Tag Archive | Tom Herpich

“Princess Cookie” Review

PC 1.png

Original Airdate: June 25, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Skyler Page

A brief update before I start this guys, this will be the last week for semi-daily reviews. I return to college for my junior year this upcoming weekend, and I just simply won’t be able to commit to this blog full-time for the time being. You can all still expect one or two reviews per week (hopefully), but attempting to do four a week like I have been would just be impossible. This blog is still a big passion project for me and I plan on finishing it till the very end, so I appreciate the patience of anyone who is reading. I still love revisiting these episodes of my very favorite show, so you can guarantee yourself that I’m involved with this project for the long-run! Without further ado, Princess Cookie.

PC 2.png

Crime and danger within the Candy Kingdom has been handled in very silly and comedic ways in the past. Susan Strong is a prime example of PB not giving a shit when it comes to possible threats to her kingdom that she doesn’t necessarily see as threats. However, like we saw in Goliad, PB’s feelings of unease and vulnerability once the Lich was unleashed certainly made her more aware of the possible dangers around her. Which is why in Princess Cookie, the situation is handled with a higher sense of concern and direness, as shown by the extended levels of Candy Kingdom military units. It makes the entire conflict of the episode seem much more intense and concerning than it really is, and alludes quite eerily to an actual hostage situation.

The character of Baby Snaps, and his connection to PB, is quite interesting to me. I think Baby Snaps as a character is sympathetic, though very clearly insane. His interaction with PB as a child is both tragic and somewhat hilarious, and that’s a pretty accurate summary for the character as a whole. I really enjoy how passionately he views his own desires and goals, yet, he always puts them in such a sincere and genuine way that his tone and inflections still come off as rather humorous to me. Tom Herpich and Pen Ward repeatedly mention in the commentary for this episode that they wanted Donald Faison, the voice of Princess Cookie, to play his lines completely seriously without even remotely trying to be goofy, and I think it really works on both a serious and amusing account. We take the character of Baby Snaps seriously, but also are able to laugh and how he personally takes everything so seriously himself. It’s a load of hammy tragicomedy packed into one single cartoon character that I think they pulled off exceedingly well for the type of story they wanted to tell.

PC 3

Back to the actual flashback sequence, which highlights the very dangerous element of what could potentially traumatize a child. Again, it’s a bit of a silly example, but it still accurately portrays the very devastating psychological effects one can have on a child from simply not taking them seriously or pandering down to them. Obviously we know PB wasn’t intentionally trying to hurt Baby Snaps’ feelings or even directly laugh in his face, but it still had a giant impact on the poor little cookie man that led him to serious corruption and mental instability. It’s very sad to see that an instance that Bubblegum likely doesn’t even remember happening led to the mental deterioration of one of her own citizens, and changed a relatively normal, loving child for the worse. There’s two other noteworthy things about this scene: 1. For a while, this scene was pretty confusing because it’s one of the first instances we see into Princess Bubblegum’s actual age. I thought it was originally an error that PB was older while Baby Snaps was a child, or that Baby Snaps grew rapidly over the course of a couple months or so, but now it’s evident why Princess Bubblegum seems relatively unaltered by time. 2. Why exactly did PB laugh at Baby Snaps? I mean, it seems pretty obvious, right? She laughed because Baby Snaps is a boy, and a very young boy at that, and a princess is typically defined as a feminine role of power in a family monarch. Well, in the Land of Ooo, apparently anyone of any gender can be a princess. It’s basically like being president, I guess. We see this with the King of Ooo later on, who is elected princess by people who don’t even seem to bat an eye at the fact that he’s a man. Not even PB. So, was she instead laughing because he was a child? I dunno, I’m just willing to assume it’s a part of the show that wasn’t really thought out ahead of time and now only slightly feels like a bit of discontinuity. That, or you could look at it the way I just mentioned, which seems a bit too condescending for PB to do to a young lad.

The connection with Jake and Baby Snaps is extremely heartwarming and likable. I think Jake’s moral ambiguity is arguably highly in question here, as he’s blatantly going against the law to help a criminal in what I’d called Stockholm syndrome in any other situation, but he’s clearly doing it because he does see the large aspect of tragedy within Baby Snaps character, and perhaps even a bit of himself. Jake didn’t have the cleanest past either, so he most likely see’s all the things that Baby Snaps could be if he left behind his criminal actions and started anew. I think it’s a very compelling depiction of Jake’s character; we’re used to seeing him just kind of go along with Finn and PB’s deeds, but here, he completely goes against both of them and does what he believes is the right path for everyone. Again, it’s hard to argue whether this is a great moral choice or not, but I don’t think the staff was really trying to push this off as a great message. Just that Jake was trying to help someone in need in his own unique way that would potentially lead to success from all sides of the party. The most fascinating concept behind this is that Finn is actually against Jake’s decision. Yeah, Jake willingly abandons Finn after he doesn’t agree with his decision, and while it’s sad to see the brothers at odds, it’s also quite nice to see them have a completely different perspective of the situation that makes sense for both parties. Finn’s all about doing things the conventional and lawful way, while Jake seems to base things on a more emotional level when it comes to bad or good.

