Category Archives: Adventure Time

adventure time recapping: mystery dungeon

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Sometimes you produce a monster, an abomination. And that abomination farts on your face because it’s a book with a developmental disorder. Or something.

 

Adventure Time has always been a show obsessed with the creative process. It’s meta-commentaries on what it means to write/create have always been particularly poignant for me, personally. This episode went in a slightly different direction than episodes past, while the work is still celebrated, it’s shown as being bastardized, broken even. The Ice King knows what the story is in his head, he can picture the characters as if they were real utilizing his imagination.

 

When given a shot at bringing his creation to life, he comes up with a Saw-esque kidnapping scheme in which the strengths of various characters are utilized in order to get to a mythical creature to literally give his characters to life. This is even more like Saw when you consider the mastermind’s single-minded devotion to making his dreams a reality.

 

This darkness is pervasive throughout the episode. A character is squeezed to “death, ” a character has to cut her way out of the belly of a horrible shark-monster, and a “child” is neglected so that the Ice King gets the mere chance at making his dream a reality. And that is the reality of the situation that the show is talking about here, you can’t really hope to give birth to something without sacrificing all else. It’s what made Steve Jobs a tremendous success while simultaneously being lower than pond scum. He was a morally reprehensible piece of shit who disavowed his own child so that he might have a shot at transforming a crappy garage-based start-up from an acid-based fever dream to the ubiquitous multimedia conglomerate that Apple Inc. is today.

 

But even after the long road full of sacrifice, his creation just farts on his face. The other characters just look on with pity and a bit of disgust. But the Ice King is happy as a clam. He could not be more thrilled with his creation.

 

If I can make things current event-driven for a moment, The Ice King’s look of relief was not totally dissimilar to that of Obama’s face after the inauguration.

 
It’s deep satisfaction. It’s been a long road getting there, full of sacrifice, betrayal, literal and figurative monsters, but at the end of the day they’ve given birth to something they find beautiful, even if not everyone else does.
 
Disorganized thoughts:
 
Lemongrab isn’t funny. I do not understand his shtick at all. He just yells… I think? Maybe there’s something there I’m not getting…
 
I think it’s so ballsy for a kid’s show to regularly ditch its main characters for the duration of an episode, or any show for that matter. Usually we’re stuck with the same 5 or so characters for the entire run of the show. That was something that I used to really love about The Simpsons. Even Apu had multiple episodes about him. 
 
Tom Kenny is a fabulous voice-actor.
 
Pie-flinging robots with parental issues; something all children can relate to. 
 
This is the specific face both Obama and the Ice King made:
 
 
Mousing over the image should show the gif, if not, click the link above. I really love this gif. He looks so resolute and content all it once. You can even see his nose flair out as he gives a soft sigh. Powerful stuff. 
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adventure time recapping: davey

It took me a bit to write this, due to the fact that I didn’t really want to say the following: Finn and Jake are both complete assholes. Not a moment after slicing a dragon in half via its butt crack, his adoring admires come to thank him. Rather than just having dinner with them, he makes a great deal of effort to totally change his appearance to his new alter-ego “Davey Johnson.” Now, things like this happen in just about every single superhero fiction. Think… Superman and his Fortress of Solitude “Raaaaah this responsibility is too much to handle, better run away until someone I care about gets hurt while totally ignoring every other schmo gets hurt.” Or Spiderman does the same thing, but with haircuts… and bad writing.

Then Jakes goes and tries to un-Davey Finn, and gets himself in trouble, just like every superhero story. And it works, Finn snaps out of it. The day is… saved? And the episode is overall really funny.
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But I don’t come to the show for it just being trite and silly, so I’m going to stretch a bit. Relationships are bummers. Even marriages end in divorce half the time. You get two people who ostensibly love each other more than any one else, you stand them in front of hundreds of people, they proclaim their undying love, then they actually get a lawyer to write up a contract stating how much they love each other, and they combine finances and all sorts of other junk, worse still, they have children’s lives to ruin, and they still don’t make it half the time.

It’s what makes growing up so scary. You’re not just growing, you’re changing, and you just have to hope that the person you’re with somehow changes with you. Full disclosure here, I was with the same person for 6 years. We were high school sweethearts and we thought we were never going to change. I assure you, rarely have you seen a couple that worked as well as we did, but it died, as all relationships eventually will, due to the fact that I changed. I’d had enough of living that life and opted to change, just like Finn. The change, like Finn’s wasn’t just internal, it was external as well. I changed my hair, I lost weight, changed wardrobes; moving on from someone really is as large of a change as Adventure Time purports it to be.

