Archive | December 2017

“The Suitor” Review

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Original Airdate: May 20, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Thomas Wellmann & Jesse Moynihan

UPDATE: I was informed this one was actually storyboarded by Thomas Wellman, instead of Ako Castuera. This post was updated for accuracy.

PB’s remained mostly in the background of the first half of season five. Despite having plenty of minor appearance here and there, and appearing as a major player during the guest animated episode A Glitch is a Glitch, there hasn’t really been anything new or telling about her character that season four so seamlessly pulled off. The Suitor takes PB back to the spotlight, revolving around the status of her love life while also introducing a likable newcomer. It’s an interesting tale of love and patience, and for what this one was going for, I think they pulled it off greatly.

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I especially love the beginning, and any other moments that revolve around Peppermint Butler’s dark deeds with the demon Ogdoad. Prior to this episode, we’ve only ever seen hints and allusions to Pepbut’s ominous nature, though this one really kicks off his strange behavior by having him summon a demon in the first 10 seconds of the episode. And I love the way it’s stage: the guardian angel from Dungeon is there, as well as animals that look menacing and starved, with a clueless Cinnamon Bun at the center of it all. It’s just the kind of delicious obtuse behavior that I wanted to see from the little peppermint man. What’s also tons of fun is watching him interact with the Gumball Guardian. The Guardian has never really been given a solid personality aside from the fact that he puts his all into protecting the kingdom. Here, he acts like an actual guardian of the princess and of the kingdom, which is a pretty interesting dynamic they chose to work with. He goes from a subservient assistant to an overprotective parent of the princess. I especially enjoy his line, “the Candy Kingdom worries for its leader, and it worries for you, dark one.” The bickering between the Gumball Guardian and Peppermint Butler is a lot of fun throughout the entirety of the episode, and I wish we could see more instances of it in subsequent episodes. I can think of a few of the comics, namely Issue #11 of the Adventure Time Comics series where this dynamic is brought back, but aside from that, this is the only in-universe instance.

The suitors who have been waiting for a countless amount of years once again pose the interesting query of “just how fucking old is PB?” which once again is glanced over with subtlety. It’s where we’re introduced to Braco, the main protagonist of the episode. As far as Braco goes, he’s pretty likable; I enjoy how the episode goes to great lengths to kind of make him seem pathetic and obsessive, yet still make him kind of rootable. I admire him for all the death-defying stunts he’ll put himself through just for PB’s affection, even if it is foolhardy at best. But most interesting is that, while I do root for Braco in this one, it is pretty obvious that he doesn’t actually love Bubblegum, and the show knows that. When he’s first introduced to PB, she immediately acknowledges that he’s “infatuated” with her, and his only feelings of love for her come from a relationship that he’s created inside his mind. I think most people can relate to this – I know I can – and I think the episode and the direction of the writing is smart for not treating this like any typical love story. It acknowledges that, while Braco probably does have some real feelings for the princess, he’s more lonely and naive about love than anything, and instead is looking to fill that void and desire with fabricated tales of true love that he’s convinced himself of.

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These stories can sometimes be insufferable with just how much of an awkward doofus the hopeless romantic can be; Jamie’s first appearance in Steven Universe definitely comes to mind. Yet, I find that, while there are a couple of instances where Braco is portrayed as an awkward doofus, he’s still fun to watch and actually a pretty poignant character throughout the episode’s run. I like his little observatory where he writes in his journal and documents his feelings, and I think it’s pretty sweet that he turned to his late grandfather for tips on how to win a girl’s love, even if it failed miserably. And okay, how long ago did this guy die?? Jake’s been alive for what, 14 human years, and were supposed to believe that at some point he wrote this book under an alternative ego that was the key to Braco’s grandad’s luck with the ladies?? It makes no sense! It’s by all means something that only I’m confused about and no one else is, but still! J.T. Doggzone will never fail to flabbergast me.

Finn’s brief bit in the episode is something I do find really interesting, mainly because he’s totally jealous. It’s already been pretty well established that Finn isn’t totally over PB at all, so watching him somewhat unsuccessfully try and act like he doesn’t care was really quite telling of where he is in his developmental stage. And I’m glad they kept Finn’s jealousy to a minimum; had it take up the course of an entire episode, it might’ve been frustrating and a bit unlikable, but here we just get a brief 30 seconds of Finn trying to pull off a farce and then smack talking Braco for a bit. It’s a bit petty of him, but he’s a 14-year-old boy with hormonal imbalances. I’m actually surprised he turned out this well. I also love his brief bit of nihilistic wisdom to Braco, “the path you’re on leads to nowhere,” which also includes Finn allowing Braco to take on the task. I dunno what Finn’s intentions were; it could be that he knew Braco wasn’t going to get anywhere, but let him go on the quest for shits and giggles, or that he actually wanted to see Braco succeed where he failed. I’d lean more toward the first option, though I wouldn’t be completely opposed to the second either. I also like how they’re able to incorporate Jake into these bits exceptionally well. Jake doesn’t even have a line, though his facial reactions to Finn’s uncomfortable behavior are just terrific. I love how he’s somewhat skeptical about Finn, while also simultaneously concerned for him.

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The task for the soul stone is a very neat one. Vapor Swamps is a pretty dope looking landscape, with hints that an old city once existed there. The swamp monsters are also pretty visually interesting. They all have a sort of Muppet look to them, which makes them feel straight out of Labrynth or The Dark Crystal. The Beast is especially cool, though I can’t think of that name without immediately imagining Over the Garden Wall. The way Braco reasons with the Beast about his love for Bubblegum seems like it’s going in the direction where he’s just going to get beat up and suffer more, though I enjoy how the Beast actually lets him go because of it. Wonder what that fuzzy monster’s backstory is.

Though Braco goes through a decent amount of pain throughout this one, it never feels mean-spirited or like it’s mistreating Braco. He willingly puts himself into situations that aren’t meant for him to be apart of, and instead of just sitting back and being patient, he instead throws himself into instant suffering. The epitome of his pain comes from when Peppermint Butler strikes a deal with Ogdoad to make Braco a walking love magnet. What I really like about the revelations surrounding Pepbut in this one is that it’s made very obvious that, while he has a fascination with dark magic, he’s still just kind of a cool guy who puts his loyalty towards PB before anything else. I think people had in their minds that Peppermint Butler was going to be one of the big bads at the end of the series that would take on the role of main villain, though I think that’s somewhat against his character. He’s perfectly conscious of his dark habits, and though it can stray in a path of borderline menacing at times, he still would never put the princess or her kingdom in a state of jeopardy. He’s Peppermint “Butler”, after all.

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Braco pays the ultimate price for love, and ultimately, it still doesn’t win over the princess. It’s another great step in the lesson of not sacrificing yourself or your dignity for the love of another person, because 9/10, that person still isn’t going to come around. But, through all the mental and physical pain he endures, he still gets a PB robot that he can fuck all he likes for the rest of his life. Yippee!

I’ve kept quiet about PB’s actual depiction in this one on purpose, mostly ‘cause I wanted to save it for last. I think she’s portrayed quite perfectly in this one! While I’m sure some people have targeted her for supposedly being unlikable and putting Braco through hurdles of pain, that’s not what I got at all from this one. Again, everything Braco did was completely against what PB wanted. She gave the task to find the soul stone to Finn and Jake, who she knew would be able to grab it without a problem. Braco took on the task without having the prowess or keen sense of heroism that the two boys had, and suffered for it. PB also had no idea that Braco was going to completely distort his appearance for her love, which again, was his own choice. She devoted all of her energy and science to creating what Braco wanted most, and if that isn’t some enlightening motherly attention, I don’t know what is.

