Tag Archive | Princess Bubblegum

“Video Makers” Review

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Original Airdate: April 18, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne, Somvilay Xayaphone & David C. Smith

Pendleton Ward mentions in the commentary of this episode that he hates pitting Finn and Jake against each other. Simple reason: it’s just not fun. I completely concur with this notion, as with pretty much any series, watching two characters bicker for a majority episode just simply isn’t enjoyable or interesting enough to watch. Finn and Jake have a very close relationship, which means they’re prone to fight every now and then and get into disagreements. I personally think the episode Who Would Win? did a pretty decent job of that while still keeping the episode fun and enjoyable. How does this episode fare? Well, let’s check it out.

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It’s interesting to note that this is actually the first time the Great Mushroom War gets named dropped, and it’s done so in a relatively humorous way. I really like how seriously Finn and Jake take the Federal Warning, and it works perfectly as a conflict driver. I like how the literal apocalypse can be used for such a simple plot point like this one.

The scenes that follow are pretty humorous. I like that this is an episode that really uses most of the main and recurring AT characters to its advantage, and even giving some others a bit more screentime. For instance, this is really the first time Mr. Cupcake gets a chance to shine, and one of the first he’s pitted against Jake. Jake’s jealousy of him is pretty enjoyable, and I love how this is actually the start of a long term rivalry between the two of them. In addition, Shelby, one of my favorite side characters, gets some well deserved spotlight in this episode. Shelby’s general snarky attitude and diverse personality from the rest of the mostly optimistic AT characters is actually pretty refreshing, and the “check pleeeeease” line is definitely something I’ve considered putting on my graduation cap on more than one occasion. There’s also some other little fun gags at the beginning, like Finn’s magic cup that pours everyone’s preferred juice and oh-my-god-whatever-the-fuck PB was drinking. I seriously don’t know what to make of that.

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Aside from that, there’s simply not much to this one for me. Finn and Jake’s bitching at each other is tiresome, and it’s a bit ridiculously over-the-top for them to be angry at each other for such a dumb reason as picking a genre for their movie. I think it would’ve been way more interesting if they just went with the “two characters try to make a movie and it turns out terribly” plot, but instead they choose and obvious route that brings down the entire episode. It’s a shame really, because had they chose the former, they were headed in the right direction. There’s some other funny scenes like the one where Slime Princess jumps right into the crocodile pit and when Finn attempts to make it look like PB is riding the frog chariot, and if they just stuck with those ideas in mind, I think it would’ve turned out a much better product. Luckily BMO’s song (written by David C. Smith) is sweet enough to end the episode on a very endearing note, but otherwise, it’s a pretty weak entry from the second season.

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Favorite line: “Check pleeeeease!”

“Go With Me” Review

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Original Airdate: March 28, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Tom Herpich

Go With Me is Adventure Time at its purest: no big battles, no enticing adventures, no opposing villains, just engaging interactions between the characters and what makes them each so unique. Season two is certainly a lot more rounded in its humor and writing than the first season, but there are times during the second season that it can be a bit… “sitcom-y.” With some subversions, there’s a couple of different plots that feel as if they could be on any show (Blood Under the Skin, Heat Signature, Video Makers are some examples) and this episode could be included in that category. That doesn’t necessarily mean these are bad episodes, but part of the fun with AT is how unique and eccentric it can be with tackling your expectations vs. reality. However, Go With Me is a special episode that uses the characters to their very best abilities that avoids any feelings of being too generic or done-before.

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In my review of Henchman, I discussed how disappointing it is that Finn and Marceline barely interact outside of casual small talk in recent years. It’s really a shame, because if this episode is an example of anything, they are too freakin’ adorable together, and not even in a romantic sense. Obviously there is the giant age gap between the two, but I just generally enjoy watching Marceline tutor Finn on the experiences of life. Finn’s still very inexperienced with many topics, as he’s just recently entered his teen years. Marceline, however, has been around for ages. It’s really endearing to see the enjoyment Marceline has in shadowing a young companion, and the excitement Finn has in being taught how to talk to girls.

