Tag Archive | Lumpy Space Princess

“Elements” Miniseries Review

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Elements is the last miniseries that Adventure Time has ever produced, and it really closed things up with a bang. I’ve debated up to this point whether I think that Islands or Elements is the better miniseries, and I’m still slightly torn. I think I definitely have the stronger emotional connection to Islands, but Elements as a whole is the least problematic miniseries as a whole. While I have a ton of problems with Stakes and a few minor ones with IslandsElements has very few actual issues that I can pinpoint. While Stakes and Islands had their weaker entries, Elements really doesn’t have any duds on its hands. It’s weakest episodes mainly are limited to being entertaining on a base level, but still, they’re at the very least entertaining.

The opening of Elements is AMAZING, and quite possibly my favorite alternate opening that AT has ever put out. There’s just sooo much going on in it. While I previously complained that Islands‘ intro was just limited to a long-pan of the ocean that didn’t look all that spectacular, Elements gives us a glimpse into each of the elementified kingdoms (with the exception of the Fire Kingdom) and even adds a bit of backstory to the events of Elements as a whole. There’s a brief bit of foreshadowing with a happy LSP floating through the literal elemental apocalypse. There’s also that really neat shot of Fern being fully consumed by the candy wave; everything is presented in such a quick and tense matter that there’s a ton to absorb in such a short amount of time. The downside is that, while Science SARU is usually top-notch when it comes to guest animation, there are some sequences that are awkwardly storyboarded that make it feel slightly wonky in execution. Hanna K. boarded this one, and while she usually is pretty competent from an artistic front, there are some scenes (namely the dynamic pan up towards Patience) that just feel a little sloppy. But, it’s so fast-paced that you barely even notice, and only really sticks out upon actual analysis. I also appreciate how cryptic the nature of the intro is in general; as usual, this miniseries lists off four main heroes, but Lumpy Space Princess’s role is barely even alluded to. It really keeps things interesting in that sense. I’m usually not a fan of PB’s singing voice all that much, but you can almost tell how much fun Hynden Walch is having singing that classic AT tune. It’s kind of hard to resist.

Oh, and holy shit, are those title cards beautiful! These have got to be some of my favorites in the series, with each title card shifting the main character of focus more and more to the left, which makes for a really neat looking banner. Joy Ang painted half of them, and while her art is always beautiful, Benjamin Anders, who joined the design team this season, really shines with his work in designing and painting a good majority of the cards.

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Like Islands and StakesElements features a main, ongoing story, but there’s also A LOT going on beyond the surface as well. You have the mysterious and often hostile relationship between Betty and Ice King, the constant tensions between the four kingdoms (of course, it’s only natural that the Fire Nation are the ones to attack), Lumpy Space Princess’s role as a hero, and the subtle, but still very much prominent, development of Finn and Jake’s relationship with each other. While F&J’s strengthened bond isn’t focused on as much as those other elements (pun intended), I think it’s undoubtedly this miniseries’ strongest arc. The passion behind Finn and Jake’s brotherhood is something that has been hit on numerous times throughout the run of the series, with great standout entries such as StorytellingMorituri Te SaltutamusSons of MarsDungeon Train, and Don’t Look, but never has it been more apparent how much they truly appreciate each other. Cloudy is, without a doubt, one of the best episodes Adventure Time has ever put out because it really emphasizes what makes the series so lovable to begin with: the simplicity of Finn and Jake and their friendship. I say simplicity not to undermine the complexities of their individual characters, but because their friendship is not bogged down by their baggage. Even with the weight of the world on their shoulders, Finn and Jake still manage to get by in their ability to enjoy each other’s presence and take delight in the simpler things. Cloudy had the potential to be a dark and grim entry, but it instead chooses to be a celebration of the positivity of our two heroes. It ultimately makes it all the more poignant when Jake is separated from Finn. We’ve seen Finn struggle without Jake plenty of times before, but the timing of their mutual trust that everything will end up alright makes consequences all the more dire, which in turn makes their reunion all the more heartwarming.

A surprising feat for this miniseries is that it also features Lumpy Space Princess at her absolute best. It’s really cool how such a shallow character can be incorporated into the overall lore of AT in a meaningful and believable fashion. It’s also neat that her development comes full circle by the end of Elements. LSP has always been a character that has lived in stagnancy and has been unable to actually grow because of the way she is and how she will always be. Here, Elements allows for her to be accepted and celebrated for who she is, rather than what society wants her to be, and I think that’s pretty swell. I’m usually fairly critical of LSP’s role in nearly any episode she’s in, but I really only have one nitpick for her arc in general: the way each writer handles her character can be somewhat inconsistent. I’ve mentioned before that a hidden talent of Seo Kim is portraying Lumpy Space Princess as sympathetic and thoughtfully as possible, and she’s really at her most likable in Hero Heart. She’s just as humorous in the following episode, but Steve Wolfhard portrays her as much more cold and detached from wanting to have any role in helping the people of Ooo. It feels a little bit of a drastic shift, but meh, it’s not something that particularly bothers me because I do appreciate each of these LSP entries.

The ongoing storyline featuring the elementified kingdoms is handled pretty successfully. While some of these individual explorations are (appropriately) silly, like the party-crazy Slime Kingdom, others are used as a deeper dive into more challenging allegories, like the question of whether permanent happiness is logical or not, or how easily controlled anger and rage truly are. There’s a nice balance of drama and fun mixed into it all, with the Candy and Slime Kingdom’s being used to showcase the comedy and fun of the shift, while the Fire and Ice Kingdom are used to emphasize how truly bleak this essential apocalypse is.

