Tag Archive | Shelby

“Little Brother” Review

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Original Airdate: July 10, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Adam Muto & Madeleine Flores

Little Brother is, perhaps, Adventure Time at its absolute sweetest. Never would I expect such a heartwarming endeavor revolving around the snarky and wise-cracking Shelby, though it really, really works. What sounds like a completely silly idea on paper actually makes for a thoroughly enjoyable experience, showing how limitless AT can be with obscurely satisfying stories.

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The episode begins in a fun way, as Shelby throws a bug party within the space of Jake’s viola. This is the first time we actually get to see what Shelby’s living space looks like, and it’s a pretty rad setting. Colorful characters like the dancing bug and Simon from Power Animal return, and the only thing that would’ve made this party even cooler is if the snail was invited. How sweet would it be if Shelby and the snail were secretly bros? Anywho, the festivities take a turn when Shelby accidentally slices his body in half and mutters “I’m so dumb” which is actually based on a real life experience that Pendleton Ward and storyboard artist Madeleine Flores experienced at a party, where a man sliced off the tip of his finger and uttered the same expression. This is Flores first and only storyboarding role in the series; I never quite understood why some storyboard artists are only brought on for the sake of one or two episodes (unless the was at the artist’s request) but regardless, I think it’s always nice to have these guest spots to offer a bit of fresh air, and season six certainly brings aboard a ton of different guest opportunities. Among other work Flores has involved herself in is Star Vs. the Forces of Evil and the Help Us! Great Warrior comic series.

Upon awakening, Shelby is greeted by his new brother “Butty Butterson,” or “Kent” for short (likely a homage to Kent Osborne), a humorous take on the urban legend that separating a worm will bring life to its other half. Kent is voiced by Thurop Van Orman, the creator of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack and the voice of the Sky Witch from To Cut a Woman’s Hair. Kent is a charming little critter, and I think Van Orman’s sped-up Flapjack voice adds a lot to his character. The relationship between Shelby and Kent is cute, and I like how Shelby doesn’t really know anything about being a big brother, so he turns to Jake for advice. Of course, Jake means well, but doesn’t really understand brotherhood outside of his own connection to Finn. I mean, how many other brothers in Ooo are there? The Lemongrabs? The Flying Lettuce Brothers? Doesn’t seem like there’s many other positive role models in that category, so Jake simply goes with what has worked best for Finn and himself, which actually kind of works out for Kent.

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Shelby gives Kent a little martini sword and sends him on his way, and the rest of the episode is basically just the adventures of Kent in the bowels of the Tree Fort and his endeavors in Drewpia. Drewpia actually derives from the scrapped season one episode Brothers in Insomnia, and Kent’s journey generally follows the plot for that episode as well. Drewpia is a pretty awesome setting, as is the entire tree village in this episode. They really went for this unique, fantasy surrounding that feels equivalent to something out of The Secret of Nimh. Maybe it’s just the villainous rats that makes that connection feel so viable, but I digress. Part of what makes Kent so likable is that he’s also really funny; his interactions with Leaf Beard (great name, by the way) and the blacksmith are hysterical. This episode manages to make pretty juvenile humor quite amusing, like Kent’s mentioning that he was born from his brother’s butt, or Leaf Beard’s insistent connection that Kent’s sword is in “butts” condition. All got a guilty giggle out of me.

As Kent moves onward, he’s faced with several different challenges, all presented by Tom Kenny voiced rats. It’s yet another example of just how versatile Kenny is; obviously you know it’s him, but he gives such a distinct performance to each foe that any common viewer wouldn’t even guess that they’re played by the same person. Also endearing is just how little Kent cares about the propositions offered to himself. Even Finn, a noble and good-hearted hero, would either be somewhat intrigued by the offers, or at least realize that he’s being tricked. Kent doesn’t recognize that the offers are merely schemes to trick him into a false sense of comfort, he simply is not interested in them because he wants to fight bad guys and be a hero. Also humorous is his rebuttal about eternal life: he was just born earlier that day so he doesn’t really have to be concerned about his own mortality. Kent’s naivete and one-note desires are what make him so gosh darn likable. He doesn’t give a shit about his legacy or his stance as an absolute hero, he just wants to punch bad guys in the face! What kid doesn’t?

