Tag Archive | Cole Sanchez

“Rattleballs” Review

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Original Airdate: January 27, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Andy Ristaino

If there’s anything to gather from the beginning few scenes of Rattleballs, it’s that Finn is quite lonely. After his break-up with Flame Princess, Finn has found coping mechanisms, fun distractions, and the overall comfort of his best friend, though as The Pit proved, he’s still very much in love with Flame Princess. One of Finn’s biggest mistakes since his break-up is his desire to recreate the past and try to once again get closer to Princess Bubblegum. This blew up in his face in Too Old, but Rattleballs shows that Finn hasn’t completely learned his lesson, and still wants to use his time to devote to another woman. In other words: Finn is bored. This is only a mere few minutes of focus within the episode, though I do like how this story arc continues to embed its way into almost the entirety of the second half of season five. 

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Finn’s desire to assist PB and be her knight definitely amplifies his stupidity, though I don’t think it’s as sinister as his actions in Too Old. Here, he simply acts foolhardy and wants to put all of his time and energy into being someone’s knight. His role as Flame Princess’s boyfriend certainly gave him a role of importance, and I have no doubt that he’s trying to once again recreate these feelings and boost up his own self-esteem. Yet, he doesn’t really realize that he’s being entirely clingy. I’m glad this episode takes a more light-hearted approach to Finn’s own desperation; he’s still not smart or logical in his actions, but you can’t really get mad at him for just acting mildly stupid. His stupidity would will later be amped up to 100% in the next episode and give me a reason to argue against his portrayal, though we’ll cross that road when we get to it. I do like Finn and PB’s interactions in the first half, and how PB herself doesn’t respond maliciously or vice-versa and try to coddle Finn. PB most likely understands what Finn is doing, and doesn’t want to enable his actions, but also doesn’t want to upset him either. I think she handles his behavior in a very mature and responsible way, and it shows how far she has come from her constant teasing of the idea of a romance in the earlier seasons. As of Burning Low, she’s realized what an effect she has on Finn, and doesn’t want to do anything to kickstart that turmoil once more. And if we didn’t already know, Finn is still in love with Bubblegum. It’s something that never truly died, and was only alleviated once Finn had another female in his life to focus on. Finn still deeply cares for PB, and is even willing to throw Peppermint Butler off a balcony for her (he’s kidding, but not really).

As Finn treks on and continues to try and emulate his role as a knight in the Ooo Junkyard, he begins to practice using his badass new blade once more. Love the Ooo Junkyard; it’s riddled with post-apocalyptic goodies, and gives the entire episode a bit of a grunge feeling, with the toned down colors and general background details. This is where we’re introduced to the episode’s titular character, Rattleballs. Rattleballs is right up there with Root Beer Guy as my favorite character introduced from this season. Both hilarious and somewhat solemn, Rattleballs is given life by his intriguing character story, as well as his voice. Rainn Wilson provides the voice for Ree-Bee-Zee, and what a spectacular job he does. The lack of emotion and strictly robotic inflections he gives to this character can make for some really funny line deliveries, as well as some very haunting ones. It’s especially effective, seeing how Rattleballs never really changes the tone of his voice throughout the course of the episode, which makes it all the more impressive and effective.

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I also really enjoy the connection he makes with Finn! His initial introduction where he threatens to pluck out Finn’s eyeballs and then congratulates him for his warrior’s heart is quite endearing, and shows us firsthand how Rattleballs has conquered his desire for needless violence. The included “sad backstory” where he describes his experience horseback riding is also a terrifically funny edition to the episode. I don’t know when or why Rattleballs would decide to go horse riding back in the day, but I guess maybe it was a routine wholesome activity for the robots? No idea, but it’s funny regardless of the reasoning.

I love the training montage as well, and how it subverts our expectations by showing the typical cliches of a training montage, yet none of them seem to actually be helping in Finn learning how to use his sword. Going through obstacle course, sitting on heated rocks, and being hit with eggs seems more like a test of endurance, and I’m sure Rattleballs had his reasons, but I just love how ludicrously useless it seems. A lot of people wanted to see Finn being trained by Rattleballs after this episode, but I dunno, I think the parody of training elements is far more enjoyable than the actual thing. I especially like how, by the end of it, Finn hasn’t really learned anything. The one special technique that Rattleballs teaches him isn’t even achievable unless he practices for ten years and gains a robot body. That logic puts a funny spin on the typical “work hard and you can do it” message that so many of these stories put out. Though, it would be really neat if Finn was able to perform this swift strike in the series finale. Doubt it would be brought back, but it’d be a nice little touch to show that Finn had been practicing ever since (and he kinda has a robot body!).

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The second half of the episode shifts gears to delve into Rattleballs backstory and, I have to say, this is one of my favorite scenes in the entire series. I mean it, you guys. I think the episode itself is pretty great on its own, but this flashback sequence in particular is spectacularly done. Again, the narration by Rattleballs alone gives the entire sequence a bit of a wistful tone, and drives a very compelling story about the past history of the Candy Kingdom. The stand out moment in particular to me is the scene where Bubblegum asks one section of the Rattleball boys to turn their backs, while the others are crushed into oblivion. The reading of Rattleballs’ line “we were judged too dangerous to stay operational, and sentenced to death” sends straight shivers down my spine, and I’m willing to say this is one of the most fucked up things we’ve ever seen PB do. Obviously it’s easy to see things from her standpoint, however; the Rattleballs are robots, so it’s probably clear to assume that they don’t have emotions or identities of their own. Whether or not this is true for all Rattleballs, or the one that we’ve spent time with is just an exception, the idea of making a group of them look away as their brethren are killed is entirely morbid. All while PB has a smile across her face. It’s a beautifully presented scene, as it comes off as almost entirely messed up, but doesn’t make PB seem like an absolute monster either. Aside from her assumption about the Rattleballs willingness to emote, she probably feared that their violent attitudes of anarchy could lead to her own demise, and wanted to put an end to them before they began their own uprising. Most of PB’s fears and anxieties revolve around the loss of her power, but most importantly, the loss of her Kingdom. In her eyes, only she can properly run the Candy Kingdom (which she probably isn’t entirely wrong by thinking) and any threat to her role is a threat to the Kingdom as a whole. It’s a well-defined backstory that sees both sides of the stories, and is accomplished so successfully in tone, execution, music, performances, and so on.

