Tag Archive | Cuber

“Five Short Tables” Review

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Original Airdate: May 26, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Kris Mukai & Aleks Sennwald

Within the past 10 or so episodes, Adventure Time has been consistently churning out some really big and profound episodes. With that in mind, the obligatory Graybles/Fionna & Cake episodes likely feel more like a chore to the staff than a passion project by this point in time, which makes sense, since they chose to combine them. Both series are pretty hit-or-miss; while the Graybles episodes tend to get better, or at least more innovative as they go along, the F&C episodes only seems to get more lackluster and less fun as they go along. I can firmly state that Five Short Tables is nowhere near as awful as The Prince Who Wanted Everything turned out to be, though this one still fails to offer anything new or interesting to the series, and mostly just plays out as a dull, inoffensive use of 11 minutes.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but there just really isn’t a very strong presence among the F&C cast. They’re all essentially carbon copies of their counterparts with diminished charisma and character traits. After Bad Little Boy, Fionna essentially just began to take on the role of “token nice girl” and she doesn’t really offer anything else beyond that. Cake is really the only character who stands on her own as a unique adaptation of Jake, though I often wonder if I’d even think this way if it wasn’t for Roz Ryan portraying her. I will tell you with utter honesty, there’s nothing quite as soothing as hearing Ryan utter the word “flapjack” again. I have trouble believing that this wasn’t an intentional move on the staff’s part. I also think Cake’s interest in expressive pancake art is charmingly silly, though not really enough to keep me captivated throughout the episode’s run.

I will say that the one character who did at least become a trifle more interesting is Gumball. While he sadly isn’t portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris in this episode (though Keith Ferguson at least gave it his all), we actually see a decent amount into Gumball’s psyche as Butterscotch Butler, the butterscotch Scottish butler, mentally eviscerates him using his fears against him. Not only does it give us an interesting look into Gumball’s insecurities and fears, but these can be easily seen as aspects of PB’s mentality as well, of which I have no doubt came into play because Ice King was snooping on her diary. How else would he know these dirty deeds?

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The next few entries are pretty blah. I’m pretty sure a lot of people enjoy the scenes between Turtle Prince and Flame Prince for the added Yaoi, but aside from that, there’s really nothing there that’s particularly entertaining. I remember a whole bunch of people were upset that Flame Prince wasn’t voiced by Dante Basco (which was the headcanon at the time), but holy shit, I had no idea he was voiced by Hannibal Buress until I looked it up! I’m a big fan of The Eric Andre Show. In the next table, we’re treated to a story in which Marshall Lee attempts to feed Lumpy Space Prince his medicine. It’s pretty unfunny, it doesn’t really have an interesting narrative at the helm, and I just don’t really care about the antics between these two pretty non-compelling characters. There are two things worth mentioning: it’s pretty obvious that this is the third board that Kris Mukai worked on for this season when looking at Marshall Lee’s demon-wolf hybrid. I have to say that Mukai’s boarding is a big strength for the episode; Fionna and Cake is big on allusions to anime, and I think Mukai’s drawings and expressions (along with her board partner Aleks Sennwald) really help to carry those allusions forward. The other thing worth noting is that LSP is not voiced by Peter Serafinowicz in this episode, of which isn’t too much of a distraction, because I feel like it effectively distinguishes the authoring styles of both Ice King and Lumpy Space Princess.

The final story starts out pretty creatively, as we’re literally treated to a fanfiction, within a fanfiction, within a fanfiction, within a fanfiction. It’s an idea so ludicrous that only AT could pull it off, and is truly one of the few highlights of this episode that is both pretty funny and legitimately complex. It was cool to hear Grey DeLisle reprise her role as Ice Queen once more, though again, Ice Queen doesn’t offer too much to the actual story and her segment stops almost as quickly as it starts. It is a silly idea that Ice King is the initial creator of the Graybles, and the ending with the distressed Cuber got a legitimate laugh out of me. It’s sad to think that this is actually Cuber’s last episode in the series. While the Graybles episodes were never some of my favorites (aside from the thoroughly ambitious Graybles 1000+), Cuber was always the strongest and most delightful part of any Graybles episode, thanks to Emo Philips, who really brought his character to life.

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Five Short Tables is pretty forgettable. I obviously don’t know what goes on inside the AT writing room, but if I had to guess, I’d say that the F&C episodes come simply out of the pressure of audience expectations and are never entirely what the crew wants to spend their time working on. I can’t say for certain, but I’ll at least say that Aleks Sennwald and Kris Mukai put enough effort into the visual and creative appeal of this episode that I can’t really get mad at it for being lazy, because there’s clear effort put into this one. The truth of the matter is that Fionna and Cake just don’t really have a ton to work with outside of their first appearance and the Graybles stories never fully land. It’s a crossover of two concepts that work together fine, but don’t really standout as anything slightly remarkable.

