Cartoon Network Studios (2014-2015), Warner Home Video (October 11, 2016), 2 Discs, 473 minutes, 16:9 ratio, Dolby Stereo 2.0, Rated TV-PG, Retail: $39.99
Finn and Jake explore their post-apocalyptic wonderland, and we learn more about the cast and the world’s history. Many strange characters get their own stories. Oh, and Finn meets his dad and gets a new arm.
The Sweatbox Review:
It is getting rather daunting to review new Blu-ray sets of Adventure Time. Season Six has 43 eleven-minute episodes, making it almost eight hours long. That is a whole lot of weirdness right there, spread over two discs. After just a few episodes, I need my brain to cool down for a bit. My kids love the show, and could keep on going, but I need to take a reality break after an hour or so in the freaky land of Oo.
It is also difficult to decide how to review a season. With over three dozen episodes, it seems pointless to summarize each and every one. At the same time, each episode readily stands by itself, with usually only a hint of continuity between episodes, and (generally) no overall overarching plotline. To even discuss the tone or the development of the show is stretching things, since the stories veer wildly between sensible adventure yarns and radically trippy nonsense. The most creative show on TV simply refuses to be easily categorized or parsed. You just need to see it for yourself. One thing I can say is that the quality of the show has not diminished, even with its new (at the time) showrunner Adam Muto. It is notable that this season was the last for Art Director Nick Jennings, who had done so much to design the look of the show.
The sixth season may dwell just a bit more on the philosophical, but this is certainly the same mix of action, loopiness, and emotional ambivalence that fans have come to love. New blood came in to spice things up, with the use of two guest directors and their studios. The show did well, too, keeping its ratings up, and earning a Peabody Award, as well as receiving numerous Annie and Emmy award nominations.
Having just stated that there is little continuity in the program, this season does actually pick up where the last season left off. Finn The Human had just found out from the spirit of Billy that Finn’s father is still alive. So, in Season Six’s Wake Up, Finn and Jake take advice from their cosmic pal Prismo (who, it turns out, is really just the dream of an old man), and break into a multiversal prison called The Citadel, despite interference from nasty bad dude The Lich, in order to free Finn’s father from his galactic guardians. See, just a few minutes into the season, and it’s already mind-blowing. The actual escape takes place in the aptly-named Escape From The Citadel. By the time that episode ends, Finn has experienced a disappointing reunion, as well as the losses of his grass sword and his arm.
Finn has to deal with mourning the loss of his arm, as well as his loser dad, over the next few episodes. This is handled largely as a subplot as the Candy Kingdom deals with too many Jameses in James II, but Finn’s depression comes to the forefront in The Tower, when he tries to visit his dad by entering a portal in space. Daddy issues would continue, but at least Finn’s arm re-appears a couple of episodes later in Breezy (following a weird tale of sleeping Jake’s roaming tail in Sad Face).
See? We’ve just gotten started, and already things sound pretty strange. But THEN, here comes Food Chain, directed by guest director Masaaki Yuasa. Yuasa offers a surreal demonstration of how nature works, in a story behaving like a fever dream of Finn and Jake. The episode is strange, yes, but it was also nominated for an Annie award (one of three episodes so nominated this season), and was selected for competition at Annency. From here, the rest of the season continues its pursuit of the unusual and profound. We get a wizard road trip in “Thanks For The Crabapples, Giuseppe!”, a Thelma And Louise riff starring Lumpy Space Princess and Marceline The Vampire Queen, another gender-bending Fiona and Cake adventure (written by Lumpy Space Princess this time), and we meet Shelby the worm’s adventurous sibling, chopped off from his butt, in Little Brother.
We see the surprising early days of Jake’s parents, the unsettling secrets of Peppermint Butler, a number of metaphysical Jake hijinks, a team-up between Flame Princess and Princess Bubblegum, the prehistoric origin of the Ice King’s crown, and we learn waaaaaayy more than you ever expected about the Ice King’s penguin aide, Gunter. There are also more space adventures with Finn’s dad Martin, and the introduction of Finn and Jake’s brother Jermaine. And, of course, there are some Ice King shenanigans in several episodes. And much more. So, so much more. And it’s crazy stuff, too.
Suffice to say, if you have enjoyed the show up until now, you should continue to do so. Season Six of Adventure Time features everything you love about the show, and continues to expand its cast while exploring its world’s history.
Is This Thing Loaded?
Of the extras, given that there are no commentaries this time, many fans will mostly appreciate the Song Demos. There are twelve of them on Disc One, which houses all the bonus features. As any fans knows, songs play a big role in many episodes, and here you can listen to them in their original form, performed by their writers.
There are also Galleries for Concept Art (7:50), Backgrounds (in layout and finished form) (7:30), and Models (9:00). The video for the galleries plays automatically, but each image has its own chapter stop, making it easy to move through the images. Fans of the animation process can enjoy full Animatics for seven episodes.
The Food Chain Featurette (1:38) is barely more than a condensed version of the episode. I am not sure what purpose it is meant to serve.
There are also ads for Steven Universe and Adventure Time DVDs after Disc 1 loads.
Just like the previous seasons, this release comes in a standard case with a cover slip that in this case features Lumpy Space Princess. The cover of the case itself reveals a different version of the character. The two Blu-ray discs are facing each other inside the case, which also contains inserts for an episode listing and a digital code.
Ink And Paint:
On par with prior seasons, the video is fairly spectacular, with amazingly bright colors and an image that is for the most part very stable. Anyone looking for problems may spot brief moments of aliasing, though even then there may be minor issues with the source. These really couldn’t look much better.
We are offered only a Dolby Stereo English track. This is just as disappointing as it was in the last five season releases, but it’s not a deal-breaker. I’m sure the range would be more expansive with an uncompressed track, but what we get is perfectly acceptable in its own way. There are no other language options, and just one subtitle track, English for the hearing impaired.
After so much Adventure Time, my mind is properly blown. Fans should also be delighted with this set of episodes, which continue the series’ penchant for the strange. The episodes look simply great on Blu-ray, and the song demos and concept art are appreciated. What I am really looking forward to now is Season Seven, with its Marceline miniseries and even a stop-motion animated episode. With the series recently announced to end in 2018, after nine seasons, I guess I’m in until the end! By then, the Adventure Time crew will have produced enough episodes to run continuously for nearly three days. The mind fairly boggles.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?