The way each character works off of each other in this episode is just splendid. Jake is still afraid of Marceline, Marceline still gets a kick out of fucking with Jake, Finn and Marceline I mentioned above, Finn and PB’s continuously awkward state, and a hint of Marceline and PB’s past history together is thrown in. I love how subtle it is as well; you really can’t gather anything from that brief bit of dialogue, but you know somethin’ is amiss. And hey, PB’s name is Bonnibel! Part of what adds to that mystery is that it’s really never revealed what Marceline’s motivation is behind helping Finn. She could legitimately want to help him score with Bonnie, but at the same time, she could also just be trying to spite the Princess. I mean, wrestling and being chased by wolves? Even Marceline, in her dark and mysterious ways, didn’t like being treated poorly by her ex-boyfriend Ash, so it’s very likely that it was all just a front to pick on PB.

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I love all of the awful advice Finn receives from Jake and Marceline and all the attempts he goes through to get PB’s attention, as well as just how far he’s willing to take it to do so. Jake and Marcy’s bickering and Finn’s general lack of experience with women is very sitcom-y, but hey, that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. I’d much rather watch these characters try to find a date for movie night than say, the cast of Full House, Saved by the Bell, or some other corny 90’s sitcom.

Like I said, it’s just really enjoyable to watch Finn and Marcy work off of each other. They’re two cool people who much rather enjoy having fun and enjoying life than feeling obligated to do what everyone else is doing. Finn learns an important life lesson in this episode: that he should follow what he wants to do rather than what society and social norms suggest. Finn probably would’ve been better off if he had just taken a blanket or duck to begin with, but hey, at least he got to spend the night with a good friend. Marceline taught him that valuable lesson, and she helped him to focus on excitement and livelihood in the end. It’s one relationship I never get tired of watching.

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Favorite line: “Naw, he just needs some spaghetti.”

 

 

“Susan Strong” Review

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Original Airdate: March 7, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Rebecca Sugar & Adam Muto

Finn “the Human” has been nothing more but a descriptive title for the first handful of episodes. Upon first watching up to this point as a thirteen-year-old, I didn’t quite yet grasp the connections to the apocalypse and lack humans within the world of Ooo. Her Parents alludes to the idea that humans are of a rare species, but still treated the topic as if it was simply brushing it off. Susan Strong, on the other hand, is the first direct mention that Finn is indeed the last known remaining human in Ooo. Finn is certainly the easiest for the audience to connect to, as he is the only major human character, and while we are able to easily relate to him, his lack of understanding of his own culture is what causes him great uncertainty and a difficulty to be able to connect with the world Ooo.

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Of course, Finn has a terrific support system of friends and family, but the idea of never knowing his own heritage or culture surely must be a burden for him. So when Finn comes across a tribe of alleged humans, it’s no doubt that he’s ecstatic to be able to make that connection with his own kind, especially a bystander he appropriately names “Susan Strong.” Susan’s broken dialogue (which the AT staff has deemed “Somvilayism”) can be a bit grating at times, but her introduction as a character is pretty adorable. She’s reacting practically how anyone who is just discovering the world would act, much like a baby, and just enjoying every second of it. Or being afraid, which is a perfectly natural (and sometimes hilarious) reaction too.

Speaking of adorable, every scene building on the friendship between Finn and Susan is just delightful. Both are so extremely excited to be around each other: Susan discovering the Land of Ooo and Finn discovering one of his own kind. It’s really heartwarming to see the two of them being able to feel so high with each other only through a short period of time. And yes, the scenes with Finn teaching Susan about how the world works go by very, very fast, but the strong friendship (no pun intended) between both of them is still perfectly believable. They’re both going through very exciting first experiences, and they luckily get to share those experiences together, which Finn sings about in the song “Susan Strong.”

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The general look of this episode is gorgeous. The colors really help bring out the vibrancy in each character; the shadows underground, the sunset in the woods, and the nighttime skies in the Candy Kingdom all blend with the color palettes of our main characters, causing them look really fluid with their surroundings. In addition, the animation is especially really good in this episode! Rebecca Sugar definitely adds much detail to her drawings while going through the storyboard process, which shows by how smoothly and flowing each character moves, specifically during the song sequence.

Of course, Finn’s fun with his human friends doesn’t last however, as Susan proves that she isn’t educated enough to be welcomed into the Candy Kingdom. On a side note, one thing that doesn’t necessarily add up with continuity is Princess Bubblegum’s general lack of defense against the Hyoomens. I realized this from a comment on the episode I saw recently, and it actually has me scratching my head a bit. Where are the Gumball Guardians, or even the Banana Guards? I have a hard time believing she’s that unprepared to protect her kingdom from possibly being eaten. The only hypotheses I can come up with are: 1. She wants her people to attempt to defend themselves. 2. If the Candy People were actually eaten, PB could always just clone new ones. 3. She didn’t want to hurt Finn’s people. The first one doesn’t hold much water the second one seems a little dark even for Bubs, and the third one still seems a bit phony but that’s the only conclusion I can come up with. It just seems to distance itself with what we’ve learned about the Princess over the years.