PC 4

The scene with Baby Snaps’ monologue before he falls back into the canyon is both really heavy, and again, pretty funny. I know a lot of people see this as a straight-up tearjerker scene, but again, it’s riddled with lines that seem so cliche that I almost doubt the dialogue was meant to be taken so seriously. I still appreciate the sentiment Baby Snaps left for Jake before his seemingly final blow, only it fails because I guess Candy People are pretty incapable of committing suicide. Luckily enough, Baby Snaps is able to receive the potential help he needs, while also ruling over the Grasslands as a newly elected ruler. It’s a beautifully crafted grand climax that just makes for a delightful ending, as we’re able to see both the consequences for Baby Snaps’ actions, and the positive future that he may hold. All hail Princess Cookie! In fact, I may take back my previous complaint about male citizens being able to be elected princesses. Perhaps Baby Snaps was the first male princess in all of Ooo, which ushered in a new era of men who wanted in on the princess action as well. What an interesting subvert that would be!

This episode’s riddled with funny moments, along with the bits I mentioned above about Baby Snaps in general, and a special highlight going towards Finn acting as Jake’s shadow. It’s such a bizarre and ridiculous idea that would almost make no sense on paper, but it’s executed in an especially clever and hilarious way that it never ceases to amaze me. There’s zany lines of dialogue, as always, including the widespread favorite “Alvin’s hot juicebox,” which I still have no idea what the intention behind that one was. There’s also a lot of great callbacks, from the cameo of Goliad and Stormo locked in psychic combat in the background to the return of the Baby Whoozlefut & the Wuttlebugs book, as well as PB learning a thing or two from Ice King by trying to sway Baby Snaps with a poo-brained horse. Also, poor Jake just wants to be a mailman. Is there a specific detail of Jake that makes him incapable of being a mailman? Is it the fact that dogs are portrayed as anti-mailmen? You shouldn’t assume those things of Jake. Racist!

PC 5

If there’s one overall criticism I have for this one, the drawings are a bit wonky. It looks like Herpich worked on a good majority of this one, and his boarding and general designs of the characters usually look great, but there’s something that feels off. Finn’s face is really stretched out to the point where it looks like an oval, and the general size of the characters look distorted in some scenes. There’s a bit at the beginning and towards the middle where the Banana Guards look GIGANTIC, they’re seriously taking up like, half the screen. There’s also a couple of other errors, such as the chip who is supposedly doing a double jump in the air (though this may have been an error on the animation department, Herpich mentions it didn’t translate as well as he wanted it to) and a couple brief continuity errors, such as the many times PB changes the position of her arms while holding Baby Snaps as a child.

Besides that, I think this one’s great. Lots of intense moments with an overall sweet side, that elaborates on more character studies between Jake and PB, as well as a brand new character central to the story. It’s one that hits all the right feelings of raw emotionality as well as fun and endearing, while still covering a very satisfying story in the course of 11 minutes.

Favorite line: “It’s funny, but you sort of remind me of a mailman I used to know.”

“Goliad” Review

G 1.png

Original Airdate: June 4, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Skyler Page

Princess Bubblegum has easily become one of the show’s most fleshed out characters by the ninth season of AT, and the past three seasons would have almost never suggest that. Not to say she’s poorly written, but she appears to be just your standard, charming princess character. Her relationship with Finn was one the stronger facets of her arc, but once that came to a halt in Incendium, I became legitimately concerned for PB’s character. I really wondered just what the hell they were going to do with her from that point on, but Goliad depicts a new side of her personality that becomes pretty consistent with each passing episode.

G 2.png

Love this opening boarded by Skyler Page.

PB’s encounter with the Lich certainly had a lasting bit of trauma on her life, and we get to see the outcome from those circumstances in great detail, as we view her stress and anxieties in regards to her kingdom surrounding her. Goliad actively sets in motion a more detached and morally ambiguous PB, as she begins to stop at nothing when it comes to protecting the Candy Kingdom and its civilians. It does this so well that I almost have little to no trouble accepting that the Bubblegum we watched from the past couple seasons was simply less stressed and facing fewer issues, while the unleashing of the Lich opened up new dangerous possibilities for the future that PB just simply isn’t ready to handle. The Candy People are super dumb, and without a ruler, they’d be lost.