Of course, Rattleballs warns Finn not to tell Princess Bubblegum about his existence, though Finn fails to do so, given his honorable stance as PB’s knight. On the one hand, it’s kind of a dick move for Finn to sell out Rattleballs after he assisted in Finn’s sword training. However, I do think Finn’s decision is consistent with his dedication to the Princess that was shown early on, and I think his blissful ignorance to PB’s more cold hearted nature is apparent. When they convene in the junkyard, Finn simply thinks that the two will just “talk it out” and come to a level of agreement, though I don’t think he fully understands how PB responds to possible threats. She’s not really the “let’s talk it out” type, and would rather alleviate her own paranoia by getting rid of the threat as soon as possible. With the help of Commander Root Beer Guy, of course!

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As tensions increase during the confrontation, Rattleballs proves himself by showing that he can change his behavior and that he’s not limited to what he was designed for. This is turned onto PB in a poignant display, where Rattleballs states, “I hope time has made you less bloodthirsty.” It’s effective in showing that, despite the fact that Ree-Bee-Z is a robot designed for violence, he isn’t entirely different from PB. Through deciding that the Rattleball boys are nothing but dangerous entities who deserve to be destroyed, PB is showing her own form of robotic violence and instigating what she set out to prevent.

It’s even more heart wrenching when we see PB toss what is assumed to be the destroyed Rattleballs in front of the bruised Banana Guards, until it is revealed that it was a farce. Despite her ability to change her ways to look upon Rattleballs with empathy, she still does not want anyone to think that she has let her guard down or “gone soft.” PB’s identity in the Kingdom is important to her, and during this particular period, she wants the respect of her citizens, and a bit of fear in the process. This slight altercation in her behavior, where she is able to allow Rattleballs to protect the kingdom in the shadows, shows that she is willing to change her behavior a bit at a time, and is a clear reveal of her true intents.

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Overall, this one is pretty awesome! I forgot how good it actually is, so this revisit was a true delight. It stars a terrific new character, some great new insights into the past of the Candy Kingdom, lots of funny moments, a nice tense atmosphere throughout, and a huge plot shift halfway through the episode that feels quite natural. I love how only the last few minutes are actually dedicated to showing more into the shady side of Princess Bubblegum, but it’s all cleverly tied back into Finn’s perspective and how he views her as a person. Throughout the entirety of PB’s struggle with her own morality, Finn remains nonjudgmental and by her side. Of course, it’s a bit more selfish and catering to his own needs, but as Finn becomes more encased in his own issues, the more he becomes ignorant of Bubblegum’s issues. It’s a terrific episode for analysis overall, and really capitalizes on the changing behaviors of two of the show’s main characters.

The Red Throne review will be posted on Friday, as I return to posting on a weekly basis. We’re nearing the end of Season Five, folks!

Favorite line: “I don’t eat muffins. I am a robot.”

 

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“James” Review

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Original Airdate: November 25, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Andy Ristaino & Cole Sanchez

Lotsa problems with this one, folks.

It’s funny, because I think James is the type of episode that could have worked if certain decisions were executed differently. Some choices that were made in this one still baffle me quite a bit, and it seems like an episode that was purely going for shock value rather than actually trying to make sense with the universe.

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The beginning scene is partially funny. The staged drama surrounding Finn and Jake, and their melancholic exchanges with each other are somber, but delivered in such a way that evokes a bit of humor, namely Jake’s insistence to stay in the dark room for several months. My main problem with this scene is that it doesn’t really make contextual sense with how the rest of the episode plays out. When we eventually realize how Finn and Jake feel about James, it doesn’t really seem like this overemotional response is especially warranted. In fact, by the episode’s end, it doesn’t even really accurately tie back into this scene. During the final scene, Finn and Jake are mostly just concerned and uncertain about the events at hand. It doesn’t seem like their trauma lasted particularly long, in that case. And that’s kind of what forms this episode’s biggest, though not its only, problem: characters can act wildly dissonant for the main reason that it serves the plot of the episode, rather than feeling like a natural reaction from the characters based on the circumstances around them. Thus, this beginning scene feels like the only real reason it’s included in is to draw the viewer into the story, which is somewhat effective on a first viewing, but really just falls flat by the time this episode reaches its climax.

Now let’s get to the title character himself: James. First of all, not to the fault of the episode, but the fact that there are two characters named “James” within the AT universe is incredibly dumb to me. There’s a handful of other generic male names in the world, why couldn’t James have been called “Michael” or “Chris” or something along those lines? Naming him “James” despite the fact that James Baxter is an already existing character seem incredibly silly to me. But forget about his name, how is he as a character? Well, quite annoying, actually. Andy Merrill, most notable for his role as Brak from Space Ghost Coast to Coast and its spin-offs, provides the voice of James, though his talent doesn’t really offer much because he isn’t really given much to work with. James’ character practically centers around the fact that he’s unintelligent and slightly hyperactive, and by this point in the series, we’ve seen many, many Candy People who take on this identity. James lacks any form of charm or endearing qualities that should make me care about him over the course of 11 minutes. Again, he is simply there to be a foil within the plot of the episode.

