“We Fixed a Truck” Review

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Original Airdate: October 21, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Andy Ristaino & Cole Sanchez

An episode like We Fixed a Truck doesn’t reach the absolute hilariousness of its past comedic predecessors, but it’s overall just a really fun and enjoyable episode that focuses more on individual character moments and pure absurdity rather than a linear story, and even manages to be strangely beautiful in the process. It’s also a nice breakout moment for the returning character Banana Man, who previously appeared in The New Frontier, and has what is probably his best appearance in this episode.

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The title card alone is enough to get me into this one. I know I don’t talk about this aspect of the show enough, but I don’t know a single show that has more beautifully crafted title cards than Adventure Time. I’m not gonna say that every single one hits a mark, but this episode’s card in particular poses a form of beauty in its simplicity. What could’ve been a simple painted image of the truck, or Hot Daniel as the boys call it, is instead an apparent discovery that Finn made while taking a walk one day. Of course, this show is already scattered with post-apocalyptic references in almost every episode, so I’m willing to bet this car stuck in a tree was up there for quite some time, and is only being rediscovered now. Add a beautiful sunrise filled with purple, yellow, and orange in the background and this single image actually becomes quite whimsical and even a little somber. It’s amazing what the series is able to do with these lovely paintings, and can really help set the mood for an episode as a whole.

Down to the actual episode itself, I actually kind of like how there’s no real conflict in this one. I previously mentioned that as an issue in Box Prince, though this one much more efficiently creates an atmosphere that simply involves these likable characters all in one area, so it’s much less noticeable. The main focus of this is that Finn and Jake just want to fix up a truck for shits and gigs. Though Ice King isn’t able to help them (is he wearing a dress shirt when he appears? Dunno, but he actually kind of looks handsome) the boys do have their friendly neighbor Banana Man to help them out!

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Banana Man is a really enjoyable loser. AT has had plenty of these types of characters, but I personally think Banana Man is one that is written in a way that makes him both really amusing and quite charming. A lot of that derives from his voice actor Weird Al Yankovic, who gives him a bit of a quirky inflection, but doesn’t really overdo it either. He’s able to have his goofier moments, like the beginning where he demonstrates how the cylinder head works and demonstrates it through nonexistent visuals. I’m usually not a huge fan of AT’s self-aware jokes, though I think this one works because it can easily be applied to Banana Man’s own delusions. And it’s actually somewhat educational! I don’t know jackshit when it comes to cars, but I actually found this slightly informative in the best way possible. I also enjoy how Banana Man isn’t really deceptive or manipulative in his actions. There’s already one character in this show – Ice King – that is constantly trying to trick or trap the boys into becoming better friends with him, but Banana Man is very genuine and caring. Though he does hope for the end result to leave him better friends with Finn and Jake, he simply helps them because he’s a nice guy who enjoys hanging out with other people. And it’s cool to see a civilian of Ooo who doesn’t necessarily worship the boys as heroes, but just views them as potential buddies to hangout with.

And he portrays these feelings in “Hanging Out Forever,” a song that is mostly cheesy and not necessarily catchy, but one that is deeply hilarious at its core. I was disappointed that The New Frontier didn’t utilize Weird Al to his fullest potential by having him sing, so I’m glad this episode picked up on that opportunity. Banana Man fantasizes about having fantastic times with Finn, Jake, and BMO like “best friend pillow fights” or “board game Friday nights.” What a lovable dork.

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This sequence leads to a bit of a diversion as BMO begins some late night work on the truck. This features one of my favorite visual gags ever, which is BMO brilliantly changing her batteries by taking the old ones out and landing on the new ones. We also get a listen into Starchy’s radio show “Graveyard Shift”, and I’m a sucker for wacky conspiracy theories, so I really got into this little bit. And it’s not entirely pointless either; it ingeniously ties into the climax, again, based on pure ludicrousy. Banana Man creepily enters back into the scene to offer some sincerity and exposition into his life. This bit is probably my favorite in the episode. I think BMO and Banana Man actually work off of each other well and make for some cute interactions, and I think this is where Banana Man becomes well-defined and humanized. His line of, “I don’t wanna be alone, but I’ve gotten pretty good at it,” is actually something I can relate to in some degree. For a long period of time I had been away from the dating scene, and had become so comfortable with getting invested in my own personal projects that it became out of the question to go beyond it. The writers often use Ice King as a way to capture their loneliness with honesty and use it as a means to cope, and Banana Man seems no different. This show is so good at humanizing “loser” characters and showing that they aren’t simply one-dimensional dorks that it really isn’t hard to empathize with anyone, no matter how wacky or unique.

Following the lovely bonding session between BMO and Banana Man, we get to see a glimpse of the gang finishing up the truck. Also an awesome montage sequence, that’s complete with the “Manlorette Party” music from When Wedding Bells Thaw. While not my favorite bit of score that Tim Kiefer has ever produced, it is likable enough to deserve a second inclusion. And it follows the montage quite nicely. The visuals that go along with it are great as well. I love how the gang quite aggressively breaks into the Breakfast Kingdom, as Finn assaults a French Toast Man instead of simply asking for syrup. It’s always nice of AT to include that bit of unexpected darkness in even its brightest of episodes.

