Adventure Time is weird. Adventure Time is crazy. Adventure Time is one of the strangest shows I’ve ever seen in my entire life, and I love it. Adventure Time season five is now out on DVD and Blu-Ray and, if you are in any way a fan of this show, you need to own it.
On its surface, the show is about a boy and his dog who go on adventures in a land built of imagination, a land where anything can and does happen. However, if you look beyond the surface, you will find a show full of rich characters with detailed backstories that take place in a world with an intricately thought out history. The stories these characters can tell can be deep and moving, funny and exciting, and beautiful and strange (some of the best of which can be found in this season).
Season five is one of the best seasons of Adventure Time so far, though that’s not very hard to believe as this show just seems to get better and better with every passing season. There are so many good episodes this season that I will not be able to go through them all in this review. Instead, I will pick out 10 of the season’s 52 episodes, which make this season so memorable for me, and review them a little more in depth.
Episode 6 – “Jake the Dad”
After Lady Rainicorn’s bombshell last season that she was pregnant, it was only a matter of time before the show explored what happened when a rainicorn and a magical dog have children together. This episode explained everything and more, and none of it was expected. For starters, no two puppies are exactly the same. Some are more rainicorn than dog and some are more dog than rainicorn, one doesn’t seem to be much of either, and all of them have powers beyond that of either of their parents. The episode explores Jake’s neurotic side, as he has to deal with five out of control puppies who appear to age much faster than a normal puppy. The episode ends with all five puppies joining their father in an adventure, and Jake Jr. saying her first words (with Kristen Schaal’s voice)!
Episode 8 – “Mystery Dungeon”
This episode brings together a bunch of fan favorite side characters for an adventure through a mysterious dungeon. Tree Trunks the elephant, Shelby the worm, N.E.P.T.R. the robot, Lemon Grab, and the Ice King all wake up in a dungeon with no memories of how they got there. They all need to work together to escape the dungeon, and discover why they were put there in the first place. This episode has a lot of great moments and lines but, by far, my favorite is when Tree Trunks tells Shelby that they’ve somehow found themselves in a room with “Nectar, Ice Cream, and one of the Lemon Carbs.” It’s so ridiculous, but it makes me laugh every time.
Episode 11 – “Bad Little Boy”
This episode is the second appearance of the alternate, gender-swapped universe, which stars Fiona and Cake. This episode introduces the heartthrob of Adventure Time’s Tumblr generation, Marshal Lee, the male counterpart to Marceline. This episode is memorable for many things, not the least of which is Marshal’s song, “Bad Little Boy.” The story is probably nothing too important to the mythos of the show, but it is a fun look into Marceline’s head as she attempts, and succeeds, at writing a better fan fic than the Ice King (using his own characters).
Episode 14 – “Simon and Marcy”
This episode explores the mostly unknown past of the Ice King and Marceline. It takes place after the Great Mushroom War, before the radiation had mutated anything beyond gooey globs and shapeless mutants. In the episode Marceline reveals to Finn and Jake that she knew the Ice King for almost 1,000 years, since before he had become the Ice King and back when he was just Simon Petrikov. The episode is one of the most revealing about pre-Ooo history, and is surprisingly deep and touching. Beside from the revelations about The Ice King and Marceline’s past, this episode also hints at the origins of Princess Bubblegum. (Hint: She is definitely a lot older than she says she is.)
Episode 15 – “A Glitch is a Glitch”
This episode is weird man. And for a show like Adventure Time, that’s really saying something. This is the first episode to exclusively use a completely different style, and it is universally considered to not be canon with the rest of the show. It is completely animated in CGI with a style reminiscent of late ‘90’s computer games. “A Glitch is a Glitch” was written, storyboarded, directed, and animated by David OReilly, an Irish animator who specializes in this specific kind of animation. It is actually kind of hard to watch at times, at least for me, because it is so purposefully glitchy. As this was the point of the episode, despite how “bad” it may look, it is actually very well animated. That said, it is not a bad episode and it has a lot of pretty funny moments. It’s just super weird.
Episode 18 – “Princess Potluck”
The Ice King believes he was not invited to a big princess party, so he decides to ruin it. This is basically the entire plot of this episode, but it’s one of my favorites just because it’s so funny. There are so many good lines in this episode, mostly from the Ice King.
Ice King, pouncing on a rabbit with a net: “Cuh-Caw! That’s how owls do it.”
Ice King, holding a pile of dirty socks he’s making into a dress for one of his penguins: “Gunter, Daddy needs you to dress up like a princess so you can sneak into that party and throw fruit punch on everybody.”
Ice King, after dressing Gunter up as a princess: “Yeah, Gunter, hot! You better be careful Gunter or I’ll keep you like this all the time! … I just might have to chase you around… Marry you…” Gunter responds by whipping out a live Taser and brandishing it at Ice King’s face.