Then there’s Betty and Ice King, who work off of each other pretty greatly, though with some weak spots along the way. I’ll say this, I think Elements may be the best stories for Ice King and Betty’s characters individually. Ice King is still the lovable goofball we’ve come to love, but I really love how much of a team player he is in this. Ice King tagging along for Finn and Jake’s adventures has always left him either ignored or useless, but here, he’s actually one of the most competent members. Not only did he manage to avoid getting transformed entirely on his own (which may partially be a result of his crown) but he’s the only one who stays entirely focused on the central mission throughout this whole journey. Even Finn, who is understandably upset after losing Jake, is given a bit of reality check from ol Simon. It really shows how far his character has come and how truly devoted he is to being a hero in his own right. Betty is similarly terrific, for entirely different reasons. For one, she has a new voice actor that actually seems to care about the world itself, which helps for her character to truly shine through. Betty is still thoroughly sympathetic, and perhaps more-so than ever. I’ve mentioned this before, but even though she’s insane, she’s understandably insane, and it’s easy to get behind her woes knowing everything she’s been through. Not to mention she also has terrific comedic timing when interacting with other characters, such as Finn. It’s a perfect balance of wanting Betty to succeed, but also wanting Ice King to thrive in his own element. My few problems with their interactions stem from the fact that I think the pacing for Betty’s turmoil could have been panned out slightly better. It appears that she’s had it planned all along that she wants to steal the Enchiridion to get Simon back, but she has a brief moment of understanding and connectedness with Ice King in Hero Heart, which ultimately ends with her deciding to go through with her plan all along. It feels a bit out of place; I get that the endgoal was to make Betty’s betrayal a surprise, but I feel as though it allowed for false implications of development to still be executed and ultimately feel wasted by the end of it. Outside of Hero Heart, however, I thought everything moved relatively smoothly, so I’m nitpicking a bit.

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As for the rest of Elements, you’ll mostly find myself nitpicking a few other issues that are barely really issues. I think the elementified versions of the characters are slightly gimmick-y in who is affected (Sweet P. is not, but Gunther is; Finn’s flame shield doesn’t protect him, but Cinnamon Bun’s weaker shield does) as well as the fact that everyone has conveniently clever names for their transition, but it’s all in the spirit of suspension of disbelief, and to harp on the latter point would just show how soulless and not fun I truly am. I also believe that the first half of Elements is objectively better than the second half, but that’s not to say that those last four episodes are bad by any means. Elements just started out unbelievably strong and I don’t think those first few entries are met in quality by the second half.

I typically don’t talk about storyboard teams during the miniseries(s) because pretty much every staff member gets a chance to shine, but something still baffles me about Elements… where was Tom Herpich? Steve Wolfhard had a guest spot with Laura Knetzger in Winter Light, and then worked on Skyhooks II entirely on his own. Was Herpich just busy at the time, or did he purposely opt-out of storyboarding for the miniseries? I dunno, it’s a strange absence that really just has me scratching my head.

Best to Worst Episodes

  1. Cloudy
  2. Bespoken For
  3. Skyhooks
  4. Winter Light
  5. Happy Warrior
  6. Skyhooks II
  7. Hero Heart
  8. Slime Central

Final Consensus

It’s no wonder that season eight is such a renaissance period for past fans of the series, as it really just gets better and better as it goes along, and Elements is a prime example of that. It’s a celebration of everything that the series started out as and everything it has become, allowing for non-stop fun and non-stop lore to blend in seamlessly. I’m overall excited to move on to a non-miniseries, because Islands and Elements have basically consumed my life for the past few months, but overall I was just really happy to get to rewatch these two landmark AT entries once more. Might be a controversial statement, but I truly do think that Islands and Elements may be the two best batches of episodes that the series has EVER put out.

 

“Skyhooks II” Review

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Original Airdate: April 24, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard

Something that sets Skyhooks II apart from its predecessors The Dark Cloud and The Light Cloud (aside from a pretty lazy name) is that this miniseries finale focuses less on the idea of absolute closure and instead, in typical AT fashion, opens the floor up for even more questions. It only makes sense that such a huge and drastic change to the Land of Ooo is not met with an immediate resolution on all levels. Skyhooks II directly affects the remainder of the series in several different ways, making it feel perhaps the most important and crucial miniseries storywise. It also helps that the finale itself is thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking.

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The episode starts off right where the previous episode left off, as an endangered Finn is saved by the newly heroic LSP. It’s actually news to me that the “Bon Bon Ballad” that PB sings is NOT a pre-existing licensed song. I always thought that it, along with the other songs featured in Elements, were ripped directly from outside sources. But it’s not, and hey, it’s pretty catchy! I also love how PB’s horrifyingly strong powers are combatted by just how sweet and pleasant she is. For all of AT‘s straight-up villainous characters like Oragalorg, Hunson, and the Lich, it’s profound to me that one of the toughest baddies that the boys, and all of Ooo, have been up against is menacing in her own sweetness.

Even more fittingly contradictory is that one of Ooo’s most powerful heroes is the disinterested and self-absorbed LSP. Per usual, her behavior throughout this miniseries continues to amuse me. I love that the power within her to potentially save the world could have stopped things a lot sooner if she had just listened to her parents for once. Kinda reminds me of Lemonhope, in a way – you have these two prophetic beings who just want absolutely nothing to do with what they were prophesied to be. Aside from verbal humor, this is also a pretty decent visual episode as well. Steve Wolfhard boarded this one entirely on his own, being the second he’s done solo since Graybles 1000+, and it looks pretty great. Love LSP’s hand sinking into her cheek as she gushes over Michael by the fire.

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On the other side of things, Betty has lost her fucking marbles. After building her up as semi-competent throughout the run of ElementsSkyhooks II throws that all out the door in order to show off her true nature: a hopeless romantic who is destined on preventing any tragedies in her life and others, even if it means preventing the Mushroom War as a whole (even Prismo and Cosmic Owl are shocked!) Betty’s plight is hugely similar to Magic Man’s that we saw in You Forgot Your Floaties, as we watch her go to extreme lengths in order to be reunited with the one she loved, even if that means altering the world as we know it. While MM’s role in that episode was certainly sympathetic, Betty’s role in Skyhooks II is definitely more tragic, or it at least feels that way. Betty’s obviously insane, but you can’t really blame her for being insane either. The man she once loved has turned into a decrepit, goofy, old man, with absolutely no logical solutions in sight. That’s enough to turn anybody insane, and Felicia Day does an absolutely stupendous job at capturing both the madness and sadness that lives inside Betty.

