Tag Archive | Kent Osborne

“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.”

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“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!!”

“Princess Potluck” Review

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Original Airdate: April 22, 2013

Written & Storyboard by: Cole Sanchez & Kent Osborne

Ice King is still a deeply funny character despite the added layers of depth that were contributed to his character in the past few seasons. And I think it’s reassuring that, to this day, they haven’t committed to making him a character we’re supposed to take completely seriously. We care about Ice King because of his quirky behavior and the humor that surrounds his character, though I think it’s pretty reasonable that we’d expect something a little more compelling and interesting for the IK to do in season five than what we’d see from him in season one. And Princess Potluck is an episode that possibly could have fit in the season one bunch, though as it is, I think it’s a pretty bland and boring entry.

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There isn’t really anything that keeps me interested in the story or the conflict for this one. It’s a pretty simple story that I honestly think could’ve been shrunk down to Grayble-type length and cut out a good portion of the episode. I’d even argue that Ice King simply wanting to attend a princess potluck is a better suited story for one of the comics than the actual episode. Even the punchlines themselves that drive Ice King further into madness aren’t really that compelling. Everyone that Ice King forces to go to the party ends up doing the exact same thing, which is just kicking back and enjoying the potluck. It’s not really even funny the first time and trends pretty predictable waters, so I’m not sure why they kept pulling the same gag multiple times.

Ice King isn’t necessarily written poorly in this one, but it’s simply nothing new from what we’ve already seen from his character. I guess there’s that cool bit of voice range we get from Tom Kenny as Ice King impersonates different people on the phone, though it didn’t really make me laugh and felt more like a corny, old vaudeville bit. There’s one or two moments that come to mind in terms of moments that actually made me laugh, one being the conclusion where Ice King reveals that he didn’t know he was invited to the potluck, simply because he doesn’t read his mail. That was totally a classic Ice King moment. The other bit I liked was Gunther repeatedly pulling a taser on people, strictly for the ludicrousy of it all.

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Besides that, this one just feels… bare. The only other noteworthy part of this episode is the allusions to BMO Noire, which… didn’t really need to exist? Like, AT has pulled off plenty of ambiguous off-screen moments, so I really never lost sleep wondering why Finn returned to his house with a Sea Lard and why Jake had an arrow in his head. I guess it was a bit silly that they took the time to explain it, but how does this fit in with the timeline of the actual series? Kind of weird that we’re supposed to buy into this structured timeline the show has set up, yet, there’s moments like this that don’t really add up at all. Also, I really hate the ending gag with the stalker squirrel. I think this is the one time the show felt way too in your face with, “hey, look, this character’s back again! Remember how funny they are!” and it’s really just more distractingly throwback-y than actually funny or rewarding. Some of the designs of the princesses are always nice to see, like Princess Princess Princess and the newly introduced Bounce House Princess, who is apparently a very scandalous woman. As is, it’s a pretty predictable and generic story from a series that is usually so good at avoiding the treading of common ground. This is a potluck I really wouldn’t mind skipping.

Shameless self-plug time! I’ve been getting really into digital art lately, check out this drawing I made of my boi Fern! If you’d like to see any more drawings like these, let me know! I’d be happy to draw some up.

Favorite line: “Nanners? Why, I don’t know the meaning of the word.”

“Vault of Bones” Review

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Original Airdate: February 25, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

This may just be my favorite episode centering around Finn and Flame Princess. FP herself has kinda gotten the shaft in all of the episodes centering around her: Incendium was mostly focused on Jake, Hot to the Touch was most focused on Finn, Burning Low centered around the connection between PB and Finn entirely, and she may as well have never appeared in Ignition PointVault of Bones brings the couple to centerstage, in a dungeon crawl that’s both a ton of fun and pretty adorable.

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Right off the bat, this episode starts off with some really funny moments. I love the two second cameo of Flame King, especially because it meant that Keith David literally came into the recording both to utter two lines and that was it. What an easy paycheck that must have been. Jake doesn’t have much of a part in the overall story, but he really adds some terrific comedic prowess in the first minute or so. I love his general intrusiveness towards the two kids and how he ignorantly misunderstands everything Flame Princess was intending to say. Love me some silly Jakey. The only thing I didn’t enjoy about the beginning was that weird hyperactive sniff thing Finn was doing to FP. I’m willing to bet $1,000 that scene was included for the sole fact that it could be used as a misleading promo piece.

