Adventure Time Review
I’ll start this review with a bang; Adventure Time is probably my current favorite kid’s cartoon show. It can appeal to a variety of ages and shows that just because something is by definition a ‘kid show’ doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s ONLY for kids. The cereal Trix knows this struggle, but in the world of breakfast items as opposed to television shows. Adventure Time is actually really popular with the college-aged crowd of upper teens and low-mid 20’s, debatably just as popular as it is with actual kids. The complete randomness and colorfulness of the world seem to attract a stoner-like crowd almost, but that’s not to say the show doesn’t actually have a solid overarching plot, world-building, original music, strong writing and character development. Because it does.
Adventure Time follows the adventures of Finn the human and the Jake the dog in the magical land of Ooo. Their adventures range from anything like fighting monsters, going in dungeons, rescuing princesses, and traversing through various lands in general. It’s a VERY random show full of all sorts of weird inhabitants, candy people, and other fantastical made-up creatures. While the series starts out very nonsensical, random and episodic in nature, as the series goes on Adventure Time reveals itself to be quite the deep and complex show with a really tragic history. It contains light-hearted moments and humor all throughout, but some later episodes can definitely invoke some feelings of sadness. It really is a roller coaster ride of emotions.
The characters in Adventure Time are certainly some strange and unique ones. With the amount of seasons Adventure Time has, it has introduced quite the number of characters over the years, both good and bad. Even though Finn and Jake are the two main protagonists of the series, there are numerous episodes where both of them probably only get about 1-2 minutes of screen time, if even that. Adventure Time really likes to spend a lot of time fleshing out other characters, no matter how important or insignificant they are.
For the main character page, go here
Overall Rating: 92/100
Voice Acting: A
Art Animation: Very bright and colorful world with wonderful hand-drawn animation
Genre: A combination of comedy, fantasy, and adventure
Premise of Show: A boy and his shape-shifting dog live in a post-apocalyptic, fantasy world where they go on adventures and fight against monsters
Episode Length: 11-12 minutes
Network/Where to Watch: Cartoon Network, Hulu
Episodic or Continuity? Episodic earlier on and some current episodes still remain that way, but a lot of the later episodes have direct continuity with past events and situations
Adventure Time Characters
Finn (Voiced by Jeremy Shada)- A young human boy in a foreign land and the main character of Adventure Time. He was originally 12 years old when the series began, but unlike most other kid cartoons, Finn actually ages with the show so the audience is growing up with him as well. As of the end of Season 6, he is 16 years old. Finn lives in a treehouse with his best friend and adventuring companion, Jake the dog. Together they go on quests, fight monsters and all around just bro out. He is a very brave adventurer whose confidence in his abilities borderlines on cockiness at times. Although he can get serious when time calls for it, being a young kid his age he has a happy, go-lucky attitude and loves to just play games and hang out with his buddy Jake. He does mature a lot as time goes on though. Throughout the series he has had numerous love interests, most notably Princess Bubblegum and Flame Princess. From where the series currently stands, Finn is still the only human in the land of Ooo.
Jake (Voiced by John DiMaggio)- A magical dog who has the power to transform his body into any size and shape. If it doesn’t go without saying, clearly this power is EXTREMELY useful on all of their adventures. Like Finn, Jake is also a pretty optimistic dude who likes to just hang out, eat food, and occasionally go on adventures to fight against monsters. While he is similar in a lot of ways to Finn, overall he is the definitely the lazier one of the two. Since Finn is a human with no real ‘powers’ besides his skills with a sword, he has had to work hard for most things when adventuring. Since Jake can shape-shift to any object no matter what size or shape, a lot of things that would normally be very difficult to most people become very easy to him, in result making him a bit lazy in nature. He’s still a great, loyal friend though and is always there to have Finn’s back whenever he needs it; he’s a true bro.
Princess Bubblegum (Voiced by Hynden Walch)- One of the two main female protagonists of the show, and originally Finn’s romantic interest when the series began. She is the leader of the Candy Kingdom, and much like the other inhabitants of the Candy Kingdom, she is made of candy herself. She’s made of bubblegum, if you couldn’t guess… But I’m really hoping you could. Although she appears to be 18 years old or somewhere around there, her actual age remains a mystery but is thought to range in the 100’s of years. While she has her sweet (no pun intended) and compassionate side, numerous moments throughout the series reveal her to be quite the cold and calculated ruler. Some measures in which she has gone to for the sake of her kingdom border on strong utilitarian behavior.
