Tag Archive | thomas wellmann

“Wizard’s Only, Fools” Review

WOF.png

Original Airdate: July 1, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Thomas Welmann

Wizard’s Only, Fools cleverly uses wizardry and science to elaborate on the topic of “religion vs. logic,” which is a motif I’m always interested to see touched upon. Though, it is one that can often end up with polarizing results, considering that most shows would either lean in one way or the other. Thankfully, Adventure Time handles this without seeming preachy or having an ultimatum, and feels more like a story that shows off both sides of the argument without really siding with either.

WOF 2.png

I’ve mentioned before in my review of The Suitor that this season has been pretty lacking on strong PB episodes, which is a shame, because last season was full of ‘em! But the princess returns to the spotlight in this one and sports a more condescending and pretentious attitude, which is really enjoyable to watch. I can see most people viewing PB as uncharismatically cruel, as she talks down to those who have certain beliefs, and ultimately ends up getting herself and her friends arrested as a result of her stubbornness. To me, it makes her so much more admirable. Everything PB has experienced, even down to her own birth, as well as everything she has created and invented has all been a direct result of her scientific prowess. None of her people have been created through what most would consider to be “magic,” so therefore, in her 800 years of existing, she has always relied on science as her guide and the key to life. So it is quite lovely to watch her so passionately stick up for what she believes in, especially when it means putting her life into potential danger.

Though, her arrogance shows that, while it is admirable to stick up for what you believe in and to defend your own standards, it sometimes is less selfish and more selfless to suck up your own pride and give in to society’s standards. It isn’t really the right choice, but it could’ve shown PB and her friends justice if she just simply complied with the Grand Master Wizard’s request. While we’re on the subject, did his voice sound different in this one? It’s still Maurice LaMarche, but his inflections sound radically different from his first appearance and his subsequent appearance. Quite odd, but back on subject, I don’t think PB is necessarily unlikable or cruel in this one. Despite her ego taking over her logic and sense of compassion in some instances, the entire reason she is going on this endeavor at all is for one of her people. Her asking Starchy, “you still think I’m a jerk?” was incredibly cute and really showcased PB’s soft side. Even through her density, the happiness of her people is important to her, and she probably wouldn’t be able to just continue on with her work if Starchy was still mad at her.

WOF 3.png

Finn and Jake mostly just serve as sidekicks in this one, though in the best possible way. Finn is actually a pretty great source of comic relief; he’s a little bit of a jokester in this one! I like his constant fake-outs, “Let’s stay home-just kidding,” and when he briefly gives up while trying to get past the Wizard City wall. I also like him questioning if PB was straight-up naked. It was something that was on my mind as well, though is even better that Finn brings this up while they’re under pursuit of the Wizard City Police. Jake, on the other hand, mostly serves as an adversary towards PB, and I always like the somewhat hostile differences Jake and PB have at times! It also makes sense that Jake, an alleged magic user, would combat Bubblegum’s thinking process and see her as someone who is entirely stubborn in her beliefs. It also makes sense that he would resent her for the decision she made against the Grand Master Wizard; Jake has somewhat of a strong belief system too, but he’s a pretty chill and laid back guy and would probably do whatever is easiest for him to get out of trouble. It’s the bickering between the two that I always enjoy to see, even more so than Jake’s relationship with Marceline.

Abracadaniel returns as a supporting character in this one, and I wasn’t really a fan of him in his first appearance, and I’m still not much of a fan of him here. Though, it isn’t an appearance that the episode or the story really depends on. I do actually enjoy how he gets wrapped up in PB, Finn and Jake’s conflict; I was critical of Candy Streets for its mean-spirited punishment of the character Pete Sassafras, though Abracadaniel’s such a dork/buttmonkey as always that I don’t really mind when he gets the bad end of the stick. It’s kind of what his character exists to do. And honestly, if I was for some reason running from the police, fuck yeah, I’d grab the first person I know and ask them for help! Not saying I have been… heh… heh heh.

