Archive | June 2017

“The Monster” Review

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Original Airdate: August 15, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

Besides Trouble in Lumpy Space, LSP has taken on very minor roles since her debut episode. This is her main return to the spotlight, and arguably has an even bigger role than the episode aforementioned. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not the biggest fan of LSP when it comes to her more prominent roles, and this episode is somewhat of a true testament as to whether she’s able to hold a story on her own. Does she succeed? Well, let’s see…

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My overall favorite part of the episode is the beginning with Finn and Jake singing their little tune about themselves, which is both really endearing and funny, made even funnier by Finn’s outburst of “PIZZA!” as the song finishes. Somvilay boarded the first half of the episode, and he really does a standout job in this one. There’s a few great Somvilayisms: the tiny people falling down one-by-one and forming a map to the monster, Finn, Jake and LSP abruptly pulling up seats before LSP tells her tale, and just some of the really nice dynamic shots. One of Somvilay’s biggest strengths are his very in depth looking scenes, including the ones of Finn and Jake trodding through the woods and LSP frantically traveling through a forest. Also, he continues to be the master of telling jokes without actually telling jokes. There’s plenty of sight gags within this episode that are so easy to miss if you simply blink.

What this episode really comes down to though, is a good chunk of it being Pendleton Ward talking in his LSP voice for nearly five straight minutes. Lumpy Space Princess’s valley girl accent is worth a laugh if it’s used very sparingly, but hearing it for almost an entire episode is really grating. When it comes down to it, her situation with the wolves just isn’t that funny to me either. I enjoy watching her pretending to speak as the wolves, but aside from that, I can’t think of anything else that really even got a chuckle out of me. It’s classic LSP reading too far into drama, but nothing we haven’t seen before and just really drags on and slows down the general pacing of the episode a lot.

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In addition, the conflict of the episode really isn’t that compelling at all. I don’t really care if Lumpy Space Princess moves back into her house with her parents, which is even completely retconned later on. Why would they even include this somewhat emotional reunion if LSP just ends up choosing to be homeless in later episodes? It’s a resolution that I really have no reason to care about, and Finn and Jake being chucked to the sidelines only weakens the episode’s chance of succeeding.

The only other noteworthy aspect is that Lumpy Space King and Lumpy Space Queen’s design was revamped in this episode. I admittedly sort of liked the more grotesque and detailed design from the first two seasons, but Pen Ward labeled it as “too gross” so they simplified it a bit. It somewhat feels a bit drastic of a change from what they looked like before, but it’s a cute redesign, so I really don’t mind that much.

Aside from that, there really isn’t much else for me to discuss. It’s just slow moving LSP-centric episode that doesn’t do much to help develop or strengthen her character.

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Favorite line: “Yeah, we didn’t really do that much.”


“Too Young” Review

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Original Airdate: August 8, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Tom Herpich

Princess Bubblegum’s transition from an 18-year-old to a 13-year-old is considered by many to be a completely wasted opportunity. For her to become younger for the course of only a singular episode may seem like a desperate attempt to latch onto the status quo, but I actually see it as a way of expanding the depth of her character for a short bit of time. Too Young is one I really love; it takes full advantage of the social experiment introduced in the season two finale, even if we only get to watch it for a short period of time. This is legitimately the one time we get to see what Finn desires most of all: his feelings for the princess being reciprocated.

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The relationship between the two of them is overly cutesy, but rightfully so. Like I said, it’s really a once in a lifetime chance to get to watch Finn and PB act like a legitimate couple, and the episode takes the time to stress this as much as possible. That being said, they’re still really enjoyable to watch! I really love just watching the two of them act like thirteen-year-old kids together. Jake’s immaturity provides for a relationship with Finn where the two are still able to get into wacky shenanigans, but it’s rewarding to watch Finn hangout with someone his own age. Marceline is thousands of years old, BMO takes on the age of an infant at times, LSP is arguably late into her teen years, and even Tree Trunks is ancient. This is finally an opportunity for Finn to be especially childish, mischievous, and enjoy the company of someone on the same level as him by his side.

