Tag Archive | Kent Osborne

“Always BMO Closing” Review

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Usually not a fan of referential AT titles to begin with, but this one feels especially lazy to me.

Original Airdate: September 17, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Graham Falk

I’ve mentioned this plenty of times on the blog, but Season Nine’s quality is certainly divisive among the fandom. I’ve seen a lot of people defend it for being more serialized and focused on an ongoing story than the previous seasons have been. There’s really no denying this fact: Adventure Time is way more committed to a story arc in its ninth season than it ever has been before. Though, I can’t really say if that’s a good thing or not. Consistent “plot” centric episodes are something that fans have been wanting from the series as early as Season Four, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in that same boat as well. But, as time went on, I really got less focused on wanting a consistent storyline from Adventure Time and just simply wanted to focus on its individual attempts at storytelling, in addition to whether they succeeded or not. After all, a good amount of my favorite episodes are “filler”; Time SandwichLittle BrotherThe EyesJake the Brick – all excellent examples of storytelling at its finest, along with great scripts. The reason I bring this up is because I feel as if an ongoing story somewhat squanders Adventure Time‘s ability to tell really great individual tales. Always BMO Closing starts out as a silly BMO and Ice King adventure, but ends up devolving into an opportunity to continue Uncle Gumbald’s arc. It’s usually kind of cool when Adventure Time‘s “filler” episodes end up being surprisingly important, but this is one example that just kind of feels like the staff didn’t have enough confidence in the original premise to fully flesh it and let it stand alone. And to be fair, they were kind of right. It’s a middling entry that isn’t really remembered for its wacky premise, but instead for the brief instances Gumbald does have a role, without actually furthering the story a ton. Feels like a bit of a cheater entry, with that in mind.

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BMO and Ice King’s story just isn’t that fun. Outside of the seemingly ridiculous (yet sweet) premise, there isn’t a ton that’s done with this idea that makes for a humorous episode. I know I mentioned how sweet Ice King and BMO’s connection was in President Porpoise is Missing!, but it doesn’t quite offer a ton of substance here. Ice King is usually great when working off of characters that are his opposite, such as Finn, Jake, or Princess Bubblegum, but the childlike nature of both BMO and Ice King doesn’t really allow for him to have many funny moments when BMO is almost always on board with his antics. Granted, there are subtle moments of IK’s growth that I do get behind; I love that Ice King knows that selling Finn’s baby teeth is clearly a breach of privacy, which is amazing when you realize who we’re talking about. I similarly like how Finn and Jake are much more open to the idea of Ice King casually hanging out with BMO, especially Jake! This is probably the most definitive moment in the series where Jake finally accepts Ice King for who he is, and it’s great. On BMO’s side of things, I don’t really think he provides for many funny moments. Aside from his general lack of knowledge when it comes to how people actually talk (“can you believe this weather?” “how are your children?”) his adventures aren’t nearly as funny as they would seem on paper. I think the comedy just kind of falls flat – they approach Tree Trunks with a very bullshit offer and she happily acquiesces nonetheless. It obviously plays into Tree Trunks’ character, but the conflict within this story is so nonexistent that there aren’t many comedic opportunities to come from it.

Once we get to the Uncle Gumbald stuff, I’ll admit, it’s not half bad. Gumbald’s absolute hamminess as a villain is usually what bumps his character down a notch, but I think he’s kind of well-portrayed here. His foreboding nature is played off really well, especially his introduction where he just silently prepares to smash BMO’s head in with an axe. Fred Melamed also does a great job at carrying out some of the more hushed aspects of Gumbald’s dialogue, though I do feel like his motivations of harming Finn before Princess Bubblegum are… odd to say the least. Finn being built up as the sole savior of PB is something that really doesn’t hold a lot of weight anymore in the series. Maybe if this aspect was executed in Season Two, I would understand it more, but PB kind of has her shit together when it comes to her own protection at this point. In fact, this element doesn’t really play ANY part when this story culminates. Gumbald still plans to destroy the Candy Kingdom even with Finn in the picture. Also, I still have a bit of a problem with BMO selling Finn’s baby teeth. I don’t think it’s an action that’s out of character for BMO, but the episode plays it off way too sadly in how Finn reacts to everything that it just makes me feel sorry for Finn and mad at BMO. It’s kind of similar to another BMO episode, BMO Lost. Jake pops Bubble, which was totally not intended to be mean on Jake’s part, but the way BMO reacts just makes me super pissed at Jake. It’s all about how said emotions are executed. If Finn was just weirded out by BMO snooping into his personal belongings, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But because Finn’s response is so damned somber, I can’t help but be a little miffed.

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In general, Finn and Jake have some pretty solid individual moments, per usual: their warming up to Ice King, the way they encourage BMO’s imagination, Jake’s sympathy for Finn after he discovers his lost baby teeth, and their brief moments having breakfast together at the beginning. Though, the breakfast scene was slightly distracting because it reminded me of the similar, and much funnier, library scene from The Real You. The baby Finn teeth creatures provide for humorous absurdity at first, but when it gets down to it, the entire scene is kind of just awkward. The teeth show up, hurt Finn, and then are destroyed a minute later after BMO pulls out hammers from his trench coat that were never even referenced earlier on. As I mentioned, this is a pretty weak conflict that’s carried out by a seemingly even weaker conclusion. Aside from Gumbald’s chalice that later becomes important, I feel as though this episode didn’t actually further much in the story, making Gumbald’s appearance feel shoehorned at the end of the day.

Always BMO Closing is considerably weak. It doesn’t have enough confidence in its A plot that it chooses to focus more on overarching story elements that don’t really even amount to anything. Thus, both stories end up suffering as a result. This episode has its fair share of redeeming qualities, namely Ice King’s development, Gumbald’s portrayal, the cool exploration of his ziggurat, and some of Graham Falk’s drawings are particularly funny. There’s also some neat bits of foreshadowing, like Crunchy’s “Missing” poster outside of Tree Trunks house, or the missing bombs within the field that Finn and Fern explored (which, again, doesn’t really amount to anything). Regardless, Always BMO Closing is an experiment that never feels like it knows what it wants to be. Though, as the next episode will show, some entries can be entirely bad even when they know what they want to be. Woof.

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Favorite line: “Until tomorrow.” “Yeah, you’re not doing this tomorrow.”

“Cloudy” Review

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Original Airdate: April 25, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Graham Falk

I sometimes question myself about why Adventure Time is my all-time favorite series at the moment. I could name a couple of reasons off of the top of my head, but I think the simplest reason that has always kept me coming back no matter what is the earnestness of Finn and Jake’s relationship. Even the best of friendships in animation (and television in general) can often feel so tacked on or situational. Most shows feature friendships that are highly interchangeable given the conflict of the episode; characters like SpongeBob and Patrick from SpongeBob SquarePants or Stan and Kyle from South Park can be as close as possible in one episode and be at each other’s necks in the next. Other cartoons often rely heavily on the “opposites attracting” formula by creating relationships that feel potentially phony or heartless (Regular ShowFoster’s HomeRick & Morty). This isn’t a personal attack on any of these dynamics or programs, as a handful of them succeed specifically because of the uniqueness of each relationship. However, it’s refreshingly revolutionary that Adventure Time has crafted a friendship so genuine and undoubting. Finn and Jake might be the least cynical best friends I’ve ever witnessed. That’s not to say that they don’t have their differences, but it’s their deep understanding and acceptance of those differences that makes them so lovable. Cloudy is a way to explore those obstacles in their relationship while reinforcing how it strengthens their bond as a whole. It’s an episode that former creative director Patrick McHale initially came up with seven years earlier during the first season, where Finn and Jake would “get stuck up in the sky and just talk for the whole episode; relationships, Finn’s past, Jake’s dog side, where their lives will lead, singing songs, etc.” Elements finally allows for that story to see the light of day, and it makes for one of the most delightful viewing experiences I’ve ever had with Adventure Time.

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As a result of their restless adventuring, Finn is understandably wired. The little guy wants to do anything and everything he can to support his friends in the process of saving Ooo, likely as a result of a deeper feeling of guilt that he has been experiencing since he returned home. His efforts to help are admirable even if they are slightly obnoxious… I can’t help but feel so sorry for the little guy as he tries his hardest to be as generous as possible when explaining the science of page turning to Betty. Betty, in general, has a lot of really great comedic moments within this episode, courtesy of Felicia Day actually putting effort into her performance. Finn’s curiosity about graduate school was similarly hilarious, and you can’t really blame the kid for thinking about what’s on all of our minds. Jake, like the good big brother he is, identifies Finn’s need for unwinding, and carefully handles the situation. It’s adorably sweet that Jake putting Finn to bed is accompanied by the tune of their mother’s music box. It’s a terrific symbolic piece regarding how the positions within the dog family have changed; Margaret was, of course, the primary caretaker of the family, but now Jake has circumstantially taken over in ensuring his brother’s uttermost safety and peace of mind. I love how motherly Jake is in his actions, as he doesn’t even ask Finn if he needs to rest, he just knows that he does and sweetly aides his comfort.

