By Grace Hamilton, Opinions & Editorials Editor
It’s Adventure Time again! Or is it?
Pendleton Ward’s third series within the Adventure Time universe, Fionna and Cake premiered on Aug. 31 and concludes Sept. 28. Spanning eight episodes, it follows the titular Fionna and her cat Cake, originally introduced in the third season of Adventure Time. While the series makes a return to the familiar lands and characters from its predecessor, Fionna and Cake cannot be confused as the same show.
Fionna and Cake takes the whimsical wonder of Adventure Time and starts off by grounding it in reality — sort of. The series introduces Fionna as a disenchanted 20-something bouncing from job to job with her very regular, and non-talking, cat Cake. They live within the human, or human-seeming, universe, but have constant dreams of real adventure.
In another universe lives Simon Petrikov, more widely known as the Ice King. No longer living with his ice powers, Simon now runs a museum of sorts about the twentieth century man. He is dissatisfied with his life and misses his ice powers, though, more importantly, he misses Betty.
Fans of the original show will remember Betty as Simon’s former fiancée, who sacrificed herself and merged with GOLB — the embodiment of chaos — at the end of the original series. The issue with Fionna and Cake is not that there’s a lot of moving parts. The original series was the same as it moved further along, growing more and more complex. The issue is that Fionna and Cake has lost touch with what made Adventure Time so special in the first place. The main characters of Adventure Time, Finn and Jake, were memorable and likable because of their positivity, their love for one another and their childlike wonder and fascination with the world and with adventure. It was a show for kids, sure, but even for adults it recalls the feelings of being young and experiencing a world full of magic.
Fionna and Cake, on the other hand, tries to appeal to this adult audience by having Fionna be a pissed off and directionless millennial-type, angry at the world for its perceived wrongs and its lack of adventure. She’s outwardly rude to the people around her, and while I’m all for unlikable female characters, the Adventure Time universe isn’t the place for them.
And since the show is now aimed at adults, the writing has shifted to try and maintain the same energy as the original, but with more adult humor. Except it falls flat. As a young adult, Adventure Time is still funny to me in its PG ridiculousness and humor. Ice King telling the Hitman, “Someone got hit in the Boingloings. Hit in the Boingloings. Boingloings. Boingloings. Somebody got hit in them,” still makes me laugh. It’s absurd, fun and it’s above all happy.
Now we have Fionna, angry as she is; Simon, depressed as he is; and in the original Adventure Time universe (the Land of Ooo), a Finn with no Jake — which no one wants to see. It also dives into the multiverse, presumably to keep up with the trend of every other piece of media needing to address the multiverse. Of course, different universes played a part in the original show, but not to this extent.
Overall, Fionna and Cake is a decently fun show with familiar animation, voices and faces, but in trying to set itself apart from the original or appeal to an older audience, it’s forgotten the absurdism and actual joy of Adventure Time. There’s nothing wrong with anything inherently childlike or innocent — something that acknowledges good in the world and the magic of being alive in it. I only wish Fionna and Cake had remembered that.