In 2005, American author and illustrator Jon J Muth published an illustrated children’s book entitled Zen Shorts, whose main character was a wise panda named Stillwater. The book became quite a hit and Muth released four additional sequels – Zen Ties, Zen Ghosts, Zen Socks, and Zen Happiness – from 2008 to 2019. Today, thanks to Apple TV+, we can also enjoy these adventures in animated form on our television sets in the acclaimed children’s TV series Stillwater.
Although Apple TV+ is primarily known for its adult-orientated content, recent events have shown us that Apple is also ready to tackle children’s programming, and seeing how Stillwater received universal praise, we can be quite full of hope as to the future of Apple’s children’s programming.
Stillwater can be summed up as follows: “Stillwater (James Sie) is a giant panda who likes to be very still, quiet and by himself. He pursues things like painting or sitting out in a summer rain. His next-door neighbors are three kids — Addy (Eva Ariel Binder), Michael (Tucker Chandler) and Karl (Judah Mackey) — who often come to him for advice. The advice he gives is often in the form of parables, which we see in hand-drawn animation sequences (as opposed to the CGI animation of Stillwater and his neighbors).”
Stillwater was announced back in September 2020 when Apple ordered a six-episode first season, which ultimately premiered on December 4, 2020. Each 30-minute episode consists of two smaller stories and the series has received outright praise from the critics, who seemed to love both its approach to the story and the animation style.
Stillwater is appropriate for children of all ages, but also for adults, as it contains a lot of important lessons and situations from which everyone can learn. Children can learn valuable life lessons and they can learn how to approach certain situations and solve certain problems that they are sure to face at one point in their lives. Adults, on the other hand, are able to get a better understanding of their children and see how they should position themselves in certain situations where their guidance and advice are absolutely needed. And that is why Stillwater is so good and why we recommend it for everyone.
Stillwater is a relatively new show and we have yet to see how long it is going to stay on, but seeing how good its first season was, we are quite certain that it has the potential to become as good as some of the best-animated shows from the 80s and the 90s.