Tag Archive | Animation

“Web Weirdos” Review

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Original Airdate: April 16, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Jesse Moynihan

It’s pretty clear that season four has somewhat of a running theme of dealing with relationships. We’ve already seen Finn’s first encounter with Flame Princess and the development of his romantic feelings, and now in this episode, we focus more on the circumstances of a long-term partnership. It’s very fitting that Finn is beginning to observe relationships around him considering he’s now involved in one, and it’s made even more important by showcasing that relationships by nature aren’t always fun and games.

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The plot revolves around spider love interests Ed and Barb (voiced by Bobcat Goldthwait and Susie Essman respectively) and they’re alright I suppose, though the episode is filled with Finn and Jake moments that really round it out and make it much more enjoyable to sit through. I love the beginning with Jake performing some totally gnarly stunts, while Finn pulls off some pretty lame parkour. It’s a thoroughly charming and endearing entrance, followed by some hilarious bits, such as the interestingly utilized cutaway gag of Finn’s uncut fingernails and the introduction of the bug and fly who also got caught in the spiderweb. I really friggin’ love those guys, and they’re pretty great with relationship advice as well.

Speaking of relationship advice, it’s really interesting to watch Finn share a bit of wisdom with Ed regarding his connection with his wife. Obviously, it’s likely that Finn is just humoring Ed to buy him and Jake some time to escape, but it still feels very genuine and telling, and that Finn legitimately wants to help the guy out. Finn’s obviously inexperienced, but I think his bit of advice comes more from conscientious place of being righteous in any kind of relationship. And in the last few minutes, he chooses the heroic path by deciding to stay and help Ed out, even if it means he can’t escape and that he could possibly even die. Always gotta go with Glob!

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As for Ed and Barb, as I said, they’re alright. I think Ed’s pretty interesting in his own right; he wants to do things properly, but his egocentric behavior and combination of self-loathing make it impossible for him to fully commit and love his wife like he arguably did in the past. Barb just kinda seems like a bitch from what we’ve seen. The one part of the episode I really disliked was the bit where Barb was mercilessly punching Ed. This is pretty blatant domestic abuse, and it’s somewhat uncomfortable to me. It’s not even like Ed’s able to protect himself, he looks like he’s in legitimate pain (imagine if this was the other way around). It’s not a huge problem, but we’re supposed to kind of be rooting for these guys to work out there differences, and that scene just made me want Ed to get as far away from Barb as possible. Though the ending was an interesting conclusion, as many couples do stick with the concept that having children can usher in a new beginning for their marriage. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. For Ed and Barb, it doesn’t look like it can get any worse, so hopefully having hundreds of babies ended up working out for them.

I like a good chunk of this one. There’s plenty of great Finn and Jake moments like the ones I listed above, and then there’s other great visual gags, such as Finn spitting out the bug, only for him to land directly back onto the spider web or Finn’s spitting down the bird (a lot of these involve spit, as you may have noticed) and the longshot of the many birds who suffered at the hands of this tactic. The Ed and Barb parts can lead to some pretty unlikable sequences, but I do think their dysfunctional marriage is a pretty interesting relationship that the series hasn’t really covered up until this point. Very frankly, it’s the type of relationship that most animated series typically don’t cover. Glad we could count on AT to tackle it head on with humor and potency.

Also, I don’t think I’ll ever be more grossed out by anything in the series than the way Ed produces string. That dripping was fucking vile.

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Favorite line: “It’s hard to step outside of yourself when you’re enmeshed with another being!”

“Five Short Graybles” Review

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Original Airdate: April 9, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich, Cole Sanchez & Skyler Page

The Graybles episodes never quite reached the heights of the other experimental types of stories AT has pursued. The guest animator and Fionna and Cake episodes have produced quality material that the Graybles stories haven’t been able to meet in my personal list of favorites. Though, I can say, where some guest animator and Fionna and Cake episodes have failed somewhat severely, I’ve never thought too poorly of any of the Graybles. They’re simplistic and cute stories that later contribute to the lore of the show’s world, but for now, they’re simply the former. And there’s nothing wrong with that, this one actually reminds me a lot of 22 Short Films of Springfield, one of my all-time favorite Simpsons episodes. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where Graybles episodes stemmed from, Pen Ward is a huge Simpsons fan after all.

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It starts out very uniquely, with the introduction of Cuber, voiced by Emo Phillips. It’s later revealed that he’s a futuristic dude, but I’m pretty sure in this one, we’re just kind of supposed to look at him as the narrator. But he’s pretty cool, though this is probably his most generic appearance. He later lends himself to some creative and clever scenarios, but here he’s just kind of in it to do his job, and that is to explain the purpose behind Graybles. It’s a decent first appearance, and I really do love Emo Phillips as a voice actor. Check out his stand-up if you haven’t, it’s hilarious!

