Thursday, November 19, 2015

Review: Gravity Falls "Dipper vs. Manliness'

You know, when you really think about it, this episode isn’t the first time Disney’s given us a training montage based on the idea of developing manliness. You know, being as swift as the coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon, with all the strength of a raging fire, and mysterious as the dark side of the moon.

It’s pretty ironic that Mulan succeeds at traditional masculinity to a greater degree than Dipper.
Dipper’s Story

Dipper’s training with the manotaurs combines several common “growing up” themes into one in a seamless way. The manotaurs’ demand that Dipper kill the Multi-bear serves as the lesson in standing up to peer pressure when you know that something is wrong, and the act of recognizing this is revealed to be real maturity. And not chest hair, as Dipper had thought throughout the episode. Which in turn delivers the message that maturity is emotional, not physical.

And either way, even if you’re as awkward as Dipper, you will develop physical and emotional maturity in time, even if it seems impossible. So don’t be in a hurry to force yourself to grow up. When it happens, it happens.

Mabel’s Story
Mabel’s failed makeover serves as a skewering of traditional “magical makeovers” that try to show you that all you need is a haircut and some makeup to be truly beautiful. (Looking at you, The Princess Diaries.) And in the end, like with Dipper’s story, the true message is to be yourself.

Both Stories
Dipper’s story shows that people who don’t accept you for who you are probably aren’t people you need to associate with. And Mabel’s story shows that just about anyone can be loved for who they are.

…Hoo boy. The time has come to talk about something I’ve been dreading since I started covering this show.

By and large, I prefer to talk about my own opinion on things. Because at the end of the day, that’s what I’m here to do. But when I feel it’s relevant, I’ll talk about other people’s opinions, whether it be to defend my own point of view or to say “I understand where other people are coming from, but I respectfully disagree.” If you asked me to define the word “fandom,” I would probably define it as “people who come together to passionately disagree over something they all enjoy.” And the Gravity Falls fandom is quite an extreme example of this.

Now, let me say first and foremost that the Gravity Falls fandom is filled with many wonderful human beings. But like with any fandom, there are a few hot-button topics that tend to bring out a dark side in certain individuals, whose actions should not be held up as representations of the fandom as a whole.

This is not unique to the Gravity Falls fandom; every fandom has topics that seem to be tinder for flame wars.

Joel vs. Mike.

Kirk vs. Picard.

Hal Jordan vs. John Stewart vs. Kyle Rayner vs. Guy Gardner vs. Insert Green Lantern Here.

Gravity Falls has a few, many of which are related to shipping. I only mention this because, since I have little-to-no interest in shipping as a general rule, I will not be giving any opinion on any romantic pairing aside from the ones presented within the show.

So with that large chunk of fan debates tossed aside, it’s time for me to weigh in on the most divisive figure in Gravity Falls.

Mabel Pines.

To her fans, she is seen as a bubbly fountain of cheer and fun.

With a rarely-used grappling hook.
To her detractors, she’s a selfish little b**** who gets in the way of the show’s overall story arc by forcing Dipper and the others to conform to her will.

Not according to some, Mabel.
So as of this Review, I will be keeping track of her behavior to establish a pattern and attempt to justify my own opinion which... well, I'll reveal my full thoughts on her as we progress.

Oh, and as ever....

Pinkie Pie: Defusing flame wars before they begin.
In this particular episode, she attempted to enforce her will on Grunkle Stan by subjecting him to a makeover in the attempt to turn him into a man worthy of Lazy Susan. But in the end, she realized that Grunkle Stan was already worthy of Lazy Susan. Unfortunately, Grunkle Stan isn’t much of a catch, so it’s little wonder he ends up regretting pursuing his crush on her.

In the end, though, it should be remembered that she’s doing this for her uncle. She only started trying to set the two of them up when Stan admitted that he had a pretty large crush on her.

Dipper Pines
He definitely gets a bit of self-confidence by the end. And why wouldn’t he? Though it goes unsaid, he’s perfectly capable of incredible physical and mental feats. Climbing trees, jumping cliffs, fighting a Multi-bear; this shows that even without his Journal, he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Grunkle Stan
While he serves as our disgusting comic relief for most of the episode, he shows some hidden depths at the end when he subtly reveals not only a bit of pride for Dipper, but dispenses some solid advice on maturity.

Clearly, Stan Pines is not what he seems….

Bro/frat boy stereotypes. Amusing, but ultimately, it’s just variations on the same joke, over and over. The various voice actors, including Fred "Hulk" Tatasciore and Kevin Michael Richardson, basically all give the same performance.

Multi-bear (Alfred Molina)
He may not be onscreen for long, but he manages to make an impact in dipper's life. Also, he barely has any lines, but they still somehow got Alfred Molina to deliver what few there were. It works surprisingly well. He could have easliy phoned in his performance, but he actually seems to give a bit of a crap when he says his lines. Unfortunately, there's not much in the way of characterization, as the character only exists to further Dipper's story.

Par for the course, but special mention goes to Chutzpar’s hair blowing in the breeze.

This gif simply does not do it justice.
 But I’ll admit, Chutzpar’s no Black Widow.

Because she's worth it.
Final Thoughts
While it’s not one of my favorites, it’s certainly not a bad episode by any means. As ever, the morals are subtle and the jokes are mostly hits. So even though it’s a stand-alone bit of fluff, it’s pretty fun.

Next time, we’ll see if double the Dipper means double the fun! See you then!


  1. You know what I like about this moral? That Dipper isn't stereotypical girly boy. Similarly I liked Sonic Boom's episode "My Fair Sticksy" because most of time when shows do episode like that (e.g. Recess) they take that one character whose most noticeable trait is being tomboy/tomgirl.

    - Faceless Enigma

    1. Yeah, I think it works better with Dipper simply being a kid with little in the way of muscles and body hair. It's a bit more universal and a bit less potentially problematic.