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I think the episode does a great job at showing her stress and isolation. She has to consistently focus her attention on running an entire kingdom (all while taking care of a caged Phil) and the idea of sacrificing her kingdom for romance just isn’t strategically possible for her. I get the feeling that, from the last scene, she did have feelings for Braco that went beyond just caring for him as a Candy Person. She probably saw potential in him that she saw in any former love interest, though she knew she couldn’t act on it because “responsibility demands sacrifice.” We were all expecting a sad ending from Braco, but I think in the end, I mostly feel bad for PB. She wants to be carefree, giddy, and naive like Braco once was, but her impact on her kingdom and her people is unfortunately more of a priority for her. Though I doubt anything hurt as much as Peppermint Butler’s bitch-slap. Man, was that hilarious.

So yeah, I think this one’s pretty great. Really nice characterization of each of the characters that are focused on, and just some all around solid writing from Jesse Moynihan and Thomas Wellmann. You can really tell that they have a pretty deep understanding of unrequited love and infatuation, and it really shines through in this episode. This one also features a special outro, written and sung by Moynihan, with backup vocals by Ako Castuera. It’s a really nice tune, check it out here if you haven’t before.

Favorite line: “Well, you paid the price, no doubt, and I wanna have your babies.”

“Shh!” Review

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Original Airdate: May 13, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Graham Falk

Shh! is storyboard artist Graham Falk’s debut on Adventure Time. Wasn’t familiar with Falk before he joined the AT staff, but his roots in more cartoony and expressive material, like The Untalkative Bunny, have allowed for some really interesting looking drawings on Adventure Time. Aside from season one, we’re not used to seeing cartoonish and squishy looking poses and expressions from the show, so Falk’s methods always add a bit more charm and likability to the sillier episodes. And I think it was well fitting that his first episode is one that partially pays tribute to silent cartoons of the past.

I think the stronger parts of this one do come from the first half, when Finn and Jake commit to their use of title cards to communicate with each other. There’s a lot of really funny visual gags during this portion, especially the fact that nearly every single card that Finn wrote is supporting Jake somehow. My favorite being “I love you, Jake” which Finn angrily uses to respond to his speed-writing brother. It’s both adorable and hilarious. There’s also the funny bit of build-up to BMO believing Finn and Jake are aliens where they both try to communicate with him using “the juice?” and “me too.” Real smooth.

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BMO freaks out and flees the area, which puts his get together with his bikini babes on hold. The song that BMO plays is by Lake, the band that sings the outro for AT, and No Wonder I is a really great tune! Next to Rebecca Sugar, Lake provides some of the best tunes for the series, including this one, the ending theme, and two songs that we’ll visit later on. You can listen to No Wonder I on YouTube here.

The second of the portion of the episode definitely slows down a bit, just because I did enjoy all of the jokes that came out of Jake and Finn communicating through signs, but I guess there wasn’t a ton they could do with them that would span out an entire episode. Instead, we do get some nice bits, like the Spider with gloves on his hands and the mice using the running wheel, which are all moderately cute, and provide some cool designs equivalent to old Mickey Mouse cartoons and Warner Bros. shorts pre-WWII. There’s also that sad dude who lives in the wall, and it’s a longshot, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a full episode based around that dude. His existence and depression intrigue me.

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After Jake tries to reason with BMO and fails (which features a pretty great shot of Jake shrunken down to be smaller than BMO; have they done something like this before? I think it’s the first time they’ve attempted something like it) the two boys proceed to axe up their wall for some reason – maybe they are possessed by aliens afterall – to get BMO out. Cue the bikini babes, and in an episode full of great visual pieces and character designs, these girls really freak me out a little bit. Their really detailed humanoid bodies and their simplistic eyes and mouth just don’t complement each other very well, and this is an instance where I wouldn’t have minded the addition of eye whites and nose features. Afterall, the guy inside the wall had them! I do like their inexplicable ability to fly, however. 

The climax is decently fun; I like the way Finn and Jake are just emotionless throughout the entire battle, because the bikini babes aren’t exactly formidable opponents. I like the way the babes face of with the boys, using pinches, dancing, and volleyball techniques to inflict damage. Also, love the one shaking maracas with the title card “the jam”. It provides for a funny ending once Finn and Jake surrender their and explain their day to BMO, and BMO just says “fuck it!” followed by a dance party. Even the Party God showed up for this one, which always provides for a stellar get together!

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Overall, this one’s light fun. I don’t find myself getting into it that much, but it has its fair share of funny and enjoyable moments. Again, the overall designs and drawings in this one are interesting enough to carry the episode, along with some good bits of writing along the way. Not anything remarkable, but a nice entry regardless.

Shh! was dedicated to Armen Mirzaian, who tragically passed away in a car accident months prior to the airing of this episode. Mirzaian wrote and boarded for three episodes in the first season: What is Life?Business Time, and The Jiggler.

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Favorite line: (passive aggressively) “Oh dang, the toast?”

 

 

 

 

“James Baxter the Horse” Review

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Original Airdate: May 6, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Pendleton Ward & Somvilay Xayaphone

During his time at CalArts, Pen Ward had a special guest lecture by James Baxter, an animator who worked with both Disney and DreamWorks. Someone in the lecture asked James Baxter to draw a horse on top of a beach ball, to which James Baxter declined, but the idea of a horse on a ball stuck with Ward regardless. Which is why James Baxter the Horse stars Ward in a rare position at the storyboarding helm, because it turns out to be a pretty personal story in regards to being inspired by someone else’s work, but trying to make your own unique content out of it. And for the most part, I think it works.

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The beginning starts off pretty great with BMO’s pregnant song. Again, this is right after Rebecca Sugar left, so most of the songs following her departure aren’t exactly catchy or memorable, but this one is at least funny. While Finn and Jake try to cheer up BMO she breaks her egg, James Baxter appears and makes everything better with his beach ball routine. The real life James Baxter actually assisted with some of the animation in this episode, mainly the bits where James Baxter rolls on the beach ball, and man, is it a fluid breath of fresh air! Not that AT animation typically looks bad, per se, but you never really expect anything particularly smooth or fluid in terms of character movement. Baxter himself voices his horse counterpart as well, and it provides for a really enjoyably silly running gag throughout the course of the episode.

I think that’s how you can describe the entirety of the episode for the most part: enjoyably silly. I mentioned in my last review that Princess Potluck felt like an episode that was meandered by a plot that seemed as insignificant as an episode from season one, but I think this episode is able to also capture the spirit of the first season in a pretty solid way. Ward is far from my favorite boarder on the show; I have oodles of respect for the guy, but I think he’s more of a storyteller than an actually great writer. And his drawings, while perfectly serviceable, are very simplistic depictions of our main heroes that we’re used to seeing everywhere in AT media. But that being said, I think most of it works with the actual episode. There are moments of stilted dialogue and awkwardness, but it calls for some surrealistic laughs at times. Like the bit where Jake propels Finn into the air to kick the ghost as Finn and Jake randomly get coated in milk. Also, there’s just inexplicably no background music during this sequence. Ward has always been on the more random and silly side, and it’s a style that doesn’t really call for some of the funnier or more memorable pieces from the series, but it’s a style that’s definitely charming and likable regardless. It’s just like Rainy Day Daydream, another episode boarded by Ward that I don’t really think is downright hilarious or terrific or anything, but there’s something so delightful about it regardless.

