A Beautiful Fable
With a gorgeous, story book-esque aesthetic and a simple but effective fable running throughout, Willy and the Guardians of the Lake is a charming animated adventure. With a run-time clocking in at a little over an hour, there’s enough here to keep the little ones watching through to the end, while managing to remain enjoyable for adults too.
The story itself takes place in a fantastical world inhabited by animals. At the heart of this tale are the Guardians of the Lake; green creatures called Verdies. An incident early on involving a Swallow sees one of the Verdies called Willy inadvertently cause problems for his town, resulting in an adventure that involves a rival town called Grimpgrund and an important moral about kindness and forgiveness running through the heart of this one.
With beautiful hand-drawn visuals, this Hungarian animation has an almost Eric Carle-like similarity with the character models. The watercolor backgrounds are really well done too and the various point-of-view shots work well to keep things engaging.
With the ever-impending threat of an invasion from the Water Rats looming on the horizon, where Willy and the Guardians Of The Lake really stands out is with its characters and their various arcs that evolve across the space of the film. The evil water rats contrast nicely with the Verdies too, while the Grumps have a consistent arc and good motivation throughout the film.
While Willy and the Guardians is voice acted in its native Hungarian tongue, the English dubs aren’t that bad and after a while make it indistinguishable save for a couple of understandable lip-syncing issues
This fable about kindness and comradeship features a really important moral that runs right the way through the film, and for this alone Willy and the Guardians hits the right notes, right up to the inevitable feel-good ending that follows.
Willy and the Guardians of the Lake is simply a well written, aesthetically pleasing animation that’s well worth a watch. It has that Christmas-Eve family film feel to it but this animation is good enough to watch throughout the year too. Unlike titles like The Stick Man, The Gruffalo and The Snowman, Willy and the Guardians of the Lake doesn’t quite match those in terms of how memorable it’ll be after you’ve finished watching, but it’s a solid animated effort nonetheless and worth watching with the kids.