A good chunk of the episode is really just watching how Finn and Flame Princess interact with the surrounding dungeon, as well as with each other, and I think this is probably the best attempt to develop Flame Princess at this point in the series. I’ve never not liked her before, but I think this was the first episode I found myself acknowledging that I really do like her presence in the series! I genuinely enjoy her standoffish behavior when it comes to her not really enjoying the dungeon, and I actually found her to be even more identifiable than Finn in this one. Her behavior throughout the episode is totally justified; the method of dungeon exploration at the helm of Finn does sound unbearably boring (though it is a nice homage to the Zelda games), and you do want to see her complete the dungeon in her own way, but also the right way.

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I think the graphic novel Playing with Fire definitely stressed Flame Princess’s inner turmoil a lot more than this episode does, but I think that this episode does a decent enough job at showing her own self-consciousness and desire to be the kind of person that Finn is. The truth is that Vault of Bones isn’t some dark character study; it shows that Flame Princess knows who she is and knows who she wants to be, but is continuously reminded of her own family’s heritage. Only now, she’s learned to keep a leveled head, and not to let her anger and rage get in the way of her stride to be good. Also, she’s just plain cute in this one. I love her flabbergasted reaction to Finn asking her to burn the rope, as well as her crowning moment when she does eventually save Finn. The moment when she refers to Finn as her boyfriend really just fuckin’ melted my icy heart. And I do like how there is some intrigue at the end on whether she is completely stable or not. I mean, obviously it never really goes anywhere for clear reasons, but it is nice that this episode works as a resolution piece, as well as opening up a possible direction for Flame Princess’s identity crisis in the future. If there’s one thing I don’t like about her appearance in this episode, is well, her appearance. Yeah, I don’t really dig her design all too much, she looks waaay too young and cutesy for her age. And for some reason, this is the design that’s featured in a ton of different games, novels, and promotional art. No idea why!

Though Flame Princess is the one I found myself empathizing with more, I have to say, this really is some of the best writing for Finn I can think of in recent history. I mean, I can’t think of a time in the past where he’s written badly, but by God, he’s just portrayed as so darn likable in this one. I love how he’s a total fanboy-nerd when it comes to dungeons and how he can pretty much decipher his way through the entire quest without even questioning his surroundings. His enthusiasm is a ton of fun to watch, (“we don’t have to go back, we GET to!”) and I really just love watching him teach Flame Princess the ways of adventuring. Also really nice is how accepting he is with Flame Princess throughout the episode’s entirety. When she says she isn’t having any fun, he doesn’t get defensive or argumentative, he simply allows Flame Princess to have it her way and apologizes for taking too much of a lead. In addition, despite his concerns when Flame Princess goes absolutely berserk, he supports her no matter what, even during his periods of terror. What a good suitor that FTH is… for now, at least.

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I mentioned in Mystery Dungeon that the dungeon wasn’t particularly anything special, but man, this one is dope. Besides being riddled with nice orange and brown-ish colors that really help drive through that dungeon-y feel, it’s also riddled with really unique and diverse looking skeleton foes. I love the wimpy one in the beginning that is totally understanding about everything, including giving Finn a second to talk to his lady and simply giving into Finn because he won’t stop screaming at him. That’s the definition of a good gag character. I also love the goo skulls that face off against Flame Princess. Not only do they have an interesting and also somewhat disgusting form of ability (I don’t even wanna know what that one was doing flicking the other’s goo) they also have various forms of weapons attached to them. The one that picked up Finn had fucking chainsaws strapped to its body! Much like the ogre from The Enchiridion, it’s a detail that’s totally irrelevant and pointless, but it just really adds a factor of surrealism and intrigue to the character.

As I mentioned, the humor is really spot on in this entry. This episode reunites Kent Osborne and Somvilay together, and while they haven’t been my favorite pairing in the past, they definitely gave this one their all with some really great interactive humor. I love every single exchange from Flame Princess and Finn, some of the visual gags are nice, and just the overall tone of the episode is fun, vibrant, and exciting. And that green, hairy butt that was contained in the chest was just the bit of AT bizarreness that should’ve closed off this episode.

