Tag Archive | BMO

“Chamber of Frozen Blades” Review

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Original Airdate: January 17, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Rebecca Sugar & Adam Muto

Gunther the penguin is arguably one of Adventure Time’s strangest secondary characters. He’s either shown as a nonchalant penguin or some sort of deity and bastardization of creation. He balances between the two in this episode and it’s a hilarious introduction to the love/hate relationship he shares with Ice King.

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The episode struggles a bit to find a focus; there’s a long sequence of Finn and Jake discussing plans to ambush the Ice King as the hideout in his castle, followed by some cool scenes of the duo practicing ice-ninja moves, but also Ice King taking Gunther to the hospital, and finally, Ice King capturing doctor princess and having a brief battle with the boys. All of these smaller stories seem like they’d work perfectly fine as their own plot, so it’s rather disappointing that none of them could find enough focus.

Despite the ninja subplot sort of feeling like a “hey, what do kids like these days? Ninjas! We’ll have Finn and Jake be ninjas!” kind of plot, it succeeds in having Finn and Jake discover some pretty creative ice powers, and it’s one of the first times we see someone use ice powers that isn’t related to the power of the crown. I’m sure it has something to do with the elemental power of ice, and I really wish this was brought back and harped on later, but sadly it isn’t.

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This episode continues developing the ever-changing relationship between Finn, Jake and the Ice King, and while he’s still by definition considered an antagonist in the series, it’s rewarding to see an scenario where Finn and Jake betray the Ice King’s trust. We already had a bit of this in What Have You Done? And it’s done just as well here.

Two of my favorite tertiary characters are introduced in this episode: Doctor Princess and Flambo. Flambo is a character that never seems to get enough attention from the actual show, but I can’t get enough of him and his odd Brooklyn accent. Also, I’d love to see an entire backstory dedicated to Doctor Princess. Her entire life is a lie.

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If anything, I would have really enjoyed if this episode focused mostly on the subplot with Ice King and Gunther at the hospital. The promos for this episode way back in 2011 suggested that it was what the entire episode would be about, and I was really looking forward to that. Not that the ninja stuff wasn’t relatively cool, but Ice King trying to act cool and pick up ladies at the hospital while Gunther tries to get medical attention just seems so much more rewarding.
Also, I’m holding out for the endgame villain of Adventure Time to be Gunther’s unusual baby.

Favorite line: “It turns out Gunther here, was preggers!”

“Her Parents” Review

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Original Airdate: January 24, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Tom Herpich

Oddly enough, this is the third episode in a row that Finn undergoes some type of suffering while Jake isn’t able to protect or help him. It’s unusual that this has become such a consistent recurring theme, but interesting that it’s been done in a completely different perspective each time. In Power Animal, Jake couldn’t focus on saving Finn, in Crystals Have Power, Jake didn’t want to use brute force to save Finn, and in this episode, Jake has two choose between the two people he cares about most: his best friend and his girlfriend.

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An interesting bit of lore is added to the world of AT in this episode with the 1,000 year Rainicorn-Dog Wars. It’s one of those little bits of information that was most likely included as a throwaway joke, but has since then been used in future episodes to be expanded upon. A Rainicorn-Dog War is silly enough, but almost seems to make no sense that it lasted 1,000 years until you realize it’s most likely cleverly from a “dog years” perspective (or even a Rainicorn years perspective; we know how quickly they age). Also, Rainicorns ate humans! It’s another interesting bit of apocalyptic world building that is honestly kind of dark when you think about our species dying off due to many of these colorful rainbow creatures.

I’m actually not a big fan of the premise of this episode; the idea of having the nervous boyfriend scared of meeting his girlfriend’s parents and having to pull off a giant facade just seems very 90’s sitcom to me. Of course, Adventure Time adds that extra punch of absurdity to make this stray from becoming too generic. Like the past few episodes, I really feel bad for Finn, but I can’t help but laugh at the horrible pain Bob and Ethel put him through in this episode. It sounds so sadistic of me, but I get a kick out of every time I see Finn get launched into those glass bottles.

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Bob and Ethel are actually really great as the quirky parents too. Of course, they try to eat our main protagonist at one point, but hey, different cultures, man. I also like how, even though this is literally the third time in a row Jake has indirectly allowed his friend to be in certain danger, he still doesn’t come off as unlikable. It’s all for his girlfriend who he cares about so deeply, but isn’t afraid to put his foot down when her parents take it too far with his best friend.