But, something amazing happens during the run of this episode that has changed my perspective on Ice King as a whole. While Betty has a great sympathetic role, Ice King has an even greater one. Up to this point, I’ve been pretty supportive for Ice King’s “cure” that would ultimately revert him back to his former self because I always saw Ice King as an alternate version of Simon. But then, we get this brilliant line that really picked at my brain:

“Lady, this Simon sounds cool, but I’m Ice King! I guess I’m a special person, and I am worthy of respect.”

Ice King’s charm and charisma has always come from this fact that he’s a lovable, creepy goof, but this line alone humanizes him more than the series ever has. Ice King is an individual, he is his own person, and he is not Simon. So, with that in mind, is it really ethical on any level to “save” Simon if it means erasing Ice King? The IK, while occasionally harmful, is still very much a socially conscious person who is susceptible to all of the privileges that any other living being has, such as personal growth and self-actualization. Since Holly Jolly Secrets, the mindset I have always had is “it’s so sad what happened to Simon,” but now, if Simon were to be restored to his former self, my thought process would change entirely to “it’s so sad what happened to Ice King.” The show has really done it’s damnedest to add as much empathy to not only Simon’s character, but also Ice King’s, throughout the past few seasons. Even with an episode like I Remember You, which I LOVE, Ice King is kind of viewed more as a plague than someone to be celebrated. Skyhooks II acknowledges that, yes, the loss of Simon is sad, but at least we got Ice King out of it, and despite his shortcomings, he deserves respect like anyone else. Not only is this terrifically represented through IK’s line alone, but also the explosion that destroys his bespoked suit, exposing his classic blue moomoo and the return of his crown. It feels like a final, definitive statement that Simon is gone (for now) and that Ice King is here to stay, and that’s okay too! Elements has been a truly profound experience for the ice man.

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As we return to PB’s sweet-pocalypse, it’s especially fitting that Patience St. Pim once again chooses to freeze herself instead of dealing with the consequences and her mortality at hand. Similar to Betty, Patience is still unable to deal with the changes and transitions in the world around her, and this time it was her own doing. As AT has shown time and time again, history repeats itself, and Patience may never learn to accept her own fate. History repeating itself is also humorously shown in Ice King’s behavior; even after all of the growth and development he’s experienced, he still can’t seem to remember who in God’s name Betty is. Betty will never forget her Simon, but Ice King can’t seem to remember a woman of whom he interacted with minutes earlier.

LSP’s “bullish” nature proves to be the most effective it’s ever been by changing the DNA of elementified Ooo citizens back to their natural states of being. Elements has already been jam-packed with characters prior, but Skyhooks II welcomes back a number of secondary characters, some of which we haven’t even seen before during this miniseries! Namely Bronwyn, James Baxter, Toronto, and Huntress Wizard. The real icing on the cake is watching BMO hold Fern’s hand, though. That shit melted my heart. It’s a pretty triumphant moment for LSP’s character, and even kind of wraps up her arc as a whole. The most cynical Adventure Time character is finally shown to be worthy for the exact reason that she was excluded for prior. There’s no LSP-centric episodes following Skyhooks II, probably just for time constraints, but it’s a decision I felt was most appropriate and satisfying.

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As I mentioned, Skyhooks II has several lasting cliffhangers: Sweet P.’s regrown horn, Ice King’s loose jewel, Jake’s… haircut, and Betty’s judgment from Normal Man. I always wondered how/why Betty ended up at Mars… was she transported there from the Enchiridion explosion, or did Normal Man transport her there personally? Either way, it’s clear that her tampering in chaotic magic has put her on trial for the same reasons MM was put on trial prior. The episode, and miniseries, closes with the revelation that Jake has reverted to his shapeshifter form (which again, is slightly gimmicky… why didn’t Fern revert to both the Finn Sword and Grass Sword? Why didn’t Gunther revert to Orgalorg?), but at least he’s reunited with his brother. Probably the most important thing that Elements has sought to accomplish, beyond its story, is the reinforcement of Finn and Jake’s strong bond with each other, and it pays off beautifully. Jake’s simple “I love you,” is irresistibly sweet, with clear compassion and sincere love in John DiMaggio’s voice.

So, that was Elements, and it was better than I remember! I always dug it, but its strong-points really do stand out as some of the best entries AT has ever put out. Next week, I’ll be taking a look at the miniseries as a whole. Islands and Elements took a lot out of me; two miniseries that I was hoping to get done by February ended up taking three months to complete. But, regardless, I’m eager to continue on as we enter in to the last leg of Adventure Time as a whole!

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Favorite line: “People say you shouldn’t live in the past! But I say, ‘Why not?’ I love it.”

“Hero Heart” Review

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Original Airdate: April 27, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Seo Kim & Somvilay Xayaphone

Hero Heart is pretty base-level story stuff. Similar to Slime Central, it’s a perfectly enjoyable entry, but it doesn’t really stand out for a ton of different reasons like its predecessors. The summary for this one promises and all-out war between the Fire Kingdom and Candy Kingdom, but it’s a lot more small-scale in its execution and a bit middling at that. But, like the rest of Elements, it has its standout moments that range between thought-provoking and hilarious.

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Similar to its predecessors, Lumpy Space Princess is probably at her most likable. It’s funny to mean how little of her vanity comes out within this episode; Happy Warrior was all about showing how her self-absorbed nature in the brink of destruction can be really hilarious, while Hero Heart goes for a more poignant approach. I’ve said before that I think Seo Kim has a hidden talent for writing LSP at her absolute most sympathetic, and it really shines through in this entry. I found her line of “will I be the last witness to the glory of this world that I chose above all others?” pretty profound and lamentable. This line is made even more impactful when we realize that LSP’s happy place that keeps her grounded is her own home. LSP chose Ooo because it’s where she’s able to have freedom above everything else, but I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily been good to her. She’s been rejected, hurt, and now her entire world is falling apart around her. Her regrets are clear, but LSP is far too prideful to ever admit that she needs the support from her parents and her past home to get her by. But, regardless, this is where LSP spent her best days. She has the memories of simpler times to help her get through the worst of situations, and after years of her seemingly unnecessary resent towards her home world, this feels particularly satisfying.