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The story itself is almost as equally devoid of charm and intrigue. I do enjoy the beginning trek through the Desert of Wonders in PB’s spider-like transporter, but once the gang actually lands in the pit and attention mostly focuses within the ship, most of that interest is lost. This is one that is particularly weak in the animation department, and the drawings in general. Andy Ristaino and Cole Sanchez co-boarded the episode, and normally their drawings are pretty solid, especially Ristaino’s, though a large majority of this one features some wonky dynamic shots and disproportionate character modeling. The characters will constantly go off model; there are some parts where Finn will look incredibly smaller and chunkier than usual, or Jake will look huge in comparison to the people around him, or PB’s head will range from the size of raise to an actual oval. I’m all for cartoons going off-model, and AT was not afraid to do so in its earliest seasons, though the tone of the show has changed in terms of not only its story, but its look. So any inconsistencies in actual design of the characters feels more like a wonky doodle rather than an intentional choice on the storyboard artist’s part. This is also primarily a “box episode” that takes place almost exclusively in one area, though this would be a bit more justifiable if the setting was a bit more visually interesting, but it’s pretty much just your general spacecraft filled with light and dark grays.

And the episode’s story is pretty thin as well. I think the story does have some comedic opportunities, though it mostly feels like, from a viewer perspective, that we’re just simply waiting for certain moments to happen. We know James is going to be an idiot, we know he’s going to continuously get blamed for his actions, we know it’s not actually going to be his doing by the end of the episode, etc. It just really feels like we’re going through classic storytelling notions until the episode eventually makes some form of a development, though, in this one, the development doesn’t even feel warranted.

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The big “twist” in this one is that it was PB sabotaging all of Finn and Jake’s plans and ends up knocking out the boys in order to sacrifice James and save F&J. And boy, do I think this is just absolutely ridiculous on every single level. First of all, the way it is explained by PB sounds extremely contrived and honestly just kind of paints her to be legitimately sociopathic. Despite her “conniving” nature being more emphasized by this point in the series, I have a hard time believing that she’d actually perform something so stupid. Instead of wasting time sabotaging the plans Finn and Jake were coming up with, why did she not simply use that time explain her idea to Finn and Jake? Or, even if she hadn’t thought of it at the time, why wouldn’t she just at least take a minute to try and convince Finn and Jake to go through with the plan before she ended up just doing it anyway? If she was so concerned about preserving Finn’s life, then why would she  knock him unconscious with a fucking wrench? I get that PB doesn’t always think using common sense, but c’mon, this is legitimately extreme and slightly moronic even for her. And the excuse of why she sabotaged F&J’s plans feels like genuinely poor writing. She “calculated” that Finn and Jake’s plans wouldn’t work? How? How would she have actually hypothesized that these attempts would absolutely fail without even a slight chance of succeeding? It doesn’t even seem like she knows a ton about the Oozers; she mentions them as “creatures from another time,” though she doesn’t seem to recognize them as a species she actually has any knowledge of. And how was there any possibility that she knew her plan with James would absolutely succeed? What if the Oozers ignored James and started running after PB and friends? The way it is explained just feels so contrived; I feel as though the episode did not stress enough how limited the gang’s options were. Exploring two possible ideas and then deciding that there’s absolutely no way out does not feel like a rational conclusion. I usually don’t bring this up, but it’s really the one time I wish they could’ve explained why Jake couldn’t just grow giant and stretch out of the situation. I get that the Oozers could’ve easily had mutagenic effects onto him, but it just makes me scratch my head and ask “why” because it’d devoid of an actual explanation for this solution. 

And of course, since I don’t care much for James, his “death” ends up feeling pretty ineffective. I’m not much of a Cinnamon Bun guy either, but if he were to take James place in this episode, it would at least feature an already established character who the audience has some emotional investment in. It feels like James was introduced only so he could die, which again adds to the number of moments that feel like they were only included to have a “shockingly edgy” effect on the audience. And it’s all capped off by a cliffhanger featuring the Oozers heading straight for Ooo. It all just feels way too manipulative.

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So yeah, I really teared into this one, but is there anything I like about it? Well, the atmosphere isn’t bad. Despite it being generally laugh free, I do enjoy how the episode at least attempts to make the situation at hand feel dire and uneasy. It isn’t really executed well, but it does paint more of a stressful edge to the entire situation regardless. I also like the scenes where PB drags Finn and Jake out of the pit as James gets ambushed. It’s all staged really dramatically, and is pretty heavy to stomach despite my lack of investment in James. PB’s explanation of how she can clone other Candy People but not Finn is also quite profound, even though it follows a pretty lame explanation on her part.

But overall, I really just don’t like this one. I think the entire episode feels like it’s trying really hard to suck me in, but doesn’t know the basic fundamentals of its story well enough to tell them effectively. It also has some of the dumbest character writing for PB to date, and one of the most forgettable star characters overall. I think it’s a very disjointed mess, and one that has very few redeeming qualities at that. Thankfully, however, the next episode makes up for it with a much more interesting breakout character.

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Favorite line: “This is my cuckoo face!”

“We Fixed a Truck” Review

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Original Airdate: October 21, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Andy Ristaino & Cole Sanchez

An episode like We Fixed a Truck doesn’t reach the absolute hilariousness of its past comedic predecessors, but it’s overall just a really fun and enjoyable episode that focuses more on individual character moments and pure absurdity rather than a linear story, and even manages to be strangely beautiful in the process. It’s also a nice breakout moment for the returning character Banana Man, who previously appeared in The New Frontier, and has what is probably his best appearance in this episode.

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The title card alone is enough to get me into this one. I know I don’t talk about this aspect of the show enough, but I don’t know a single show that has more beautifully crafted title cards than Adventure Time. I’m not gonna say that every single one hits a mark, but this episode’s card in particular poses a form of beauty in its simplicity. What could’ve been a simple painted image of the truck, or Hot Daniel as the boys call it, is instead an apparent discovery that Finn made while taking a walk one day. Of course, this show is already scattered with post-apocalyptic references in almost every episode, so I’m willing to bet this car stuck in a tree was up there for quite some time, and is only being rediscovered now. Add a beautiful sunrise filled with purple, yellow, and orange in the background and this single image actually becomes quite whimsical and even a little somber. It’s amazing what the series is able to do with these lovely paintings, and can really help set the mood for an episode as a whole.

