Archive | July 2017

“Another Way” Review

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Love the pre-staging depicted in this title card.

Original Airdate: January 23, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Bert Youn

Another Way is probably the most absurdist episode since season one. It’s not particularly strong in story; it’s just sort of a sequence of occurring events with Finn screaming a good chunk throughout. However, it’s one of those episodes where the jokes and visuals easily outweigh the necessity for an especially strong story, so it’s something that doesn’t bother me much. It’s jam packed with a lot of amusing moments and surreal humor that we haven’t seen much of in quite sometime.

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First of all, the episode starts off with the most baffling fucking thing in AT history: Finn actually reading the Enchiridion. I can’t believe my eyes! It’s a darn shame this book hasn’t gotten more use in the grand scheme of things up to this point. The only time it was ever seen outside of its debut episode was when Finn threw it at a worm in Evicted!. I know it’s used for a very crucial story arc later on, but I really kinda wish it was used a bit more frequently early on. Could’ve been cool to explore bits of the book more, what it’s capable of, and make it more effective when it’s reintroduced a bit later on. Also, Jake’s recurring foot fetish returns in this one. That dog loves him some feet.

I really love all the unusual Ren & Stimpy type humor in this one. The clown nurses are really creepy and well-designed, and their demeanor is just completely ludicrous. There’s one farting bubbles out of a wand, one that looks completely distorted, and the main one, who gets a lot of grotesque close-ups of kissing Finn’s feet and breaking a sweat while doing so. It’s a really great episode for Bert Youn’s artwork. Youn is one of the only storyboard artists up to this point who still retains an aesthetic of the earlier days of the show. Of course, I like the individual artwork of the storyboard artists and think the general design and quality has advanced significantly over time, but it’s always nice to see Youn’s work that pales so similarly to the show’s roots.

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The moments between Finn and the civilians he encounters are really hilarious. I love all of the wacky characters he comes face-to-face with. The stump voiced by Maria Bamford is great, I really never get tired of hearing that woman’s voice in the show. She always hits the right notes between goofy and completely sincere. The bush voiced by Gregg Turkington cracks me up; I don’t know why he’s so angry and passive aggressive, but I just love his attitude and general dislike of Finn. What the hell did Finn even do to deserve to be called an “ugly tramp”?? There’s also Pan and his wife Rainy, who are a cute little bunch to drive the conflict further during the second act.

I really love the moral conflict Finn is put through in this one. He doesn’t immediately acknowledge that he was wrong, but rather ponder if his way is incorrect or not. It’s admirable to watch him go about his own way and succeed throughout the episode, but also for him to realize that sometimes doing things completely individually can backfire, and the idea that occasionally not everything can be within your direction. It’s important to follow your own direction, but also crucial to analyze every given situation before doing so. It’s really driven home by Finn’s song, complete with auto-tune and some really terrific angles and shots by Tom Herpich. Awesome symbolism as well: there’s a river with three different streams, with two going in a direction where they’re able to flow freely, and one that is pouring over a waterfall and crashing, alluding Finn’s decision to choose his own path. It’s a perfect combination of philosophy and humor that’s especially fascinating to me. Also, there’s a cute little bit in this one where, for some reason, all of the trees have eyes. Not sure if it was just to go along with all of the other sentient elements of nature, but it’s always really funny and silly to just simply watch them blink and emote in the background.

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Ultimately, Finn is able to get an accurate view on the situation when he realizes that he can still use his way to help others as well, even bring a sandwich to life with the tears from a Cyclops! And what a great lesson that is! I really like how it diverts from the typical message of listening to others and the idea that irrational plans are always likely to fail. It sides with the idea that, following your own path could get you into very possible trouble, but it can also lead you to independence and better options. It’s a lovely message of learning that there’s always another way, and that just might be your own way. Of course, it’s also accepting of the fact that everyone else has their own way too, and sometimes that way is accepting foot kisses from clown nurses.

So yeah, I enjoy this one. It’s not one of my faves from season three, but it’s very, very funny and engaging throughout. I love all the trippy and grotesque visuals, the side characters, and most of all the message. It’s one of Finn’s strongest lessons in independence yet, and it’s done so in the least preachy way possible. A very amusing adventure for our little man. That ugly, fat-smelling fathead.