Of course, this is also the introduction of the one-and-only Lemongrab, voiced superbly by Justin Roiland. Not beating around the bush, Lemongrab is one my favorites. Not just because he’s funny, but because he’s one of the most uniquely complex characters the show has ever taken on. It would’ve been so easy for the writers to absolutely butcher his character down the line with hammering his “UNACCEPTABLE” or “DUNGEON!” catchphrases into the ground. They handled him much like any character should be handled: as a character, not a means of making merchandise or slewing funny phrases.

Aside from that, he’s pretty funny in this episode. I’ve seen Too Young maybe 50 times, so it’s kind of difficult for me to still watch this episode and laugh at Lemongrab the same way I did the first time I saw him, but his lines still manage to get a bit of a laugh out of me. There’s also a bit of underlying tragedy to his character. He’s a completely incompetent ruler, but he was a failed creation, as Bubblegum states. He’s only doing what he was instinctively created to do, and though he’s completely irrational, it’s sad to watch him try to rule the Candy Kingdom and constantly get beaten down by Finn and PB. It’s even harder for me to watch him get beaten up by the two kids in the hallway. He doesn’t scream or banish anyone to the dungeon or anything like that, he just weeps softly and says that he isn’t going anywhere. It’s hard to make me feel so sorry for an antagonist for an episode, yet still manage to root for the main heroes, but AT manages to pull it off.

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This episode is also riddled with terrific gags and slapstick. Although I felt bad for Lemongrab when he was ambushed, I still find it hilarious when PB and Finn casually beat the shit out of him. Also, probably my favorite bit in the entire episode is the scene where Finn and PB continually spice Lemongrab’s food. It’s just so well timed and frantic that it cracks me up everytime, I especially love Steve Little’s performance during it. Anytime he screams as Peppermint Butler, it’s pure hilarity. Also, apparently food comes from Mars! Steve Little actually ad libbed that bit and the show just kind of rolled with it. It’s a nice little tidbit of information that actually works as worldbuilding, as it somewhat makes sense that food resources would come from elsewhere beyond the kingdoms of Ooo, and ties into the introduction of Mars in the next season.

While in the dungeon, we get to see some of PB’s inner thoughts that haven’t quite been explored until this point. She simply admits that it’s a tough job being ruler all the time, and she’s legitimately enjoyed being 13 for a period of time. We hadn’t seen any depth regarding PB’s status as a ruler, and it’s nice to be able to explore this aspect that would become so prominent later on. PB loves ruling her people, but the stress of constantly having to deal with every situation that occurs with the Candy People can be damaging to her wellbeing. This is made worth it by the sweet moment where every Candy Person in the dungeon offers a piece of themselves to help her through her aging process. You could argue they just didn’t want to have Lemongrab as a leader, but it’s clear that the Candy People appreciate Bubblegum to their fullest extent, and would be willing to give up literal parts of themselves for her. Also, it’s officially revealed in this episode that PB ages according to her biomass! It’s something that’s tough to even comprehend right away, and seems like a bit of a copout, but coincides with her future backstory that’s eventually revealed.

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The saddest part, however, is that she’s no longer interested in Finn now that she’s 18 again. Her ability to regain her youth was what ignited her sudden romantic interest in Finn, but she sadly just doesn’t share those feelings as a young adult. It sucks for Finn, he was so close to having everything he’s ever wanted with the girl of his dreams, but he ultimately had to let it go for PB to accept who she was meant to be. In return, Jake shares with him some wise words about ladies:

It’s not easy, but you have to be persistent. You might have to defeat a demon lord, or warp through several worlds. But once you do, you walk up the wizard stairs, and produce your magic key you got in the water world and unlock the chamber door. Then, you walk right up to the princess, and give her a smooch… Does that make sense?

Whether it was meant to be literal, metaphorical, or foreshadowing something that will later happen, it’s advice that only Jake could give, and it’s as sweet as it is sorrowful. It’s truly one of my favorite endings in any Adventure Time episode. Great atmosphere, nice music, luscious colors, and the genuine honesty of our two main characters. Perhaps someday Finn will end up walking up the wizard steps with someone (holding out for Huntress Wizard).

