Adventure Time has been going some covertly dark, unsettling emotional places lately, but done with real care and quality.
Often in cartoons there’s this sort of twee denial of maturity. Sometimes this is purely mechanical: when your protagonists don’t age, it’s hard to really creative emotional continuity. Other times, you can feel the creators straining against the idea that they’ve created a world where heavier emotional concepts can’t really exist without violating the tone of the show.
Yes, we’ve seen cartoons that have feels. But mostly, you have a static character struggling to deal with the “adult world”. We’ve seen lots of shows with kids who just want to be kids, except that they have to deal with _______. And the kids are just that: kids. They may be precocious, they may have “the emperor has no clothes” insight into life that we love to see kids have, but they’re static characters who don’t age or it undos what we love about them.
I think what I love most about Adventure Time is that what they’ve created is emotionally naive characters in an emotionally naive world who are suddenly forced to deal with feelings they didn’t expect to have, and this is NATURAL. Jake with his puppies was a great example of this, but Finn over the last two seasons has been absolutely murdering it as a child becoming a young man without guidance. And that particular transition is almost unheard of in cartoons: a kid transitioning naturally (kinda) into a young adult. He’s still an innocent, but the feelings inside him are evolving as he gets older and has more complicated experiences.
Taking a minute to pause and appreciate this. Good work, Adventure Team.