On Monday, Sept. 3, while most of America was celebrating Labor Day, fans around the world were glued to their TV sets, some ready, some unwilling, all a little sad, to say goodbye to the animated series: Adventure Time.
This animated series was created by Pendleton Ward, a CalArts graduate who was born and grew up in San Antonio, Texas. The pilot episode aired in 2007 on Nicktoons Network, and became a cult hit when it leaked on YouTube. Nickelodeon turned down the idea of making it into a full series, then Cartoon Network bought the rights and launched it on April 5, 2010 and thus cartoon history was made.
I remember seeing the first promotion for Adventure Time. I was sitting in a movie theater with my oldest daughter, Tapanga, waiting for the movie previews to begin. On came this commercial for a new animated series about a human boy, Finn, and his magical dog, Jake. I turned to Tapanga and said that it looked silly and that I wouldn't probably never watch it. Wow, was I wrong, since it's one of my favorite shows ever.
Finn and Jake live in the Land of Ooo, a post-apocalyptic world filled with quirky and colorful characters: Princess Bubblegum, the ruler of the Candy Kingdom; the Ice King, an ice wizard who is often misunderstood at no fault to his own; Marceline the Vampire Queen, who is a thousand-years old and likes to shred mad tunes on her guitar; Lumpy Space Princess (my favorite character and voiced by Ward), a princess made out of "irradiated stardust" who acts like a valley girl from an 80s movie; BMO, a robot that looks an awful like a Nintendo Game Boy; Flame Princess, a fire elemental that rules over the Fire Kingdom; and many, many more zany characters.
The main characters, Finn and Jake, have adventures in dungeons and explore the Land of Ooo and fight all sorts of creatures that could only spawn from an Earth that was irradiated and mutated after total nuclear annihilation. Yet, the heart of the show is how its characters go through emotional journeys along the way. With Finn, viewers watched him grow from a boy to a young man (he turns 17 before the end of the series) and his struggles with the various kinds of relationships a boy/man can have with the opposite gender. Then there is the tragic story of the Ice King and how he met Marceline. Jake finds love and has kids, only to watch them quickly grow up and move on with their lives, before he has a chance to be a Dad for them. One of my favorites is getting to watch the friendship between Princess Bubblegum and Marceline grow and evolve along with the series.
Now that the series finale has aired, the reviews are pouring in and I am trying my best to look away and not read any spoilers. I have only watched up to Season 9 and I'm having a hard time letting go of this show. I want to watch Season 10 and I do want to enjoy the series finale, but part of me doesn't want to say goodbye to these wonderful characters and the joy that they have brought into my life. Part of me hopes that the opening theme song isn't a lie, when it says "the fun will never end".
In closing, I'd like to say thanks to Pendleton Ward for sharing his world and characters with us. Thanks to Jeremy Shada, John DiMaggio, Hynden Walch, Tom Kenny, Olivia Olson, Niki Yang, Jessica DiCicco and the many other voice-actors who gave life to those characters. Thanks to the writers for your subversive humor mixed with beautiful moments. And a big thank you to Cartoon Network for the opportunity for the show to end on its own terms.
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