Episode 28 – “Be More”
As one can guess from the title, “Be More,” explores the character of BMO. This time we’re not just following him around on one of the strange adventures of his imagination; we’re actually discovering BMO’s origins. “Be More” begins with BMO doing some software maintenance (deleting a bunch of unnecessary files). BMO gets a bit carried away and accidentally deletes his core system drivers. This necessitates a journey back to the factory where he was created and introduces us to many more MOs, including DMO (voiced by Aziz Ansari), as well as BMO’s creator, Moe, who is so far the only other confirmed human besides Finn to ever appear in Adventure Time. This episode is a bit weird, a bit sweet, a bit sad, and very memorable. (Side note, I feel like the storyboard artists missed a huge opportunity by not designing the LMO’s to be furry and red.)
Episode 34 – “The Vault”
“The Vault” is another strange episode, but this one has serious ramifications for the mythology of the show and the history of Ooo. In two other episodes a green ghost appeared to Finn, but it is never explained. This episode reveals that this ghost is actually one of Finn’s past lives, a girl named Shoko, and she has been trying to make amends for what she did to Princess Bubblegum hundreds of years ago. This episode brings up some serious questions about how Adventure Time’s afterlife works. There have previously been many ghosts in Ooo and the characters seem to have a rather detailed knowledge of the afterlife, as they reference multiple dead worlds and some even travel there to speak to Death himself. How this jives with reincarnation is not revealed, and may not ever be. It’s just one more thing for Adventure Time fans to speculate about. “The Vault” also reveals what I had suspected since “Simon and Marcy,” that Princess Bubblegum is indeed hundreds of years older than she says she is.
Episode 44 – “Apple Wedding”
“Apple Wedding,” while on the surface seems to be mainly about the continuing saga of Tree Trunks’ love life, also adds a bit to the mythology of Adventure Time, revealing that there is a single ruler over all of the kingdoms of Ooo. He is, as Tree Trunks’ refers to him, “His holiness, the one true King of Ooo.” However, it is apparent that everyone does not recognize this king’s authority, as Princess Bubblegum calls him a fraud. There is no context for any of these comments and we are left to wonder about the true history of this king. Back at the main plot, we find Tree Trunks about to marry the love of her life, Mr. Pig. But, in a shocking revelation, it is revealed that this is actually Tree Trunks’ fourth marriage! I think the audience feels a little like poor BMO, who is so giddily excited to witness the marriage shouting, “I love love!” before meeting Wyatt, one of Tree Trunks’ ex-husbands, who regales BMO with tales of their failed marriage. BMO’s face slowly falls as he keeps talking, and the conversation ends with Wyatt proposing that they move in together and BMO running away into the woods. The whole episode is kind of a weird mix of plots, which ultimately end with Tree Trunks performing her own ceremony in a prison cell.
Episode 48 – “Betty”
Betty Grof was the fiancée of Simon Petrikov, years before he found the crown that would eventually turn him into the Ice King. Simon’s increasing insanity drove Betty away and he never saw her again. In “Betty,” the Ice King loses his powers and reverts back to being Simon. However, since he has now been alive for over 1,000 years, his body quickly starts dying without the crown’s magic. In desperation he enlists Marceline to help him build a portal into the past so that he can say goodbye to Betty and apologize for what he became. When he opens the portal and tells her that he never saw her again all those years ago, Betty realizes that it was because she must have left Simon, for Simon, and jumps through the portal into the future! Betty is able to save Simon from death, but it means he is once again the Ice King. The end of the episode sees Betty staying in their time, but leaving in the hopes of finding a cure for the Ice King’s curse and hoping to find a way to turn him back into Simon Petrikov for good.
Beside the episodes, which are the main reason you need this Blu-ray set in your life, there are actually a couple pretty decent extras to be found here. On disk one you’ll find the most interesting feature if you’re into behind-the-scenes interviews like me. “Adventure Time Forever” is a 15 minute featurette comprised of interviews with a diverse assortment of people who work behind the scenes on Adventure Time. They talk about the early days of the show, how people responded to the pilot, wondering if it would last past season one, and when they realized the show was going to be huge.
Also on disk one are 24 animatics, rough draft storyboard animations of various scenes, giving the viewer a feel for how the show evolves through from conception to the final product. On disk two you get another 25 animatics, and presumably nothing else. However, the box advertises the set as containing a special snail hunt, so it is possible that there is more I have not found yet. I know there is a snail-based easter egg on disk one, but whether or not it is the only one I do not know. I guess you’ll just have to hunt for yourself.
Adventure Time is one of Cartoon Network’s best shows right now, and everything in season five is proof of that. If you consider yourself a fan of this show, this is one set you will need to add to your collection.
Adventure Time: The Complete Fifth Season: Blu-ray | DVD
Have you gotten your set yet? What is your favorite episode from season five?
Jonathan North is writer, photographer, video editor, and animation fan from Iowa. He studied advertising and design at Iowa State University, and also has degrees in multimedia and art. His favorite movie is Fantasia, and his favorite cartoon is Gravity Falls. Or maybe Steven Universe. He can’t decide. You can find more of his work on his blog, as well as his Podcast and YouTube channel, where he reviews animation, movies, TV, or whatever else his guests feel like talking about. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, @jonjnorth.