Anyway, I really do love this one. It’s a terrific introduction to one of my favorite AT antagonists, as well as an awesome experimental look at what the relationship of Finn and PB could have been. I know it probably pisses a lot of people off to this day that the young Bubblegum subplot latest so shortly, but c’mon, did you really never want to hear Hynden Walch perform as PB again? Hm?? Despite it’s brevity, I surely enjoyed the time we spent with young PB, and I’d also enjoy the route her developmental path would take her from this episode onward. However, Finn’s budding feelings from PB will increasingly become a more intense burden as this season goes on, and take him to much, much darker places.

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Favorite line: “Because being 13 again is… Bloobaloobie! […] While being 18 is all plock dumps and wagglezags.”

“Hitman” Review

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Original Airdate: August 1, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Bert Youn & Jesse Moynihan

This is a point in the series where Ice King isn’t necessarily enemies with Finn and Jake, but the three sort of share a friendly rivalry. It’s harped on when the IK gets grounded for interrupting the Breakfast Princesses (who, for some reason, became really popular after this episode; though her design is pretty great), and it’s generally reflected in the attitudes of the boys for the rest of the episode. They don’t hate the guy, but at the same time, he’s a giant creepy dork. The two can share enjoyment in punishing him without even kicking his butt.

It’s also reflected on the IK’s side. In season one, it would have been totally likely for him to willingly try to kill Finn and Jake, but here, he states very clearly that he values them as friends, even though they can get on his nerves. Ice King may be one of the most stagnant characters due to his blatant insanity, but he does undergo clear developmental changes that flow so naturally over time.

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Down to the actual plot of the episode, there isn’t a lot going on. It’s just a fun little Ice King-centric episode that has a lot of good laughs, and some very nice moments between the main characters. The hitman himself, Scorcher, is really awesome. He’s sort of like the Boba Fett of the AT universe; he doesn’t say or do much, but his character is completely carried by how cool his design is and how generally mysterious he is. He’s also one of the few villains up to this point that Finn and Jake actually haven’t been able to defeat, which shows how considerably powerful he is.

It’s a very fast-paced episode as well. I like all the really quick gags, such as Scorcher easily trashing Blastronaut and Ice King asking him to kill the princesses he just simply doesn’t find attractive instead. Also, fucking Meat Man. I don’t know what Finn and Jake went through to get that meat, but I even find myself disturbed by the screams of Meat Man late at night.

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One of the other interesting elements is how the Ice King actually comes out on top in most parts of the episode. Even though the entire conflict is his fault, Ice King has some shining examples of heroism and even possesses more competence than Finn and Jake in more than a few moments (“you’re GROUNDED,” “I know, but, shush!”). He ends up strategizing the most rational plan, and even outsmarts Scorcher, as the hitman leaves one final note.

“Echos of past events nudge the tiller on my present course, I await it’s reflection in the future”

Aside from the obvious spelling and grammatical errors, the poem seems to imply that Scorcher’s events of this episode will not have impacted him until further reflection later on, leaving a bit of leeway for character analysis. I like to think that Scorcher’s just a simple guy doing his job as assassin, followed by a night at home with his wife and kids. It could happen! As a final product though, I like this one. It’s rewarding to see the Ice King actually come out in the best case scenario for once. He certainly isn’t portrayed as a hero, but it’s sort of nice to see him save the day and get back at Finn and Jake for repeatedly pandering down to him. Season three to me, is basically Ice King’s season. We see him go through many different character explorations and developmental changes, and this episode really kicks off these insights with hilarious results.

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Favorite line: “Someone got hit in the boing-loins! … Hit in the boing-loins… boing-loins… boing-loins… somebody got hit in them.”

“Memory of a Memory” Review

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Original Airdate: July 25, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Ako Castuera

I incorrectly stated that Conquest of Cuteness was the last Tom-Ako board in my episode review. This is actually the last episode written and storyboarded by the pair, and it’s certainly a good episode to go out on. It’s a very interesting look at Marceline’s past history that I’d actually even like to see this as a half hour special. Just Finn and Jake exploring the memories of Marceline’s past and exploring a new understanding of herself along the way. They did fine with the time they were given, but I can’t help but feel like this one was a bit rushed.

