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Why I love Adventure Time

January 6, 2012

My favorite kind of fiction is that which is defined but a little out of control. I love the feeling that, right off camera, something insane, something incredible is happening, and all we have to do is imagine it to make it so.

It’s why I love the Souls video game series, it’s why I’m falling hard for Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking series (post about it shortly, once I finish the first book tomorrow), and why I adore Adventure Time.

Adventure Time’s first season was a lovely jaunt through the more exciting parts of the modern children’s cartoon. It paid homage to decades of genre writing, nerd culture, and just general absurdity and made it work. It knew how to skew its writing to appeal to kids but also to adults, how to hit all segments of the market with good writing and a strong sense of place.

The following two seasons (so far) though, have been pure magic, because they’ve begun delving more deeply into the rich world they created. And the further they go, the more interesting things they reveal. They’re pulling back the curtain on the post-apocalyptic setting slowly, revealing elements of the people of OoO’s culture slowly. I don’t get the impression there’s any master plan here, but I love the fact that they’re creating a beautiful mess while doing it.

Even more, I love the sometimes mature themes it tackles. Write an episode about Jake having a dream about dying and then trying to enact it. What kind of culture tries to compel its members to die when they dream about it? How is this a children’s show? What kind of children’s show has the balls to have an episode almost entirely devoid of dialog? Or have their main villain be revealed to have, effectively, discovered a tool of immense horror that’s warped and twisted him to madness? There’s so many weird plot threads that it’s hard not to be entranced.

It’s its wordlbuilding that really makes it so exciting, and I’m really glad a show like this not only exists on television but is being watched by so many of our young ones.

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