipper and Mabel treat each other after The Inconveniencing pushed them in a direction he didn’t like.
Regardless, I appreciate how much effort was put into making these shorts when it could have been cheaply animated recycled filler. The animation has the same quality as the show and the voice cast puts in the same amount of energy. Much of the same mysteries that appear in the shorts also pop up in the Journal, but I’ll have to look through it one more time to see if it offers any answers (not bloody likely though).
Next time we’ll be looking at the last of the Gravity Falls shorts and my favorite, Mabel’s Guide to Life. See you then.