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Aside from that minor issue, the reveal that the sewer people weren’t actually human is certainly one of the weightier moments in the first two seasons, and it’s generally heartbreaking that Finn solemnly asks Susan who/what she really is. It’s sad stuff; Finn finally had someone as closely related to him as possible, but remains alone at the end, as he began in the beginning of the episode. But, as Jake profoundly tells him, “we’re all wild animals, brother,” Finn replies “I guess we are… brother.” Perhaps Finn did lose the closest thing to a relative that he has, but on the bright side, he still has a brother, and as Adventure Time has proved time and time again, that just might be enough.

Favorite line: “Grass can’t hurt you!” (Primarily for the irony)

“The Other Tarts” Review

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Original Airdate: January 3, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Ako Castuera

This cosmic dance of bursting decadence and withheld permissions twists all our arms collectively, but if sweetness can win, and it can, then I’ll still be here tomorrow to high-five you yesterday, my friend. Peace.”

This monologue is what spawned Adventure Time’s first bit of philosophy within the series. In general, it’s one of my all time favorite moments, because it combines everything I love so dearly about this show: the weirdness, passion, and beauty of the AT world and its characters. There have been plenty of different analyses and breakdowns of this bit of dialogue, primarily the concept of the social pressures of life and how they can restrict our moral compass and own desires from doing what we truly want. For me, it’s just a bit of beautiful nonsense, but that doesn’t undermine how terrifically it’s written, visualized, and acted. That’s Stephen Root playing the part of the crazy Tart Toter, and he’d later go on to voice Finn’s deadbeat dad, but that’s far down the road.

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As for the episode itself, it’s a delightful little Finn and Jake adventure. Of course, the plot follows a predictable direction: a character tells the main protagonists not to fuck up or something bad will happen, the main protagonists fuck up, nothing bad happens. Of course, with any show, a predictable plot can be executed with just how well it’s written and the strength of the characters in focus. Finn’s determination to complete their job in regards to impressing Bubblegum is both sweet and unique. It adds an extra layer to how far Finn will go for her at this point in this series, as well as showing his desire for everything to go exactly as planned. His paranoia behind the success of his mission really shows how much he cares for PB from both a romantic and heroic standpoint. While Jake just simply is along to crack jokes and keep the atmosphere light for his friend.

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Cinnamon Bun begins to take on a bigger role in the series as of this episode (this is actually this first time he’s referred to as “half-baked”) and he’s admittedly one of the weaker secondary characters in my eyes. He’s very much in the same vein as LSP; works well in small doses, but is really only there to be dimwitted and loud. That being said, his depiction in this episode works greatly with the plot. He’s only on screen for a brief bit, and actually succeeds with his task. I really don’t like characters that are written so stupidly that they drag down the plot and only make situations worse for other characters, so it’s rewarding and somewhat endearing that Finn and Jake’s original distrust in CB had them proven wrong.

This is just simply a charming episode; lovely characterizations of Finn, Jake, PB, among others and all of their quirky flaws that make them so interesting. Not to mention the classic bizarre side characters each episode has to offer, such as the hostile butterfly and JJ the robot (apparently Tom Herpich has some weird fascination with the letter “j”). The Tart Toter himself is beautifully drawn and so well acted that he feels like such a large presence on the show itself, despite it being his only speaking appearance. I love the random details of his design, from the oozing icing in his mouth to the birds quite randomly strapped to his limbs. Of course, I could listen to the Tart Toter’s monologue all day long. It’s a brief 30 seconds of everything that makes Adventure Time so special.

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Favorite line: ^ See above.

 

“To Cut a Woman’s Hair” Review

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Original Airdate: January 10, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Adventure Time Pilot” Review

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Original Airdate: January 11, 2007

Written by: Pendleton Ward

No idea why it took me so long to get to this, but here’s the pilot! A bit of unnecessary exposition, considering everyone who reads this blog probably already knows this, but this pilot originally aired on Nicktoons Network. Pen Ward originally pitched the show to be picked up by Nickelodeon, but they declined. And boy, are they probably kicking themselves to this day.