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And the rest of the episode is just focused on having as much fun as possible. The Treehouse boys try and set up Banana Man on a date with a nice female Banana Guard. Though I like this concept, I have a bit of a gripe with it, simply because where have all the female Banana Guards been up to this point? It becomes even more distracting as the later episode The Thin Yellow Line shows that there are dozens of female Banana Guards. But I’m willing to let this little detail slide, because it’s cute. And it leads up to the even more bizarre storyline where it’s revealed that Princess Bubblegum actually has been replaced by a giant lizard. The revelation is terrific; no build up, just a quick series of gags that eventually lead to the lizard imposter grabbing a bug with its tongue and transforming into a beast. The scenes that follow are awesome in the visual department. Some really solid animation all around that make for a terrifically fun action sequence. I might as well point out that Andy Ristaino’s drawings in this one are really great. Ristaino started out as the lead character designer for the series, and as of Love Games, became a recurring storyboard artist paired with Cole Sanchez. I really enjoy Ristaino’s drawings, that make for some really cute and stretchy expressions from each character. As the episode wraps up and Banana Man is sent to jail for public indecency (though he got the lady of his dreams! For now, at least…) Finn, Jake, and BMO mourn the loss of Hot Daniel. RIP, you beautiful hunk of junk.

This one is just great; all around fun with hints of beauty here and there. I love the character interactions, the animation, the drawings, the backgrounds, the atmosphere, and pretty much everything else it has to offer. This is often one I overlook for fluff episodes I consider to be “funnier” but it’s hard to deny that this episode practically does everything it wants to do just perfectly. The only other gripe I have with it is that Cinnamon Bun appears at the end, and though he appears in Apple Wedding later on, it’s at least explained in the promo art and made somewhat believable. This instance feels more like Tree Trunks appearance in Evicted! Though it’s a minor background detail and I think everything else this episode offers is more than enough to justify a simple mistake. Season 5.2 has been on a roll with funnier, more laidback episodes, and I think this episode works somewhat as a finale for the lighter and sillier episodes and enters into some of the darker and more story based episodes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as we’ve got some really enticing episodes to come.

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Favorite line: “Not a car guy—too confusing. Got better things to do with my life.” 


“Red Starved” Review

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Original Airdate: October 14, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Jesse Moynihan

Red Starved primarily attempts to capture the magic of AT’s earliest seasons by bringing back a dynamic we haven’t seen in quite some time: the potential conflict between Jake and Marceline. It’s primarily based around a survival of the fittest story that I think could’ve been a lot stronger, but for what we got, I think it holds up okay.

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First off, the premise definitely receives a warm welcoming from me. Jake, Marceline, and Finn going on a casual adventure in a really neat sand dungeon for PB feels like a classic set up on its own. Though Finn and Marcy don’t really hang out much anymore by this point in the show (which is incredibly sad to say, seeing how we’re only halfway through the series) it is just nice to see the three of them chillin’ and going on adventures together. It’s good fun!

Though I think the beginning is dampened a bit because I don’t find Jake’s bits particularly that funny. I do like his flesh drill that ends up being painful as fuck, but I think his shtick of accidentally getting everyone trapped within the sand city and then just carelessly being an asshole about it comes off as slightly more annoying than actually amusing or cute to me. I think after that initial set up however, I warm up to his presence much more.

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I think the segments between him and Marceline are good fun. As I mentioned, it mostly turns into a survival of the fittest story that pits Jake and Marceline against each other, though I can’t help but feel the story could’ve been expanded on a bit more. I mean, it is called Red Starved, but it seems like the story just calls for Marceline and Jake just being “hungry” rather than progressively going insane and being driven to wanting to eat each other. Though, the episode does provide some form of reasoning for it; Marcy is a vampire, so I can’t really determine how she operates when needing to feast, and I am glad that the episode does address that she is still somewhat of a threat. Marceline has settled far too easily into just “laidback friend” territory the past few seasons, but this episode does acknowledge that Marceline is still quite dangerous, regardless of the friendships she has made throughout the years. I also like how this is emphasized by her very grotesque changing expressions, which are drawn to be really terrifying and even a little bit gross. At the same time as well, I never really know if she’s just fucking with Jake for eating her erasers, or if she’s legitimately considering sucking the color from his organs. If I had to speculate, I’d say the former, but it is nice how the episode kind of leaves it to your interpretation.

In addition to that, I like how Jake’s mindset isn’t really that he’s so hungry that he wants to eat Marceline, but rather that he just wants to do so in order to avoid getting eaten. I even like how the line “I’m operating on my lowest survival brain function right now,” is included not to show that Jake is thinking logically, but simply that he’s doing what he has to do to potentially survive.

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So the main plot works fine, but I actually quite enjoy the subplot following Finn’s solo mission. I think the stuff he comes across is cool, mainly the people who were turned into sand people at the hands of a ruby (er, emerald) and the Crab Demon who zoned out for 500 straight years. I also like Finn’s brief little bits of him talking to himself; they aren’t particularly funny lines that he utters, but it’s just strangely charming bits of dialogue that really get me invested in his journey. For the past half-season focusing on a lot of Finn’s vices and issues, it’s nice to have one where he simply comes off as likable and amusing, and there’s not really any inner demons he has to face as a result of it.

The ending scene with PB definitely had shippers everywhere going wild, and I think it’s cute that the spoon of prosperity was actually a direct fix to PB’s issue at the moment. I also love her ending line, “Peeps will never starve in my eternal empire.” That momma is goin’ wild.