Pat McHale was credited as a story editor for Cloudy, but I’m somewhat surprised that he wasn’t acknowledged as a straight up storyboard artist. The first few minutes of Finn and Jake being lost are nearly completely identical to McHale’s initial notes and boards for the planned season one episode. Though a lot has changed over the years, it’s amazing to me how well these moments work seven years later. While Finn and Jake have gone through many personal transitions, one aspect remains unchanged: the silliness and love for fun that the two so passionately bond over. The gliding is sweet fun even if it entirely contradicts Finn’s valid point of “No planes! Never planes!” in Normal Man. Even the pee joke, which could commonly be seen as a lazy attempt at potty humor, is just so charmingly silly. I love how an impatient Finn still respects Jake’s privacy enough to allow him to do his business even in their time crunch. Though, as that patience quickly resurfaces, Jake realizes he needs to dig deeper into his caretaker role. Finn has been mostly independent throughout the past few years, dealing with issues that Jake personally does not understand. Jake has always been there for proper comfort, but over the past few weeks, he’s experienced Finn’s stressors head-on, and see’s it as an opportunity to allow the lad to learn the importance of self-care. And nothing says self-care like a haircut!

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The haircut therapy is great; not only do I love the implication that Jake used to cut his brother’s hair as a child, but that it also allowed a younger Finn to let his feelings and emotions out in a calm and relaxed environment. The barber banter is too likable, and the best part is that it actually does work. Finn’s melancholy over his departure is deeply sympathetic. We’ve been shown on several occasions now just how hard Finn can be on himself in episodes like Don’t Look and Do No Harm, and this is another example of Finn weaving a narrative that simply does not exist. It’s a strongly profound statement for Finn to wonder if he purposely wanted Fern to fail in appointing him as Ooo’s protector, but that clearly is not true. Finn deserved to be selfish in choosing to visit Founder’s Island, as it gave him a better understanding of himself and his past history. Yet, it’s easy to see how he could believe that he’s ultimately at fault for what happened, even if it’s clear that one person could not have prevented an entire environmental shift. The haircut therapy allows for Finn to get these feelings out in the open, but ultimately doesn’t prevent himself from feeling any less responsible for fixing Ooo’s current state. His resistance to allowing himself to relax is ultimately what breaks Jake, in another role reversal that allows for Finn to take care of his brother for once.

Never have we gotten a moment where Jake is as open as he is in Cloudy, and it’s awesome and perfectly fitting for his character. It’s easy to look upon Jake as non-caring because of his upbeat and lax personality, but it’s these traits in particular that prove just how caring and responsible he is. In nearly all of his relationships, Jake feels responsible for being the one to keep things light and positive so that others are not negatively affected by his own or their own anxieties. It’s once more very easy to look at him from a parental role, as he feels that he needs to be this way, instead of wanting to be this way. It makes me really admire past episodes like Dungeon Train, where we have those smaller moments of Jake pondering his own life that really put into perspective how much he gives and puts other people before himself, namely Finn.

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It’s also just incredibly sad to wonder how many and which worries Jake keeps hidden completely. It’s easy to see how these feelings could reflect his own insecurities as a father, again, making an episode like Ocarina more understandable from Jake’s perspective. Jake isn’t dumb – he probably knows that Kim Kil Whan resented him for his lack of knowledge on parental abilities, but didn’t want to fully confront that fact and keep things light and amiable between the two. This episode proves, without a doubt, that Jake is much better at parenting than one could ever guess. Through caring for Finn, Jake has taken on a position of responsibility that he himself may not even recognize, and it’s incredibly sweet to see just how much he loves Finn and cares for his own well-being. What this episode also cleverly explores is how, at a certain point, caretakers need care too. It’s obvious that Finn deeply cares for his brother, but Jake’s revelation opened up a side of him that was completely foreign to Finn. Finn’s new understanding is represented beautifully through the reversal haircut therapy, which shows that he can take on his brother’s role quite nicely. If all of this wasn’t precious enough, the two reenact the intro as Jake climbs up Finn’s body to properly pay him for his haircut. This episode could essentially be named “Finn & Jake” for how perfectly it embodies the heart of their friendship.

Even the song, which isn’t technically a good song, is just so likable and charming that I couldn’t help but have a dumb smile on my face throughout its entirety. Rewatching it almost brings me to tears! With Adventure Time‘s finale being six months old by now, Cloudy really has me longing for the simplistic loveliness of Finn and Jake’s bond. Their song is so irresistibly sweet and likable that I don’t even mind that it doesn’t match the lyrical genius of some of AT‘s past entries. This is another one of those episodes where nearly every line of dialogue is perfect in its subtleties. Jake’s line of “it happens sooner than you think,” when Finn mentions being 35 is so utterly poignant. It’s a brief tie-in to Jake’s rapid aging, but also a great allusion to how a life of peace and positivity can often move so fast beyond our control. It’s even a bit of a sweet sentiment for viewers of the series as well. I started Adventure Time as a young, energetic 12-year-old, and now I’m here writing about as a 21-year-old with so, so much that has happened in between. My balls hadn’t even dropped yet when I started! Life moves fast, y’all! And, just for a random bit of appraisal, I love Jake’s impression of stereotypical Italian man. It’s such an out of nowhere gag that just works wonderfully.

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The climax of the episode is a ton of fun; I love how, even after we’re shown how loving the brothers are, they still get to engage in some likable and light banter, particularly with Finn’s jabs at Jake being smelly. The Cloud Lard was a nice edition to the ongoing lard species, and they add plenty of AT‘s bizarreness to his character, like his eventual ability to speak. While returning back, F&J seek comfort in the fact that, despite everything that has happened, they still have a chance to fix things. It’s a beautiful conclusive piece to their struggles, as they expressed them, learned to accept them, and now work to fix them. Ice King gets a small role in the episode, but it’s pretty fun and delightful at that. I love how Tom Kenny’s inflections can give Ice King the most random instances of humanity, like his small “ew” when the angler lard attempts to eat him. And of course, the haircut line was just the kind of hilariously corny joke to wrap up such an endearing episode.

Cloudy‘s brilliant. Not only does it carry across an atmosphere of what makes the series so lovable in the first place, but it’s one big love letter to the heart and soul of Adventure Time in general. This is an episode I’ve wanted to see since I first read about it in The Art of Ooo, and it did not disappoint. If I had to criticize any aspect of this episode, it’d probably be a technical aspect: I thought Jake’s facial expressions while blowing up could’ve been stronger. Graham Falk is usually great with silly and cartoony expressions, but dramatic faces are certainly not his forte. Otherwise, Cloudy is nearly perfect. While Elements is great in general, it’s most surprising that it’s greatest entry is almost entirely self-contained. It really shows how strong any episode can be when it puts our two lovable heroes at the forefront.

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Favorite line: “Talcum?” “Enough calm!”

“Min and Marty” Review

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Original Airdate: February 1, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Sam Alden

Much like the previous episode Hide and SeekMin and Marty is primarily one big exposition bomb about the backstory of Finn’s parents, his inception, and his eventual abandonment. While I always expected the events of Finn’s past to be somewhat traumatic and sad, I don’t think the writers could’ve picked a more (satisfyingly) somber way to portray his early childhood. Min and Marty is brilliant in tying together pretty much everything we’ve learned so far and everything we’ve wanted to know, while narrowing the story down to the very intriguing lives of Finn’s mother and father. Much like the previous entry, this is one of the most down-to-earth stories the series has ever told. Aside from AT‘s typically desired goofy sense of humor and some fantasy elements (the tiger owned by the female hider was a necessity, after all) it’s a very straightforward plot that merely explores the lives and characters of two humans. And it’s surprisingly compelling at doing just that.

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Continuing right on after the events of the last episode, Kara’s memory is now fully restored after revisiting her old stomping grounds. I don’t know much about neuroscience, so I can’t really confirm if her sudden ability to retain the English language makes complete sense, but I’m willing to go along with it for the sake of my own ignorance. Finn is largely out of focus in this episode, to its strengths. The sudden info bomb that his mother is still alive and (presumably) well is A LOT to take in. With the almost non-answer that Martin gave him in Min and Marty, I assume that Finn just accepted the inevitability that he would never meet his mother because there was no chance that he’d ever receive the truth in the process. As the backstory of his mother and father plays out, Finn tirelessly looks out the window of Susan’s pod, and God only know what’s going through his head during this period of time. Finn’s anxiety is apparent, and it’s likely that he’s not even sure he wants to meet his mom. While Finn certainly matured and became a better person through his experience with Martin, those were painful moments that he’d likely never want to revisit. When being faced with the idea of his mother, Finn probably fears going through the exact same series of events that he did with Martin, or possibly uncertain in not knowing how or what to even say to his mom. It’s a great background element that isn’t explored especially in depth, to add to Finn’s introspective nature.