Down to the actual episode itself, I actually kind of like how there’s no real conflict in this one. I previously mentioned that as an issue in Box Prince, though this one much more efficiently creates an atmosphere that simply involves these likable characters all in one area, so it’s much less noticeable. The main focus of this is that Finn and Jake just want to fix up a truck for shits and gigs. Though Ice King isn’t able to help them (is he wearing a dress shirt when he appears? Dunno, but he actually kind of looks handsome) the boys do have their friendly neighbor Banana Man to help them out!

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Banana Man is a really enjoyable loser. AT has had plenty of these types of characters, but I personally think Banana Man is one that is written in a way that makes him both really amusing and quite charming. A lot of that derives from his voice actor Weird Al Yankovic, who gives him a bit of a quirky inflection, but doesn’t really overdo it either. He’s able to have his goofier moments, like the beginning where he demonstrates how the cylinder head works and demonstrates it through nonexistent visuals. I’m usually not a huge fan of AT’s self-aware jokes, though I think this one works because it can easily be applied to Banana Man’s own delusions. And it’s actually somewhat educational! I don’t know jackshit when it comes to cars, but I actually found this slightly informative in the best way possible. I also enjoy how Banana Man isn’t really deceptive or manipulative in his actions. There’s already one character in this show – Ice King – that is constantly trying to trick or trap the boys into becoming better friends with him, but Banana Man is very genuine and caring. Though he does hope for the end result to leave him better friends with Finn and Jake, he simply helps them because he’s a nice guy who enjoys hanging out with other people. And it’s cool to see a civilian of Ooo who doesn’t necessarily worship the boys as heroes, but just views them as potential buddies to hangout with.

And he portrays these feelings in “Hanging Out Forever,” a song that is mostly cheesy and not necessarily catchy, but one that is deeply hilarious at its core. I was disappointed that The New Frontier didn’t utilize Weird Al to his fullest potential by having him sing, so I’m glad this episode picked up on that opportunity. Banana Man fantasizes about having fantastic times with Finn, Jake, and BMO like “best friend pillow fights” or “board game Friday nights.” What a lovable dork.

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This sequence leads to a bit of a diversion as BMO begins some late night work on the truck. This features one of my favorite visual gags ever, which is BMO brilliantly changing her batteries by taking the old ones out and landing on the new ones. We also get a listen into Starchy’s radio show “Graveyard Shift”, and I’m a sucker for wacky conspiracy theories, so I really got into this little bit. And it’s not entirely pointless either; it ingeniously ties into the climax, again, based on pure ludicrousy. Banana Man creepily enters back into the scene to offer some sincerity and exposition into his life. This bit is probably my favorite in the episode. I think BMO and Banana Man actually work off of each other well and make for some cute interactions, and I think this is where Banana Man becomes well-defined and humanized. His line of, “I don’t wanna be alone, but I’ve gotten pretty good at it,” is actually something I can relate to in some degree. For a long period of time I had been away from the dating scene, and had become so comfortable with getting invested in my own personal projects that it became out of the question to go beyond it. The writers often use Ice King as a way to capture their loneliness with honesty and use it as a means to cope, and Banana Man seems no different. This show is so good at humanizing “loser” characters and showing that they aren’t simply one-dimensional dorks that it really isn’t hard to empathize with anyone, no matter how wacky or unique.

Following the lovely bonding session between BMO and Banana Man, we get to see a glimpse of the gang finishing up the truck. Also an awesome montage sequence, that’s complete with the “Manlorette Party” music from When Wedding Bells Thaw. While not my favorite bit of score that Tim Kiefer has ever produced, it is likable enough to deserve a second inclusion. And it follows the montage quite nicely. The visuals that go along with it are great as well. I love how the gang quite aggressively breaks into the Breakfast Kingdom, as Finn assaults a French Toast Man instead of simply asking for syrup. It’s always nice of AT to include that bit of unexpected darkness in even its brightest of episodes.

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And the rest of the episode is just focused on having as much fun as possible. The Treehouse boys try and set up Banana Man on a date with a nice female Banana Guard. Though I like this concept, I have a bit of a gripe with it, simply because where have all the female Banana Guards been up to this point? It becomes even more distracting as the later episode The Thin Yellow Line shows that there are dozens of female Banana Guards. But I’m willing to let this little detail slide, because it’s cute. And it leads up to the even more bizarre storyline where it’s revealed that Princess Bubblegum actually has been replaced by a giant lizard. The revelation is terrific; no build up, just a quick series of gags that eventually lead to the lizard imposter grabbing a bug with its tongue and transforming into a beast. The scenes that follow are awesome in the visual department. Some really solid animation all around that make for a terrifically fun action sequence. I might as well point out that Andy Ristaino’s drawings in this one are really great. Ristaino started out as the lead character designer for the series, and as of Love Games, became a recurring storyboard artist paired with Cole Sanchez. I really enjoy Ristaino’s drawings, that make for some really cute and stretchy expressions from each character. As the episode wraps up and Banana Man is sent to jail for public indecency (though he got the lady of his dreams! For now, at least…) Finn, Jake, and BMO mourn the loss of Hot Daniel. RIP, you beautiful hunk of junk.

This one is just great; all around fun with hints of beauty here and there. I love the character interactions, the animation, the drawings, the backgrounds, the atmosphere, and pretty much everything else it has to offer. This is often one I overlook for fluff episodes I consider to be “funnier” but it’s hard to deny that this episode practically does everything it wants to do just perfectly. The only other gripe I have with it is that Cinnamon Bun appears at the end, and though he appears in Apple Wedding later on, it’s at least explained in the promo art and made somewhat believable. This instance feels more like Tree Trunks appearance in Evicted! Though it’s a minor background detail and I think everything else this episode offers is more than enough to justify a simple mistake. Season 5.2 has been on a roll with funnier, more laidback episodes, and I think this episode works somewhat as a finale for the lighter and sillier episodes and enters into some of the darker and more story based episodes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as we’ve got some really enticing episodes to come.