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Though, this episode probably has the absolute DUMBEST joke out of any Adventure Time episode: Finn’s color-blindness. First of all, I feel like the fact that it was merely used as a gag and never brought up again really goes against Finn’s character and the series as a whole; these are not gag characters, and we’re supposed to treat everything they do, possess, and say as completely factual aspects of each character. So the idea that the show wanted to introduce Finn as color-blind, with absolutely no intention of ever mentioning it again, just feels like an absolute complete cheater moment for Jesse and Ako to write in. I know it’s a single moment that is included for laughs, but think of all the small moments that end up incorporating their way into the show as consistent aspects: Finn’s favorite food is meatloaf, PB legitimately dated Mr. Cream Puff at one point, Finn eventually gains immunity to electricity and has it for the rest of the series, etc. I just think it’s incredibly dumb to try and add an aspect of Finn’s character that was never hinted at and never ends up having relevance again. Also, second, if Finn see’s green things as red, wouldn’t he think his backpack is green and just let Marcy suck the color out of it? Third, is that really how color-blindness works?

That major gripe aside, I think this one is okay. It has its moments here and there, I like what they included with Marceline’s character, some of the landscape is nice, but overall, it’s a somewhat underwhelming effort. If I had to describe where it stands with me I’d just simply say that it’s not nearly as bad as the ever-boring Box Prince but also not as good as the mostly solid Dungeon Train. It doesn’t really do much for me, but it isn’t one I actively dislike either. Besides the bit with Finn not being able to see green. Some bullshit I tell ya.

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I forgot to mention last review, but we’re at the halfway mark, folks! 143 episodes down, 141 to go! Episode reviews will resume at their regular pace after this one with a weekly release, but I’m happy to say that this blog is exactly where I want it to be right now. Obviously I love writing for it, but this definitely isn’t something I want to be doing forever, so I’m glad I was able to bang out at least half of the series in only a little over a year. Here’s hoping by next year I’ll be up to the same speed as I have been! And always, thank you all for reading!

Favorite line: “Don’t go in the light. Go like this. Around it. Next time, you guys.”

“Box Prince” Review

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Original Airdate: October 7, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Seo Kim

Well, I hope you guys like cats, because the bare essentials of Box Prince is simply that cats are silly and cute and we should laugh at them. It’s a pretty disposable episode that was born out of an already pretty empty story, that doesn’t really have any of the usual AT goodness to make it stand out on its own. And it’s quite a shame seeing as how we got really fun and energetic bits of fluff with Love Games or Time Sandwich.

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The story is about as paper thin as possible; Finn traveling to a supposed “Box Kingdom” and helping this “Box Prince” regain his status sounds like a funny idea when written down, but the idea of the entire joke of the episode being “these are just cats and nothing else” makes the entirety of the episode feel quite repetitive. The joke wore on me about five seconds in, and from that point on, it really just felt like a big waste of my time. No conflict, no actual jokes outside of the initial concept, and absolutely no investment from myself, as pretty much anyone going into this knows exactly how it’s going to end. In addition to that, I think Finn’s portrayed as a little too dumb in this one. I appreciate that he was willing to look upon the cat and take his supposed dilemma quite seriously, though I can’t really believe that he would actually take this issue seriously. Or rather, even make up this issue in his head. I would’ve liked if, at the end of the episode, Finn simply acknowledged that he was going along with it the entire time and said something along the lines of “that was a fun waste of 11 minutes,” but otherwise, I think this scenario is a bit tough to believe. Finn isn’t the brightest bulb in the shed, but he’s not flat-out dumb either.

Jake’s bit in this episode feels even less inspired. I’m not a fan of Jake when he’s merely portrayed as a lazy dick; the last episode did such a good job of showing how awesome it is when he dedicates himself to something, and especially when it’s Finn. Yet, here we see him barely even looking up at Finn and telling him to go away so he can play BMO and eat nachos in peace. Feels kind of day and night, doesn’t it? I don’t mind Jake’s laziness to a degree, but when it brings down the overall energy and pleasantness of the episode, it becomes a bit of a problem it my book. But people love his quote “if you get everything you want the minute you want it, what’s the point of living?” which is followed by a somewhat humorous montage contradicting this statement, but still, I don’t think makes Jake’s mostly detached behavior any more fun to watch. And a lot of people like to turn and say, “oh, well this is why Jake doesn’t always use his powers to get himself out of sticky situations, because he wants to deal with his problems!!” Well, if that’s the case, that’s wildly ridiculous and somewhat psychotic from Jake’s perspective; if Jake really allows himself and Finn to be put in potential danger simply because he wants to “deal with life’s problems,” that’s a little insane and I don’t really think that’s what the line was intended to imply at all. The only reason I like this subplot slightly better is because of how BMO and Jake work off of each other. It’s by no means terrific interactions, as it’s basically just BMO glaring at Jake after every single comment he makes, but it is nice to see the two of them just simply hanging out together. It’s rare we get to see such a mundane and laidback occurrence in place.

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This episode seems like one Somvilay Xayaphone and Seo Kim enjoyed doing a lot, simply because it seems like their interests are at their fullest potential. Somvilay gets to include his infamous anti-humor and Seo Kim gets to fill the episode with adorable kittens. But none of their work really strikes a chord; Somvilay’s drawings can get a giggle here and there, but his actual jokes, or in this case non-jokes, don’t really hit the mark on any level. I remember getting the pun, “na… chos,” when I first heard it, but just ended up reflecting back on it and not thinking it was that funny at all. In addition to that, the jokes don’t really work off of logic much either. Like, if the kingdom is supposedly not authentic, then why do the boxes change faces? I could see if this was used as a point to show how the kingdom was actually real, but the point by the end of the episode is that it isn’t.

I think this episode is best on a visual scale. Again, I don’t get into the actual drawings of Finn and Jake much, but the backgrounds look really nice, especially in the Box Kingdom. There’s also a moment of really nice animation when Finn is following Box Prince through the forest that particularly stuck out to me.

