Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Adventure Time

While DS is at camp and the Old Man is driving down  to Tampa to see Black Sabbath, I'm left home pondering the existence of the animated universe.  Not to say I don't mind being alone - I'm on vacation and being on vacation from everything and everyone is pretty crucial, I'm realizing.  While I ache for my family, I also know that I need this time to myself.  'Nuf said.

It's about time I finally got around to writing about Adventure Time.  I realize that, as DS grows up, our tastes will diverge but for right now I feel somewhat vindicated for putting my foot down about watching vapid cartoons that had no redeeming quality (if you want a short list of those cartoons, message me - I'm not going to be judged for my opinions of what passes for children-oriented animated fare).  Even as I've recounted in the past that I've made some bad parenting decisions, I still feel at least like I steered the debate  to "why is this cartoon valuable to watch?" rather than "you can only watch cartoons I deem to be okay."  But out of it comes an appreciation of animation that is entertaining and trying at least to say something.  Adventure Time is one of those cartoons.

But while it's entertaining, Adventure Time is also pretty dark.  It's one of those cartoons that I saw a couple of minutes of and decided it was ground-breaking enough in its content that it would make up for the simplistic artistic style.  But the simplistic style is also a mask; the latest episodes tell more of the back story behind Ice King and Marceline, and the story of the world that became the Land of Ooo - I would write about the specific episode, but why rehash a good summary already with my own confused, theoretical take - and the story is pretty harrowing, but with the stylized character design, it seems less heinous, somehow.

If one were to look at the more recent dystopian worlds, they usually involve some kind of huge catastrophic upheavel; in Hunger Games, it appears to be the punishment of proles who dared war against the rich; in Adventure Time, it is the apocalyptic nature of the world inhabited by Ice King and Marceline a millenium ago.  So, is Ooo, then, a utopia?  No way!  Dystopia does not beget utopia, it only begets more of the same.  It negates itself, which is why Ooo is so non-descript (how many candy kingdoms have we seen rise and fall, my friends?) - Princess Bubblegum and the rest of the inhabitants of Ooo are mutants, facsimiles of humans, anthropomorphized objects that recall a past that is so far removed from the present as to not really exist at all.  This is the woo-hoo point where conspiracy theories dwell; DS watched the series Bravest Warriors and apparently there is a similarity to Finn in two of the characters so Finn is their offspring.  I don't understand!  But I just started watching Bravest Warriors - so far not as good as Adventure Time but I'm willing to give it a chance.

Anyway, so what?  It is not unheard of for a writer to string together different parts of the same universe and call the thing a narrative.  It would not surprise me that Adventure Time's creator, Pendleton Ward, has super-seriously thought the narrative through; it's just a matter of whether he can keep the show on the air long enough to unfold more of the story.

Swiped the photo for this post from Comics Alliance and their lovely selection of AT covers.