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So yeah, this is one I really like. It’s such an enjoyable direction to take the Flame Princess and Finn dynamic, and I finally feel like FP has gone through some significant development and is a much more rounded and versatile character because of it. It would’ve been so easy for this episode to take the obvious route of having Finn and FP fight over which way is right and which way is wrong, but I’m glad they took a fun route over the more formulaic choice. Unfortunately, this would be her last main appearance in the series before the eventual demise of her relationship. We’re almost at the turning point of the series, folks.

Favorite line: “I’ve been acting an uncouth lout, m’lady.”

“Dad’s Dungeon” Review

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Original Airdate: February 6, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Pendleton Ward, Adam Muto & Natasha Allegri

Dad’s Dungeon is just too fucking rad. It incorporates pretty much everything that makes Adventure Time so great: big laughs, great visual gags, terrific animation, beautiful colors, layered backgrounds, fantastic interactions between our main duo, and a big heart at the very center. This one collabs some of AT’s biggest talents, with Adam Muto, creator Pen Ward, and Natasha Allegri at the helm. It was originally going to exclusively be boarded by Pen, but he needed extra help as the process went along. That information alone shows you how much of a passion project this one really was; Pen has rarely ever boarded during his original run on the series, and he really only does so when he thinks something’s particularly silly or cool to be working with. All of the boarders did an awesome job of keeping the episode so simple in its plot that it harks back to the old days, but also keeps things fresh and new with elements we haven’t seen much of yet. It’s a fun dungeon themed episode, but at the center is a very interesting dynamic between Finn and his adoptive father.

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This episode is one that I consider funny and energetic from beginning to end. From the very first scene with Jake asking Finn and BMO to come up with suggestions regarding what he could shapeshift into, you’re immediately sucked in by the boys’ wacky antics, and it only continues full force from there. There’s a ton of really strong visual gags, including Jake jumping through the treehouse and posing as he lands, from Finn’s dynamic jump into the actual dungeon. There’s even a brief moment where, while in the dungeon, Jake briefly switches back into his cheetah form for no contextual reason. I really love these “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” AT jokes that the series has become so good at adding in overtime. It really makes every rewatch more worthwhile, as you’re able to pick up on more subtle gags occurring in the background. In addition, it’s filled with great jokes and lines, primarily from Joshua. His 1950’s accent provided by Kent Osborne will literally never get old to me, and pretty much anything he says gets a chuckle out of me (“The whole Kazoo!” “Cover your ears, Sue!” “You’re both squishy babies!”). I specifically love the absurdity behind him reminding Jake that he can’t hear any of his messages, yet anticipating all of Jake’s possible answers and responding back to him anyway.

The connection between Joshua and Finn in this one is particularly strong. The relationship between F&J and Joshua has really never been explored in great detail, so it was kind of neat as is to get some development on a connection between two characters that we really haven’t gotten a chance to see yet. It’s pretty interesting, mostly because I think Joshua is the most positively represented father figure we’ve seen in the series up to this point, and actually of all time in that regard (though you could argue Lady’s dad is a pretty good guy, but he tried to fucking eat Finn that one time). That being said, I think Joshua’s morally ambiguity has come into questioning at times. For one, he blatantly steals from demons for no other reason than besides the fact that they’re demons. Specifically in this one, he labels Finn as a whiny crybaby even though Finn is a literal baby at the time. It has a strong psychological effect on Finn as you would expect, and it’s debatable on whether Joshua’s actions are out of irrationality or his failure to understand the human culture at all. It’s clear that Jake is definitely more emotionally mature than Finn is, but even then, it may be that his ability to hide his deeper emotions and stresses came from his father to begin with. So Joshua’s desires to toughen up Finn may just derive from his methods of dog culture on how he feels Finn is supposed to act as a teenage boy. It might also be an elaborate setup. From Joshua’s pre-meditated answers to Jake, it could be concluded that he knew exactly what was going to happen, and used his backlash towards Finn as a possible way to motivate him. Or it could even just be that he’s the typical macho dad that believes that boys shouldn’t ever cry for the course of eternity. It’s really something that I think can be analyzed and allows you to draw your own conclusions. I also really love Finn’s desire to please his dad as well; it kinda shows that, even though it seems like he is, Joshua isn’t actually a jerk. Finn wouldn’t value him so much as a father, as well as his opinion, if he was just an asshole. It’s clear that Joshua was a caring and cool father, and that his respect and love is very important and well-appreciated by Finn.