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But by its end, I almost completely forget what I have just watched. Box Prince ends up feeling like a waste of time, with little lasting impressions outside a few key moments. But I will say this about it: it’s nowhere near good, but it’s not particularly awful either. Yet, it’s that statement that makes it somewhat even more deplorable for me. If an episode’s good, I can go in great lengths to talk about why it’s so awesome. If an episode is bad, I can go into detail on why it doesn’t match the standard quality of AT. Box Prince is somewhere in the middle of those too, and feels more like a requirement for me to cover than something I’m actually interested in writing about. I feel bad tearing into such an inoffensive episode, but as AT has proved time and time again, it can add substance to just about any story. Box Prince, unfortunately, is not one of those stories.

Favorite line: “Floss is for losers.”


“Dungeon Train” Review

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Original Airdate: September 30, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

Dungeon Train takes on an interesting perspective; while Too Old and Love Games dealt mostly with how Finn was reacting to his break-up, and Earth & Water dealt with Flame Princess’s point of view, this one revolves around how Jake is responding to Finn’s own sadness. The episode accomplishes such with pretty sympathetic results, and I think it’s a really heartfelt testament to just how much Jake cares about Finn. However, the content of this one can be a little bit middling.

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The beginning is really nice, albeit a bit scary. Finn’s clearly still sad about his girlfriend, but this episode carries across his feelings as legitimately depressive. Finn states, “I just been feeling kind of… gray, is all. Like my inside voice has been kinda quiet lately. Not a lot of instructions forthcoming, y’know?” signaling that this sadness he’s been feeling has led him in the direction of despondency and just genuinely feeling unmotivated. It’s sad to see that, as much as Jake wants to help, he’s just simply not always the perfect person to give Finn sound advice. That’s not to say that he never has given Finn positive advice, though often when confronted with raw emotion, Jake has difficulty expressing himself in the right manner that is supposed to cheer people up. He’s in the middle of possibly the happiest relationship he’s ever been through with Lady, so it’s most likely difficult for him to work up the proper response that will help Finn to move on. That’s where the Dungeon Train comes in.

The Dungeon Train is a very cool MMO-inspired battle platform with many cool foes for Finn to face (love the designs of the crystal ants and the hair apes; both of them would end up being standard foes in the actual AT video games). There also some cool bits of loot, especially the lightning sword. I know there would never be a proper outlet for Finn to use it, as he currently possesses the Demon Blood Sword and would acquire the Grass Sword right after, though the lightning sword is pretty well designed and has a very unique feature. Finn’s response to all that the Dungeon Train has to offer is quite endearing, and Jake’s response is even more endearing. Another instance of some terrific voice acting from John DiMaggio in this one, as Jake reads off some really poignant lines that I don’t think would have nearly been as effective without DiMaggio’s inflections. That simple utterance of “welcome back, buddy” before the fade to black is undeniably sweet and really shows how much Finn’s happiness means to Jake.

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Though, the fun is short lasting, as Finn slowly becomes engrossed, and quite frankly obsessed, with the actual dungeon train. Again, we’ve learned through a brief conversation in Earth & Water that Finn finds his sadness easier to cope with when he does have something to completely focus his time on. The dungeon train not only offers Finn something to focus all of his negative energy on, but it’s also something Finn genuinely enjoys doing. It’s an escape for him. The issue is that obsession of any kind, whether good or bad, is harmful. Finn is using this distraction to completely block out the hardships of reality and believes that if he simply keeps battling for as long as possible, he’ll never have to deal with his issues again. Whether this is true or not, this is what Finn sets out to do, much to Jake’s dismay. And this is certainly an interesting development of Finn’s character, though I think the actual events surrounding him are somewhat dull.

About five minutes of this episode includes Jake getting fed up with the dungeon train as Finn continues to pursue different challenges, and I couldn’t help but feel Jake’s pain a little bit. Not that I was legitimately frustrated by the episode, but I kind of grew tired of seeing the designs of the dungeon beasts and the repetitive nature of what the episode was trying to get across. It was all used as a means of showing how obsessive Finn was becoming and how tedious it was becoming to Jake, though there aren’t many jokes, interesting foes, or even a high sense of energy to carry it through. Definitely like what the episode was portraying, but not necessarily how it was executed.

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The episode picks up again as Jake befriends one of the hair apes on the top of train, as he ponders what his kids are doing at the moment. It’s another poignant line delivery from DiMaggio himself, and shows a bit into Jake’s frustrations with his own self. As he chases around his brother deflecting his emotions all day, his children continue to grow up around him, and he isn’t even there to watch them. Obviously he loves Finn and wouldn’t leave him to rot in the dungeon train, but there surely are some days where Jake probably feels the guilt and weight of being a parent, and isn’t even able to be with his kids half the time. Poor guy.

This all comes to a boiling conclusion as Jake angrily scolds Finn for becoming the very thing he sought out to destroy, while Finn shoots him with some nasty looking spider webs. This is where Finn, using the future orb that Jake had previously picked up, discovers that he will continue to explore the dungeon for the rest of his life, as Jake follows behind. I have a couple of questions here; so, is the orb a factual look into the future? Like, is this legitimately what the future holds? Because in that case, why is Jake still alive? Obviously Jake’s half-alien self prevents him from aging the same way a dog would, but he’s already decades older than Finn at this point in shapeshifting dog years. Maybe I’m nitpicking, but I just don’t buy that Jake would live to see Finn in his older years. That gave me a sad writing it. I do enjoy how this futuristic Finn once again contributes to the missing right arm allusion that the show has emphasized so heavily lately.