There a couple noticeable differences between the pilot and the series; obviously the animation style is quite different, and while I prefer the character designs of the actual series, the animation is actually really fluid and smooth in movement. This is especially apparent in the fight scene between Finn and Ice King and just how hard hitting and flowing their movements are. Of course, it also makes the entire pilot seem a lot slower, so I’m glad they went with a faster and more high speed animation process in the final product.

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As for the voices, John DiMaggio as Jake and Ward as Abraham Lincoln are the only voice actors from the series who are present for the pilot. Finn (or Pen, as he’s referred to in the pilot) is replaced with Jeremy’s brother Zack Shada, Ice King is voiced by John Kassir, Princess Bubblegum is portrayed by Paige Moss, and Lady Rainicorn, for some reason, is voiced by Dee Bradley Baker. I have to say, everyone does a good job in their roles, as Zack does a terrific job of simply soundly like a younger version of his brother. I’m sure John Kassir’s inflections as Ice King were where Tom Kenny got his inspiration for which direction to take the IK’s character in, and while they don’t sound identical, Kassir still does a terrific for only voicing the character once. It’s kinda like one of those character voices you see in a in a video game where it’s trying to be that character and sort of sounds like that character but isn’t that character. I have no idea why Lady speaks in gibberish, but it’s actually kind of fucking hilarious. I wouldn’t have wanted her voice to sound like that in the actual series, as Niki Yang’s voice is just so damn cute, but Dee Bradley Baker does an awesome job of just turning the character into a batshit animal. PB doesn’t speak much, but Paige Moss’s voice seems to suit her well.

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What really works about this pilot is that it essentially works as a segue into the actual series. Besides the fact that Finn’s name is Pen, (which is humorously explained in one of the comics that Finn had such a fascination with pens at one point that he made everyone call him “Pen”) this pilot introduces Jake and Lady Rainicorn to each other, Finn’s infatuation for Bubblegum, Abraham Lincoln’s role as the king of Mars, and Ice King’s love for princesses. It’s a delightfully silly and crazy introduction to some of our beloved characters, and I could see it fitting along just fine with the rest of the series.

Onto season two!

Season One Review

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Season one of Adventure Time introduced me to one of my favorite shows of all time. It was revolutionary for introducing us to wonderful bright and dark characters within the glorious Land of Ooo. And while I enjoyed it quite fine the first run and the second run, how does it weigh in as a whole?

Characters

The first season introduced us to a majority of the series most prominent characters: Finn, Jake, Ice King, Princess Bubblegum, Marceline, and (partially) BMO, as well as some secondary characters: Lumpy Space Princess, Lady Rainicorn, Tree Trunks, NEPTR, Magic Man, and so on.

The depictions of these characters aren’t nearly as fleshed out as they are in later seasons, but it’s a very nice introduction to a lot of the fun elements each character has to offer. Finn is vibrant and pure, Jake goes with the flow yet is also bombastic in his own way, Ice King is sad and insane, Princess Bubblegum is sweet yet very passionate about her kingdom, and Marceline is playful and sometimes devious. We get some see some glimpses of development between the characters, including Finn’s characters flaws, Princess Bubblegum’s darker tendencies, Ice King’s more depressing side and his growing admiration of Finn and Jake, and Marceline’s transitioning from Finn and Jake’s adversary to one of their best friends. The characters’ more in depth personalities and unique dilemmas aren’t explored as much as they are in later seasons, but they’re certainly represented as fun characters to want to spend time with.

I’ve said this time and time again but Finn and Jake’s relationship is really the strong point of this season. I firmly believe any good show has to have some heart at the center of it, and Finn and Jake really embody every endearing aspect of this first season. Energy, compassion, and fun is carried with them at all times when they’re on screen, and I can’t think of a time I was legitimately not enjoying myself watching them.

In fact, it’s a pretty impressive feat to not be able to name a character off the top of my head that I truly disliked that was introduced in this season. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not the biggest LSP fan, but her role in the first 26 episodes is pretty minimal and she doesn’t really steal the spotlight as much as she does in later seasons.

This was just a delightful introduction to some of my all time favorite characters. While they would only develop more as time went on, everything about these characters that is later fleshed out is practically inserted in subtle moments throughout everyone’s actions. Of course, the only reason they’re able to become so complex is because they start out so simple. And as Adventure Time has proven time and time again, simplicity can be the route to something much greater.

