Original Airdate: July 31, 2014
Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Seo Kim
Princess Day was a pretty big deal when it first came out. It not only had its own DVD release, but even released on said DVD two days before its original airdate, which is a first for the series in general. It was also advertised like CRAZY; promos for both the episode and the DVD ran rampant during every commercial break at the time, and had a special sneak preview at San Diego Comic Con. I have no idea where the hype for this episode came from, because the end result is pretty underwhelming and is far from a significant Adventure Time entry. There was also a similarly huge marketing campaign for Frost & Fire, though that at least made sense because it was a huge turning point for the series. It’s even more interesting to see that the last episode, Thanks for the Crabapples, Giuseppe! went mostly unadvertised and drew in more viewers than this episode. Wonder if Princess Day links back to the reason that Cartoon Network has some kind of burning vengeance with the series. Aside from that bit of history, Princess Day fairs at a slightly better LSP characterization than I’m used to (I’ve had trouble trying to get a feel for Seo Kim’s influence on the series in the past, but I’m starting to realize that she actually works pretty well with Lumpy Space Princess’s character), though it suffers from many other issues in return.
I think a lot the issues with this one stem from the story. I’m… not really sure how this one would have worked. The idea of all the princesses coming together to celebrate a “princess day” sounds like a cute idea, but one that doesn’t really seem as though it has many story options outside of an idea that sounds almost like fanfiction. In addition to that, I think it’s kind of lame that the meeting of princesses only contains a handful of princesses we’ve already seen before. It could’ve been a cool opportunity to meet some new princesses, or at least allow some of the lesser known ones to have their chance to shine. Hell, Jungle Princess and Purple Princess have been in this series since the beginning and have never been given a single line! Breakfast Princess even mentions a never-before-seen Business Princess, though she’s not even shown! Of course, it was strictly for gag purposes, but it just felt somewhat lazy given that the entire conference room is shown and there’s no sign of such a princess even being there. It was nice to see Grey DeLisle back as the ever petty Breakfast Princess and the newly vocalized Strudel Princess, whose voice I swore I recognized, and then I realized it’s because her voice actor, Melany Ochoa, voiced one of the kid characters from Gold Stars. While we’re on the subject, though, what the fuck happened to Toast Princess?? There’s something strangely uncanny about Strudel Princess, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some disturbing shit went on there.
I actually like what the beginning of the episode accomplishes. Putting LSP in such a role where she’s surrounded by materialistic people with an even more arrogant attitude instantly makes her more likable and sympathetic. It’s almost like a high school setting, where LSP is a person that we don’t really inherently love, yet she’s at least honest and less synthetic than the rest of the crowd. Her rebellious nature works in a sympathetic way, and does make me legitimately care for her. Breakfast Princess was layin’ down some harsh shit, after all. It’s LSP’s connection with another main character that causes the story to suffer.
I might as well start off by saying that I think it’s absolutely ridiculous how they phoned in Marceline avoiding the sun in this one. There’s the inclusion of a sunscreen bottle in the title card and at the beginning of the episode, but… I’m pretty sure that’s not how vampirism works?? I don’t think simply using sunscreen is a creative way to get around this issue, and the implication of it just makes no sense. Why wouldn’t Marceline just use sunscreen at all times then, aside from the fashion aspect? I really hated this element of the episode and it makes vampirism seem less like an actual disability for Marceline and more like a slight inconvenience. Moving on from that, the friendship between Lumpy Space Princess and Marceline certainly isn’t inherently bad; I think it’s actually kind of sweet that Marceline is into LSP’s behavior, and that she is able to relate to her on some level. It’s pretty cool to see Lumpy Space Princess with her first legitimate friend, because while she’s been shown to be semi-close with Finn and Jake, I think their kinship has kind of fizzled out by this point in the series (I’m only now realizing how little Lumpy Space Princess and Finn actually interact throughout the latter half of the series). And though Marceline has PB, it’s pretty obviously shown in this episode that Bubblegum can sometimes be a buzzkill in terms of Marcy’s rebellious streak. Thus, the friendship feels like a genuinely made development, but what writers Somvilay Xayaphone and Seo Kim do with said connection in this one is… odd.
