“Marceline, would you do me the honor of getting the plop out of here?”
Returning to the Land of Ooo, Adventure Time: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray) improves upon the first season in every way. There are through-lines to the season, callbacks to Season One, and perhaps most momentous of all — Finn has a birthday and we learn he ages. For a kids’ show based around a kid as the main character to have that child move from twelve to thirteen is a pretty big thing. It was the right move, as it opens the show up to more storylines which deal with that transition from child to teen. In Season One, there was a lot of skirting around the issue of growing up, things hidden in metaphors and whatnot, but now the show can address these things more openly, though still couched in a show aimed at kids first and foremost.
My favorite thing about Adventure Time: The Complete Season Two (Blu-ray) were the deviations from Season One. The second season sees experiments in every aspect of the show. The backgrounds have more dynamic elements, and the animation itself plays around with other styles such as an 8-bit homage and CGI elements. The main characters Finn the human (Jeremy Shada), Jake the dog (John DiMaggio) and the Ice King (Tom Kenny) all are drawn differently at times during the season, but never so out there as to lose their uniquely recognizable looks. Spoilers for the examples: The Ice King loses his beard, Finn’s seen sans hat, and Jake stretches out as thin as we’ve ever seen him.
Though Finn still lives in a tree house which would look right at home in Neverland his adventures this season tended to have more purpose than the devil-may-care explorations of Season One. The show showed actual growth in every way instead of resting on its laurels which it easily could have and still garnered positive reviews. Now that the creative team has shown what they’re capable of they push the limits of what they’ve done to great effect. I don’t know if Season Three will continue to show Finn dealing with that awkward time in everyone’s life, or if we will see more of the type of random adventures which populate the Season One landscape or if the show will go in an entirely different direction. I do know Adventure Time: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray) boasts everything fans are clamoring for and sets the stage very well for the next season. Lots of physical humor, plays on words, and plenty of made-up songs and dances combine to make this season extremely satisfying and it’s easy to recommend.
Adventure Time: The Complete Season Two (Blu-ray) looks amazing. The bright almost hallucinogenic colors scream on screen and there are absolutely no problems with the video stream. The audio stream is a bit disappointing, honestly, with a mere Dolby 2.0 offered which in no way does justice to the many songs inherent, not to mention the innovative score by Timothy Kiefer (Spork) and Casey James Basichis (Random! Cartoons). For future season releases, I want to see an audio upgrade.
Special features are threefold. First are digital copies of every episode. Next is a short video of members of the creative team reacting to an Adventure Time bit on a computer screen. Finally are commentaries on every single one of the twenty-six episodes which make up Season Two. Recorded over one long marathon session at creator Pendleton Ward’s house many of the key members of the art department gathered to discuss the episodes. It’s a wonderful thing in theory which sort of stumbles in its execution but for a noble reason.
Before the commentary begins we get a title card from Pendleton Ward talking which states he went back over the commentary and inserted ukulele songs at certain points. Well, as you play the track you realize why that was quite quickly. Ward is concerned that kids are going to be listening to the track and he wants to make sure it’s kept appropriate for young ears. Like I said, it’s a noble sentiment however there are so many stories which we hear things like: “Well, I was inspired by…” and then it cuts to ukulele music and then comes back to raucous laughter. So we miss a lot of the stories and it ends up leaving the track feeling disjointed. I do appreciate wanting to keep the track kid-friendly, but I don’t know how many kids listen to commentary tracks in the first place. Not to mention the show is created by adults who are influenced by adult things and the audience of the show is not merely kids. I would have liked the unedited version of the commentary track available as well, since as it stands the ukulele music became my cue to tune out.
Fans of the show will find Adventure Time: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray) a complete no-brainer. After complaining that Cartoon Network kept releasing special DVD collections instead of full seasons, fans finally get their wish of not only complete seasons but Blu-ray as well. Until the entire series completes its run and gets a mega-mathematical release go ahead and purchase the set now. Even though I was disappointed to miss out on so many stories in the commentaries I like the thought behind why and the growth of the season overall far outweighed that minor issue.
What the cabbage? As if it’s guilty!