In the same sense, it’s even sweeter that Finn’s “happy place” centers around his relationship with Bubblegum. I think there’s clear implications within this sequence that can easily lean on the more romantic side, but also in a more platonic sense. I get the feeling that Finn will always love PB no matter what, even if he’s not vying for her. He still has a deep affection for her, and even though he’s more than happy to continue through life without her as a partner, he’ll always be reminded of the soft, nostalgic memories of the innocent feelings he once felt for her. Similarly, it’s also easy to see how this happy place revolves around his shift from no longer burning for her and instead being able to connect with her in the most compromising way possible (the Pajama War clip easily infers this). I sort of lean towards the former as the more interesting option, but I think either is a really sweet reminder about how much Bubblegum truly means to Finn.

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There aren’t a ton of new character cameos in this one, but I’m perfectly fine with the returning players we got in return. It was fun to see Lemonpink and the Tree Fort gang again, and man, Tim Kiefer’s score is freakin’ stellar during their travels in the lemonade cart. I remember there was a ton of fans gushing over Marceline and Flame Princess interacting within this episode, but honestly, it just kind of distracted me by making me realize that we’ve never seen Marceline interact with Finn’s only girlfriend. Man, we missed an opportunity for some really cool wingman stuff, didn’t we? There’s other cool interactions going on throughout this one, like the return of Lumpy Space Princess and Marcy’s friendship that always seems to turn back up in Seo and Somvy entries. Ice King and Betty’s relationship is still really charming, even if Betty’s true desires arise by the end of the episode. Like I’ve said before, Elements really is a spectacle for Ice King at his most charismatic. He’s genuinely competent and likely the strongest survivor currently in Ooo. Coupled with the fact that he’s still the hilarious goof he’s always been… that brief shrug during Betty’s maniacal laugh was absolutely hilarious and definitely the biggest chuckle of the miniseries thus far.

Otherwise, Hero Heart mainly works as an opportunity to move the miniseries forward in several different ways: Lumpy Space Princess’s resistance to elemental powers, Betty’s betrayal towards Finn, and the inevitability of the Candy Kingdom’s rule over everything. It’s all enjoyable, but I don’t think it’s really worth talking about until the actual final chapter of Elements. We’re provided tons of hints, in typical AT fashion, but nothing that I can really dig into or analyze beyond their obvious implications. Hero Heart does leave us off on a horrifying and unsettling note, as the now transformed Candy People creep in to an unprotected Finn singing “Let Me Call You Sweet Heart.” It’s a terrifically terrifying close that transitions us into the grand finale of Elements, which surely feels like a grand culmination (and one big cliffhanger) off of everything we’ve gotten thus far.

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Favorite line: “I got, like, the morals and the charisma and the good looks, but I lack field experience!”

“Happy Warrior” Review

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Original Airdate: April 26, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Polly Guo & Sam Alden

The Elementified Fire Kingdom may just be my favorite of the four kingdoms we get to visit! I think it’s definitely the most interesting on a thematic level, without a doubt. While the Ice and Slime Kingdom’s environments were met with resistance and refusal from the boys, tendencies towards rage and anger are not as easily combated. I don’t know if anger is technically easier to fall into than sadness, but it’s definitely more tempting, especially when faced with Flame Princess’s history prior. FP’s initial development was centered entirely around her struggle between her own morality and her tendencies towards destructiveness. Here, Finn ends up going through the exact same thing, and it’s a lot of fun to see the little guy battle between his own abilities of self-control.

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I don’t know what it is about Lumpy Space Princess’s portrayal throughout this miniseries, but she’s waaay funnier than she usually is. I think it might have something to do with the fact that her lack of concern and self-centered nature is such a sharp contrast from the literal apocalypse that is going on around her that I can’t help but laugh. I typically don’t like when her self-absorbed nature is used strictly to inconvenience those around her, but I find her efforts to be, at the very least, charmingly destructive. Even when she’s shown to be destroying Finn’s phone, it’s only because she doesn’t want him to suffer from losing Jake. It’s kind of sweet in a somewhat aggressive way.

The Fire Kingdom looks AWESOME. The FK was already pretty chaotic and colorful in nature, so it’s really cool that, instead of choosing to expand on what was already in existence, the background designers went with something entirely different. Instead of being permeated with red and orange schemes, the Fire Kingdom goes for a more hushed, yet desolate blend of blue, white, gray, and black (along with the purple flame shield that really helps to make Finn, Gunter, and LSP pop!). Happy Warrior is also equipped with some more stellar cameos, and some of the most obscure yet, such as Fire Wyatt (who is just as whiny as ever) and the long awaited return of one of my favorite side characters, Flambo! The staff definitely had a lot of fun with the designs on this one, with Wyatt’s sick armor and Flambo’s overly-comical get-up. Of course, this episode also introduces my favorite of the elementified characters – Lady Flamicorn! Her design is just so rad, as her long-flowing hair has shifted into the blue flames that embody the majority of the kingdom. In general, it’s a really neat idea that they decided to take such a sweet character such as Lady and turn her into a vengeful beast – it’s probably the most drastic shift out of ANY of the AT crew. It’s also sweet how Finn considers Lady to be “like family.” Even after being downgraded to such a tertiary role within the series, Lady’s presence still feels significant.  There’s lots of great gags spread throughout these sequences as well. I’ve missed Gunther’s role as a simple temperamental penguin, and it’s a lot of fun to see his unpredictable nature in play. Of course, it raises the question as to why he was affected but Sweet P. wasn’t, to which I have two suggestions: 1. The Gunther that is featured here isn’t the same penguin that embodies Orgalorg. 2. I dunno, maybe the writing staff just didn’t think about it? The latter is a bit harsh, as it’s just another one of those gimmicky Elements moments that doesn’t really make a ton of sense, but is still fun and not entirely distracting in the long run.

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Cinnamon Bun also returns in this one, and man, I never get tired of some badass CB. The lines provided for him in this episode are too suave, and Dee Bradley Baker reads them off with such poise. It’s also just neat to picture Cinnamon Bun in such a position where he’s one of the last survivors during the collapse of society. From the guy who previously almost started a zombie apocalypse five seasons earlier, that’s a hugely impressive feat. He’s obviously not a full-blown hero like Finn, as he doesn’t attempt to necessarily fix anything, but his cold, detached, loner type self makes him all the more intriguing as a guardian and protector. He even managed to control an elementified Jake 2!