The two plan on getting back at Breakfast Princess by breaking into her room and taking her belongings, so along the way they do so by injuring two innocent guards (or Maple Men, which are much less funny versions of the Banana Guards), nearly killing another, stealing Breakfast Princess’s car, hitting her with it, holding her hostage, and then accidentally destroying the car… okay. These are all semi-harsh things for the two gals to participate for, even given their streak of misdemeanors, though I think it’s the explanation of said behavior that really proves how misguided this episode is.
As LSP feels regret over their behavior, Marceline justifies it by saying, “I don’t think there are bad people. I think good people do bad stuff sometimes, and, oh, that’s bad. But only if you do it once, it’s just a mistake, and…that’s not bad. I think.” I guess it could be interpreted that Marceline’s explanation is purposely misguided, but man, it just makes her look somewhat stupid. I mean, how could any of their behavior be interpreted as mistakes? They continuously cause mayhem throughout the kingdom and do things that likely should’ve put them both in jail. I still can’t believe how genuinely calm Breakfast Princess was over this whole ordeal. And it’s weird, because I usually don’t think about this kind of stuff, but what kind of message is this sending out to the younger viewers? That doing bad things is okay as long as you acknowledge that they are mistakes after you commit them? To top it all off, Marceline mentions that she feels bad about stealing the CD. Uhhh, you feel bad about stealing a CD but not nearly killing four people? Princess Day really dumbs Marceline down to pretty extreme levels, and I can honestly say this is probably one of her worst appearances to date. After developing her moral conscience in great lengths throughout the series, this is what we’re shown that she has learned over the years?
The episode is pretty dry on humor as well. A majority of it focuses mostly on Marcy and LSP pulling their shenanigans, though these scenes are mostly just kind of… mean. I don’t really have a problem with mean-spirited humor, as long as it’s presented in a humorous light, but the way these Maple Men react to being attacked is more sad than actually amusing. It really paints Marceline and Lumpy Space Princess as genuinely shitty people in the process, so it’s hard to laugh along with this one on most levels, and hard to sympathize with the two even more when it comes down to their soul-searching.
From a technical aspect, Princess Day is decent. The backgrounds are pretty great in this one; I always love visiting Breakfast Kingdom and the various creative possibilities for its surroundings. This episode also utilizes quite a bit of CGI, and it blends quite nicely, especially during Marcy and LSP’s song sequence and the door that slooowly opens while LSP tries to come up with a distraction. It’s funny, however, that the 2-D aspect is lacking in quite a few scenes. There’s some clunky bits of animation throughout, mainly within Breakfast Princess’s room. There’s a scene where Marceline slaps all of BP’s CDs off of a desk and onto her bed, and it’s missing a few frames there. It’s depicted as if the pile just magically hops onto the bed with little mess being made.
So yeah, is there anything storywise I like about this episode? Very few moments come to mind; Strudel Princess taking over the Princess Day meeting was cute, though underdeveloped. I would have liked if this was branched out as an actual subplot, rather than just left for the end of the episode. And surprisingly… that’s it. I really can’t say this was an utter disappointment, because I didn’t really have high expectations for this one in general. Though it was advertised out the wazoo, I kind of figured that Princess Day would be overhyped. Regardless, I didn’t realize it’d be this bad either. Even the developments with LSP and Marceline’s friendship felt meaningless, as they’d only be shown as chums in two other episodes after this one, and it’s almost entirely sidelined when Bubbline begins to develop further. Princess Day is season six at presumably it’s absolute lowest, providing a story that’s utterly pointless in how mean-spirited it is and offering very little of substance in return.