Which leads to the creation of Goliad! A cute little sociopath that’s built with PB’s DNA. As we delve a bit deeper into Bubblegum’s issues and fears, it becomes clear why Goliad becomes the way that she is: Goliad and PB are both easily influenced by their surroundings. The reason Bubs created Goliad in the first place was because her near death experience and the unleashing of evil onto Ooo lead her to take matters into her own hands based on what she had learned to protect her kingdom. Goliad is exactly the same: filled with huge brains to absorb knowledge, she simply picks up on nihilistic behavior and methods of being a tyrannical leader. Holding her beliefs close to her based on her own experiences, Goliad thinks that the only way to properly run a kingdom is to take it into her own hands, believing that it’s the only way to save her kingdom. The parallels between the two characters really fascinates me, and introduces a bit of PB’s subconscious that she may not even be aware of: the way she is influenced by unorthodox methods.

G 3.png

Goliad herself is both adorable and extremely creepy. I love the very progressive transition between innocent and psychotic, and her voice actor Wendy Linehan (whose brother Henry actually also voices Stormo in this episode) does a perfect job of balancing between the two. The way Finn and Jake act as her mediators is also great. I enjoy Jake’s generally well-intentioned behavior that goes awry when his buttons are pushed, but it’s pretty funny that he’s the direct reason Goliad went berserk to begin with. I also like the way Goliad and the boys interact with each other. There’s several points that Goliad makes that clearly show off her sociopathic behavior, but the way she elegantly and structurally explains herself makes even Finn question if having full control over other people is correct or not. It’s also interesting to see Goliad’s points that seem almost like they’re straight out of a psychological thriller. The bee scene particularly really rubs me the wrong way, and it’s fascinating to see just how dictatorial her view of leadership has developed.

The climax in particular is a really heart-racing, intense sequence. The bit where Goliad telekinetically forces the Candy People into Jake’s mouth and body crevices had me legitimately stressed out the first time I saw it. I really thought he was gonna swallow one of those suckers! The scene where Goliad tries to read Finn’s mind is both humorous and taxing, it really feels like an accurate depiction of someone trying not to think about something. Trying to do so will only make one do the very opposite, unless they try to suppress it as much as Finn attempted to, leading to some really funny thought sequences. And the return of the Buff Baby song, which I’ve never been a fan of, but it was pretty funny to see it back once again.

G 4.png

The introduction of Stormo as a lifetime opponent for Goliad is a clever solution to the issue, and the concept that he was born from Finn, who is inherently good, is a pretty nice conclusive piece of information as well. I’d really like if Stormo and Goliad were brought back one more time for a final showdown, but with only so many episodes left, I’m not sure we’re ever going to get a definitive winner of their battle.

This is one of my favorites of season four. A really terrific psychological episode that’s pretty compelling from beginning to end. This is actually one that Herpich pitched himself, and I think that Skyler Page and himself did a damn fine job of making it thoroughly captivating and enjoyable. Most of all, it feels like the full-fledged introduction to an era of really in depth and riveting looks at PB’s character. We’ll get a couple more of those this season, but I think this one is the best one out of the others.

G 5.png

Favorite line: “Haven’t slept for a solid 83 hours, but… yeah, I’m good.”

“In Your Footsteps” Review

IYF 1.png

Original Airdate: May 7, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Skyler Page & Tom Herpich

In Your Footsteps follows up with a story arc that had be shelved since the season two finale: the much anticipated return of the Lich. We all knew he would make his triumphant reappearance in the snail host body eventually, and it was really reassuring that we had something big to look forward to. Ultimately though, it’s an episode that feels a bit hollow at its center, and really doesn’t do much for me besides being blatant setup.

IYF 2.png

The beginning is demonstrated nicely. Skyler Page really crafted some nice shots during his time on the show that feel very fluid and poppy, example being when Finn first enters the party. It’s really funny and a legitimately cool entrance for our little guy. There’s also a couple of funny, quirky moments at the dance party. I like how when we’re introduced to the bear, Jake just generally assumes that the bear is anthropomorphic, as most animals are in the Land of Ooo. I’m wondering if Jake just guessed that the bear spoke and was ignoring him, or just something about the bear rubbed Jake the wrong way. Either way, nice moment to set up their entire conflict. Also, I love how Finn returns to the picnic table with two cups that say “Starchy” and “Cinnamon Bun” on them. Finn just blatantly took other people’s cups. That’s kind of awesome. I didn’t really like the the early utilization of the Enchirdion, however. I thought it was cool that he used the book to save the bear, but I sort of just wish they left it at that. The fact that Finn goes on his spiel about, “oh yeah, it’s the Enchirdion! The hero’s handbook! It’s a super important book! I got in back in season one, episode five, as a matter of fact!” well, I’m exaggerating, but it was pretty obvious to me at that point that the Enchiridion would have had some significance in the episode, and it just really made it feel like a plot device from this moment on.