Ice King/Simon Petrikov (Voiced by Tom Kenny)- The sympathetic villain of Adventure Time. While he started out as the main antagonist of the series due to his constant kidnapping of princesses, he eventually turns into more of a comic relief character, an occasional ally of Finn and Jake, and a character with a tragic past. Throughout the show the audience finds that Ice King isn’t actually ‘evil’ but rather he is being controlled by the crown on his head and has completely forgotten all about his former life; he is literally insane and delusional. He used to be known as Simon Petrikov before he transformed and took on his Ice King persona. In order to protect his life, he was forced to wear a cursed crown that slowly took away his sanity and his original body. The crown gave him the power to control ice and use it for his advantage to fight against monsters, but it also completely transformed him into a different entity while making him clinically insane with no memory of his past. Even though it’s only a kid’s cartoon, Ice King is one of the most tragic, fleshed out antagonists I’ve seen in all of television fiction.
Marceline the Vampire Queen (Voiced by Olivia Olson)- The other of the two main female protagonists of Adventure Time, although instead of being a candy creature like Princess Bubblegum, Marceline is a 1000 year old vampire queen. Unlike other vampires, she doesn’t need to drink blood in order to survive, rather she just drinks the color out of anything red. Even to this day, not much is known about Marceline’s past so she remains one of the most mysterious characters on the show. The only information we really know is that she knew Simon before he turned into the Ice King when she was a little girl, and they seemed to have some type of father-daughter relationship while not actually being related by blood. She does have a real vampire father though who makes occasional appearances on the show. A talented musician and electric bass player, Marceline is responsible for various original musical songs (that duet song with Ice King; them feels) throughout the series. She becomes a very close friend to Finn and Jake over the course of Adventure Time.
BMO (Voiced by Niki Yang)- A genderless robot that is shaped like a Gameboy/computer hybrid that lives with Finn and Jake. It possesses features of typical household objects like a video game console, video recorder, flashlight, camera, music player, just to name a few. While it doesn’t technically have a gender, it speaks with a strong Korean-accented female voice. Even though it helps out with Finn and Jake with a variety of functions as more of an ‘appliance’ or ‘object’, it is still a good friend of the two and they all treat each others as equals.
The Lich (Voiced by Ron Perlman)- The true antagonist of Adventure Time. He embodies all that is evil.
There are seriously sooooooo many characters in Adventure Time; I could go on forever. For the sake of this review not being 10,000 words, let’s move on with the rest of the review.
There really isn’t a show out there like Adventure Time. Steven Universe shares the closest similarities that I can think of, but even then they have their fair share of differences. And, well… Adventure Time came first. While the show appears to be completely random and nonsensical at first glance to the average watcher, when you dive deeper into Adventure Time you’ll find an incredibly deep, complex world under the guise of kid’s cartoon. I’ve seen some people quickly write the show off for being a ‘kid’s show’ or ‘random and stupid’ so they don’t even give it a chance, meanwhile those same people go on to watch some bullshit reality show or some stereotypical cheesy sitcom, not knowing that Adventure Time covers more mature themes and has a deeper story than any of those shows… sigh. There is definitely more than meets the eye when it comes to this show though. The lore really is quite impressive; the amount of detail put into all the characters, locations, events, etc. is extremely extensive. Pendleton Ward clearly put A LOT of time in thinking of the whole idea. As previously noted, Adventure Time can feature some pretty deep themes, some that one wouldn’t normally expect in a kid’s cartoon. Some of these themes include death, genocide, war, mental disorders, and forbidden love… I could keep going but I’ll stop. The writing has it moments, but for the most part it is done as well as it can be given the limitations the writers have. They do have a bit of a tough job in learning how to balance between the restrictions in writing for a kid’s show but also making it deep and mature enough that it will appeal to the older crowd. Some situations are pretty vague and not explained very well, but they can usually be pieced together through subtle clues and references throughout the series. The writers really like to bring up seemingly insignificant minor objects/situations from previous episodes and find a way to make them extremely relevant, holding way greater importance than what was originally thought.