Like Bun BunHappy Warrior is riddled with tiny Finn and FP developmental moments. I love Finn reflecting on his past relationship with her knowing (or at least thinking) he could get through to her, while also acknowledging that he’s completely happy with having a platonic friendship that he worked so hard to achieve. LSP also has some great comic relief moments in feeling like an overly invested member of the fandom, as she hounds Finn about Flame Princess and repeatedly addresses anything that is happening as it’s happening. Somewhat reminiscent of Padparadscha.

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Flame Princess’s dragon form is also pretty dope in its uniqueness. While PB, Patience, and Slime Princess all have undergone minor design changes to where they are still recognizable, FP’s shift is the most drastic and most complex. It’s quite profound to me that Finn, who has done a terrific job at managing his anger and rage throughout the run of the episode, is only transformed into a beast after his plans to save Jake are ruined. Elements really has to be the best Finn-Jake arc of the entire series, as it really does its best at showing us just how much Finn and Jake care for each other in various different ways. Finn’s able to stay calm and caring, but once his brother is messed with, he’s unable to suppress the rage within him.

LSP’s method of getting the attention of every fire person is quite funny, but I also found it to be slightly sad for some reason. I thought her question of “why isn’t everyone more like me?” felt like an inquiry of desperation more than anything. LSP has been rejected time and time again (and just recently in Slime Central) and I feel as though this was of an implication of her failure to relate to others more than anything. Of course, I could be reading way too far into things, but we wouldn’t have a blog if I didn’t, now would we?? The ending leaves off on a cliffhanger that of course follows through in the very next episode. Not much to say about it here, aside from the hilarious mention of “Wyatt?” as LSP calls out to her friends.

Happy Warrior is fun and visually stunning. Certainly the best looking episode of the bunch (though not by much!) and just as equally hilarious and interesting. As I said, I really dig the back-and-forth between chaos and control that Finn experiences within this episode, and LSP provides some much needed comic relief between the sections of rage and terror. Also, with its terrific cameos and characterization, it’s one of the strongest of the miniseries, and definitely one of the most enjoyable at that.

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Favorite line: “My wolf is also a loner. We are both loners!”

“Be Sweet” Review

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Original Airdate: June 2, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Seo Kim & Somvilay Xayaphone

Season six has certainly not been kind to LSP’s character. The Prince Who Wanted Everything was another example of the series using her extreme vanity as a cheap way to garner laughs, while Princess Day was a thoroughly unpleasant experience that focused on Marcy and LSP at their absolute shittiest. Be Sweet, on the other hand, is a refreshing visit from her character that poses similar attributes to the season five episode Bad Timing. Be Sweet doesn’t shift LSP’s character around to make her feel more sympathetic, but it uses her vanity and obnoxious behavior to help elaborate on the true insecurities that are hidden inside of her.

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Though LSP’s behavior is obnoxious throughout the episode, as expected, there’s something about her demeanor that makes me actually enjoy it rather than deplore it. I sort of like her taking in the luxuries of having a small house to enjoy her time in, even if that means she’s abusing her power as a babysitter to do so. It doesn’t really make her behavior likable, but at the very least, enjoyable. It’s fun to also see how Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig react to said behavior, as they’re actually depicted as pretty competent parents in this episode! I didn’t think they were necessarily bad parents in Gold Stars, but their belief that Sweet P. should be left alone inside their house simply because he was doing good was based entirely in ignorance for themselves. It seems they learned their lesson after presumably learning the truth about the one true King of Ooo, and thus decided to get a babysitter, even if that meant it was LSP. I thought Tree Trunks’ explanation of how she says goodnight to Sweet P. in general was just adorable; even in utter stupidity, Tree Trunks is still a delightfully caring person. And as if The Pajama War didn’t feature an angry enough Mr. Pig, this episode has him shoot absolute death glares at Lumpy Space Princess. I seriously don’t think there’s a single storyboard artist on the show who draws Mr. Pig funnier than Somvilay.

Sweet P. is also a delight in this one, and much more enjoyable than in his previous appearance. This episode really ups the humor with his character by making some really terrific sight gags with just how large he is, along with audio gags as well. The fact that Sweet P. stomps every single time he takes a step is, for some reason, really hilarious to me. I dunno, it’s just really enjoyable watching this really cute child character within the body of a giant, monstrous form, and I think Be Sweet has a lot more fun with it than Gold Stars did. This one also plays with his creepiness too, using it for humor, as well as playing it straight forward when necessary. I like that, even without knowing that Sweet P. is the Lich, the candy citizens are genuinely terrified by his appearance. I criticized Ethan Mayer’s performance as Sweet P. in my review of Gold Stars while also acknowledging that he’s a child actor and it’s really not his fault, but I think the wooden nature of his performance actually contributes to Sweet P.’s deliveries in this one. It allows for lines like “will you be sweet to me?” to capture the essence of cuteness, humor, and absolute terror, all in one line that isn’t really supposed to be taken exactly one way. It’s pretty nice and I think it adds a lot to Sweet P.’s character in general: he can evoke a lot of different emotions all at once.

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Back to the LSP side of things, it continues to be enjoyable to watch her soak in the simple joys of living, and also nice to see that she still remains in touch with Marceline! I know most people probably hated this bit, but I loved watching Marceline pick bugs out of her navel. I feel like it’s a friendly reminder that she is a demon and a vampire, after all, and probably doesn’t live the most sanitary life. I mean, we have seen her pick her nose, after all. But it’s nice to see her spending her private time taking care of that sort of thing. I’m sure PB wouldn’t be happy with a navel filled with creepy crawlers.

