Tag Archive | Jeremy Shada

“Belly of the Beast” Review

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Original Airdate: April 4, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

Belly of the Beast poses an interesting argument: is it better to remain ignorant or aware of your surroundings? With the many scary possibilities and dangers in the world around us, many would argue that it is better to ignore the world around you and just live your everyday life. AT delivers this with ambiguous results when Finn and Jake try and save a group of bears who love to party in a monster’s belly, but risk being converted into feces. The series leans more towards Finn and Jake’s understanding of the situation, but also does so without making the other side look like a bunch of idiots. Finn and Jake may be trying to help these people, but at the same time, the bears are just trying to live life and make a party out of it. And there ain’t no party like a beast’s belly party!

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One of the bears they do meet along the way is Party Pat, who is voiced by Andy Samberg and, as Pendleton Ward claims, “is basically Pat McHale.” Party Pat’s a delightfully odd central character for this episode; he seems like a really chill dude, but at the same time, I feel as though he could drug someone’s red solo cup at any given point. Samberg gives Pat that ominous and enigmatic feel, and he’s almost unrecognizable as this character. Why they wanted Samberg specifically for this role, I’m not sure. But hey, he does a great job, so why not? And speaking of voice roles, Jeremy Shada’s performance as Finn is hilarious in this episode. Shada has been getting more experimental and having more fun with his character as of lately, delivering some of his funniest bits of dialogue yet.

The animation in particular is really superb. I seriously have a tough time focusing on the main episode because of how many unique dance moves are being performed in the background. Ian-Jones Quartey provided a lot of the drawings of the bears in this episode, and specifically tried to make every bear’s dance routine different and have a specific cycle, which is really reflected in the final product.

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Like I mentioned above, the core of this episode is the debate of whether or not the bears should stay in the beast’s belly or not. The episode sort of takes some unusual turns in its execution, however. Although Finn and Jake help everyone to settle down through a humorously depressing song about dying food items (RIP milkshake, RIP donut) the bears ultimately decide to stay in the beast’s belly in the end. This poses a couple of plot holes: Wasn’t the original dilemma that the bears would be digested if they stayed in the monster’s stomach? Nothing has changed since they decided to return, so how does that resolve the central conflict? And if the beast is so concerned with having his mouth scorched by fireworks, then how is he unaffected by drinking lava?? They’re a couple of oddities that make this episode seem a bit uneven. It does help the general tone of the episode that the literal party animals would return once more to where the party all started. Although it may seem bleak for some to be living in a perilous situation, Party Pat and his crew know how to enjoy life and are able to deal with any given issue because of their lifestyle. It’s not for everyone, as Finn and Jake have displayed, but hey, when things get tough, why not party? It’s also an important trial for Finn, as he learns that he simply can’t help those who don’t want to be helped. It’s depressing to see his general disappointment in his failure to save the party crew, but he learns the hard way that he simply can’t force his beliefs onto others.

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It’s not necessarily the most structured episode plotwise, but Kent Osborne and Somvilay Xayaphone definitely has a good time with this one. It’s often reflected as one of their personal favorites of season two, and while I can’t say it’s one of my personal faves, it’s a relatively enjoyable one. It has it’s minor flaws like the ones I mentioned, and I’m not really crazy about the “night club” setting throughout the entirety (I thought they could’ve been much more creative with the contents of the beast’s body). It also has funny one-liners, silly side characters, the general annoyance of our main characters, some great songs, and a fast-paced fun environment to boot on the other hand. What more could anyone want in an early season Adventure Time episode?

Favorite line: “HELP ME! … hang these streamers!”

“Guardians of Sunshine” Review

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Original Airdate: February 21, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich and Ako Castuera

Adventure Time has such an expansive and absurd world that a change in style can still necessarily fit with the general tone of the world on one condition: as long as the characters and environment still feel as though they are a part of the Land of Ooo. That’s why some of the upcoming guest animated episodes end up failing. While they keep the style and tone unique, the characters and environment don’t feel equivalent to the ones we’ve invested so much time and care into.

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It isn’t necessarily a traditional guest animated episode (it was actually animated in house by Jacky Ke Jiang; be sure to check out some of his other stuff, it’s terrific!), but Guardians of Sunshine takes our main duo through new dimensions and animation style while still staying true to the essence of Adventure Time. It helps that, while it is animated differently, it’s still written by series regulars Tom Herpich and Ako Castuera. Upcoming episodes like A Glitch is a Glitch and Water Park Prank feel like they’re written by people who are trying to understand the show, but just can’t quite get their grasp on it. This episode blends new styles with consistency to detail in terms of characters, giving it a better chance to succeed.

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And boy, is this one fun. Not only does it feel like a blend between vintage Atari and something of the late 90’s variety, but it captures the spirit of video games so well and so hilariously. The great little touches like the choppiness of Finn and Jake’s arms and legs, Finn’s face playing Pong, and Jake’s randomly pointy head are just so irresistibly silly. The general movement and design of the villains is so fluid and visually interesting; I especially like the way Busybee floats so smoothly and vibrantly, yet still has a blank, happy expression on its face. It makes me chuckle every time.

Adam Muto mentions in the commentary for this episode that he believes this is the first time in the series where the stakes feel high, and I could agree with that statement. Never before have Finn and Jake risked actually dying, and the tension of using up the few lives that they actually do have makes it a bit of a nail-biter. Of course, we know our heroes aren’t going to actually die, but there’s something compelling about putting characters in legitimate danger that simulates the notion that something bad really will happen. Adventure Time has pulled off that notion time and time again, but this was the first time it felt real.

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This is undeniably one of the most enjoyable episodes of the season. Plenty of terrific gags, a blend of CG to mix things up a bit, and a compelling adventure to send our two main protagonists on. If there’s one thing that brings down this episode, it’s BMO’s treatment. Man, do I feel bad for the little guy! It legitimately pains me to see all of the villains break through the side of him like that. It’s actually sort of interesting that we get to see the little console as the “only sane man” of the group. Typically BMO is prominent for his childlike innocence, but I almost sort of like seeing him in this light for a brief amount of time. I just wish Finn and Jake would feel a little sorry for what they put him through, but it’s okay. BMO’s sending their asses back to the video game world, cheat code style! 

Favorite line: “Easy-peasy, livin’ greasy!”