Tag Archive | Kent Osborne

“Belly of the Beast” Review

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Original Airdate: April 4, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mystery Train” Review

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Original Airdate: March 14, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

Story arcs and plot threads aren’t exactly told in a conventional way on Adventure Time. New doors are always being opened even when others aren’t closed, and some arcs could take up to three seasons to get a proper resolution. So there isn’t necessarily one continuing story, it’s typically a handful of separate self-contained ones. That being said, the one overarching story within the world of AT is the fact that time continually progresses over the course of the series. Finn and Jake each grow older and deal with their own issues: Finn with his entrance into adolescence, and Jake with his fear of aging. It’s a very natural progression that brilliantly changes the dynamic of the Land of Ooo, as the show generally becomes much darker as Finn begins to experience the world and the deep rooted issues that come with discovery. This is Finn’s first step into his teen years, as this episode explicitly makes use of his 13th birthday as a plot device. Already he begins to deal with situations that he normally wouldn’t, and it’s a nice transition into some of the heavier trials he’ll eventually experience down the road.

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The main plot of the episode does end up taking a pretty predictable turn. It’s made pretty obvious with Jake’s actions towards the beginning of the episode that the train conductor is him or has some sort of conspiracy related to Jake. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t supposed to be such an obvious twist, but I knew where it was going from the very start. That being said, there are a lot of silly scenes that help add some flavor to Mystery Train. John DiMaggio does a particularly great job as the train conductor; even if I found it predictable that Jake ended up being the conductor, I barely even noticed DiMaggio’s voice and could’ve even guessed that it was a different voice actor. He has such terrific range that he can easily mask his voice without drastically changing it. Some of the interactions between the Candy People are quite humorous, such as Candy Cane Guy repeatedly hitting Colonel Candy Corn in the face, as well as Kent Osborne playing Dr. Donut.

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Finn experiences one of his first big traumas when he believes Jake has been killed, and it’s a relatively emotional scene despite the fact that we all clearly know that Jake isn’t dead. It’s actually kind of fucked up when you think about it. Jake made Finn believe that he had actually been killed on Finn’s birthday. Happy birthday, Finn? A symbolic expression of Finn’s aging is the introduction of the root sword, his newest weapon of choice. All of Finn’s main swords are a great representation of his aging process, and can also attribute to his developmental growth. The root sword is a bit grittier and more complicated looking than his golden sword, and both of those aspects begin to form into his personality. This is also metaphorically the first time Finn “has wood”, which isn’t so much of an observation as much as it is an excuse more me to make an unnecessary innuendo.

Finn uses this sword to battle the conductor in what is a pretty decent action sequence. There’s some really well animated shots of the train, even incorporating CGI outside of the caboose. To my knowledge, this is the first time the series utilizes computer generated effects, and it doesn’t feel out of place at all; it really helps the episode feel more cinematic and makes the fight sequence pack more of a punch. Of course, Jake eventually reveals himself to Finn and the two celebrate with all of their friends… except for Princess Bubblegum… or Marceline… or BMO… or LSP… where are they at??

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What’s most effective about this episode is the ending reveal that Finn and Jake could’ve easily died on the train, which only adds to what I was saying about Finn’s entrance into adolescence. From here on, Finn will begin to experience many traumas, tribulations, challenges, and large amounts of identity building throughout his teen years.

Favorite line: “Climb aboard my train, little boy. You’re my new friend!”

 

“To Cut a Woman’s Hair” Review

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Original Airdate: January 10, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

One thing that Adventure Time does best is completely defying the viewer’s expectations and constantly keeping them on their toes. It’s not necessarily the shock humor you’d find on show like Family Guy, where it’s constantly trying to be in your face with over-the-top characters and situations, but it always has an element of surprise that you could have never predicted to see. Great examples of these are Magic Man’s reveal in Freak City or the Whywolves in Donny. This episode is the very first time we see Finn’s hair, and it isn’t treated like a big, significant reveal by the staff, network, or even the episode itself. It’s something that comes entirely out of the blue, and it’s hilarious, beautiful, and epic.