The reason for that is that there’s a lot of exposition at the beginning. It’s all for a purpose, as it is a convoluted inception-type story, which requires a good bit of explanation for the audience. However, it does make the exploration through Marceline’s memories feel all the more shorter, while I feel as though there were points in history I’d like to see more. But of course, this is still early in the series. There are many, many more episodes where we delve deeper in Marceline’s history, so really, I’m just nitpicking.

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The memories Finn and Jake do end up exploring are really interesting. I really love the background details of the scene with young Marcy. Some burning building, tanks, and broken debris continue to entertain the story of the apocalypse, and Marcy’s experiences through it. In addition, I just think young Marcy is too cute. The actress Ava Acres (who actually plays Young PB as well) is really terrific when capturing the innocence of a younger Marceline, while also adding charm and flair to her line deliveries. This episode also introduces Hambo, which will have a much bigger role in the series later on. It is noteworthy that Marcy states “Hambo is my only friend,” which makes me wonder when this flashback is supposed to take place. Simon must have still been around then, as Marceline still appears to be very young. Perhaps it was a point where he was beginning to lose himself more, distancing Marcy. Whatever the reason, it still lines up pretty solidly with everything we’ve learned about Marceline up to now.

Transitioning into a memory with an older Marceline is the hilarious addition of the scene with Hunson literally eating Marcy’s fries, much to her dismay. A bit of fun trivia is that in the Marcy’s Super Secret Scrapbook, this scene is included as a point to emphasize the breaking point of Marceline and Hunson’s relationship with each other (as implied in the song) and the fact that food was fairly scarce during this time, leaving a plate of fries being the only thing Marceline had to eat. Here, it’s just used as a nice little humorous gap following up one of AT’s most popular songs.

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Other great memories explored are the time Marceline lived in the treehouse, her time with her ex-boyfriend Ash, and the final jump to the memory core. The memory core looks really dope. Once the boys enter in, it’s an artistically fluid trip that displays some of the most ambition artwork the show has covered yet. It really feels like something out of a trippy 70’s animated movie, and it’s disappointing it only last for a short bit of time. The reveal that Ash was behind all of it is a relatively good twist. I actually really like the character of Ash. He’s a giant douche, but they manage to give him a lot of funny lines and avoid turning him into the typical snobby jerk you see in most cartoons. He’s just kind of a dumb loser, with zero moral empathy for those around him. Also, the idea of a wizard dating a vampire is pretty rad! Hooray for diversity!

The resolution for the conflict is actually something I think is really clever as well. I think it somewhat comes out of nowhere, as when was there ever a point where Finn actually mentioned this plan before he just went ahead and did it? Besides that, it’s a pretty inventive solution to the issue by entering Finn’s memories. However, it really only makes me want an episode that explores Finn’s memories. The premise for this episode is such a good concept that I wouldn’t mind if every character’s past history was explored this way at some point. All we get from Finn’s past is the now viral Buff Baby song, which is admittedly a lot of fun. Also, it takes place in Joshua and Margaret’s house! That’s three direct mentions of Finn and Jake being adoptive brothers in a row. It feels like the writers were really trying to stress that this season. The episode ends on the best way possible: some delightfully painful abuse towards Ash, courtesy by Finn, Marceline, and Jake’s giant foot. One way to know that Ako is boarding an episode is that she loves drawing Jake with toes.

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In the end, I do enjoy this one, I just wish it had a little more time to breathe. There are just so many great ideas and interesting character explorations that I wish the show could go one step further with it. As I mentioned though, there’s plenty more of Marceline’s past to be explored in the future, so I’m okay with this brief and fun journey through her life experiences.

Favorite line: “Ash gets hungies at eight o’ clock, you need to get back in the kitchen and make me dinner.”

