Two nonprofits in Los Angeles hosted outdoor events centering the popular Netflix animated series. The first event took place on Friday, October 22, at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM). The second event was hosted by Clockshop and took place on Thursday, October 28, at the Los Angeles State Historic Park. Both events were outdoors, screened episodes, and included a live Q&A with creator Elizabeth Ito.
Originally released on Netflix on March 5, 2021, the animated series follows a group of children known as the Ghost Club. Unlike ghost hunters in every other iteration of ghost stories, Ghost Club members Zelda, cameraperson (and Zelda's older sibling) Jordan, Thomas (who is nonbinary and tells viewers in episode 1 that their pronouns are they/them), Eva, and Peter seek out ghosts in order to befriend them and understand their purpose for hanging around the living. Each episode features neighborhoods, cultures, people, and histories of Los Angeles County not typically centered in mainstream animated shows. It's full of charm, subtle humor, and teaches viewers young and old to have reverence for the ancestral places they inhabit, live on, and visit.
"People who know how the animation industry works are floored seeing City of Ghosts, because they know how hard it is to get anything that different and personal into the mainstream," said Ito on Twitter and Instagram this past April, posts that have since been deleted.
As someone who grew up in Eagle Rock and drove through and around Los Angeles neighborhoods south of the 134 freeway and east of the 10, I recognize the views and the wide concrete bed of the L.A. river featured in the Tovaanger episode (EP4). I know the warmth and familiarity of blocks and corner businesses like those in the Boyle Heights episode (EP1) and Leimert Park episode (EP3). City of Ghosts felt like a love letter to those of us who grew up in the L.A. enclaves that go unnoticed (or worse, avoided) by tourists and wealthier people, and it's that sentiment that has fans from other cities across the nation pining for new seasons that highlight their neighborhoods.
Frustratingly, despite holding an average of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes' tomatometer, as well as an average 85+% audience score, this intimate show that portrays wonder, compassion, community, and humanity as positive and worthwhile traits may only have the one season.