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The dynamic between Jake and his father is great as well, mostly because Jake isn’t simply just a slave to Joshua’s wishes. I like that he initially goes along with Joshua’s orders simply out of curiosity and respect for his dad, but later loses trusts in his opinion, and ultimately chooses to side with Finn in the end. It’s a really sweet move for Jake to choose his brother above all, and even decide that, while he loves his father, the emotional state of his brother matters more to him. It’s evident that Jake is certainly more in touch with his sensitive and compassionate side than his father, and would rather care for his brother than to watch him suffer.

The dungeon in this one is dope. I love all the different aspects of it, from the burgers and hot dogs monsters (some really amazing animation sequences during this part!) and when Finn and Jake eventually reach the portal of flowers. The bit with the Fruit Witches is probably my favorite part of the entire episode. It starts out as a really beautiful scene: the colors are nice and lush, the music is soothing and pretty, and the general atmosphere is very calming and laidback. Once one of the Fruit Witches takes a bite of an apple, things go batshit insane in the craziest way possible: the Fruit Witch is wrapped with vines until she becomes an apple, is brutally eaten by her accomplices through demonic mouths on top of their heads, and the entire area grows dark gray and threatening. It’s a really amazing contrast that sets you up for two completely jarring moods: light and relaxed, and dark and frightening. Everything in this dungeon is pretty well-designed too; really love the extra detail to the Fruit Witches, especially during their transition, and even the gross monster that Finn and Jake encounter. I love how everything Pen draws blends grotesque and cute so perfectly together.

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The final climax is terrific as well: the beast Finn faces is awesome in its design, and the darkened lighting of the room helps the colors of the characters (as well as that totally kickass demon blood sword) stick out even more prominently. The final message from Joshua is too sweet. It’s a crowning moment of heartwarming that through everything, Joshua simply set up this dungeon not out of sadism for Finn’s mental and physical help, but out of love. He knew that Finn would love the dungeon, and even through his struggles, he’d be able to make it to the final stage. It’s a moment of beauty that leads into the final battle between Finn and monster, complete with Joshua’s awesome mash-up rap. It also segues into Finn obtaining his brand new possession: the demon blood sword! One of my favorites of Finn’s swords in the entire series, it’s by far used the most, and is frequently a key item from this point on.

Goddamn, this episode is cool. It has pretty much everything you could ever ask for in an Adventure Time episode, as well as doing so much more. I have very little to even nitpick in this one: I love pretty much everything from beginning to end. The connection between Joshua and his sons is so great; I love how, even in its rocky introduction, it still remains one of the strongest father-son relationships in the entire series. The dungeon setting always makes for a pretty bangin’ setting, and considering AT‘s strong roots to Dungeons & Dragons, you know these are the kinds of episodes that the staff (especially Pen) have a lot of fun with. Dad’s Dungeon is also Adventure Time at its absolute funniest, and the characters and visuals do their damndest to carry it through entirely. It’s certainly one of the most riveting dungeon experiences Finn and Jake have faced, and one of season three’s greatest efforts as well.

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Favorite line: “But(t)s are for pooping!”

“Paper Pete” Review

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Original Airdate: January 16, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

Paper Pete is perhaps one of, if not the most forgettable episode of Adventure Time for me. It’s not a particularly horrendous one, but it poses a premise and characters so bland that it never really has a chance to be significant in any form.

The idea of Jake studying a Rainicornocopia is a pretty cool concept, even before the Rainipups themselves were actually born. I like Jake’s heartfelt interest and compassion for Lady to go out and educate himself on something that’s important for the both of them. It’s also fitting that Jake wouldn’t be able to even get past the first paragraph, and even more logical considering he has no idea how Rainicorn children work when he eventually has five of his own.

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Somvilay’s bubbly design of Finn in this one is cute!

As for the plot itself, I think it’s somewhat of a frustrating, yet commonly used story for animated and live-action series alike. I think the idea of Finn “making up adventures” is a bit of a weird argument from Jake, considering it isn’t a common aspect of Finn’s character in general. It works primarily as a plot device for this one, and it’s slightly annoying to watch Jake blatantly ignore what’s right in front of him. Jake vs. Me-Mow had a similar plot, and that episode did it much, much better in my opinion. It’s hard to pull off that story in general without causing some form of frustration for the viewer.