“Morituri Te Salutamus” Review

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This title card was actually a bit lost in translation during the inking process. Jake was supposed to appear as a shapeshifted gladiator, rather than as a ghost. It took me forever to realize that was supposed Jake.

Original Airdate: July 18, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Rebecca Sugar & Adam Muto

Whenever the question of an underrated episode of Adventure Time arises, Morituri Te Salutamus is usually the first thing that comes to my mind. I really like this one. The plot is pretty standard when observed on a surface level; Finn and Jake enter a battle arena and fight some gladiator ghosts while Jake fails to follow through with his buddy’s plans. On the whole though, the episode has a lot of nice, small details going on in the background, while also including some of the darker and grittier battles we’ve seen on the show to date.

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The main conflict between Finn and Jake is kept very subtle, and relatively sweet. Jake’s lack of focus has been harped on several times before (prominently in Power Animal) and it’s somewhat endearing that Finn has enough of an understanding of that to not bicker with his brother over following a very simple strategy. Of course, it results in Finn nearly scarring Jake for life, but hey, lava hula hoops just aren’t a good alternative for battling ghosts. They’re both written so well that neither of them comes off unlikable for their relatively questionable actions. Jake is still a ton of fun despite the lack of attention he gives his best friend, and Finn is still enjoyably bonkers even if he takes it one step too far. Also, props to Rebecca Sugar for writing one of my all-time favorite songs in the series. Tropical Island works not only as a catchy song, but also to undercut some of the more intense moments in the episode.

The Fight King’s arena is awesome. The colors surrounding it really help emphasize the darker feel to the underlying subject at hand by subduing the bright and colorfulness most people are accustomed to in a typical AT. In addition, the underground has a couple cool details as well. For instance, it’s practically a gladiator graveyard for anyone who ended up dying in the battle arena, which is a pretty grim and quietly placed bit considering it’s never explicitly mentioned. The Fight King (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, who does a pretty good job delivery-wise, per usual) himself is well-designed. He has many bandages, a missing limb, and several weapons attached to him to help create the sense that this dude’s been around forever. He doesn’t seem like a powerful villain in terms of strength or abilities, but he’s certainly one that seems to have mastered the art of manipulation.

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The real gem in this episode, however, is the ghosts. First off, all of them are really inventive and unique. It would’ve been so easy to have every gladiator look the same, but the artists took it one step beyond and gave each gladiator a very specific looking mutation or accessory. Second, it’s a very subtle element of tragedy that all of these ghosts were once loved ones that were pitted against each other, and the remorse that they feel is certainly heavy-handed and powerful. Without even knowing who these people are, you almost get a sense of their backstory and their connection to one and other, as they were likely similar to Finn and Jake in their motivations. Two friends, companions, or siblings who took on a challenge for the fun of it, as one was tragically manipulated into killing the other, carrying with them a deep feeling of regret as a result. It’s clear that no one has ever managed to actually succeed in the battle arena, and I’d theorize that after one of the soldiers killed the other, they later ended up killing themselves as a response to their guilt. It’s a lot of little, but crucial moments that make this episode have a real emotional core to it.

And that emotion carries willingly to the very last third. Again, it’s a moment where we know that Finn isn’t actually going to kill his brother, but at the same time, it’s easy to just feel so scared for Jake. He’s hurt and terrified that someone he simply wanted to retrieve a lava hula hoop for has suddenly turned on him so dramatically. It’s a really intensely packed remainder of the episode that truly kept me on the edge of my seat the first time I watched it, and even still kind of does to this day.

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This episode goes back and forth a lot with Adam Muto and Rebecca Sugar’s drawings, but Muto choreographed a good chunk of the fight sequences, and man did they turn out well. Not only is there some decent slapstick, like Jake using his stretched out thighs to crush a gladiator, or one of the ghosts landing crotch first onto his shield, but it really packs a punch! It’s somewhat hard to pull off the idea of Finn and Jake fighting ghosts, because, well, they’re ghosts, and as Jake states, “ghosts don’t got meat.” Still, the show manages to pull off some pretty effective feeling fight scenes despite the insinuation that Finn’s opponents are already dead. The swords Finn uses in this episode aren’t really as visually interesting as most of his other swords, but man, the way Finn slings them left and right is just so terrifically animated and carried out that I don’t mind. They’re used for some fast-paced stabs and shanks, which really assists in improving the final product.

