Tag Archive | Kris Mukai

“Five Short Tables” Review

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Original Airdate: May 26, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Kris Mukai & Aleks Sennwald

Within the past 10 or so episodes, Adventure Time has been consistently churning out some really big and profound episodes. With that in mind, the obligatory Graybles/Fionna & Cake episodes likely feel more like a chore to the staff than a passion project by this point in time, which makes sense, since they chose to combine them. Both series are pretty hit-or-miss; while the Graybles episodes tend to get better, or at least more innovative as they go along, the F&C episodes only seems to get more lackluster and less fun as they go along. I can firmly state that Five Short Tables is nowhere near as awful as The Prince Who Wanted Everything turned out to be, though this one still fails to offer anything new or interesting to the series, and mostly just plays out as a dull, inoffensive use of 11 minutes.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but there just really isn’t a very strong presence among the F&C cast. They’re all essentially carbon copies of their counterparts with diminished charisma and character traits. After Bad Little Boy, Fionna essentially just began to take on the role of “token nice girl” and she doesn’t really offer anything else beyond that. Cake is really the only character who stands on her own as a unique adaptation of Jake, though I often wonder if I’d even think this way if it wasn’t for Roz Ryan portraying her. I will tell you with utter honesty, there’s nothing quite as soothing as hearing Ryan utter the word “flapjack” again. I have trouble believing that this wasn’t an intentional move on the staff’s part. I also think Cake’s interest in expressive pancake art is charmingly silly, though not really enough to keep me captivated throughout the episode’s run.

I will say that the one character who did at least become a trifle more interesting is Gumball. While he sadly isn’t portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris in this episode (though Keith Ferguson at least gave it his all), we actually see a decent amount into Gumball’s psyche as Butterscotch Butler, the butterscotch Scottish butler, mentally eviscerates him using his fears against him. Not only does it give us an interesting look into Gumball’s insecurities and fears, but these can be easily seen as aspects of PB’s mentality as well, of which I have no doubt came into play because Ice King was snooping on her diary. How else would he know these dirty deeds?

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The next few entries are pretty blah. I’m pretty sure a lot of people enjoy the scenes between Turtle Prince and Flame Prince for the added Yaoi, but aside from that, there’s really nothing there that’s particularly entertaining. I remember a whole bunch of people were upset that Flame Prince wasn’t voiced by Dante Basco (which was the headcanon at the time), but holy shit, I had no idea he was voiced by Hannibal Buress until I looked it up! I’m a big fan of The Eric Andre Show. In the next table, we’re treated to a story in which Marshall Lee attempts to feed Lumpy Space Prince his medicine. It’s pretty unfunny, it doesn’t really have an interesting narrative at the helm, and I just don’t really care about the antics between these two pretty non-compelling characters. There are two things worth mentioning: it’s pretty obvious that this is the third board that Kris Mukai worked on for this season when looking at Marshall Lee’s demon-wolf hybrid. I have to say that Mukai’s boarding is a big strength for the episode; Fionna and Cake is big on allusions to anime, and I think Mukai’s drawings and expressions (along with her board partner Aleks Sennwald) really help to carry those allusions forward. The other thing worth noting is that LSP is not voiced by Peter Serafinowicz in this episode, of which isn’t too much of a distraction, because I feel like it effectively distinguishes the authoring styles of both Ice King and Lumpy Space Princess.

The final story starts out pretty creatively, as we’re literally treated to a fanfiction, within a fanfiction, within a fanfiction, within a fanfiction. It’s an idea so ludicrous that only AT could pull it off, and is truly one of the few highlights of this episode that is both pretty funny and legitimately complex. It was cool to hear Grey DeLisle reprise her role as Ice Queen once more, though again, Ice Queen doesn’t offer too much to the actual story and her segment stops almost as quickly as it starts. It is a silly idea that Ice King is the initial creator of the Graybles, and the ending with the distressed Cuber got a legitimate laugh out of me. It’s sad to think that this is actually Cuber’s last episode in the series. While the Graybles episodes were never some of my favorites (aside from the thoroughly ambitious Graybles 1000+), Cuber was always the strongest and most delightful part of any Graybles episode, thanks to Emo Philips, who really brought his character to life.

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Five Short Tables is pretty forgettable. I obviously don’t know what goes on inside the AT writing room, but if I had to guess, I’d say that the F&C episodes come simply out of the pressure of audience expectations and are never entirely what the crew wants to spend their time working on. I can’t say for certain, but I’ll at least say that Aleks Sennwald and Kris Mukai put enough effort into the visual and creative appeal of this episode that I can’t really get mad at it for being lazy, because there’s clear effort put into this one. The truth of the matter is that Fionna and Cake just don’t really have a ton to work with outside of their first appearance and the Graybles stories never fully land. It’s a crossover of two concepts that work together fine, but don’t really standout as anything slightly remarkable.

Thank you for joining me this week for the AT review bomb! With only 50 episodes left, we’re nearing the end. Be on the lookout for The Music Hole later this week, followed by the usual weekly Friday reviews, and then we resume with daily reviews as we move into the winter.

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Favorite line: “The purple thing had a tablespoon of syrup.”

 

“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.”

