“Jake Suit” Review

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Original Airdate: July 15, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Kent Osborne

Jake Suit received a lot of criticism for similar reasons to why people were angry at Jake in Jake the Dog; Finn is kind of a dick, and it’s understandable why people would dislike his portrayal in this episode. Yet, I’m actually not against it, and think it helps to strengthen this episode’s comedic prowess.

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First off, it’s just nice to see the Jake Suit back in general. Existing as an idea that began as early as the series itself, (in fact, Pendleton Ward himself would recruit artists who could draw the Jake Suit exactly how he envisioned it in his head; this is how Jesse Moynihan was hired) the Jake Suit is a concept that is used sparingly in the shown itself, yet has become somewhat of an icon within the series otherwise. It’s been featured in a handful of comics, as well as numerous shirts and even some of the video games, and even a 6-inch action figure was made. However, it’s an aspect of the series I’m glad that is used sparingly; it’s a pretty awesome feature, both design and battle wise, and I don’t think it’d be nearly as effective if they used it more frequently than they already have. Though, here it’s used mostly for story purposes, rather than battle purposes.

And here it shows why it isn’t necessarily used for battle that often: it fucking hurts Jake. And despite this, Finn somewhat ignorantly disregards Jake well-being while wearing him as armor. The reason I don’t think Finn is that unlikable is because it’s made pretty obvious at the beginning that Finn doesn’t understand how Jake experiences pain. Hell, it’s made pretty obvious that after that first scene, Finn had no idea that Jake was in pain at all. I think it’s clear that Finn’s failure to feel pain the same way Jake does is evident in his actions, and I do think the rest of the episode redeems any form of distastefulness he may have shown. Finn constantly tries to help Jake in his plans to put him through pain, and though Jake typically fails, it’s somewhat endearing that Finn wants him to succeed regardless, as he acknowledges the pain that he put Jake through. And c’mon guys, you mean to tell me that we’re supposed to think Finn is mean-spirited in this one when Jake tried to embarrass him in front of his girlfriend’s family and nearly tossed Finn in a volcano (even if he probably wouldn’t actually do it)? I get that Finn was kind of the one who put Jake in that position in the first place, but I think both boys have their moments of asshole-ishness, though these are moments that don’t affect the quality of the actual episode for me.

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In fact, I think this is a really funny one! Cole Sanchez and Kent Osborne teamed up on this one, and they would continue to write for some of the funniest episodes of this entire season. The entire beginning of the episode is great in terms of absurdity; I love how extreme Finn and BMO are, and the lengths they’ll go to in accidentally being brutal towards Jake. There’s also tons of great bits of dialogue in this one, including the frequent use of the expression “what the Bjork?!”, the way Finn describes pain as being “hickeys of the universe,” and the way Flame Princess describes her aunt and uncle as her “judgmental aunt and uncle.” And hey, whatta ya know, Flame Princess in a supporting role! How often does that actually happen? There’s also the incredible “blink and you’ll miss it” sequence at the beginning when the Jake Suit nearly rips apart a good portion of the Treehouse, as Ice King is just randomly chilling there. What the fuck is up with that? I always thought that this episode was supposed to be aired after Frost & Fire because of that brief scene, but then I remembered that Flame Princess is in this one. So that’s strange!

This episode is also filled with some terrific callbacks. The Squirrel from Up a Tree makes a return during the book reading sequence, Jake once again mentions his list of “tiers”, and The Buff Baby song returns, despite how much I’m so wildly passive towards it. I am glad that this is the last time they featured this song in the series; it had already been way overblown by this point, and I don’t even think John DiMaggio’s delivery was funny enough to save it. Also, we get to see a grown T.V. in this one, voiced by Dan Mintz. I never really got into T.V., as he’s probably my least favorite of the pups, though I do like his suggestion that Jake should have Finn jump in a volcano. My favorite part is that it kind of reads as “dad, go kill yourself,” in the most harmless way possible. That got a big laugh out of me. The clown nurses return at the very end to give Finn some much needed comeuppance, further showing that one man’s pain is another’s pleasure. It was really the perfect ending to cap that motif.

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There’s a few things I wasn’t crazy about in this one, however. One isn’t really a problem with the episode itself, but I feel like there’s never much consistency throughout the series with Finn’s reaction to physical pain. Like, he bitches in Blood Under the Skin when he gets a splinter, but in this episode he’s fully prepared to take on lava? Granted, he was a few years younger in Blood Under the Skin, but it kind of seems like his endurance depends mostly on the plot rather than being a consistent character trait. Also, I think some bits in this one are a little pointless. Jake’s attempts to bore Finn with the Dream Journal of a Boring Man is humorous, especially when Finn starts to actually enjoy it (a nice freeze frame bonus is to actually read the page in the book, it’s so nonsensical), but Jake’s attempt to piss Finn off by eating his meatloaf, while I enjoy that it references Finn’s consistently mentioned “favorite food”, doesn’t really go anywhere and neither does the Flame Princess bit either. I felt like the journal was a means of showing Jake’s frustrations with his inability to hurt Finn, though the others, while partially funny, didn’t really feel like humorous methods of driving that point further.