As for the main conflict, well, it’s a bit confusing to me. I think it kind of works against the episode that the bear doesn’t talk, honestly, because I’m really sort of perplexed on what his motivations are as a character. Was his plot to dress like Finn and pretend to be Finn so Finn himself would eventually give him the Enchirdion? Or did his plot work out all along and it was to make Finn feel bad for him and eventually give him the book? In that case, why did the bear slap Jake in the face? Why did he eat all of Finn’s Finn cakes? Why was he dressed up pretending to be Finn in the middle of the night? Wouldn’t it have just been easier to quickly swipe the Enchridion while Finn was sleeping? His plan seems all types of convoluted, and I really can’t get behind what his strategy was because we don’t know anything about him. He’s just sort of a blank slate at the Lich snail’s command, and so it’s sort of hard to really even buy into his plan. In addition to that, I’m sure y’all know I’m not really a fan of these types of stories. They covered this type of story briefly in Paper Pete, and this one takes it up to eleven by really stressing the idea that Jake thinks the bear is bad news but Finn just can’t see it with his own eyes. It’s just a really frustrating type of story to watch, and very few shows ever get it right. It doesn’t even really know what genre it wants to be either. It could’ve been a lot more interesting to me if the bear wanting to be Finn was just a completely different story with horror elements incorporated. That sounds pretty dope if you ask me, and the first part seems committed to it, but the second half goes more for the generic sitcom-y sort of root.

IYF 3

That being said, I actually think the episode did okay with it and still managed to keep the characters likable and in character. There are still some very enjoyable moments in this one. The “tops blooby” expression is one of favorite wacky catchphrases in the entire show, and one I find myself uttering it quite frequently, actually. Jake is still very entertaining to watch, despite being at the butt of the plot’s expense. I really like how his feelings towards the bear go from jealousy to concern, yet he actually does listen to Finn and understands where he’s coming from. Also, I like how his actions towards the bear don’t dumb Jake down in anyway. He records the bear eating Finn’s Finn cakes instead of preventing him, of course, but that just generally seems like something Jake would do. It leads to the obvious root of Finn being pissed off at Jake, but it almost had me siding with Finn in the sense where I was thinking, “yeah, why didn’t you just stop him??” But again, it’s still kind of difficult to get through knowing Finn should have just been mad at the bear to begin with and that we know exactly what route it’s headed in. It is tedious, but as I mentioned, it’s the individual scenes that make it tolerable: the slow iris out with Jake quickly blurting “I knew it!”, Jake referring to PB as Finn’s ex, followed by Finn’s awkward response to it, and everyone stating the obvious that they knew the fucking giant bear with a paper mask wasn’t even Finn. Also, I need an episode with BMO at soccer practice. That scene with him rolling the ball on the ground as Finn and Jake argued fucking killed me, and the general idea that Finn takes him to and from soccer practice is just hilarious. I can imagine their conversation as Finn picks him up, “how was practice today, sport?”

The conflict of the episode ultimately leads to Finn giving the Enchirdion away, which I think is a pretty big stretch, considering they know of its importance. I do like how Finn mentions that they rarely ever use it, only for sitting on when the grass is wet, which explains its long-term absence. What I’m most pissed about isn’t actually the episode’s fault at all, but the fact that Cartoon Network spoiled the freakin’ ending in the preview for the episode. That was a complete low blow on their part, and definitely not the first time they’ve done something so spoilerly in regards to this or any of their other shows. But the twist in general I think is pretty great, and leaves you with a feeling of anticipation and dread as we slowly await for the Lich to return again very, very soon.

IYF 4.png

So I think this one is decent. It has a lot working against it, but the individual character moments and gags are really what power it through. It still feels a bit flimsy to me in both direction and motivation especially regarding the bear, so I can’t technically call it a good episode in terms of story, but there’s enough good things in it that I can still find many other reasons to rewatch despite everything going against it.

Favorite line: “She’s not my… we never went steady.”

“Five Short Graybles” Review

FSG 1.png

Original Airdate: April 9, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich, Cole Sanchez & Skyler Page

The Graybles episodes never quite reached the heights of the other experimental types of stories AT has pursued. The guest animator and Fionna and Cake episodes have produced quality material that the Graybles stories haven’t been able to meet in my personal list of favorites. Though, I can say, where some guest animator and Fionna and Cake episodes have failed somewhat severely, I’ve never thought too poorly of any of the Graybles. They’re simplistic and cute stories that later contribute to the lore of the show’s world, but for now, they’re simply the former. And there’s nothing wrong with that, this one actually reminds me a lot of 22 Short Films of Springfield, one of my all-time favorite Simpsons episodes. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where Graybles episodes stemmed from, Pen Ward is a huge Simpsons fan after all.