Artwork

The aesthetics of the first season could really be dedicated to Ghostshrimp’s beautiful background work. He seriously knocks it out of the park with  the many designs, skies, and general landscapes that he’s created. GS played a key part in designing the Land of Ooo, and what he conducted was some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen in an animated series in years. Here’s some of my favorites:

I can’t really think of a specific storyboard artist that stood out, as I don’t think any of the episodes had the unique individual artwork that each storyboard artist possesses in later seasons, but the artwork is simple and fun. There are a few design quirks, however. Jake’s eyes and jowls are generally a lot larger than they are in following seasons, and he just looks kinda off. In addition, the characters are drawn with more cartoony and expressive faces, and Finn will frequently be drawn with eye-whites, which is somewhat distracting to me. Pendleton Ward has previously claimed to have hated seeing Finn with eye whites, as Finn is easier to connect with the audience through his simplistic dotted eyes, making him feel more real and less like a cartoon character.

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Otherwise though, this season is one of the most expressive and jumpy in terms of animation, considering the series becomes much more grounded later on. That being said, it is delightful to see Adventure Time in a Ren & Stimpy fashion in terms of its animation, but also, I’m glad the series didn’t stick to being outrageous and borderline schizophrenic in movement and facial expressions as it progressed.

Writing

In terms of humor, this is also the show’s most random and arguably juvenile approach at laughs. This leads to some very hit-or-miss jokes and gags, which honestly depends on your sense of humor. For me, the absurd humor works a majority of the time, but at other times, not so much. And I love the wacky dialogue within the series, but there’s only so many “shmowzow!” “slamacow!” “algebraic!” catchphrases I can sit through and not roll my eyes at.

In terms of individual writers, Adam Muto and Elizabeth Ito really killed it this season. They really know how to write good AT, which is likely how they got promoted to showrunner and supervising director respectively.

In terms of writers in general, a good chunk of them didn’t end up continuing to work on the series after the first season, so it was sort of difficult to adopt the styles or visions of writers such as Sean Jimenez, Luther McLaurin, J.G. Quintel, Armen Mirzaian (who sadly passed away three years later) or even Niki Yang.

So while the writing is a bit too 5th grade at some points, I have found myself laughing a lot more than I thought I would while rewatching.

Top 5 Best Episodes

5. Evicted! – A great introduction to one of AT’s most complex characters with a vibrant and fast paced song and some great character interactions as well.

4. The Enchiridion! – A terrific adventure and spotlight episode for our main character with loads of whimsy and quirky characters.

3. Dungeon – An exciting dungeon crawl with some hilarious one-time villains, as well as continuing to build on Finn and Jake’s relationship.

2. Ocean of Fear – An interesting look at Finn’s psyche and the realization that fears are not something to be ashamed of or ignored in any way.

1. What is Life? – The first episode to humanize Ice King and transform him from a psychotic jerk to someone who is completely lonely and devoid of anyone’s love and affection. Also, I fucking love NEPTR.

Top 5 Worst Episodes

5. Slumber Party Panic – Not necessarily a bad episode by any means, but somewhat of a poor start to the series considering that it throws a lot at the audience at once while also including no proper introductions at all.

4. When Wedding Bells Thaw – A somewhat misconstructed look at Ice King’s insanity that results in making the entire episode feel messy.

3. Business Time – An episode that focuses more on Finn and Jake’s lazier sides, which sucks most of the energy out of our main duo and ends up being somewhat of a bore.

2. The Gut Grinder – A generic and predictable plot that AT seems above and a season finale that disappoints.

1. Memories of Boom Boom Mountain – An episode that focuses more on the absurdity and randomness in terms of humor, and one that feels especially misconceived and all over the place when it comes to story.

Final Consensus

Season one of Adventure Time certainly isn’t my favorite season of the show; it’s practically the series at its most basic form, with somewhat childish humor at times and much less lore or complex adventures that are seen in later seasons. However, I found myself really enjoying the first season when watching again, and just find it so interesting how much the series has drastically changed over the years.

So season one of Adventure Time may best the weakest of the bunch in my opinion, but it’s a totally fun ride down memory lane to see how these characters were and what they have become. And of course, it really does show the world through Finn’s perspective. It’s bright and colorful and very silly and zany because he’s only 12, which fits with the overall theme of growing up within AT.

This isn’t a season I plan on rewatching a lot, but I’m glad I got the opportunity to take a look at it once more and I hope all of you that haven’t consider giving it another look as well.