Favorite line: “The current is so fast, it’ll turn your butt inside-out for real, doofus.”

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“Paper Pete” Review

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Original Airdate: January 16, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

Paper Pete is perhaps one of, if not the most forgettable episode of Adventure Time for me. It’s not a particularly horrendous one, but it poses a premise and characters so bland that it never really has a chance to be significant in any form.

The idea of Jake studying a Rainicornocopia is a pretty cool concept, even before the Rainipups themselves were actually born. I like Jake’s heartfelt interest and compassion for Lady to go out and educate himself on something that’s important for the both of them. It’s also fitting that Jake wouldn’t be able to even get past the first paragraph, and even more logical considering he has no idea how Rainicorn children work when he eventually has five of his own.

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Somvilay’s bubbly design of Finn in this one is cute!

As for the plot itself, I think it’s somewhat of a frustrating, yet commonly used story for animated and live-action series alike. I think the idea of Finn “making up adventures” is a bit of a weird argument from Jake, considering it isn’t a common aspect of Finn’s character in general. It works primarily as a plot device for this one, and it’s slightly annoying to watch Jake blatantly ignore what’s right in front of him. Jake vs. Me-Mow had a similar plot, and that episode did it much, much better in my opinion. It’s hard to pull off that story in general without causing some form of frustration for the viewer.

Paper Pete, voiced by Peter Browngardt, makes his first and only appearance in this episode. Usually AT side characters stick out in their own absurd and quirky fashion, but Paper Pete doesn’t really have any strong character traits. He’s not particularly funny, interesting, or even well-designed. It’s a bit odd they got Peter Browngardt for this role. Besides the name, Peter Browngardt is known for his over-the-top and ludicrous characters, namely Uncle Grandpa. It’s a weird pairing for a character who kind of feels like an afterthought, despite having an entire episode named after him.

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The two main conflicts are pretty thin, with one being treated as amusingly ineffective, and the other just being quickly resolved in the end without a ton of time devoted to it. Considering they’re both treated as very minor issues, the conflict almost seems somewhat nonexistent. It’s harder to pull through as a competent episode when there’s no compelling struggle to carry onward, whether it be humorous or thrilling. And the episode ends as it does on every rewatch: with me almost entirely forgetting what I just saw.

I know I’m ripping this episode a new one, but honestly, I’m being a bit harsh on it. It’s nothing terrible: the writing isn’t bad, the animation isn’t bad, the characterizations aren’t bad. There’s a few enjoyable aspects, namely the background artwork. The library setting isn’t really visually interesting, but the detailed backgrounds and just how many shelves upon shelves they can squeeze in is pretty dope to look at. There’s a few good jokes in this one, though scarce. I do like Finn’s general uninterest with the pagelings, and how his main goal is really to just shove his proof in Jake’s face. It’s pretty funny to watch him react to the ineffectual environment, and even his mild annoyance with Paper Pete. Also, Turtle Princess seeing Finn with his shirt off was fucking priceless. So, it’s not bad, but it’s one of AT’s most forgettable efforts for me. This is Kent and Somvilay’s last episode for a while together; Kent began exclusively as a story editor for a while up until season five. Although this wasn’t a perfect episode to leave off on, the two would come back stronger than ever a couple seasons later for one of their best episodes yet.

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Favorite line: (in regards to relating to his future children) “Eh, I’ll just fake it.”

“Marceline’s Closet” Review

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Original Airdate: December 12, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Ako Castuera

Marceline’s Closet isn’t as strong of a character exploration as other Marcy-centric episodes are. For an episode revolving around Finn and Jake accidentally spying on their vampire friend, I think it would’ve been a lot more interesting to see Marceline at her most vulnerable or even look into her deepest darkest secrets, but it’s mostly focused on the dilemma Finn and Jake face in front of them. However, there are a couple of gags and amusing moments the two boys share that do make for a relatively funny episode.