The episode becomes really intense and interesting once the raccoon who was seen at the beginning of the episode enters Tree Trunks house, and starts muttering insults at LSP. Of course, it’s clear that the raccoon isn’t actually talking, and that LSP is merely projecting her own thoughts and envisioning it as the words of the raccoon. For LSP, the raccoon represents her at her absolute lowest, being forced to live in the woods in the absolute lowest of conditions possible, and a reminder that it is the life she leads. The words that LSP imagines the raccoon speaking are representative of the idea that she is afraid that she doesn’t deserve good things in life, and that that’s she’s nothing more than just an animal herself. The confrontation is pretty emotionally intense, and characterizes that sympathy I mentioned earlier. Though LSP put herself in a position where she’s abusing the nice things given to her, she isn’t able to fully enjoy them, simply because she intrinsically believes that she doesn’t deserve nice things. Even through her own vanity, LSP is deeply insecure and as judgmental of herself as she is with other people. The raccoon even utters, “just accept that you’re garbage,” meaning that LSP wants to believe that she’s a good person and that she has a greater purpose in life, but is constantly brought down by the idea that she is nothing more than a useless hobo. It propels her to do the first selfless thing she’s done in the entire episode, which is to find Sweet P. somewhere in Ooo. It’s another instance of LSP technically being in the wrong, but I still care for her situation and hope that she is able to make things right. LSP is at her best when she is faced with these insecurities, because she’s able to come up with legitimate reasons as to what does, or what will, help her to be a better person. When she finally does reunite with Sweet P., it makes for a cute and endearing scene that shows that Lumpy Space Princess did actually pay attention to Tree Trunks’ words, even if it was implied she didn’t, and Sweet P. seems legitimately content and happy with her treatment. Considering that the root of all evil is contained within Sweet P., this could have ended much, much worse.

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The main story ends on an appropriately hilarious note, because even though LSP did manage to successfully rescue Sweet P., she also ruined Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig’s entire house in the process. And to cap it all off, LSP even thinks that she deserves to raise Sweet P. on her own, and is appropriately kicked out. Again, the episode manages to give depth to LSP’s character without necessarily sacrificing who she is, which makes for some truly potent moments, as well as hilarious. And, as she returns to her former state, she does slightly accept her role as Ooo’s most prominent hobo by partaking of the chicken she sought to resist. Oh, LSP.

This episode is pretty solid on all levels. Has a good jumble of funny moments, and expands on LSP’s character in all the right ways. After an entire season of some truly deplorable LSP entries, it’s nice to have this one that does something legitimately meaningful and telling with her character. Despite my overall mixed feelings about his character, it’s also nice to have Sweet P. back again, and this time his connection to the Lich is barely even elaborated on. Though it’s primarily what makes Sweet P. interesting, it is cool to feature his character being able to just breathe and be (somewhat of) a normal child for once. He is able to have that genuinely chilling moment at the end, as we learn that the catalyst comet is closer than ever, and that it will be converging with Ooo very shortly.

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Favorite line: “Maybe we can get, uh, Neptr to sit. I don’t know.”

“Princess Day” Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Favorite line: “I can’t just pop out eggs on command! I’m an artisan!”

“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?”

“Bad Timing” Review

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Original Airdate: March 3, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Pendleton Ward

Lumpy Space Princess’s vanity and ego make her quite the difficult character to feel sympathy for. While all of the characters within Adventure Time have their fair share of flaws throughout the run of the series, all of them at least have something that gives me a reason as to why I should care for them, that is, all except for LSP. Bad Timing does the unthinkable. It manages to make me care for LSP’s character in a way I really never imagined. And this isn’t an episode that gives a cute or likable side to her character; the episode still does its damndest to show that LSP is crazy and arrogant in her own lumpy way, but it’s exactly that kind of attitude and behavior that directly contributes to the tragedy of her character as a whole. This is all tied together with a unique framing device that includes some delightfully silly creations from Pen Ward and Kent Osborne, and helps to all connect to Bad Timing’s piteous ending.

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The episode is introduced to Princess Bubblegum once again battling the logic behind anomalies and magic in contrast to her deep faith in her own scientific studies. Her method of time travel is also rather complex, but interesting. The back-to-back bickering between PB and Jake is quite enjoyable, as always; I really enjoy this playful conflict between the two. It’s pretty obvious that Jake is more captivated by presentation rather than the deep intervals of the space time continuum. He’d rather just see cool time portals and shit than a big presentation about the construct of time, which PB fails to understand, ultimately diminishing her faith in magic even more. It’s also nice to see one of the Mud Scamps from The Hard Easy back again! I love those quirky little critters.

As LSP enters the scene, it’s already clear what her current state of mind is. After literally sleeping in a gutter for the night (a terrific metaphor for her deranged mindset), she nearly tears PB apart for not allowing her to use the time device to visit her past boyfriend Brad. We haven’t seen a ton of LSP this past season and a half, as her only major appearances were in Candy Streets and Apple Wedding, where her deteriorating mental health is in clear view. And this one does not hold back when showing LSP at her absolute craziest and most desperate. It isn’t devoid of some of her funnier moments as well; Pen Ward gives his all with this performance, showcasing Lumpy Space Princess and her most loud and obnoxious, but also her most passionate.

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While LSP drowns her worries at the Candy Kingdom Tavern, as Tree Trunks softly sings “Slow Boat to China” (a referential moment I actually quite enjoy), she comes across Johnnie, or as she called him in high school: “Ugly Johnnie.” Johnnie is the perfect example of just a likable “nice guy” character. He’s certainly not the most interesting character that has ever starred on the show, but I don’t really think that was the point. He’s just supposed to be this really sweet guy who shows Lumpy Space Princess something that she has probably never received, or at least accepted: care and compassion. He’s also not without his funny moments, mostly stemming from his clear social awkwardness and quirky behavior. I like how corny and kind of stilted his interactions with LSP are. They laugh about using a vinyl record to stimulate a face, and then Johnnie immediately just tells Lumpy Space Princess to sleep on his couch. Talk about a confident and forward man! And honestly, Johnnie is the perfect representation of “that person from high school who went waaay under the radar.” I think all of us who have gone through high school know that one person you look at now and just wonder “damn, where were you three years earlier?” Is that rude? I don’t know.