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But fortunately, Finn comes to his senses and returns to Jake (love the “very special” music here; it would later become a staple of the Grassy Wizard episodes). Finn acknowledges quite maturely that, while he realizes that he can’t stay on the train forever, he does want to stay on for another week or two. It shows that Finn isn’t completely ready to face reality, but he does know that he will have to eventually. And it’s especially sweet that he does so not just for himself, but for Jake. Jake, who selflessly stuck by Finn no matter what, did leave at least one positive lasting impression to his brother: that Finn cannot just simply focus on contributing to his own happiness, but the happiness of his loved ones as well.

Dungeon Train is decent. I think it has plenty of slow moments, but the overall connectivity of Finn and Jake is what carries it through quite successfully. I really dig the individual character exploration of the boys that this episode set out to do, and I think in return we got some really nice emotional performances from both Finn and Jake. I just wish the middle parts gave me a bit more to chew on. On a different note, this is the first time Flambo’s brother is mentioned, and it’s sad to think that he’s mentioned as many times as Flambo actually appears after this episode. I miss that little fire scamp.

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Favorite line: “What… is the meaning of ‘spoon’?”


“Love Games” Review

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Original Airdate: September 23, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne, Andy Ristaino & Cole Sanchez

After a much needed break from the FP-Finn drama these past few episodes, we once again return to how Finn is dealing with the break-up, though this time, it’s treated more with humor and a lighter story. After the hilarious Time Sandwich, I didn’t know if Kent Osborne and Cole Sanchez would be able to write something quite as funny, but sure enough (with the help of Andy Ristaino) this episode receives a warm welcoming in my list of very amusing episodes.

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The episode starts out silly enough, as we finally get a cameo from Ice King living within the Treehouse. The dynamic between he and the boys is pretty cute; I like how Jake consistently has to yell at him to not interrupt their radio show, almost as if the IK is their little brother. I also like the actual contents of the radio show, though I have no clue who this is being broadcast to, or who even listens to it. This is seriously the first and only time Finn and Jake have ever been seen doing a radio show, so it feels a bit contrived, but eh, it’s cute. It almost feels as if Finn’s statement that he’s done dating ladies and going back to saving them is fanservice to all the people who bitched and moaned for years about how there was too much romance drama within the series. This episode seems to put this drama to bed, but also acknowledges that Finn isn’t as ready to move on as he initially thought. This is triggered by Slime Princess’s abrupt entrance, as she begs Finn to marry her.

This is Slime Princess’s breakout role as a major player, and I’m glad she’s had at least one spotlight appearance in the series (aside from her future role as an elemental). My enjoyment of her character mainly derives from the solid voice acting from Maria Bamford; Bamford has played many, many characters in AT before, though I don’t think any of them match the level of humor (and somewhat sensual overtones) that Slime Princess has been able to accomplish, and has accomplished in Love Games.

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The plot for this one is exaggeratedly silly, but in a way that I quite appreciate. I could care less about the inner politics within the Slime Kingdom, so the fact that they made the conflict between Slime Princess and her sister Blargatha as nonsensical as possible is much more memorable than if I was actually supposed to take this issue seriously. And as we grow to find out, the Slime Kingdom is based off of silliness.

Adding to the many layers of the Bad Lands, we finally get to see the Slime Kingdom! Slime Kingdom is a well-designed, albeit disgusting environment that feels like the visual equivalent to the common cold. It’s purposely grimy, with shades of green and yellow oozing everywhere, but it never feels like an off-putting area, quite frankly because the inhabitants of the Slime Kingdom are quite fun! I really enjoy Elder Plops and Blargartha, who too have some talented voice actors behind them. That’s John Hodgman from The Daily Show voicing Plops and Katie Crown portraying Blargatha, who has done voice work for the Total Drama series, Clarence, and Storks.

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And most of the episode from this point on is just a series of gags, namely very funny gags. I love how Jake tags along simply to make puns while he’s shrunken down, pulling at a piece of popcorn. He contributes so little to the story that they didn’t even have to include him, yet he’s used perfectly for comic relief. The “battleground of love” provides for some really enjoyable moments, namely the spooning section of it, which got the biggest laugh out of me in the entire episode. Finn’s absolute terrified expression, coupled with Slime Princess shouting “WRAP THOSE GORGEOUS PYTHONS AROUND ME!” is just hysterical. Also, Blargatha and Guillermo’s spoon is so violent and frantic, I can’t help but laugh at it.

Aside from the humor, this episode also has a decent emotional core. You gotta feel just a bit of sympathy for Finn; even though the fallout of his relationship was at the fault of his own, it’s pretty clear at this point that he does look into these actions with a feeling of guilt. Instead of being able to move on from that guilt and sadness, he’s constantly reminded of all things romantic and is also constantly reminded of the girl that he once loved. He vents his feelings through the song “I Can’t Get Over You,” which is one of the better post-Sugar songs in the series. Shada’s voice croons nicely and carries across an attitude of sincerity and sadness. Finn’s issues become much more defined by the end of it: no matter what he does to try to distract himself, he simply can’t get over Flame Princess.

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This unwillingness to deal with anything related romance related is what leads to Finn finally confronting Blargatha, where it is revealed her husband was a mere pile of gelatin the entire time. Again, a fittingly silly resolution to a fittingly silly conflict. The only thing more ridiculous than that is that it apparently broke no rules or laws within the Slime Kingdom. It just means that Blargatha is disqualified from the competition. Slime politics are weird, right?

The one gripe I have with this one is the very ending, where SP barfs as Finn attempts to kiss her. I get that it’s for the subversion, and is somewhat of a “fuck you” to Finn for reacting the same way earlier, but it doesn’t really make any sense. What happened to when SP wanted to get into Finn’s pants in Prisoners of Love? Unless she spontaneously recalled that Finn pee’s his pants constantly, I’m not sure where exactly this sudden disgust comes from. She seemed willing to get down and dirty with Finn in the previous ten minutes of Love Games. But, as this episode has set out to prove, nothing makes sense in the Slime Kingdom.