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Favorite line: “Not a car guy—too confusing. Got better things to do with my life.” 

“Love Games” Review

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Original Airdate: September 23, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne, Andy Ristaino & Cole Sanchez

After a much needed break from the FP-Finn drama these past few episodes, we once again return to how Finn is dealing with the break-up, though this time, it’s treated more with humor and a lighter story. After the hilarious Time Sandwich, I didn’t know if Kent Osborne and Cole Sanchez would be able to write something quite as funny, but sure enough (with the help of Andy Ristaino) this episode receives a warm welcoming in my list of very amusing episodes.

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The episode starts out silly enough, as we finally get a cameo from Ice King living within the Treehouse. The dynamic between he and the boys is pretty cute; I like how Jake consistently has to yell at him to not interrupt their radio show, almost as if the IK is their little brother. I also like the actual contents of the radio show, though I have no clue who this is being broadcast to, or who even listens to it. This is seriously the first and only time Finn and Jake have ever been seen doing a radio show, so it feels a bit contrived, but eh, it’s cute. It almost feels as if Finn’s statement that he’s done dating ladies and going back to saving them is fanservice to all the people who bitched and moaned for years about how there was too much romance drama within the series. This episode seems to put this drama to bed, but also acknowledges that Finn isn’t as ready to move on as he initially thought. This is triggered by Slime Princess’s abrupt entrance, as she begs Finn to marry her.

This is Slime Princess’s breakout role as a major player, and I’m glad she’s had at least one spotlight appearance in the series (aside from her future role as an elemental). My enjoyment of her character mainly derives from the solid voice acting from Maria Bamford; Bamford has played many, many characters in AT before, though I don’t think any of them match the level of humor (and somewhat sensual overtones) that Slime Princess has been able to accomplish, and has accomplished in Love Games.

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The plot for this one is exaggeratedly silly, but in a way that I quite appreciate. I could care less about the inner politics within the Slime Kingdom, so the fact that they made the conflict between Slime Princess and her sister Blargatha as nonsensical as possible is much more memorable than if I was actually supposed to take this issue seriously. And as we grow to find out, the Slime Kingdom is based off of silliness.

Adding to the many layers of the Bad Lands, we finally get to see the Slime Kingdom! Slime Kingdom is a well-designed, albeit disgusting environment that feels like the visual equivalent to the common cold. It’s purposely grimy, with shades of green and yellow oozing everywhere, but it never feels like an off-putting area, quite frankly because the inhabitants of the Slime Kingdom are quite fun! I really enjoy Elder Plops and Blargartha, who too have some talented voice actors behind them. That’s John Hodgman from The Daily Show voicing Plops and Katie Crown portraying Blargatha, who has done voice work for the Total Drama series, Clarence, and Storks.

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And most of the episode from this point on is just a series of gags, namely very funny gags. I love how Jake tags along simply to make puns while he’s shrunken down, pulling at a piece of popcorn. He contributes so little to the story that they didn’t even have to include him, yet he’s used perfectly for comic relief. The “battleground of love” provides for some really enjoyable moments, namely the spooning section of it, which got the biggest laugh out of me in the entire episode. Finn’s absolute terrified expression, coupled with Slime Princess shouting “WRAP THOSE GORGEOUS PYTHONS AROUND ME!” is just hysterical. Also, Blargatha and Guillermo’s spoon is so violent and frantic, I can’t help but laugh at it.

Aside from the humor, this episode also has a decent emotional core. You gotta feel just a bit of sympathy for Finn; even though the fallout of his relationship was at the fault of his own, it’s pretty clear at this point that he does look into these actions with a feeling of guilt. Instead of being able to move on from that guilt and sadness, he’s constantly reminded of all things romantic and is also constantly reminded of the girl that he once loved. He vents his feelings through the song “I Can’t Get Over You,” which is one of the better post-Sugar songs in the series. Shada’s voice croons nicely and carries across an attitude of sincerity and sadness. Finn’s issues become much more defined by the end of it: no matter what he does to try to distract himself, he simply can’t get over Flame Princess.

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This unwillingness to deal with anything related romance related is what leads to Finn finally confronting Blargatha, where it is revealed her husband was a mere pile of gelatin the entire time. Again, a fittingly silly resolution to a fittingly silly conflict. The only thing more ridiculous than that is that it apparently broke no rules or laws within the Slime Kingdom. It just means that Blargatha is disqualified from the competition. Slime politics are weird, right?

The one gripe I have with this one is the very ending, where SP barfs as Finn attempts to kiss her. I get that it’s for the subversion, and is somewhat of a “fuck you” to Finn for reacting the same way earlier, but it doesn’t really make any sense. What happened to when SP wanted to get into Finn’s pants in Prisoners of Love? Unless she spontaneously recalled that Finn pee’s his pants constantly, I’m not sure where exactly this sudden disgust comes from. She seemed willing to get down and dirty with Finn in the previous ten minutes of Love Games. But, as this episode has set out to prove, nothing makes sense in the Slime Kingdom.

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And that’s mainly what makes this episode so fun. It’s simply enjoying this fun new area with these fun characters and a silly premise. It’s nice to see that Finn is still dealing with the issues of his break-up and that they haven’t all just vanished and also nice that this episode is amusing and light to balance out the heavy weight of the romance drama. I love episodes like Frost & Fire and Too Old, but I’m also glad that every episode following it isn’t some big, somber journey. This is what Adventure Time embodies: a perfect blend of comedy and drama with fun and likable characters to carry it through. And all I know is I definitely am checking out the next club I see with a triple-cray rating.

