Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Adventure Time: Stakes – review

Directed by: Elizabeth Ito & Andres Salaff

First aired: 2015

Contains spoilers

I gave Adventure Time season 1 an honourable mention as it contains episodes featuring recurring character Marceline the Vampire Queen (Olivia Olson generally, but in this we see a young Marceline voiced by Ava Acres).

To date I haven’t caught up with further seasons – they’re great fun but there is only so much watching time available. However, when season 7 included a miniseries about Marceline called Stakes my ears pricked up and when that miniseries was released as a separate DVD, well… it had to be done.

riding a bat
Adventure Time as a concept follows Finn the human (Jeremy Shada, Batman: the Brave and the Bold) and Jake the (magical) dog (John DiMaggio, Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust, Futurama & also Batman: the Brave and the Bold) as they have adventures in the Land of Ooo a post-apocalyptic world, and certainly a mash up of science fiction and fantasy, all rolled up in a surreal or absurdist vibe.

burnt fingers
The story begins with Marceline in a dessert, shaded from the sun by a tree. Her umbrella has fallen out of the shade and the sun is burning her fingers as she repeatedly tries to grab it. Eventually she remembers the sun cream (factor 10 million) in her pocket and she has enough to cover her hand and grab the umbrella – which then blows away before she can get it. Meanwhile Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch) – having lost an election – is living on a farm with the Peppermint Butler (Steve Little). Marceline, with uprooted tree, comes through the window.

Bubblegum and Marceline
Marceline tells bubblegum that she wants to try the procedure… They have spoken previously and Bubblegum has theorised a way of making Marceline mortal again. They try the procedure and, though they are unaware whether it has worked or not, they have a bucket full of her vampire effluence. As she sleeps she has vivid dreams, including attacking animals (Marceline only sucks the colour red as a vampire) and wakes to find she has sleepwalked and there have been animal attacks.

the five reborn
A farmer has called Finn and Jake to investigate. Jake assumes Marceline’s guilt but eventually discover a vampiric creature (Dee Bradley Baker) attacking the animals. However the farmers have already turned on Marceline. They have tied her to a windmill sail to fry in the morning sun. However she doesn’t, she is cured, but the vampiric creature evolves and becomes the 5 powerful vampires that, years before, Marceline had defeated. The miniseries then sees her having to destroy the vampires again and, as the series develops, we also get to see her past.

vampire attack
Her past takes us both to a time when she was still with her mother (I assume pre-Mushroom War) and post Mushroom War. Marceline was the daughter of a human and demon coupling – her father being the demon. In the debris of a wrecked world she hunts down vampires that have come to prominence, helping the surviving humans (who all wear animal hats to try and disguise themselves and avoid the vampires). Her heritage from her father is the ability to suck souls and thus when she kills a powerful vampire she sucks in its essence and gains its powers – be it flight, shapeshifting, healing etc.

a mortal Marceline
I won’t spoil how she actually becomes a vampire or what happens in the hunt for the reborn vampires. However, beneath the psychedelia and surrealism is a tale of history repeating and cyclic philosophy. It is quite a deep undertow for such a fun programme. The voice acting is top notch and the stylistic artwork is as fun as ever. Each of the vampires follow their own rules but one specific vampire, the shapeshifting hierophant (Paul Williams, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula) is old school and follows more standard rules such as needing an invitation to enter a house.

Great fun, 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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