Animation/Anime TV

Adventure Time Distant Lands: Obsidian Review

A beautiful epilogue for everybody's favorite cartoon couple

*Full Spoilers for Adventure Time and Obsidian from here on out!*

Endings are tough. They’re tough to write, tough to watch, and sometimes tough to cope with. In the finale of Adventure Time, we’re left with the idea that all of the memories we have of the show continue to exist and will always be there if we want to return to them. In addition to that, it gives us a glimpse into the future of the characters all just living their lives. It added a vague sense of finality that allows you to accept the ending but know that the story will continue, even if you aren’t watching it. It’s equal parts optimistic and melancholy but it felt like a wise way to finish the show. Obsidian continues on past that ending and feels like an epilogue for some of the characters. A unique and beautiful post script that builds on the satisfaction of the show’s finale. 

Obsidian opens in the never before seen Glass Kingdom, where a special ceremony is being held. Director Miki Brewster’s time spent on Steven Universe is obvious in the design of the new kingdom. Tall glass spires and deep purples and pinks fill the screen with a kaleidoscope of beautiful hues. The subjects and royalty gather to hear the story of the saving of their kingdom from a dragon by a shovel wielding saint. Enthusiastically listening to the tale is Glass Boy, a kid with a crack on his glass head that he is often made fun of for. While trying to fix himself, Glass Boy accidentally reawakens the dragon that was locked up centuries ago and puts the entire Glass Kingdom in peril. To try and make up for his selfish slip up, Glass Boy sets out to find the hero from the story: Marceline. 

Set some years after the events of the finale, Marceline and Princess Bubblegum are getting a much deserved slice of domestic bliss. The episode gives us a glimpse into their daily lives of pie baking, building furniture, and lounging together. It’s nice to see their relationship feel so lived in. PB is pouring over enormous books and Marcy is writing songs, but having trouble getting in touch with the “punk rock anger” that inspired so many of her earlier tracks. When Glass Boy shows up to try and enlist Marceline’s help we get a little glimpse at her and PB’s first breakup, something that’s been hinted at but never fully shown. This, along with some scenes towards the end of the episode, really fill in the gaps on both Marceline’s past and her relationship with Bubblegum. It’s the kind of bow tying fan service that could make your eyes roll, but it’s done so well and feels so organic that it end instead feels deeply fulfilling. Marceline’s story feels fleshed out and it leaves very few questions unanswered, it’s extremely satisfying and gives a sense of closure to the beloved Vampire Queen that doesn’t necessarily feel like an ending to her story. You know that her and PB have many years of happiness ahead of them.

The journey they set out on is a personal one for Marceline. They pass through the desolate wastes where she spent her final days with her sick mother, who we never really knew what happened to and who unwittingly lays the groundwork for so many of Marcy’s insecurities which we later see mirrored in Glass Boy. Acceptance of one’s issues is really at the core of the episode. Marceline and PB both accept their worst qualities and learn how to cope with them and maintain a healthy relationship with one another by reliving some of their tougher moments. The entire kingdom’s bullying of Glass Boy is revealed to be a projection of their own insecurities when they all show how broken they really are. Even the dragon is only a dragon because it allowed itself to wallow in pain for so long that it became sealed in a hard exterior. “Mushy on the inside, just like me”, Marceline says just in case the parallel is lost on you. 

So far Distant Lands has done an excellent job of wrapping up Adventure Time. The BMO episode gave us a one off space adventure that showed a key moment in the tiny robots development. Obsidian puts the finishing touch on PB and Marcy’s relationship by giving them a meaningful and realistic future together. Both episodes establish themselves in the grander arch of the show by showing a much younger or much older Finn in their last few minutes. The latter reveal, of Finn with a beard and a tattoo of Jake, left me a little teary eyed after I realized what was being implied and I can’t wait to see what the central duo of the show are up to. If the final two episodes are as poignant and fun as these, Distant Lands will rank as one of the best television wrap ups ever. Beautiful and playful animation, music that’s much better than it has any right to be, and a profoundly satisfying story make Obsidian a showcase of the best Adventure Time has to offer.

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