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When Finn does finally reveal his hair, the characters and visuals do treat it as if it’s a big deal, because it honestly is. The introduction of Finn’s hair and the fact that it’s immediately shaved off introduces something that isn’t regularly mentioned within the nature and world of the show: a clear timeline. We’re able to gather just how quickly or slowly time has passed by examining how long Finn’s hair has grown over a period of time. Considering we only get a legitimate mention of his age three times after season two, it’s rewarding to have this bit of continuity for fans to pick up on the changing times within the world, and it’s awesome to feel as though you’re in a world that’s constantly moving and growing. Again, the series manages to do this so ingeniously with something as simple as the length of Finn’s hair.

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Besides that, there’s a bit of world building for the other characters in this episode as well. We’re introduced to LSP living in the woods, which is a recurring home for her throughout the entirety of the series. This is also one of LSP’s better appearances in general. I really love the bulky and detailed way Somvilay draws her, and it adds a lot of oomf and personality to all of her dialogue. In addition, the scenes with Finn and Princess Bubblegum are especially cute, and she bestows upon Finn one of his most treasured possessions: a lock of her hair. Of course, this was specifically to serve the plot in this episode, but it would later become a source of affection, as well as obsession, for our hero.

The tree witch is a terrifically crafted antagonist, as she proves to be mildly likable despite her lunacy. Her voice is provided by Thurop Van Orman, the creator of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack and the voice of its titular character. Van Orman has such a distinct and unique voice, yet he can alter it to fit any type of role without it feeling like he’s doing the same voice. Same goes for his performance as Gideon Gleeful in Gravity Falls; he really can add flair to any of these characters without drastically changing his range.

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To Cut a Woman’s Hair is great because it works as a completely self contained episode but also increases on the expansion of the world of AT and the characters within it. I always figured that Finn’s hair would grow back fully by the next episode we saw it, if we ever saw it again, but the writers took in the account of Finn’s aging process and the growing of his character, and one of the greatest ways they took on that is through the length of his hair. Also, this is an episode that has Jake being tortured while Finn has to rescue him. What a change of pace!

Favorite line: “Girl, if I didn’t already have a G.F., I’d be on you like butter on toast!”

“Crystals Have Power” Review

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Original Airdate: November 29, 2010

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Jesse Moynihan

Interesting how I mentioned in my previous review that Jake isn’t necessarily concerned with his physical strengths and one episode later finds him worrying about being too abrasive with others. It’s a nice shift and some well warranted development to have two Jake-centered episodes in a row, even if this one doesn’t necessarily match the quality of the last episode.

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I really like the backstory element in this episode as well. This is the first time we are introduced to Joshua being Jake’s father, as well as his brother Jermaine. The Jermaine in this episode feels like a bit of discontinuity with the Jermaine we meet later on, but I’m willing to convince myself that he’s going through some type of midlife crisis. Jake trying to be “soft” while his best friend is being crystalized is a bit frustrating to watch, especially since this is the second episode in a row that Finn is being tortured while Jake chills on the sideline, but his interactions with the crystal guards are funny enough to carry a majority of the episode. It’s also important to keep in mind that Jake’s entire motivation behind controlling his strength is the fact that he hurt his best friend, so it’s heartening to know he was driven by the person he cares about most.

This is Jesse Moynihan’s first episode as a storyboard artist and he acknowledged that he hadn’t had much experience drawing before this episode. A lot of his drawings are a tad bit awkward and flat looking at times, but that’s not necessarily a jab at him. A lot of his drawings are off model, yet we don’t get many off model shots from this show in general. It’s actually somewhat refreshing to get some crude, floppy looking shots for once.

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Also, this episode marks the return of Tree Trunks! On the commentary for this episode, Pen Ward mentions that this episode went through several rewrites before the final product, and it kind of shows. In fact, Tree Trunks’ return wasn’t even included in the episode in the first two scripts, but Ward kept pushing for it to be a part of the episode. The writers do their best to blend the two plots together, but it almost feels as though half the episode is devoted to Jake’s crisis of life and the second half is devoted to Tree Trunks return. Whenever I think back to this episode, I always think about either the Jake plotline or the Tree Trunks plotline, but never both together.

Aside from that complaint though, both set pieces are relatively well done. I do have a warm place in my heart for Tree Trunks, and it’s delightful to have her return to the series once again. The episode ends in the greatest way possible: having our three central characters fly through a portal while a techno song about apple pie plays in the background.

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Favorite line: “If I had a penny for every time someone went crazy hopped up on magic energy… I’d be Abraham Lincoln!”