Original Airdate: July 12, 2010
Written & Storyboarded by: Elizabeth Ito & Adam Muto
One of Adventure Time‘s strongest influences, as well as creator Pendleton Ward’s greatest inspiration, are the Dungeons and Dragons video game series. While I was never a D&D junkie, or even a big roleplaying game fan myself, there’s no denying the impact it has had on society. From numerous pop cultural references to even immensely popular actors such as Robin Williams (God rest his soul) have admitted that its one of their favorite games of all time. It really seems like all of that passion towards one of the most popular roleplaying games of all time went specifically into this incredibly fun episode.
One of the first things I noticed while rewatching this episode is that this is the first episode where Finn’s voice is noticeably changing. It’s only a slight change, but the reason I mentioned this was to make an observation on how Jeremy Shada’s voice work as Finn has developed so naturally throughout the years that it’s barely even noticeable when it begins to change. For example, though I think Zach Callison’s voice work as Steven on Steven Universe, while his inflections are terrific, his transition through puberty has been a bit less gradual. It’s understandable; he’s 19-year-old trying to force a 14-year-old’s voice, so it’s bound to be less natural sounding. Finn’s voice has always replicated a gradual journey from adolescence into adulthood.
In addition, this is the first episode to really stress the differences between Finn and Jake. Finn is, of course, the energetic and pure hearted hero, while Jake can be a giant lazy fuck at times. It brings out the strongest parts of each character, but also makes an effort to still make Jake likable and fun to be around. In addition, we’re showcased to some creative and fun video game esque villains. Demon Cat, voiced by Clancy Brown, is an incredibly designed and amusingly creepy character. I love how his approximate knowledge of everything coincides with his limbs not fully connecting to his body. Nice little touch!
There’s also a Bucket Knight who grows when adding water and an evil Guardian Angel. All of these foes are so interesting that they could easily have entire episode devoted to them, especially that evil Guardian Angel. I wanna know what her deal is. The real draw of this episode, however, is the relationship between Finn and Jake. Jake is written terrifically in this episode; once it’s revealed that both Finn and Jake couldn’t make it through the dungeon, Jake doesn’t gloat or rub it in Finn’s face, but instead goes so far as to help Finn win a bet against. That’s true friendship right there.
This is a delightful fun romp. AT has done several terrific dungeon episodes following this one (Dad’s Dungeon, Mystery Dungeon, Dungeon Train, Hall of Egress, etc.) and Dungeon is no exception. It highlights everything that makes the first season so great: lots of poppy animation, high energy, a lot of random humor, very creative locations and characters, and two likable heroes in the spotlight. What more do you need?