Favorite line: “I will be watching you spoon, measuring and assessing your love by posture and overall vibe.”

“Time Sandwich” Review

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Original Airdate: September 9, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Kent Osborne

I am ready to receive instruction from the realm of creation above me and the sandwich I am about to conceive. I am open; use me.

After the emotional turmoil of Finn’s break-up with Flame Princess and the hardships it brought for the both of them, it’s nice to take a break from those hardships and sit back for some much needed fluff. And, as far as fluff goes, Time Sandwich is pretty much the pinnacle of AT standalone. It manages to be an excursion of pure fun and, in my opinion, an even better character study of Jake than Jake the Dog set out to do.

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Jake is a simple dog who enjoys simple things; while every other character in the series carries with them so sort of heavy baggage that they struggle with in one way or another, Jake is there to remind us all that life isn’t as serious as we’ve lead on, and to take pride in the little things. And for Jake, the littlest big thing to him is sitting back and enjoying a tasty sandwich, and Time Sandwich shows him as motivated and inspired as ever to create the greatest bunch of joy he has ever made. The sandwich making sequence is delightful, and the sandwich itself has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon over time. Besides the actual recipe (slightly modified) being included in the official Adventure Time Cookbook, the sandwich was also prepared on an episode of Binging with Babish with slight modifications as well. My favorite parts of the sandwich making are your favorite parts of the sandwich making; the lobster soul, the morbid inclusion of the bird from the window, the return of Prismo’s pickles, and the presentation in general are all wonderful fun that really add to Jake’s commitment and investment in this sandwich, and it helps that we as an audience are just as invested as him. Also, I just love the fact that Jake was willing to share a portion of his sandwich that he regards so highly with his friends. After his selfish actions in Jake the Dog, it really is rewarding to add this bit of selflessness to Jake, and shows the kind of person he actually is.

The return of Magic Man also provides for tons of fun! I love MM’s psychological issues that are delved into following Freak City, though it is nice to have him star in a major appearance that capitalizes on what makes him so entertaining to begin with: his apathy and overall asshole-ish nature. And it’s just as fun in this one as it was in Freak City and Sons of Mars. Of course, his screentime remains minimal after his initial introduction, though it is filled with memorable quotes and gags, namely “it’s got my germs, so it’s mine now!” and his ability to slap Jake through a personal portal.

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The rest of the episode is just pure Adventure Time-y goodness. Really nice individual character moments that build off of every character’s delightful personality. BMO’s somewhat selfish, but understandably childish attitude comes out in full swing, and it’s just hilarious. BMO could give less of a shit about any of the circumstances Finn and Jake face on a daily basis, he wants what he wants, yet he knows F&J aren’t always going to give it to him. So, in this case, he has to trick them into helping him film a skateboard video, because that’s what BMO does. He don’t give a fuck about no special sandwich.

PB’s inclusion adds more to her mindset when it comes to science vs. magic, and once again, her failure to understand the principles of magical tendencies backfires. She explains it quite eloquently and intelligently, yet when it comes to actually putting these mindsets into action, she’s shit outta luck. And I do admire how the idea of the existence of magic is slowly starting to rub off on her in some way. Of course, she still has her gripes with the use of magic, but she is more willing to accept that there’s things that she simply isn’t able to fix with her own technology. Think my favorite part of this sequence is that the Banana Guards stand there, hand PB a missile, and then disappear for the remainder of the episode. They really helped out in this situation.

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Marceline then shows up and offers the only skill she knows how to use: brute force. Her’s is less complex, but still equally ineffective. Marceline is a bit cocky in her own abilities, as she should be; she’s a half-demon, half-vampire, half-human entity that has pretty much every skillset she needs to get by. She’s from the Nightosphere, for Glob’s sake. And so it seems pretty obvious that she’d be able to get past anything with sheer strength, right? Wrong.

All of these moments are tied together by the hysterical fact that they all have the same exact outcome. By the time Marceline attempts to get past Magic Man’s spell, you’d expect the joke to be obvious and less funny by this point, but it honestly just keeps getting funnier and more entertaining as it happens.

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Of course, while all of this is going on, Jake is left to sulk over the separation between him and his coveted sandwich. Jake enjoys the simple things, so when the simple things are taken from him, he’s left with the same grief any of his other friends are likely to feel. This episode is also really terrific in terms of using color to set the mood; the beginning scene where Jake builds his perfect sandwich is lit brightly and colorful, while later, when Jake tries to emulate the same chain of events, the sky turns dim and solemn. Of course, we’re never actually left emotional or upset over the loss of a sandwich, but it works as an accurate representation of Jake’s feelings throughout the episode. And while we’re on a technical aspect, John DiMaggio does such a terrific performance as Jake in this one. He captures every moment and every feeling Jake is having so adequately. Through his excitement, sorrow, anger, and pure relief, every line Jake carries out is effectively funny and well-inflected, and it really just makes the character seem so much more alive and human. Not to say DiMaggio doesn’t always do a great job, but this is truly a standout performance for Jake.

When finally faced with the solution to his problem, we’re also left with one of the funniest ways Jake could possibly force himself to become sad: an imagination sequence featuring his death and the incorporation of Mr. Cupcake. The concept alone is funny; I love how the saddest thing Jake could think to experience is how people react to his own death, with the mindset that “yeah, I was a pretty cool dude to these people!” Included are the silly little details, like the fact that Jake legitimately imagined an “After Coffee” title card inside his head. It’s such a ludicrous gag, and I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it before. And the interactions between him and Mr. Cupcake in general, this long built up conflict that is really over a brief quarrel all the way back in Season Two, is just brilliant. It’s also funny to think that this effectively squashes the beef Jake and Mr. Cupcake have! It’s literally never mentioned again! Jake created a solution within his mind and cured the issue forever. How hilarious is that?