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Pairing Ward with Somvilay was actually a pretty good choice in my mind. I think it’s fucking redundant at this point to keep bringing up issues with Somvilay’s drawings, because let’s face it, I literally feel that way about every single episode he has boarded thus far. From now on, I’m only going to bring it up if it poses a large issue with the episode itself, which there are some of down the line. Actual drawings aside, I think Somvilay’s simplistic character depictions and focus on wacky non-sequiturs actually really match well with what Ward was going for (there’s a ton of w’s in that last sentence, woah). I like the little added Somvilayisms, like Finn handing Jake his clipboard just to carry across an animated line of dialogue and then retrieving it back. Also, moments such as Finn and Jake disturbing the funeral and making noises towards the little girl are more direct methods of comedy, but two that play off pretty well and do make me laugh.

A good portion of the episode is watching Finn and Jake embark on this journey to create something as great as James Baxter has, and it’s pretty cool to connect the dots with Pen Ward in Finn and Jake’s position. It seems pretty clear that Ward has a ton of respect for Baxter himself, so he probably wanted to create something as great as he was able to, but always felt inferior and that he was never able to match Baxter’s standards. Ward instead tried to create something different that also appeared to people’s interests and what they like to see, which worked out for him, but his work still probably wasn’t looked at as quite as good as James Baxter’s. What this episode sets to point out is that, even if your work isn’t technically superior to another’s, you should still try and make other people happy with your talents. You shouldn’t try endlessly to recreate the magic that another person has invented, but instead try and create your own unique spin on already existing properties. I don’t know how many of the kiddies picked up on this one, but it’s a neat little message to carry across, and one that is particularly sweet.

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The backgrounds in this one are great! Again, a lot of nice skies and scenery to chew on. This is an episode that is featured pretty heavily in the Art of Ooo book, for good reasons. I like the simplicity of some of the Grassland scenes, as well as the dope-looking factory with its many colors and layers. Also, this is a really design-heavy episode. There’s James Baxter, the hitchhiker ghost, the furry people in the forest, the grieving family, and so on. It’s always nice to have a group of new background characters, a feat that is still unmatched by Ocarina, but one that makes the episode feel more inventive and that more time was put into the smaller details.

I don’t really have much more to say besides the fact that, well, it’s fun! Nothing particularly special, but it’s a sweet little episode that takes the time to channel a more personal story over the increasingly wild Land of Ooo. It’s always very special to get an episode boarded by Ward, which only happens every once in a blue moon. I’m glad he had a crucial part on this one, and I’m glad he took the time to share his story with the viewers of AT. All I know is that I could watch that scene of James Baxter riding into the sunset all day long if I wanted to.

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Favorite line: “Jaaaaaaames Baaaxter!”

“Princess Potluck” Review

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Original Airdate: April 22, 2013

Written & Storyboard by: Cole Sanchez & Kent Osborne

Ice King is still a deeply funny character despite the added layers of depth that were contributed to his character in the past few seasons. And I think it’s reassuring that, to this day, they haven’t committed to making him a character we’re supposed to take completely seriously. We care about Ice King because of his quirky behavior and the humor that surrounds his character, though I think it’s pretty reasonable that we’d expect something a little more compelling and interesting for the IK to do in season five than what we’d see from him in season one. And Princess Potluck is an episode that possibly could have fit in the season one bunch, though as it is, I think it’s a pretty bland and boring entry.

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There isn’t really anything that keeps me interested in the story or the conflict for this one. It’s a pretty simple story that I honestly think could’ve been shrunk down to Grayble-type length and cut out a good portion of the episode. I’d even argue that Ice King simply wanting to attend a princess potluck is a better suited story for one of the comics than the actual episode. Even the punchlines themselves that drive Ice King further into madness aren’t really that compelling. Everyone that Ice King forces to go to the party ends up doing the exact same thing, which is just kicking back and enjoying the potluck. It’s not really even funny the first time and trends pretty predictable waters, so I’m not sure why they kept pulling the same gag multiple times.

Ice King isn’t necessarily written poorly in this one, but it’s simply nothing new from what we’ve already seen from his character. I guess there’s that cool bit of voice range we get from Tom Kenny as Ice King impersonates different people on the phone, though it didn’t really make me laugh and felt more like a corny, old vaudeville bit. There’s one or two moments that come to mind in terms of moments that actually made me laugh, one being the conclusion where Ice King reveals that he didn’t know he was invited to the potluck, simply because he doesn’t read his mail. That was totally a classic Ice King moment. The other bit I liked was Gunther repeatedly pulling a taser on people, strictly for the ludicrousy of it all.

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Besides that, this one just feels… bare. The only other noteworthy part of this episode is the allusions to BMO Noire, which… didn’t really need to exist? Like, AT has pulled off plenty of ambiguous off-screen moments, so I really never lost sleep wondering why Finn returned to his house with a Sea Lard and why Jake had an arrow in his head. I guess it was a bit silly that they took the time to explain it, but how does this fit in with the timeline of the actual series? Kind of weird that we’re supposed to buy into this structured timeline the show has set up, yet, there’s moments like this that don’t really add up at all. Also, I really hate the ending gag with the stalker squirrel. I think this is the one time the show felt way too in your face with, “hey, look, this character’s back again! Remember how funny they are!” and it’s really just more distractingly throwback-y than actually funny or rewarding. Some of the designs of the princesses are always nice to see, like Princess Princess Princess and the newly introduced Bounce House Princess, who is apparently a very scandalous woman. As is, it’s a pretty predictable and generic story from a series that is usually so good at avoiding the treading of common ground. This is a potluck I really wouldn’t mind skipping.

Favorite line: “Nanners? Why, I don’t know the meaning of the word.”

“BMO Lost” Review

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Original Airdate: April 15, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Tom Herpich

The way I see it, there’s two different methods I take to reviewing these episodes: by their quality, and by personal delight. For example, Puhoy is an episode that I think does everything exceedingly well and is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, but it doesn’t really hit anywhere on a personal level. That doesn’t diminish its quality at all, but a different episode, like Gotcha! is a perfectly serviceable episode on the surface, but one I plain just don’t like because I don’t really care for Lumpy Space Princess that much. Quality and personable connections don’t really have to coincide entirely, but usually if I’m not looking at one of those traits, I’ll look to the other. And in this episode, BMO Lost, it’s one that isn’t really technically anything special in terms of quality, but I’m a stickler for anything BMO, so I like this one quite a bit. In fact, it’s one of my favorites of the first half of the season. Though I do acknowledge that I think one person’s feelings towards BMO could make or break the episode for them.

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For the most part, BMO Lost really is just a celebration of the titular character. Most of the humor, charm, and entertainment derive strictly from the tiny console in this, and it’s one I find myself constantly snickering at by just how “in his own world” BMO actually is. And I can also see chunks of this episode as BMO being unlikable to some, like BMO completely tuning out Bubble’s story, or how he covers up baby Ricky’s hand because he sees it as an imperfection. To me, that only drives home the naivety of his character. I love how innocent and brutally honest he can be at times, and if you ask me, there’s no better team that carries across that blend of charm and unintentional jerkiness than Herpich and Wolfhard. It’s no wonder the two of them have so many BMO centered episodes under their belt; they do exceedingly well at contributing depth and bluntness into BMO’s character that is so irresistible. Almost every line that BMO utters in this one hits home for me, it’s almost like watching a gallery of terrific line deliveries and quirky nonsense, mostly as a result of Niki Yang’s terrific voice acting, per usual.