The first story starts out with BMO, and it’s by far the best. It’s a pretty stellar look into BMO’s psyche that introduces the recurring character of Football, as well as BMO’s underlying desires of wanting to be a human, or wanting to relate to humans. It’s really cute and almost tragic in a way; I really love seeing the little guy take so much pride in what he’s doing, but at the same time, he’s putting on a farce that will later become a larger burden for him and lead to a psychological breakdown. I never get tired of watching him pee through that glass of water, though. Really nice voice acting from Niki Yang, as always.

Finn and Jake’s story is a bit simplistic, but I do enjoy their somewhat masochistic behavior and the depths they’ll go to perfect a measly high-five. The framing device with our main duo is pretty great: their high-five pretty much carries through and builds up till the very end, which caps off in a pretty satisfying and funny ending, but we’ll get to that in a bit. I also love the unique shots we get to see as they run at each other in a pretty cinematic way. This is Skyler Page’s first time boarding for AT, and he really showcased some of his talents by drawing shots we don’t typically get to see in the series.

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PB’s sandwich sequence is terrific! It’s a really drawn-out scene, but one that never feels like it’s dragging or stale. It’s done through all kinds of visual gags, such as the poor cow that endures that somewhat bizarre contraption, or his block of cheese that’s converted into a single slice using a sewing machine. Then there’s the pure absurdity of PB hitting a head of lettuce with a baseball bat for some reason. Wouldn’t it have made a cleaner slice if she just chopped it up? Also, it’s interesting to see Bubblegum using what is presumed to be black magic. They acknowledge this in the commentary, and no one really has a reason to back it up. I’m just gonna call this one a brief continuity error. And that final bit with Cinnamon Bun was all types of fucking nasty, in the best way possible. I cringe every time I watch his body spew out that diarrhea-like slop.

Ice King’s story is pretty damn funny. I love how 90% of it is just him abusing his penguins. First he sends Gunther off on a block of ice for smelling bad, then he uses penguins to clean himself off and abrasively throws in them in the trash afterwards. It’s some pretty horrifically amusing stuff that only Ice King could get away with, and only seems to get funnier each time I watch those suffering penguins. At least Ice King was partially right about what smelled by the end of it.

Finally, we have LSP’s story. Nothing much to say for this one from me; I never really cared for the These Lumps song too much and I think the story itself is a bit dry. Save for the ending though, which I think is a terrific punchline with Finn and Jake abruptly being named the winners of the talent show instead of LSP. That was priceless. A lot of oddly mean-spirited humor in this episode, wasn’t there?

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Of course, there’s also the connecting theme. I think this one’s pretty obvious, and also because I had already read somewhere what the motif would be before I had even seen the episode. Despite that, I do commend the writers for introducing this type of brainteaser that would eventually get more difficult as the episodes went along. I think this one worked fine, but the creativity and ambiguity of the themes would only good up from here. I think it’s something neat that helps the youngins do some thinking while they’re watching.

So, I like it. It’s a cute introduction to a new series of stories within the series, and pertains a sense of enjoyability and intrigue throughout. It’s always fun revisiting these because I often forget which story happened when (I could’ve swore Tree Trunks was in this one), and it’s always fun to watch AT in such a chronicle structure.

Favorite line: “I thought you had a stank booty, Gunter. My bad.”

“Hot to the Touch” Review

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Original Airdate: April 2, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Rebecca Sugar & Cole Sanchez

Here we are, kids! Season four! As I’ve mentioned a couple times prior to this review, season four is a really big turning point for the series. Things get darker, edgier, and more impactful from hereon in, folks. Fresh off the batch is Hot to the Touch, a continuation from where season three’s cliffhanger left off. When the original synopsis for this episode was released, I had much different expectations for it. I generally didn’t expect for this one to pick right up where Incendium left off, as it typically wasn’t really something AT had done before, aside from the Mortal Folly/Mortal Recoil two-parter. I thought there’d be a lot more of Finn just sort of observing Flame Princess from afar, and trying to learn little tidbits about her in the process. There is a little bit of that, but what we got as a whole was a pretty satisfying episode, though not without it’s issues.

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First off, I think Flame Princess’s character is crafted perfectly in this episode. I dunno, after this one, I think they kinda jumped the gun and made her a lot less interesting than this episode set her up to be. I like her curiosity, how uneducated of the world around her she is, and how her moral code is constantly put into question. With a few exceptions (and some cool development much later on) I think her character was sorta squandered down into just a straight good guy following Hot to the Touch. Not to say Flame Princess is an awful character after this episode, but it almost feels like day and night to watch her so recklessly destroy a kingdom in this one and then be all cute and bubbly the next. I just really think they had a lot of momentum going with her ambiguity and then sorta dropped it way too quickly. It’s not an actual issue with the episode, though, and is one of my very favorite appearances of FP’s character in general. Also, she frequently mentions that she’s an elemental! It’s cool to see this mentioned so early on, and makes me wonder how Flame Princess became so familiar with this label to begin with. Perhaps Flame King educated her on this matter? It’s really up for discussion.