All in all though, I like it! It isn’t quite my favorite “funny episode” this season, as there’s other Sanchez and Osborne episodes down the line that take the cake, but I still enjoy it. There’s plenty of funny gags, lines, and character moments. And also, ya know what, this is just a good brotherly episode between Jake and Finn. They can’t kiss and hug every single episode they’re in, and I’m glad this episode took the time to build up a bit of a dynamic between them in terms of actual differences they do have. I’ve mentioned that the two brothers arguing can bring down the strength of the episode, though this argument is kept fun, light, and slightly snarky. Overall, it just makes the brothers feel more realistic.

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Favorite line: “You just have to imagine that every bruise is a hickey from the Universe. And everyone wants to get with the Universe.”

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Season 5.1 Review

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Before we kick off this review, a brief announcement. I’ve been posting somewhat frantically the past month because I’ve had a lot more freetime, though any upcoming reviews will return to the Friday release date. Thanks to all of y’all who have been patient with the lack of a consistent schedule lately, and take some time to breathe as things return to normal within the new few weeks.

Now, without further ado, season 5.1! This one is an oddity on it’s own, because though it technically isn’t an entire season, I’ll be treating it like an entire season. And, as far as seasons of AT go, I actually found this one somewhat lackluster.

Season 5.1 definitely makes more of an effort to focus on lighter, sillier stories, after coming off of the often heavy and intense season four. And I’m not opposed to this at all; I know there’s plenty of people out there who solely enjoy Adventure Time for its story over its “filler” episodes, though I’m certainly not one of them. I’m perfectly content with the “fluff” that AT churns out, as long as it’s, of course, enjoyable. And while this half-season had its fair share of good one-shots, I don’t really think there were many great one-shots.

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Among some of these standalone episodes are Up a Tree, Davey, the Graybles entries, Mystery Dungeon, Little Dude, Shh!, Princess Potluck, James Baxter the Horse, The Party’s Over, Isla de Senorita, and Candy Streets, and out of all of these, I think Mystery Dungeon is the only one that really shines among terrific territory (though, I don’t even know if I could call this one standalone; I’m sure it does include some understanding of the tertiary characters that are featured). Shh! and James Baxter the Horse were both pretty solid in their own right, while Candy Streets, The Party’s Over, and Davey are ones I find just good enough to divert from “meh” territory. The others, however, I find pretty disposable. Upon first watching a handful of these episodes, I was wondering if I was just simply growing tired of AT’s lighter material and wanted the show to be full-on serialized, but I now realize that it was a somewhat of a silly consideration. AT still has plenty of terrific comedic episodes to come, and season two and season three still hold up tremendously as mostly silly masterpieces. The issue with a good chunk of these episodes, I find, is the stories are either a bit too paper thin, or that they don’t really take full advantage of their subject matter. Little Dude is about Finn’s hat coming to life, which is a really bizarre concept that could have all kinds of comedic possibilities, but it’s just kind of a simple story where nothing particularly interesting or memorable takes place. Elsewhere, Princess Potluck is story where Ice King is upset because he didn’t get invited to a party. I get that going simple often offers the most inventive ideas, though it’s quite the opposite for AT. The more simple they go, it often ends up with generic and unremarkable results.

On a more story-oriented note (or continuity based, at least), this season offered up Finn the Human, Jake the Dog, Jake the Dad, Vault of Bones, All Your Fault, Bad Little Boy, The Great Bird Man, Simon & Marcy, and One Last Job. A ton of these are episodes that a lot of people tend to consider amongst some of their all-time favorite episodes, including the two part season premiere and Simon & Marcy, though I view these episodes much differently than most do. Finn the Human is an incredibly boring excursion, Jake the Dog is a somewhat frenzied mix between comedy and depth that doesn’t really blend well at all, and Simon & Marcy is an 11 minute ball of exposition that I feel like I didn’t really need to see. Alternatively, the two episodes that stood out amongst the bunch were All Your Fault and Vault of Bones, for reasons that actually fit into what I look for in the standalone episodes: they were tons of fun! They weren’t entirely heavy or depth-filled stories that broke barriers, but they were simply enjoyable romps that focus on some really entertaining adventures filled with great humor and solid character development.

I think 5.1 hit its highest peak when it focused on the more experimental episodes, as AT typically does. All the Little People remains one of my all-time favorite episodes for its unique character study and interesting themes, while Puhoy was a thoroughly fascinating journey into a dreamlike dimension that focused on Finn’s insecurities and gave a glimpse into one of his many possible futures. BMO Lost is an entertaining entry featuring BMO on a solo-journey that’s filled with fun, heartwarming moments, and drama. Even Mystery Dungeon has elements of being experimental! It’s pretty ballsy to put 5 completely different side characters together and to make them the focus of the episode, but it actually worked out tremendously. Adventure Time works with subversive topics and stories quite well, and this half-season shows just how effective these types of episodes can be.

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The teams for this season fluctuated greatly, which could possibly be attributed to the changing quality from episode to episode. Instead of a solid 5 or 6 teams of artists and writers per season, with the occasional guest writer or two chiming in, this season has had tons of guest boarders and constantly changing teams. Rebecca Sugar and Skyler Page departed halfway through this season to pursue working on Steven Universe and Clarence respectively, while Kent Osborne returned to the writing staff, and many short-term storyboard artists were brought on, such as Thomas Wellmann, Luke Pearson, and Michael DeForge were brought on, along with Graham Falk, who would eventually join the writing staff full time. David O’Reilly also guest-starred to write, direct, animate, and storyboard his own cartoon, which was a first for AT overall. And then there was also the fun game of “which storyboard partner will Somvilay be paired with this week?”