FSG 2.png

It starts out very uniquely, with the introduction of Cuber, voiced by Emo Phillips. It’s later revealed that he’s a futuristic dude, but I’m pretty sure in this one, we’re just kind of supposed to look at him as the narrator. But he’s pretty cool, though this is probably his most generic appearance. He later lends himself to some creative and clever scenarios, but here he’s just kind of in it to do his job, and that is to explain the purpose behind Graybles. It’s a decent first appearance, and I really do love Emo Phillips as a voice actor. Check out his stand-up if you haven’t, it’s hilarious!

The first story starts out with BMO, and it’s by far the best. It’s a pretty stellar look into BMO’s psyche that introduces the recurring character of Football, as well as BMO’s underlying desires of wanting to be a human, or wanting to relate to humans. It’s really cute and almost tragic in a way; I really love seeing the little guy take so much pride in what he’s doing, but at the same time, he’s putting on a farce that will later become a larger burden for him and lead to a psychological breakdown. I never get tired of watching him pee through that glass of water, though. Really nice voice acting from Niki Yang, as always.

Finn and Jake’s story is a bit simplistic, but I do enjoy their somewhat masochistic behavior and the depths they’ll go to perfect a measly high-five. The framing device with our main duo is pretty great: their high-five pretty much carries through and builds up till the very end, which caps off in a pretty satisfying and funny ending, but we’ll get to that in a bit. I also love the unique shots we get to see as they run at each other in a pretty cinematic way. This is Skyler Page’s first time boarding for AT, and he really showcased some of his talents by drawing shots we don’t typically get to see in the series.

FSG 3.png

PB’s sandwich sequence is terrific! It’s a really drawn-out scene, but one that never feels like it’s dragging or stale. It’s done through all kinds of visual gags, such as the poor cow that endures that somewhat bizarre contraption, or his block of cheese that’s converted into a single slice using a sewing machine. Then there’s the pure absurdity of PB hitting a head of lettuce with a baseball bat for some reason. Wouldn’t it have made a cleaner slice if she just chopped it up? Also, it’s interesting to see Bubblegum using what is presumed to be black magic. They acknowledge this in the commentary, and no one really has a reason to back it up. I’m just gonna call this one a brief continuity error. And that final bit with Cinnamon Bun was all types of fucking nasty, in the best way possible. I cringe every time I watch his body spew out that diarrhea-like slop.

Ice King’s story is pretty damn funny. I love how 90% of it is just him abusing his penguins. First he sends Gunther off on a block of ice for smelling bad, then he uses penguins to clean himself off and abrasively throws in them in the trash afterwards. It’s some pretty horrifically amusing stuff that only Ice King could get away with, and only seems to get funnier each time I watch those suffering penguins. At least Ice King was partially right about what smelled by the end of it.

Finally, we have LSP’s story. Nothing much to say for this one from me; I never really cared for the These Lumps song too much and I think the story itself is a bit dry. Save for the ending though, which I think is a terrific punchline with Finn and Jake abruptly being named the winners of the talent show instead of LSP. That was priceless. A lot of oddly mean-spirited humor in this episode, wasn’t there?

FSG 4.png

Of course, there’s also the connecting theme. I think this one’s pretty obvious, and also because I had already read somewhere what the motif would be before I had even seen the episode. Despite that, I do commend the writers for introducing this type of brainteaser that would eventually get more difficult as the episodes went along. I think this one worked fine, but the creativity and ambiguity of the themes would only good up from here. I think it’s something neat that helps the youngins do some thinking while they’re watching.

So, I like it. It’s a cute introduction to a new series of stories within the series, and pertains a sense of enjoyability and intrigue throughout. It’s always fun revisiting these because I often forget which story happened when (I could’ve swore Tree Trunks was in this one), and it’s always fun to watch AT in such a chronicle structure.

Favorite line: “I thought you had a stank booty, Gunter. My bad.”

“Another Way” Review

AW 1.png

Love the pre-staging depicted in this title card.

Original Airdate: January 23, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Bert Youn

Another Way is probably the most absurdist episode since season one. It’s not particularly strong in story; it’s just sort of a sequence of occurring events with Finn screaming a good chunk throughout. However, it’s one of those episodes where the jokes and visuals easily outweigh the necessity for an especially strong story, so it’s something that doesn’t bother me much. It’s jam packed with a lot of amusing moments and surreal humor that we haven’t seen much of in quite sometime.