Paper Pete, voiced by Peter Browngardt, makes his first and only appearance in this episode. Usually AT side characters stick out in their own absurd and quirky fashion, but Paper Pete doesn’t really have any strong character traits. He’s not particularly funny, interesting, or even well-designed. It’s a bit odd they got Peter Browngardt for this role. Besides the name, Peter Browngardt is known for his over-the-top and ludicrous characters, namely Uncle Grandpa. It’s a weird pairing for a character who kind of feels like an afterthought, despite having an entire episode named after him.

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The two main conflicts are pretty thin, with one being treated as amusingly ineffective, and the other just being quickly resolved in the end without a ton of time devoted to it. Considering they’re both treated as very minor issues, the conflict almost seems somewhat nonexistent. It’s harder to pull through as a competent episode when there’s no compelling struggle to carry onward, whether it be humorous or thrilling. And the episode ends as it does on every rewatch: with me almost entirely forgetting what I just saw.

I know I’m ripping this episode a new one, but honestly, I’m being a bit harsh on it. It’s nothing terrible: the writing isn’t bad, the animation isn’t bad, the characterizations aren’t bad. There’s a few enjoyable aspects, namely the background artwork. The library setting isn’t really visually interesting, but the detailed backgrounds and just how many shelves upon shelves they can squeeze in is pretty dope to look at. There’s a few good jokes in this one, though scarce. I do like Finn’s general uninterest with the pagelings, and how his main goal is really to just shove his proof in Jake’s face. It’s pretty funny to watch him react to the ineffectual environment, and even his mild annoyance with Paper Pete. Also, Turtle Princess seeing Finn with his shirt off was fucking priceless. So, it’s not bad, but it’s one of AT’s most forgettable efforts for me. This is Kent and Somvilay’s last episode for a while together; Kent began exclusively as a story editor for a while up until season five. Although this wasn’t a perfect episode to leave off on, the two would come back stronger than ever a couple seasons later for one of their best episodes yet.

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Favorite line: (in regards to relating to his future children) “Eh, I’ll just fake it.”

“Holly Jolly Secrets (Part I & II)” Review

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Original Airdate: December 5, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Kent Osborne

Ice King has certainly gone through some major developmental stages during the past season. He’s almost completely transitioned from a villain to Finn and Jake’s creepy, annoying neighbor, and while that characterization has proven to be successful all season, it does risk a chance of being repetitive over time. Unless Ice King was at some point going to transform into a complete hero, it’d be awfully boring to just watch him attempt to capture princesses over and over again, or just endlessly try to be Finn and Jake’s best buddy. Holly Jolly Secrets is the one that changes everything. Everything we thought we knew about the Ice King up to this point was ultimately rendered moot, and an onslaught of new questions and mysteries arose. This introduction to Ice King’s backstory is also pretty much a turning point for the entire show: Adventure Time generally has become darker, more ambitious in its storytelling, and persistent in adding continuing bits of lore and mysticism in its ever-growing world.

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I guess I’ll kick-off this review by talking about its most crucial aspect: the videotape revealing the past life of Simon Petrikov. This portion of the episode is absolutely brilliant. It’s one of my top five favorite moments in the entire show, period, and I often forget how chillingly solemn and ominous it really is. There are so many nice little details, between the progression of time throughout each video journal to the brief existence of pre-Mushroom War propaganda. There’s a plane that flies by, which can honestly be taken as a sign of impending warfare (a later scene leads me to lean more towards this theory) and even the existence of a (presumably) Catholic Church. It really shows humanity and early society in the most explicit, uncut way that adds a bit of subtle lore to the existence of the post-apocalyptic world and how some aspects were generally lost in translation. I love all the subtle changes as Simon slowly becomes the Ice King; one aspect I really enjoy is how Simon’s first appearance in the video seems generally unaltered, yet his eyes are actually white and rounded much like the IK’s, rather than dotted and black like most human beings are shown to possess. It’s a nice bit that shows you just how doomed Simon was from the start, and how even before he lost his sanity, the crown had already claimed its victim. The exploration is fascinating; Simon’s transformation is often compared to Alzheimer’s, and while that correlation is quite accurate, it almost feels like a drug addiction in these video entries. Despite the way it’s destroying his life and pushing away the one he loves most, Simon continues to put on the crown, simply because of his failure to resist the feeling of power and strength it gives him. It’s some really tough stuff to get through, and the connection between his fiancee Betty and the Ice King’s desire to capture princesses is absolutely heartbreaking.