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As Kent gains materials for his sword (named “Punch Party”) he then is ready to face off with the Rat King, a devious creature voiced by James Urbaniak (who also voices Leaf Beard). The Rat King is an awesomely designed villain, and appropriately named, as a “rat king” refers to a pack of rats connected together. The Rat King is both menacing and seductive in his tone, and again offers Kent a promising role as a co-king of the rats, though Kent once again declines in his determined journey to simply defeat all that is evil and save the people that he loves. His naive exterior shows up once again as he admits “I’m making this up as I go along!” when responding to the Rat King’s skepticism.

The battle climaxes, and we return to a saddened Shelby back at the Tree Fort. The song that follows, “Little Brothers,” isn’t particularly strong in its lyrics or medley, but by God is it just adorable. I love how the depressed Shelby admits that he really doesn’t know what he’s doing and that he’s not sure if he made the right decision to send Kent on his way. Shelby isn’t exactly the most emotion driven character, though he has a good heart, and cared for Kent regardless of their short time span together. Shelby’s enlightened, however, when Kent returns from the tree to share a duet with his bro. The bits with Kent and Shelby singing together are too damn cute; I love how much this episode was able to make me care for this brotherly connection in the course of minutes, and it’s one that I still think is strong even though Kent never appears again following this episode. It’s just simply well presented, and I love how much genuine affection was put into their relationship. This episode could have so easily been about Shelby’s frustrations with having a new annoying little brother around, though Adventure Time is much more genuine and telling of its characters to pull such a move. Shelby and Kent loved each other despite how unorthodox their meeting came about, and still love and support each other till the very end.

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The final bit with Shelby narrating Kent’s tale is just great. It’s quite poignant in its visuals and its music, and I enjoy how vague Kent’s story is left. We don’t really know why Kent returned to Dewpia, whether it be for infinite riches, or simply to live out a more laidback lifestyle, but regardless, it’s cool to imagine where his journeys took him from there. Though Kent’s heroic efforts weren’t meaningless; the Rat King’s defeat meant that the willow tree on the Tree Fort would bloom for the first time in many years. D’aw.

Little Brother is one of those episodes that could’ve so easily been passed off as casual filler, but it’s one that is just so good in everything it does. It stars a cute and hilarious one-off character, is filled with terrific backgrounds and settings, has a straightforward, yet compelling adventurous plot, some truly well-crafted designs, a killer song, and has a huge, undeniable heart at the center. I would have never guessed that an episode starring Shelby would have been about his rear end gaining sentience, but a show as unique as Adventure Time works with that manic story in the best possible way and creates something that feels genuine and telling. It’s a fine example of what this series is best at, and that is telling compelling stories centered around sincere characters.

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Favorite line: “So go fight some bad guys. Or girls. Don’t discriminate.”

“Mystery Dungeon” Review

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Original Airdate: January 21, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Ako Castuera

Adventure Time has the benefit of having a very compelling cast of secondary characters, so the idea that we won’t be getting a typical Finn and Jake adventure is never something that’s dreaded. That’s why when I saw there would be an episode that starred Ice King, Tree Trunks, Lemongrab, NEPTR, AND Shelby, I instantly said to myself, “this is going to be the greatest episode of all time.” While that may have been a gross exaggeration, it definitely is a great comedic outing for the season and series in general.

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What makes this such a strong episode is really just blending all of these unique personalities together. Lemongrab’s histrionic behavior, Ice King’s loneliness, Tree Trunks’ slow mind, Shelby’s sarcasm, and NEPTR’s optimism all work off of each other just great, and individually they work just as well. It’d be silly to not talk about each character and what makes their presence work in this one, so I’ll take a look at them one by one.

This is probably Lemongrab’s most straightforward funny appearance outside of his debut. Lemongrab is mostly utilized for psychological and somewhat antagonistic reasons in his featured episodes, but this one mostly focuses on just how unusual and loud the sad lemon man is. And boy, does it pay off. I think this is arguably his funniest appearance in the series, only adding to his already over-the-top behavior, including him punching a rat, eating a pie out of the rat’s mouth, and constantly referring to people as his slaves. He really is the biggest tyrant ever featured in the series, and it’s emphasized in this one for added hilarity. I think his desire to rule others in this one, as well as You Made Me, are really what drive his further desires to have complete control over others in future episodes.