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And finally, we’re met with an awesome climax sequence with some equally great animation (the drawings in general look really great in this one, courtesy of Kent Osborne and Cole Sanchez!) as everyone beats the ever-living shit out of Magic Man. I love how the recurring comeuppance for Magic Man is just socking him in the face, as it seems like the perfect response towards his sadistic ways, regardless of if it was all for a sandwich or not.

So yeah, this one is awesome! It’s hard to say why besides the fact that it’s just a ton of fun and really captures everything great about Adventure Time’s lead cast, namely Jake. And of course, the added bonuses, such as the great sense of humor, the nice colors, drawings, and animation, and just an overall breath of fresh air from the more drama-driven episodes we’ve gotten before this. It truly is a spectacle in AT fluff, and one I always love to revisit time and time again.

Favorite line: “No, man, don’t call Tree Trunks! What’s she gonna do, bake an apple pie?!”

“Jake Suit” Review

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Original Airdate: July 15, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Kent Osborne

Jake Suit received a lot of criticism for similar reasons to why people were angry at Jake in Jake the Dog; Finn is kind of a dick, and it’s understandable why people would dislike his portrayal in this episode. Yet, I’m actually not against it, and think it helps to strengthen this episode’s comedic prowess.

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First off, it’s just nice to see the Jake Suit back in general. Existing as an idea that began as early as the series itself, (in fact, Pendleton Ward himself would recruit artists who could draw the Jake Suit exactly how he envisioned it in his head; this is how Jesse Moynihan was hired) the Jake Suit is a concept that is used sparingly in the shown itself, yet has become somewhat of an icon within the series otherwise. It’s been featured in a handful of comics, as well as numerous shirts and even some of the video games, and even a 6-inch action figure was made. However, it’s an aspect of the series I’m glad that is used sparingly; it’s a pretty awesome feature, both design and battle wise, and I don’t think it’d be nearly as effective if they used it more frequently than they already have. Though, here it’s used mostly for story purposes, rather than battle purposes.

And here it shows why it isn’t necessarily used for battle that often: it fucking hurts Jake. And despite this, Finn somewhat ignorantly disregards Jake well-being while wearing him as armor. The reason I don’t think Finn is that unlikable is because it’s made pretty obvious at the beginning that Finn doesn’t understand how Jake experiences pain. Hell, it’s made pretty obvious that after that first scene, Finn had no idea that Jake was in pain at all. I think it’s clear that Finn’s failure to feel pain the same way Jake does is evident in his actions, and I do think the rest of the episode redeems any form of distastefulness he may have shown. Finn constantly tries to help Jake in his plans to put him through pain, and though Jake typically fails, it’s somewhat endearing that Finn wants him to succeed regardless, as he acknowledges the pain that he put Jake through. And c’mon guys, you mean to tell me that we’re supposed to think Finn is mean-spirited in this one when Jake tried to embarrass him in front of his girlfriend’s family and nearly tossed Finn in a volcano (even if he probably wouldn’t actually do it)? I get that Finn was kind of the one who put Jake in that position in the first place, but I think both boys have their moments of asshole-ishness, though these are moments that don’t affect the quality of the actual episode for me.

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In fact, I think this is a really funny one! Cole Sanchez and Kent Osborne teamed up on this one, and they would continue to write for some of the funniest episodes of this entire season. The entire beginning of the episode is great in terms of absurdity; I love how extreme Finn and BMO are, and the lengths they’ll go to in accidentally being brutal towards Jake. There’s also tons of great bits of dialogue in this one, including the frequent use of the expression “what the Bjork?!”, the way Finn describes pain as being “hickeys of the universe,” and the way Flame Princess describes her aunt and uncle as her “judgmental aunt and uncle.” And hey, whatta ya know, Flame Princess in a supporting role! How often does that actually happen? There’s also the incredible “blink and you’ll miss it” sequence at the beginning when the Jake Suit nearly rips apart a good portion of the Treehouse, as Ice King is just randomly chilling there. What the fuck is up with that? I always thought that this episode was supposed to be aired after Frost & Fire because of that brief scene, but then I remembered that Flame Princess is in this one. So that’s strange!

This episode is also filled with some terrific callbacks. The Squirrel from Up a Tree makes a return during the book reading sequence, Jake once again mentions his list of “tiers”, and The Buff Baby song returns, despite how much I’m so wildly passive towards it. I am glad that this is the last time they featured this song in the series; it had already been way overblown by this point, and I don’t even think John DiMaggio’s delivery was funny enough to save it. Also, we get to see a grown T.V. in this one, voiced by Dan Mintz. I never really got into T.V., as he’s probably my least favorite of the pups, though I do like his suggestion that Jake should have Finn jump in a volcano. My favorite part is that it kind of reads as “dad, go kill yourself,” in the most harmless way possible. That got a big laugh out of me. The clown nurses return at the very end to give Finn some much needed comeuppance, further showing that one man’s pain is another’s pleasure. It was really the perfect ending to cap that motif.

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There’s a few things I wasn’t crazy about in this one, however. One isn’t really a problem with the episode itself, but I feel like there’s never much consistency throughout the series with Finn’s reaction to physical pain. Like, he bitches in Blood Under the Skin when he gets a splinter, but in this episode he’s fully prepared to take on lava? Granted, he was a few years younger in Blood Under the Skin, but it kind of seems like his endurance depends mostly on the plot rather than being a consistent character trait. Also, I think some bits in this one are a little pointless. Jake’s attempts to bore Finn with the Dream Journal of a Boring Man is humorous, especially when Finn starts to actually enjoy it (a nice freeze frame bonus is to actually read the page in the book, it’s so nonsensical), but Jake’s attempt to piss Finn off by eating his meatloaf, while I enjoy that it references Finn’s consistently mentioned “favorite food”, doesn’t really go anywhere and neither does the Flame Princess bit either. I felt like the journal was a means of showing Jake’s frustrations with his inability to hurt Finn, though the others, while partially funny, didn’t really feel like humorous methods of driving that point further.

