Original Airdate: January 30, 2012
Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Ako Castuera
Ghost Princess has appeared once or twice before this episode, but this is her first big step to mainstage and her last as well. An episode about spirits and the 50th Dead World is right up my alley, so I was especially hyped when this one first came out. Unfortunately, I don’t think its direction was as interesting as it could’ve been, and I think some executive meddling restrained this one from being as dark or serious as it wanted to be.
The great bits come mostly from Finn and Jake, who engage in a good cop-bad cop routine, and it’s really a delightful scenario to watch. We’re used to seeing the little guy play good cop in most situations, whereas Jake is usually the more skeptical one, so it’s a nice role reversal that allows us to see different sides of the boys. There’s plenty of great lines among the two, specifically Finn’s “time to sing, ya canary!” As for Jake, I love the bit of him subtly looting throughout the entirety of the episode. It continues the streak of criminality shown by him in episodes like City of Thieves and Apple Thief, and it humorously depicts Jake’s general reaction every time he does something wrong: he simply acknowledges that he didn’t know it was wrong. I’m willing to believe that was his reaction the minute he realized his criminal gang was immoral; he probably just shrugged and realized he shouldn’t have been involved and then just left. It’s actually an interesting concept that I’m just noticing as I write this, but could Jake’s inability to realize that crime and looting are wrong come from his father’s past history of stealing from demons? I’m getting ahead of myself, but I didn’t wanna lose this thought. More to chat about with the next review, Joshua!
The backgrounds in this one are great, mostly designed by ghostshrimp. I really love the vast depth of the cemetery, and just how many little details there are within it. It’s clear that the graveyard has signs of being post-apocalyptic, but I do enjoy settings that are just generally creepy and atmospheric without those added Easter eggs. Easter eggs are great, but sometimes ya just need a handful of tombstones to really set that chilling feeling into full gear.
As for the main story, the romance between Clarence and Ghost Princess just isn’t that interesting to me. It’s a pretty bland love story, with little chemistry outside of the backstory revealed toward the end. I wish the character of Clarence was a lot more quirky and awkward. Adventure Time is usually so good at creating delightfully off-color side characters, and even with the talented voicework of Sam Marin, Clarence is just kind of lame. He basically just recites really corny and poetic love lines that are played completely straight. Though, to be fair, he did take GP to the Spirit Waves performance, which is totally dope. I don’t know if they had a guest animator for this sequence or if it was just given a lot of attention in studio, but it’s so funny to watch these blank figures move around so fluidly and choreographed. The ghostdates.com website mentioned is actually a real website, by the way. A really neat test of the Spirit Waves performers doing their thing!
The twist is something I think most people see coming, but it is cleverly tied together. As for the actual backstory sequence, it feels a bit awkward to me. A lot of the episode was altered by Cartoon Network to switch around the utterance of the word “murder” with its substitutes “moider” and “murdle-urdle”, and I’m willing to assume they wanted the memory sequence to be a little lighter and less intense as well. Therefore, you have Clarence crying really over-the-top and his tears falling in WP’s mouth, followed by him committing suicide via squeezy cheese overdose. It just feels a little forced to me; it’s like they spent the whole episode working to make the dynamic between Clarence and GP really serious and straightforward, and then tried to add humor to the actual scenes that should be the most heavy (though I do enjoy the fact that it essentially traumatized Jake). Adventure Time’s handled death awkwardly on a couple of separate occasions, and I think this one is a decent example. I know it’s a kid’s show, but Adventure Time has proved time and time again that it’s able to handle weighty situations with grace and proper care. Not to say I wanted Ghost Princess of all episodes to be a completely serious and intense tale, but I think it still could’ve been handled a little more delicately. I’m also a bit confused by the timeline of the flashback: it feels like something that happened hundreds of years ago, yet Clarence apparently only died a mere couple of weeks prior. Are there just random wars going on in Ooo that we don’t even know about? Probably overthinking it.
This one was kickstarted by an idea Jesse Moynihan had, in an attempt to explore the 50th Dead World, and one that even called for Magic Man to appear in it. Not sure what the entire concept behind that premise was, but I think it would’ve been really cool to explore more of that idea. Pure, uncut Moynihan has given us some of the most trippy and existential episodes in the entire series, and this episode poses a story that calls for some really surreal and heady bits. I’m guessing his desire for more of the experimental side of the plot is what restricted Ghost Princess from getting too out-of-hand, and kept it a mostly grounded story.
As is, it’s okay. I think the chunk of the episode centered around Finn and Jake is a lot of fun, but the main love story between GP and Clarence falls flat for me. I think it could’ve taken a much more interesting direction with the various Dead Worlds, including the backstory as well. If there was a bit extra time dedicated to making the GP and Clarence relationship more charming or endearing, it might’ve been able to hold a little more water. But with that said, it was sweet to watch the two ascend to Dead World together. And with two episodes left, season three shall soon ascend to its own Dead World in my archives. Ya donkus.
Favorite line: “TIME TO SING, YA CANARY!” (already mentioned it, but I just enjoy it too much)