Mushroom and the Forest of the World is an animated short that aired on Cartoon Network’s YouTube channel in April. Like many previous shorts, it can be assumed that this is likely a series pilot. Considering the talent involved includes Dante Basco and Nikki Castillo, I would guess a series is probably in development.
You don’t put Prince Zuko in a short unless you plan to make it a full series. You just don’t.
The short follows Mushroom and Leaves, two little fairies/sprites/tiny nature spirits who are training to become Leaf Keepers. What that job entails is basically being a guardian of the forest. And for their final test, before officially becoming Leaf-Keepers-in-Training is to help a bird find their wake up song.
Leaves, played by Basco, is kind of nebbish, and nedy. I love it. Mushroom, on the other hand is very exuberant and hyper, and doesn’t care much for the rules. Which of course, is helpful because as it turns out Gail, the bird can’t sing.\
This freaks Leaves out and he decides they need to teach Gail to sing by the book; this doesn’t work and after some possibly-more-than-petty-theivery, Mushroom steals an amulet to give Gail better singing skills. It just makes her louder.
The solution? Poetry.
Mushroom helps Gail gain the confidence to perform her poems instead (which nobody has else else has ever heard of.) It works and they create a new tradition: poet of the evening.
The episode ends with the pair passing their test and gaining the cloaks that mark them as Leafkeepers-in-Training.
It’s a cute little story with very minimal stakes and decent characters. Mushroom is tolerable and even enjoyable at times in the short, but I can see her character becoming really annoying very quickly in the long term.
A lot of Western animation seemingly has decided that quirky, hyper-active, glitter and sparkles loving girls are the new kind of ‘strong’ and complex female lead; and they can be interesting when done right. But they can get on the nerves really easily, and like male hyper-active protagonists, suffer from the issues of being too loud and causing a lot of their own problems.
Leaves, is a straight man, and has seemingly been partnered with Mushroom for life on this project. I assume that he’s developed this attitude in order to keep them both out of trouble and as a way of achieving his lifelong dream.
His character has a wonderfully dry sense of humor and exhaustion to him. The poor guy just wants his cloak and you feel so happy for him when he does. And honestly, his reaction is even better when viewed on screen.
The show has a wonderful folksy, calm vibe to it. Honestly, combined that with the opening narration, it reminds me somewhat of Over the Garden Wall albeit without the overarching mystery or creepy feel. And the ending song is sweet and catchy.
I wouldn’t mind having this made into a full series. It has an interesting combination of humor and calmness that I wouldn’t mind seeing on the channel. I think there’s a lot of interesting situations the characters could get up to and I want to see more of the setting.
At worse, it will be a pretty generic coming-of-age series and at best it could be a very good series about two very different kids, trying to protect their home. The short only introduces one possible and very non-threatening antagonist, the Forest Witch.But I imagine there’s a lot of room for interesting antagonists and other characters to show up.
It’s something I’ll definitely check out, if it ever gets released but if it never gets produced I won’t mind.
And that’s the scoop!
Year of release: 2019
Length: 9 minutes 26 seconds
Creators/Writers: Madeleine Flores and J. Smith
Producer: Scott Malchus
Voice actors: Madeleine Flores, Dante Basco, Nikki Castillo, Louis Johnson and Nicole Sullivan
If you liked this review check out: Pixar’s SparkShorts are nothing new, but very good.