Y’all asked, and I shall answer! Welcome to the first (and presumably only) AT Reviewed: Q&A. I’m going to try to get to all of the questions that were submitted to me recently – apologies if I miss out on any! Keep in mind that some of them may be answered at a later date as well in my concepts for post-finale content. Let’s get to it.
Q: Who are you favorite storyboard artists on the show?
A: That’s a toughie that can have multiple different answers. If it’s in terms of storyboard artists that have the most efficient writing style, I’d probably say Tom Herpich or Jesse Moynihan. I know that first one is kind of basic and the second choice is somewhat controversial, but I really appreciate their efforts in always trying to tell stories that AT never initially seemed capable of, even if it didn’t always succeed. Best art style probably has to go to either Herpich or Rebecca Sugar. Both present really great attention to detail that transfers well into the animation process: Herpich with his tendency towards squash-and-stretch, and Sugar with her bulgier character models that always look so adorably vulnerable.
If I had to pick a favorite team… hm… likely either Herpich and Wolfhard or Ako and Jesse, or even Sam Alden and Jesse. Again, I might be particularly biased because of my admiration of Tom and Jesse, but I also think they were paired with other talented artists that suited their tone and styles perfectly. It’s no wonder that Tom and Steve ended up being the longest-running team in all of Adventure Time.
Steve Wolfhard is probably my favorite on a personal level. His chronicles on Twitter and continued investment in the series are super charming to me.
Q: What are your favorite songs in the series?
A: I really don’t like the implication that Rebecca Sugar leaving the series killed it all together, but I think her departure definitely affected the series on a musical level. Adventure Time is packed to the brim with talented storytellers, but when it comes to song writing, Rebecca is kind of irreplaceable. All Gummed Up Inside, What Am I To You?, Remember You, Time Adventure, Everything Stays, and Sleepy Puppies are all classics that I find myself listening to more than often.
But, that’s not to say there were no good songs following Sugar’s departure. The ending jazz number of Food Chain is pretty amazing, and it just might be the absolute best tune in the series. Love in the Darkness is one that I find quite beautiful and one that resonates with me a ton.
Anything from LAKE is typically superb. Island Song and I Look Up to You have such beautiful melodies. And of course, I’m still super butthurt about Greatly Appreciated not having a full version. Hmph!
Q: What do you think are the funniest episodes of Adventure Time?
A: I won’t really go into my essential “best funny episodes” because I will be doing a best episode list eventually, but I will say that I think the dynamic between Ice King and the boys is practically comedy gold. The Eyes, Hitman, Still, and Beyond This Earthly Realm are all funny as hell to me.
Q: What do you think are the saddest episodes of Adventure Time?
A: There are only three times I ever recall crying or getting misty-eyed at the series: I Remember You, BMO Lost, and Come Along With Me. Yes, the ending of BMO Lost made me tear up. I was also 15 at the time, if that justifies it somehow.
I think there are plenty of “sad” episodes that don’t really get an outwardly emotional response from myself. I don’t think there’s a single sadder moment in the series than watching Jake reel up Finn after losing his arm – and his dad – in Escape From the Citadel. And a good majority of The More You Moe, The Moe You Know leaves me with a bit of a somber, empty feeling. To the episode’s credit, of course. A lot of the show’s “saddest” episodes aren’t really the more outwardly emotional ones, but the ones that leave me feeling a sense of loss or emptiness afterwards.
Q: What do you think of the Adventure Time video games?
A: They’re a’ight! I haven’t played it in forever, but Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage brought me lots of joy when it was first released. I think it was also just cool to have a video game based off of a new animated property at the time, let alone a good one.
Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! is fun just in the sense of killing time, but it truly is a repetitive and often dull play-through. Secret of the Nameless Kingdom is probably the most fun I’ve had with any of the games, and I originally played it when my interest in AT was at its peak, which probably had a lot to do with it.
Finn & Jake Investigations isn’t really “fun” per se, but there’s something undeniably charming about exploring the Land of Ooo just to talk to its various inhabitants. And I haven’t gotten past three minutes of Pirates of the Enchiridion. Maybe I’ll go back to it eventually. Question mark.
Q: What character dynamics would you like to have seen more of?
A: Anything with the TreeFort family all together. I think it’s a shame that there weren’t more instances of them all hanging out or working off of each other, and I don’t really see why there couldn’t have been. Pen Ward is always around to play Shelby, and Andy Milonakis basically became a regular starting with season seven. Would’ve been gnarly if they all went on an adventure together.
I would have liked to see Ice King and PB work off of each other after he started to gradually change his behavior. An episode solely focused on Jake’s relationship with Ice King without Finn is absolutely a missed opportunity as well.
A lot of fans wanted Marceline and Flame Princess to interact, and I think that would’ve been really sweet. It would have been cool if Marceline was somewhat of a bad influence on FP during the period of time when Finn was uncertain about her nature. And for my boy Stuped over on the Reddit, fuck the show for not having any Marcy and Finn episodes after season four!