The episode premises range from Finn and Jake going on adventures, bro-ing out doing random activities, fighting monsters, dealing with relationship drama… Just to name a few. Some episodes reveal very important information about the character’s pasts and the history of Ooo with how it got to be in its current post-apocalyptic state; others do nothing to add anything relevant. The earlier episodes were definitely more episodic and didn’t really have much of a plot so to speak, everything seemed to just happen very randomly with no real sense to the world. The series goes through a major shift in tone however as the audience learns the tragic history of Ooo along with background information on most of the major characters. The audience learns that the magical and colorful land of Ooo was made possible by the result of a war known as the Great Mushroom War that destroyed the previous war. This fact add a bittersweet feel to the show; some of those bright and cheery locations don’t seem so bright and cheery anymore when you think about what it took for them to get there. Current episodes definitely touch more frequently on the history of Ooo and how everything got to be in its current state so there is major continuity in later seasons. Even still though, there are stand-alone episodes here and there as they don’t completely abandon the once episodic nature of the show. They also probably continue to include these so newer viewers won’t be 100% confused on what’s going on if they happen to tune in. For the most part, they’re usually pretty funny and do their part in breaking up the serious tone the show tends to have now with more light-hearted moments played for laughs. With that being said though, at times Adventure Time can be a little ‘too’ experimental for my tastes. I can appreciate the creativity and artistic direction that some of the newer episodes are going for, but damn, sometimes I’m just thinking to myself “Just get back to Finn and Jake already!” Some of the later episodes barely feature the titular characters, if at all. Sometimes this works and the episodes are well done, but other times it can be kind of a miss. I fell in love with the show by watching Finn and Jake go on random, fantastical adventures together after all, not by watching some side character who came out of nowhere in a completely unrelated storyline to anything going on of importance in Ooo. While the ongoing, overarching plot combined with the slow world-building is one of Adventure Time’s biggest strengths, it can also be one of its biggest annoyances as well considering not all of the episodes forward the plot in any way which just draws out certain story segments which the fans are dying to find out about; it almost moves TOO slow. At the same time though… I can appreciate the suspense the series is building as it keeps me watching, so evidently their approach has to be working.
The music in Adventure Time is quite excellent, there is a wide array of original songs and musical compositions. The songs range from instrumentals to solo vocals to group vocals. The songs are most commonly sang by Marceline, Finn, and some occasional others. Marceline in particular does most of the singing, I do have to admit she has a pretty soothing voice. In my opinion in probably the most touching episode and emotional high-point of the series, ‘I Remember You’, her and Ice King share a heart-wrenching duet that reveals some important information about their relationship and Ice King’s past as Simon. Through the power of music segments throughout the episode, the audience discovers that before Simon transformed into his maniacal, bipolar persona of Ice King, he used to watch over and take care of a young Marceline as a father figure in the hostile aftermath of Ooo after the Great Mushroom War. In order to protect Marceline and himself from danger, he was forced to wear the crown which gave him powers over the ice but also slowly took away his sanity. Over time in result of wearing the double-edged crown, he has completely forgotten about Marceline and everything else regarding his past life, and the episode explores the emotional distress and hardships that has been plaguing Marceline all these years. While the episode itself is quite emotional, the music really does a lot to amplify the mood of it. It shows that through the form of music, some emotions can be THAT much more intense that wouldn’t be normally possible through other means. That it just one example of many though; various times throughout the series does the music really add to the scene. Not only is the music awesome, but the voice acting is also performed very well. Jeremy Shada does a great job as Finn, and since they practically mirror the same age, it is really interesting to hear him grow up with Finn as his voice gets deeper. John DiMaggio is a legend in the voice acting department, probably most recognized for Bender on Futurama, so it’s no surprise that he does an awesome performance with Jake. Besides them two, the other characters are also well done. I have heard complaints that people really hate Lemongrab’s voice (who actually happens to be the voices of Rick and Morty from… Rick and Morty), but to be fair, his voice and character in general is supposed to be really annoying and irritating so it doesn’t both me as much with that in mind. Other than that, there have been some pretty famous and notable actors/actresses to lend their voices to the show over the years.
Final Verdict: Whether it’s my favorite kid’s cartoon of all time is debatable. There is no doubt however, that Adventure Time is definitely the deepest and most complex kid’s cartoon I’ve ever watched, for western animation at least. The level of detail in the show, the extensive history of the world, the amount of characters and the development they go through is simply astounding for any television show, kid’s program or not. For any fan of video games, cartoons, or immersive stories in general, I can whole-heartedly, 100% recommend this show. With 6 seasons so far there’s a lot to catch up on, however it is definitely worth it. Season 2 and onwards is really when it starts having more continuity, but Season 1 is still a lot of fun and introduces you to a lot of the characters with more stand-alone episodes. The most juicy story details are still yet to come, like more info on Finn’s dad, more history on Ooo, Simon and Marceline’s past, etc. It’s basically the perfect time to jump in if you haven’t started yet… So go do it now. Seriously. The Adventure Time review is over. Stop wasting time. Do it.