The three somewhat consistent teams were Ako Castuera and Jesse Moynihan, Tom Herpich and Steve Wolfhard, and Cole Sanchez and Rebecca Sugar. Tom Herpich and Steve Wolfhard, who began their long career as partners during this season, would later become my favorite team in the entire series, though I think Ako and Jesse once again take the cake this season, with Jesse getting specific praise. Not only did they work on both All the Little People and Mystery Dungeon, but Jmoyns also co-wrote The Suitor and Wizards Only, Fools, which are all pretty splendid episodes. Surprisingly enough, I’d have to say that Sugar and Sanchez were the weakest team this season. I never did think their styles blended particularly well, and I think it shows in episodes like Jake the Dog and Simon & Marcy where the tone can really fluctuate greatly. Overall though, the schizophrenic pairing of different teams somewhat works against this season. I think it’s hard to watch a good handful of these episodes and think, “oh, this writer worked off of this writer particularly well,” because you never really get a chance to see the team dynamic by how little we get to see from each team. Season six was also one that consistently brings on guest artists and writers, though I think that was one that actually benefited from it because of how ever-changing the tone and the stories were. Season eight and nine also change up the teams a good bit, though we know pretty much all of the artists and writers by this point in time that we can kind of understand how they would be able to work together. I think having consistency in writers and storyboard artists has proved to work wonders for AT through the years, and I think it was able to find a happy medium in the second half of this season.

As for character arcs, there wasn’t anything quite noteworthy. Finn continues to travel through adolescence, PB continues to battle with her emotions and her responsibilities, we get to see a bit more into Marceline’s past history, and Ice King begins to show very subtle signs of moving into a slightly emotionally stable future. In all, I think Jake kinda stole the spotlight this time around! And I know what you’re thinking, I still wasn’t a big fan of Jake the Dog, Jake the Dad, or even One Last Job that much, but I think his overall presence was the most enjoyable and I like how they took the steps to evolve his character a bit more. In the grand scheme of things, Jake is just kind of the cool dude that’s watching everything around him go down, so it is nice to get this bit of depth behind his character and to have specific time devoted to watching him.

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Top 5 Best Episodes

Honorable Mention: Mystery Dungeon – don’t typically do this, but I can’t leave this one unnoticed. It’s a hilarious episode that focuses heavily on some of Adventure Time‘s greatest side characters.

5. Puhoy – An imaginative and emotionally compelling episode that takes on a very interesting alternate version of Finn, while including fun interludes between Jake and BMO.

4. Vault of Bones – A terrific dungeon themed episode that focuses on Finn and Flame Princess’s relationship, and is probably the best FP episode to date.

3. BMO Lost – Strictly a personal preference. I’m a sucker for BMO episodes, and this one is done exceptionally well. It’s everything I enjoy about BMO’s character in one sweet package.

2. The Suitor – A really terrific look at PB’s confliction when it comes to relationships, while also focusing on an interesting and likable protagonist. It also has probably the best display of Pepbut’s interest in the dark matters I’ve seen thus far.

1. All the Little People – You all saw this coming! One of my personal favorites, if ya wanna hear me ramble on about it in great detail, read my review, dammit!

Top 5 Worst Episodes

5. Another Five More Short Graybles – It had a terrific Lemongrab-centric grayble, though its completely frenzied pacing and generally uninteresting stories did not do it justice.

4. The Great Bird Man – One that I find pretty dull, and proof that Xergiok should never be the focus of an episode.

3. A Glitch is a Glitch – One that I’ve grown to appreciate in animation and visuals, though one I particularly loathe in its writing and portrayal of the characters.

2. Finn the Human – A really dull and unimaginative look at Finn’s alternate self, and one that lacks excitement after coming off of The Lich.

1. Princess Potluck – A totally unremarkable episode with an even more unremarkable plot.

Final Consensus

Season 5.1 is a bit polarizing for me. It has some great entries, as to be expected with Adventure Time, but the episodes that are just good aren’t really THAT good. But in the same sense that the episodes that are bad aren’t really that bad. Overall, I think there’s a lot of dull moments in this half-season, but it’s even somewhat hard to say that. I mean, I’m judging this by Adventure Time standards, so obviously I’m going to be harsher on some episodes even though, when comparing them to any other series, could be looked at as gems. So even if it seems like I just flat out didn’t like this one, I just find it weaker than what I’m usually conditioned to expect with any typical AT episode. Though, luckily enough, things really pick up in the next half-season, and I look forward to kicking off 5.2 next week!

“Wizard’s Only, Fools” Review

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Original Airdate: July 1, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Thomas Welmann

Wizard’s Only, Fools cleverly uses wizardry and science to elaborate on the topic of “religion vs. logic,” which is a motif I’m always interested to see touched upon. Though, it is one that can often end up with polarizing results, considering that most shows would either lean in one way or the other. Thankfully, Adventure Time handles this without seeming preachy or having an ultimatum, and feels more like a story that shows off both sides of the argument without really siding with either.