Q: If you were to change anything in the show from certain episodes you felt were weak, certain story arcs that fell flat, certain characters arcs you think were handled poorly or certain events in the series that left you with a bad taste, how would you change them?
A: I’ve kind of made peace with a lot of the choices Adventure Time has made even if I didn’t like the way these events went down. I more so admire Adventure Time‘s exploration of its characters and individual stories more than anything, so there aren’t a ton of plot points that straight up rub me the wrong way. That’s not to say there aren’t any, however.
As much as I absolutely adore Breezy, I think it would’ve been best for everyone if the show committed to Finn losing his arm. This was somewhat of a key jumping off point for a lot of fans, and metaphorical reasons aside, I feel as though it was just another bold example of Adventure Time‘s failure to toss aside the status quo. On the same level of status quo debunking, I feel as though Jake’s role as a parent could’ve been increased majorly. I like a good amount of the episodes focusing on Jake being a parent, but honestly, it was executed so nonchalantly that I feel as if you could completely remove the pups from the series and not really lose much. Their presence was mostly to reinforce that Jake, while absent-minded, is a loving and caring guy. But we kind of already knew that, and in my eyes, none of the pups are so revolutionary that the series couldn’t exist without them.
I’m gonna talk about it more on my character analysis (sorry if I’m teasing y’all with these answers) but Flame Princess, Marceline, and the Lich are all characters that I feel got less interesting as the series went on, where most of the other major characters are quite the opposite. The Gumbald family is another group of characters that I wish were more fleshed out and just the least bit interesting, but I don’t know if that’s more attributed to a lack of time or just poor writing.
Q: Have you listened to Ghostshrimp’s Podcast?
A: I have not! To be honest, I try and stay away from AT as much as possible outside of blogging. Two summers ago, I was writing reviews everyday, buying AT merch, drawing and making comics featuring the AT characters, and playing Secret of the Nameless Kingdom. It was fun to have this much involvement with the show at first, but it eventually became all-encompassing to the point where I needed distance from the series outside of writing about it. So, once I finish, I do plan to give it a listen, and I might even update this with my thoughts about the material discussed on it.
Q: If the current AT storyline was going to be continued, what direction do you think it should go in?
A: Honestly, I don’t know. Sometimes I have ideas in my head about story arcs following the end of the series, but part of what has kept me so invested in the series is that it always keeps me on my toes. I never really get what I expect, for better or worse, and I think the ultimate continuation for myself is something that I don’t quite even know.
That being said, I think the team behind Beginning of the End and the Season 11 comics give me a taste of something to be longed for. I really like the idea of Finn’s challenges and sense of responsibility continuing to grow as he enters adulthood, along with the tough realities that come with it. I think if the series were going to continue, I’d love to see more of Finn attempting to make sense of the world around him as life throws new surprises his way.
Q: If you were given the choice to end the show in any way you choose, how would you end it?
A: In a super ambitious and goofy thought, I’d love to have Finn standing proudly on the mountain from Another Way as My Way by Frank Sinatra played in the background.
I always had this idea of Finn giving some kind of long monologue while traveling through the astral plane (in a different animation style), discussing what he’s learned throughout his years of living and what it is to be human, without being too on-the-nose or obvious.
This probably would’ve been super cliche, but I would have liked if Finn had finally “walked up the wizard steps” as mentioned in Too Young to lay one on Huntress Wizard. I ultimately like the idea that we don’t know Finn’s forever girl by the end of the series, but I think it would have been really neat to allude to this one subtle moment.
I’ve had a lot of ideas over the years of how I’d want the show to end, but again, having it my way is boring (and usually too exclusively centered on Finn). I like to see what others come up with.
Q: Adventure Time was, at one point, exceedingly popular. Why do you think it faded away in broad popularity, relatively speaking?
A: The two main reasons I contribute to AT’s declining popularity are:
- Creative differences.
- Neglect from the network.
For that first point, I think season six was a big jumping off point for lots of longtime fans. The show took a much different direction in its story and writing, and while I admired season six’s approach to tackling subjects and themes that are quite rare for children’s media, I can see why it pushed people away. I was initially put off by the lack of Finn and Jake throughout the entirety of its run, and I think many others were as well. In addition to that, Steven Universe was just starting to kickoff in popularity, and I think people connected way more with its emotional core and (objective) dedication to story and characters arcs.