But the utter tragedy of it all is seeing just how well LSP responds to all of this. She isn’t demeaning, she isn’t arrogant, and she isn’t being vain. She genuinely enjoys the company of Johnnie, and is much happier with herself and her life spending time with someone that not only benefits her own existence, but somebody that she can care and love for as well. Johnnie was able to build confidence and self-esteem through her own actions, and carried those skills over to get a job within the Candy Kingdom. Lumpy Space Princess most likely only dated guys who were physically attractive for a social status back in Lumpy Space, so this is definitely the first boyfriend she has had who isn’t completely materialistic. But of course, LSP’s desire for love is still a very self-centered desire. Though she’s able to give love to Johnnie, anything threatening the love that he gives her ultimately threatens the relationship as a whole. Lumpy Space Princess doesn’t know that love requires trust and flexibility; her only understanding of true love is that it feels good and that she doesn’t want the high to leave. Especially in this case, seeing as how Johnnie is a legitimately kind and loving guy, she does not want to lose him or the way he feels about her for anything.

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During Johnnie’s dinner with Princess Bubblegum, LSP sits sadly outside and utters a monologue that is so raw and passionate that I couldn’t help but include it in this review.

Oh, Johnnie… Ugly Johnnie, through my tender love you have metamorphed into Beautiful Johnnie Butterfly. Every relationship, I gamble with my heart. I go all in because the payoff is true love. I see you when I close my eyes, and thinking of you makes my mind feel light. All my problems fade away, and I can’t help smiling. To let someone you love go into the arms of another takes a big person. I don’t know… if I can be that big.

This is one of my favorite soliloquies in the show, and honestly the best representation about what Lumpy Space Princess as a character is all about. It’s easy to dismiss her as crazy, but even easier to empathize with her viewpoint on love and how important it can make one feel. Yet, it’s important to also realize that LSP isn’t in love… she has only known Johnnie for a day. However, the impact of the brief relationship and the effect it had on her is exactly what makes her feelings so validated. LSP is a person constantly looking for love, and one that struggles so hard to ever find it. For the first time in her life, she’s at least found a genuine person who she could actually see herself with. The thought of mutual love is enough to make her as high as could be, and the only thing that actually threatens her is the loss of that love. It’s a lot similar to Braco’s situation in The Suitor: if the two of these characters were patient and understanding with their alleged loved ones, they would have ended up having a much more positive resolution. Yet, LSP is left with only her paranoia and feelings of heartbreak, which continue to contribute to her own self-destructive behavior. She’s unable to look past her own insecurities because she is afraid of losing everything she has worked so hard to create, even though she’s actively destroying exactly what she wanted in the first place. In a very Lumpy Space Princess-y way, this is a very sad truth when it comes to love and infatuation.

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And of course, let’s not forget the tranch herself, Princess Bubblegum. I think PB is written pretty terrifically in this one, and it’s a nice balance to show her caring and compassionate side after sooo many episode of referencing her more shady and conniving nature (though he use of cyanide laced gum is quite questionable). Even though she initially threatens to declare war on Lumpy Space after a trivial fight between LSP (the chick can be petty sometimes!), her sympathy and understanding of Lumpy’s own self-doubt is exposed in all the right ways. Instead of reprimanding LSP for stealing her material, wrecking her castle, and sort of killing someone, she would much rather put a halt to Lumpy’s suffering, even if it means feeling the wrath of her own hostility. PB is a caring and understanding person when she realizes the emotional turmoil that is going on within other people, and after 800 years of trying to build a happy Utopian society, there’s still the underlying realism that some citizens do deal with deep emotional issues. And sometimes the only way to cope with the heavy issues of her citizens is to have a nice drink at the Candy Kingdom Tavern. Poor gal.

The ending is about as heartwrenching as it gets. Through the outer circle surrounding the episode, we see that these creatures are from an alternate dimension, and that the time machine sent Johnnie here instead of his past timeline. As LSP bawls over the loss of her love, we see that Johnnie can also see exactly what is going on within the Land of Ooo. As she angrily runs out, Johnnie sadly slouches himself, knowing that he’ll never be able to see his lover ever again. Johnnie perhaps receives the saddest fate out of any character in the entire show; he’s doomed to a dimension that he can presumably never escape from, and through everything, he really, really liked LSP. He never doubted his relationship or lost his feelings for his special someone, and Lumpy Space Princess’s failure to understand social cues is what ultimately led to the demise of their individual lives. It’s sad stuff.

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The outer circle is certainly an interesting gag within the episode, with many cute little characters and gags within it. I also think it was delightfully clever to tie the entire episode back to the actual visual gag. Though, I think this is definitely a feature that works much better on rewatches. When I initially viewed this episode, I was quite distracted by the actual circle and actually missed the emotional ending with Johnnie ending up in the circle. Thus, this is one that benefits from multiple viewings, so now I can either focus entirely on the circle, or the events going on within the episode. Each are equally interesting in their own right, and the cute little creatures have Pendleton Ward written all over them. Perhaps my favorite of these doodles are the peanut who splits into two individual nuts and the triangle and square happily see-sawing together.

This one is an emotional rollercoaster, and one that I’m quite fond of. This is the best Lumpy Space Princess episode to date, and it’s one that finds all the right ways for me to sympathize with her. By the end of the episode, she’s still entirely vain and insane, but Bad Timing finds just the right balance to still make her charismatic. One of Ooo’s most unsympathetic characters was able to also become one of the show’s most tragic, and I think that’s just another magical actual of great writing within the scope of Adventure Time.

Favorite line: “Boy, when this evening started, I was feeling so dump trucks, but now it’s like a hundred forklifts!”

“Candy Streets” Review

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Original Airdate: June 24, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Luke Pearson

From time to time, AT likes to have fun with Finn and Jake’s rank as heroes in the Land of Ooo, and this one features the two boys as officers that are trying to crack the case of who hurt LSP. For the most part, it’s a pretty fun romp that takes advantage of the idea fully, and reminds us that, for the time being, Finn and Jake should probably just stick to mindlessly slaying dragons and shit.

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For one, I do like the fact that Finn and Jake enjoy being detectives and consider doing it as a full-time occupation. I think this ties in nicely with the boys’ interest in following in their parents’ footsteps, and one that I think they followed up in further episodes exceptionally well. Though, it’s clear that they have a long way to go, because it seems like they certainly caused more damage than they did to fix the solution, but I’ll get to that later. I think it is fun how seriously they take the positions; probably my favorite gag is when Finn has the key to LSP’s room, but simply chooses to kick down the door instead. And Jake’s obsessive tendency to continuously change into cop related material was really hilarious in both a writing and visual sense. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the look of horror on Finn’s face when Jake forces him into his body seat through a rear entrance. That was delightfully morbid.