There’s also some really nice imagery in this episode. The colors are so vibrant and nice, even more so than usual. There’s a scene at the beginning of the episode with Finn, Jake, and BMO eating breakfast, and it just look gorgeous! Nick Jennings helped with a lot of the artwork in the episode, and added some great touches, such as the dust particles in the window and the shadows on Jake.

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I recently picked up Adventure Time: The Official Cookbook and there’s a recipe for Soy Human in it. I’m going to feel very dirty if I do, but I may have to try it myself… Details to follow…

Favorite line: “JJ flip! What the zip?”

 

“Slow Love” Review

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Original Airdate: November 15, 2010

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Benton Conner

One of Adventure Time’s trademarks is introducing a character and making that entire episode their day in the limelight. To name a few are Me-Mow, Banana Man, Rattleballs, Root Beer Guy, James, Kent, and so on. For the most part, the characters carry the episode by being very fun, likable, and interesting. On the other hand, they can be obnoxious, loud, and pull the episode down with them. Snorlock the slug falls more into the latter category. It’s not necessarily that he’s an awful character, but he’s certainly a character that doesn’t warrant  having an entire episode dedicated to him.

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In addition, the plot in this one’s a bit thin. Finn and Jake trying to help a faux-snail find a girlfriend is definitely a funny premise, but again, it’s a bit squandered by the idea that Snorlock is unlikable. He’s a bit selfish in his actions, and it’s hard to sympathize with him when he isn’t concerned with the well-being of our main protagonists at all. He just wants to find a girlfriend and that’s about it for his character motivations.

Benton Connor co-storyboarded this episode, and if you didn’t already know, Connor was a storyboard artist on Regular Show for all eight seasons. Connor actually only storyboarded two episodes of AT including this one, and the tone in this one is actually more reminiscent to that of Regular Show. I feel like it’s more like Mordecai and Rigby to help someone find a girlfriend and act cool than Finn and Jake. The drawings and use of slow motion help to strengthen this belief.

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One thing that stands out in this episode is John DiMaggio’s voice work. He’s really grown into Jake at this point, and does a superb job of giving life to his character as well as using his range of voices to add flair and humor. This is also when BMO starts to feel like a crucial part of the treehouse. She doesn’t do much, but the sheer fact that Jake acknowledges, “BMO, you live here too!” is really endearing.

Other than that, it’s a bit of a forgettable ride.

Favorite line: “Girl, you smell good. Did you take a bath in rainbows and cupcakes?”

“Storytelling” Review

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Original Airdate: November 8, 2010

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Tom Herpich

Storytelling isn’t a personal favorite of mine, but it’s one of the sweetest Adventure Time episodes to date. It shows just how far Finn will go for his best friend, even beyond his heroic instincts. In a way, it shows Finn in his most destructive side, but also his most compassionate.

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So far, we’ve only ever gotten to see Jake as a caretaker for Finn, so the dynamic switch in this one is rewarding. As for dynamic changes, this is also a big switch from the traditional “cartoon fairytale episode” that shows like Ren & Stimpy, Animaniacs, and even Samurai Jack have tackled. While these shows did fairytale renditions especially well, AT continues to avert being a carbon copy and stick to being as original and creative as possible.

The episode’s humor is mostly carried by the colorful animal characters of the forest. A personal favorite of mine being Mr. Fox, whose entire character is primarily carried by his hilarious voice, provided by storyboard artist Tom Herpich. Mr. Fox himself has become somewhat of a recurring character, and while his personality isn’t nearly as compelling as some of the other secondary characters, Herpich’s dry inflections certainly make him standout. Aside from him though, I actually really like the other side characters in this episode too. Boobafina, Forest Wizard, and that bear with attitude issues and his mother are just what’d you’d expect from Adventure Time’s side characters: bombastic, full of personality, and tons of fun. And that cow with Phil’s face on her udder. Yeesh.

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Like I said, this isn’t a personal top tier episode in my eyes, but this is actually one I watch quite often. There’s just something so charming and genuine about this one, again, mostly due to Finn’s dedication to helping his brother in his time of need. Obviously he’d never go through with it, but he was really about to squash some baby birds for Jake. What a trooper! It’s heartfelt episodes like this that remind me why I watch this show: because I care so deeply about the two main characters and they care so deeply about each other. Of course, Jake repays the favor to Finn by helping to nurse him back to health at the end of the episode. “The end.

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Favorite line: “Yo, put that bag back on!”

