Monday, February 8, 2016

RR Stakes!

Let's go in the garden, you'll find something waiting,

Right there where you left it, lying upside down!~

Name: Adventure Time Mini Series: Stakes!
Created by Pendleton Ward
Original run November 2015
Genre Action/Adventure/Comedy/Fantasy/Sci-fi animated series

After the immense success of Patrick McHale's Over the Garden Wall, Cartoon Network announced they were interested in exploring more similar ventures. Around February 2015 they announced a separate Adventure Time miniseries alongside Long Live the Royals.

This miniseries format would provide more opportunities to play with different proprieties outside the traditional model of an ongoing series.

Stakes! is the first Adventure Time miniseries. It aired at the launch of Season 7, which meant using the show's current status quo which is radically different from the earlier seasons if you're just jumping in.

The story was imagined by leads working on the show at the moment, head writer Kent Osborne, series creator Pendleton Ward, Jack Pendarvis and showrunner Adam Muto. The miniseries was also storyboarded by some of AT's best artists. It also features the return of former Adventure Time storyboard artist Rebecca Sugar who returned temporary from her work on Steven Universe. She did both a new song and voices Marceline's mother.

Stakes is an 8-part miniseries which aired on CN around Halloween.

Taking place in the aftermath of Season 6 of the show, Princess Bubblegum finds herself thrown out of the Candy Kingdom in favor of the King of Ooo and living in the middle of the countryside starting a new place from scratch.

The story revolves around Marceline, the Vampire Queen! You see, Marcie's tired of her condition as a vampire. So she asks her friend Bubblegum to remove her vampire essence. But Bonnibel's experiment accidentally unleashes a force which awakens five monsters from Marceline's past - five legendary vampires!

The Fool, the Empress Eyes, the Hierophant, the Moon and the Vampire King himself!

Marceline asks help from PB, Peppermint Butler, Finn and Jake to put a stop to those vampires while Bubblegum looks for a definitive cure.

Along the journey we get to see more of the history of the land of Ooo, as well as Marceline's past growing up after Ice King/Simon Petrikov was forced to leave her behind...

While mini-series are nothing new to Adventure Time comics, Stakes! marked the first AT animated miniseries.

The idea to explore the origins of Marceline's powers were toyed with as early as Season 2, but they always put that tale off for other stories. Also they really needed some more time to explore her past. The mini-series provided the perfect ground to finally do so.

For the occasion we even got an all-new opening intro animated by animator Masaaki Yuasa!

The mini sees the return of most of the regular voice cast of the show. The real star here is really Marceline played by Olivia Olson. Finn being voiced by Jeremy Shada, Jake voiced by John DiMaggio, Bubblegum voiced by Hynden Walch. But also get to have several guest stars for the occasion, all voicing our main vampire enemies. Ron Funches, Rebecca Romijn, Paul Williams, Beau Billingslea and finally Billy Brown as the Vampire King!

Stakes! feels like a rather dark miniseries, but since it was a one-off miniseries it's kind of nice to have a slight change of tone. Which always works great with these characters and this universe.

The mini has several connections to the Tarot cards, each members of the vampire court being a direct allusion to those cards (keep an eye out around the Vampire King!).

Marceline has always been such a fun character, no wonder they already gave her several episodes of the show and various comics to explore her. As a character she changed so much over time, she progressed a lot through the few years the series' been running. She's not just a funny antagonists anymore but has a more tragic backstory now.

It's kinda funny how Marcie started more a bad guy, but she's now this nice and sweet protagonist with a big heart, while Princess Bubblegum was this sweet figure everybody adores and they've been giving her a slightly darker side recently.

The theme of this mini can be summarized with the titular song of the miniseries, "Everything Stays". How most things things remain the same while people try to change and break the cycles. It's really about the illusion of change.  

We finally get more backstory about Marcie's origins while the show reveals more and more of its bigger picture of the world of Ooo.

Focusing on this fan-favorite character Marceline was a great idea. We finally learn how she got turned into a vampire and had this huge chunk of her lifetime exterminating other vampires to befriend the last few remaining humans.

Adventure Time was always a pretty unconventional show. Covering a lot of heavy more adult subjects among goofy lines and designs. It has generated such a huge following over the years for a good reason. 

Marcie makes for a great anti-hero to Finn and Jake's more traditional heroic roots.

Stakes! received hugely positive receptions. It's as good as you would wish an Adventure Time miniseries to be, and then some.

Overall, Stakes! is a great miniseries!

It was a pleasant surprise and turned out a lot better than I hoped for!

Adventure Time can be a lot of things. It can be funny, silly, or just plain immature but also it is also pretty deep and rich. This miniseries really captures all the show has been over the years. It is not a skippable sidestory but actually part of the ongoing storyline of the show. With lots of character development underneath the goofy exterior. 

In about an hour and a half of total runtime it covers a lot of ground and feelings. It's a great story about loneliness and cyclical patterns.

It's a really great story any Adventure Time or animation fan shouldn't miss, and it comes Highly Recommended!

I give it:
3 / 3 Felixes!

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