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Somvilay added this banner in to keep the viewer’s attention. A strange bit of meta-humor that AT typically strays away from.

The monologue was provided by Patrick McHale, who came up with the idea of Ice King’s tragic backstory. It really feels like a one-man play, but Pendleton Ward himself has compared it to the likes of a radio drama. The speech really shows what a fantastic voice actor Tom Kenny is; he’s so well-known for his portrayals of zany cartoon characters, but the dude can really pull off a legitimately serious and poignant role, and I think that’s a part of his abilities as an actor that’s sadly overlooked. The straight-forward fashion in which he reads these lines, without even slightly sounding phony or forced, is really impressive. It’s a very strong and powerful read through that really adds to this sequence being one of my favorite moments in the entire series. The monotone dialogue is surprisingly what keeps you so drawn to the screen.

However, with all that said, I honestly think the rest of the episode is just okay. The entirety of the episode is padded with quirky video diaries of the Ice King, and truthfully, they don’t do it for me. Like, at all. There’s a few funny lines readings, such as “good morning, you’re watching the evening news,” and IK’s hilarious rendition of Marceline’s Fry Song, (FORESHADOWING) but none of the other tapes do it for me in the slightest. I get it, the episode needed to be stretched out for the purpose of building up to the massive drama bomb, but I wish those tapes and time used at least incorporated more humor and entertainment. The tapes are purposefully boring, but end up slowing down the entire episode to the point where it feels like it takes an eternity to get to the actual meat. There’s an extended scene of BMO fastforwarding one of Ice King’s tapes, and it goes on for like, a solid minute. It’s another one of those episodes that showcases Somvilay’s odd approaches at anti-humor that just simply makes the experience a relatively dull one.

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The original pitch for this episode called for Finn and Jake to watch old Christmas specials, but Pen thought that the idea was awful in hindsight because it destroyed the fabric of the universe that the crew worked so hard at creating. While I can’t say that idea would’ve been better, I do think that the first 18 minutes of this two-parter should’ve been padded with something a little easier to chew on. I feel like it’s incredibly hard for me to think of anything noteworthy about Holly Jolly Secrets that isn’t the big reveal. The characterization of Finn and Jake isn’t that strong; they’re just sort of there to blankly observe until the ending. Even the Ice King isn’t that funny throughout this episode, and coming off the heals of great episodes like Still and Hitman, that’s no excuse.

After the video sequence does end, we do get some legitimately good moments as well. I love the IK’s delusional belief that the most significant thing about the tapes is the fact that he used to wear glasses. It’s a tonally appropriate moment to cap-off one of the heaviest scenes yet with a completely tasteful joke. Finn and Jake’s empathy for the IK is really great, too. It’s a nice moment for Finn to simply just give the Ice King back his tapes; I know people are always a bit annoyed that F&J don’t do more to help out Ice King, but really, what can they do? It’s completely out of their control and knowledge to be able to fix a pretty much unsolvable problem, so even showing him a bit of compassion and sincere appreciation is really sweet. Even though Ice King’s attempts at humor were considerably weak in these episodes, his characterization does come in strong when you realize that he actually hasn’t done anything wrong throughout. All he wanted to do was hang out with Finn and Jake, and when he completely forgets the fact that the two boys even watched his tapes, he rewards them with unusual gifts. It’s such a delightful view of his character that only makes the videos more effective and tragic. The second part ends on a perfect note, as all of the major and minor characters, including a booger and excluding Marceline (FORESHADOWING) sit together by a fire and essentially celebrate Ooo’s first Christmas.

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So yeah, I’m a bit half-and-half on this one. There’s some moments that are absolutely incredibly, yet others that are bafflingly mediocre. It’s safe to say that Simon’s backstory is more than enough to justify Holly Jolly Secrets’ existence, and that it still stands as a very crucial two-parter in the general expansion of the series. The Ice King only gets increasingly more interesting from this point on, and any story arc that was adapted from his backstory can be drawn back directly from this first episode. Holly Jolly Secrets isn’t a two-parter I happen to revisit as a whole a lot, but you can rest assured that I’ll continue coming back to Simon Petrikov’s story for years to come. It’s an emotionally scarring holiday special for the whole family!

Favorite line: “My alarm says it’s time for Finn’s bath. Finn, get naked.”