WOF 4

The Secret Wizard Society returns in this one, as their plans only get increasingly more ambiguous and rather intriguing. It is noteworthy that their board shows Abracadaniel getting sacrificed in regards to whatever they are planning. I remember by the time Betty arrived, a lot of people were wondering if Abracadaniel had been killed, yet he has made several appearances subsequently. Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded if they just killed him off. He’s not a character I particularly care for, but besides that, how fucked up would it be if his character was never seen or mentioned again after Betty? That’d be quite the dark scenario, but one I’m not opposed to.

A lot of Wizard’s Only, Fools is just simply enjoying the atmosphere and the culture of Wizard City, which, as usual, looks great. This is also the introduction of Ron James, a very quirky, fun addition to the cast of Wizard characters. I enjoy Ron James’ lingo (I’m just now realizing that there’s three characters in this show with “James” in their name and I’m not sure how to feel about it) and how he’s about as equally passionate about magic as PB is about science. The Wizard City prison is a really nice ominous setting, and in fact, I think the use of color in this one is just great. I like the darker shadows in the wizard cultists’ lair, the bright whites in Grand Master Wizard’s dome, and the reds, browns, and oranges that permeate throughout the prison. There’s a lot of different places and landscapes in this one, so using color to help make them pop is a decision AT typically excels at. And as always, there’s the little things, like the many different wizards you can spot within the backgrounds. You can tell Jesse Moynihan had a lot of fun with this episode, and Thomas Wellman, who previously wrote and storyboarded for The Suitor, provided some splendid drawings for this one. I dunno why Wellmann only wrote two episodes of Adventure Time, because I actually have really enjoyed his work on this episode and The Suitor. Writing aside, he’s got some really nice, expressive drawings, especially on Jake.

WOF 5.png

The conclusion of this episode features PB finally giving in, though not the way we quite expected. She tried the best she could to help Starchy, though it failed, and it was either her way or the highway. Again, it seems like somewhat of a cruel ending to give Starchy the antidote against his will, but remember, this is PB we’re talkin’ about. She could literally just say “fuck it” and clone another Starchy if the first one for some reason died off. I mean, that might be drastic because it’s just a cold, but still. PB’s care for her people will not allow her to allow them suffer, and though she tried to make Starchie satisfied, there comes a point where you just have to accept treatment as it is.

So yeah, this one’s a lot of fun! Besides being an interesting allegory towards religion, it’s pretty much just a ball all the way through. Fun characters, some hilarious moments (I still crack up at PB forcing Ice King to give her the password to get into Wizard City), and a terrific setting that really helps it excel, Wizard’s Only Fools is a fun trip to Wizard City that highlights PB’s personality and her character flaws quite seamlessly.

WOF 6.png

That’s the first half of season five, folks! I was seriously considering if I should break this season up and review them separately, and ya know what, I think I’m gonna do it. 5.1 and 5.2 are so wildly different in tone and direction that it only makes sense to give input on them separately, so the next review that will come out will be the season 5.1 review! There won’t be any mini-review to go along with it like there has been with the past few seasons, as this review is kind of already a cheat as it is. The season review will be out later in the week, but until then, thank you all for continuing to read this blog! Really enjoy hearing your input every week, and I’m happy to have gotten this far in the series. About half of Adventure Time is left, so hopefully I can tackle it completely throughout the next year or two!

Favorite line: “You know, no one has touched me in months. Could you touch me again?”

“The Suitor” Review

TS 1.png

Original Airdate: May 20, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Thomas Wellmann & Jesse Moynihan

UPDATE: I was informed this one was actually storyboarded by Thomas Wellman, instead of Ako Castuera. This post was updated for accuracy.

PB’s remained mostly in the background of the first half of season five. Despite having plenty of minor appearance here and there, and appearing as a major player during the guest animated episode A Glitch is a Glitch, there hasn’t really been anything new or telling about her character that season four so seamlessly pulled off. The Suitor takes PB back to the spotlight, revolving around the status of her love life while also introducing a likable newcomer. It’s an interesting tale of love and patience, and for what this one was going for, I think they pulled it off greatly.

