I have been catching up on Adventure Time
. Cartoon Network SE is on season 7. Some of the seasons were short and after season 5 they became really long, I got lost there for a bit. One of the reasons for me being more careful watching AT: It's ending with season 8.
One of the problems when I watch it, which isn't really much of a problem, it's that it's easy to overlook the main episodes. Much of them are whimsical fun and then in between we get the epic, all-weird, sometimes psychedelic plot-heavy stories. By this point I feel like I need to re-watch it again.
The Graybles side-stories completely flew over my head and in season 6 it's explained :
Spoiler: So the little dude is talking to us from the future as he tells the stories from his archives. And oh, by the by, he is an alien.
The stories are weird and at times disturbing. Like, the story with Lemongrab, holy guacamole. It ends with Lemongrab eating his clone. It's so freakish and dark out of nowhere. The latest Grayble had a foreboding scene to what things are to come, not to mention that other brief hint. Wth.
The Lovecraft influences continues, very well restrained with Orgalorg, another freaking awesome side-story. It has some of the magic of In the Mountains of Madness
, the sense of melancholy.
This is also carried in the Lich story, which might be the main plot. When it says "In the beginning there were only monsters" and it shows those
kinds of monsters.
And that episode was completely misleading, starting with the Lich in his flesh form dancing until people cried with laughter. You blink, you miss it.
This culminates in season 6 Hot Diggity
and The Comet
. It's epic "cosmic horror" AND Finn's origin.
Spoiler: Finn was a comet.
Then we get to the Ice King that is a mix of fantasy/science fiction/Lovecraftian story. It's easy to dismiss AT as a kid's show, but there is so many dark elements that it gets quite disturbing from time to time. The Ice King character is a like that, he seems like a silly villain archetype, but his story is dark and complex. He has several poignant relationships, Gunter, Marceline the vampire and with his gf Betty. The Marceline connection makes her character much more passable, she is my least favourite character, I don't care for vampires, but I understand why she is needed with the Ice King.
In a distant past, a scholar finds terrible artefact from unknown world that dooms him. He uses sorcery/science to free himself. This is AT and magic and science are mixed into one. In the Land of Oo very few people know what certain magic or science do, much of the knowledge is lost, similar to the Dying Earth. Sometimes someone knows and things get fixed, other times everything goes wrong, and that's most of the time.
The Ice King's origin is sad, but in a way that makes it more melancholic in Lovecraft's style rather than the sentimental tragic villain. His past self even dresses like one of Lovecraft's characters.
His episode Broke His Crown
is one of my favourites, it combines science fantasy elements, whacky sorcerer thing goes haywire inside the artefact that looks oddly like a matrix. There we meet former artefact wearers and they're a surprise.
Marceline and Bubblegum are the main characters in this because in many ways they're the only sane people in Oo. Yeah, it isn't Jake and Finn.
Then there is so many hints and influences, hidden trivia and what nots. You blink, you miss it.
Like, why is Evergreen bird-like and Gunter a reptile? Is this is a palaeontology thing?
The Dying Earth influence is another very strong one. AT characters are usually ambiguous and dislikeable, with very blurred lines between good and evil. Heroes and villains are more than what they seem.
No one really reflects on why things are the way they are. The wastelands, the bad lands, the ruins. It's really princess Bubblegum and Marceline that show awareness and willingness to remember history. There is an undercurrent of melancholia and cynicism throughout the series, a foreboding sense, the world is ending or it already did.
Why are there so many weird creatures and things? That's seldom explained.
Stories end in vague terms, in Twilight Zone style, not much is solved and sometimes things get solved in the wrong way. We get the creepy stuff, there are many of them; people getting eaten or killed, biological weapons, Shoggoth things crawling out of the darkness, "things" die freakish manners. The Bad Lands and Vapor Swamps freaked me out.
A lot of what happens is left in the dark, the Ice King is like one of the very few that gets a background.