We briefly met Minerva and Young Martin in the previous episode, though it was mostly to set up the events that led to their convening. We get a much more focused look at their characters in this one, and I’ll go ahead and discuss them individually. Let’s discuss Minerva first: the long-awaited identity of Finn’s mother. Prior to this miniseries, I had already known about Minerva’s character, and it’s all thanks to the God damned Adventure Time Cookbook of all things that spoiled her existence for me. I was initially not all that enthused by the idea of her reveal; Minerva is the name of the Roman goddess of wisdom and strategy, and I really thought for a second that the staff was going to make Finn’s mom some unbelievable cosmic goddess to explain his heroic and legendary nature. Thank GOD that’s not what happened, as we get to see a more simple and realistic character in return. While I mentioned in my review of Hide and Seek that Kara and Frieda weren’t especially strong characters due to their simplicity, I think Minerva is actually stronger because of her simplicity. It’s easy to gather a lot from her personality in just the first few minutes alone: she’s a kind, intelligent, and helping person who wants to benefit her community and mankind through her own actions. She’s hardworking, to the point where the stress lines on her face indicate that she often puts the care of others and her work before the needs of her own self, but she seems relatively confident in her own abilities regardless. There’s something just so likable about her general demeanor and nature; the role of the hardworking, intelligent, caregiver easily reminds me of the likes of my own mother, and Minerva is a super-condensed version of that.

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Martin, on the other hand, is the opposite of such. Once more, I was a bit nervous seeing more of Martin, because I didn’t want his behavior to be retconned by an entirely virtuous past, but I think he’s handled exceptionally well here. He still is a complete swindler, using his abilities to con people into giving him devices and their trust all for practically nothing. I do wonder if he at least helped a couple people escape from Founder’s Island, because how would he get a reputation for helping hiders escape in the first place? His tactic is pretty conniving, however: playing both sides so he takes on the role of a seeker, but is secretly helping hiders in the process. Min and Marty also highlights perhaps the strongest aspect of Martin’s alluring. He’s selfish, manipulative, and an overall mess, but Martin’s ability to get what he wants always relies on one undeniable factor: he’s legitimately charming. I don’t blame Minerva for falling for him, because his attitude of flattery works on even the most intelligent of people. There is one difference that sets Minerva apart from the rest of Martin’s victims, however – Martin genuinely cares for Minnie. Even at his worst, Martin still possesses elements of humanity and isn’t a complete villain. Martin obviously is who he is because of circumstantial issues in his life, and the aforementioned psychological issues that Minerva diagnosed him with, but with all of his issues aside, good people can change shitty people. As we see from their connection, Marty easily begins to wise up in his actions after being around Minerva for a period of time, as he continues to support her and even gets a real job in the process. It’s safe to say that Martin was at his best around Minerva, and her kindness and strength is what shaped him into a more mature human being.

The sequence showcasing this growth is just great. I love whenever Ashley Eriksson lends her talents to the series, but man, every single song of hers has gotten a full release EXCEPT for this one, and it’s my favorite! I guarantee that there is a full version out there somewhere, and that the AT crew just enjoys watching me suffer in my endless search to find it somewhere on the internet. Regardless, it’s a sweet, calming melody that carries the montage through successfully, to which is entirely sweet on its own. Adventure Time can pack so much into a mere 11 minutes, but I’m so thankful and glad that even in this condensed form of exposition, every moment still feels impactful and told successfully through its storytelling. Min and Marty could have easily shown us an entire scene surrounded around Finn’s birth, but I can’t think of a single moment in the series more heartwarming and chilling than Martin snuggling up to Minnie with a baby Finn in her hands. That image alone melts my entire existence, you guys. If there was ever an Adventure Time instant that I went full-on fanboy over, it would be this one.

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If that sweetness wasn’t enough, we actually get to see Martin spending time with Finn – by choice, nonetheless! Sam Alden is typically terrific at using past scenes and storyboards for symbolism, and here we get to see Martin sitting with Finn in the same exact fashion he performed in The Visitor. It’s a terrific callback that adds a bit of melancholy to a relatively saccharine sequence. The nice moments quickly come to a halt when the deceived hiders come back to seek revenge upon Martin, as his past quickly catches up to him.

Of the sad truths presented in the Islands miniseries, I don’t think there’s anything more heartbreaking than the idea that nobody will ever know about the most selfless action that Martin carried out except for himself, but even that’s a bit hazy. To Minerva, he was a hider that used her to get closer to his goal of escaping. To Finn, he was a neglectful father that never once cared for anyone aside from himself. But, the truth is, Martin was improving on his behavior and becoming a better person, he just sadly could not separate himself from his troubled past, of which is a common issue for many people trying to better themselves. Martin was a misguided person who often chose his own selfishness above everything, but with the right influences, he could actually be a genuine guy. I thought this was the most realistic and tragic approach to covering his backstory. The surprisingly graphic promo art for this episode seems to imply brain injury had a part in Martin’s sudden turn in behavior, though I think it’d be especially lame to blame it entirely on that aspect. I’m sure the injuries to his brain affected Martin’s ability to properly remember how things went down exactly, but I also believe that Martin’s decision to go back to his old ways was a conscious decision on his part. After losing literally everything in the course of minutes without having a way back to his former life, Martin likely chose to protect himself by never looking back and to continue on with the selfish, aimless path that he started. The only time he ever opened himself up to give for others ended up as one big disaster, and who knows what ended up happening in his childhood that led him to take on such a path to begin with. This, of course, doesn’t justify his behavior towards Finn in any way, but it at least makes things more interesting and real.

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This episode doesn’t just add humanity to Martin on one level, however. Min and Marty also proves that the events that Martin had described in The Visitor were, for the most part, true. It really helps to make his previous line of “that’s… true” even more profound, showing that he was trying to be completely genuine and honest with his son for once in their relationship. Steve Wolfhard has stated before that none of the elements he included in The Visitor were pre-planned and that he just simply threw stuff out there for other storyboard artists to pick up along the way. “The Minnie,” Martin’s ship, could have been Finn’s mom’s name, or it could not have been. It’s no secret now that the AT crew essentially make stuff up as they go along, and while that may be disappointing to some, it really comes off as ingenuous when they succeed. This episode is evidence enough that the staff writers truly work hard to tie up those loose ends in the neatest, most logical, and most satisfying way possible.

The ending sequence, which features Minvera looking helplessly to the ocean, is utterly tragic. Minnie doesn’t cry, scream, or panic in any way. She simply just sits there, empty, as she fails to comprehend the series of events that have unfolded around her. Grieving is often a confusing period; while it’s most often associated with outward sadness, I think there’s something much more solemn about emptiness. You can really tell that Minerva just cannot believe what’s happening, and how could she? The day prior, she had all of the love and affection she could ever ask for, and the following day, she’s essentially left with nothing. Finn and Minerva share more than one quality, but it’s very clear that they share the same sadness as well: the turmoil over being abandoned. Before even meeting his mom, the audience is given the chance to look at her history and realize that those eyes of confusion and heartache are ones we’ve seen frequently before on our main hero himself. Luckily, however, Finn still has Jake to support him going forward, even if he isn’t saying much to begin with.

Min & Marty is exposition at its finest, offering up everything I’ve ever wanted to know about Finn’s backstory, but also nothing that I could have predicted or expected beforehand. This is a unique, tragic lovestory that utilizes the essence of humanity to its best abilities, giving us a very real story about the trials and tribulations of moving on from one’s past and the nature of relationships in general. There are so many beautifully profound moments in this episode that it’s hard to count them, and this entire entry does its damnedest to either fill my heart completely, or rip it to shreds in the process. It’s my favorite Islands episode to date, and likely one of my favorite episodes in general.

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Favorite line: “I think someone died.” “Oh, that’s great!”