AW 2.png

First of all, the episode starts off with the most baffling fucking thing in AT history: Finn actually reading the Enchiridion. I can’t believe my eyes! It’s a darn shame this book hasn’t gotten more use in the grand scheme of things up to this point. The only time it was ever seen outside of its debut episode was when Finn threw it at a worm in Evicted!. I know it’s used for a very crucial story arc later on, but I really kinda wish it was used a bit more frequently early on. Could’ve been cool to explore bits of the book more, what it’s capable of, and make it more effective when it’s reintroduced a bit later on. Also, Jake’s recurring foot fetish returns in this one. That dog loves him some feet.

I really love all the unusual Ren & Stimpy type humor in this one. The clown nurses are really creepy and well-designed, and their demeanor is just completely ludicrous. There’s one farting bubbles out of a wand, one that looks completely distorted, and the main one, who gets a lot of grotesque close-ups of kissing Finn’s feet and breaking a sweat while doing so. It’s a really great episode for Bert Youn’s artwork. Youn is one of the only storyboard artists up to this point who still retains an aesthetic of the earlier days of the show. Of course, I like the individual artwork of the storyboard artists and think the general design and quality has advanced significantly over time, but it’s always nice to see Youn’s work that pales so similarly to the show’s roots.

AW 3.png

The moments between Finn and the civilians he encounters are really hilarious. I love all of the wacky characters he comes face-to-face with. The stump voiced by Maria Bamford is great, I really never get tired of hearing that woman’s voice in the show. She always hits the right notes between goofy and completely sincere. The bush voiced by Gregg Turkington cracks me up; I don’t know why he’s so angry and passive aggressive, but I just love his attitude and general dislike of Finn. What the hell did Finn even do to deserve to be called an “ugly tramp”?? There’s also Pan and his wife Rainy, who are a cute little bunch to drive the conflict further during the second act.

I really love the moral conflict Finn is put through in this one. He doesn’t immediately acknowledge that he was wrong, but rather ponder if his way is incorrect or not. It’s admirable to watch him go about his own way and succeed throughout the episode, but also for him to realize that sometimes doing things completely individually can backfire, and the idea that occasionally not everything can be within your direction. It’s important to follow your own direction, but also crucial to analyze every given situation before doing so. It’s really driven home by Finn’s song, complete with auto-tune and some really terrific angles and shots by Tom Herpich. Awesome symbolism as well: there’s a river with three different streams, with two going in a direction where they’re able to flow freely, and one that is pouring over a waterfall and crashing, alluding Finn’s decision to choose his own path. It’s a perfect combination of philosophy and humor that’s especially fascinating to me. Also, there’s a cute little bit in this one where, for some reason, all of the trees have eyes. Not sure if it was just to go along with all of the other sentient elements of nature, but it’s always really funny and silly to just simply watch them blink and emote in the background.

AW 4.png

Ultimately, Finn is able to get an accurate view on the situation when he realizes that he can still use his way to help others as well, even bring a sandwich to life with the tears from a Cyclops! And what a great lesson that is! I really like how it diverts from the typical message of listening to others and the idea that irrational plans are always likely to fail. It sides with the idea that, following your own path could get you into very possible trouble, but it can also lead you to independence and better options. It’s a lovely message of learning that there’s always another way, and that just might be your own way. Of course, it’s also accepting of the fact that everyone else has their own way too, and sometimes that way is accepting foot kisses from clown nurses.

So yeah, I enjoy this one. It’s not one of my faves from season three, but it’s very, very funny and engaging throughout. I love all the trippy and grotesque visuals, the side characters, and most of all the message. It’s one of Finn’s strongest lessons in independence yet, and it’s done so in the least preachy way possible. A very amusing adventure for our little man. That ugly, fat-smelling fathead.

Favorite line: “The current is so fast, it’ll turn your butt inside-out for real, doofus.”

“The New Frontier” Review

TNF 1.png

Original Airdate: November 28, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Bert Youn

Jake’s mortality and relationship with death have been very prominent features of his character over the years. His aging process, to say the least, is convoluted. Nobody can really figure it out how it works; even Jake himself has trouble putting the pieces together with just exactly how old he is. That said, Jake’s fear of growing older is significantly more prominent than his actual fear of death. He more so fears outliving the ones he cares about most and losing his sense of edge and mellow behavior than dying, which he seems to welcome with open arms as long as it’s in a fantastical and mythical fashion. The New Frontier revolves heavily around Jake’s intrigue of fate and destiny, and does so by raising some increasingly interesting questions about whether what he’s doing is ethical or not.

