Cartoons seem to be making a nice resurgence lately thanks to the Hub and Cartoon Network. We all know about the insane cross-gender appeal of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and now we have another strong contender: Adventure Time.
So here are my top five reasons for why I love this show, and why I think you should, too.
5. The Animation
What’s Great About It: There is so much color in this show (which makes sense, considering it’s a cartoon). But beyond that, there’s detail that can show up in unexpected places. Hellish landscapes like the Flame Kingdom and the Nightosphere. The character designs of Ricardio and the Lich. And of course, every major fight scene and action sequence (about once per episode, it being an action-adventure series). The animation is why Lady Rainicorn (pictured above) is so fascinating to me, and why I try to absorb every frame for something little detail or Easter Egg left by the creators.
Best Examples: “Return to the Nightosphere,” “Mortal Folly,” “Mortal Recoil”
4. The Comedy
What’s Great About It: This show has some of the usual staples like toilet humor and bad puns, but then it can get… surreal. Like, Ice King breaking the fourth wall and waxing philosophical about TV (“So clever, watching us from a one-sided mirror…”). And like other good shows, it has material that only adults watching would pick up on, which kids won’t get until later. Those kind of jokes are good because they let us enjoy them as kids and then appreciate the show even more years after the fact.
Best Examples: “The Other Tarts,” “Fionna and Cake,” “Princess Cookie”
3. The Drama
What’s Great About It: But as much as you’ll laugh, Adventure Time will make you cry. Delving into the Ice King’s backstory, Marceline’s tortured relationship with her dad, Finn’s unrequited love for Princess Bubblegum, and anything to do with the Lich and the Mushroom War. It’s clear that the creators behind the show have built up quite a mythology, and little by little, they’re letting us see how deep and broken their world and its people are.
Best Examples: “Holly Jolly Secrets,” “You Made Me!”, “I Remember You”
2. The Music
What’s Great About It: Much like the revival of My Little Pony, Adventure Time has quite a few catchy songs in it, but frankly, I prefer the latter’s music to the former. That’s mostly due to storyboard artist and music composer Rebecca Sugar. Between the voice actors for Marceline (Olivia Olson) and Finn (Jeremy Shada), the cast has some great vocals for whatever song they need, giving a lot of soul to an already deep show.
Best Examples: “What Was Missing,” “Dream of Love,” “I Remember You”
1. The Cast
What’s Great About It: Finn’s usually a dumb hero, but he also has some good ideas. Jake’s a magical dog adventurer, but he also has a sensitive side. Princess Bubblegum is an attractive princess-scientist, but she also has dubious moral principles and can be pretty heartless toward Finn. The point is that there are so many characters, often good for jokes, fight scenes, and dramatic moments, but so many of them have these layers that’ll surprise you every time. That’s what keeps this adventure show from being superficial. It’s just plain super.
Best Example: Honestly, just watch the show all the way through. Storylines and character arcs come together season after season like colors blending into a rainbow.
New episodes of Adventure Time air on Monday nights on Cartoon Network.
Bibliography: Adventure Time. Created by Pendleton Ward. Written by Pendleton Ward, Patrick McHale, Adam Muto, Tim McKeon, Merriwether Williams, Steve Little, Thurop Van Orman, Kent Osborne, and Mark Banker. Directed by Larry Leichliter. Produced by Pendleton Ward, Eric Homan, Derek Drymon, and Fred Seibert. Frederator Studios; Cartoon Network. April 5, 2010 – present.