Which is what makes Jake’s choice all the more disconcerting. Finn is totally happy being Davey. Sure it’s selfish, but as a form of escapism, it’s no worse than drug and alcohol use. But then Finn actually says that it’s his fault that Jake went to jail. Which is, of course, astoundingly false. Jake broke the law and was punished for it, and then it’s somehow his fault? And he has to break Jake out?

People grow and change, and trying to force an adult to think one way or another is  an unfortunate way of looking at the world and in the end, it just ends with more heartbreak than otherwise allowing the person to leave would cause in the first place.

Unorganized musings:
Dragon butts.
The Banana Guards are really funny, even if they’re just the “copz r dummm” trope.
Re-using the auto-tuner is a terrific touch.
Finn going bald means that he’s “destroying his beauty.” Sorry bald people…
I would pay an absurd amount of money for a BMO.

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adventure time recapping: jake the dad

You’re doomed to become your parents. It’s scary stuff. There’s not a whole lot you can do about it and the further that you try and pull yourself away from them, the closer to them you become.

In the first episode to start out the new year, Adventure Time two strong themes are tackled. The first being that having children can be a horrifying and totally daunting experience for those that are unprepared, the second is that your parents have a tremendous impact on who you become. This is not only terrifying for the people unfortunate enough to be the children of the particularly deranged, but the deranged themselves also have an undo amount of stress placed upon them.
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Jake is constantly consulting his parents for advice on how to raise his new pups, even though they do not seem to have had the healthiest of relationships. Jake literally has traumatic flash-backs when he thinks about his father and his abusive tendencies early on in the show. He tries his best for most of the run of the show to not become him. But then, the moment he lays eyes on his new children, he dons his father’s old hat. Even when the kids knock his cap off while playing, the shape-shifts it back.
The decision to make Lady not speak English is especially fun in this episode. It’s terrific fun just utilizing tone and body language to try and ascertain what she’s trying to get across to her children and husband (husband? I don’t think they’re married. The smut we allow our children and manchildren to watch these days.) She comes off as completely motherly and familiar, down to the soft sigh as she watches Jake get mauled by foxes. It felt a lot like watching my mom shake her head disapprovingly whenever my dad would try and tackle something too big for his own good; a mixture of slight contempt with a twinge of happiness and love thrown in for good measure. It was a sweet hot chocolate moment.
Jake’s ability to change forms felt an awful lot like dad as well. When you’re little, they do tend to feel indestructible. You take things like taking the night watch and making breakfast for you for granted. It isn’t until you’re older, when you first “save” them for the first time that you begin to see that they’re human, and soon after that point they’ll see you as older, somehow. Not even equals, really. There will always be a certain sense of respect for the relationship there, but there comes a time when the parent lets their guard down and allows themselves to be taken care of by the person they brought into the world.
Closing thoughts that didn’t feel like they fit anywhere:
I liked the fact that the pups were kind of creepy-looking. I don’t think that one of them even has eyes. All-to-often on television, every single character is perfect and it’s hard to relate to physical perfection. Having them be a tad odd meant that you could relate with one of them. Also do not know why they could become invisible? Disappear? Evaporate? Whatever they did it was dumb in the best way. Just like the moppy-headed one using dog-powers with her hair to make a ducky.
Having the father on TV, for once, love the fact that he was a dad and not go on a HRNG MIDLIFE CRISIS HOW ZANY quest was a breath of fresh air.
Snakes rarely jump out of boomboxes, thankfully.
I don’t think I want to know what the bread-game was…
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watching adventure time does not make you a child, pothead, hipster, or putz

Many people think of me as somewhat of a “prickly pear” as it were. I’m not someone who generally tends to enjoy things for the sake of enjoying them. I think that My Little Pony is bad for you and rots your brain. Mario is mostly a platformer that doesn’t control particularly well. Twee things like Wes Anderson movies make me cringe and feel as though my soul has been dipped in battery acid. Even though all of this, I cannot help but love Adventure Time; something about it has a sort of undeniable charm.

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I’ve spent the last several weeks watching the show with an obsessive fervor I tend to reserve for reading Chuck Klosterman novels and making people on the Internet feel bad about the things that they like (seriously, The Big Bang Theory is just nerdface.) I’ve sat down to try and figure out what makes the show so damn enjoyable. For the uninitiated (see also: people who aren’t twelve, stoned, or both) Adventure Time is a show that follows a boy, Finn and his anthropomorphic, shape-shifting dog, Jake as they have “adventures” in their fantasy Land of Ooo… throughout “time.” It seems like fairly normal stuff, when put in the context of a children’s show, really. None of the characters, at first glance, seem as though they would be out of place in any other children’s program. And that’s the first way in which Adventure Time begins to charge headfirst in front of it’s competition.