TNF 2.png

I love anything with the Cosmic Owl, and aside from Prisoners of Love, this is his big debut as the dream wanderer of prophecies and foreboding outcomes, something which we come to realize that Jake is all about. The croak dream itself is really heavy-handed and atmospheric; I love all the little details of space, along with the rocket ship and Banana Man floating around, as well as the orchestral choir that gradually builds overtime. It’s a bit curious that the Earth is actually full in Jake’s dream, but considering that he doesn’t ever actually end up in space, it doesn’t necessarily feel like a continuity error.

It’s hard to say whether Jake’s behavior in this episode is rational or not; on one hand, it feels like a very selfish decision for Jake to allow himself to die with his thirteen-year-old brother left behind and his loved ones completely unknowing (I mean, he doesn’t even bid Lady goodbye. Harsh!) On the other hand, it’s sort of difficult to disagree with him being so open and unafraid of dying and what’s destined to come for him because most people are naturally afraid of dying. It’s a bit of an interesting balance between wanting Jake to stay with Finn but also wanting him to fulfill his destiny that was prophesied. I mean, then again, how does one even bounce back from a prophetic dream of death? Was Jake supposed to just wait patiently for the day when he eventually dies? It becomes more relatable when analyzing all of the various layers of Jake’s burdens, fears, and his general acceptance of the future that’s to come.

TNF 3.png

Finn is written terrifically for this one. His entire presence is purely sympathetic from beginning to end. We really don’t wanna see our little guy lose his best friend, and his undevoted desire to protect Jake and decrease all chances of him dying are really endearing. I especially love the moment when Finn hopelessly begs Jake to let go of the rocket. It’s not overly dramatic, but it’s a really heart wrenching, heavy scene that really allows the audience to see both sides of the argument. Again, Jake seems selfish by leaving Finn behind, but he’s merely accepting the future in front of him instead of being wildly in denial. However, Finn legitimately needs Jake by his side, and is still too young to accept death so calmly. He’s already lost Joshua and Margaret in his lifetime, which only makes him more opposed to losing his closest relative that’s still alive.

The ending resolves any dark or uneasy feelings towards Jake’s attitude by helping him to realize the one thing that’s more important to him than his own life, and that is the life of his best buddy. It’s a sweet resolution, and one that acknowledges that, while Jake is perfectly fine accepting his fate, he wants Finn to continue to live a successful and satisfying life even if he can’t be by his side. It also leaves a bit of ambiguity for the future of the series and Jake’s life, as we’re left with the possibility that, at some point, Jake will relive his croak dream once more. Of course, it’s a scary thought for both Finn and Jake to swallow, as unpredictability can often be most frightening. Finn and Jake are all about living in the present, however, and are able to get through fearful outcomes through humor and goodwill.

TNF 4.png

This episode also introduces the Banana Man, voiced by “Weird Al” Yankovic. I do really love Banana Man’s eccentric and quirky personality, but I think there are better examples of episodes where he’s utilized better than he is in this one. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy his weird mannerisms and extended dance moves (Pen Ward admitted that this episode came up a little short, so he just added longer, drawn out sequences of Banana Man dancing), but “Weird Al” is such a unique and interesting talent choice that you’d think he’d have a couple of more lines and even a song or two. But, like I said, there are better examples of spotlight episodes for Banana Man, and this one works just fine on its own.

This is also a really funny episode. While Finn and Jake’s interactions are quite tension-packed given the circumstances of Jake’s dream, there are still plenty of silly, fun moments for our main duo. I especially love Finn’s exchange about Banana Man walking into the sun (he really can be such a doofus sometimes), Finn’s ability to start a fire with his bare fucking hands, Jake’s explanation of how Glob World works, including the blatant disrespect he shows BMO by leaving an ice cream-filled pizza sandwich on his head. For as dark as the topic of the episode is, it’s still filled with fun, wacky jokes and character moments that really help lighten up some of the bleaker moments.

The New Frontier is a very enjoyable one. I love the headiness of Jake’s prophetic dream and all of the philosophy behind his decisions in the long run. It’s one that opens up a gateway for future opportunities regarding the fragility of Jake’s life, and the increasing importance of Cosmic Owl-centric dream sequences. There’s even a bit of lore when regarding The Great Mushroom War, as Jake mentions that rocket ships haven’t yet been reinvented. It makes sense with the world of AT that the only gateway to space would be portals and magical entrances, which means that rocket ships aren’t even really needed. It’s one that’s extremely amusing, but also thought-provoking at the same time. Something Adventure Time has really mastered.

TNF 5.png

Favorite line: “There’s not enough boom-boom stick-hole sticks in the stick-hole!”