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The beginning starts out really strong with Finn conducting some balloon music. It’s a great musical moment that’s up there with some of the funnier songs in the series. In addition to that, there’s a brief moment of apocalyptic lore that’s so easy to miss. The duo engage in a game of hide-and-seek, or “Cloud Hunt” as they call it, and Finn’s recites this nursery rhyme while counting:

Over the mountain, the ominous cloud

Coming to cover the land in a shroud,

Hide in a bushel, a basement, a cave,

But when cloud comes a-huntin’,

No one’s a save… no, safe!

It’s a lovely little bit of tragedy, similar to Ring Around the Rosey, that just reminds me of why I love this show. Every bit of past history is so hidden in the background and non-expository, and it just feels so natural that way.

Of course, once Finn and Jake enter inside Marceline’s closet is when the true conflict starts. I always do love the classic synopsis of characters hiding inside of another person’s house and trying to avoid getting caught. The stakes don’t feel particularly high in this one, as I don’t really think there’s much to anticipate with Marceline being the culprit. Though, it interestingly enough does bring back a scenario that feels exclusive to earlier seasons, which is Finn and Jake’s general fear of Marceline. We all know Jake’s fear of vampires is still mildly persistent, but Finn has treated Marceline as an equal since the beginning of season two, and it’s fun to see the old dynamic of the two boys being so easily startled by their mostly laid back, yet intimidating friend. And I really wonder if Marceline actually did use blood to write on that note at the beginning. You’re above that lifestyle, gurl!

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There’s a couple of great moments with Finn and Jake in the closet (no pun intended), including Finn’s completely ludicrous plan to fly an egg-making paper plane to get Marcy’s attention. What did making the eggs actually accomplish? I don’t know! I also love Finn’s brief encounter with a bare-bodied Marcy. It’s hilariously awkward to see the little guy so traumatized by seeing not only his friend in the nude, but presumably his first naked woman ever. There’s also some great sight gags, such as Finn and Jake’s terrified expressions and Jake’s silent tantrum of pain as he’s so violently bit by a spider.

So there are a good amount of laughs in this one, I just wish the stuff with Marceline was little more interesting. We don’t really get to see into her life all that much or any interesting tidbits of unknown characteristics. The strongest example we get is a is a song based on one of her diary entries, with the word “Gunter” written on the cover (FORESHADOWING). It’s not a particularly great song, which was written by Jesse Moynihan, and one that he admits wasn’t that great either. I’m not going to be one of “those people” who believes that Rebecca Sugar is the only one who can write for Marceline on the show, because that’s completely invalid. However, I will admit that the musical aspect of the series does suffer a bit without her talents (unless is for comedic purposes, as shown earlier), and that’s something that carries over heavily once she departs from the series. In addition, the lyrics aren’t really that strong either. Coming off the heels of one of Sugar’s most powerful songs in the series I’m Just Your Problem, Dear Diary just feels kind of lacking and out of place. I’m not sure if Marcy sang this song because she knew Finn and Jake were secretly watching her (we never really find out how long she was in on it), but it doesn’t really make sense from a developmental standpoint. Wasn’t the purpose of What Was Missing that Marceline began to embrace the friendships she’s made and even patch up some of her old ones? Why on earth would she believe she didn’t have any friends? You could argue this diary entry could’ve been written at any point, as she mentions it’s based on the past 500 years, but still, it does feel a bit out of place given all that Marcy has been through the past couple seasons.

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The end resolution is a bit of an abrupt and unsatisfying one, though it does completely make sense that Marceline wouldn’t be mad at Finn and Jake in the first place. Her whole game is fucking with people and showing up uninvited. That’s who Marcy is! So yeah, I think this episode is decent. It’s a generally enjoyable premise with a good amount of funny character moments, but it does suffer from being a bit thin when it comes to a story that does potentially call for an interesting character study. Also, the conflict does feel a bit light, as I think it’s pretty obvious that Marcy’s not actually going to react as badly as our two main characters believe. If it was a character like Magic Man or even Marceline’s father, Hunson Abadeer, it could’ve made for a more interesting conflict. But as is, it did an okay job of showcasing Marceline out of the closet (pun intended).

Favorite line: “Well, now we’re both quietly screaming.”