“Elemental” Review

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Original Airdate: May 19, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne

After the events of Evergreen, a bit of a hunger arose inside of me to see more into the backstory of the elementals and their role in the state of Ooo and the world in general. Only a season later, Elemental comes around and interestingly brings back said storyline, drops a bomb by revealing information about some of our central characters, and opens up for a lot in future entries. With that in mind, Elemental is mostly just set up for future episodes down the line, in typical Adventure Time fashion. So, we don’t get too far into said lore or story before the episode shuts down completely, but it does have a decent amount of fun along the way. This is a Kent Osborne solo-board, which is still kind of surprising to me. Aside from being a regular board artist on Ice King-centric episodes, I never pictured Osborne being especially into to the underlying lore of the series. Though, he is one of the head story editors, after all, and had a hefty part is crafting Elemental’s plot.

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Osborne’s silliness really permeates throughout those first few minutes: we’re treated to Starchy’s sad entrance into his house as he once again remembers that his wife left him, the initial driving conflict of there being no hangers in Ooo, and Jake gassing out Finn during a stakeout. I do enjoy how this episode continuously references Ice King’s behavior as “classic Ice King,” and yeah, that’s exactly how it feels. Osborne has had a big part in creating some of Ice King’s greatest entries in the past, such as Loyalty to the King, Still, Holly Jolly Secrets, and so on, and this episode really feels like a return to form in the wacky adventures of IK, Finn, and Jake. Though again, it feels classic while also feeling current, because it really shows in just how the boys treat him. While they still reprimand Ice King for attempting to steal, they talk to him more like a little brother than they do an actual enemy. Even upon being confronted, Ice King just mutters, “oh, hey guys.” They have a pretty established understanding of each other by this point in time.

The ball doesn’t really start rolling until Patience St. Pim is introduced a few minutes in, who might be one of the most fun villains this show has ever put out. I say might, because this episode is really her one, true moment of stardom, and it’s a ton of fun. I really love how (literally) animated she is as a character, with nearly every sentence she utters being followed by some form of dance move. I also really enjoy the way she interacts with others. The episode has a lot of fun with how much Patience doesn’t understand about current society, as she treats Jake like an actual dog and asks which year it is (which apparently isn’t recorded anymore. Ah, lore!). Going back to what I was saying about the dynamic between IK and F&J, it’s sweet that the boys are quick to defend Ice King as semi-reformed, referencing once again that he hasn’t even attempted to kidnap a princess since The Party’s Over, Isla de Senorita, a whole two seasons ago. But, for every step forward with Ice King is always two steps back, as he continues to be easily influenced by the power of a pretty lady.

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Ice King’s methods of capturing the princesses are hilariously cruel, especially Flame Princess’s. I can only imagine how she feels around him after previously destroying his entire kingdom in Frost & Fire. It’s also interesting to note production-wise that Slime Princess was not voiced by Maria Bamford in this episode. Instead, her brief line was provided by Melissa Villasenor, who voiced Grob in the previous episode. It’s always kind of funny to me that the show persistently utilizes Villasenor’s talents, but only for her to provide a line or two. Her previous credentials include Rainy in Another Way, a Fruit Witch in Dad’s Dungeon, and Sveinn in Broke His Crown. It’s a silly concept to me; does she just happen to stumble by the recording booth every so often and they ask, “hey, could you read these three words for us? Okay, thanks.”

It’s also a lot of fun to see Patience interact with all of the other elementals. I truly love how PB deductively tries to get information out of Patience simply by playing good cop. It’s rare that PB ever resists the urge for absolute rampage, but here, she’s actually using logic in a situation where her hands are essentially tied. Once Patience gets into discussing elemental history, things really get interesting. It’s thoroughly cool to see these various flashes of different incarnations of the elementals, as well as how they persisted within the human world. It’s pretty neat to hear the notion, “it was a non-magic world back then.” With that in mind, I wonder what truly sets apart this era of humanity from everything that came before it and everything that came after it. Does it have something to do with radioactive fallout? The catalyst comets? The Lich? Whatever it is, it’s cool to see that there were essences of magic even then, and that those who were affected by it chose to keep it secretive, and intrinsically knew the weight of the power that they possessed. The parallels between Patience and her former incarnation, Urgence, are very much apparent. Aside from the two having correlations in their names alone, both resist the idea of ending their legacy and choose to defy those that are closest to them. Within the AT lore, ice is easily represented by lonely and solemn behavior, and I think it’s pretty clear that both Patience and Urgence fear death and demise more than anything. Their resistance comes from the fact that they can’t accept the idea of being condemned to an eternity of nothingness over being alive and in power. I also commend this episode for showing the literal apocalypse on screen for a split second. Never thought I’d see that through the course of the series.

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The final leg of the episode is mostly dedicated to a highly energetic confrontation with Patience, in which PB initially tries to defeat her using her elemental powers (though fails, because PB isn’t exactly a firm believer in magic), only for Slime Princess to be the true hero when she channels into her own abilities. The episode ends on a really… odd note, as PB states that “she isn’t going anywhere for awhile.” Uh, but won’t she just get out immediately after the slime is scraped off of her? Is PB really just going to let this potentially dangerous criminal go because she was contained by a temporary setback? It’s a pretty stupid ending that feels like it doesn’t have a real way to successfully wrap things up, while also leaving possibilities open for the future, and makes other characters seem a lot dumber in the process.

But regardless, I do think this one has a lot of fun moments, some interesting lore, and nice subtle moments to top off. I do wish the episode didn’t feel so tightly packed together, as it feels like it strives for a lot in the course of 11 minutes and can barely even wrap it up in that time, but I’ll reinstate that I at least had a good time along the way thanks so some solid writing from Osborne. Interestingly enough, I’m not a huge fan of this one on a storyboarding perspective. I usually like the super cute, squishy designs that Osborne provides for the characters, but here, I think it’s a little too much. Half of the episode features Jake right eye almost entirely off of his face, and his mouth closer to his legs than his body. It was definitely more distracting than charming for me this time around. Regardless, I think the story of the elements eventually leads to some really entertaining and intriguing entries, and Elemental is a mostly solid starting point.

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Favorite line: “You’re like, a beautiful Ice King.” “Oh boy, here we go!”

“Scamps” Review

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Original Airdate: January 21, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

The first half of season seven is comparable to the first half of season five, in a way. While not bad in any way, shape, or form, season 5.1 was filled with a lot of decent to good episodes, but very few that actually stood out as exceptionally hilarious or dramatic. In the same vein, the first half of season seven has had FootballEverything StaysMay I Come In?, and The More You Moe, The Moe You Know (and I just miiight throw in Varmints as well) while the 20 or so other episodes have ranged from mostly decent to just generally good. Not to say this is a bad thing; season 5.2 and season 6 contain some of the best episodes of the series, and also a handful of the worst episodes of the series. Thus far, the only episodes of this season that I would consider “bad” are Cherry Cream Soda and Checkmate, so it really does not hurt to get treated to a series of mostly decent or pleasant episodes that are mildly inoffensive in their own right. But at the time, it did have me longing for some of those really strong entries that season six was churning out. I mention this because Scamps is perhaps the last fluff episode of season seven, and we start getting some exceedingly terrific entries from this point on. It’s hard for me to actually think of a single episode after Scamps that isn’t intriguing on some level (that’s not to say there aren’t any criticisms to be had, however) and I really look forward to entering the second chapter of this season. For now, we have Scamps, which again, isn’t terrible by any means, but probably equals Paper Pete‘s level of “so unimaginably simplistic that I nearly forget it exists.” Seriously, I have trouble thinking of anything that actually stood out to me in this one.

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The Marshmallow Kids are… odd characters to introduce at this point in the series. The episode actually opens with a mini face-off between the Marshmallow Kids and the Notorious Pup Gang, and it really made me wonder… why the fuck didn’t this episode just star the Pup Gang? They’re already established characters and criminal adolescents with nearly identical backstories, I have no idea where the concept came from to introduce a set of entirely new characters (of whom we’re never even going to see again) just for the purpose of this episode. They’re cute in their antics, I suppose, but are all pretty interchangeable and don’t really have any defining personality traits outside of being swindlers. The only thing noteworthy about them that I actually realized while rewatching this episode is that one is voiced by Max Charles, who portrays the titular character in Harvey Beaks. It was nice to hear his voice in something else, and it actually surprised me to see that Charles is featured a lot in other television roles.

Finn’s part in the episode is pretty nice. It’s just cool to see him in the role of caregiver in general, and after all of the growth that he had experienced from the previous season, it’s even nicer to see that he’s a better teacher to children than his own father was to him. The way he uses genuine survival tactics as a method of tricking the children into scamming is pretty cute, and in the most “Finn” way possible. Honestly, the one thing that bothered me the most about Finn in this episode are his facial expressions. I really, really hate this gambit of having to shit on Somvilay in every single episode he works on, because the guy has some honest to God great stuff coming up, but the way Finn’s eyes and mouth are distanced from each other when his face is shown is truly offputting. It’s almost like Somvilay was working off of Herpich’s method of drawing Finn’s facial expressions, but took it one step beyond in a way that just makes Finn look really wonky and unnatural. I know you’re a professional who could probably care less about the opinion of some dork on the internet, but my apologies, Somvy. I promise I’ll show you justice in the future.

