What time is it? Anniversary Time

(Photo Courtesy of Cartoon Network Studios)

(Photo Courtesy of Cartoon Network Studios)

 

On April 5, 2010, Adventure Time began running on Cartoon Network. Four years later, with the highest viewership and ratings since, people of all ages are waiting for the sixth season of this post-apocalyptic “children’s” show to start.

The Emmy award-winning show’s first season dives straight into action with the main characters, Finn the Human and his shapeshifting, adoptive brother Jake the Dog, heroically traveling the colorful, Dungeons & Dragons-inspired Land of Ooo, while saving princesses and fighting bad guys. In the first episode, the Candy Kingdom’s Princess Bubblegum has resurrected the dead into candy zombies while Finn convinces the Candy People to re-kill them and eat the sugary aftermath. Next the Ice King is discovered holding kidnapped princesses in his castle. After Finn beats him up, the Ice King has delusional dreams in which he discusses his failure as a ‘husband’ to these princesses as the Great Cosmic Owl, the show’s highest being, calls him a sociopath. The first season continues with Finn’s hyperbolic innocence and intensity collocated with the shows morbid and suggestive overtones as most of the series characters are established. Pretty heavy stuff for a kid’s cartoon, which the show’s creator, Pendleton Ward, describes as a dark comedy.

 

 

Later seasons bring up more complex topics than just saving princesses. Finn tries to kindle a doomed relationship with the Flame Princess while Jake and his Rainicorn girlfriend have interspecies children. The Ice King and the Earl of Lemongrab, Princess Bubblegum’s failed experiment subject, deal with increasing mental illness. But even more profound than the developing intricacies and recurring elements of Adventure Time’s plot is the highbrow cognizance of seemingly simple lessons common to most other children’s programming. Adults, take note.

Finn really starts to grow up as the timeline progresses, as does the show’s control of humor and emotion. He may be a hero, but he is only 12 at the start of the series. He’s really got a lot on his plate by the end of the fifth season, between dealing with the righteousness of his actions and attempting to realize his enshrouded backstory.

Adventure Time has developed its style and personality with improved animations, a vernacular exclusive to the universe and an all-star team of guest voice-actors (Neil Patrick Harris, Henry Rollins, Weird Al Yankovic, Andy Milonakis, George Takei and many more). The show continues to improve in all areas as well as ratings and viewership, making it the flagship of Cartoon Network.

The sixth season starts April 21 and already has a lot going for it after ending the previous with some huge cliffhangers. Finn had just found out his dad is alive and the Ice King’s long lost love from pre-Mushroom War is in the present now, after jumping through a time portal. If this new season reflects the momentum the others have built up, we can expect it to be the strongest yet; wittier, deeper, darker and much weirder.

Adventure Time’s special two-part opener for season six airs Monday April 21 on Cartoon Network with Finn finally getting closer to meeting his real father after 15 years.

Reach the reporter at tyler.griffin@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @tydgriffin