“Holly Jolly Secrets (Part I & II)” Review

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Original Airdate: December 5, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Kent Osborne

Ice King has certainly gone through some major developmental stages during the past season. He’s almost completely transitioned from a villain to Finn and Jake’s creepy, annoying neighbor, and while that characterization has proven to be successful all season, it does risk a chance of being repetitive over time. Unless Ice King was at some point going to transform into a complete hero, it’d be awfully boring to just watch him attempt to capture princesses over and over again, or just endlessly try to be Finn and Jake’s best buddy. Holly Jolly Secrets is the one that changes everything. Everything we thought we knew about the Ice King up to this point was ultimately rendered moot, and an onslaught of new questions and mysteries arose. This introduction to Ice King’s backstory is also pretty much a turning point for the entire show: Adventure Time generally has become darker, more ambitious in its storytelling, and persistent in adding continuing bits of lore and mysticism in its ever-growing world.

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I guess I’ll kick-off this review by talking about its most crucial aspect: the videotape revealing the past life of Simon Petrikov. This portion of the episode is absolutely brilliant. It’s one of my top five favorite moments in the entire show, period, and I often forget how chillingly solemn and ominous it really is. There are so many nice little details, between the progression of time throughout each video journal to the brief existence of pre-Mushroom War propaganda. There’s a plane that flies by, which can honestly be taken as a sign of impending warfare (a later scene leads me to lean more towards this theory) and even the existence of a (presumably) Catholic Church. It really shows humanity and early society in the most explicit, uncut way that adds a bit of subtle lore to the existence of the post-apocalyptic world and how some aspects were generally lost in translation. I love all the subtle changes as Simon slowly becomes the Ice King; one aspect I really enjoy is how Simon’s first appearance in the video seems generally unaltered, yet his eyes are actually white and rounded much like the IK’s, rather than dotted and black like most human beings are shown to possess. It’s a nice bit that shows you just how doomed Simon was from the start, and how even before he lost his sanity, the crown had already claimed its victim. The exploration is fascinating; Simon’s transformation is often compared to Alzheimer’s, and while that correlation is quite accurate, it almost feels like a drug addiction in these video entries. Despite the way it’s destroying his life and pushing away the one he loves most, Simon continues to put on the crown, simply because of his failure to resist the feeling of power and strength it gives him. It’s some really tough stuff to get through, and the connection between his fiancee Betty and the Ice King’s desire to capture princesses is absolutely heartbreaking.

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Somvilay added this banner in to keep the viewer’s attention. A strange bit of meta-humor that AT typically strays away from.

The monologue was provided by Patrick McHale, who came up with the idea of Ice King’s tragic backstory. It really feels like a one-man play, but Pendleton Ward himself has compared it to the likes of a radio drama. The speech really shows what a fantastic voice actor Tom Kenny is; he’s so well-known for his portrayals of zany cartoon characters, but the dude can really pull off a legitimately serious and poignant role, and I think that’s a part of his abilities as an actor that’s sadly overlooked. The straight-forward fashion in which he reads these lines, without even slightly sounding phony or forced, is really impressive. It’s a very strong and powerful read through that really adds to this sequence being one of my favorite moments in the entire series. The monotone dialogue is surprisingly what keeps you so drawn to the screen.

However, with all that said, I honestly think the rest of the episode is just okay. The entirety of the episode is padded with quirky video diaries of the Ice King, and truthfully, they don’t do it for me. Like, at all. There’s a few funny lines readings, such as “good morning, you’re watching the evening news,” and IK’s hilarious rendition of Marceline’s Fry Song, (FORESHADOWING) but none of the other tapes do it for me in the slightest. I get it, the episode needed to be stretched out for the purpose of building up to the massive drama bomb, but I wish those tapes and time used at least incorporated more humor and entertainment. The tapes are purposefully boring, but end up slowing down the entire episode to the point where it feels like it takes an eternity to get to the actual meat. There’s an extended scene of BMO fastforwarding one of Ice King’s tapes, and it goes on for like, a solid minute. It’s another one of those episodes that showcases Somvilay’s odd approaches at anti-humor that just simply makes the experience a relatively dull one.