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There’s a few other things I like about this one; PB’s voice memo to Finn, and her outfits in general (momma’s lookin’ good) are pretty great, and Jake’s brief role was priceless. I love how much Jake’s changes in lifestyle are emphasized in the beginning of the episode, and then retroactively retconned by the time he realizes how successful he can become. That boy couldn’t stop loving crime all together even if he tried.

The two things I like most about this episode are actually on a technical level. As always, the backgrounds and colors look beautiful, especially the transition from daytime to night. Also, Tim Kiefer’s score throughout Scamps was on point! He uses really distinct trumpet sounds to go along with the personalities of the Marshmallow Kids quite nicely, in a way that actually reminds me of Ed, Edd n Eddy (wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where Kiefer got his inspiration for this one).

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Otherwise, this episode is just entirely forgettable. Similar to Paper Pete, it’s hard for me to trash it completely, because I don’t find it unbearable, but it’s so uninteresting in its story and execution of events. There are very, very few jokes, the Marshmallow Kids are particularly unremarkable, their relationship with Finn, while cute, is just kind of generic, and it fails to stick out to me in its humor, story, drama, or anything else it has to offer. Similar to The Pods, it’s a straightforward story that could have been done on pretty much any other show. When I think of Adventure TimeScamps is one of the last episodes to actually come into my head.

Interestingly enough, Scamps is actually Adventure Time‘s peak in viewership. This episode garnered 1.45 million views, a feat that no other episode of the series since has been able to accomplish. Granted, CN’s poor television marketing and the decline of cable in general could easily be at blame for this, but it’s still humorous to think that this episode was the dropping point for AT in terms of viewership.

Favorite line: “Ya know, those Marshmallow Kids remind me of you when you were a young lad.”

“President Porpoise is Missing!” Review

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Original Airdate: January 12, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Sam Alden

I feel like a large amount of season seven episodes attempt to recreate the magic of the early seasons by being lighter and goofier entries that separate themselves from the more intense “fluff” episodes from season six, such as The Diary or Friends Forever. It is easy to see, however, how these episodes differ from early season one entries. As my buddy Stuped mentioned over on the Reddit, a lot of these episodes capture the zany dialogue and lightheartedness of those early entries quite nicely, but what they lack is the energy and non-stop pacing of an episode like Evicted! or Loyalty to the King. In return, President Porpoise is Missing seems like a bit of a facsimile, as it imitates the silliness and story, but doesn’t really stand as what feels like a totally coherent entry. Granted, it’s not a complete stinker, but a lot of it feels like a series of set pieces with no real substance in the actual story.

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Of course, the concept for the episode in general derives loosely from a throwaway gag in Burning Low, and while I usually think these little continuity nods are enjoyable, this is one I’m pretty indifferent to. I didn’t really think the President Porpoise gag in Burning Low was that remarkable to begin with, so I wasn’t particularly ecstatic for an episode dedicated in his honor. But, it is a silly premise, with an equally silly introduction that features a whole gang of Tree Fort creepers. I absolutely loved the reveal of just how many people hide out within the Tree Fort, with not a single character feeling out of place. Banana Man and Ice King are lonely stalkers, Marceline loves to spy on the boys, Princess Bubblegum loves to spy in general, and Starchy and the Gumdrop Lass probably just have nothing else to do with their day. Definitely my favorite part of the episode, and I especially love how cool Finn and Jake are with a bunch of people randomly hanging out in their house. Even the Ice King, of whom the boys would’ve scolded in the past, is greeted with mostly positive reception. I’ve said it before, but Kent Osborne is really great with writing earnest and kind depictions of the main cast during these later seasons, where a lot of Finn and Jake’s interactions with other characters (and each other) are as non-condescending as possible.

A lot of that lack of condescension continues forth in all aspects of the episode, as Finn and Jake take on a political mission and use their skills in problem solving (and pun cracking) to collaborate with each other, BMO and Ice King have their own imaginary sea exploration (featuring another nice callback to All the Little People; Finn was right about those two!), and Banana Man finding love with a nice sea lady. I’ll briefly go over each of these subplots.

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Finn and Jake’s mission to the sea metropolis is great on a visual perspective. The sea world itself is awesome, and kind of surprises me that it’s taken Adventure Time this long to explore an underwater village that is this expansive. It all looks great, and the colors really pop within the expansive blue filter that surrounds each character and landscape. The story itself, however, is pretty unremarkable. I’m not really invested in what actually happened to President Porpoise, the character himself, or the other various sea creatures involved. Vice President Blowfish has a competent VA at the helm, though his motivation and character are barely elaborated on, and he also isn’t particularly interesting or funny in any way necessary. There’s a couple solid gags through these sequences, such as Finn and Jake’s high-five that causes Finn to fall over completely, or the little shrimp who is consistently taking notes, but other than that, the story itself isn’t really given any time to develop, and there aren’t many humorous moments to come from it. It also kinda rubs me the wrong way that Finn and Jake end up beating the shit out of V.P. Blowfish, when he’s clearly proven innocent. I mean, he doesn’t seem like the coolest or nicest fish in the sea, but his issues were mostly from a political standpoint, which they really shouldn’t have any part in to begin with.

Speaking of politics, Banana Man ends up finding love with a girl involved in said panel. While I do like Banana Man’s inferiority towards Finn and Jake within the submarine, I feel as though his actual love story is equally uninteresting. Part of the charm of Banana Man was his hardship of connecting with other people because of his own social anxiety, so watching him embark on his own mission for love is sweet, but particularly unchallenging. He initially mentions his struggles with the great line of, “it’s like there’s this instruction manual that explains how to talk to people, and everyone in the world got a copy except me,” but other than that one instance, his struggle of connecting with other people romantically isn’t really emphasized, so his actual accomplishment of finding love feels relatively hollow. His song is pretty bad and unmemorable; it kind of shocks me that they continuously have Weird Al sing songs within the series but never actually have him write or compose his own tunes for the series. It feels slightly like wasted potential. And I’m not sure I even get Cybil’s character in the slightest; she’s a representative and part of the Fish Parliament, but says that national politics aren’t her thing? I suppose she’s a state politician, but I dunno, it just struck me as a weird bit of character building that kind of makes her character seem impossible to read.

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BMO and Ice King’s moments were actually pretty awesome. I loved to see these two work off of each other and to genuinely enjoy spending time together. It actually surprises me how open BMO is to hanging out with Ice King, but it does make me think that BMO probably treats Ice King with more respect because he is a grown adult figure that he can hangout with, unlike NEPTR. Ice King just so happens to have a similar imagination and ability to go along with anything that he makes for a perfect companion to BMO. I similarly love how Ice King’s wizard eyes come back into play, as he imagines a brightly-colored submarine for BMO and himself to operate. Their friendship was really sweet, as Ice King can likely breathe easy and feel validated that BMO allows him to explore his more weird and imaginative side, and I enjoyed seeing another subsequent episode based on their friendship in the future.

So yeah, not a ton that sticks out about this one for me, but in a similar fashion to Angel Face, this one is nice and inoffensive. It’s hard to pick on it completely because it really does prove to be a fun waste of time that leaves you with a good feeling in the end. There’s some nice moments between the brothers in this episode, such as when Jake shrinks to an unimaginably small size and continues to fall into cracks, as well as their brief moment towards the end. There’s a nice message of companionship that connects the three stories throughout President Porpoise is Missing!, but aside from that aspect, the individual set pieces aren’t really entertaining. It’s a hodgepodge of ideas that never really get a chance to develop on their own, and while they have a nice motif that carries through them, I can’t really get behind anything that’s going on within the plot.

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Favorite line: “Dying with you sucks way less than dying alone!”

“Mama Said” Review

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Original Airdate: November 5, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Kris Mukai

Despite the fact that it continues to focus on King of Ooo’s reign in the Candy Kingdom, Mama Said feels classic. It’s a light and silly Finn and Jake adventure episode, and a refreshing one at that. Granted, I don’t think this episode completely emulates the energy of a classic Adventure Time episode, but it makes up for it by being extremely pleasant and laidback in its tone.

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KOO’s antics in this one are humorous, per usual, as he proves to be all levels of extra by making Finn and Jake sit on stools, only to further his desire of having his own mobile mushroom. It was also fun to see him have such a unique and comical aspiration; I had mentioned that I thought his tendencies toward greed in Bonnie & Neddy were a bit too predictable and uninteresting, while his desires in this one are so absurdly specific that I can’t help but get behind it.