“Varmints” Review

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Original Airdate: November 3, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Adam Muto & Kris Mukai

After an episode like The Comet, which successfully wrapped up Finn’s character arc for the time being, it’s quite fitting that, right off the bat, we’re able to dive deeper into Princess Bubblegum’s demotion dilemma in season seven. Bonnie & Neddy was a decent character exploration on its own, but I’m glad that we’re actually treated with an episode that deals with PB’s stress regarding her “throne-jacking” almost immediately after. It’s also really nice to see Marceline once more after her long-term absence in the previous season, in what makes for not only a great in depth look at Bubblegum’s turmoil regarding her status, but also her falling out with Marceline that has never been addressed in great detail up until this point.

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The beginning is just splendid. Any hesitation I felt about enjoying King of Ooo’s character in the last episode was immediately squashed after his brief scene in Varmints, which is purely hilarious. It’s also unique to this episode that Marceline and KOO actually interact with each other, and while their relationship is never explored in full detail (nor does it need to be) it’s cool to see that Marceline is familiar with him. I’m sure he caused tons of different issues for the two gals back in the day.

The feelings of anger that Marceline feels towards PB are totally warranted, especially after finding out that it’s been two whole months since KOO took over the Candy Kingdom. Granted, it’s been two months on KOO’s “Torontian” calendar, which could easily translate to two, maybe three weeks, tops. After working at rekindling their relationship in episodes like Sky Witch and Princess Day (and likely off-screen) Marcy probably feels hurt by the fact that Bonnibel still isn’t being honest with her even after they came to an understanding with each other, and even then, Bonnie isn’t really being honest with herself either. A lot of y’all replied to my review of Hot Diggity Doom and mentioned that PB didn’t technically get voted out of her kingdom, as she decided to quit instead, but I personally always figured that it was a mask for the benefit of her own pride. Though it was barely legal, the election depicted in Hot Diggity Doom clearly did show that the Candy People no longer wanted Bubblegum to run their kingdom, and while PB likely acknowledges that, she also has a failure to accept it. Hence why she once again mentions that she wasn’t kicked out and that she simply “quit.” Her breakdown later on shows that she likely doesn’t believe this as much as she tries to.

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A good amount of the first act is dedicated to Marceline and PB shooting the breeze by a pumpkin patch, and it provides for some really nice, laidback moments. A lot of what this episode accomplishes is similar to The Pajama War, where two characters were able to catch up and strengthen their relationship after a period of awkwardness. It’s nice to just watch PB and Marceline breathe and discuss whatever comes to mind with each other. Whether you ship Bubbline or not, this episode is able to be enjoyed on two different levels: those who personally view the two girls as old friends, and those who view them as past lovers. The episode makes it just vague enough that you’re able to gather as much as you truly want to from their interactions, and it doesn’t tease or pander in one way or another to distract viewers from the true meat of their relationship at hand.

The design of the varmints is really neat, and isn’t at all what I would expect these creatures to look like, though in a rewarding way. Their main facial design itself isn’t particularly unique, but the extra detail that is contributed to their limbs, caterpillar like tails, and many teeth makes them very versatile when it comes to their movements and their attacks. Speaking of nice, detailed designs, the beast form that Marceline transforms into is AWESOME! Said design is actually courtesy of Kris Mukai, who joined the staff for  a brief bit period of time this season. Mukai’s style is very distinctive, with the especially rounded and wider heads that each character sports, and her contribution of creating Marceline’s wolf design is exactly the kind of innovative move I like to see from guest board artists. Don’t even get me started on PB’s gun either, because I freakin’ love it. The fact that she can turn creatures into literal batteries, and magically create another weapon by simply setting the device to “two gun,” is hysterical. What a brilliantly convoluted mechanic. The crystal cave setting is also a pretty delightful, and it’s made more endearing and realistic by the fact that Marcy and Peebs have an actual history within the cave.

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Speaking of which, a large portion of this one focuses on Marcy and PB recapping their glory days, as well as what exactly went wrong and caused their falling out. This is as overtly emotional as the series has been in a long time, but it is welcomed and feels appropriate given that PB rarely ever expresses her feelings, and only does so because she’s lost practically everything. And man, does PB’s breakdown hit me hard. I totally sympathize with her situation; Bonnie put her blood, sweat, and tears into making her kingdom and the Candy People flourish to their fullest potential, and as a result, she lost practically everything that she had worked so hard to accomplish. She took on a nearly impossible task that practically no one else could achieve, but it also meant shutting off her humanity and pushing everyone away. It’s a sad fact of life and never easy to find that balance one way or another, and PB is learning the hard truth of what it means to be all work and no play.  After all that she’s been through, it’s no wonder that she would arrive at her lowest point here, but also at a point where she can regain that humanity once more. PB not only acknowledges all that she has lost, but starts to realize what she can gain from those losses, as she passionately vents to Marceline, who is nothing but understanding through the process. With this newly found respect, the two can rekindle their relationship that neither of them ever truly wanted to lose, and can also beat down some dern varmints in the process.

The episode ends on a perfect note, as an understandably tired PB rests her head on the arm of a close companion under the stars. All while a misinformed Peppermint Butler hides out at his boss’s request. Varmints is good fun with an emotional center. It’s packed with lots of enjoyable action, designs, backgrounds, and a genuinely compelling dynamic between Marceline and Bonnibel. The relationship between the two would only continue to develop as the series progresses, but this is certainly a great starting point for the two, and dare I say the best Marceline and Bubblegum episode to date.

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Favorite line: “Tell Bubblegum I wear her nightgown. Tell everyooooone!”