Thank you for joining me this week for the AT review bomb! With only 50 episodes left, we’re nearing the end. Be on the lookout for The Music Hole later this week, followed by the usual weekly Friday reviews, and then we resume with daily reviews as we move into the winter.

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Favorite line: “The purple thing had a tablespoon of syrup.”

 

“Graybles 1000+” Review

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Original Airdate: May 7, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard

Out of the experimental projects Adventure Time has focused on over the years, the Graybles episodes are likely the least memorable. That’s not to say that they’re completely awful; the Graybles episodes are an assortment of inoffensive and often relatively humorous short stories, but typically nothing more than that. Between the acclaimed Fionna & Cake series and the visually unique guest animated episodes, it’s no wonder that the Graybles entries are generally sidelined. However, Graybles 1000+ manages to be an absolutely memorable gem by staying true to its source material while also expanding on the various interesting ways these stories can be told and the Adventure Time world as a whole.

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Continuing in season six’s tradition of focusing on the many different inhabitants of the Land of Ooo and beyond, this one focuses almost entirely on the life of Cuber, and once again, the show manages to make me care about a character I didn’t really think twice about before. Emo Phillips reprises his role as Cuber, who not only has one of the most distinct voices in the entire series, but also manages to capture the sense that Cuber is not from the present timeline to a tee. Cuber’s backstory as a baby – or in this case, a bayble – is not inherently really interesting, but is one that I grow affectionate for as the episode goes on.  It’s really awesome to me that Cuber’s connection and investment in Graybles go beyond just his role as an obscure television host. This episode presents Graybles as Cuber’s method of coping with his issues and his guide to getting himself out of trouble. As the beginning of the episode and a majority of the episode shows, Cuber seems to be a being stricken by constant paranoia, and Graybles are what help to propel him forward. It’s kind of neat that Graybles were given a purpose aside from just their initial intent, and even cooler that they represent the hierarchy of needs (despite Cuber’s directions to the audience to NOT look for a theme) and help Cuber to acquire his own set of necessities. Starting first with his physiologic needs.

I’ll talk about the actual Graybles in a bit, but I wanna get to the real meat first: the futuristic version of Ooo. We’ve had plenty of episodes that have dealt with the AT world’s past history, like Simon & MarcyThe Vault, and Evergreen, but this is the first episode to strictly focus on the future of said world, after getting some visual hints sprinkled around in Lemonhope – Part 2. This one was solo-boarded by Steve Wolfhard, and is his first solo-board to date, and boy, does he love including these little lore-based Easter eggs as much as possible. Wolfhard once stated,

“A fav part of working on AT is writing stuff like Martin’s speech in The Visitor, knowing what we throw will be caught later by the writers… I love that stuff. Feels like playing catch.”

This episode is very much in the same vein, with little hints of information and nothing explicit. But while an episode like The Visitor had questions that still demanded answers, the inquiries brought up by Graybles 1000+ don’t really demand as such. I mean, of course, there’s obvious bits that do require more information, like the appearance of the Ice Thing and what he actually embodies, though the rest of the episode comprises of small hints of information that are unsatisfying in all the right ways. For example, we hear a banjo strumming within Marceline’s still standing house, which could imply that Marceline is still living there, or it could mean that somebody else has moved in entirely. There’s also the Prizeball Guardian (who has a pretty incredible design, by the way) and the secluded living room within its interior, though no actual resident is seen. Again, this could imply that Bubblegum is still alive and has taken refuge inside her own safe haven, but again, these are questions that I think are best left up to interpretations of the audience. I’m sure some of these will ultimately get answered when the finale finally does air 12 years from now, but I’d hope that a couple of these hints are left mysterious. I even like the little implication that the interrupted wedding may involve descendants of Jake’s family, as they look somewhat similar in design to a character like Kim Kil Whan, and also speak in Korean.