Finn’s interest in Flame Princess is very cute; I love his instant infatuation with FP and how he’s quickly able to profess his love for her without even really knowing her. That’s a typical thirteen-year-old for you (or is he 14 now?). I love how honest he is right off the bat, completely contradicting his prior relationship with PB. It’s rewarding to see the little guy be so open regarding his feelings and to not hold back, learning from his mistakes the first time. In addition to that, there is an interesting bit of turmoil he experiences when he has to choose between being a hero or preserving the one he cares about. The decision seems simple at first, but it all becomes more difficult when we learn that putting out FP’s flames legitimately hurt her. All of us want Finn to choose the obvious route of being heroic, but also don’t want to see Flame Princess get injured in the process. As for his ending breakdown… we’ll get to that in a bit.

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Jake is the perfect everyman in this episode: completely supportive of his hormonal brother, but being very rational when handling the situation. I love how much he goes through just for his friend, from helping him pursue his new love interest to trying to protect the Goblin Kingdom in the process. And, as a result, Jake is actually the true hero of this episode! Yeah, he helps Finn get closer to Flame Princess AND saves everyone in the Goblin Kingdom. What did you do again, Finn? You’re slippin’, buddy.

There’s a lot of enjoyable moments in this one. I love Finn’s awkwardness when it comes to pursuing FP, right down to the fact that he’s basically being a giant stalker and even acknowledges himself in the act. There’s plenty of silly side characters, from the smoking bird (who, for some reason, speaks in rhymes) and the return of the quirky goblins! And hey, speaking of characters returning, my boi NEPTR’s back!! NEPTR is one of my all-time favorites, and it’s really delightful to see the little scamp once again. I love the fact that everyone just generally disregards everything he says, including his entire existence. It just seems like such an oddly cynical and sadistic turn for such loving characters, and I really like how different it is because of that. NEPTR will always be BMO-Light to the rest of the cast. Also, that rap was fucking dope!

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My one problem with this episode, which is actually kind of a major one, is Rebecca Sugar’s part of the episode. I think Cole Sanchez’s section is just fine, but Sugar’s work feels like it’s trying too hard to be really profound and emotional to me. This is a common criticism for a ton of the season six and seven episodes, but really, I think it comes out full-fledged here. Finn’s crying just didn’t hit home for me at all; Rebecca had some big obsession with wanting Finn to cry during her time on the show, and really, I’m not sure I get it. I think some of the most impactful and poignant moments on the show are done without any crying at all (Finn discovering Susan may not be human in Susan Strong, Simon’s video diaries in Holly Jolly Secrets, Finn being abandoned by his father in Escape from the Citadel, etc.). It’s something that carries over heavily into her own show Steven Universe, but really, I just don’t think it works here. And considering the ending is left so ambiguous and poetic, you’d think there’d be room for more development on how Flame Princess and Finn are in a somewhat “forbidden” romance, but it’s rarely even touched upon in the next episode FP is in, outside of the last half, and just feels like a cheap gimmick in order for me to feel something or be left with some lasting impression, but it just doesn’t work at all. Pendleton Ward had this brief bit of wisdom on the episode’s commentary:

“[in reference to writing kid characters] … you just think that they’re gonna skin their knees and cry a bunch, when it’s not fun to watch, I don’t think.”

Though he wasn’t speaking directly about that portion of the episode, it pretty much sums up my feelings. I criticized What Was Missing slightly in the past for Sugar’s style feeling off with AT’s aesthetics, but I think this is a prominent example of her writing failing to meet the emotional complexities of the characters, at least in my eyes. I think Cole gets it right from Finn’s monologue earlier on in the treehouse, that’s meant both to be funny and somewhat profound. That’s exactly what I was looking for throughout a majority of this episode.

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That being said, I do think it’s still a pretty decent season premiere. I think there’s still a lot of enjoyable moments, from the silly jokes, to the beautiful visuals (really nice blends of orange and yellow), to the general intrigue of the main conflict. The characters are written as perfectly as they should be; as I mentioned, this is one of my favorite appearances of Flame Princess to date. Even though I’m not crazy about the ending, it still leaves a ton of ambiguity and mystery that Incendium left off with, giving me enough motivation and anticipation to keep watching forward. And as long as I live, I will never get tired of Finn stretching out Jake’s face like silly putty.

Strap in, everyone! Season four is gonna be one hell of a ride!

Favorite line: “Listen, when I look at you, my brain goes all stupid, and I just wanna hug you, and sit on the couch and play BMO with you.” (the most accurate depiction of teenage feelings of all time)

“The Legend of Lucky Pie” Review

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I was really scrambling around while searching for something to cover for the between season mini-review. Not that I have to review anything, but after doing the pilot and The Wand, it’d only make sense if I kept up the tradition and gave myself a little bit of a breather as well. Unfortunately, there’s no new shorts until we get past season six. So, I was considering the games, books, or even comics (which I’m also considering covering through a series of reviews once this blog is complete, though that’s years down the line), but again, not a ton of these correspond with the appropriate season, and I think they should. So, that’s when I stumbled upon The Legend of Lucky Pie, and checked out all of the available episodes. Though I had seen the intro before, I had absolutely no knowledge of this webseries aside from the fact that it was labeled as a knock-off of Adventure Time.