“Thank You” Review

TY 1.png

Original Airdate: November 23, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich

Taking a tertiary character, or even a character we haven’t even met before, and putting them at center stage has become a staple of AT over time. It’s a risky move for any show to divert its attention from the main cast, but Adventure Time typically almost always pulls this off with great success. This episode, written and solo-boarded by Tom Herpich, is another introduction this season (the other being Fionna and Cake) to an experiment that would later open doors for new opportunities within the world of the series. And while this episode goes in a completely predictable direction that anyone could see a mile away, it’s one I think is really remarkable. It pushes Finn and Jake to the side for two characters who can’t even speak, and it takes advantage of that concept to its fullest degree.

TY 2.png

It’s hard to say what works so well about Thank You, but I think most of that can be contributed to its atmosphere. It’s quiet, solemn, and whimsical. I think there’s a good handful of moments that aren’t exactly funny, but extremely charming. The everyday life of the Snow Golem, from his bird alarm clock to his bowl of acorns and pears, is just very delightful to watch. The Snow Golem himself isn’t really a strong personality, but he’s kind of supposed to be an eccentric everyman. He’s introverted and cautious, but nevertheless friendly and likable. His connection with the fire pup is also really endearing: it hits all the right notes, from the initial distrust to how the Snow Golem genuinely begins to care about the poor pupper. I love all the little moments with them spending time together, including the golem’s finger puppet show and the fire pup quite aggressively sucking on the udder of a cow.

There’s some great bits of voice acting between Dee Bradley Baker and Pendleton Ward in this one. Not a single line of dialogue is uttered between Snow Golem or Fire Wolf until the very end, and yet they managed to add little sounds of expression to really carry the episode forward. I love all the hectic noises Snow Golem makes whenever he’s being paranoid or distraught, and the cries and barks from the Fire Wolf pup are really adorable. I’ll never understand how Dee Bradley Baker is able to so masterfully imitate animals, but he’s a freakin’ legend when it comes down to it.

TY 5.png

There’s a lot of really nice artwork and colors in this one. Ghostshrimp once again did a standout job with this one, in addition to Santino Lascano and Chris Tsirgiotis lending a hand with their lovely artwork. Really nice design of the Snow Golem’s house, which, in the promo art, is revealed to be a barn that was once owned by members of humankind. To my knowledge, this is the first major appearance of the Fire Kingdom, and while it’s a bit different in design, it still looks great. Although it feels a bit odd that the Fire Kingdom and Ice Kingdom are so close together; not sure if that’s a bit of discontinuity or just something that was overlooked for the purpose of plot, but it’s only slightly distracting and doesn’t affect the overall scope of the episode. In addition to the background art, there’s some really nice sunsets, textures between snow and fire, and overall animation quality. You can tell Herpich, the other storyboarded artists, and animators really put their damnedest into this one. Even something as simply as a three second clip of the Snow Golem walking has an extended walking cycle (courtesy of Adam Muto) that just looks terrific and really makes me appreciate that extra effort.

Once more, I just really love the quiet and poignant feel to this one. I love all the little moments of the Snow Golem trying to figure out what to do with the fire pup; it really feels like a simple but crucial situation that I think is treated in the most careful way possible. The ending, as I mentioned, is really predictable, but sweet. I especially just love the last few minutes, including the Snow Golem’s willingness to put himself into grave danger for the sake of a wolf he met only a day ago, and the humble reunion they share in the end. It’s a very endearing way to cap off the episode, and one that I can’t help but smile at on every view.

TY 3.png

The one thing that feels a bit shoehorned in this episode is the presence of Finn, Jake, and Ice King. Their brief in-the-background subplot is fine, but I feel like you could’ve taken them out of the episode entirely and you wouldn’t miss much. I like the moment at the end with Finn putting aside his differences with the IK, but besides that, it just feels like Finn and Jake are there to explain what we already know. Yeah, yeah, fire wolves and snow golems hate each other but they’re able to get along. We know this, we don’t need any extra exposition. It’s just a minor detail I would change or just completely withdraw for more time between the two leads. The only interesting bit is Jake wearing the Ice King’s crown completely unaffected, which can only likely be rooted to the fact that the crown already has a host. We see this in a couple other episodes later on, but this was the first time the concept was introduced.

As is, this is a great one. It really feels like something out of a Pixar short or something along those lines, and just feels so especially unique and beautiful. It’s no wonder this one was nearly nominated for an Oscar! I love the atmosphere, the artwork, the connection between the two main characters, and just the overall message. It’s a thing of beauty that opened a lot of new opportunities for AT to tackle the lives of other secondary characters, as well as the practice of writers being able to solo-board, and one that I’d consider up there with some of the greatest. Definitely one that the Adventure Time crew is really proud of, for all the right reasons.

TY 4.png

Favorite line: “You know, maybe we could all learn a thing or two from those sandwiches.”