This episode is really nice on an expressive level. Kris Mukai is back once again to lend her distinctive boarding efforts to the series which provides for some truly appealing drawings of both Finn and Jake. It’s cool how her style can work for a more dramatic outing, like Varmints, but also translates to the zany atmosphere that this episode works off of. Kent Osborne also provides his likably malleable designs of Finn and Jake once more, that only seem to get rounder and cuter as his time on the series progresses.

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Speaking of Osborne, a lot of the nice, quieter moments that he included in Jake the Brick also end up in Mama Said, which is really what contributes to the calmer tone overall. I always like moments when Finn and Jake practically talk about nothing; Finn’s line of, “actually, I’m kinda glad we’re walking in this direction. We never walk in this direction,” is so mundane and not complex in the slightest, but there’s something so genuine and natural about it that it just comes off as nice piece of random dialogue. The episode is chock full of little moments like this, both humorous and somewhat bland, but all in the best possible way.

And keeping in the spirit of calm and cool, we’re reintroduced to Canyon! I had a feeling that Billy’s Bucket List wouldn’t be the last that we saw of her (especially because she mentions this) and it’s a true delight to have her, as well as Ako Castuera, back once again. I also really dig her redesign, as she still feels mystical, though more relaxed and casual in her everyday environment. Similar to her last appearance, Canyon isn’t especially interesting or complex, but she provides a certain tranquil aura that makes her welcomed regardless. I was somewhat confused at first as to why a silly episode like this would be the episode they brought Canyon back for, but it actually feels quite fitting, given the ambiance that the episode seeks to accomplish.

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Aside from being chill, this episode also features the most bizarre Adventure Time villain I’ve seen in a long time: the Mother Mushroom. The Mother Mushroom is a well-designed, slightly terrifying, and also hilarious antagonist. The fact that it merely utters what sounds like a Wikipedia entry of mushrooms was also insanely amusing. We’re even treated to a fun and decently animated fight sequence that utilizes Finn’s persistence to kick butt, Jake’s stretchiness, and Canyon’s rad attitude to their fullest abilities.

While I love the conclusion that features KOO kicking Finn and Jake the fuck out for not directly following his orders, I think the Banana Guards singing “Mama Said” is easily the weakest part of the episode. It’s relatively humorous that this episode’s name derives strictly from a minuscule gag that isn’t even related to the story, but the song sequence itself was just a bit too random and out of no where for my liking. In addition to that, I’m not really a fan of somewhat modern songs being used within the world of AT. It works in an episode like Simon & Marcy, that is specifically set in the past, but a tune such as “Mama Said” would strike me as something that should have been lost in translation in this world. It also just kind of feels like padding rather than a legitimate conclusion to the episode.

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One other minor quibble I had with this one is that it feels like it’s trying to have some kind of an underlying theme with Finn and Jake choosing to have fun and ignore their responsibilities, but it never fully comes into fruition. Canyon’s line, “if you don’t like your job, maybe it’s time to find a new one,” is framed in a way that seems like it’s going to have some kind of effect on how Finn views his position within the Candy Kingdom, but all of that is ultimately scrapped when KOO immediately fires the two boys. I’m reaching a bit, considering that it ultimately has very little focus in the episode, but it is something that always felt lacking in how it was elaborated on.

But overall, Mama Said is nice and fun. Certainly not as funny or intriguing as some of the other breather episodes are, but it really is just that, a breather. It’s relaxing, mildly amusing, and carries with it Adventure Time‘s brand of weird.

As an added bonus, here’s one of my favorite stories (by K.L. Ricks) from the Adventure Time Comics series, featuring Finn and Canyon.

Favorite Line: “Did you notice he was wearing Princess Bubblegum’s clothes?” “Yeah, that was sort of cool.”

“Hoots” Review

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Original Airdate: May 14, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Andy Ristaino

AT’s special guest star of the week is the Cosmic Owl! I was never really a fan of how the show turned this all-powerful cosmic being into a simple “bro” who wanted to chill in a hot tub and play board games, because I think it really diminishes his overall importance in the series as this deity that has an unspeakable amount of power regarding the dreams over others. I get that Adventure Time likes to approach said powerful beings by giving them a little dose of humanity to show that they aren’t very different from anyone else, which is fine, but I think the Cosmic Owl’s interpretation is a little boring. I mean, there’s already PLENTY of lonely characters in the series, including Ice King, Banana Man, Mr. Fox, and the already established lonely cosmic being, Prismo. So focusing on Cosmic Owl’s simple life as a dude who lives alone and just wants the love of another woman is nothing new, and nothing especially interesting.

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I think Cosmic Owl’s star-aligned motel is truly neat. Going back to my original point, I don’t really know why an all-powerful being like the Cosmic Owl would live in a motel, but it works because it’s well-designed and visually interesting. And I thought the Cosmic Owl’s method of entering other people’s dreams was nicely conceived. Not only is it a duty for Cosmic Owl to fulfill his prophetic endeavors, but it’s done through a coin system and he’s given direct orders as to which dreams he should visit each night. It’s also shown that ANY dream that the Cosmic Owl does appear in is prophesied to come true. It’s a neat little system they set up, and pretty funny that the Cosmic Owl verbally acknowledges that he visits Finn’s dreams a lot. On a side note, the shenanigans between Jake and Shelby were absolutely great. I have no idea how Jake’s class ring ended up within Finn’s stomach, but the two of them engaging in “stomach fishing” while Finn is asleep is just delightful. I get the feeling that outside of the main Tree Fort trio, Jake and Shelby are the closest to each other in their home. They’re both cool dudes who enjoy the occasional party, and likely have the highest amount of common interests outside of Finn and Jake. I love Finn’s half-awake reaction to their behavior as well, and his hesitation to follow a Cosmic Owl dream because the last time he did he “got dumped.”

The dream version of Gunther is… interesting, to say the least. I mean, on the one hand, it’s a unique way of fleshing out Gunther’s personality and psyche in a way that the show is unable to do so. The dream version of Gunther is sturdy-headed and social to some extent, but is shown to be clouded by darkness and raw power, and is unable to shake those negative traits. Though, this form of development is tough for a gag character who rarely speaks or emotes. In fact, the next instance of Gunther shows that he’s full-on evil and doesn’t even consider his own morality as a result, so it kind of feels like this dream interpretation doesn’t really effectively flesh out his character in any way, besides reminding us that Gunther does have a secret malicious side that is just waiting to be unleashed. The twist ending actually did get me the first time around, though going back and rewatching it, I find that there’s very little telling details about Gunther’s character. Again, not that I really need Gunther’s character fleshed out to begin with. That being said, I’m more optimistic toward his revelation as a cosmic being, but we’ll get to that later on.

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I don’t think the relationship between the Cosmic Owl and dream Gunther is very compelling at all, seeing as how it just seems like a story to progressively move the plot forward. I’m never really fully behind the Cosmic Owl’s romantic feelings because of how little I’m invested in his actual character, and aside from the fact that he’s shirking his duties because of it, there’s no real conflict presented that actually has me invested in the situation. Of course, there’s the aftermath of Cosmic Owl’s actions that leads to him directly sabotaging Princess Bubblegum’s role in her kingdom, though it never really has any consequences directly to the CO. In fact, does it even really matter if the Owl slacks on his duties? I mean, it’s presented as if it’s supposed to be a big deal, but what does it really matter? There’s no clear issues presented to the fact that Cosmic Owl is ignoring his job. Even in the case that he was involved in prophesying PB’s morbid dream, doesn’t this stuff happen all the time? Cosmic Owl’s role in Finn’s dream lead the boy to being dumped, which sent Finn on a spiraling path of depression. I just think it’s odd for the Cosmic Owl to actually care about the lives of mortals in this way. I guess he’s more concerned that he directly affected someone’s dream in any which way and reversed the results of the future, but once again, it doesn’t seem like there’s anything that Cosmic Owl directly has to worry about regarding his state of being or his “job.” This also raises another question in my mind, if Gunther didn’t ruin PB’s dream, would she even be replaced as princess? I mean, it’s clear that her citizens are already unhappy with the way she’s been controlling her kingdom, and it only seems natural that their stupidity would lead them to eventually vote-in a manipulative ne’er-do-well. It almost feels like the events of this dream didn’t really need to happen as the plot would progress forward regardless, unless the original state of the dream is supposed to imply that the Candy Kingdom is happy with the way PB is approaching a new leaf. It’s interesting thought fuel.

