Tear Along The Dotted Line is an amusing, cleverly written look at the world through the eyes of a man struggling with social anxiety, depression and finding his own place in life. Based on Italy’s best-selling graphic novels by Zerocalcare (which literally translates to zero limescale!), the six episodes are short, punchy and amusingly on-point.
Each chapter works as a stand-alone segment, amusingly serving as a commentary on certain aspects of life. From first date awkwardness and freezing up to tackling endless clutter in one’s apartment – complete with a domain of cables tangled up – there’s a good amount of material here that many will relate to.
The opening lines of the show “It’s pointless to be alive on the outside if you are dead on the inside” ultimately set the tone for the entire project. After watching the final episode, you’ll understand why. No spoilers here of course but the final chapter ties in nicely with the first, offering a slightly different perspective to the events we’ve seen take place with love interest Alice.
In its simplest form though, Tear Along The Dotted Line is part life-commentary/part absurdist comedy, with Zero’s imagination oftentimes getting the better of him as he embarks on his journey through life. Fleshing this world out a little is a giant, talking Armadillo which serves as Zero’s conscience, offering tidbits of advice for different situations – both good and bad.
There’s definitely a desire here to try and tap into that Bojack Horseman market, tackling adult comedy from a more adult perspective rather than leaning into shockingly crude and gross styles of “humour” (hello Paradise P.D. and Hoops.)
The first episode even has a little sketch about Netflix too, complete with a quip on consumerism and the sheer amount of content available. “I could get into this show but I’m six months late. People have moved on,” Zero bemoans, likening this to Da Vinci making grand discoveries, only to find NASA already on the moon. It’s these little juxtapositions and amusing comparisons that help this comedy stand-out.
At the same time though, some of the jabs toward certain parts of our modern culture don’t always work. The style of humour is also going to be subjective, with those who enjoyed the thought provoking nature of animated serials like The Midnight Gospel, likely to get a lot more out of this.
Tear Along The Dotted Line is a wonderful animated project, a cleverly written, smart riff on modern life, complete with all the fears, worries and mental health woes that threaten to gobble us up at any moment. It’s relatable, punchy and short enough to get through in a few hours. This one’s definitely worth a watch.
Verdict - 8/10