As a bit of background for the series, The Lucky of Lucky Pie was originally released in 2015 on Cartoon Brew’s YouTube by Yimumu and Tim Chan. The series itself is completely funded through Patreon as of its latest episode, and has three episodes to date. It stars Lucky (who I guess is like a combination between an owl and a human boy?? I dunno) and his shapeshifting horse friend Pie, two cool bros who love to go on adventures and visit distant lands. Where have I heard this before?  Basically, all of the claims that it’s a rip-off are slightly correct, but I don’t know, after watching three episodes, it’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be. There’s actually a decent amount of good stuff. Let’s check out the first couple episodes a bit more in detail.

Who Makes That Voice?

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Original Airdate: January, 2015

This one is probably the weakest out of all the ones I’ve seen. This series is a lot more slow paced and leisurely than Adventure Time, which can be nice, but Who Makes That Voice? just sorta drags for me. Lucky and Pie meet a mermaid and hang out with her on the beach, and then defeat a sea monster before the mermaid leaves. Pretty thin when it comes to plot, but it’s actually just kind of… pleasant. A lot of these episodes just feel nice to watch: the colors, the selections of classical music, and the atmosphere do make for a really soothing experience. I do think that the character interactions are pretty weak and the mermaid character herself is largely undeveloped, but there is a genuine good feeling you get from watching it. It’s also really fucking weird how different customs are since it’s a non-American series. There’s a scene where Lucky straight-up accuses Pie of acting like a pedophile. Imagine Finn saying something like that to Jake.

The Zodiac Maze

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Original Airdate: October 19, 2015

This one is actually pretty cool. Lucky and Pie enter a maze based on zodiac signs, and you can only open certain treasure chests based on your designated sign. That’s a pretty dope concept that shows that there is a good amount of creativity behind the series, and that it’s not ripping off actual plots from AT. There’s some other cool moments as well, like this scene where Pie puts a cow’s teardrop in his eye and starts to trip balls for some reason. I do like how this series adds its own little bit of bizarreness as well, and doesn’t really hold back in that regard. The artwork’s also a lot smoother and cleaned up in this episode, which makes sense because each episode is released roughly a year apart from each other. It’s also the introduction to a PB-like character named Sourrie, who’s kind of just a giant bitch. She’s actually more like LSP, in that regard. There’s also her friend Plum Butler, who’s like Peppermint Butler except he looks like a giant creepy weirdo. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was an actual pedophile instead of a morally ambiguous ambassador for the dark arts.

If It’s The Last Thing I Poo

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Original Airdate: May 26, 2016

This is actually the most enjoyable episode of the series. It’s not great, but it at least finally explores the relationship between the two main characters when Lucky calls Pie weak. There’s also a fly named Hyperneat that this episode introduces, a really cute side character that even has a backstory and his own character motivations. This is somewhat of a dungeon type episode, where the three characters are on a quest to grab treasure from a dragon named Nightmare. Again, the animation and colors are a step up from previous episodes, and it all just looks real sharp. There’s a nice montage sequence as well, which showcases some really cool artwork that looks as though it would fit as one of the title cards for the series. When they finally get to the dragon’s lair, there’s some decent suspense when Hyperneat is constantly hit with Nightmare’s flames, but finally gets what he’s wanted all along: the cleanest piece of pink poop in all the land! This really was a weird one, you guys. But besides that, Lucky also gets what he came for as well: a stellar new sword crafted from the dragon’s flames. There’s a surprisingly good amount of continuity in this series; Lucky’s sword was partially eaten in the first episode, and remains broken throughout the next two episodes. There’s also a callback to how Lucky and Pie defeated the sea monster in the first episode, and do so the same way during the montage.

So yeah, this webseries isn’t anything great, but you know what, it certainly has a good deal of effort put into it. It’s not particularly funny, but the color palette in general is great; the backgrounds and settings almost look like they’re filled in with water colors, it just looks really nice. The animation looks pretty damn fluid most of the time, considering it’s only a webseries. Lucky and Pie aren’t the most interesting main characters, but there’s hints of Finn and Jake there that make them likable and fun to watch. As I also mentioned, it’s just really calming to watch. It’s very atmospheric in it’s tone, and just makes you feel very at ease even when situations get more hyperactive. And despite its label as AT’s knock-off, it really does have a good amount of new elements and originality to work as its own thing. Probably not something I’d rewatch in the future, but I’m glad I checked it out at least once. You can check out all episodes of The Legend of Lucky Pie on their official YouTube channel, or subscribe to their Patreon here!

Season Three Review

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Season Three of AT is arguably the best combination between humor and drama in the entire series. Season seven comes close, but I think season three really manages to balance goofiness and intensity to a tee. I always stand by my belief that each season gets better as the show goes along, but really, this is as close to a perfect season for any series.

The humor was really spot on this time around. With episodes like Still, Hitman, and Another Way, the show has really come accustomed to a much sharper, rounded form of humor that goes beyond just uttering wacky catchphrases. The interactions between the characters are brilliant, especially episodes that deal with the relationship between Finn, Jake, and Ice King. I can’t remember laughing as hard as I did while rewatching episodes like Hitman or Still up to this point. And even then, episodes that aren’t primarily comedy based had a lot of great jokes and gags within them as well: Dad’s Dungeon, The Creeps, and Too Young had their own moments of precise hilarity.