Season One Review

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Season one of Adventure Time introduced me to one of my favorite shows of all time. It was revolutionary for introducing us to wonderful bright and dark characters within the glorious Land of Ooo. And while I enjoyed it quite fine the first run and the second run, how does it weigh in as a whole?

Characters

The first season introduced us to a majority of the series most prominent characters: Finn, Jake, Ice King, Princess Bubblegum, Marceline, and (partially) BMO, as well as some secondary characters: Lumpy Space Princess, Lady Rainicorn, Tree Trunks, NEPTR, Magic Man, and so on.

The depictions of these characters aren’t nearly as fleshed out as they are in later seasons, but it’s a very nice introduction to a lot of the fun elements each character has to offer. Finn is vibrant and pure, Jake goes with the flow yet is also bombastic in his own way, Ice King is sad and insane, Princess Bubblegum is sweet yet very passionate about her kingdom, and Marceline is playful and sometimes devious. We get some see some glimpses of development between the characters, including Finn’s characters flaws, Princess Bubblegum’s darker tendencies, Ice King’s more depressing side and his growing admiration of Finn and Jake, and Marceline’s transitioning from Finn and Jake’s adversary to one of their best friends. The characters’ more in depth personalities and unique dilemmas aren’t explored as much as they are in later seasons, but they’re certainly represented as fun characters to want to spend time with.

I’ve said this time and time again but Finn and Jake’s relationship is really the strong point of this season. I firmly believe any good show has to have some heart at the center of it, and Finn and Jake really embody every endearing aspect of this first season. Energy, compassion, and fun is carried with them at all times when they’re on screen, and I can’t think of a time I was legitimately not enjoying myself watching them.

In fact, it’s a pretty impressive feat to not be able to name a character off the top of my head that I truly disliked that was introduced in this season. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not the biggest LSP fan, but her role in the first 26 episodes is pretty minimal and she doesn’t really steal the spotlight as much as she does in later seasons.

This was just a delightful introduction to some of my all time favorite characters. While they would only develop more as time went on, everything about these characters that is later fleshed out is practically inserted in subtle moments throughout everyone’s actions. Of course, the only reason they’re able to become so complex is because they start out so simple. And as Adventure Time has proven time and time again, simplicity can be the route to something much greater.

Artwork

The aesthetics of the first season could really be dedicated to Ghostshrimp’s beautiful background work. He seriously knocks it out of the park with  the many designs, skies, and general landscapes that he’s created. GS played a key part in designing the Land of Ooo, and what he conducted was some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen in an animated series in years. Here’s some of my favorites:

I can’t really think of a specific storyboard artist that stood out, as I don’t think any of the episodes had the unique individual artwork that each storyboard artist possesses in later seasons, but the artwork is simple and fun. There are a few design quirks, however. Jake’s eyes and jowls are generally a lot larger than they are in following seasons, and he just looks kinda off. In addition, the characters are drawn with more cartoony and expressive faces, and Finn will frequently be drawn with eye-whites, which is somewhat distracting to me. Pendleton Ward has previously claimed to have hated seeing Finn with eye whites, as Finn is easier to connect with the audience through his simplistic dotted eyes, making him feel more real and less like a cartoon character.

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Otherwise though, this season is one of the most expressive and jumpy in terms of animation, considering the series becomes much more grounded later on. That being said, it is delightful to see Adventure Time in a Ren & Stimpy fashion in terms of its animation, but also, I’m glad the series didn’t stick to being outrageous and borderline schizophrenic in movement and facial expressions as it progressed.

Writing

In terms of humor, this is also the show’s most random and arguably juvenile approach at laughs. This leads to some very hit-or-miss jokes and gags, which honestly depends on your sense of humor. For me, the absurd humor works a majority of the time, but at other times, not so much. And I love the wacky dialogue within the series, but there’s only so many “shmowzow!” “slamacow!” “algebraic!” catchphrases I can sit through and not roll my eyes at.

In terms of individual writers, Adam Muto and Elizabeth Ito really killed it this season. They really know how to write good AT, which is likely how they got promoted to showrunner and supervising director respectively.

In terms of writers in general, a good chunk of them didn’t end up continuing to work on the series after the first season, so it was sort of difficult to adopt the styles or visions of writers such as Sean Jimenez, Luther McLaurin, J.G. Quintel, Armen Mirzaian (who sadly passed away three years later) or even Niki Yang.

So while the writing is a bit too 5th grade at some points, I have found myself laughing a lot more than I thought I would while rewatching.

Top 5 Best Episodes

5. Evicted! – A great introduction to one of AT’s most complex characters with a vibrant and fast paced song and some great character interactions as well.

