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Series


Adventure Time was always deliberately strange, but four seasons of unbridled goodwill allows the show to continue embracing truly strange fantasy ideas, while delving further into existential, philosophical, and thematically dark concepts. These are technically small child friendly, but the creative staff really pushes the limits of creepiness (#9, All Your Fault, features a nightmarish trip to the bowels of the Lemon Kingdom) and innuendo (#5, All the Little People, is an obvious, occasionally disturbing masturbation metaphor). They are also happy to challenge viewer comfort levels with stories the twist their own canon in order to explore abstract concepts, like the two-part season premiere’s alternate universe shenanigans, Puhoy (#16), an episode where Finn lives an entire lifetime in a pillow fort, only to die and be resurrected without remembering any of it, or The Vault (#34) where he undergoes computer assisted regression therapy to help deal with his bad dreams. Adult viewers may be shocked by the potent dating allegories found in episodes, like Vault of Bones (Finn drags Fire Princess along on a dungeon crawl, #12), Frost & Fire (Finn tries to recreate what can only be described as an Adventure Time version of a wet dream and it backfires, #30), and Dungeon Train (Finn avoids his feelings by mindlessly battling monsters, #36).

 Adventure Time: Season Five
What’s more impressive is that it hasn’t grown stale or predictable, even when revisiting older characters and ideas. Despite the (deserved) popularity of episodes like Simon & Marcy (#14) and Be More (#28), they’ve resisted spending excessive time unveiling the back-story of their most popular characters and overall universe. This keeps the story moving forward (I was surprised by how much continuity was maintained between the Lemon Kingdom episodes and how many hints there were that Finn would eventually lose an arm), while also answering fans’ burning questions. At its best – and season five and six have been its best – Adventure Time disproves the corporate studio assumptions that mainstream audiences prefer to consume the same formulas over and over again.

Video


It’s time to (once again) recall the that disappointment A/V-obsessed fans felt when they first heard that Cartoon Network/Warner Bros would be cramming all 26 episodes of a single season (286 minutes) onto one BD50. And then it’s time to recall that the results really weren’t that problematic. Season five is more of the same. The only difference is that there are two discs of 26 episodes, because season five was really, really long. The 1080p, 1.78:1 HD matches the previous season releases – including solid, simple shapes, sharp edges, and incredibly vivid colours. There are minor inconsistencies from episode to episode; mainly jagged edges in the busiest shots and some slight uptakes in edge enhancement effects. Some of the inconsistencies are inherent in the material, as the artists continue experimenting with abstraction and media-mixing animation. This sometimes makes it difficult to tell purposeful compression artefacts, like those seen in the completely CG animated A Glitch Is a Glitch, from the real thing. The weird cracked frames of The Pit, for example, feature some heavy banding effects that aren’t seen elsewhere. As far as I can tell, the more apparent artefacts also appear on the HD stream currently available on Hulu.

 Adventure Time: Season Five

Audio


The matching A/V specs on this collection mean that we’re stuck with another lossy (192kbps) Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, even though a 5.1 track was available during television airings. Obviously, a minor contingent of complaints didn’t change any minds at Cartoon Network or WB. Assuming viewers aren’t terribly concerned with the sound designers’ full 5.1 efforts. There’s little reason to complain – the dialogue is clear, the effects are clean and relatively well-spread over the stereo speakers, and Casey James Basichis & Tim Kiefer’s music sounds warm, even without the LFE influence. Season five rarely stands apart from previous releases, though Shh! (episode #20), Finn and Jake make a bet to see who can go the longest without speaking, which gives the sound designers a shot at expressing story via sound effects only. The dreamy Lemonhope episodes (#51 & #52) do similarly unique things with depth of field and subjective sound.

Extras


Disc One:
  • Adventure Time Forever (15:30, HD) – Interviews with the current creative team (minus creator Pendeldon Ward, who only appears without speaking in behind-the-scenes footage) discussing the show’s original pilot episode, the difficulties of the first season, and how the show grew over five seasons. It includes a lot of production art and storyboards.
  • Animatic clips from 24 episodes (23:00, HD)

Disc Two:
  • Animatic clips from 25 episodes (22:00, HD)


 Adventure Time: Season Five

Overall


Another stellar season of Adventure Time has hit Blu-ray and it’s worth celebrating. Sure, the image is still a bit compressed and the audio is still lossy, but there are twice as many episodes and they’re some of the best (though I’ll let you in on a secret – season six is even better). The extras are brief, but do include an informative retrospective featurette with the show’s creative staff.

 Adventure Time: Season Five

 Adventure Time: Season Five

 Adventure Time: Season Five

 Adventure Time: Season Five

 Adventure Time: Season Five

 Adventure Time: Season Five

 Adventure Time: Season Five

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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