Some episodes also introduced one of AT’s greatest elements in later episodes: their experimental nature. Fionna and Cake and Thank You both diverted majorly away from the show’s comfort zone, and took on topics and genres that proved to be largely popular in the outcome. It’s clear the crew was very pleased with these episodes, as it lead to some bigger experimentation later on, such as more Fionna and Cake stories, guest animated episodes, and the inclusion of side characters as the main focus of their designated episode.

Things took a dark turn in No One Can Hear You, which was a largely unfunny episode that was more focused more on creepy atmosphere and story than trying to shoehorn in jokes. Again, it was another creative choice that pushed the boundaries of the series on whether it could possibly work out not, which, again, proved to be a successful decision in the long run.

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We also got a good chunk of particularly emotional episodes. Holly Jolly Secrets revealed the secret backstory of the Ice King through one of the most powerful sequences in the entire show, and Incendium focused on Finn’s crushed love life as he struggled to bounce back from getting rejected by Bubblegum for the final time. It was really nice for AT to divert from what a typical kid’s show is allowed to do by showcasing some of the more raw emotional circumstances and hardships of life. Even The New Frontier, which was a relatively silly episode, had a very heavy focus on the topic of death and whether we should handle it with open arms or ignore it completely. Little things like that are what really show why this series has such a large adult following, and how a good majority of viewers these days are adults themselves.

The teams were pretty great for this season as well. Adam Muto and Rebecca Sugar are once again the superstars of this season, crafting some of the most poignant and enjoyable episodes in the series (Morituri te Salutamus, What Was Missing, and Incendium). We also got the great new pairing of Ako and Jesse, who surprisingly worked very well together! They actually crafted a lot of the creepier and more atmospheric episodes this season (No One Can Hear You, The Creeps, and Ghost Princess) and while not all of them were big hits, they did manage to blend their styles together quite nicely. Tom Herpich and Bert Youn were a solid team as well, which leaves Kent Osborne and Somvilay Xayaphone as the weakest team once again. They did manage to create what is definitely the funniest episode of the season, Still, but their work never really stood out one way or another to me. Their styles just never really meshed that well together; Somvilay was all for more absurd comedy and visuals, while Kent is kind of a traditionalist when it comes to AT’s humor. I think Osborne himself works terrifically on his own later on, and Somvilay even found a better pairing with Seo Kim.

The character arcs this season are pretty well divided out: Finn begins experiencing some of the hardships of his teenage life, including his development of an inferiority complex, his acceptance that, one day, his best friend will die, and the painful tragedy of unrequited love. He still remains the goofball with a heart of gold that we’ve come so comfortable with, but it’s still very interesting to watch him experience his changing life around him, and the traumas that come with growing. Jake wasn’t entitled to a specific arc, but we do get a really good glimpse of his view on death and destiny in The New Frontier, which pretty much remains consistent throughout the show’s run. We get a good amount of episodes dedicated to Marceline, including hints of her backstory that are explored in Memory of a Memory, What Was Missing, and Marceline’s Closet. It’s all really cool to get even some hints of post-Mushroom War information through her past, and it only becomes more compelling and interesting from this point on. Unfortunately, we still don’t get too in depth with PB’s character arc, which doesn’t really go into full effect until the next season. The most we get to see out of her is through Too Young, where, during her time as a thirteen-year-old, she gets to enjoy time having fun with Finn, and we even get a look into her background as a the ruler of the Candy Kingdom. This single episode shows that PB finds being a ruler quite stressful, and sets up a good chunk of her story later on. Besides that, we only get to see her one-sided relationship with Finn (on Finn’s side, of course) and a glimpse into her rocky relationship with Marceline. It’s also unfortunate that we get to see a majority of the depth on Marceline and Finn’s side of the story and rarely ever get to see a view from PB’s point of view. This is handled better later on, but I still feel like PB is a bit underwhelming when it comes to true character development in this particular season.

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And of course, the true star, the Ice King. The way he’s incorporated into this season is absolutely genius. There’s a handful of episodes that work towards developing the IK into a lonely jerk who simply wants to be friends with Finn and Jake in some of the funniest ways possible. Just when you think that concept can’t build up any longer, the big reveal occurs that Ice King’s crown is what caused a relatively normal human being into a crazy ice wizard, which completely changes the IK’s story into one of the most interesting arcs in the entire series. This entire season could simply be labeled as “The Best of Ice King”, because that’s truly what it is in my eyes: a terrific assortment of episodes that really do their damnest to make the show’s primary antagonist into one of the most sympathetic and endearing characters of all time.

Top 5 Best Episodes

5. Fionna and Cake – A dazzlingly beautiful episode that takes full advantage of an awesome experiment, as well as being the best Fionna and Cake episode to date.

4. Thank You – Another great experiment that’s a strong emotional experience, churning out one of the most heartwarming stories in the entire series.