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I’ve mentioned before in my review of The Suitor that this season has been pretty lacking on strong PB episodes, which is a shame, because last season was full of ‘em! But the princess returns to the spotlight in this one and sports a more condescending and pretentious attitude, which is really enjoyable to watch. I can see most people viewing PB as uncharismatically cruel, as she talks down to those who have certain beliefs, and ultimately ends up getting herself and her friends arrested as a result of her stubbornness. To me, it makes her so much more admirable. Everything PB has experienced, even down to her own birth, as well as everything she has created and invented has all been a direct result of her scientific prowess. None of her people have been created through what most would consider to be “magic,” so therefore, in her 800 years of existing, she has always relied on science as her guide and the key to life. So it is quite lovely to watch her so passionately stick up for what she believes in, especially when it means putting her life into potential danger.

Though, her arrogance shows that, while it is admirable to stick up for what you believe in and to defend your own standards, it sometimes is less selfish and more selfless to suck up your own pride and give in to society’s standards. It isn’t really the right choice, but it could’ve shown PB and her friends justice if she just simply complied with the Grand Master Wizard’s request. While we’re on the subject, did his voice sound different in this one? It’s still Maurice LaMarche, but his inflections sound radically different from his first appearance and his subsequent appearance. Quite odd, but back on subject, I don’t think PB is necessarily unlikable or cruel in this one. Despite her ego taking over her logic and sense of compassion in some instances, the entire reason she is going on this endeavor at all is for one of her people. Her asking Starchy, “you still think I’m a jerk?” was incredibly cute and really showcased PB’s soft side. Even through her density, the happiness of her people is important to her, and she probably wouldn’t be able to just continue on with her work if Starchy was still mad at her.

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Finn and Jake mostly just serve as sidekicks in this one, though in the best possible way. Finn is actually a pretty great source of comic relief; he’s a little bit of a jokester in this one! I like his constant fake-outs, “Let’s stay home-just kidding,” and when he briefly gives up while trying to get past the Wizard City wall. I also like him questioning if PB was straight-up naked. It was something that was on my mind as well, though is even better that Finn brings this up while they’re under pursuit of the Wizard City Police. Jake, on the other hand, mostly serves as an adversary towards PB, and I always like the somewhat hostile differences Jake and PB have at times! It also makes sense that Jake, an alleged magic user, would combat Bubblegum’s thinking process and see her as someone who is entirely stubborn in her beliefs. It also makes sense that he would resent her for the decision she made against the Grand Master Wizard; Jake has somewhat of a strong belief system too, but he’s a pretty chill and laid back guy and would probably do whatever is easiest for him to get out of trouble. It’s the bickering between the two that I always enjoy to see, even more so than Jake’s relationship with Marceline.

Abracadaniel returns as a supporting character in this one, and I wasn’t really a fan of him in his first appearance, and I’m still not much of a fan of him here. Though, it isn’t an appearance that the episode or the story really depends on. I do actually enjoy how he gets wrapped up in PB, Finn and Jake’s conflict; I was critical of Candy Streets for its mean-spirited punishment of the character Pete Sassafras, though Abracadaniel’s such a dork/buttmonkey as always that I don’t really mind when he gets the bad end of the stick. It’s kind of what his character exists to do. And honestly, if I was for some reason running from the police, fuck yeah, I’d grab the first person I know and ask them for help! Not saying I have been… heh… heh heh.

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The Secret Wizard Society returns in this one, as their plans only get increasingly more ambiguous and rather intriguing. It is noteworthy that their board shows Abracadaniel getting sacrificed in regards to whatever they are planning. I remember by the time Betty arrived, a lot of people were wondering if Abracadaniel had been killed, yet he has made several appearances subsequently. Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded if they just killed him off. He’s not a character I particularly care for, but besides that, how fucked up would it be if his character was never seen or mentioned again after Betty? That’d be quite the dark scenario, but one I’m not opposed to.

A lot of Wizard’s Only, Fools is just simply enjoying the atmosphere and the culture of Wizard City, which, as usual, looks great. This is also the introduction of Ron James, a very quirky, fun addition to the cast of Wizard characters. I enjoy Ron James’ lingo (I’m just now realizing that there’s three characters in this show with “James” in their name and I’m not sure how to feel about it) and how he’s about as equally passionate about magic as PB is about science. The Wizard City prison is a really nice ominous setting, and in fact, I think the use of color in this one is just great. I like the darker shadows in the wizard cultists’ lair, the bright whites in Grand Master Wizard’s dome, and the reds, browns, and oranges that permeate throughout the prison. There’s a lot of different places and landscapes in this one, so using color to help make them pop is a decision AT typically excels at. And as always, there’s the little things, like the many different wizards you can spot within the backgrounds. You can tell Jesse Moynihan had a lot of fun with this episode, and Thomas Wellman, who previously wrote and storyboarded for The Suitor, provided some splendid drawings for this one. I dunno why Wellmann only wrote two episodes of Adventure Time, because I actually have really enjoyed his work on this episode and The Suitor. Writing aside, he’s got some really nice, expressive drawings, especially on Jake.

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The conclusion of this episode features PB finally giving in, though not the way we quite expected. She tried the best she could to help Starchy, though it failed, and it was either her way or the highway. Again, it seems like somewhat of a cruel ending to give Starchy the antidote against his will, but remember, this is PB we’re talkin’ about. She could literally just say “fuck it” and clone another Starchy if the first one for some reason died off. I mean, that might be drastic because it’s just a cold, but still. PB’s care for her people will not allow her to allow them suffer, and though she tried to make Starchie satisfied, there comes a point where you just have to accept treatment as it is.