Also, there’s a heavy use of Latin in this episode. The title itself, Morituri Te Salutamus translates to “we who are about to die, salute you.” In addition, Finn utters such phrases as abet (be gone) and eludere (evasion), while one of the gladiators shouts “non pugnant, Flamma!” (be not repugnant to him). It’s a nice example of dialogue that really assists in making the scope of the world of AT feel bigger, and the different cultures throughout. If I got any of those translations wrong, let me know. I totally Google translated all of ‘em.

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So yeah, this is one I really like a lot. It’s one that I don’t see a lot people mentioning often, but it’s certainly an episode that deserves more publicity. Great atmosphere, intense battles, an emotional core, and our two lovable main boys. The episode ends thankfully on a light note, as the gladiators descend to another realm, presumably one of the Dead Worlds. Jake and Finn are the perfect duo to set an example of what true companionship means, and how disagreements are trifling in the long run of lifelong friendship. I only wish that Jake one day does reach that tropical island. What a way to end the series that would be!

Favorite line: “That’s an entirely different plan… than my plan.”

“Conquest of Cuteness” Review

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Original Airdate: July 11, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Tom Herpich

Season premieres of AT typically take place following a cliffhanger set up in the prior season’s finale. The only exceptions are the first three seasons, but even then, season one and two had a much bigger scale in terms of their introductory episodes. Season one’s premiere obviously existed to introduce us to the Land of Ooo and the colorful characters within, while season two’s premiere (going off airing order for this example) introduced a new element of emotional sincerity within the characters, as well as a brand new villain. Season three disregards this formula completely and provides a simple, self-contained story. Nevertheless, Conquest of Cuteness is a very, very funny episode, and one that really kicks off the season on a high note.

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This is Tom Herpich and Ako Castuera’s last episode working together as a team. As I had  mentioned before, Castuera claimed that the two had trouble getting along as partners, but they still managed to put together some very well-written and creatively crafted episodes. It seems as though their styles blended together especially well for one final time, as there’s tons of terrific little gags and character moments throughout. I love the stuff with the now infamous Everything Burrito, the dysfunctional little cute people, Jake thinking a blanket is a dead goat, and just the general dilemma of the episode. Even tiny little bits, like how Jake’s burrito has a metal clang as he wraps it together. There’s no way it’s edible! For anyone who’s been watching the show religiously up to this point, it really feels like an episode for viewers to just appreciate the characters they’ve come to know so well and have grown so fondly of.

That being said, there’s some really nice atmosphere in this episode as well. There’s a sweet and subtle connection between Finn and Jake, as they bond over their appreciation for their mother. This is also somewhat of a changing point for the relationship between the duo, as they definitely begin to act more like brothers rather than best friends beyond this episode. It’s always endearing and somewhat poignant when the show takes a step back to allow these characters to breathe and just enjoy each other’s company, and this episode really takes advantage of those quieter moments. Also, we get to see Jake’s kickass sword again!

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The more subdued atmosphere also allows for some horror elements to play out. Obviously the episode never commits fully to this theme, as the cute people are generally ineffective, but it’s actually a pretty interesting concept to watch Finn and Jake be messed with psychologically rather than physically. It’s almost something I wish was pushed a little further. It’s fun to watch villains who aren’t capable of doing anything, but let’s face it, that’s somewhat of a running theme in AT. We’ve never really gotten to see a villain who completely messes with Finn and Jake’s mental health, and this might have been a good chance to showcase that further.