The story in this one isn’t particularly strong; I think from the very beginning, we know that LSP’s issue probably isn’t anything actually logical, so what makes this episode enjoyable is just all the fun little gags they do include. I like PB using the giant syringe to calm down LSP, I really enjoy Ann’s character (voiced by Melissa Villasenor, whose line deliveries are just perfect), the two police officers who can use their sense of taste to see if someone is actually a police officer, and, once again, all the little sight gags of Jake as different items. One of my favorites is the lawyer he creates through his stretchiness to fuck with Pete Sassafras. It allows for a really amusing performance from John DiMaggio. Oh, and that moment where Finn makes noises like he’s dialing the phone and then somehow actually calls Princess Bubblegum is fucking priceless.

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But yeah, I think my one main issue with this one is that Finn and Jake are pretty bad cops, and don’t really get any flack for it. Aside from some forgivable instances, such as breaking through doors, windows, or jumping to conclusions based on very little evidence, they wrongly arrested someone who we never see again! I could see it working if they eventually went back and let Pete Sassafras out of jail, or if Finn and Jake had to spend a few hours behind bars for it, but no, Pete is locked up and we literally never see him again. I think it’s a pretty frustrating ending and it sucks that it’s not even acknowledged in the slightest. It almost feels like Somvilay Xayaphone and Luke Pearson straight up forgot about the character rather than it being something that was intentional on the story’s part.

So yeah, that’s my main gripe, and it still bothers me every time I see this one, but I do enjoy it to a mild degree. It’s got a nice element of fun to it; lots of silly moments and some fun sight gags on top of it. It’s not particularly strong in anyway possible, especially with the Pete Sassafras aspect included, but I do enjoy looking back on this as Finn and Jake lovingly taking on an investigative position. I think it really adds to episodes like The First Investigation in hindsight.

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Favorite line: “I literally can’t stop turning into cop stuff.”

“From Bad to Worse” Review

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Original Airdate: October 24, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Kent Osborne

I always sort of look at From Bad to Worse as a lesser The Creeps. Both possess a large horror theme and feature a set of major characters working together. In addition, both are quasi-sequels to past episodes. This episode is a follow-up to the very first episode Slumber Party Panic, and while this one is definitely more cohesive and enjoyable than the episode it’s based around, I think it squanders a bit of its potential by struggling to work in good humor and character interactions in its execution.

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The episode essentially lives up to its title by being exactly what it promises: situations going from bad to horribly wrong. While I do like some of the transitions the zombies go through, especially LSP’s luscious lip formula, I think the show could’ve been funnier and more creative with the way these zombies transform. Even the characters, who are the ones that create these potions that end up fucking things up are just sort of there to observe everything. I’ve always believed that disbelief and confusion can be two of the funniest reactions to watch in any TV show, and I really think From Bad to Worse could’ve worked in some stronger ways for the characters to react to the insanity going on around them.

Somvilay really pushed the bar with just how many dynamic shots he could include in this episode, and it really shows. Somvilay can have some of the funniest anti-joke oriented episodes when he puts his heart in it, and I think that, while it’s a very distinct type of humor he tried to incorporate, it just doesn’t work aesthetically with the episode. There’s very long sequences of the characters mixing different juices and potions and it just feels… dry. There’s tons of unique and nice looking shots, but they just aren’t outrageous, in depth, or even funny enough to keep my attention. Somvilay’s one of the most ambitious storyboard artists on Adventure Time, but there are times when he can get a bit too carried away with forms of anti-humor that the episode ends up being just that: humorless.

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Now, that’s not to say this episode is really that bad though. It’s a very fast-paced episode, and while it’s not a particularly funny one, it’s still relatively enjoyable from beginning to end. I do really like the frantic speed and the urgency of the situation. Although The Creeps was primarily a horror-themed episode, the circumstances didn’t seem to have a feeling of dire consequences till the last third, while this episode has a sense of dread throughout its entirety. There are some nice bits, like Jake trying to outrun his arm and being turned into a zombie. That entire scene is both humorous and creates a large feeling of tension, and man, you really do sympathize with Jake. His actions in particular are just really considerate; he doesn’t freak out or want any of his friends to worry about him, and quarantines himself for the safety of others. It really shows Jake at his best. He isn’t always as morally centered as Finn in his actions, but Jake is firm in his belief to not let anyone worry about him, and to protect those he cares about most.

In addition, while I don’t think Somvilay’s drawings make for some very funny scenes, they are really visually interesting to gawk at. Somvilay really knows how to make shots dynamic without them seeming too off-model or distorted, and the way he incorporates both the ceiling and the floor in several shots make the episode seem much more aesthetically pleasing on some levels. There’s also a longshot where Finn slides through PB’s lab on a task chair through a bunch of the Candy zombies and it just looks so freakin’ cool. Kent and Somvilay really mesh well when it comes to well-crafted intriguing shots.

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I could kinda see the ending coming from a mile away. I don’t mean to sound like a stuck-up little snob when I say that, but the minute I saw Science and remembered PB’s line, I was all “yeah, Science is totally her rat.” But whatevs, it was a cute ending and it wasn’t a twist that deserved to be completely ambiguous. I especially enjoy Science using “knife juice” in his concoction. I wonder how one even gets to acquire knife juice. The solution with Finn dousing himself in the serum was very clever, and the award ceremony at the end was equally amusing. Although, I call bullshit on Finn not getting an award. The little guy sacrificed himself to save the Candy People. All Science did was comically shrug!

So yeah, this isn’t really a great one in my book. I think there could’ve been a lot more jokes and funny character interactions, but for what it is, it’s a mildly enjoyable bit of frantic terror that compellingly keeps the viewer’s attention all the way through. A bit odd that we got The Creeps and From Bad to Worse back-to-back; I know they both aired during the Halloween season, but I’m wondering if they were purposely next to each other in production order. While both episodes are good at conveying this genre in their own merits, the best horror-themed episode of season three is yet to come.

Favorite line: “Sorry, LSP, PB, Jake, LR, peepee poopoo doodoo.”