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Many years ago, like many nerdy white kids approximately my age and older, I enjoyed SpongeBob SquarePants more than just about any other show on television. It was frightfully silly, and actually demanded quite a bit from its audience, especially compared to other shows at the time. Plankton, in particular, was a character who seemed to have a certain amount of depth. Sure, he was the villian, but there was something else there. You actually had a certain amount of sympathy for him. He wasn’t all bad, and in the first season there is an episode called “F.U.N.” where he’s shown to have simply never had any friends. He never knew how to have fun, to be loved, or even love. It’s really a tender moment, encapsulated within a very silly 11 or so minutes. Spongebob’s betrayal feels genuine, but not to the point that the episode loses its comedic punch. It was a fascinating peak into what animation can do, so long as it’s got strong writing to back it up. Sadly, this approach was dropped quickly and by the third or so season, we’re left with this. MISTER CRABS IS CHEAP. I GET THAT JOKE. FOOD THAT’S BEEN SPAT OUT DOESN’T BELONG IN SPONGEBOB’S MOUTH. Or something. I don’t know. Watching that made me depressed.

It’s this most important moment where Adventure Time takes the time to break away from the pack. In its first few episodes, we meet a few side characters here and there. Their back-story is hinted at, but never stated implicitly. I started to think that the show was nothing more than Finn occasionally walking around speaking auto-tuned. Which, might I add, is a spectacularly stupid bit, that kind of works, but I digress. Marceline is a vampire queen, and at first, she’s evil and kind of a dick, plainly put. She doesn’t even seem to have a reason for being a dirtball, she just steals Finn and Jake’s house, tortures an old man, and does other dastardly things. Then, season two starts off with a bang. In it, Finn goes over to Marceline’s house to help her lay down a sick track. Rather than it holding the phat hip hop beat that Finn lays down, she dejectedly sings about how she feels as though her father doesn’t love her. I’m not kidding, the first season is almost entirely jokes based around being weird and silly, and then they jump right into “hey I have unrequited love for my father.” Heavy stuff.

Then a few episodes later Finn almost dies due to the fact that Jake attempts to excise the fear of his (seemingly) abusive father. Then there’s Marceline’s emotionally abusive boyfriend, former friends confronting past grievances, the death of a best friend, mental illness, and more. Rarely have I seen any television show try and tackle Alzheimer’s disease, much less a silly kid’s show.

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And that’s not to say that it’s all a depression-fest. No, it’s much more like real life than that. You’re supposed to have ups and downs. There are times when the show stings. I’m not afraid to admit that one episode, “I Remember You “(this is not the entire episode, I recommend watching it in its entirety rather than just watching the song!) There’s an episode where Finn swallows a “little computer” and then he can sing auto-tuned for the rest of the episode. Ice King, the chief villain of the series, tries to hire a hit-man to literally “hit” Finn and Jake. Hotdog knights being stupid, because of course hotdog knights are stupid. Out of context, I admit that these kinds of things might seem silly, but it’s the earnest way with which these jokes are presented. No attention is drawn to them. They just happen. Party bears. They’re bears that love to party. In the stomach of a beast monster. Because, like the stupid hot dog knights, of course they party in a stomach. They’re party bears.

Going along with that, there’s the way in which some of the implicit story beats are presented. Rarely are thing that relate to anything but the central plot spelled out overtly. The Land of Ooo may or may not be Earth following the Great Mushroom War. Through some sleuthing, you can find stills from episodes like this one that appears to be Earth with a massive crater on the side of it. There are also moments where newspaper clippings show up, books that hint at history, the implication that Finn’s the last human ever, and Martian Lord Abraham Lincoln. Ya know, normal stuff.

Speaking of things that have become normal over the course of the series that I thought would push me away from the show, characters in the show sing. Like really often. I’m usually pushed away from the twee things, so the singing bit is something that I grew to love. There’s a quote that I found for this very spot here that I cannot find so, “Singing is for when a character can no longer restrain themselves’ emotionally. It just comes bursting forth.” -Abraham Lincoln. You get the gist. And it’s something that, at first, the show doesn’t necessarily accomplish. Sure characters sing and it’s catchy, but they don’t do it for a good reason. They’ll just be walking along and start singing. Sure it’s infectious and fun, but it doesn’t really build into anything. It’s the thing that Spongebob’s “F.U.N.” nailed just over a decade ago.

