“Walnuts & Rain” Review

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Original Airdate: March 5, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich

After a heavy dose of episodes that were either really poetic, heady, or continued the story of a recurring character, it’s nice to have a healthy dose of fluff. Walnuts & Rain isn’t spectacular in any sense of the word, but it’s a cute, little adventure that’s likable and energetic enough to leave a positive impact on me. In the spirit of season six, there’s also allegorical undertones sprinkled in to give the experience a stronger lasting impression.

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It’s once again nice to see Jake and Finn back together, just for the sake of a rowdy adventure. Finn even says “algebraic” after God knows how long. Ice King said it back in Another Five More Short Graybles, which was also boarded by Tom Herpich, but I’m pretty positive Finn hasn’t used the term since way back in Slumber Party Panic (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). As always, the two boys bring a lot of joy and excitement to the screen, and it actually kind of works stronger than ever because of how little they are involved at this point in the season. As swell as most of these past episodes have been, it’s nice to see the two boys who made this series so special back in action. Though their time together is short and few, as they both get separated into different passages, and the main story, or stories are kickstarted by said separation.

Most of the fun of Walnuts & Rain derives from the enjoyable characters and environments that Finn and Jake end up spending their time with. On Finn’s side, it’s nice to see the actual Huge Kingdom after we were introduced to Prince Huge in The Hard Easy. Though, said kingdom actually isn’t ruled by the prince, and is ruled by King Huge, a pretty humorous character who is carried mostly by his great voicework by Matthew L. Jones. King Huge isn’t really given a ton of funny lines or anything of the sorts, but Jones refusal to deliver such dialogue with an indoor voice is what makes his character a surprisingly pleasure. A lot of characters, namely Lemongrab, can often be weighed down by their necessity to shout, though King Huge’s prominent voice doesn’t really come off in an irritating notion, but in a method to display his dignified and important nature. King Huge’s castle, surrounded by sentient steak people and giant food, reminds me a lot of something that would come out of an early Silly Symphony cartoon. Not sure if it’s reminiscent of any short in particular, but the general approach to its environment seems very old-school animation in my book. The King himself actually reminds me a bit of Willie the Giant in Mickey’s Christmas Carol, but by size and initial behavior only. The King is actually a bit tyrannical, as his desire to force Finn to stay in his kingdom has practically no basis regarding anything, besides the fact that King Huge believes that doing nothing and being patient will bring Finn great fortune. King Huge’s tendency toward being patient derives from the fact that he has never had to lift a finger to get everything he has ever wanted. King Huge intrinsically believes that the same could be said from everyone else, even though his stance and position in the kingdom are clearly what drives his point forward.

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The same could not be said for 7718 – Seven, for short – the bear who is keeping Jake afloat after he falls into a hole. Seven is a pretty likable dude, whose voice I swore I recognized, but never bothered to look it up till now (he was Enoch from Over the Garden Wall!). Seven’s desire to keep Jake on his carriage may have been somewhat of a selfish desire to have some sort of company after being stuck for who knows how long, but it also likely comes from his desire to not stray from his own game plan. As he describes in his story to Jake regarding how he fell into the hole in the first place, Seven mentions that he had taken the same route nearly 200 times consecutively, until a bee stung his horse and something unexpected happened. Seven likely has anxious tendencies that make him stray away from changing his procedure in life. He believes in patience, simply for the reason that he thinks it’s the only way to properly survive. Jake likely has the right idea by trying to use his stretchy powers to get out, but Seven warns him that something dangerous could possibly happen if he does so, not realizing that the two are stuck in an almost unbearable purgatory regardless. Seven does at least have the right attitude of positivity, and is proven to be correct in his methods by the end of the episode. I also think the bond he shares with Jake is really sweet. Adventure Time has this way of showcasing really mundane and kind of dull characters in an interesting and likable way, and Seven is just one example at that. I also think it’s hilarious how his name is actually Bill, yet he interpreted the wrong way. AT absurdity at its best.

A good portion of the middle is dedicated to Finn’s completely convoluted plan to escape from the Huge Kingdom, which is both hilarious and honestly has exactly the kind of effort that Finn would put into an escape plan. Surprisingly enough, it almost works, only it’s quickly foiled by King Huge noticing exactly what’s going on, which still leads to an exciting chase where Finn gives the biggest “fuck you” in existence by choosing to destroy the clock, rather than to assure himself safety. This one is solo-boarded by Herpich, and I always gush over how well his drawings translate into the animation process. He shows great attention to “squash and stretch” when it comes to how the characters emote, or how action is portrayed in their environment, and it all looks great, mainly when Finn is running and when Seven recalls his backstory. This is one that also incorporates CG into the backgrounds a lot, as season six has been frequently doing, and it looks really nice as always.

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Of course, it all comes to a satisfying conclusion when Jake and Seven finally do land into the Huge Kingdom, and Jake gives King Huge his comeuppance. This allows for the three to escape happily, and Seven can get his hands on a big flippin’ hot dog. Walnuts & Rain is nothing fantastic as I had mentioned, but it’s quite enjoyable in its simplicity and how it takes a step back from some of the heavier stuff that has been coming out recently. A lot of people have compared this to having a season one or two vibe to it, and while I could definitely see that in its focus on a simpler premise, but it still has those tendencies to lean towards a deeper meaning and its desire to be more quiet and atmospheric, rather than wild and hyperactive. Not to say these are bad things, it just shows how much the series has evolved since its beginning. And whether its a season one episode, a season two episode, or a season six episode, Adventure Time still knows how to delight us with likable and unique fluff.

Walnuts & Rain also snagged the Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation, specifically for Herpich’s work on the episode. This is the series third Emmy win, and not the last one at that!

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Favorite line: “Man, I don’t give a toot!”

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