Despite that claim, however, I do generally enjoy the direction for the remainder of the episode. I really like how stoked Finn gets to help the cute people win, and he does so in the most humorous way possible. I especially love how Finn mentions recruiting all of his friends to join him, and it ends up being LSP, Cinnamon Bun, BMO, and a duck. I can totally picture him calling PB or Marceline up and the two of them being all, “nah, fuck it, I’ll sit this one out.” I don’t really love the Cute King character that much. He’s okay I suppose, but at the same time, it’s easy to sympathize with him. The little guy just wants to raise hell, but his friends can’t stop falling apart and/or blowing up. It ends on a relatively sweet note though, and almost works as a good moral for the youngins. It seems like it’s sort of leaning towards “if you keep failing at something, just give up,” but also I could see it being analyzed as “there’s plenty of other talents you possess, even if one fails you.”

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Whether it is or not, I just really enjoy this episode. It’s a premiere that doesn’t pile up big reveals or secrets to shove in your face, but it’s filled with so many gags and constant laughs that it’s hard to resist. It’s a wonderful return to watching the characters we love so much. From the minute Finn and Jake began to beatbox at the beginning, I knew I was in for a treat. Conquest of Cuteness sets the bar for a season that’s filled with many, many funny episodes, as some interlaced drama in between. 

Favorite line: This is the voice of your moooom… I’ve come back to tell you how dumb you always are!

“The Wand” Review

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Original Airdate: N/A

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich

The origin behind “The Wand” is sort of a mystery. Legend has it that it was screened at AMC Theatres before certain animated films, while other sources include screenings at Universal Studios and even Carl Jr’s. Besides that, I’m not sure why this minisode was made, or even when it was made. The animation looks like something that would’ve been produced around season three-ish, but I really can’t say. That bit of history aside, it’s a cute little short despite it’s brief run time.

The design of it is so specifically Herpich-y. It wasn’t till later in the series that his style became clearly apparent (Finn and Jake’s wider eyes, realistic hands, etc.), but it really looks nice in that regard. I’m guessing this was animated in-house, or by Rough Draft, but the animation in this one is really poppy and energetic.

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There isn’t much context when it comes to the actual plot. It just feels like something that would briefly happen in the everyday lives of Finn and Jake, which does feel somewhat appropriate given its length. I’m not sure that the concept behind The Wand could warrant an entire episode, as the story seems thin enough that it must be contained to at least two minutes.

One thing I do really like about this short is it showcases more of the dynamic of Finn, Jake, and Ice King working together. We saw this in Mortal Recoil, and it’s always sweet to see the boys genuinely getting along with him, as well as the IK simply wanting to help out in general.

There’s a couple decent jokes in this one: I like the ant that possesses Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice, the brief implication that LSP dropped acid gave me a big chuckle, and even Jake’s opening line of “[the clouds] make me wish I didn’t have to poop ever again” is so out there that I can’t help but laugh at it.

Aside from that, it’s nothing special. Take it for what it is, a simple minisode, and it’s worth at least one watch. Now, onto season three, forreal this time!

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Favorite line: “Oh my Glob, Melissa! I think it’s kicking in!”

Season Two Review

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Season two of Adventure Time pushed the envelope for the series a bit more than season one. It still focused on the lighthearted yet occasionally dark adventures of a boy and his dog in the post-apocalyptic land of Ooo, but this really feels like a point when the series began to get comfortable in its own skin. It began expanding what was already established in its world, and even added new elements on top of that. I’ll be revamping the season reviews a bit from the last one and, instead of breaking it up into sections, I’ll just kind of ramble on about the season as a whole.

First off, the humor and pacing this season became much more rounded and coherent. My biggest problem with season one is it could get a bit too juvenile and random in its approaches to humor. In season two, the writing focused a lot less on zany catchphrases and non-sequiturs and just focused on being funny, which it definitely succeeded at.

This season’s storyboard teams worked off of each other greatly! Season two introduced some of the most crucial writers on the Adventure Time crew, and some who work on the show even to this day. If I had to pick a team that I thought worked best together, it’d probably have to be Adam Muto and Rebecca Sugar. The two definitely have an apparent chemistry with each other: Muto definitely has a clear vision of what’s important regarding the AT world, while Sugar understands the emotional complexity and the deeper layers of each lead character. The other teams were terrific as well: Kent Osborne and Somvilay Xayaphone helped create some of the zanier and more fun-focused episodes, Jesse Moynihan and Cole Sanchez began developing their own writing skills, and Ako Castuera and Tom Herpich had some of the most stylized work all season. Ako and Tom didn’t really have the best relationship as storyboard partners, but it’s great to see that creative differences within the staff don’t affect the actual quality of the episodes.