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I just noticed something. NEPTR is fucking sweating. What a ludicrous visual.

NEPTR is, as always, a lovable loser. It’s a fucking crime against society that this is his only appearance in season five, because every time he’s on-screen, it’s just delightful. And I’m so glad they took advantage of the NEPTR-Ice King dynamic once again; I assumed that was something that was just going to be virtually ignored, but it’s nice to see that, even after NEPTR chose Finn and Jake, he still has positive feelings toward his “poppy.” Even more fitting is seeing that the Ice King doesn’t remember him even slightly, and even sadder is that NEPTR wasn’t supposed to be included at all! If there’s one character in this show that’s sadder than Ice King, it’s NEPTR man. It hurts my soul when Ice King calls him a “useless pile of junk.” Though, it’s nice to see that he and his poppy get a happy ending. It’s pretty sweet that NEPTR actually remembered something that Ice King taught him.

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Tree Trunks brings her usual dimwitted old-person-ness to the table, and I like how her role is virtually useless as well. Like, would her ability to make apple pies have really saved her and the others from a giant rat? It’s likely not. She did provide the grossest sequence in the entire episode when she snorted a dollop of snot, or “essence” into Lemongrab’s mouth, which still kind of has me scratching my head to this day. How did she know that would even work? I enjoy her long-winded monologue aimed at Ice King, but mainly for the fact that her slow speech patterns and demeanor just completely divert the attention of everyone watching her. It’s like, I as an audience member even have trouble following her unfocused babble, and the characters humorously follow in the same direction.

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Shelby brings a bit of sarcastic edge to this one, and I truly think he’s the shining star. I really appreciate his dry-wit and his attitude of “I could give less than a fuck,” throughout the entire episode. Probably the biggest laugh I get out of this one is the fake-out where it seems like Shelby’s going to volunteer to be on the fishing line, and then it immediately cuts to Tree Trunks. That was a terrific bit with great timing and payoff.

And of course, the man who concocted this whole plan himself, the Ice King. I have to give him props for his insanely convoluted plan, and how it, for the most part, works. It’s a strangely competent plan for the likes of the IK, despite the fact that he clearly didn’t wasn’t paying attention when he grabbed NEPTR, because he doesn’t look a thing like BMO. And tying the entire plan back to Ice King’s desire to bring Fionna and Cake into the real world was pure genius. Though, my only gripe with this is that it would’ve made much more sense coming after Bad Little Boy than before. I’m not sure what came first in production order, but now that episode just has a somewhat confusingly foreshadow-y ending with no real payoff. Though, the payoff in this one with the book coming alive at the literal hands of the Ancient Sleeping Magis of Life Giving (his first appearance!) was deeply hilarious, and I know this pissed a lot of people off, but c’mon, you have to at least snicker a bit at his incessant flatulence and Mickey Mouse gloves and voice.

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As I mentioned, I think the episode ends on a perfectly sweet note with NEPTR reminding Ice King about his imagination zone. Also on a hilarious note, as Lemongrab makes an extremely abrupt departure and utters, “byedon’tfollowme,” and Finn, Jake, and Shelby watch the Ice King and lament over how sad he is, and how sad they are watching him.

It’s worth noting that this is a “Dungeon” episode, and while the actual dungeon itself isn’t the focus of the episode, they do manage to craft a relatively creative area filled with traps, neat looking beasts, and cool landscapes. It’s far from the coolest dungeon AT has ever put out, but again, the focus of the episode is the humor, not necessarily the visuals.

And aside from that, I have remarkably little to say. This is just an all around funny episode filled with great jokes, characterization, interactions, and twists. It’d be pointless of me to go through every great joke or line in this one, because there’s so Goddamn many of them. So here’s a special Favorite line section filled with some of the episode’s greatest bits of dialogue.

Favorite line(s):

“Check out my mods, bro!”

“Ice King, how do you taste?”

“Make pies, slave.”

“Golly, how we ever gonna worm our way out of this… fishy situation?”

“Don’t criticize my running, Shelby.”

“So stop sellin’ fib-bibs and give it straight!”

“You should’ve told us! I would’ve freaking brought something!”

“You serve no function, you must be destroyed.”

“Who in this world is sadder than the Ice King?” “Me, watching this.”

“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!”