The other star character of this one is Bubble, voiced by LeVar Burton, who you might otherwise know as the host of Reading Rainbow. Burton’s voicework in this one can easily be described as endearingly bland. There’s nothing special or particularly hilarious in regards to his deliveries, yet he carries across such an honest charm and genuine tone that I can’t help but find it exceedingly likable. In addition to that, I also like the simplicity of his design. It’s just a circle with two dots and a smile, but the transparency of his body allows for some pretty cool visual touches at times, and allow for the woodland backgrounds to really shine through. There’s also a decent amount of visual gags they accomplish with this, namely in the scene where he has to save BMO and baby Ricky from the waterfall, but doesn’t have anything physical strength to do so. While we’re on the subject, holy shit! That dead hunter with a gun is just chillin’ out in the open right in front of our eyes. I know we’ve seen plenty of dead people and apocalyptic Easter eggs in the past, but I can’t recall one in the recent future that’s been this explicit and out there.

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And then there’s baby Ricky, or should I say, Sparkle, who doesn’t do much in terms of having any funny moments or driving the plot further that much, though it does provide for an interesting connection made with BMO. I think BMO’s feelings towards him can easily be described as any child who has been around a baby, and BMO’s maternal (I know I keep referring to BMO as “he” in this one, but truth be told, I can make up my mind which pronoun is most fitting in this one) instincts come out in full force. There are a lot of cute and funny ways BMO interacts with Sparkle, but it also provides for the most dramatic moment in the episode: when Sparkle’s mother finds her baby. BMO quite selfishly tries to take Sparkle away from his mother, and when he loses, Sparkle’s mother simply utters that BMO should be ashamed of himself. Cue a fade to black, where BMO reflects sadly on himself, and the realization that he doesn’t have his life and reality in his grasp as much as he once thought. The entire day was one big game to him that was soiled by the realization that he took his game too far, and now he’s more lost physically and mentally than ever.

However, Bubble does bring up an optimistic solution when BMO realizes he’s closer to his home than he once thought, and, upon returning home, Bubble reveals his inner most thoughts to BMO. It’s a very lovely and heartwarming scene that, believe it or not, is actually pretty convincing. I do really believe that Bubble loves BMO and that BMO helped show him the way, and none of it feels too mushy or melodramatic. I genuinely enjoy the connection this bubble has with this video console.

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And I’m not lying guys, that scene where Jake enters the scene and pops Bubble fucking killed me. There’s three times I’ve cried/gotten misty eyed at this show: the ending of I Remember You, the ending of The Light Cloud, and the climax of this fucking episode. I don’t know if it was because I was still a sensitive, angsty teenager when this first aired, but by God, seeing one of BMO’s close friends get virtually “killed” was heartbreaking. And it made me despise Finn and Jake for at least the next 5 or 6 episodes. I’ve simmered down now and the popping scene strikes me as more shockingly funny than depressing, but still, that shit is burning me somewhere deep down inside. But of course, it’s made lighter by the fact that Bubble is now free as “Air,” and he’s able to watch over BMO for the rest of eternity, to which BMO happily responds. It’s a really unsettling “what the fuck” ending that is only made better by BMO’s reaction to all of it. I love that, despite being promised a lifetime of never being alone for a second, BMO instead is excited that he doesn’t have to deal with loneliness and can instead enjoy the company of a playmate forever. It’s a really cute and funny ending that really captures the magic of BMO.

So again, if you’re not a BMO fan, I’m not sure how much you’ll actually get out of this one, but for my money, I really enjoyed it. It’s a cute spotlight moment for BMO, with some legitimately heartwarming moments, as well as plenty of silly and laughable moments. It’s one that I definitely hold dear to me, and focuses on all of the best aspects of BMO’s personality in the most respectful and passionate way.

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Favorite line: “Thanks to us he’s going to grow up and be anything he wants to be: a strapping horse whisperer or a sexy hitman or whatever.”

“Puhoy” Review

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Original Airdate: April 8, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

Puhoy is arguably one of the most theoretical episodes to date. I’ve seen more diverse interpretations for this one than any other episode, and for good reasons. It’s a purely heady fantasy adventure that once again touches on Finn’s entrance into puberty and his growth, and one that does a pretty fantastic job at that. I’ll be honest, even after several viewings of this one, I’m not sure exactly what I’m supposed to gather from it, but I mean that in the very best way, as this is one that continues to intrigue and interest me on multiple viewings after.

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As a knifestorm rains down on the Treehouse, Finn contemplates his relationship with Flame Princess and the current state that it’s in. Apparently it’s in the midst of a disaster, mainly because FP didn’t laugh at one of Finn’s jokey joke jokes, which makes Finn seriously consider ending the relationship over such a small debacle. It is interesting to see Finn in such a state of independence; as we’ve seen in the past, and as we will see in the future, Finn is usually much more dependent on Flame Princess than she is to him, so seeing him quite confidently acknowledge that he should end the relationship is certainly remarkable. Obviously I don’t think his confidence in this decision would last, and I think it’s totally something he would later regret in a few days, but it still strikes me as interesting that he shows no fear of potentially losing her. Jake gracefully tries to show Finn the error of his attitude, showing that getting hung up on issues that Finn himself has created in his mind won’t get him anywhere. He demonstrates this by tossing his favorite mug out the window, thereby releasing any emotional connection he had to it and not allowing it to cloud his attention. This is retconned later on when Jake reels the mug back in, showing that the desire to resist what your heart tells you and the resistance of persisting thoughts aren’t as easy as they seem. This is why Finn, who usually heeds to Jake’s advice, instead chooses to take time to “fester” and enters the pillow fort.

The pillow fort quickly turns into a pillow world, and Finn finally finds himself in an enchanted universe. The pillow world is adorable and lots of fun. The episode is quite creative in showcasing some terrific and colorful backgrounds, as well as some really nice looking designs. The Pillow World commits to everything being made of pillows to a tee, from Finn eventually gaining a robotic pillow arm (FORESHADOWING!!!!!) and the various textures on the inhabitants’ clothes and body parts. It all looks really lovely, and is one of my personal favorite locations in the entire series, purely on a visual level. There’s something quite whimsical feeling about it, and again, “whimsical” is a fascinating adjective to use when describing a world literally made out of pillows. But, as usual, the background artists really did their damndest to make this world feel authentic, and it pays off tremendously.

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But the real meat of the episode, however, is Finn’s experience within the Pillow World. Finn practically lives his life all in one packaged day: getting married, having kids, forgetting his younger self, and even eventually dying. It’s the type of a mindfuck premise that really kind of makes me wonder how much of it is happening in real-time, much like the premise of Hall of Egress later on. Mindfucks aside, I just genuinely enjoy seeing an older version of Finn, and I’m pretty sure it’s exactly how anyone had envisioned him. He’s a buff, masculine, bearded hero with a missing arm. That last part always makes me question what exactly was sharp enough in the pillow world to actually physically slice his arm off, but I’m probably reading too far into things. Besides that, I really love his family as well! His relationship with Roselinen doesn’t get a ton of development, as expected in a marriage that only spans the course of eleven minutes, but there’s something about the way the two work off of each other that makes it seem so… believable.

And I think that’s the best way to describe everything and everyone that Finn encounters in the Pillow World: believable. Whether this world is reality or not, I have no trouble believing that Finn would be a sexy, buff hero as a grown man, that he would have an honest and understanding wife, as well as two well-raised children. It actually has you kind of rooting for Finn to stay in the Pillow World at times, just because it seems like he’s created a comfortable living space for himself here. And there’s plenty of nice little tidbits, including the fact that Finn’s children are named “Jay” and “Bonnie,” which is especially endearing considering that, even after however many years Finn has spent in the Pillow World, he still holds a deep admiration for PB in his heart. Also a subtle moment, but I actually like the brief moment of sadness Roselinen experiences when Quilton reveals to Finn a possible way to escape their world. I just love that they did take the time to give this character some real depth and sympathetic traits. Even if the relationship is based on fantasy and that we want Finn to return home and acknowledge the error of his ways with his current/past girlfriend, Roselinen is someone who still put her all into getting to know Finn, marrying him, and giving birth to their two children, and although she acknowledges later on that she knew that Finn would have to leave eventually, she had settled into a terrific life with him. Though. Finn himself isn’t able to see that because of his lingering thoughts of wanting to go home. Roselinen proves to be one of the most emotionally mature and sound love interests he’s experienced even since the moment they danced to an instrumental of Let Me Show You Something Special, though Finn is once again more hung up on the past than the present in front of him.