All in all though, I like it! It isn’t quite my favorite “funny episode” this season, as there’s other Sanchez and Osborne episodes down the line that take the cake, but I still enjoy it. There’s plenty of funny gags, lines, and character moments. And also, ya know what, this is just a good brotherly episode between Jake and Finn. They can’t kiss and hug every single episode they’re in, and I’m glad this episode took the time to build up a bit of a dynamic between them in terms of actual differences they do have. I’ve mentioned that the two brothers arguing can bring down the strength of the episode, though this argument is kept fun, light, and slightly snarky. Overall, it just makes the brothers feel more realistic.

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Favorite line: “You just have to imagine that every bruise is a hickey from the Universe. And everyone wants to get with the Universe.”

“The Party’s Over, Isla de Señorita” Review

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Original Airdate: May 27, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Cole Sanchez

Ice King’s more sympathetic side has mainly come from his tragic past history as Simon Petrikov, as well as his relationship to Marceline. However, there still is the side to Ice King that is deeply troubled and creepy, especially when it comes to his special interests in capturing princesses. In this episode, the IK’s obsession with his favorite princess finally blows up in his face and sends a message to him, allowing him to actually make some changes in his life, with the help of new companion. Of course, these changes are only temporary, but nevertheless, it’s a pretty satisfying Ice King experience.

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Right off the bat, there’s a nice change of pace with the episode taking place mostly on the island (more specifically, Isla de Señorita) with only Ice King, the Island Lady, and Party God being heavily focused on. Finn and Jake are once again demoted to background characters as they were in the previous episode, though it’s a change that, with most AT episodes, isn’t dreaded for the creative and experimental results that come from these types of episodes.

And the focus of the episode is really nice; the relationship between Ice King and the Island Lady is quite sweet, and I love the angle the episode takes on Ice King’s personality. The biggest takeaway from this one is simply how well Ice King is capable of sanity and more socially acceptable behavior when he just has a loving, caring friend by his side. In fact, Ice King’s analysis of PB’s issues is actually pretty fucking spot on! “Yeah, well, PB is just so closed off to her emotions, she crushes the relationship so she doesn’t ever have to develop feelings,” is a really accurate way of describing Bubblegum, and this is coming from Ice King of all people. I think it’s another valid point to show that, despite his insanity and social ineptitude, he does show signs of random brilliance and intelligence, possibly showing that parts of Simon do shine into his subconscious at times. Also, I thought it was a really nice touch that they didn’t force a mutual romance into this one with the Island Lady and IK; it would’ve been the much more predictable and somewhat unrealistic route, and once again, I’m glad it showcased the one crucial component to Ice King’s mental health and maturity: having a strong friendship.

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The Island Lady herself is somewhat of a blank slate. I do love her design! It’s really inventive and seems like something that would come out of an indie short film. Though, she’s not really given any sort of a personality. But it’s not really an issue of the episode; the main focal point is, like I said, to showcase a more emotional mature side of the Ice King, and it works out pretty damn well, so I don’t really mind that Isla de Señorita’s a little bit dry (no pun intended). I do quite enjoy her singing voice as well, though the song in this one isn’t a particular favorite of mine. It’s pleasant and has a nice beat, but it isn’t one I find humming to myself or listening to that much.

The use of Party God in this one is a lot of fun. I feel like it only makes sense that he’d be a douchey frat boy boyfriend, and it works just as well using him in this scenario that it would with, say, Ash. It’s also a small thing, but I love how he picks everything up with his mouth, as it just hangs lightly between his teeth. That got a small chuckle out of me. Also, I think the battle between he and Ice King was actually pretty visually interesting. We don’t get a ton of inventive looking battles from AT because, well, it isn’t an action show, but this episode’s incorporation of an aerial battle between Party God and the IK was a lot of fun. And it’s pretty intense as well! I love Ice King angrily uttering, “She is not your “bid-ness”!” That was really sweet coming from him, as he is known for objectifying women, even if he is angrily giving someone comeuppance for doing the same thing. It might seem hypocritical in some instances, but again, this is Ice King, whose ability to grasp social norms is incredibly difficult, so this is a pretty significant moment.

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Ice King using Party God as a puppet for Isla de Señorita to vent her frustrations out to was delightfully fucked up, but also pretty cute. The whole exchange between the two, as Ice King struggles between staying in character and unveiling his own feelings, is just great, and it saddens me that we haven’t seen these two together again. Above everyone else, the Island Lady allowed Ice King an outlet to get away from the toxicity of his wacky relationships in Ooo, and even left him with an important lesson about relationships. Though, it may not have impacted him the way she had hoped. Ice King officially “breaks up” with Princess Bubblegum, though the last line of the episode, “ah, we’ll work it out,” suggests that he hasn’t learned as much as we probably hoped. Though, this doesn’t bother me at all; Princess Monster Wife also showed that, whatever developmental changes Ice King may go through, he still is very much unstable, and there’s little that can change that as long as the crown still is taking possession of his mind. The biggest takeaway, as I’ve said, is that a friend can go a long way for the sad iceman, and it can even help him regain bits and pieces of his sanity for a period of time.

So I like it! I wouldn’t call it a particularly entertaining one, but I appreciate its tone and what it was going for. What came out of it was a very interesting look as Ice King in the midst of an acquaintance, and that’s about the best I could’ve expected out of this premise. Nice colors, nice atmosphere, and overall a really nice friendship to capture my attention throughout the episode’s run. During a Lego contest where AT fans were encouraged to build Lego figures of random characters, one person in particular made one of the Island Lady, and it looks awesome! You can check it out here.

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Favorite line: Banana Guard yourself, Princess!!”