“Return to the Nightosphere” Review

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Original Airdate: April 30, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Jesse Moynihan

After three stories involving romance and one experimental episode, it’s nice that season four has its first true adventurous episode. Season four didn’t really have the best start, but this is one that feels like a breath of fresh air. It introduces us to the realm of the Nightosphere, and what a terrifically designed place it is! The episode is pretty much carried by the intrigue of this foreign underworld, and also because it’s just simply freakin’ hilarious.

The episode doesn’t waste any time by immediately throwing our two main characters into their main conflict right away, making the audience equally as interested in figuring out their dilemma as Finn and Jake are. There’s a ton of intrigue surrounding this one, from the way Hunson Abadeer is regarded amongst the citizens (the name “Hunson Abadeer” actually comes from Jesse Moynihan’s car, which was given the name by his brother) and just what the hell the meaning of bananas is.

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Part of the fun of this episode just comes from the surroundings. The civilians and environment of the Nightosphere are just spectacular. I love the random demons who hang around Finn and Jake at the beginning and just roll around and wave their arms. Then there’s the longshot a couple minutes in, which Jesse Moynihan has a pretty big self-indulged boner for, but can you blame him? It looks fantastic! Jesse’s been known for his long pans, especially in an episode like Death in Bloom, and this one really takes the cake. It’s funny, fast-moving, and builds a lot of atmosphere within the Dark World. There’s so much to take in that it’s impossible to notice everything on a first viewing; dozens of different areas on fire and surrounded by lava, wacky beasts, laser fights, a stock woman scream in the background, hooded groups of people walking into a building and (presumably) committing suicide as a tall demon watches, and so on. It’s something you can tell Moynihan really went all out with, and his pride in it really makes it all the more admirable to me.

There’s also other cool designs, such as the transportation demon, the teller, the guy on the boat, and many others. The thing about the demons is that they’re so obscure and oddly designed, and there’s actually a pretty big animation error with one of these characters that it’s hardly even noticeable because of it. Yeah, one of the demon’s ears were recognized as hands during the animation process, and it’s a bit of a confusing sequence once you realize those aren’t his hands, but it still kind of works to me in a silly way. Even if it was an error, it almost entirely makes sense with the world of these demons that moving their ears around like arms is just something that’s a social norm. And even though these demons are so obscure and unique, I love how their dialogue is so mundane and casual. Some of their exchanges are great, especially the one with the anxiety ridden demon waiting in line who can’t make brown (as someone who suffers from chronic IBS, this dude really hit home for me).

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Finn and Jake’s incorporation into the episode is just superb as well. I love any plotline that puts the characters into an increasingly boring or painstaking situation, and the “waiting in line” scenario often works a charm. Finn and Jake’s general deterioration throughout this one is great, from their sobbing and transition into insanity while waiting in line to their relentlessness to eventually meet with Abadeer, it’s fun watching these guys really try to stick it out together. Jake even utters the Japanese phrase “jouzu de Ganbatte ne (have faith and go forth)” to keep up Finn’s spirits: something Jesse’s mother would tell him when he was a young lad. D’awww.

It all leads to a pretty dope climax when Finn and Jake battle off with the beast they assume to be Abadeer. There’s a lot of cool details in Hunson’s domain, with some neat frames hung on his wall, including pictures with Peppermint Butler and the King of Mars. We all know Peppermint Butler has close connections to dark lords, but I wonder what the connection is between Hunson and ol’ Abe. Perhaps they’re just on friendly terms, like Abe and Death are. Besides that point, it all leads to a full-on battle in a bright and colorful warp hole, where it’s revealed that the beast was none other than Marceline! Draaaama bomb! Of course, that cliffhanger won’t be addressed till next episode, so we’ll talk about it more then.

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This one is just terrific though. Jam packed with jokes, gags, atmosphere, and placed in an awesome setting. The next one is really more emotion and writing based, so I’m glad we did have this first parter that gave us time to explore the Nightosphere a bit more before getting right into the meat. It’s always fun to check out different lands in the AT world, and the Nightosphere is one of my favorite in that regard. Just an all around good time. Onto Daddy’s Little Monster!

Favorite line: “Charlie, don’t socialize with the smaller demons! They’re dirty and stupid!”

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