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It boils down to Finn meeting up with “the oracle” Rasheeta, who really just seems like some crazy old man with bowel issues. It’s an enjoyable interaction, mostly carried by the voice work of Wallace Shawn, who I’m still glad got to lend his unique voice to a show like AT. I also really dig that “tea leaves” joke. Once Finn departs Rasheeta’s home, and states that he must “fester a bit,” mirroring his line earlier in the episode, he begins to acknowledge that, perhaps instead of focusing all of his attention on the troubles he’s faced with, perhaps he should just kick back and allow himself to accept life for what it is and allow the unknown to enter. Even as Finn recounts Jake’s message to him prior, he realizes that he isn’t even able to recall the interaction completely, and his warped sense of memory won’t do him any good when it comes to making worthwhile decisions. It’s here where Finn simply allows himself to let go of the past and focus on the positive connections that better his life, not the troubling thoughts that plague him from developing further.

This proves beneficial to Finn until his very last days, where he is surrounded by those who love and care for him. It’s a moment that is a bit touching, though it mostly focuses on being silly and light. I mean, even if our main protagonist is technically dying, we all know he isn’t actually just going to be killed off, so we spend more time enjoying Finn as an old coot, until he dies and enters some form of Dead World. Here, he’s met with a demon-like character known as GOLB, who is featured in subsequent episodes and may or may not be the big bad that kicks off the entire series. But we’ll see, I guess?? Finn’s only interaction with this deity is a brief bounce off of his tongue, as he re-enters the reality he left behind in Ooo. And if I had to guess, I’d probably have to say that the Pillow World Finn entered was real, and Finn’s interaction with GOLB simply erased that reality from his timeline and memory. Though, Finn is presumably met with a lesson at hand when Flame Princess does call to acknowledge how funny Finn’s joke was. He doesn’t recall a single thing that happened in his “dream” but the call from FP showed him that he was simply overreacting, and that viewing anything with an attitude of acceptance and patience is really much more worthwhile and mentally beneficial than creating drama and alternate versions of reality within the realm of your mind. That’s what I got out of it, at least. I’m sure y’all have plenty more interpretations yourselves, so feel free to share!

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And I neglected to mention the brief glimpses we get into BMO and Jake straight chillin’ within the Treehouse, which are just as terrific. They range from silly to somewhat poignant, where we get some funny and enjoyable lines like, “Jake, you drive a hard burger;” BMO’s incapability to grasp the human language never tires on me. There’s also a totally out of nowhere scene where BMO asks Jake if he misses his babies, and Jake just sadly grunts, which actually is pretty effective. We haven’t heard anything about the kids for 10 or so episodes, so it’s nice to see that they are acknowledging that Jake isn’t quite over the fact that he didn’t have a proper chance to raise his children, and that it is affecting him in one way or another. Also, the Pillow World, while thoroughly enjoyable, was somewhat light on actual jokes, so it was nice to have these brief interludes with the Treehouse boys.

Overall, I really, really enjoy this one. It’s experimental in all the best ways, and a really interesting use of a fantastical scenario that focuses on a different aspect of Finn’s life. It’s no secret that this episode takes some inspiration from Star Trek: The Next Generation, right down to the fact that it has Jonathan Frakes voicing the adult Finn, but it does so in all the best ways. All of it is so compelling: adult Finn and his family are really interesting and likable, and provide for a very subtle and ambiguous story that doesn’t really focus on heroes and bad guys, but the trials of life and how they are dealt with. Even as an adult, Finn isn’t able to completely pinpoint his issue of being too obsessed with his issues. It’s a pretty nice motif that carries across the message that everyone in this world should stop taking everything so fucking seriously. Relax! Have sex with a pillow if you need to! Luckily enough, however, Finn was able to realize his faults before he turned fifty, and is able to continue a healthy and ethical relationship with Flame Princess…. For now. I have few problems with this one besides that brief moment at the beginning where CMO lands on top of BMO’s head, mainly because it makes absolutely no sense as to why he would be there besides for a cheap easter egg gag. Aside from that brief nitpick, this one is a considerably shiny gem to me.

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Favorite line: “You’re getting all hung up, all hung up on imaginary problems. You gotta focus on what’s real, man.”

“A Glitch is a Glitch” Review

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Original Airdate: April 1, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: David OReilly

Hope everyone had a very happy holiday!! I was fortunate enough to get the sixth season of AT on DVD this year, so I don’t have to waste any more of the money I don’t have when I eventually get to season six in the future! I also took the time to rewatch A Glitch is a Glitch, which I have previously dubbed the “worst Adventure Time episode ever,” but surprisingly enough, I found myself responding to it a lot more tolerably this time around. I think this is only the second or third time I’ve ever seen it total, so it seems that time has been gracious for this one. Does that mean that I think that it’s good? Well, no, but I’ll explain.

It’s worth noting, of course, that this episode was written, directed, and animated entirely by Irish animator David OReilly. I had never seen any of his work before this episode, but have checked out most of his videos and short films afterwards, and if you haven’t seen any of them, I’d say they’re worth a watch. Most are creepy, surreal, and often nonsensical, but in a somewhat admirable way. You can check out his YouTube page here.

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Before I dig deeper into the episode, I might as well briefly discuss how I feel about the guest animated episodes as a whole. For the most part, I think a good chunk of them tend to be misfires. There are a few diamonds in the rough, but I find that most of the guest animator episodes tend to usually occupy my “bottoms” list as opposed to my “tops” list. That’s not to say that some of these episode don’t look great, as almost all of them are visual treats from what we’re normally used to in most given AT episodes. The main problem, however, is simply that it’s pretty hard to write for Adventure Time, and that’s an understatement. Pendleton Ward himself has said that finding the right artists and writers for the show was a process, as it took time to find people who could honestly show that they knew the show as well as Ward was able to. So while these guest animators and directors usually come in with fascination and the best intentions, I think it’s mostly a difficult process for them to grasp how to write for the series, while also incorporating their own unique stylistic choices. And unfortunately, while I think there’s clear effort put into this one, OReilly’s sense of humor really does not match this show or these characters.

In a writing sense, I didn’t find myself laughing at this one AT ALL. Some of these jokes and gags are really, really bad, and I felt like I was watching a completely different show at times. A fourth wall joke of Finn punching himself in the face? PB making out with her hand? PB and Jake’s ELBOWS flirting with each other? Yeah, I really fucking hate that last one, but a ton of these gags pose themselves as a lot more awkward and uncomfortable than actually humorous, and sometimes even betray the fabric of the world of this series by doing so. Yeah, it’s totally non-canon and everything, but again, I wouldn’t mind the cheats on reality if they were actually humorous. A majority of the jokes are very loud and overly long. Like, I didn’t laugh at the screaming donut man the first time he was shouting about his face, and I certainly didn’t laugh the two other times they attempted the same exact joke. And don’t even get me started on the “one second later…” gag. Good God, did that feel like a frustrating attempt to just fill time. There’s very few instances I can think of where Adventure Time has attempted this form of Family Guy lengthy gags, and for good reasons. AT is very quick and subtle in its humor and quips, which makes it stronger on rewatch value because there’s a good amount of jokes and lines you may have possibly glanced over. Here, there’s definitely more of a focus on milking gags as much as possible, and it really backfires. In terms of writing, it’s definitely this episode’s biggest weakness, and unfortunately, that’s a pretty big point.

