Adventure Time Minecraft Episode!
Watch 'Diamonds and Lemons' on Cartoon Network today!
If you're not familiar with the cartoon Adventure Time then you must be living The Saddest Life Ever™. The animated adventures of Finn the Human and Jake the Dog have been making brilliant, heart-warming, unmissable television for over eight wonderful years!
I love Adventure Time more than food, sleep, breathing, Per and even Minecraft itself – but luckily, I don't have to choose between them anymore. Because Cartoon Network will today be showing the Minecraft-Adventure Time crossover episode Diamonds and Lemons!
To celebrate, I spoke to Adam Muto, the showrunner of Adventure Time! Did I manage to interview Mr Muto without coming across as a creepy fanboy? Nope! But who cares? HE WORKED ON ADVENTURE TIME. HE'S BASICALLY A GOD TO ME.
Tom: Hi Adam! Do you play Minecraft/much of a gamer yourself?
Adam: I don't really! But for this episode we were able to consult with people who did have ample Minecraft experience. Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward, Pat McHale, Cole Sanchez, and a few other Adventure Time crew members played Minecraft regularly for a stretch of time. It felt like it came up in lunch conversations almost daily. We leaned on their experiences as we were developing the episode outline.
Tom: The art style for this episode is fantastic! Did you experiment with different Minecraft-y styles before landing on this look?
Adam: Yes, we approached a few artists (Matt Cummings, Aleks Sennwald, and Joe Sparrow) to get different approaches to the art direction. The direction that we got from Mojang was that it shouldn't look exactly like the game. Ultimately, it was decided to use the look that Joe Sparrow created. His own work felt like it would be a good fit for this and he quickly nailed a look that both CN and Mojang got on board with. It's a nice marriage of both worlds. Joe was another artist I wanted to work with for a long time. He ended up handling character design for the entire episode.
Tom: What made you want to do a Minecraft episode?
Adam: When we started outlining, the Adventure Time Mash-Up Pack was already being developed. The idea of an episode sort of gradually emerged from the ether. Creatively, it was a fun challenge to experiment with the AT art direction and find a story that worked as a synthesis between the two worlds. It would be a regular AT episode and hopefully not be too gimmicky.
My own reasons were pretty selfish. Production was wrapping on the final AT season and I wanted an excuse to work with the crew one more time. And we were able to get quite a few of the crew to work on it.
Hanna K. Nyström and Anna Syvertsson ended up writing and storyboarding the episode. Hanna boarded several great later season episodes and Anna (who's a seriously funny cartoonist) had done some storyboard revision but didn't get a chance to write on the show before it ended. Just like Minecraft, both Hanna and Anna hail from Sweden. That wasn't intentional but it is an interesting coincidence.
Tom: From the clip we've seen, this episode has crafting, diamonds, skeletons – what other Minecraft stuff were you determined to include?
Adam: We didn't want to treat it like a checklist of Minecraft references but there are quite a few things (bone meal fertilizer, tree sheep, zombies dropping carrots, a zipper elevator, etc.) that players should recognize. For the most part, they're shown as ordinary details of the world rather than drawing a lot of attention. The only thing we knew was going to be in there from outline was some common mobs, Enderman, and someone riding a pig. Overall, it was approached as a normal Adventure Time episode that was just governed by the logic of a Minecraft version of Ooo. But because it's Minecraft, we did want to make sure the story included building, self-directed creativity, and different interpretations of meaningful play.
Tom: The amazing opening credit sequence was recently released online. Will this episode be mainly Minecraft-based, or more of a love letter to all kinds of gaming like these opening credits?
Adam: That intro is beautiful and I'm really happy it came together. It was designed and animated by Ivan Dixon and Paul Robertson. They had pitched the idea of doing a pixel intro earlier but it didn't feel quite appropriate until we started production on this episode. The look is meant to serve as a bridge between the stylized CG of the game and the hand-drawn Adventure Time world. The episode itself is very specific to Minecraft.
Tom: Adventure Time fans are constantly rewarded for paying attention with great background details and jokes that are easy to miss. Can we expect this from the Adventure Time episode?
Adam: The intro has a quite a few Easter eggs from Adventure Time as a whole. Ivan and Paul managed to pack in a lot of cameos.
Tom: Adventure Time crams an amazing amount of stuff into just eleven minutes! Was there anything you had to cut from this episode?
Adam: There was originally a beat where BMO and NEPTR catch Ice King placing a bunch of signs in the tree house yard that read “I blew up your house! -IK” and “Have you seen my penguin?" but he hasn't yet made good on his threat. BMO would chase him off and inadvertently damage the tree house himself. It would have been nice to feature BMO, too, but the sequence was cut for time before it made it to storyboard.
Tom: We get a few episodes every season with completely different animated styles – why did you start doing this and what do you think it adds to the show?
Adam: Partly, the guest episodes let us work with people we were fans of for years. But it also felt healthy to periodically "break" the show and our idea of what an Adventure Time episode should be so we didn't get too stagnant in our approach. And once we did it a few times, it seemed like a missed opportunity not to, if the right ideas and collaborators came along. We kind of approached this episode as a guest-directed episode that we happened to be producing ourselves.
Tom: What's your favorite episode? You don't have to say “The Minecraft one of course!” but keep in mind that WOULD make a great quote for my website.
Adam: “Diamonds and Lemons” is definitely my favorite Minecraft-themed crossover episode.
Tom: What was your favorite thing about working on the show?
Adam: It was a chance to collaborate with a bunch of brilliant artists and writers to make something weird and deeply personal. It was basically a dream job.
Tom: Up a Tree is one of my favourite episodes of anything ever. This isn't a question – just a fact. Thanks for answering my actual questions!
Adam: Wow, thank you. I don't often hear that singled out as a favorite but we'll take it. Even now, I'm surprised by the variety of episodes that resonate with different people. And one person's favorite can be another's least favorite. It's a testament to the multifaceted and endlessly baffling nature of humans.
Thanks Adam! Catch Diamond and Lemons on Cartoon Network today at 7pm Eastern Time and look out for it on the Cartoon Network app soon!
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- Tom Stone