So yeah, I think there’s plenty of clunky bits, but the episode has its perks. That Jake and Shelby scene is certainly a highlight, and I like any bits featuring Prismo (though it somewhat angers me that he briefly forgot who Finn was… how do you forget the dude that sacrificed himself for you??) and his newly found passion to play the banjo. A small tidbit, but I also love the fact that all of Cosmic Owl’s “oo’s” are represented by an owl call, how clever! This episode is also really cool on a visual note, with a lot of unique dream sequences featuring various major and minor characters. But otherwise, I think it’s a bit of a dull stroll through the life of a somewhat uninteresting side character.

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As a little added bonus, since I love dream interpretations so much, I’m gonna take a quick glance at all the dreams we did get to see throughout the episode and their possible interpretations:

  • Finn’s convergence with Sweet P and Martin is interesting, because I’m pretty positive it was carried out, just not in the literal sense. The most common interpretation is the upcoming anticipation of the comet, as these three beings come together, two of which were once incarnates of comets, and one of which who will join paths with one quite shortly. There’s also Jake muttering “say goodbye,” in reverse, which could represent Finn ultimately saying goodbye to his father, as well as the Lich, since he is now contained by Sweet P.
    • Also, Finn seeing clock bear is a more literal example, as Finn meets him later in Preboot.
  • Turtle Princess dreams of getting a haircut, and changing ones hair within a dream typically represents taking on a new change in life. She later dyes her hair completely black in Blank Eyed Girl!
  • Abracadaniel being laughed at in his underwear is a pretty obvious one, as he simply doesn’t feel that he’s accepted in his daily life by the people surrounding him. These insecurities were touched on in Thanks for the Crabapples, Giuseppe!
  • Peppermint Butler checking his wristwatch could be humoring the idea that Pepbut feels trapped and unable to truly unwind in his environment, as his darker and more twisted side counteracts with his duties as a butler.
  • Have no theory for what Forest Wizard’s could represent!
  • Tree Trunks finding a bag full of skulls most likely represents her subconscious fear of the dangers around her. I’m not sure how cognizant she is of Sweet P’s true demeanor, but I get the feeling that these two bits are somehow correlated.
  • Marceline flying on Hambo was cute. Mostly just saw it as Marcy embracing the freedom that’s around her with an adorable and cuddly friend from her past.
  • Lemonhope being shown in his shackles once more was pretty sad, seeing as how the little guy likely still feels restrained and held back by his past.
  • King of Ooo is appropriately seen in a tub full of water, which typically has to do with a positive change in the upcoming future. Though, he’s also pouring some of it out, which may embody the idea that he’s also sabotaging himself in the process.
  • The next bunch are pretty silly, as Punchy observes a flying kitten, Party Pat has huge thighs, and Mr. Cupcake tries to decide between a sandwich and a human head.
  • Mr. Pig mowing the lawn to no avail was humorous, simply because a dry dude like Mr. Pig would likely dream about such a mundane task. Also, flower heads sprouting from a mowed law imply that Mr. Pig needs to show his softer side, which he hasn’t been doing as of episodes like The Pajama War.
  • Huntress Wizard is seen crawling within a small cave, which could show how she has difficulty expressing herself and truly showing her full personality to the world. This is displayed in her hesitation to express feelings of infatuation in Flute Spell.
  • The snakes in Kim Kil Whan’s dream may embody his unresolved issue of bitterness towards his father Jake and the possible fear that said relationship may never be resolved.
  • Cherry Cream Soda tripping in her dream represents the unexpected challenges that oppose her. She recently lost her husband in Something Big.
  • Banana Man’s is pretty silly and mostly just revolves around his desire to get closer to Finn and Jake.
  • And finally PB’s, which quite obviously represents her downfall as a ruler after working so hard to build up her kingdom.

I doubt all of these interpretations hold true, but hey, it’s fun to take a gander regardless!

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Favorite line: “Cosmic Owl was in it, he was acting all choco-loco.”

“Jake the Brick” Review

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Original Airdate: November 26, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne

Jake the Brick, like Is That You?, is a concept that just sounds incredibly nonsensical on paper. I mean, Jake shapeshifts into a brick? That’s the best idea they could come up with? Jake the Brick actually derives from a game of exquisite corpse that Tom Herpich doodled up during a writers’ meeting, and Kent and the crew found it so humorous that they decided to make an entire episode out of it. Yet, the idea of Jake being a brick as the main story of an episode is a mere farce; the episode is really about Jake simply narrating the life of a bunny, and how it interacts with its environment. This story sounds even more boring, but it’s executed in such a way that I think is just brilliant. This is Kent Osborne’s first solo-board, and likely his best episode of all time.

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The beginning of the episode is likely one of my all-time favorite AT moments. Finn walking through various areas in the Grass Lands, while we’re treated to some absolutely lovely backgrounds (this episode is chock full of ‘em) and Tim Kiefer’s chill score in the background is the very definition of zen. Reminds me of those lo-fi videos on YouTube that play nice electro-jazz music while a looped AT video rolls in the background. The atmosphere is pure bliss, and it’s always fun to just see Finn breathe and relax in his environment. Despite his anxieties and personal issues, he really does embody the playful, laidback teen that we’ve all come to love so much. In addition to that, he even has his own little motif going on in this one, as he continuously attempts to toss various items into a trash can, though fails at doing so. It could be tied back into the overall theme of failure followed by an ultimately satisfying outcome, but I just like to think that it gives Finn his own simplistic conflict to get through. And just like the somewhat mundane issue presented in the episode, Finn’s unexpected success in the end is just as rewarding.

When coming across Jake, it’s pretty clear our lovable dog friend is in some type of mood, and it borders on the existential side. If Jake was ever shown in partake in some kind of weird, ambitious midlife crisis, I think this would be the greatest example of such a thing. It’s hard to say what exactly Jake wants to experience, as I don’t think his silly desire to be a brick in a wall is something he considered on a surface level. As he states later, “Who cares about being a brick in a wall of a fallen-down shack? There’s something bigger than that, and the bunny has answers.” We all know how calm and welcoming Jake is when it comes to death, and I feel that Jake the Brick finally has him come to terms with his own fascination with the great beyond, as he acknowledges that life is much more than just waiting on the entire world to perish. And for Jake, that’s huge!

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There’s something about Osborne’s take on the characters that just always feels incredibly sweet to me. Osborne really seems to capture the non-cynical nature of the AT world to a tee; I thought it was absolutely adorable how upset and worried BMO is for Jake, along with the little pat on the head that Finn gives him, and the fact that Finn is so impressed and captivated by Jake’s narration that he puts it on air for all to hear. Of course, this could have so easily turned into a “get rich fast” scheme, or an opportunity for Finn to embarrass Jake, but these characters are much too caring and compassionate for such a behavior, and Kent is very much aware of that.

The beginning of Jake’s narration encapsulates more of those delectable backdrops I mentioned earlier. The shift from daytime, to evening, to nighttime beautifies the entire environment. The atmosphere in general is quite mellow, as John DiMaggio reads off a smooth and relaxed description of the woodland area around him. DiMaggio himself should have won some type of award for his role in this episode; he embodies everything that shows like Planet Earth and The Blue Planet set out to do, by showing off nature’s wonders, with a competent, cool voice at the helm. Animation in general is a great medium to tackle such an idea, and I really haven’t seen any other show carry out an idea like this the way Adventure Time does. Granted, I’ve seen spoofs and parodies of such documentary series, though none that are as earnest and dedicated as Jake the Brick attempts to be. And the cinematic moments in these bits are great, using slow fades to transition into some unique, soothing shots.

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As the night continues into a harsher rain, Jake keeps his cool as he continues to narrate the journey of a bunny, with dozens of Ooo citizens now listening in. It’s both hilarious and undeniably sweet that all of these various random characters would listen in to hear Jake talk about a bunny, but it is really nice to see all these various people who are so different in many ways have some sort of common interest, all tied back to our main character. Without even trying or knowing it, Jake has brought together so many people with the simple power of his words. Jake believes that secluding himself as a brick will help to show him the meaning of life, though he’s already proven said meaning by connecting to the people around him in outstanding ways. There’s so many great callbacks here that it would be redundant to mention every single one of them, so I’ll just call out my favorites:

  • Really loved seeing Lady and T.V. playing cards together. T.V. is pretty clearly a homebody, and I get the feeling that Lady embraces that and looks upon him without judgement.
  • Sweet P’s first reappearance since Escape From the Citadel, and his cute little jammies.
  • Colonel Candy Corn listening in with a full globe of Earth in his quarters. Just how old is this guy?
  • Rattleballs rebuilding his motherfuckin’ bros. I would love if this army of Rattleballses came into play in the finale.
  • Abracadaniel having a “Buff Wizards” magazine next to his exercising bike. They’re not even being subtle here.
  • Lemonhope’s wild adventure on an eagle.
  • Betty doing research in a cave with the letters “M+M+S” written on a piece of paper. Great foreshadowing.