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The dialogue of the characters wasn’t particularly bad or detrimental to their personalities, but also, I didn’t particularly love it either. Everybody was just… okay. Though I never really expect the guest animated episodes to be very character focused at all. Finn and Jake are their usual selves, as Ice King is, though not a particularly funny instance of his creepiness or loneliness. PB is interestingly very snarky throughout the entirety of this one, and it’s somewhat refreshing, though I didn’t particularly get into the lines that were given to her.

So I don’t like most of this one, but what do I like? Well, surprisingly enough, I really dig the animation! The colors are a pretty big eyesore, which many people have labeled as an error, though I feel like this may have been intentional on OReilly’s part, as some of his videos share the same issue. Color aside, the actual quality of the animation is pretty nice, and allows for some really nice visuals. The entire episode looks very fluid and polished, with some really fun detailed gags, like Ice King’s nasty ass hand, or the random details that Finn’s face acquires at one point. I also really enjoy how the episode incorporates the glitch into the visuals, with quite a few moments of faulty audio and a commonly pixelated looking screen that’s more interesting to look at than it is distracting. I think the animation and visuals alone add a bit of zest and quality to the entire episode, which is what I’m sure the guest animated episode’s main goal is.

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The landscapes also look nice. I really love the CG layout of the Candy Kingdom, especially how it incorporates actual extras in the Oooniverse. There isn’t just generic Candy citizens walking around, there’s full CG models of Mr. Cupcake and Chocoberry, which was a really nice touch on OReilly’s part. I also love the backgrounds in the space-computer-world, and the actual design of the glitch.

Touching on the authenticity of the story would be pointless; there’s no way in hell I believe any of this could actually happen in the world that Adventure Time takes place in, but the story allows for a lot of those nice visuals and the episode itself isn’t really considered canon to the universe, so it doesn’t really bug me at all. If a season nine episode was the plot of Slumber Party Panic, I’d say to myself, “there’s no way in hell that could realistically happen in Adventure Time’s universe,” but as silly as it is, it did happen. So I can’t really question this one.

It’s also worth nothing that this one did air on April Fool’s Day, so people often argue that the quality of the episode was an excuse to troll us, but I don’t really think that’s the case. I think this one was in production regardless of a set airdate, and then was just appropriately aired on April 1st to surprise/shock people. Because, if this is a prank episode, it honestly didn’t really do its damndest at being a “good” prank episode either.

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So I’m half and half on this one. I think the writing is probably too poor for this to actually be a passable episode, but the visuals are a lot of fun, and certainly helped me enjoy this one a lot more in subsequent views. Regardless of quality, I have to give my mans David OReilly some fuckin’ props. He was probably thrilled to get a chance to work with a show as popular as Adventure Time, let alone have complete creative control over an episode. It’s certainly not one I really like all that much, but that dude has a portion of my respect for being able to pull off that accomplishment at all.

Probably my favorite moment in the entire episode is the video Finn and Jake watch on their computer, which is actually also a video on OReilly’s YouTube channel. You can check out that disturbing and menacing creation here!

Favorite line: “You should wash your mouth!”

“Simon & Marcy” Review

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Original Airdate: March 25, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Rebecca Sugar & Cole Sanchez

“There’s so much that exists outside of show because it’s a post-apocalyptic future, which means that the present exists in the reality of this show. You have to extend this whole world back into the past and every that’s happening in it is real, and there’s so much that you didn’t see that’s implied to have happened, and that becomes real, but it also becomes something that you invent. So you have a personal ownership over everything that created Ooo, and it really does feel like your imagination because it’s asking you to imagine so much of it and connect all these dots.”

If this Rebecca Sugar quote sounds familiar to you, that’s because I used it for reference back in my I Remember You review to show how eloquently it went with the theme of the episode. Interestingly enough, this is a quote that I actually think works more against this episode than supports what it was going for. Yeah, this is one where my opinion might come off a little pretentious and douche-y. Whereas people have regarded I Remember You as the “really good episode that isn’t as good as everyone says it is,” that’s somewhat how I feel about Simon & Marcy. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s hard to argue that this episode isn’t at least good, but that is to say that it’s one I do have a lot of problems with, though this may just be on a personal level. Let’s dig right into it.

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First off, let’s address the bits I don’t like, and then we’ll gradually work our way towards the good stuff. I think my biggest issue with this episode is simply that, well, it’s one of Adventure Time‘s least surprising entries. This isn’t one where I was disappointed because it didn’t go the way I had wanted to, because that would simply be unfair to the episode itself, but this is one where I was disappointed because it went EXACTLY how I expected. And honestly, that’s a pretty surprising feat for any Adventure Time episode. Even an episode like I Remember You, where we all knew that Ice King and Marceline’s backstory would be explored in some shape or form, the way it was presented, as well as it being the most raw AT experience to date, was intriguing, to say the least. This one just plays as a straightforward backstory episode, and it’s certainly not presented badly at all, yet, it really makes me question the intent and purpose of this episode if it was just going to simply show us what we already could’ve pieced together on our own. Future episodes like Evergreen or Bonnibel Bubblegum, were both mainly backstory focused episodes, but they had their own unique twists and turns that saved them from potential predictability. Here, I could kind of gather exactly where it was going to go, what it had to say, and how the characters and relationship would be portrayed by the first second. It just seems a little too standard for Adventure Time‘s… standards.

Like the quote at the beginning of this post suggests, part of the fun of Adventure Time is piecing together the parts of the show we don’t see. We never got to see how PB and Marceline became friends, but we still believe that they were close and are even able to share our own interpretations of how they got together and how they eventually separated. Similarly, we’ve never seen an episode of Simon and Betty’s married life, though we know they were in love and we feel the tragedy of their relationship regardless. Likewise, Simon and Marcy are two characters who, even without seeing this episode, you can gather a lot of their backstory from just looking at the evidence already at hand: Simon found Marceline during the fallout of the apocalypse, took care of her until the crown took over, and separated from Marcy for thousands of years. You can gather all of that from just simply watching I Remember You. So in a way, I think this one actually shows a little too much and goes beyond how much I actually feel like I’d need or want to see in terms of the Simon and Marcy arc, or, in a contradicting sense, not enough. It shows a good chunk, but nothing where I feel like I learned anything new or I’ve gained more insight into the actual Simon and Marcy story.

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And I wouldn’t mind it as much if the episode was a little more complex, say, if it had bits of Marcy and Simon’s relationship throughout a period of months (similar to the journal entries from Marcy’s Super Secret Scrapbook, how dope would that be?) but instead we’re left with what I consider to be a somewhat low stakes adventure as Simon tries to find chicken soup for Marceline and battles off oozers in the process. I think the boundaries could’ve been pushed even further, with Marceline’s sickness being more crucial than it seemed, and the inevitability of surviving after the war coming into question. Go full on Grave of the Fireflies on our asses! But again, that’s me wanting something from this episode that it clearly isn’t trying to accomplish. It’s trying to be a lighter tale that Marceline tells the boys and Ice King in order to keep the spirit of her and Simon’s relationship alive. But again, I really question whether this is the kind of expedition I wanted to see from the two old pals or if I actually learned anything new.