3. Dad’s Dungeon – A totally kickass episode that showcases the relationship between Finn and his adoptive father, as he and Jake trek through the coolest dungeon to date.

2. No One Can Hear You – A rather creepy episode that feels like AT’s most prominent attempt at a psychological thriller, and one that succeeds in the very best way.

1. Incendium – A turning point for the series that puts an end to one of the first established relationships in the series, and one that’s filled with emotion, humor, and the introduction of a new major player.

Top 5 Worst Episodes

5. Marceline’s Closet – Not a bad one by any means, but one that feels a bit thin on any new light to put Marceline in, and thin on story as well.

4. From Bad to Worse – Not particularly strong in humor or story, and a very experimental one for Somvilay that slightly backfires.

3. Wizard Battle – Less of Finn trying to smooch on Princess Bubblegum and more wizard battles, dammit!

2. Paper Pete – A cute, yet mildly bland episode that I almost always forget immediately after I watch it.

1. The Monster – A spotlight debut for LSP that only brings out why she shouldn’t be in the spotlight of any episode.

Final Consensus

As I mentioned above, this really is as perfect a season as you can get. The Monster is really the only episode from season three I could label as straight-up bad, and that’s pretty impressive from a package of 26 episodes. It continued to pushed the boundaries of what AT is capable of doing, and gave reasonable belief for viewers that the series wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It really closed out the era of classic Adventure Time with a bang.

“Incendium” Review

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One of my favorite title cards. Finn’s turmoil is so wonderfully represented.

Original Airdate: February 13, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Adam Muto & Rebecca Sugar

Incendium is significant because it was the point where I became completely and utterly invested in Adventure Time. There were points prior such as Mortal Recoil, Thank You, and Holly Jolly Secrets where I grew even fonder of the series, but Incendium was the episode where I decided there was absolutely no turning back. I was in it for the long haul from this point on, and prepared for where ever the series would take me next. As you can tell, this is one of my favorites. It’s not one of the funniest or even most dramatic episodes, but this is a direct transition into a new era of AT, and one that doesn’t hold back with its raw emotion, introduction of new characters, and growth from the past three seasons. This is it people: Finn’s most notable entrance into adolescence.

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The concept of this episode came from the writers no longer being able to incorporate Finn’s love interest for PB into compelling stories. Wizard Battle was an episode that proved this relationship to be a bit burnt out in its direction, and one that I was getting dreadfully bored of myself. The beginning of this episode wastes no time by displaying the truth behind how infatuations typically tend to start out as innocent and charming and eventually transition into creepy and desperate. Finn’s behavior can surely be seen as that, though without his intention to be so, and Bubblegum’s response is equally appropriate. It’s a moment that runs so quickly and contains little dialogue, but one that I think is especially well done. It doesn’t focus on making either character unlikable for the sake of the plot, and follows a realistic direction in which the situation was likely to follow. It’s a really impactful, driving moment for Finn to be straight up turned down, something we really haven’t gotten to see yet. It’s also a bit of the least teasing PB’s behavior has ever been; it seems her intentions to show Finn her new invention were strictly out of leisure and companionship, and her personal space being briefly invaded was what turned her off from what was genuinely supposed to be a simple picnic with friends.

That being said, it’s still one of the most emotional Goddamn scenes in the series to see Finn so drastically torn up. Sure, he’s still a child, and we all know those random teenage love interests never meant anything. But they still stung, dammit! This sequence is complete with one of my favorite Sugar songs, All Gummed Up Inside. Not only are the lyrics a perfect example of a character releasing his/her feelings through song, the combination between the pacing of BMO’s video game in the background and the ukulele chords are just beautiful. It’s really one of the most creatively timed tunes in the series, and one that I constantly find myself revisiting. In addition to the song, the visuals during it are equally as heartwrenching. Sugar outdoes herself with really somber depictions of AT’s characters, and the looks of hopelessness on Finn, Jake, and BMO’s faces are really terrifically drawn. It’s a very powerful moment that fits so much emotion into such a short sequence of time. Also love the callback to Finn clutching that wad of Bubblegum’s hair (although, I gotta wonder where he got those pictures of PB. It’s not even like it’s a picture of him and Peebles hanging out, it’s like, a fucking headshot. Did she just randomly give him a bunch of those?),

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A good remainder of the episode is kept mostly light with a really enjoyable and heartfelt story of Jake trying to find a new woman for his best friend. There’s a lot of really amusing moments from this point on: the reintroduction of Flambo, who, as I’ve mentioned before, is one of my favorite secondary characters in the series. I don’t know what it is about him, I just love his general demeanor and random Brooklyn accent. The interactions between him and Jake are really great; love the laidback way they’re able to just shoot the shit, followed by the always hilarious flame shield incantation (“I cast flame shield on ya’s… also I spat on ya’s!”).

