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The Eyes of MSMS

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The Eyes of MSMS

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Neal: ‘Fionna and Cake’ faithfully continues the ‘Adventure Time’ universe

Produced by Adam Muto
‘Fionna and Cake’ is a 10-episode, thought-provoking spin-off of ‘Adventure Time’ which features new characters Fionna, a human, and Cake, a magical stretchy cat.

The finale for “Adventure Time” aired in 2018, but, since then, three new spinoffs have been released, with “Fionna and Cake” being the most recent. Based on the gender-swapped versions of the main characters of Pendelton Ward’s original series, creator and executive producer Adam Muto takes a silly premise and turns it into a thought-provoking piece of animated television.

The 10-episode show features fanfiction characters created by Ice King in the original series: Fionna, a human, and Cake, a magical stretchy cat. The sequel reveals Fionna and Cake are real parts of an unapproved universe created by a multidimensional being in Ice King’s head. The show follows Fionna, Cake and Simon on a multidimensional chase by a multiversal auditor called the Scarab, who is trying to destroy their universe.

“Adventure Time” was never a stranger to discussing mature themes, and “Fionna and Cake” continues this trend. The major theme in the new show is the finality of consequences. More specifically, it focuses on how the consequences of actions are permanent and how — even though someone might regret how a particular situation ended — they must find peace and acceptance with these consequences to continue with their life. For example, Simon — also known as the Ice King — has to deal with his loss of power in “Adventure Time,” where, long story short, Simon’s fiancé, Betty, turned him back to normal but she was lost in the process. However, he learns that although the past is written in stone, the future remains unwritten.

Another prominent theme is escapism. Simon is so depressed, he is willing to throw his life away and become the Ice King again, nullifying the sacrifice Betty made when she turned into the interdimensional embodiment of chaos called Golb. Fionna is bored with her modern life, and she dreams of escaping to a magical world. However, Simon and Fiona both learn their ordinary, somewhat solitary lives are worth fighting for.

Together, they visit a universe where Simon never became Ice King and consequently couldn’t raise Marceline, the half-demon, half-human, fully vampire surrogate daughter of Simon. In this universe, she ended up becoming the right-hand woman to the Vampire King, who takes over that universe. Additionally, in the final episode, as Fionna’s universe is being ripped apart, she realizes she has meaning in her non-magical life and doesn’t have to escape it to live in magical Ooo, the world of the original series.

Cake, however, sees very little growth. She is meant to mostly be comedic relief while Fionna and Simon go through their respective arcs. When the show tries to use her in a different role, especially in the apocalyptic universes they visit, she comes off as too much of a jerk to be likable. For example, when the trio is wandering a wasteland with no means of returning home, Cake is making cat jokes. 

Likewise, the two side characters, Marshal Lee and Gary Prince, also lack a larger thematic purpose. Being the gender-swapped versions of Marceline and Princess Bubblegum from the main series, Lee and Prince have their own side plot in the Fionna world that takes up a significant amount of screen time, even though their themes only parallel the main themes of the main trio. If the show used these characters to explore a new part of the “Adventure Time” universe their lengthy screen time wouldn’t have been so egregious.

Pacing is the biggest problem with “Fionna and Cake.” Although the show is somewhat interesting and thematically appropriate, many of the show’s side plots — including Lee and Prince’s romance, the Casper and Nova playthrough and Cake’s song — really slow it down. The pacing in episodes five through seven stumbles to a halt because their main plots repeat in each episode

Despite these issues, the final three episodes give the series a strong ending. The reappearance of characters — including the Lich, Golb, Beth and Shirley — continues the original show’s story. Simon finally moves on from his Ice King past, and the loss of Betty concludes a major plot line of “Adventure Time.” Fionna, in accepting her world for what it is, concludes “Fionna and Cake” as a successful extension of the “Adventure Time” universe.

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    Ryan Robert AtherleyNov 15, 2023 at 8:05 pm

    I love Adventure Time ????