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And that’s mainly what makes this episode so fun. It’s simply enjoying this fun new area with these fun characters and a silly premise. It’s nice to see that Finn is still dealing with the issues of his break-up and that they haven’t all just vanished and also nice that this episode is amusing and light to balance out the heavy weight of the romance drama. I love episodes like Frost & Fire and Too Old, but I’m also glad that every episode following it isn’t some big, somber journey. This is what Adventure Time embodies: a perfect blend of comedy and drama with fun and likable characters to carry it through. And all I know is I definitely am checking out the next club I see with a triple-cray rating.

Favorite line: “I will be watching you spoon, measuring and assessing your love by posture and overall vibe.”


“The Vault” Review

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Another one of my favorite title cards, this one designed by Michael DeForge. Season Five has really been on a role in the title card department.

Original Airdate: September 16, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Jesse Moynihan

The Vault expands the world of Adventure Time in so many different ways that it really is amazing all of this was packed into 11 satisfying minutes. It harps on so many past plot points and tidbits that other episodes had already set up, and creates a vividly sad story about a newly introduced and very interesting character. Of all the questions Adventure Time had raised by this point, the mystery behind the Ghost Lady in The Creeps made me more curious than any other aspect of the series. A lot of people speculated that the Ghost Lady was Finn’s mother, and I’d being lying if I didn’t believe the same thing at one point or another. Though, I’m glad that instead, I was treated to a story that was very different from my initial expectations.

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First off, the scenes building up to the actual flashback are just great. Just some classic bits of Finn and Jake working off of each other exceedingly well; Finn’s failure to acknowledge that suppressing memories is harmful, Finn punching himself in the face, Jake calling out his bro for continuously wrecking the kitchen, Finn completely ignoring Jake to acknowledge a cricket that is chirping in the room, etc. Though there’s always one aspect of this episode and some future episodes that just completely baffles me… Are Finn’s pajamas supposed to be different in this one? I was always uncertain if this was an animation error or not, and I’m still not positive. They reappear again in Ocarina (though the storyboard for that episode suggests it may have been intentional), and I’m pretty positive they never appear again after that. I’m not sure what the reason would be for changing them, because they look way more awkward than Finn’s classic pair of red pajamas. But I digress.

The episode really picks up when we are introduced to Finn’s past lives, which, before Shoko is introduced, we see a comet, a butterfly, and “a thing.”

  • Up to this point, only butterflies have played a significant role in the series. In the episode Still, it’s shown that butterflies represent Finn’s astral beast. Also, the original pitch of Mortal Recoil called for Finn to float down on a butterfly after working with Ice King to freeze Princess Bubblegum. This was directly intended to initiate the butterfly as Finn’s spirit animal, as mentioned by Jesse Moynihan.
  • The comet portion of Finn’s history has yet to be touched on, but we’ll get to that awesomeness in season six.
  • “The thing” appears to be a part of the mother gum that was seen in Simon & Marcy. This part of Finn’s past life is never touched on in the show, and, to my knowledge, never examined further in any of the comics or expanded universe of the series.

It is most interesting to me that Finn’s past history consists mostly of objects and non-sentient beings, rather than an array of heroic counterparts that further hype up the idea of Finn being a Glob-sent being.

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And when we are introduced to the humanoid being that is closest to Finn’s current self, it is nice to know that she does share some striking similarities, as well as many differences to Finn’s mainly heroic self. I really, really love Shoko’s design. Her cat-like eyes, detailed outfit, and bare arm (I actually enjoy how Shoko doesn’t have any mods until later. Unlike Finn’s other alternate versions, Shoko just walks around with a little stub, and I think that’s pretty cool) all make for a pretty unique design, and the fact that she rides around on a giant, white tiger is even more awesome. Jesse Moynihan stated that the tiger is actually a past life of Jake, which I think is somewhat unnecessary. I just thought it was genuinely kind of cool that she had her own separate animal buddy, and it doesn’t really make a difference to me if it was supposed to be Jake or not. But again, I digress. This bond between girl and tiger in general feels very anime-ish (people have noted the connections between this and Princess Monoke) and just feels like it builds a bigger sense of fantasy for the world of AT overall. This feels less silly and just more straight-up mythological.

The Bath Boys are another delightful gang of dastardly bastards introduced in the series, and it is worth noting that the mansion they live in is practically identical to the one seen in The Creeps. It’s a nice connection that does build a bridge between the episodes so that it doesn’t seem too unrelated. It’s also worth noting that the Destiny Gang’s hideout in Finn the Human looks pretty identical to both of these buildings, so I’m wondering if the mansion in general is just a place of swindlers and bullies to take refuge across all dimensions. That’s pretty neat, honestly. The Bath Boys aren’t as well-defined as, say, the Destiny Gang, but the leader himself has a couple of funny lines here and there. I think it’s also pretty nice that it seems like the relationship between Shoko and the Bath Boys is mostly abusive; she’s forced to do work for them because she has no other way of getting by, and if she doesn’t comply with them, she’s as good as dead.

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Shoko’s mission takes her to a very early version of the Candy Kingdom, where toxic ooze still surrounds many aspects of Ooo, and many Candy People are in their early developmental stages. The most hilarious being that the Banana Guards are still green. That is just priceless. We also see Princess Bubblegum, who again, does not look any different from her current appearance. This episode finally puts to bed the question of “how old is PB?” and just settles for the concept that she is, like, a zillion years old. How this never came up in conversation with Finn, I have no idea, but here it is, plain and simple. Bubblegum is really, really, really old you guys.