So yeah, this one’s a lot of fun! Besides being an interesting allegory towards religion, it’s pretty much just a ball all the way through. Fun characters, some hilarious moments (I still crack up at PB forcing Ice King to give her the password to get into Wizard City), and a terrific setting that really helps it excel, Wizard’s Only Fools is a fun trip to Wizard City that highlights PB’s personality and her character flaws quite seamlessly.

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That’s the first half of season five, folks! I was seriously considering if I should break this season up and review them separately, and ya know what, I think I’m gonna do it. 5.1 and 5.2 are so wildly different in tone and direction that it only makes sense to give input on them separately, so the next review that will come out will be the season 5.1 review! There won’t be any mini-review to go along with it like there has been with the past few seasons, as this review is kind of already a cheat as it is. The season review will be out later in the week, but until then, thank you all for continuing to read this blog! Really enjoy hearing your input every week, and I’m happy to have gotten this far in the series. About half of Adventure Time is left, so hopefully I can tackle it completely throughout the next year or two!

Favorite line: “You know, no one has touched me in months. Could you touch me again?”

“Candy Streets” Review

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Original Airdate: June 24, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Luke Pearson

From time to time, AT likes to have fun with Finn and Jake’s rank as heroes in the Land of Ooo, and this one features the two boys as officers that are trying to crack the case of who hurt LSP. For the most part, it’s a pretty fun romp that takes advantage of the idea fully, and reminds us that, for the time being, Finn and Jake should probably just stick to mindlessly slaying dragons and shit.

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For one, I do like the fact that Finn and Jake enjoy being detectives and consider doing it as a full-time occupation. I think this ties in nicely with the boys’ interest in following in their parents’ footsteps, and one that I think they followed up in further episodes exceptionally well. Though, it’s clear that they have a long way to go, because it seems like they certainly caused more damage than they did to fix the solution, but I’ll get to that later. I think it is fun how seriously they take the positions; probably my favorite gag is when Finn has the key to LSP’s room, but simply chooses to kick down the door instead. And Jake’s obsessive tendency to continuously change into cop related material was really hilarious in both a writing and visual sense. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the look of horror on Finn’s face when Jake forces him into his body seat through a rear entrance. That was delightfully morbid.

The story in this one isn’t particularly strong; I think from the very beginning, we know that LSP’s issue probably isn’t anything actually logical, so what makes this episode enjoyable is just all the fun little gags they do include. I like PB using the giant syringe to calm down LSP, I really enjoy Ann’s character (voiced by Melissa Villasenor, whose line deliveries are just perfect), the two police officers who can use their sense of taste to see if someone is actually a police officer, and, once again, all the little sight gags of Jake as different items. One of my favorites is the lawyer he creates through his stretchiness to fuck with Pete Sassafras. It allows for a really amusing performance from John DiMaggio. Oh, and that moment where Finn makes noises like he’s dialing the phone and then somehow actually calls Princess Bubblegum is fucking priceless.

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But yeah, I think my one main issue with this one is that Finn and Jake are pretty bad cops, and don’t really get any flack for it. Aside from some forgivable instances, such as breaking through doors, windows, or jumping to conclusions based on very little evidence, they wrongly arrested someone who we never see again! I could see it working if they eventually went back and let Pete Sassafras out of jail, or if Finn and Jake had to spend a few hours behind bars for it, but no, Pete is locked up and we literally never see him again. I think it’s a pretty frustrating ending and it sucks that it’s not even acknowledged in the slightest. It almost feels like Somvilay Xayaphone and Luke Pearson straight up forgot about the character rather than it being something that was intentional on the story’s part.

So yeah, that’s my main gripe, and it still bothers me every time I see this one, but I do enjoy it to a mild degree. It’s got a nice element of fun to it; lots of silly moments and some fun sight gags on top of it. It’s not particularly strong in anyway possible, especially with the Pete Sassafras aspect included, but I do enjoy looking back on this as Finn and Jake lovingly taking on an investigative position. I think it really adds to episodes like The First Investigation in hindsight.

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Favorite line: “I literally can’t stop turning into cop stuff.”

“Another Five More Short Graybles” Review

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Original Airdate: June 17, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich and Steve Wolfhard

Another Five More Short Graybles is the second Graybles episode in one season, so going into this one, it already feels somewhat like Graybles burnout. I don’t know why they chose to put two Graybles episodes so close together, but ignoring that fact, this one is a lot sloppier and more disjointed than Five More Short Graybles. Though, in typical Graybles fashion, it has some bits that work and some that don’t.

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The interludes with Cuber this time around feel somewhat lazy and more like filler than anything. Cuber hasn’t had much of a role in any of the Graybles episodes, aside from just being there to fill the “childlike host” archetype, and he still continues that trend, though it isn’t particularly entertaining and it takes up more time than it needs to. The birdhouse bit felt more slow paced than anything, and I really wish they would’ve removed this bit completely so the actual stories have a bit more time to develop and breathe a little.