There’s also some nitpicks I have as well, mainly from a writing perspective. I think a lot of lines that they give Simon come off as really clunky and confusing on occasions. Probably the worst line of dialogue in the entire episode is when Simon first puts on the crown and states, “YOU WILL NO LONGER TERRIFY A 47-YEAR-OLD MAN AND A 7-YEAR-OLD GIRL.” I know it’s supposed to be Ice King speaking, and yeah, he’s crazy and everything, but by God, who the fuck talks like that? That line literally only exists to give us a frame of time as to how old Simon and Marcy are, and I wish they could’ve done away with it completely. Aside from that, there’s parts where… I think Simon is being quirky, but I can’t tell if that’s what they were going for or if it’s supposed to further show how he’s transforming into the Ice King. For example, the scene where he’s singing to Marceline, or when he asks her if she’d like a ride on his back. Like, I guess you could kind of suggest either; that he was being goofy and charming towards Marcy, or he was losing it a little bit while the crown took over, but I can never figure out which I’m supposed to feel. I guess that’s what makes it interesting, but it’s more confusing than intriguing for myself.

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Alright, before y’all raise your pitchforks and torches and burn me at the stake, I do LIKE this episode. The main factor that I enjoy about it is, surprise, surprise, the relationship between Simon and Marceline. They really are just adorable to watch, and yeah, it’s everything I expected them to be, but it still is enlightening to see them work off of each other so well. I honestly can’t praise Ava Acres enough, but she really does such a tremendous job portraying young Marcy. Everything she does, says, and feels is extremely endearing, and I really enjoy whenever she’s able to have some sort of part on the show. And I love how much this episode hammers in that Simon needs Marceline as much as Marcy needs him. Without Marceline, Simon would most likely have just given into the crown, and not even attempted to fight off its power, but he fights and does his all to make sure that Marceline’s safe. It’s a pretty beautiful relationship that the two have, and in contrast to my bitching prior, it really is what saves this episode and helps it land on its feet.

In addition to great voice acting from Acres, Tom Kenny does a superb job at giving Simon a quiet, likable charm to him. Just as Holly Jolly Secrets proved, Kenny is capable of more than just silly voices and wacky characters, and when he pulls off a competently serious performance, it really knocks things out of the ballpark. This is really the first time we get to see Simon in a full length episode as well, and aside from those moments I mentioned above, I do like how he’s portrayed as somewhat of an awkward father figure. I’d even suggest that, most of the time, he really doesn’t know what he’s doing. Of course, he puts his all into caring for Marceline no matter what it is, but instances such as when he’s trying to ride the motorcycle, which backfires, or the simple solution that he legitimately does believe that chicken soup will cure Marcy of her illness, shows that he isn’t the most competent person in his position, but it really only adds to his charm and likability. He most likely wasn’t ready to be a “father”, but pretty much had to given the circumstances around him.

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And my polarizing views aside, this one does have one of my favorite AT moments off all time, which is the inclusion of the Cheers theme song. Besides being an avid fan of Cheers myself, the way it’s used by Simon as a method of keeping his sanity and holding onto his own reality is quite brilliant and incredibly powerful to watch. The entire sequence is like a suckerpunch to the gut; as Simon softly begins the song, it quickly transpires into a frantic and violent melody that gets more distorted as it goes on, and then quickly returns to soft and solemn on the line “Where everybody knows your name,” where Simon realizes that he doesn’t even remember his own name, or at this point, Marcy’s for that matter. It’s a tragic scene that uses once again uses raw emotion and music to convey some really sound emotional drama.

There’s also some little bits I get into a lot, mostly with the backgrounds. This one is eye-candy galore, with some really nice debris and wreckage in the background that just really sucks ya into this apocalyptic world, and for the most part, it’s all visually interesting. I think pretty much all of us have that bridge implanted in our subconscious somewhere. While some of the humor can be a little awkward and out of place, some gags do get a laugh out of me. I like the birthday cards they have inside the soupery, and the Clambulance, as stupid as it is, is such a bizarre idea that I can’t help but snicker at the very concept of it. Also, some nice little chunks of lore with the inclusion of the gooey, bubblegum substance, which we wouldn’t really understand the meaning of until Bonnie & Neddy. Or Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW, if you got through the boring redundancy of that game, or just watched it on YouTube.

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So overall, despite what seems like many, many issues I have with this one, I do like it to a degree, just not as much as most people do. From a personal standpoint, the episode as a whole kind of defies what I believe is the fun, imaginative aspect of piecing parts together in the world of Adventure Time, but I am glad that we got to see the wonderful relationship that is Simon and Marcy. I could’ve easily believed they were as close as they’re portrayed without this episode, but it is nice that it exists for all the people who wanted to see what they were like together. It just so happens that it played out exactly how I thought it would and that hurt the element of surprise that AT so often excels at, but everything I expected is really sweet and enjoyable, and I’d be wrong to say that Simon and Marcy are portrayed badly otherwise. This was Rebecca Sugar’s last episode during her time on the show, and I think it was a goal for her to nuke us with emotional goodness for her final episode. It goes a little bit overboard and is slightly distracting for me, but I’m glad she left fans with such a sweet, heavy, tune filled episode that is pretty much everything any Adventure Time fan has ever wanted from Sugar. Nevertheless, thank you for some terrific entries the past few seasons, Rebecca! Your presence on the show is truly appreciated by all (sometimes to a pretty extreme degree). I conclude this review with a beautifully written selection of panels from Adventure Time Comics Issue #16, featuring Simon and Marceline. It made my heart grow heavy.

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Favorite line: “Yeah, lay down, Marceline, go to sleep! Right? What are we talking about?”

 

 

“The Great Bird Man” Review

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Original Airdate: March 4, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Jesse Moynihan

Xergiok was a pretty one-note character during his first appearance in The Silent King, so it’s somewhat odd that they brought him back for another spotlight appearance in this one. I mean, it’s not completely out of the ordinary for AT to do; look at Magic Man, who started off as this really one-dimensional jerk and is now what I consider to be one of the show’s most complex characters. That goes for many of Adventure Time’s characters, to say the least, and with Jesse Moynihan behind the helm of this one, who is also behind giving Magic Man so much depth, it just ultimately seemed to make sense. However, this one kind of ends up just being pretty dull.

Part of the issue is, well, I just still don’t find Xergiok that interesting at all. He was okay in his first appearance, but I’m not sure as to why we’re supposed to care for him otherwise. I get what they’re going for here; I think the concept of someone attempting to change their life around after something drastic happens to them is a pretty interesting concept, and the idea of whether they’ve actually changed inside and out is always an intriguing inquiry. But again, I go back to my first statement that Xergiok isn’t really that interesting of a character, and it’s hard to sympathize with him at all when we barely know anything about him to begin with. This plot could’ve been done a lot better with maybe Ice King or even Magic Man, but it baffles me as to why they chose this character to be a representative for this theme.

The plot and motif also seem pretty weak as well. I’m not even really completely sure what to gather from it in the end. That you should leave your old life behind completely and never (literally) look back again? That change is hard, so you have to commit yourself fully to new ideas or you won’t be able to make a difference? I dunno, whatever it is, I couldn’t really gather anything that cohesive. I actually really do like the idea that Xergiok’s life turned around once he lost his sight, but I don’t feel like there were any interesting allegories or metaphors that actually came from it. Just a pretty straight forward story that ends more with a whimper than a bang.