TS 2.png

I especially love the beginning, and any other moments that revolve around Peppermint Butler’s dark deeds with the demon Ogdoad. Prior to this episode, we’ve only ever seen hints and allusions to Pepbut’s ominous nature, though this one really kicks off his strange behavior by having him summon a demon in the first 10 seconds of the episode. And I love the way it’s stage: the guardian angel from Dungeon is there, as well as animals that look menacing and starved, with a clueless Cinnamon Bun at the center of it all. It’s just the kind of delicious obtuse behavior that I wanted to see from the little peppermint man. What’s also tons of fun is watching him interact with the Gumball Guardian. The Guardian has never really been given a solid personality aside from the fact that he puts his all into protecting the kingdom. Here, he acts like an actual guardian of the princess and of the kingdom, which is a pretty interesting dynamic they chose to work with. He goes from a subservient assistant to an overprotective parent of the princess. I especially enjoy his line, “the Candy Kingdom worries for its leader, and it worries for you, dark one.” The bickering between the Gumball Guardian and Peppermint Butler is a lot of fun throughout the entirety of the episode, and I wish we could see more instances of it in subsequent episodes. I can think of a few of the comics, namely Issue #11 of the Adventure Time Comics series where this dynamic is brought back, but aside from that, this is the only in-universe instance.

The suitors who have been waiting for a countless amount of years once again pose the interesting query of “just how fucking old is PB?” which once again is glanced over with subtlety. It’s where we’re introduced to Braco, the main protagonist of the episode. As far as Braco goes, he’s pretty likable; I enjoy how the episode goes to great lengths to kind of make him seem pathetic and obsessive, yet still make him kind of rootable. I admire him for all the death-defying stunts he’ll put himself through just for PB’s affection, even if it is foolhardy at best. But most interesting is that, while I do root for Braco in this one, it is pretty obvious that he doesn’t actually love Bubblegum, and the show knows that. When he’s first introduced to PB, she immediately acknowledges that he’s “infatuated” with her, and his only feelings of love for her come from a relationship that he’s created inside his mind. I think most people can relate to this – I know I can – and I think the episode and the direction of the writing is smart for not treating this like any typical love story. It acknowledges that, while Braco probably does have some real feelings for the princess, he’s more lonely and naive about love than anything, and instead is looking to fill that void and desire with fabricated tales of true love that he’s convinced himself of.

TS 3.png

These stories can sometimes be insufferable with just how much of an awkward doofus the hopeless romantic can be; Jamie’s first appearance in Steven Universe definitely comes to mind. Yet, I find that, while there are a couple of instances where Braco is portrayed as an awkward doofus, he’s still fun to watch and actually a pretty poignant character throughout the episode’s run. I like his little observatory where he writes in his journal and documents his feelings, and I think it’s pretty sweet that he turned to his late grandfather for tips on how to win a girl’s love, even if it failed miserably. And okay, how long ago did this guy die?? Jake’s been alive for what, 14 human years, and were supposed to believe that at some point he wrote this book under an alternative ego that was the key to Braco’s grandad’s luck with the ladies?? It makes no sense! It’s by all means something that only I’m confused about and no one else is, but still! J.T. Doggzone will never fail to flabbergast me.

Finn’s brief bit in the episode is something I do find really interesting, mainly because he’s totally jealous. It’s already been pretty well established that Finn isn’t totally over PB at all, so watching him somewhat unsuccessfully try and act like he doesn’t care was really quite telling of where he is in his developmental stage. And I’m glad they kept Finn’s jealousy to a minimum; had it take up the course of an entire episode, it might’ve been frustrating and a bit unlikable, but here we just get a brief 30 seconds of Finn trying to pull off a farce and then smack talking Braco for a bit. It’s a bit petty of him, but he’s a 14-year-old boy with hormonal imbalances. I’m actually surprised he turned out this well. I also love his brief bit of nihilistic wisdom to Braco, “the path you’re on leads to nowhere,” which also includes Finn allowing Braco to take on the task. I dunno what Finn’s intentions were; it could be that he knew Braco wasn’t going to get anywhere, but let him go on the quest for shits and giggles, or that he actually wanted to see Braco succeed where he failed. I’d lean more toward the first option, though I wouldn’t be completely opposed to the second either. I also like how they’re able to incorporate Jake into these bits exceptionally well. Jake doesn’t even have a line, though his facial reactions to Finn’s uncomfortable behavior are just terrific. I love how he’s somewhat skeptical about Finn, while also simultaneously concerned for him.