The first story revolves around Jake and Jake Jr., which is easily the best story out of all of them. Jake and his daughter were perfectly jovial and had a strong connection in the previous episode, though this one focuses more on Jake’s awkwardness when it comes to not understanding the feelings of the pups and knowing how to connect with them emotionally. Jake Jr.’s concerns and frustrations in regards to her future leaves us with a very eloquently put statement that reads as relatable and genuinely well-put, though Jake isn’t able to connect as well because he still doesn’t understand where his daughter is at in her developmental stage. So, instead, he tries to amuse her with a distraction from her psychological troubles, even if it fails miserably. Again, I enjoy Jake Jr.’s presence here. I like how she’s kind of just your typical late teen, but she reads more as cool and likable than a bland stereotype. I enjoy how she supports her dad’s efforts to impress her, which shows that she may be even more mature than Jake at this point. I also like how her stretchy powers are achieved through her hair! Love the gag that ends it all as well, with Jake presenting the alleged newspaper from the following day that says, “JAKE JR. REAL COOL KID! Daddy’s Angel witnesses report. By Jake “The Dad” The Dog.” Jake is too darn sweet.

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The Cinnamon Bun bit is exceedingly annoying. I’ve never been a huge fan of O.G. Cinnamon Bun, and his appearance here really emphasizes why. He’s loud, obnoxious, and practically mentally insane at times. I don’t think there’s a single part of him that is charming or likable, and I welcome with open arms the day that he moves into the Fire Kingdom. Also, I think the Jake nightlights in this one are such a wildly bizarre sight gag. I wonder who manufactures these babies, and I also wonder why Finn and Jake have one themselves. Can you imagine having a nightlight with your face on it?

The Ice King scene is also kind of dry. I love the joke with his checklist and the separation of that one “e.” but the exchange with his penguins just seems a bit too familiar. Every Graybles episode up to this point features a story involving Ice King and his penguins, and this one just doesn’t really feel fresh or new in any sense. One thing I do like is the DVD of “Basic Mortality,” which very much seems like a pre-Mushroom War crime drama. Though, have we seen DVDs in the show before? My memory might be tricking me, but I feel like everything video related has been on VHS up to this point. Kind of seems like an inconsistency if that’s the case, similar to how all of the intricate cellular phones in the first few seasons became standard touchscreen phones after a period of time. Also, the inclusion of the “Airplanes Taking Off” DVD cracks me up, especially the review on the cover by C. Tinker: “Gripping… sensual.”

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The Lemongrab story that follows… oh man. I’ve watched this one so many times that it isn’t quite as crazy and hilarious as the first time I saw it, but it still remains one of the most jaw-droppingly amusing moments in the entire series. The voice work by Justin Roiland is terrific, as usual, and the absolute screams of terror as Lemongrab 2 is quite graphically eaten by his brother is just bafflingly hilarious. It also serves as an introduction for the eventual tension between the two Lemongrab brothers, as well as Lemongrab 1’s obsession with eating other people. All over poor little Lemonsweets, who tragically died in the incident. RIP.

Mr. Fox’s story doesn’t provide a ton… I do enjoy Mr. Fox in his smaller moments, especially his voicework by Tom Herpich, though I don’t think his character is really interesting enough to carry even just a Grayble. His main character trait is that he is incredibly lonely, though he’s kind of written without much of a personality in this one. And even then, do most people even know who Mr. Fox is up to this point? Like, even if you’re the most diehard of Adventure Time fans, I could still see someone scratching their head upon first seeing this short and saying, “oh yeah, that guy…” so his inclusion does make for a bit of an interesting choice. I do like the use of Mr. Fox’s subconscious, however. Jake’s subconscious was a gag in season one that didn’t make a ton of sense with the world of the show, though I do enjoy how this one adopts it as just a part of AT’s world and makes it more of a solidified aspect of the mythos. I do hope M.F.’s subconscious eventually led him to that treasure.

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The theme of the Graybles isn’t directly announced, which is a practice I actually support, because it makes guessing the motif that much more difficult. Though, I really only figured it out from looking on the wiki: the Graybles reference the five stages of grief, Finn “accepted” the package from Jake, Cinnamon Bun experienced a “denial” of light, Ice King used “bargaining” to watch his DVD, Lemongrab experienced “anger”, and Mr. Fox noticed the “depression” in the bed. I also think it’s funny how this one was advertised as a Father’s Day special, probably confusing most into thinking that was the overarching theme. Jake is Jake Jr.’s father, Princess Bubblegum is a parental figure to CB, Ice King is somewhat of a father to his penguins, the Lemongrabs took care of Lemonsweets, and Mr. Fox’s doesn’t really have anything to do with being a father figure. He takes care of the bugs… I guess? I’m just happy this isn’t the theme they likely went for.

So it’s somewhat polarizing, as most Graybles episodes are. I think this one’s especially rushed and doesn’t really have that many good stories, though the moments I enjoyed were a lot of fun. I will say this: it’s definitely more interesting than the Graybles episodes prior. I think I’ve watched the Lemongrab scene about 100 times more than any of the other Graybles before this. I also like how this one connects the stories with a particular line, that only gets more absurd and wacky as it goes along, my favorite being “what a jerk,” that is altered by Finn harmlessly saying, “what? A jerk?” That was a lot of fun and provided for some good laughs along the way. And it actually does have some moments that carry over into other episodes, namely the tension between the Lemongrabs and Mr. Fox’s experience with his subconscious. So while I can’t say it’s as coherently put together as Five Short Graybles or Five More Short Graybles, it’s definitely a bit more subversive than those first two.