Characters aren’t singing to pass the time, to take up a minute of screen time, they’re doing it to actually let themselves go, to become free from the constraints of the situation at hand. It changes from making bacon pancakes , to a character growing to understand that his love for someone much older than he is will be forever unrequited. That’s not to say that bacon pancakes isn’t fun or catchy, it is! Combined bacon pancakes has many millions of views, and it’s just sort of a throw-away joke in the middle of an episode. Adventure Time properly shines when the songs go deeper than that. When the songs that they sing are borderline heartbreaking and earnest. They’re sometimes real in a way in which people rarely are.

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All of this is sort of the theme of the entire show. It’s not just about the terrific cast, writers, and art design. It’s not the fact that they’ve got a gender-swapped fan-fiction-based episode. It’s not that I find myself wondering what Freud would have to say about all of their storylines. It’s much more than that. It’s about being able to relate to the show. There’s a reason that the show is such a resounding success, not just with the kids watching it, but the parents and people like myself, who might otherwise consider themselves just a bit too old to actually sink their teeth into the show.

It’s about evoking a strong feeling of what it was like to be a kid. In the most recent episode, a porcupine tries to shove it’s spikes into Finn’s bottom, thinking that this will allow Finn to be propelled to the top of the tree. This is, of course, utterly ridiculous and will never work, but I can guarantee that you or someone you know wound up breaking some limb at one point or other jumping off of a roof using an umbrella, thinking that it’ll slow your descent. The show is supposed to remind you of being young, unrestrained. You tried stupid things constantly. You went on an adventure. You were always the hero of your own tale. It was full of glee.

But not always. I fell in “love” with a girl significantly older than I was, without knowing how or why. Only later coming to realize that it’d never be. The loss of friends, family. The story of a character losing his mind slowly to creeping dementia was something that I knew was upsetting at the time, but not why. No one bothered to explain it to me. I get the emotional brunt of it, without getting any of the explanation as to why. It might as well have been a magical crown, for all I knew.

Adventure Time isn’t just a story. It’s my story, and yours too if you let it be.

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adventure time recapping: all the little people

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Everyone has played god in some form or another. Whether it’s been through some sort of artistic expression or a video game, people like to play a complicated game of what-ifs. The easy comparison to be drawn with this episode is something like The Sims. People can turn an innocent bit of curiosity into a full-blown “addiction” given the right pieces. Especially if those pieces include dark magic.

Throughout the episode, Finn shoves miniature versions of the Adventure Time cast into situations with characters they might not have otherwise interacted with. This sounds like a simple plot, where most other shows would have cast this into a sort of side-story where it is revealed to have been part of some character’s day-dream or something, Adventure Time instead paints the picture of a dark, eerie, somewhat disturbing reality. Characters are into crying while being spanked, body-building to seek revenge, crying for a full 16 weeks, and an implied threesome.

Finn sits there for weeks on end, the house is a wreck, he has horrifying pit stains, which leads me to believe that the episode isn’t just about a retelling of The Sims or something like that. It’s almost as if Finn is cast, temporarily, into Magic Man’s role. He’s given power over an entire domain, not unlike the writers for the show.

It feels like an entirely meta episode. The writers tell a story about the inherent power that comes with being able to control someone’s destiny completely, which, conveniently enough, Finn does at one point using a pencil. This symbolism should not be lost, as it’s a rather overt chance for the writers to share with the audience the perils of writing in general. At first, when Finn shows Jake that he’s messing with people’s relationships, Jake mentions that “it ain’t wholesome” and that he needs to “leave for a few days to clear his head.” Even someone that was on Finn’s side was put off by the narrative thread that he chose to pursue. Conveniently enough, he leaves for 16 weeks, or about half the time it takes to make an episode of Adventure Time. Of course, this is stretching, but it fits into the narrative I’ve constructed, so I’m keeping it.

Finally, both Magic Man and Finn state that they’re “not coming back.” Which seemed to be a nod that the writers of the show often feel like Finn. They, and all writers in general, put people together, break people up, and sometimes mess things up in a way in which people get all up in arms about. There’s not a whole lot you can do that’ll satisfy even your closest allies, so from the outsiders point of view, you do come off as a “Magic Man.”; all-powerful, but at the same time somewhat bumbling and goofy.

Or it could be that the writers of the show giving a nod to the people who write NSFW fan fiction about the Adventure Time cast and crew, subtly noting that they’re creepy and spend too much time doing so. The buff Princess, people spanking, implied threesomes, constant crying, kissing everything that moves, Finn tonguing himself, and drenched cat-fighting all points to that, but what do I know?

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