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As for story, the one main recurring theme revolves around honesty. Finn continues to battle with his feelings towards Bubblegum and struggles to be honest about them, Jake had to show his true self in order for the acceptance of his loved one’s parents, Marceline began to connect more with her real personality and became less focused on putting on her typical trickster facade, Bubblegum explicitly showed her affection for Finn throughout, and Ice King even began to ponder realizations about the cause of his unhappiness, and what he wants to do to improve it.

Finn continues to be an incredibly likable protagonist. Despite his goofiness, he is beginning to transition into his early teen years, and is starting to deal with more heavy handed issues that he typically isn’t accustomed to. Jake definitely began to grow into a more diverse character as well. My one complaint with the way Jake is written in the first season is that he seems a bit too similar to Finn, but this season begins to literally and metaphorically shape his character into someone with his own aspirations and view on life.

Additionally, Ice King and Marceline began to go through their own big transitions this season. Ice King is much less of a villain, which is a point where I really start to enjoy his character. It’s much more fun to watch him try to befriend Finn and Jake and fail than to watch his depiction as an ineffectual nemesis. As I had mentioned, Marcy has begun to connect more with her true self, which arguably lessens the wild and exciting aspects of her character, but leads to a chain of her complexity in return.

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Also, we begin to see a lot more BMO this season! It’s definitely a bit of a different portrayal of his character; he’s a bit more sassy and negligent, but not without his charms. It’s delightful to see a character that was practically irrelevant in the previous season have more screen-time, as he rightfully should.

If there’s one of the leads that kinda got the shaft this season, it’s Princess Bubblegum. She appears in a handful of episodes, yet I feel as though we barely learned anything that new about her character. Besides her connection with Finn, she’s just seen as cute and nice, and it’s a bit of a shame that we don’t get to see any of her darker aspects that would eventually unravel later on. That’s not to say she’s written badly, but she definitely pales in comparison to the developments of the rest of the cast.

Top 5 Best Episodes

5. Susan Strong – The introduction of a character that forever changed Finn’s intrigue when it comes to the existence of humans, and a beautifully explored depiction of their relationship.

4. The Eyes – A humorous episode focusing on the mere interactions between our two main characters, as well as another sympathetic look into the life of the Ice King.

3. Mortal Folly – A high stakes and action packed episode that introduces the big bad of the series, and is filled with heavy atmosphere and intense imagery.

2. Power Animal – An entertaining look at the life of Jake the Dog and the inner struggles he faces, including a great subplot featuring Finn.

1. It Came from the Nightosphere – A beautifully crafted episode that kicks off an entirely new feel to the style of Adventure Time, with an important exploration of Marceline’s character and big, wide-scope feel to it.

Top 5 Worst Episodes

5. Crystals Have Power – An enjoyable and funny, but relatively slow-paced episode with somewhat distractingly crude drawings throughout.

4. The Chamber of Frozen Blades – A nice subplot featuring Ice King and Gunther, but the Finn and Jake material never quite got off on its feet.

3. The Pods – A bit too formulaic of a plot for even AT to bring anything that unique to the table.

2. Video Makers – An episode that highlights one of the worst aspect of Finn and Jake’s relationship: the two arguing over petty nonsense.

1. Slow Love – One that focuses on a pretty unlikable main character, which brings down the entire episode as a result.

Final Consensus

Season two brought to the table some of the most enjoyably fun AT episodes. It’s not my personal favorite season, but I think it’s arguably the season with the least amount of problems in it. Great depictions of the lead characters, higher stakes, terrific writing, and colorfully pulpy animation on top of that. It’s a great continuation of what season one started, and probably what drew in the large following that Adventure Time began to have. It’s surely not the strongest in story or character-study wise, but it’s one that will go down in history as one of the most delightful adventures a viewer can experience.