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The original pitch for this episode called for Finn and Jake to watch old Christmas specials, but Pen thought that the idea was awful in hindsight because it destroyed the fabric of the universe that the crew worked so hard at creating. While I can’t say that idea would’ve been better, I do think that the first 18 minutes of this two-parter should’ve been padded with something a little easier to chew on. I feel like it’s incredibly hard for me to think of anything noteworthy about Holly Jolly Secrets that isn’t the big reveal. The characterization of Finn and Jake isn’t that strong; they’re just sort of there to blankly observe until the ending. Even the Ice King isn’t that funny throughout this episode, and coming off the heals of great episodes like Still and Hitman, that’s no excuse.

After the video sequence does end, we do get some legitimately good moments as well. I love the IK’s delusional belief that the most significant thing about the tapes is the fact that he used to wear glasses. It’s a tonally appropriate moment to cap-off one of the heaviest scenes yet with a completely tasteful joke. Finn and Jake’s empathy for the IK is really great, too. It’s a nice moment for Finn to simply just give the Ice King back his tapes; I know people are always a bit annoyed that F&J don’t do more to help out Ice King, but really, what can they do? It’s completely out of their control and knowledge to be able to fix a pretty much unsolvable problem, so even showing him a bit of compassion and sincere appreciation is really sweet. Even though Ice King’s attempts at humor were considerably weak in these episodes, his characterization does come in strong when you realize that he actually hasn’t done anything wrong throughout. All he wanted to do was hang out with Finn and Jake, and when he completely forgets the fact that the two boys even watched his tapes, he rewards them with unusual gifts. It’s such a delightful view of his character that only makes the videos more effective and tragic. The second part ends on a perfect note, as all of the major and minor characters, including a booger and excluding Marceline (FORESHADOWING) sit together by a fire and essentially celebrate Ooo’s first Christmas.

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So yeah, I’m a bit half-and-half on this one. There’s some moments that are absolutely incredibly, yet others that are bafflingly mediocre. It’s safe to say that Simon’s backstory is more than enough to justify Holly Jolly Secrets’ existence, and that it still stands as a very crucial two-parter in the general expansion of the series. The Ice King only gets increasingly more interesting from this point on, and any story arc that was adapted from his backstory can be drawn back directly from this first episode. Holly Jolly Secrets isn’t a two-parter I happen to revisit as a whole a lot, but you can rest assured that I’ll continue coming back to Simon Petrikov’s story for years to come. It’s an emotionally scarring holiday special for the whole family!

Favorite line: “My alarm says it’s time for Finn’s bath. Finn, get naked.”

 

“The New Frontier” Review

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Original Airdate: November 28, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Bert Youn

Jake’s mortality and relationship with death have been very prominent features of his character over the years. His aging process, to say the least, is convoluted. Nobody can really figure it out how it works; even Jake himself has trouble putting the pieces together with just exactly how old he is. That said, Jake’s fear of growing older is significantly more prominent than his actual fear of death. He more so fears outliving the ones he cares about most and losing his sense of edge and mellow behavior than dying, which he seems to welcome with open arms as long as it’s in a fantastical and mythical fashion. The New Frontier revolves heavily around Jake’s intrigue of fate and destiny, and does so by raising some increasingly interesting questions about whether what he’s doing is ethical or not.

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I love anything with the Cosmic Owl, and aside from Prisoners of Love, this is his big debut as the dream wanderer of prophecies and foreboding outcomes, something which we come to realize that Jake is all about. The croak dream itself is really heavy-handed and atmospheric; I love all the little details of space, along with the rocket ship and Banana Man floating around, as well as the orchestral choir that gradually builds overtime. It’s a bit curious that the Earth is actually full in Jake’s dream, but considering that he doesn’t ever actually end up in space, it doesn’t necessarily feel like a continuity error.

It’s hard to say whether Jake’s behavior in this episode is rational or not; on one hand, it feels like a very selfish decision for Jake to allow himself to die with his thirteen-year-old brother left behind and his loved ones completely unknowing (I mean, he doesn’t even bid Lady goodbye. Harsh!) On the other hand, it’s sort of difficult to disagree with him being so open and unafraid of dying and what’s destined to come for him because most people are naturally afraid of dying. It’s a bit of an interesting balance between wanting Jake to stay with Finn but also wanting him to fulfill his destiny that was prophesied. I mean, then again, how does one even bounce back from a prophetic dream of death? Was Jake supposed to just wait patiently for the day when he eventually dies? It becomes more relatable when analyzing all of the various layers of Jake’s burdens, fears, and his general acceptance of the future that’s to come.

