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Masaaki Yuusa to write, storyboard and direct an entire episode of 'Adventure Time'

By Darragh McNicholl
On April 27, 2014

"Adventure Time" is often both praised and disliked for its bizarre nature, it is not just about weird stories and characters. Of course, "Adventure Time" is not the weirdest series out there, especially when it comes to eccentric animation. In fact there are a number of anime series from Japan that require a greater interest in the bizarre to enjoy, and apparently that is what "Adventure Time" strives for, as Cartoon Network has hired the Japanese Animator Masaaki Yuasa to write, storyboard and direct an entire episode. The episode is called "Food Chain," and though it won't air until June 2, there is a three-minute preview to the episode online.
"Food Chain" seems like a normal episode at first. During a field trip to the Candy Kingdom's Museum of Natural History, Finn and Jake learn about the food chain. The episode takes an expectedly bizarre turn when the Magic Man, a recurring character, casts a spell that makes Finn and Jake live through a food chain of birds, worms and grass. Though this plot is no weirder than most episodes, it is the animation of Masaaki Yuasa that really stands out.
Just as Pendleton Ward is known for his eccentric cartoon, Masaaki Yuasa is known for an avoidance of anime conventions. Yuasa often uses bizarre colors that stand out on any screen, as well as masterfully drawn, abstract character figures. Although no animation of his looks overly similar, they are easy to pick out as barely anyone uses the colors or style that he does. Yuasa has lead a team on a number of series such as "Kaiba," "The Tatami Galaxy" and "Kick-Heart," the first Kickstarter-funded anime. Along with "Adventure Time," he has recently been working on "Ping Pong," an 11-episode animated series on the sport, which has to be as eccentric as they come given its focus.
This is not the first time "Adventure Time" creator Pendleton Ward let someone else have complete control over an episode. "A Glitch is a Glitch," an episode completely featuring computer generated imagining animation, was written, storyboarded and directed by Irish filmmaker David O'Reilly. Much like Yuasa, O'Reilly was given free reign over an episode of "Adventure Time" being specifically told to do his own thing. This episode is notably one of the weirdest, but it is not considered canon-like to the series as it was developed outside of the actual "Adventure Time" team.
Masaaki Yuasa's episode will also not be considered a canon, considering the events of the season six premiere last Monday don't seem to have happened. But the purpose of "Food Chain" is to let "Adventure Time" be presented through a different animation style. Giving an entire episode of an animated series to an outside animator is brave. It stands to reason that this is a rare and bizarre occurrence, but both "Adventure Time" and Masaaki Yuasa are loved by many for being rare and bizarre.

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