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This episode is really dull and uncolorful in its scenery, but in a way that I think is fitting and ultimately tragic. It’s really unforgiving in how much it emphasizes the fact that nothing in Ooo that we know and love will last forever. Hell, Cuber even flat out says that Jake is dead when he states, “bobble bobble, as the dead might say,” which is obvious considering it takes place one thousand years in the future, but holy shit is it bleak to think about our main characters dying at all. Graybles 1000+ is depressingly honest in all the right ways, and shows how finite the world as a whole is. It’s easy to think everything is forever, but as this episode shows, even vivid fantasies don’t last. The lack of color really adds to how much has changed within the Candy Kingdom and beyond, and the lifeless, grown tree is pretty heartbreaking considering how fun and vibrant the Tree Fort is as a location in general. A lot of people consider the ending of Lemonhope – Part 2 to be the really depressing futuristic version of Ooo, but I think this episode takes it one step beyond and really hammers in the tragedy of it all, considering that it’s all featured subtley in the background. To me, that’s the brilliance of it all. You have Cuber, who simply wants to get himself out of trouble and could care less about the people and lands that occupied his surroundings, and so we, the audience, are left to respond to his surroundings for him. It’s all really nicely tied together, which is again, mostly thanks to Wolfhard’s tremendous focus on small details.

I’ll chat briefly about each Grayble now. Finn, Jake, and BMO’s little shtick is nothing particularly spectacular, though it’s cute and fun as always. This Grayble is representative of safety, which is nice to see, because I feel like Finn actually using the wand would totally be the story of a first or second season episode, while he’s grown to recognize the dangers of such an item, and would prefer to keep it out of harm’s way instead. There’s actually three really interesting bits in the storyboard that ultimately didn’t make it into the episode:

  • Finn asks Jake is he’s ever imagined the two of them as girls, which is pretty obviously an allusion to Fionna and Cake.
  • Jake states, “lately I’ve been thinking about whoever your mom is, I have a lot of questions for her!” Kinda glad this one didn’t make the cut, because there’s already so much going on in this one as it is, but it’s still cool regardless to get a mention of Finn’s mother after the events of The Visitor. I have a feeling Finn did inform Jake of the story Martin told him.
  • BMO mentions, “I think a lot about the Lich!” Pretty dark for the little dude.

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Onto Ice King’s, where it’s pretty much the same in tone as the first Grayble: it’s cute and fun, but nothing great. I don’t say this to demean the episode in any way, however. As I mentioned, I think it was really clever for Cuber to use these cute little stories as a method to help him cope with the world around him. Even if that means fixing his own broken leg, which still makes me squick to this day. Ice King’s Grayble very clearly represents social belonging, when he mentions that he loves Gunther.

Starchy’s is easily the funniest and most intriguing, as he discovers a chip in his tooth that is used by Princess Bubblegum to detect his every movement. I didn’t really like this at first, because I felt as though it was taking a step backward in PB’s developmental path, but at the same time, we don’t really know when the Grayble takes place. PB’s wearing her “I ♥ Bunny” t-shirt, which could imply that this took place during Jake the Brick, thus before the events of The Cooler. Regardless, it’s fun to see the ever-paranoid Starchy flee the Candy Kingdom, and the idea that the remainder of the series probably features a clone of Starchy and not the initial one we see in this episode. I’d love to see an episode elaborate on where the first Starchy fled off to. Also, it’s once again pretty cool to see a new lard species, with this one being a Grass Lard. I’d love to see a Pokemon Go! rip-off featuring the entire lard species. Starchy’s Grayble represents esteem, as he mentions that walking gives him self-esteem (which actually doubles as a good message to the kiddies about the importance of exercise to benefit overall psychological health).

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The final Grayble is cute, with Tuber teaching Cuber a lesson in self-actualization (the final part of the triangle!) as he realizes that he is able to protect himself, with some much needed help from his Graybles. I guess the one thing I sort of feel weird about with this one is that Cuber pretty much straight up killed someone at the beginning, but he’s still kind of viewed as a hero in the end. I mean, granted, it was an accident and he didn’t really get a chance to explain his behavior, but I do think it’s weird that it’s kind of glanced over by the time we get to the end of the episode. It didn’t really affect my overall investment in his character, though.

Regardless, I think Graybles 1000+ is pretty awesome. Not only is it an awesomely tragic view of the futuristic Ooo, but it also adds so much depth to Cuber and the Graybles in general. It’s also just some really high stakes fun as well. I think Cuber’s situation is legitimately enticing, and it’s kept that way through a fast-paced tour among the post-post-post apocalyptic civilization. This is one that I definitely think deserves more recognition, as it manages to be really intriguing, mainly because of its subtle Wolfhardian details, but also because it builds on the AT world in so many different ways. Graybles 1000+ is another strong, lore-based episode in season six, and the best Graybles episode to date.

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Favorite line: “You try not to think of a sandwich, and look what happens! A sandwich!”