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Finn is written terrifically for this one. His entire presence is purely sympathetic from beginning to end. We really don’t wanna see our little guy lose his best friend, and his undevoted desire to protect Jake and decrease all chances of him dying are really endearing. I especially love the moment when Finn hopelessly begs Jake to let go of the rocket. It’s not overly dramatic, but it’s a really heart wrenching, heavy scene that really allows the audience to see both sides of the argument. Again, Jake seems selfish by leaving Finn behind, but he’s merely accepting the future in front of him instead of being wildly in denial. However, Finn legitimately needs Jake by his side, and is still too young to accept death so calmly. He’s already lost Joshua and Margaret in his lifetime, which only makes him more opposed to losing his closest relative that’s still alive.

The ending resolves any dark or uneasy feelings towards Jake’s attitude by helping him to realize the one thing that’s more important to him than his own life, and that is the life of his best buddy. It’s a sweet resolution, and one that acknowledges that, while Jake is perfectly fine accepting his fate, he wants Finn to continue to live a successful and satisfying life even if he can’t be by his side. It also leaves a bit of ambiguity for the future of the series and Jake’s life, as we’re left with the possibility that, at some point, Jake will relive his croak dream once more. Of course, it’s a scary thought for both Finn and Jake to swallow, as unpredictability can often be most frightening. Finn and Jake are all about living in the present, however, and are able to get through fearful outcomes through humor and goodwill.

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This episode also introduces the Banana Man, voiced by “Weird Al” Yankovic. I do really love Banana Man’s eccentric and quirky personality, but I think there are better examples of episodes where he’s utilized better than he is in this one. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy his weird mannerisms and extended dance moves (Pen Ward admitted that this episode came up a little short, so he just added longer, drawn out sequences of Banana Man dancing), but “Weird Al” is such a unique and interesting talent choice that you’d think he’d have a couple of more lines and even a song or two. But, like I said, there are better examples of spotlight episodes for Banana Man, and this one works just fine on its own.

This is also a really funny episode. While Finn and Jake’s interactions are quite tension-packed given the circumstances of Jake’s dream, there are still plenty of silly, fun moments for our main duo. I especially love Finn’s exchange about Banana Man walking into the sun (he really can be such a doofus sometimes), Finn’s ability to start a fire with his bare fucking hands, Jake’s explanation of how Glob World works, including the blatant disrespect he shows BMO by leaving an ice cream-filled pizza sandwich on his head. For as dark as the topic of the episode is, it’s still filled with fun, wacky jokes and character moments that really help lighten up some of the bleaker moments.

The New Frontier is a very enjoyable one. I love the headiness of Jake’s prophetic dream and all of the philosophy behind his decisions in the long run. It’s one that opens up a gateway for future opportunities regarding the fragility of Jake’s life, and the increasing importance of Cosmic Owl-centric dream sequences. There’s even a bit of lore when regarding The Great Mushroom War, as Jake mentions that rocket ships haven’t yet been reinvented. It makes sense with the world of AT that the only gateway to space would be portals and magical entrances, which means that rocket ships aren’t even really needed. It’s one that’s extremely amusing, but also thought-provoking at the same time. Something Adventure Time has really mastered.

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Favorite line: “There’s not enough boom-boom stick-hole sticks in the stick-hole!”

“Thank You” Review

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Original Airdate: November 23, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich

Taking a tertiary character, or even a character we haven’t even met before, and putting them at center stage has become a staple of AT over time. It’s a risky move for any show to divert its attention from the main cast, but Adventure Time typically almost always pulls this off with great success. This episode, written and solo-boarded by Tom Herpich, is another introduction this season (the other being Fionna and Cake) to an experiment that would later open doors for new opportunities within the world of the series. And while this episode goes in a completely predictable direction that anyone could see a mile away, it’s one I think is really remarkable. It pushes Finn and Jake to the side for two characters who can’t even speak, and it takes advantage of that concept to its fullest degree.