TS 4.png

The task for the soul stone is a very neat one. Vapor Swamps is a pretty dope looking landscape, with hints that an old city once existed there. The swamp monsters are also pretty visually interesting. They all have a sort of Muppet look to them, which makes them feel straight out of Labrynth or The Dark Crystal. The Beast is especially cool, though I can’t think of that name without immediately imagining Over the Garden Wall. The way Braco reasons with the Beast about his love for Bubblegum seems like it’s going in the direction where he’s just going to get beat up and suffer more, though I enjoy how the Beast actually lets him go because of it. Wonder what that fuzzy monster’s backstory is.

Though Braco goes through a decent amount of pain throughout this one, it never feels mean-spirited or like it’s mistreating Braco. He willingly puts himself into situations that aren’t meant for him to be apart of, and instead of just sitting back and being patient, he instead throws himself into instant suffering. The epitome of his pain comes from when Peppermint Butler strikes a deal with Ogdoad to make Braco a walking love magnet. What I really like about the revelations surrounding Pepbut in this one is that it’s made very obvious that, while he has a fascination with dark magic, he’s still just kind of a cool guy who puts his loyalty towards PB before anything else. I think people had in their minds that Peppermint Butler was going to be one of the big bads at the end of the series that would take on the role of main villain, though I think that’s somewhat against his character. He’s perfectly conscious of his dark habits, and though it can stray in a path of borderline menacing at times, he still would never put the princess or her kingdom in a state of jeopardy. He’s Peppermint “Butler”, after all.

TS 5.png

Braco pays the ultimate price for love, and ultimately, it still doesn’t win over the princess. It’s another great step in the lesson of not sacrificing yourself or your dignity for the love of another person, because 9/10, that person still isn’t going to come around. But, through all the mental and physical pain he endures, he still gets a PB robot that he can fuck all he likes for the rest of his life. Yippee!

I’ve kept quiet about PB’s actual depiction in this one on purpose, mostly ‘cause I wanted to save it for last. I think she’s portrayed quite perfectly in this one! While I’m sure some people have targeted her for supposedly being unlikable and putting Braco through hurdles of pain, that’s not what I got at all from this one. Again, everything Braco did was completely against what PB wanted. She gave the task to find the soul stone to Finn and Jake, who she knew would be able to grab it without a problem. Braco took on the task without having the prowess or keen sense of heroism that the two boys had, and suffered for it. PB also had no idea that Braco was going to completely distort his appearance for her love, which again, was his own choice. She devoted all of her energy and science to creating what Braco wanted most, and if that isn’t some enlightening motherly attention, I don’t know what is.

TS 6.png

I think the episode does a great job at showing her stress and isolation. She has to consistently focus her attention on running an entire kingdom (all while taking care of a caged Phil) and the idea of sacrificing her kingdom for romance just isn’t strategically possible for her. I get the feeling that, from the last scene, she did have feelings for Braco that went beyond just caring for him as a Candy Person. She probably saw potential in him that she saw in any former love interest, though she knew she couldn’t act on it because “responsibility demands sacrifice.” We were all expecting a sad ending from Braco, but I think in the end, I mostly feel bad for PB. She wants to be carefree, giddy, and naive like Braco once was, but her impact on her kingdom and her people is unfortunately more of a priority for her. Though I doubt anything hurt as much as Peppermint Butler’s bitch-slap. Man, was that hilarious.

So yeah, I think this one’s pretty great. Really nice characterization of each of the characters that are focused on, and just some all around solid writing from Jesse Moynihan and Thomas Wellmann. You can really tell that they have a pretty deep understanding of unrequited love and infatuation, and it really shines through in this episode. This one also features a special outro, written and sung by Moynihan, with backup vocals by Ako Castuera. It’s a really nice tune, check it out here if you haven’t before.

Favorite line: “Well, you paid the price, no doubt, and I wanna have your babies.”