 

“Five More Short Graybles” Review

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Original Airdate: November 19, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Tom Herpich

We’re back with another Graybles episode! As I’ve mentioned before, Graybles focused episodes are far from my favorite AT excerpts, but nevertheless are always fun and charming little expeditions throughout the everyday lives of Ooo’s civilians. This episode is also significant in being Steve Wolfhard’s first board as a full time storyboard artist. This is also Wolfhard and Tom Herpich’s first board together, and they would eventually become one of my favorite teams in the entire series, as well as the longest running partnership to date.  

The first grayble, which revolves around Finn and Jake, is much like their first grayble together, as it’s consistently occurring in the background of other graybles and closes the entire sequence. It’s not as spontaneous or epic as their high-five challenge, but it’s certainly cute and inventive. I love Jake reading waaay too deeply into the book of nursery rhymes, which could and/or could not be a reference to others reading way too deeply into children’s cartoons like AT, but it makes for a silly idea regardless. The entire segment feels like a return to the carefree enjoyment of the Land of Ooo after four episodes of heavy drama. I know people really wanted Adventure Time to be this really heavily serialized show after the Lich came back into play, but it’s nice to watch a completely stress-free hangout session of the boys sticking their thumbs in various items. My favorite (and the cutest of all) was Jake sticking his thumb in the belly of a now very noticeably pregnant Lady. D’awww!

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Next up is Marceline’s story, which, after only seeing her once in a blue moon during season four, it’s nice to get to spend time with her 3 out of the 4 past episodes (even though the last two she was in technically wasn’t our beloved Marcy). Again, this scene is cute. It’s nothing particularly funny or spectacular, though the obvious “rock giant” pun did get a guilty snicker out of me. The one gripe I have with this one is that, if Marcy was flying above the clouds on the rock giant’s hand, then how the fuck didn’t she interact with the sun at all? It’s pretty obvious that this was an afterthought, as the sky did appear sunny in the previews of the episode. I assume that someone noticed and quickly made the sky dark and cloudy before the premiere of the episode, which is slightly less distracting than if the sky was just completely sunny. All I can say about this slight inconsistency is, “at least it isn’t Princess Day.”

The Tree Trunks short really steals the show for me, with a hilarious innuendo that I’m actually quite surprised got past the censors. Though, I think it’s subtle enough that even children who are too young to understand the joke will able to have enough fun with it anyways. It’s also nice to see TT in a scenario that’s well fitting for her. Dream of Love was perhaps her most pitiful episode to date, and made it clear that, while I do very much enjoy her character, she really struggles to hold up an entire episode on her own. Thus, it’s nice to include her in the Graybles format, in a story short that incorporates her character well and doesn’t overdo her slow and sometimes meandering personality. Also, Shelby returns! After going the entire fourth season without appearing, it’s nice to see the little guy back in the spotlight, and he does start gradually appearing more from Season Five onward. His high-pitched Pendleton Ward voice is always welcomed, and he really helps drive the main joke of the grayble to a hilarious conclusion. And, despite my disdain for the OG Cinnamon Bun, I think him hopping up and down in Tree Trunks’ stockings was actually pretty funny. Wonderful!

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Ice King’s story is also a comedic high point for the episode. Though I think the Ice King legitimately dating his foot is a bit too sad and insane for even the IK, there’s a good amount of funny gags with this one that I don’t mind the ludicrousy of it. There’s also some terrifically grotesque close ups of the IK’s feet and hands, complete with bulging veins and liver spots. It’s also surprisingly sweet to once again see Ice King’s view of marriage, this time he points out, “That means I get the remote control three days a week and you get it four!” It caps off with a perfect ending as well, as Ice King begins to develop feelings for his seductive looking right foot. Man, I didn’t think I’d ever find a character from this show more fascinated with feet than Jake is.

BMO’s tale returns to the interactions between she and Football, and it’s nothing that new. It’s basically everything that was already established by their first grayble, and nothing really more interesting from there. Though, I do like how far BMO is willing to go with her imagination. The fact that she repeatedly splashes herself with tea and begins short-circuiting is both somewhat concerning and hilarious. BMO doesn’t give a shit if she explodes completely, as long as she captures the perspective of being a living child.

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And of course, we close out with Cuber’s big revelation of the overarching theme! I enjoy how this one fucks with everyone’s perception equally, and again, manages to avoid directly mentioning the bird being flipped. I thought it was a perfect ending that caught me pretty off guard, and definitely urged me to be more alert for plot twists when the next Graybles episode came along.

So yeah, not much to say with this one. It’s not great nor bad, just a cute selection of stories revolving around the delightful citizens of Ooo. Much like the first Graybles episode, there isn’t anything that particularly noteworthy, but still a fun and enjoyable entry that is still an entirely pleasant sit-through.

Favorite line: “No one’s had five fingers for twenty blablillion glaybles!”

“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.”