The music and visuals during Jake’s narration are also just splendid. Love the uplifting little acoustic guitar tune that plays as the beavers assist the bunny, and the cute animals in general are all just so charming. Also, props to see the sea lard back in action. The lard species takes a big step in prominence this season.

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The ending that ties it all together is also really nice. I love just how extremely invested these citizens get to the point where they’re all wearing “I ♥ Bunny” t-shirts. As a viewer, I could never fully understand the tensity behind the bunny’s situation, though the way everyone reacts to it really draws you in. They care about this one bunny so much that it effectively makes the viewer care about it as well. And, through it all, Jake realizes that his lifelong ambition just simply isn’t worthwhile. There’s tons of life out there and it’s time to experience it just like this one bunny. In the wildness of Ooo, it’s nice to see something so uncomplicated having such a positive impact on this world.

I think Jake the Brick is just terrific. It’s so calming, cool, and enjoyable, and creates an atmosphere unlike any other episode to date. Granted, it’s not an absolute person favorite, but it does everything so well that I have to commend it regardless. It has beautiful scenery and music, features incredible voice acting from John DiMaggio, is overall just a thoroughly pleasant experience, and checks up on most of our favorite characters, some of whom we haven’t seen in quite some time. This episode won an Emmy for Outstanding Short Format Animation, and I can’t think of a better standalone episode from this season to win such a category.

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Favorite line: “No, man, bricks don’t stay in touch!”

“The Prince Who Wanted Everything” Review

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Original Airdate: June 26, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Adam Muto, Emily Partridge, Kent Osborne & Bert Youn

Blecch. The Prince Who Wanted Everything is the first stinker of the Fionna & Cake series, and a pretty blatant example of how these experimental episodes don’t really have much of a reason to keep being produced aside from a feeling of obligation based on fan reactions. The first was done strictly as a surreal passion project; I don’t think anyone on the AT crew knew how popular it would be, but as Fionna & Cake was met with practically universal praise, it only made sense for another F&C episode to be created. Two seasons later came Bad Little Boy, which was also well-received and a mostly solid outing, but kind of showcases the problem with Fionna and Cake episodes in general: the characters are basically carbon copies. Fionna has some interesting insecurities that were touched on in her first episode, but every episode that follows has her simply take on the role of Finn-Lite. She’s a good-hearted, laidback hero, and that’s about it. And the other characters, Gumball, Marshall Lee, Flame Prince, and so on are never given enough attention outside of their star episodes to actually have any selection of interesting character traits besides being slightly modified from their counterparts. Cake, on the other hand, is the only character who actually has a stand out presence in all of these entries, yet she’s often only given a small amount of screen time so the “Character of the Week” can hog all of the attention. And this episode’s star character is Lumpy Space Prince: a deeply unfunny gender-swapped version of Lumpy Space Princess that does absolutely nothing insightful or interesting, aside from being another chance to reinforce LSP’s vanity once more, as if that wasn’t already emphasized enough. Cut Rebecca Sugar – who was practically the mom of Fionna and Cake – out of the mix and you don’t really have a competent entry.

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This episode notably starts up with Ice King tied up. Why is it notable? Because it’s freaking Ice King, you guys! We haven’t seen him in what feels like forever, and it’s a shame, because I feel as though he gets the least amount of screentime in season six. It makes sense, as this entire season mostly steps away from the main cast to delve into the lives of some of the lesser known citizens of Ooo, though Ice King doesn’t even get a fair chance to have an actual role in this episode. He’s simply a blank slate at the hands of his kidnapper, Lumpy Space Princess, and isn’t really given anything interesting to do aside from obliging to read LSP’s passion project. Could’ve been a much more enjoyable scenario if Ice King was argumentative about the way LSP wrote for his characters, or that he didn’t agree with where the story went, but he uncharacteristically goes along with it without saying a thing. Pretty lame.

The story itself poses an interesting concept, at least from my initial impressions. Lumpy Space Prince’s tale of running away from his parents and stumbling into Aaa (or Ooo… whatever is cannon at this point in time) could perhaps reference LSPrincess’s first experiences in Ooo and how she came across Finn and Jake, albeit highly exaggerated. Though, the way it’s executed is simply done in a way that we’ve seen so many times in other LSP episodes. Most of this episode just seems to retread the general idea that Gotcha! revolved around, which is that both Lumpy Space Princess and Prince misunderstand the type of people Finn/Fionna and Jake/Cake are and come to respect their simplicity and approaches to life by the end of the episode. The entire episode basically revolves around Lumpy Space Prince trying to understand how to live as a peasant but is constantly blindsided by his own pretentiousness. And God, how many times have we all seen the story of a rich snob who is enlightened by the simplicity of middle-class charm? It’s so overdone, and it isn’t carried out any more interestingly here.

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Lumpy Space Prince’s voice actor (at the Princess’s request, of course), Peter Serafinowicz, certainly boasts a competent performance, but again, I don’t think he’s really given much to work with. Lumpy Space Prince is at his funniest through his expressions; his anime influenced “Handsome Face” is pretty amusing, even if it is a bit overused by the episode’s end. Regardless, it provides for some welcomed diversity among the typically expressive dotted eyes in the AT world. But again, Lumpy Space Prince’s primary character trait is his vanity, and it simply isn’t fun or interesting to watch him. He also has the displeasure of singing one of the show’s worst songs, period. “That’s All I Need” has a pretty awful melody, terrible lyrics, and a less-than-satisfactory performance from Serafinowicz. Feel bad making such a superficial comment about his singing voice, but some actors are simply not meant for said performance. And if the song was actually catchy, funny, or added something to the plot, I could forgive it, yet it does none of those things. Aside from some cool cameos of characters we haven’t seen before in this universe (namely Magic Ma’am), it just feels like it’s there to take up time.

Fionna and Cake are simply in this episode to be observers. Cake has some funny one-liners, as she constantly breaks the fourth wall, but Fionna really just does not do ANYTHING. Aside from giving an unintentional piece of advice to Lumpy Space Prince, Fionna just stands there and occasionally has a line or two. Sad to see she’s given such a boring role after her emotive and passionate presence in the past two F&C episodes. The one cool thing is that she actually is using the Wish Star Sword that she acquired within the Fionna & Cake comic series. Pretty awesome to see that something in the comics was actually adapted into the series, and it’s pretty much just there as a subtle Easter egg for any readers of said series. Also, Fionna’s model got updated to where it seems as though she’s matured more in her stance and body weight, and it looks somewhat off-putting to me. I dunno, the more realistic her anatomy gets, the more awkward and stiff it looks when you pair it with her really simplistic dotted eyes and lack of nose. Just looks kind of wonky to me.

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I guess the ending where Lumpy Space Prince discovers that his indifference to his parents’ disapproval of his behavior is a bit of an introspective moment for LSPrincess, but it only makes me wonder what the point an episode like The Monster has in the grand scheme of things if LSP never truly grows as a character. I understand if the writing staff just wanted to keep her stagnant in her developmental process and never learn or grow as all of the other main characters do, but if you have an episode like The Monster where it seems as though she actually DOES learn something, than the episode merely feels like discontinuity. I can understand if her decision to move back into the woods was based on her stubbornness and belief that she can make it on her own, but it seems as though she merely goes back to thinking her parents are monsters who simply want the worst for herself. Nice to see she’s embracing herself and her own behavior, but silly that she’d view her parents this way after realizing how much they care for her in the past.

And, as the story ends, the book reveals itself as a simple method for LSP to find a man who is exactly like her. Yes, Lumpy Space Princess loves herself and thinks she is the greatest person imaginable. We get it. LSP is at her best in episodes like Bad Timing or the upcoming Be Sweet, where her self-obsessed behavior is shown to be a mere facade that covers up her insanity based insecurities. Episodes like The Prince Who Wanted Everything feel like a rehash of everything we’ve already seen and know about the character. It’s like one of the lesser SpongeBob SquarePants episodes that focuses entirely on Mr. Krab’s absolute greed. We get that he’s greedy, it’s literally his archetype. We don’t need entire episodes centered around this one-note joke about a character’s personality. It makes them seem less two-dimensional and entirely more shallow. Lumpy Space Princess may perhaps be the most one-dimensional of the main cast, though she at least proves herself to be at her most interesting when her narcissism plays a role in her absolute mental instability, or the rare example where she’s actually able to benefit others through her repugnant attitude (such as the Elements miniseries). Yet, this episode doesn’t do justice to her character or the Fionna and Cake series in general. With a whopping four writers at the helm of this one, I’d expect more of a successful outing.

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Favorite line: “Y’all seeing those big floaty faces?”