Original Airdate: November 23, 2011
Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich
Taking a tertiary character, or even a character we haven’t even met before, and thrusting them into the spotlight has become a recurring theme in AT. It’s a daring move for any show to shift its focus away from the main cast, but Adventure Time consistently manages to pull it off with tremendous success. This particular episode, penned and storyboarded solely by the talented Tom Herpich, serves as yet another introduction this season (alongside Fionna and Cake) to an experiment that would later pave the way for fresh opportunities within the series’ universe. And while this episode may follow a completely predictable path that anyone could foresee from a mile away, it’s one that I find truly remarkable. It sidelines Finn and Jake in favor of two characters who are unable to communicate verbally, and it fully embraces and exploits that concept to its utmost potential.
Describing what exactly makes Thank You so exceptional is a challenge, but I believe its captivating ambiance takes the credit. It exudes a tranquil, solemn, and whimsical vibe. There are numerous instances that may not be outright comical, yet they possess an undeniable charm. Observing the Snow Golem’s everyday existence, from waking up to his avian alarm clock to savoring a bowl filled with acorns and pears, is an absolute delight. While the Snow Golem lacks a distinct personality, he embodies the essence of an eccentric ordinary individual. He is introverted and cautious, yet undeniably friendly and likable. His bond with the fire pup is incredibly heartwarming, encompassing the full range of emotions from initial skepticism to genuine concern for the poor pupper. The moments they share together, such as the golem’s finger puppet show and the fire pup’s enthusiastic suckling on a cow’s udder, are truly cherished.
The collaboration of Dee Bradley Baker and Pendleton Ward in this episode showcases some exceptional voice acting. Surprisingly, Snow Golem and Fire Wolf exchange no dialogue until the climactic finale, yet their subtle expressions through sound effects effectively propel the story forward. The anxious and distressed noises emitted by Snow Golem never fail to captivate me, while the endearing cries and barks of the Fire Wolf pup melt my heart. The unparalleled ability of Dee Bradley Baker to flawlessly mimic animals truly solidifies his status as a legendary talent.
There is a plethora of exquisite artwork and vibrant colors present in this piece. Ghostshrimp, once again, has done an exceptional job with this creation, with assistance from Santino Lascano and Chris Tsirgiotis and their beautiful artwork. The design of the Snow Golem’s house is truly remarkable, as shown in the promotional art, revealing it to be a barn that was formerly owned by humans. This is the first significant appearance of the Fire Kingdom to my knowledge, and though its design differs slightly, it remains visually stunning. It does strike me as peculiar that the Fire Kingdom and Ice Kingdom are in such close proximity, though I am uncertain if this is an oversight or intentional discontinuity for the sake of the plot. Regardless, it is only a minor distraction and does not impact the overall scope of the episode. In addition to the breathtaking background art, there are captivating depictions of sunsets, contrasting textures between snow and fire, and the overall animation quality is exceptional. It is evident that Herpich, the other storyboard artists, and animators have poured their heart and soul into this project. Even a simple three-second clip of the Snow Golem walking showcases an extended walking cycle (thanks to Adam Muto) that looks absolutely fantastic and truly makes me appreciate the extra effort put into it.
Once again, I am deeply enchanted by the serene and evocative atmosphere of this particular piece. The small yet significant moments of the Snow Golem grappling with how to handle the fire pup captivate me; it portrays a seemingly uncomplicated yet pivotal scenario handled with utmost delicacy. Although the conclusion is easily foreseen, it possesses a charm of its own. I am particularly fond of the concluding minutes, which showcase the Snow Golem’s unwavering determination to put himself in peril for the sake of a wolf he encountered merely a day prior, culminating in their humble and heartfelt reunion. It serves as a truly endearing conclusion to the episode, one that never fails to bring a smile to my face with each viewing.
The inclusion of Finn, Jake, and Ice King in this episode feels somewhat forced. Their subplot in the background is acceptable, but removing them entirely wouldn’t make a significant difference. I appreciate the moment at the end where Finn sets aside his differences with Ice King, but other than that, it seems like Finn and Jake are present merely to reiterate what we already know. We are aware of the animosity between fire wolves and snow golems, yet their ability to coexist. There is no need for additional exposition. This is a minor aspect that I would alter or eliminate entirely to allow for more focus on the main characters. The only intriguing aspect is Jake wearing the Ice King’s crown unaffected, possibly due to its existing connection with another host. While this concept is explored in later episodes, it is first introduced here.
This piece is truly remarkable, resembling a captivating narrative straight out of a Pixar short film. Its distinctive and exquisite qualities make it truly stand out, making it no surprise that it was on the verge of an Oscar nomination. The ambiance, artwork, and profound connection between the main characters all contribute to its overall beauty. Moreover, it has paved the way for Adventure Time to explore the lives of other secondary characters and allowed writers to showcase their individual creativity. Undoubtedly, this masterpiece ranks among the greatest, and the Adventure Time team rightfully takes great pride in it.