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It’s hard to say what works so well about Thank You, but I think most of that can be contributed to its atmosphere. It’s quiet, solemn, and whimsical. I think there’s a good handful of moments that aren’t exactly funny, but extremely charming. The everyday life of the Snow Golem, from his bird alarm clock to his bowl of acorns and pears, is just very delightful to watch. The Snow Golem himself isn’t really a strong personality, but he’s kind of supposed to be an eccentric everyman. He’s introverted and cautious, but nevertheless friendly and likable. His connection with the fire pup is also really endearing: it hits all the right notes, from the initial distrust to how the Snow Golem genuinely begins to care about the poor pupper. I love all the little moments with them spending time together, including the golem’s finger puppet show and the fire pup quite aggressively sucking on the udder of a cow.

There’s some great bits of voice acting between Dee Bradley Baker and Pendleton Ward in this one. Not a single line of dialogue is uttered between Snow Golem or Fire Wolf until the very end, and yet they managed to add little sounds of expression to really carry the episode forward. I love all the hectic noises Snow Golem makes whenever he’s being paranoid or distraught, and the cries and barks from the Fire Wolf pup are really adorable. I’ll never understand how Dee Bradley Baker is able to so masterfully imitate animals, but he’s a freakin’ legend when it comes down to it.

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There’s a lot of really nice artwork and colors in this one. Ghostshrimp once again did a standout job with this one, in addition to Santino Lascano and Chris Tsirgiotis lending a hand with their lovely artwork. Really nice design of the Snow Golem’s house, which, in the promo art, is revealed to be a barn that was once owned by members of humankind. To my knowledge, this is the first major appearance of the Fire Kingdom, and while it’s a bit different in design, it still looks great. Although it feels a bit odd that the Fire Kingdom and Ice Kingdom are so close together; not sure if that’s a bit of discontinuity or just something that was overlooked for the purpose of plot, but it’s only slightly distracting and doesn’t affect the overall scope of the episode. In addition to the background art, there’s some really nice sunsets, textures between snow and fire, and overall animation quality. You can tell Herpich, the other storyboarded artists, and animators really put their damnedest into this one. Even something as simply as a three second clip of the Snow Golem walking has an extended walking cycle (courtesy of Adam Muto) that just looks terrific and really makes me appreciate that extra effort.

Once more, I just really love the quiet and poignant feel to this one. I love all the little moments of the Snow Golem trying to figure out what to do with the fire pup; it really feels like a simple but crucial situation that I think is treated in the most careful way possible. The ending, as I mentioned, is really predictable, but sweet. I especially just love the last few minutes, including the Snow Golem’s willingness to put himself into grave danger for the sake of a wolf he met only a day ago, and the humble reunion they share in the end. It’s a very endearing way to cap off the episode, and one that I can’t help but smile at on every view.

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The one thing that feels a bit shoehorned in this episode is the presence of Finn, Jake, and Ice King. Their brief in-the-background subplot is fine, but I feel like you could’ve taken them out of the episode entirely and you wouldn’t miss much. I like the moment at the end with Finn putting aside his differences with the IK, but besides that, it just feels like Finn and Jake are there to explain what we already know. Yeah, yeah, fire wolves and snow golems hate each other but they’re able to get along. We know this, we don’t need any extra exposition. It’s just a minor detail I would change or just completely withdraw for more time between the two leads. The only interesting bit is Jake wearing the Ice King’s crown completely unaffected, which can only likely be rooted to the fact that the crown already has a host. We see this in a couple other episodes later on, but this was the first time the concept was introduced.

As is, this is a great one. It really feels like something out of a Pixar short or something along those lines, and just feels so especially unique and beautiful. It’s no wonder this one was nearly nominated for an Oscar! I love the atmosphere, the artwork, the connection between the two main characters, and just the overall message. It’s a thing of beauty that opened a lot of new opportunities for AT to tackle the lives of other secondary characters, as well as the practice of writers being able to solo-board, and one that I’d consider up there with some of the greatest. Definitely one that the Adventure Time crew is really proud of, for all the right reasons.

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Favorite line: “You know, maybe we could all learn a thing or two from those sandwiches.”