4. The Enchiridion! – A terrific adventure and spotlight episode for our main character with loads of whimsy and quirky characters.

3. Dungeon – An exciting dungeon crawl with some hilarious one-time villains, as well as continuing to build on Finn and Jake’s relationship.

2. Ocean of Fear – An interesting look at Finn’s psyche and the realization that fears are not something to be ashamed of or ignored in any way.

1. What is Life? – The first episode to humanize Ice King and transform him from a psychotic jerk to someone who is completely lonely and devoid of anyone’s love and affection. Also, I fucking love NEPTR.

Top 5 Worst Episodes

5. Slumber Party Panic – Not necessarily a bad episode by any means, but somewhat of a poor start to the series considering that it throws a lot at the audience at once while also including no proper introductions at all.

4. When Wedding Bells Thaw – A somewhat misconstructed look at Ice King’s insanity that results in making the entire episode feel messy.

3. Business Time – An episode that focuses more on Finn and Jake’s lazier sides, which sucks most of the energy out of our main duo and ends up being somewhat of a bore.

2. The Gut Grinder – A generic and predictable plot that AT seems above and a season finale that disappoints.

1. Memories of Boom Boom Mountain – An episode that focuses more on the absurdity and randomness in terms of humor, and one that feels especially misconceived and all over the place when it comes to story.

Final Consensus

Season one of Adventure Time certainly isn’t my favorite season of the show; it’s practically the series at its most basic form, with somewhat childish humor at times and much less lore or complex adventures that are seen in later seasons. However, I found myself really enjoying the first season when watching again, and just find it so interesting how much the series has drastically changed over the years.

So season one of Adventure Time may best the weakest of the bunch in my opinion, but it’s a totally fun ride down memory lane to see how these characters were and what they have become. And of course, it really does show the world through Finn’s perspective. It’s bright and colorful and very silly and zany because he’s only 12, which fits with the overall theme of growing up within AT.

This isn’t a season I plan on rewatching a lot, but I’m glad I got the opportunity to take a look at it once more and I hope all of you that haven’t consider giving it another look as well.

“Rainy Day Daydream” Review

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Original Airdate: September 6, 2010

Written & Storyboarded by: Pendleton Ward

People often turn to Rainy Day Daydream when considering good starter episodes for those looking to begin watching AT. I concur with this notion and believe that this episode, along with The Enchiridion, really define and introduce the overall goofy and adventurous aspects of the series. Rainy Day Daydream, written and storyboarded by creator Pendleton Ward, may be the Pen Ward-iest episode of them all. It’s reeking with his creativity and silliness, it’s an overall charming depiction of the characters he created and holds so dear to him.

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There are loads of creative concepts in this one. From knife storms to Conversation Parade video games, the episode is oozing with creativity in its very first minute. Throughout the years watching it, I’ve always had mixed emotions about the imagination aspect in this episode. On one hand, it’s an impressive feat that the episode manages to throw so many creative monsters and obstacles in without ever actually showing them, but on the other hand, it would’ve been cool to see the actual designs of some of these creatures and traps. It’d be a bit more interesting if the episode was half nothing happening, half Finn and Jake’s point of view.RDD 3.png

But what we got was still tons of fun, and I really love Pen Ward’s influence on his characters. This is the only episode to be solo written and boarded by Pendleton Ward, so it’s interesting to get to see his vision of an AT episode completely on his own. The way he writes Finn and Jake is so likable and charming, and why shouldn’t it be? These are his characters, and Ward knows them better than anyone. I also really like how he allows F&J to have moments to just shoot the shit for a bit and hang out; there’s a scene where the boys flee to the attic and Jake finds some banana candy and juice and shares it with his brother. It takes up a good thirty seconds and is completely unrelated to the rest of the episode, but it’s just so enjoyably random and laid back that I really don’t mind. I like that Finn and Jake are two characters that can just sit back and enjoy life, yet still be entertaining to watch.

And this episode does its damnedest to highlight all the likability of each character: Finn’s enthusiasm and love for anything thrilling and adventurous, and Jake’s “bombastic personality” and love for thinking outside the box. Most importantly though, it highlights Finn and Jake’s terrifically crafted relationship, and the heartwarming and fun aspects of it. The more I think about it really, the more I realize how the show managed to make an amusing and exciting adventurous episode without even leaving the tree fort. It takes two strong main characters to carry that out, and I’m glad this show has Finn and Jake to turn their boredom into something very enjoyable for us.

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“Good dog.”