The bond between Bubblegum and Shoko really carries the episode through, along with some nice little bits of continuity we’re treated to, like Young Mr. Cream Puff, who is “like PB’s boyfriend.” This harkens back all the way to Slumber Party Panic, when PB briefly mentions that she and Old Mr. Cream Puff used to date. There are really no boundaries with the attention to detail AT is able to accomplish. Every single moment that happens in this world is solidified and factual, and there is absolutely nothing glanced over or treated as a mere gag. It really shows how much care and dedication is taken into the writing process for Adventure Time.

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We’re also treated to a more in depth look at Shoko’s character as she interacts with Bubblegum. Aside from the missing arm, Shoko also has the unfortunate similarity of having some shitty parental issues, namely that her parents legitimately sold her arm for a computer. And it’s sad to see that we’d be treated to Finn’s parental figure being the reason he lost his arm in the near future. Shoko seems quite disconnected from all feeling and her emotions because of it, and instead chooses to live a life where she works more for herself rather than the people around her. Though her story is left purposely ambiguous, I do wish we were left more time to really get a grip on who Shoko is and dive deeper into her own psychological issues. But what we get is perfectly serviceable.

As she works more closely with Princess Bubblegum, Shoko is able to acquire the one thing she has never had in her life: a close acquaintance. Someone to chat with, share personal stories to, and even be a little bit goofy with at times (love the bit where she hands Princess Bubblegum the duck to engineer with). But ultimately, even after sitting through a tremendous exercise like building the Gumball Guardians, Shoko is still only there to steal from Princess Bubblegum and to make money for herself. It isn’t until Shoko receives the modded arm from PB that she realizes the weight of her actions; for the first time, Shoko acknowledges that somebody cares for her, and it goes beyond simply wanting her limbs for technological advancements. Bubblegum has given Shoko an arm, but more importantly, a close friend. Yet, Shoko realizes that she still has to go through with it. Despite the kindness that PB has shown her, she is still alone in the world and will have no one if the Bath Boys get to her first. The tragedy in this is that all Shoko had to do was tell PB the circumstances of her actions; the Princess could’ve easily taken care of the Bath Boys with her new technology, and also could’ve given Shoko a new home. Yet, Shoko’s fear of her own happiness and comfortable safe space in a world with no loved ones drove her to betray her one and only friend instead. Even if it means using her new “plug n’ play” to do so.

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It’s a pretty heavy decision Shoko makes, but one that is slightly made lighter by the fact that the Gumball Guardians are at their all-time funniest. Their desire to protect the Princess beyond anything else is just great, and I almost wish they would show this dedication and how powerful they really are in the rest of the series. Shoko does end up stealing the amulet, but to no avail. She quickly finds herself in a vat of ooze, with no way of being rescued or getting out safely. It’s a sad moment for PB, and she and the tiger look on at each other quietly. I get the feeling that PB really did care for Shoko, and that she would’ve welcomed her into the kingdom happily. With Marceline gone, PB really didn’t really have anyone to relate to or to even talk to at the time besides her Candy children, and now she, like Shoko, is left how she was when the flashback sequence first started: alone.

This is where the flashback sequence ends, as Finn discovers that Shoko ended up dying on his own stomping grounds, where she also ended up gaining a new arm in the process (yeah, that’s right, Finn gaining his arm back was foreshadowed too!) It’s also where the episode is met with a quiet conclusion, as Finn returns PB’s amulet to her once more… what the point of this moment was, I’m not really sure. The amulet never plays a part in the series ever again, so they might as well have never included Finn giving it back to PB to begin with. Would’ve been awesome to see what kind of power it was able to possess.

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But yeah, this one is pretty solid. I think my main complaint is simply that Shoko is never mentioned or seen again after this episode, and it’s a shame, because she’s a really interesting character that I would like to see a bit more in depth. But that aside, it builds on AT’s lore tremendously well, and answers some much needed questions that left me satisfied for quite some time. It’s an experiment that I think goes over really well, and I definitely wish we got more episodes like this in the future.

Issue 50 of the Adventure Time comics focuses more on the story of Shoko and Finn’s other past lives, and it’s quite excellent! It’s one of the few strips I really would like to see adapted into a full length episode, so check it out if you get a chance!

Edit: Just realized I had already plugged Issue 50 in my review of Davey. I guess you can tell how fond I am of it.

Favorite line: “I thought we could do some two-arm stuff, but… uh, it’s cool!”


“Time Sandwich” Review

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Original Airdate: September 9, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Kent Osborne

I am ready to receive instruction from the realm of creation above me and the sandwich I am about to conceive. I am open; use me.

After the emotional turmoil of Finn’s break-up with Flame Princess and the hardships it brought for the both of them, it’s nice to take a break from those hardships and sit back for some much needed fluff. And, as far as fluff goes, Time Sandwich is pretty much the pinnacle of AT standalone. It manages to be an excursion of pure fun and, in my opinion, an even better character study of Jake than Jake the Dog set out to do.