For the second point, I think Cartoon Network’s handling of the series was quite poor following season six. After The Comet aired, there had been no reruns of the series for 5 months, nor any new episodes. As Adventure Time began tackling elements of serialization, I think the network feared that children wouldn’t really be able to follow when catching the series in reruns. This is the reason why Teen Titans Go! has been the network’s flagship series for so long – they can air it in any order as much as possible because they don’t have to risk viewers tuning out from a lack of understanding. This is a pretty common network practice that is understandable, but I think CN banked a little bit too much on the dedication of longtime fans. As I mentioned, many longtime fans had started jumping ships at this point for Steven Universe and didn’t really want to bother with following the series any longer. Despite this, TV ratings were still pretty solid for new episodes in season six, but CN wanted to rely on the fandom to keep the series going, rather than everyday viewers of the network. CN was targeting a fanbase that no longer existed (or were depleted, at the very least) and children presumably thought the show had ended or forgot about it during its long hiatus. It was a combination of both elements trying to compensate for the other, and ultimately sent the show into its demise.
Q: What would you have liked to see in an Adventure Time theatrical film?
A: Maybe what I said that I’d like to see in a finale, but more standalone. I’d love to see a feature length Adventure Time film based on ideologies of existence and life. Maybe even just a compilation of different stories inside the lives of Ooo’s many citizens, kind of in a super laid back, Studio Ghibli-ish way.
Of course, that’s what I would want, but it really wouldn’t rope in mainstream movie goers. If Adventure Time were to realistically have a film, it think it would be a lot more people-pleasing, with a big, grand (standalone) adventure and lots of references to past episodes. I’d love to see cinema-quality animation for the series, but ultimately I’m not that hurt about not getting a film.
Q: How do you think the show would have been if Rebecca Sugar never left?
A: I think a lot of the later season story arcs would’ve been handled in a slightly different fashion. The show took a stance after her departure to let emotions seem less obvious and leave it up to interpretation of the viewer on how the characters were actually feeling, while Sugar is all about letting characters emote freely. I don’t think there’s necessarily a “wrong” option of the two, but I do think that if she stayed, we’d get more of Finn being emotionally honest about that troubles and issues that face him.
I don’t think that Rebecca staying would have “saved” the show by any means, because I don’t think the show really needed saving. You can complain all you want about Pendleton Ward’s departure, because I feel as stylistic direction does play a big part in the quality of a series, but to single out one writer as the soul savior of a show is quite frankly inaccurate and just kind of patronizing to the other talented artists that put their all into the series. Which brings me to my next question.
Q: Do you think Pendleton Ward’s departure affected the quality of Adventure Time?
A: Yes and no. Overall, I admire the staff for choosing not to ride on the past success of the series and to choose a completely different direction in terms of tone and its characters, but AT ultimately did become a different show and I can understand why it wasn’t for everyone. More than just Pendleton Ward leaving, however, was the general increase of episodes that each season possessed, making way for more stories and arcs that would only add to an already congested lore.
At the same time, I do think that the experimental nature of the later seasons allowed for some of the best episodes in the series, as well as some of the worst. It’s a double-edged sword that both pushed the writers and artists completely out of their comfort zone, but also showed just how messy things can get without a clear voice. I think Adam Muto did a fine job as showrunner, though I still struggle to actually get a feel for what he saw and wanted for the series even to this day. In some ways, I think he did a better job than Pen on certain aspects. People often forget that, even in Ward’s days as showrunner, the series had similar issues of rushed or failed story arcs, such as PB’s aging or the quick return to normal in Jake the Dog. Muto at least paved the way for more dedicated attention to stories and conclusions, namely in season eight.
Q: What do you plan to do when you finish this blog?
A: It’s super up in the air at the moment. I’ve been getting a lot of requests to cover other shows, such as Steven Universe or OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes, and I’m honestly not opposed to the idea, though I have my reserves. Steven Universe is a show that’s rich with deep, analytical material, but there’s a zillion other people who already talk about it on the internet that I don’t know how unique my perspective would actually be. And I really like K.O., but I’m not certain if it’s a series I could really talk about in great detail. There’s also my mental hesitation with taking on another massive, long-term project so soon after this blog ends. Adventure Time Reviewed was a project that started when I had much, much more free time available, and even then, it took three years. Not to put it in a negative connotation; I cannot stress enough how much I have loved doing this project. But I also do acknowledge that it took a lot of energy and dedication, and I need to be both prepared and ethical when stepping into another high-scale commitment.
I’ve also been batting around ideas for novels. I’m super into books about the production history of animated shows, and would love to tackle topics about current day animation. A lot of those ideas are confidential for the time being and might even be a bit overly ambitious, at that.
I do wanna to keep it open for y’all to suggest things, though. I’m as in the dark about next steps as anyone and I’m not really opposed to anything, so suggest away! I will definitely need to take a break after I wrap things up, just to thoroughly consider my opportunities so that I don’t regretfully jump into anything too quick. And of course, if the series ever returns in some fashion (still have no idea what Rumble Jaw entails) I’d have no problem dropping in for subsequent reviews!
Thank you all for sending your questions in! Once again, if your question was not answered, don’t fret. It will likely be answered in one way or another in the post-series content I have planned. Stay tuned for the review of Come Along With Me – Part 1, which will be dropping either later this weekend or early next week!