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Favorite line: “Cinnamon Bun, you can’t sleep with a night-light anymore. You’re basically thirty—it’s starting to bum everyone out.”

“One Last Job” Review

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Original Airdate: June 10, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Ako Castuera

One Last Job makes a full eleven minutes out of the often mentioned life of crime that Jake lived before he matured. Being something that was mostly treated as a gag and not an actual solid part of Jake’s character, this episode harps off of great continuity points within the show’s history, though it doesn’t really make for a particularly noteworthy entry in my eyes.

It’s pretty sweet that the entire conflict is driven by putting Jake Jr. in a captive situation. We haven’t seen the kids at all since Jake the Dad, so it was a nice way to reintroduce one of the pups and to put Jake in the position of a caring father. I enjoy how, despite his current feelings towards committing crimes and obstructing the law, the one driving factor that forces him to turn back is because that his daughter’s life is possibly on the line.

The episode takes a good bit of time developing the actual personalities of Jake’s gang members, and while I think it’s all pretty serviceable, I don’t really find any of these old colleagues particularly that interesting in design, or even character.

Gareth’s outlandishly big, detailed head is a somewhat silly sight gag, though it almost feels like it’s retreading Ricardio’s design of the “super detailed face.” Gareth’s voiced by Sam Marin, and Marin, who has some pretty decent vocal range, gives a pretty bland delivery. Marin had already voiced Clarence on the show before, and I’m not sure why they kept bringing him on if they were just going to keep making him perform the same delivery over and over again. Marin has some awesome voices under his belt, so why not allow him to whip them out? Also, I’m not really sure why we took the time to learn about Gareth’s possession ability if it never really had any part in the actual heist. Just seems like a missed opportunity.

The Flying Lettuce Brothers are a bit more interesting, providing for the most effective use of their character in relation to the actual plot itself. I like their introduction sequence, especially with the moody girl and her boss’s exchange at the Squeeze-E-Mart. I know I just mentioned it being detrimental for Sam Marin to use the same voice over and over, but I really never get tired of Pen Ward’s raspy voice being used to scream the lines of random tertiary characters. I quite enjoy how the boss of the Squeeze-E-Mart also apparently doesn’t open doors either, he just casually walks through glass.

And then there’s Tiffany, who I myself am not really a big fan of. I don’t really get into his long-winded monologues and his inner angst, and I think a lot of it has to do with his voice. Don’t get me wrong, Collin Dean’s voice is absolutely fine; Greg from Over the Garden Wall happens to be one of my favorite characters of all time. Yet, I think using that child voice to read off lines that are pretty much just constant bitching and moaning can get a little grating to me. Though, he does have his redeemable moments. I do enjoy his connection with Jake, and how Tiffany practically feels abandoned and misguided without him. Tiffany was obviously a lot younger when Jake first came into the picture, and when he left the gang, Tiffany presumably had thought of him like a big brother. It’s somewhat somber putting the pieces together like that, and I think it makes for a pretty interesting dynamic.

The break-in scene in general goes on a little too long. I do like the head Banana Guard being splashed with banana milk and actually enjoying it, but the Banana Guards screaming, outside of a few neat drawings, just isn’t really funny enough to hold onto for a whole minute. Once Jake gets inside, however, I think the episode as a whole picks up a bit more. And most of it comes from some really terrific storyboarding from Ako Castuera. I love the side-scrolling expedition Jake takes to reach the baker’s shard; AT has done many video game references up to this point, but this is one that still feels fresh, new, and visually appealing. And after it’s revealed that Jake’s gang is the one who crossed him, the entire chase sequence that follows is just terrific. One gag that Jesse Moynihan would always mention that makes no sense is the scene where Jake morphs through the prison bars and comes out in one piece, though it’s one that’s so fun and appealing that it doesn’t bother me the least bit that it technically doesn’t add up. Hell, most of Jake’s shape shifting doesn’t make any sense. But it’s a cartoon, dammit!

After some more great shots of a giant Jake chasing the truck, Jake finds out that Jake Jr. double-crossed the double-crossers to impress her pops… Though, I gotta wonder, how did Jake Jr. know about Jake’s criminal past in the first place? I somewhat doubt Jake talks to her enough to share it with her, and it would also surprise me if Lady shared such a story about Jake Jr.’s father to her. Though, it’s not one that bothers me much, and I do think the ending is pretty cute. This is the first one-on-one connection between Jake and one of his pups that we’ve actually seen, and it’s quite endearing. While Jake’s relationship with his kids is almost always awkward on some level, it seems like him and Jake Jr. get along quite fondly (well, in this instance; we’ll get to the next episode soon) and it doesn’t take much with Jake Jr.’s rambunctious personality at hand.

Overall, however, I think this one’s just ‘ight. Besides the sprinkles of fun and enjoyable moments throughout, I don’t think they took advantage of this idea as much as they possibly could have. The idea of Jake being a criminal in the past is a really interesting concept, and I sadly don’t think the choices they made are very interesting at all. It plays off like a pretty generic heist scenario, and I don’t think the interactions between the gang members (besides the aforementioned Tiffany and Jake bond) or Jake’s portrayal in general really differentiate between anything we haven’t already seen in these types of stories. It’s sad that an episode about Jake’s past history has so little for me to take away in terms of intriguing Jake content, and considering he’s a character whose past history and depth we know or understand the least about, this one ultimately leaves me wanting more.