I wouldn’t really desire a deeper meaning so much if this episode was fun, but sadly, I think it’s a bit middling when it comes to entertainment. It has its moments: I still fucking love the idea of Xergiok breastfeeding, and feel like it’s one of the most single shocking gross out jokes in the series. There’s also some good Finn and Jake moments as always, like Finn tossing the communicator that PB gave to him ala The Other Tarts or Jake discussing his cool ex-girlfriend that knew Braille, which I’m assuming is Monniker. There’s other jokey bits that don’t really work for me, like Xergiok’s psychedelic song in the sky, which I thought was just kind of dumb. I usually like whatever trippy and psychedelic shit JMoyns has to offer for this show, but Xergiok’s singing voice kind of kills it and the lyrics themselves aren’t that interesting or poetic. I also thought the ending, which was funny on an absurdist level that also tied the beginning and the end together, was somewhat of a lazy conclusion to Xergiok’s story. I like it in the sense that it offers the simple solution to loneliness, which is finding someone to be with, but it was clearly thrown in there as a silly finishing gag that doesn’t really address Xergiok’s still remaining issues at all.

I actually really like the backdrops in this one. Time of day plays a really big part with the sky scenes, as we get to see nightfall, sunrise, sunset, daytime, and a lot of different brightly colored backgrounds that just look lovely. I also like the designs of the birds as well. They could’ve easily made regular birds look gigantic, but in typical AT fashion, they’ve created some really unique looking feathered friends, with giant noses and pointed ears. I also enjoy how they’re all named after flavors and tastes, signaling that Xergiok likely has a stronger sense of taste because of his disability.

I think this one definitely has missed potential and lacks an overall feeling of fun. I think this could’ve so easily been a more interesting episode if it just had focused on the right character for the story, but Xergiok simply isn’t a character that can hold any kind of weight to himself. It’s no wonder that he hasn’t appeared once since this episode. It’s a dry F&J expedition that ends up not really having a ton to say by episode’s end.

Favorite line: “The mermaids are trying to beach themselves. I came to see why. Turns out they’re just lonely.”

“Vault of Bones” Review

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Original Airdate: February 25, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

This may just be my favorite episode centering around Finn and Flame Princess. FP herself has kinda gotten the shaft in all of the episodes centering around her: Incendium was mostly focused on Jake, Hot to the Touch was most focused on Finn, Burning Low centered around the connection between PB and Finn entirely, and she may as well have never appeared in Ignition PointVault of Bones brings the couple to centerstage, in a dungeon crawl that’s both a ton of fun and pretty adorable.

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Right off the bat, this episode starts off with some really funny moments. I love the two second cameo of Flame King, especially because it meant that Keith David literally came into the recording both to utter two lines and that was it. What an easy paycheck that must have been. Jake doesn’t have much of a part in the overall story, but he really adds some terrific comedic prowess in the first minute or so. I love his general intrusiveness towards the two kids and how he ignorantly misunderstands everything Flame Princess was intending to say. Love me some silly Jakey. The only thing I didn’t enjoy about the beginning was that weird hyperactive sniff thing Finn was doing to FP. I’m willing to bet $1,000 that scene was included for the sole fact that it could be used as a misleading promo piece.

A good chunk of the episode is really just watching how Finn and Flame Princess interact with the surrounding dungeon, as well as with each other, and I think this is probably the best attempt to develop Flame Princess at this point in the series. I’ve never not liked her before, but I think this was the first episode I found myself acknowledging that I really do like her presence in the series! I genuinely enjoy her standoffish behavior when it comes to her not really enjoying the dungeon, and I actually found her to be even more identifiable than Finn in this one. Her behavior throughout the episode is totally justified; the method of dungeon exploration at the helm of Finn does sound unbearably boring (though it is a nice homage to the Zelda games), and you do want to see her complete the dungeon in her own way, but also the right way.

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I think the graphic novel Playing with Fire definitely stressed Flame Princess’s inner turmoil a lot more than this episode does, but I think that this episode does a decent enough job at showing her own self-consciousness and desire to be the kind of person that Finn is. The truth is that Vault of Bones isn’t some dark character study; it shows that Flame Princess knows who she is and knows who she wants to be, but is continuously reminded of her own family’s heritage. Only now, she’s learned to keep a leveled head, and not to let her anger and rage get in the way of her stride to be good. Also, she’s just plain cute in this one. I love her flabbergasted reaction to Finn asking her to burn the rope, as well as her crowning moment when she does eventually save Finn. The moment when she refers to Finn as her boyfriend really just fuckin’ melted my icy heart. And I do like how there is some intrigue at the end on whether she is completely stable or not. I mean, obviously it never really goes anywhere for clear reasons, but it is nice that this episode works as a resolution piece, as well as opening up a possible direction for Flame Princess’s identity crisis in the future. If there’s one thing I don’t like about her appearance in this episode, is well, her appearance. Yeah, I don’t really dig her design all too much, she looks waaay too young and cutesy for her age. And for some reason, this is the design that’s featured in a ton of different games, novels, and promotional art. No idea why!

Though Flame Princess is the one I found myself empathizing with more, I have to say, this really is some of the best writing for Finn I can think of in recent history. I mean, I can’t think of a time in the past where he’s written badly, but by God, he’s just portrayed as so darn likable in this one. I love how he’s a total fanboy-nerd when it comes to dungeons and how he can pretty much decipher his way through the entire quest without even questioning his surroundings. His enthusiasm is a ton of fun to watch, (“we don’t have to go back, we GET to!”) and I really just love watching him teach Flame Princess the ways of adventuring. Also really nice is how accepting he is with Flame Princess throughout the episode’s entirety. When she says she isn’t having any fun, he doesn’t get defensive or argumentative, he simply allows Flame Princess to have it her way and apologizes for taking too much of a lead. In addition, despite his concerns when Flame Princess goes absolutely berserk, he supports her no matter what, even during his periods of terror. What a good suitor that FTH is… for now, at least.

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I mentioned in Mystery Dungeon that the dungeon wasn’t particularly anything special, but man, this one is dope. Besides being riddled with nice orange and brown-ish colors that really help drive through that dungeon-y feel, it’s also riddled with really unique and diverse looking skeleton foes. I love the wimpy one in the beginning that is totally understanding about everything, including giving Finn a second to talk to his lady and simply giving into Finn because he won’t stop screaming at him. That’s the definition of a good gag character. I also love the goo skulls that face off against Flame Princess. Not only do they have an interesting and also somewhat disgusting form of ability (I don’t even wanna know what that one was doing flicking the other’s goo) they also have various forms of weapons attached to them. The one that picked up Finn had fucking chainsaws strapped to its body! Much like the ogre from The Enchiridion, it’s a detail that’s totally irrelevant and pointless, but it just really adds a factor of surrealism and intrigue to the character.

As I mentioned, the humor is really spot on in this entry. This episode reunites Kent Osborne and Somvilay together, and while they haven’t been my favorite pairing in the past, they definitely gave this one their all with some really great interactive humor. I love every single exchange from Flame Princess and Finn, some of the visual gags are nice, and just the overall tone of the episode is fun, vibrant, and exciting. And that green, hairy butt that was contained in the chest was just the bit of AT bizarreness that should’ve closed off this episode.

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So yeah, this is one I really like. It’s such an enjoyable direction to take the Flame Princess and Finn dynamic, and I finally feel like FP has gone through some significant development and is a much more rounded and versatile character because of it. It would’ve been so easy for this episode to take the obvious route of having Finn and FP fight over which way is right and which way is wrong, but I’m glad they took a fun route over the more formulaic choice. Unfortunately, this would be her last main appearance in the series before the eventual demise of her relationship. We’re almost at the turning point of the series, folks.

Favorite line: “I’ve been acting an uncouth lout, m’lady.”