Outside of Thank You, this is the first major appearance of the Fire Kingdom, and it looks dope. Love the various orange, red, yellow, and browns that make up the kingdom, and the contrast of Jake’s blue that really helps him to stick out among the crowds of Fire People and their surroundings. There’s also the introduction of another one of my favorite side characters, Flame King, and the entrance of a brand new major player herself, Flame Princess. This is probably Flame King’s strongest appearance in the series. His voice, provided by Keith David, hits all the right points of intimidation and dry wit. I love the way him and Jake work off of each other, and the various tasks Jake must go through that really are very pointless in hindsight. There’s also the crowd of Fire People that honestly crack me up. The way they just mindlessly repeat everything (a very satirical homage to other TV shows and movies that involve royalty) is always worth a dumb laugh or two from me. The way Jake reprises Finn’s song is really delightful; it’s not quite as catchy or powerful, but I love the way Jake is able to take something so heavy and emotional and reboot it into something more calming and delightful, typically showcasing his best abilities.

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It’s also a bit of a sad scene to watch Jake so disappointed of his failure as he softly apologizes to Finn’s hologram. It’s a moment that also displays another emotional strength of the series: the way the characters are able to so strongly empathize with each other. You can tell that Finn’s inability to reciprocate PB’s love is affecting Jake just as much, and that he’d do anything to help out his brother during his time of need. Which leads to one of the most confusing parts of the episode: Jake’s Finn mimic choking himself. I’m not sure if this was Jake getting way too in character, or if it was an elaborate plan by himself all along, but it just feels a bit aimless to me. Not sure how he knew it would work if it was the latter, and not sure why he would do it to begin with if it was the former.

The third act closes out with some of the strongest raw material of the episode, as Finn begins his fueled rampage and unleashes all of his negative inner feelings. It only last for a brief amount of time, and he’s able to step back once he notices the injured princess, allowing for some nice symbolism with Finn using a piece of Bubblegum to save Flame Princess, and then completely leaving that piece of PB behind. Flame Princess’s character isn’t that well-developed in this one, but the ending does leave a bit of intrigue that we haven’t seen from the show before: someone who is less emotionally mature than Finn. FP is completely bonkers when it comes to controlling her inner feelings, and for the longest time, Finn has had to combat his inferiority when it comes to those more mature than him. This may be where his immediate interest in the princess comes from, and it’s an interesting realization that disregards Finn’s entire romantic past up to this point. Everything changed when the fire nation attacked.

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So yeah, I love this one. It just has such an exciting feel to it, and despite it not having any big battles or giant cliffhangers like other season finales do, this one is simply an important transition into the later seasons of Adventure Time, leaving some old, worn out relationships in the past along with it. It’s a really fun exploration of Finn’s new potential love interest, and one that would forever change his life and future ahead of him. It’s a lovely bit of emotion mixed with amusing gags that I really never get tired of. Shoutout to Rebecca Sugar and Adam Muto for ending their board partnership together with a bang! Surely one of my all-time favorites.

That’s the end of season three, folks! Like always, I’d like to thank anyone who’s been keeping up with the blog and sharing your lovely thoughts with each new post. I really enjoy all the feedback I get with this blog, and it makes the entire experience more rewarding. The season three review should be out later this week, along with a bit of a surprise mini-review that I’m sure most of you weren’t expecting. But, besides that, I’ll be back with Hot to the Touch very shortly!

Favorite line: “If anyone tries to hurt Finn, I will kill them!”

“Dad’s Dungeon” Review

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Original Airdate: February 6, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Pendleton Ward, Adam Muto & Natasha Allegri

Dad’s Dungeon is just too fucking rad. It incorporates pretty much everything that makes Adventure Time so great: big laughs, great visual gags, terrific animation, beautiful colors, layered backgrounds, fantastic interactions between our main duo, and a big heart at the very center. This one collabs some of AT’s biggest talents, with Adam Muto, creator Pen Ward, and Natasha Allegri at the helm. It was originally going to exclusively be boarded by Pen, but he needed extra help as the process went along. That information alone shows you how much of a passion project this one really was; Pen has rarely ever boarded during his original run on the series, and he really only does so when he thinks something’s particularly silly or cool to be working with. All of the boarders did an awesome job of keeping the episode so simple in its plot that it harks back to the old days, but also keeps things fresh and new with elements we haven’t seen much of yet. It’s a fun dungeon themed episode, but at the center is a very interesting dynamic between Finn and his adoptive father.

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This episode is one that I consider funny and energetic from beginning to end. From the very first scene with Jake asking Finn and BMO to come up with suggestions regarding what he could shapeshift into, you’re immediately sucked in by the boys’ wacky antics, and it only continues full force from there. There’s a ton of really strong visual gags, including Jake jumping through the treehouse and posing as he lands, from Finn’s dynamic jump into the actual dungeon. There’s even a brief moment where, while in the dungeon, Jake briefly switches back into his cheetah form for no contextual reason. I really love these “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” AT jokes that the series has become so good at adding in overtime. It really makes every rewatch more worthwhile, as you’re able to pick up on more subtle gags occurring in the background. In addition, it’s filled with great jokes and lines, primarily from Joshua. His 1950’s accent provided by Kent Osborne will literally never get old to me, and pretty much anything he says gets a chuckle out of me (“The whole Kazoo!” “Cover your ears, Sue!” “You’re both squishy babies!”). I specifically love the absurdity behind him reminding Jake that he can’t hear any of his messages, yet anticipating all of Jake’s possible answers and responding back to him anyway.

