“Adventure Time” fans have been anxiously waiting for the release of the new spin off series, “Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake.” The new release reached streaming platform MAX on Aug. 31 to an eager audience. The release certainly did not disappoint, as unlike many other spin-offs “Fionna and Cake” has its own fleshed-out plotlines that do not rely entirely on the return of many of our favorite nostalgic characters.
“Fionna and Cake” features incredible female leads that rely not only on relationships, but yearn for something more in life.
The release has received a 100% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes with a 96% audience score, an incredible score for a pilot episode, especially one that is based on a pre-existing series. The pilot episodes, “Fionna Campbell” and “Simon Petrikov,” unfold beautiful stories about two sets of characters that we all know and deeply love, riddled with some of the most melancholic humor that could make even the strongest soul well up with tears.
In the first episode, we start off with an action sequence featuring Fionna fighting off a rat bus, by far one of the most interesting monsters we have seen in the Adventure Time franchise thus far. When it seems that Fionna might be beat, she is met with help from the mysterious Ice Prince. A beautiful pause and a “will they-won’t they” moment between the two ends when Fionna’s blaring alarm rips her from her action-packed dream. The reveal of Fionna’s small city apartment is a shocking one. The dull colors of the apartment, the theme song of “Cheers” playing on the TV, and Fionna’s despair of waking up in the modern world is a sight we are not used to in the typically vibrant and high-energy Land of Ooo.
There is also a contrast in the new theme song for “Fionna and Cake.” The pop-esque song is riddled with depressing lyrics about how much Fionna hates her current life, a stark contrast to the typical “Adventure Time” we have all grown up with. The lyrical dissonance is shocking when you really look into it, but at first glance, it can easily pass as a silly 90’s inspired sitcom theme. The theme sequence itself is high energy in its movement and color scheme, reflecting a 90’s sitcom in its own right. However, the fun campy animation of the intro is briefly interrupted with a clip of Fionna sobbing over her bathroom sink after being dumped by DJ Flame over text.
This clip specifically really sets the tone for the time period of the show, and how Fionna truly is just a modern woman dealing with modern struggles in her life.
After the intro we see Fionna’s day continue to get worse, her cat Cake becomes sick and unable to eat, but she has a strange attachment to the ice machine on Fionna’s fridge. Ice is a theme that follows throughout the entirety of the episode, whether it’s the physical ice that Cake constantly chases after, or the icy relation between Fionna and basically everyone she interacts with throughout the day.
This also lends to the contrast between ice and fire; Ice Prince is who she dreams about and who she aspires to spend her days with. He is mysterious and helpful, assisting her in winning her battles, but not completely taking them over for her. He is not a “protector” or overly dominating, he is a kind hand to help her out, and he has an aspect of mystery that piques Fionna’s interest.
This contrasts Fionna’s ex-boyfriend DJ Flame in every sense. We don’t see much of their relationship in the first episode, but the name alone implies that he is domineering and hot-headed. He is not mysterious like Ice Prince is, Fionna can tell his every trick, and yet she still falls for him. Fionna longs for Ice Prince not just as a partner, but as a sidekick in a sense.
Overall, “Adventure Time” continues with the innate ability to invoke the most melancholic feelings and then immediately insert a pants-dropping joke right after. Any fan that has not yet taken the hour or two to dive into the new series is greatly missing out on a nostalgic and entertaining experience that will sway even the most die hard “Adventure Time” fans into falling head over heels for the spin-off.