Adventure Time, one of the most popular shows of our generation. The animated show currently airing on Cartoon Network has received numerous accolades and several video game spin offs, and is hailed as being written as much for adults as it is for kids. But is it all it’s really cracked up to be? Yes! But why? Lets take a look.
Adventure Time was created by Pendleton Ward, who has also worked on other shows such as The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. The series is centered around a young human boy named Finn and his best friend Jake, a talking dog with magical powers to change his shape and size at will. Together they live in the land of Ooo, a post apocalyptic world in which they adventure together through all kinds of situations, some mature, some silly, some dark, and some nonsensical. From the get go that sounds like a kids show right?
But maybe you missed one thing. This in a post-apocalyptic world, Finn is the only surviving human, he knows nothing of his parents and is the only person who ages in this world. That’s something a little darker no matter how you slice it. Adventure Time can happen in any locale; in some places Jake and Finn can be exploring a dungeon together, fighting off everything they come across that wishes
them harm, and in another episode they can be running from a robot that does nothing but constantly throw pies at them. The different settings and situations in the show encourage kids to use their own imaginations more, and stop adults from getting bored.
The main thing about this show that makes it so popular is its cast of characters, each of them is a character that everyone can relate to at some point in their lives. The feelings that and developments that they go through are all things we have felt at one time or another. To top that off, they grow and mature as the series does, Jake ages in real time as the show progresses, with his character learning and developing as time goes on. Add to that a well-rounded mix of characters each with their own neuroses, good points and bad, and strong female characters that are positive role models, makes this a timeless show.
Jake and Finn are the most human characters you’ll see; they demonstrate what true friendship is, they don’t just constantly go out and throw cupcakes at each other, like real friends, they fight each other, they joke, they argue with each other and they help each other. Put that alongside the fact that this series has gained enough popularity to warrant guest star appearances from celebrities like Mark Hamill and George Takei himself, show that this series is really something.
The writing in this series continues to outdo itself, with subtle references to geek culture, one of the duo’s friends literally being a Nintendo Gameboy, episodes giving loving nods to Magic the Gathering, as well as the entire series having a Dungeons and Dragons-esque feel. Alongside that as time goes on, Finn develops as a person, his adventures and experiences shaping him as time goes on and he literally ages with the show.
Another thing to address is its comparison to anime. For a long time anime shows have displayed a positive set of morals to kids and those who see them, encouraging them to overcome their fears and do what they want, and always follow their path to do what is right. An anime show does that in a long winded 20+ episode series, Adventure Time takes you on a journey with a full resolution each time, and every episode is 11 minute long.
All of this comes together to make something fantastic. The locales, the writing, the acting, it all evokes imagination and is based on friendship. Everything is colourful, and entertaining without needing to be dark and gritty (though there is plenty of subtle undertone for anyone who wants to go looking for it. Each episode gives a hint of backstory). It is written as much for adults as it is for kids, which is a thin line to walk, but they’ve walked it pretty well for four seasons and is still going strong. The fact of the matter is, Adventure Time reaches a more whimsical place than reality. It’s like these fun little doodles you made as a kid that have come to life. It’s like looking into that part of you where the real world doesn’t apply that you forgot about a long time ago, and going on some epic adventures. Like I said, each episode is only 11 minutes long, what have you got to lose? Check this show out!