The connection between Joshua and Finn in this one is particularly strong. The relationship between F&J and Joshua has really never been explored in great detail, so it was kind of neat as is to get some development on a connection between two characters that we really haven’t gotten a chance to see yet. It’s pretty interesting, mostly because I think Joshua is the most positively represented father figure we’ve seen in the series up to this point, and actually of all time in that regard (though you could argue Lady’s dad is a pretty good guy, but he tried to fucking eat Finn that one time). That being said, I think Joshua’s morally ambiguity has come into questioning at times. For one, he blatantly steals from demons for no other reason than besides the fact that they’re demons. Specifically in this one, he labels Finn as a whiny crybaby even though Finn is a literal baby at the time. It has a strong psychological effect on Finn as you would expect, and it’s debatable on whether Joshua’s actions are out of irrationality or his failure to understand the human culture at all. It’s clear that Jake is definitely more emotionally mature than Finn is, but even then, it may be that his ability to hide his deeper emotions and stresses came from his father to begin with. So Joshua’s desires to toughen up Finn may just derive from his methods of dog culture on how he feels Finn is supposed to act as a teenage boy. It might also be an elaborate setup. From Joshua’s pre-meditated answers to Jake, it could be concluded that he knew exactly what was going to happen, and used his backlash towards Finn as a possible way to motivate him. Or it could even just be that he’s the typical macho dad that believes that boys shouldn’t ever cry for the course of eternity. It’s really something that I think can be analyzed and allows you to draw your own conclusions. I also really love Finn’s desire to please his dad as well; it kinda shows that, even though it seems like he is, Joshua isn’t actually a jerk. Finn wouldn’t value him so much as a father, as well as his opinion, if he was just an asshole. It’s clear that Joshua was a caring and cool father, and that his respect and love is very important and well-appreciated by Finn.

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The dynamic between Jake and his father is great as well, mostly because Jake isn’t simply just a slave to Joshua’s wishes. I like that he initially goes along with Joshua’s orders simply out of curiosity and respect for his dad, but later loses trusts in his opinion, and ultimately chooses to side with Finn in the end. It’s a really sweet move for Jake to choose his brother above all, and even decide that, while he loves his father, the emotional state of his brother matters more to him. It’s evident that Jake is certainly more in touch with his sensitive and compassionate side than his father, and would rather care for his brother than to watch him suffer.

The dungeon in this one is dope. I love all the different aspects of it, from the burgers and hot dogs monsters (some really amazing animation sequences during this part!) and when Finn and Jake eventually reach the portal of flowers. The bit with the Fruit Witches is probably my favorite part of the entire episode. It starts out as a really beautiful scene: the colors are nice and lush, the music is soothing and pretty, and the general atmosphere is very calming and laidback. Once one of the Fruit Witches takes a bite of an apple, things go batshit insane in the craziest way possible: the Fruit Witch is wrapped with vines until she becomes an apple, is brutally eaten by her accomplices through demonic mouths on top of their heads, and the entire area grows dark gray and threatening. It’s a really amazing contrast that sets you up for two completely jarring moods: light and relaxed, and dark and frightening. Everything in this dungeon is pretty well-designed too; really love the extra detail to the Fruit Witches, especially during their transition, and even the gross monster that Finn and Jake encounter. I love how everything Pen draws blends grotesque and cute so perfectly together.

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The final climax is terrific as well: the beast Finn faces is awesome in its design, and the darkened lighting of the room helps the colors of the characters (as well as that totally kickass demon blood sword) stick out even more prominently. The final message from Joshua is too sweet. It’s a crowning moment of heartwarming that through everything, Joshua simply set up this dungeon not out of sadism for Finn’s mental and physical help, but out of love. He knew that Finn would love the dungeon, and even through his struggles, he’d be able to make it to the final stage. It’s a moment of beauty that leads into the final battle between Finn and monster, complete with Joshua’s awesome mash-up rap. It also segues into Finn obtaining his brand new possession: the demon blood sword! One of my favorites of Finn’s swords in the entire series, it’s by far used the most, and is frequently a key item from this point on.

Goddamn, this episode is cool. It has pretty much everything you could ever ask for in an Adventure Time episode, as well as doing so much more. I have very little to even nitpick in this one: I love pretty much everything from beginning to end. The connection between Joshua and his sons is so great; I love how, even in its rocky introduction, it still remains one of the strongest father-son relationships in the entire series. The dungeon setting always makes for a pretty bangin’ setting, and considering AT‘s strong roots to Dungeons & Dragons, you know these are the kinds of episodes that the staff (especially Pen) have a lot of fun with. Dad’s Dungeon is also Adventure Time at its absolute funniest, and the characters and visuals do their damndest to carry it through entirely. It’s certainly one of the most riveting dungeon experiences Finn and Jake have faced, and one of season three’s greatest efforts as well.

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Favorite line: “But(t)s are for pooping!”