Three episodes in a row where Finn barely has a role! This was somewhat of an oddity at the time, though it would become more of a regularity. I only wish we got to see more of his primitive noise band.

Favorite line: “‘Cause when you get older you’re supposed to get in other stuff, like graphic design, or pottery.”

“The Party’s Over, Isla de Señorita” Review

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Original Airdate: May 27, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Cole Sanchez

Ice King’s more sympathetic side has mainly come from his tragic past history as Simon Petrikov, as well as his relationship to Marceline. However, there still is the side to Ice King that is deeply troubled and creepy, especially when it comes to his special interests in capturing princesses. In this episode, the IK’s obsession with his favorite princess finally blows up in his face and sends a message to him, allowing him to actually make some changes in his life, with the help of new companion. Of course, these changes are only temporary, but nevertheless, it’s a pretty satisfying Ice King experience.

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Right off the bat, there’s a nice change of pace with the episode taking place mostly on the island (more specifically, Isla de Señorita) with only Ice King, the Island Lady, and Party God being heavily focused on. Finn and Jake are once again demoted to background characters as they were in the previous episode, though it’s a change that, with most AT episodes, isn’t dreaded for the creative and experimental results that come from these types of episodes.

And the focus of the episode is really nice; the relationship between Ice King and the Island Lady is quite sweet, and I love the angle the episode takes on Ice King’s personality. The biggest takeaway from this one is simply how well Ice King is capable of sanity and more socially acceptable behavior when he just has a loving, caring friend by his side. In fact, Ice King’s analysis of PB’s issues is actually pretty fucking spot on! “Yeah, well, PB is just so closed off to her emotions, she crushes the relationship so she doesn’t ever have to develop feelings,” is a really accurate way of describing Bubblegum, and this is coming from Ice King of all people. I think it’s another valid point to show that, despite his insanity and social ineptitude, he does show signs of random brilliance and intelligence, possibly showing that parts of Simon do shine into his subconscious at times. Also, I thought it was a really nice touch that they didn’t force a mutual romance into this one with the Island Lady and IK; it would’ve been the much more predictable and somewhat unrealistic route, and once again, I’m glad it showcased the one crucial component to Ice King’s mental health and maturity: having a strong friendship.

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The Island Lady herself is somewhat of a blank slate. I do love her design! It’s really inventive and seems like something that would come out of an indie short film. Though, she’s not really given any sort of a personality. But it’s not really an issue of the episode; the main focal point is, like I said, to showcase a more emotional mature side of the Ice King, and it works out pretty damn well, so I don’t really mind that Isla de Señorita’s a little bit dry (no pun intended). I do quite enjoy her singing voice as well, though the song in this one isn’t a particular favorite of mine. It’s pleasant and has a nice beat, but it isn’t one I find humming to myself or listening to that much.

The use of Party God in this one is a lot of fun. I feel like it only makes sense that he’d be a douchey frat boy boyfriend, and it works just as well using him in this scenario that it would with, say, Ash. It’s also a small thing, but I love how he picks everything up with his mouth, as it just hangs lightly between his teeth. That got a small chuckle out of me. Also, I think the battle between he and Ice King was actually pretty visually interesting. We don’t get a ton of inventive looking battles from AT because, well, it isn’t an action show, but this episode’s incorporation of an aerial battle between Party God and the IK was a lot of fun. And it’s pretty intense as well! I love Ice King angrily uttering, “She is not your “bid-ness”!” That was really sweet coming from him, as he is known for objectifying women, even if he is angrily giving someone comeuppance for doing the same thing. It might seem hypocritical in some instances, but again, this is Ice King, whose ability to grasp social norms is incredibly difficult, so this is a pretty significant moment.

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Ice King using Party God as a puppet for Isla de Señorita to vent her frustrations out to was delightfully fucked up, but also pretty cute. The whole exchange between the two, as Ice King struggles between staying in character and unveiling his own feelings, is just great, and it saddens me that we haven’t seen these two together again. Above everyone else, the Island Lady allowed Ice King an outlet to get away from the toxicity of his wacky relationships in Ooo, and even left him with an important lesson about relationships. Though, it may not have impacted him the way she had hoped. Ice King officially “breaks up” with Princess Bubblegum, though the last line of the episode, “ah, we’ll work it out,” suggests that he hasn’t learned as much as we probably hoped. Though, this doesn’t bother me at all; Princess Monster Wife also showed that, whatever developmental changes Ice King may go through, he still is very much unstable, and there’s little that can change that as long as the crown still is taking possession of his mind. The biggest takeaway, as I’ve said, is that a friend can go a long way for the sad iceman, and it can even help him regain bits and pieces of his sanity for a period of time.

So I like it! I wouldn’t call it a particularly entertaining one, but I appreciate its tone and what it was going for. What came out of it was a very interesting look as Ice King in the midst of an acquaintance, and that’s about the best I could’ve expected out of this premise. Nice colors, nice atmosphere, and overall a really nice friendship to capture my attention throughout the episode’s run. During a Lego contest where AT fans were encouraged to build Lego figures of random characters, one person in particular made one of the Island Lady, and it looks awesome! You can check it out here.

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Favorite line: Banana Guard yourself, Princess!!”