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Jake is a simple dog who enjoys simple things; while every other character in the series carries with them so sort of heavy baggage that they struggle with in one way or another, Jake is there to remind us all that life isn’t as serious as we’ve lead on, and to take pride in the little things. And for Jake, the littlest big thing to him is sitting back and enjoying a tasty sandwich, and Time Sandwich shows him as motivated and inspired as ever to create the greatest bunch of joy he has ever made. The sandwich making sequence is delightful, and the sandwich itself has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon over time. Besides the actual recipe (slightly modified) being included in the official Adventure Time Cookbook, the sandwich was also prepared on an episode of Binging with Babish with slight modifications as well. My favorite parts of the sandwich making are your favorite parts of the sandwich making; the lobster soul, the morbid inclusion of the bird from the window, the return of Prismo’s pickles, and the presentation in general are all wonderful fun that really add to Jake’s commitment and investment in this sandwich, and it helps that we as an audience are just as invested as him. Also, I just love the fact that Jake was willing to share a portion of his sandwich that he regards so highly with his friends. After his selfish actions in Jake the Dog, it really is rewarding to add this bit of selflessness to Jake, and shows the kind of person he actually is.

The return of Magic Man also provides for tons of fun! I love MM’s psychological issues that are delved into following Freak City, though it is nice to have him star in a major appearance that capitalizes on what makes him so entertaining to begin with: his apathy and overall asshole-ish nature. And it’s just as fun in this one as it was in Freak City and Sons of Mars. Of course, his screentime remains minimal after his initial introduction, though it is filled with memorable quotes and gags, namely “it’s got my germs, so it’s mine now!” and his ability to slap Jake through a personal portal.

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The rest of the episode is just pure Adventure Time-y goodness. Really nice individual character moments that build off of every character’s delightful personality. BMO’s somewhat selfish, but understandably childish attitude comes out in full swing, and it’s just hilarious. BMO could give less of a shit about any of the circumstances Finn and Jake face on a daily basis, he wants what he wants, yet he knows F&J aren’t always going to give it to him. So, in this case, he has to trick them into helping him film a skateboard video, because that’s what BMO does. He don’t give a fuck about no special sandwich.

PB’s inclusion adds more to her mindset when it comes to science vs. magic, and once again, her failure to understand the principles of magical tendencies backfires. She explains it quite eloquently and intelligently, yet when it comes to actually putting these mindsets into action, she’s shit outta luck. And I do admire how the idea of the existence of magic is slowly starting to rub off on her in some way. Of course, she still has her gripes with the use of magic, but she is more willing to accept that there’s things that she simply isn’t able to fix with her own technology. Think my favorite part of this sequence is that the Banana Guards stand there, hand PB a missile, and then disappear for the remainder of the episode. They really helped out in this situation.

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Marceline then shows up and offers the only skill she knows how to use: brute force. Her’s is less complex, but still equally ineffective. Marceline is a bit cocky in her own abilities, as she should be; she’s a half-demon, half-vampire, half-human entity that has pretty much every skillset she needs to get by. She’s from the Nightosphere, for Glob’s sake. And so it seems pretty obvious that she’d be able to get past anything with sheer strength, right? Wrong.

All of these moments are tied together by the hysterical fact that they all have the same exact outcome. By the time Marceline attempts to get past Magic Man’s spell, you’d expect the joke to be obvious and less funny by this point, but it honestly just keeps getting funnier and more entertaining as it happens.

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Of course, while all of this is going on, Jake is left to sulk over the separation between him and his coveted sandwich. Jake enjoys the simple things, so when the simple things are taken from him, he’s left with the same grief any of his other friends are likely to feel. This episode is also really terrific in terms of using color to set the mood; the beginning scene where Jake builds his perfect sandwich is lit brightly and colorful, while later, when Jake tries to emulate the same chain of events, the sky turns dim and solemn. Of course, we’re never actually left emotional or upset over the loss of a sandwich, but it works as an accurate representation of Jake’s feelings throughout the episode. And while we’re on a technical aspect, John DiMaggio does such a terrific performance as Jake in this one. He captures every moment and every feeling Jake is having so adequately. Through his excitement, sorrow, anger, and pure relief, every line Jake carries out is effectively funny and well-inflected, and it really just makes the character seem so much more alive and human. Not to say DiMaggio doesn’t always do a great job, but this is truly a standout performance for Jake.

When finally faced with the solution to his problem, we’re also left with one of the funniest ways Jake could possibly force himself to become sad: an imagination sequence featuring his death and the incorporation of Mr. Cupcake. The concept alone is funny; I love how the saddest thing Jake could think to experience is how people react to his own death, with the mindset that “yeah, I was a pretty cool dude to these people!” Included are the silly little details, like the fact that Jake legitimately imagined an “After Coffee” title card inside his head. It’s such a ludicrous gag, and I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it before. And the interactions between him and Mr. Cupcake in general, this long built up conflict that is really over a brief quarrel all the way back in Season Two, is just brilliant. It’s also funny to think that this effectively squashes the beef Jake and Mr. Cupcake have! It’s literally never mentioned again! Jake created a solution within his mind and cured the issue forever. How hilarious is that?

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And finally, we’re met with an awesome climax sequence with some equally great animation (the drawings in general look really great in this one, courtesy of Kent Osborne and Cole Sanchez!) as everyone beats the ever-living shit out of Magic Man. I love how the recurring comeuppance for Magic Man is just socking him in the face, as it seems like the perfect response towards his sadistic ways, regardless of if it was all for a sandwich or not.

So yeah, this one is awesome! It’s hard to say why besides the fact that it’s just a ton of fun and really captures everything great about Adventure Time’s lead cast, namely Jake. And of course, the added bonuses, such as the great sense of humor, the nice colors, drawings, and animation, and just an overall breath of fresh air from the more drama-driven episodes we’ve gotten before this. It truly is a spectacle in AT fluff, and one I always love to revisit time and time again.

Favorite line: “No, man, don’t call Tree Trunks! What’s she gonna do, bake an apple pie?!”