Amphibia is definitely my favorite show currently airing on TV; and I think it will remain that way until Infinity Train finally airs. (This is no offense to Amphibia, but I’ve been waiting for Infinity Train for literal years now.) I didn’t think too much of the show when I first heard about it.
I expected it to be pretty solid, but with primarily generic episodes with the occasional bit of lore and mystery but ultimately nothing too special. And yes, while most of the episodes tend to be your stock cartoon episodes, the show plays on the established tropes and expectations. The lore is pretty spread out, and the show avoids having too many info dumps.
The show, like many cartoons these days, has been released pretty quickly. The first episode aired on June 17; and as of July 4, 12 episodes, of 2 segments each, have been released. While I’m not crazy about the format, at least they double the episodes rather than just airing one 11-minute segment at a time.
The episodes usually aren’t related, but they’re similar tone.
Amphibia focuses on 13-year-old Anne, who finds herself on the continent of Amphibia via a mysterious music box.
The land is inhabited by…amphibians, mainly frogs and toads, as well as more dangerous creatures, lots of giant frog (and human)-eating birds and bugs; and the small village of Wartwood is no exception.
Anne saves the life of the over-eager Sprig Plantar and then moves in with him. His boisterous baby sister Polly, and his grandfather, the cheap but caring Hop Pop. What ensues next is mostly a series of your typical episodes, as I mentioned above, but they don’t always go according to the standard tropes.
Of these, my favorite is probably “Lily Pad Thai,” where Anne renovates the local diner into a Frog-Thai fusion restaurant. Rather than having a restaurant that is initially successful and then fails because too many changes have been made, the whole thing is a pretty smashing success that would make Gordon Ramsay proud.
Of course, it was only for a bet, so I don’t think the restaurant will make a return which is kind of sad.
But I really like how it builds on Anne’s character. Sure, she’s normally kind of lazy, and tries to get out of work on the farm, but when the opportunity comes up for her to do something she’s good at (and out of spite) she’s raring to go.
She apparently either was able to find the same spices used in Thai food or their closest equivalent in a rather unfamiliar land and collaborate with a chef to create fusion dishes that would appeal to the locals’ palate.
That takes a serious amount of talent; other episodes also show her complexity. I appreciate how the series allows her to be both girly (loving teen dramas, the spa and cute things) and not-so-girly (able to survive in the wilderness, learning to like bugs) without making it a big deal.
But, I really do appreciate Anne’s connection to her culture, even if her relationship with her family hasn’t been explored yet. With the episode about the restaurant, I have an idea about her backstory.
Anne comes from a Thai family, her grandparents are probably immigrants who started the restaurant. Because her parents want her to have the best opportunities possible her parents sent her to private school (as based on her main outfit).
While Anne’s family isn’t poor (as it’s noted that her family’s restaurant does well) her family isn’t as wealthy as her peers. A good portion of their income is likely set aside for Anne’s education. But her lack of material wealth marks her as an outsider.
As a result, she clings to the only people who will accept her: Sasha and Marcie. Unfortunately, as is made clear in the first episode, Sasha and Marcie aren’t great people and have been a terrible influence on Anne.
Being in Amphibia is slowly changes Anne’s perspective and attitude; it’ll eventually allow for Anne to either separate or start a healthier relationship with her squad (and her family) when she returns to Earth.
Her character development, will probably be key in getting her home again.
I’m not sure about the music box, or Calamity Box, as we find out it’s called. Hop Pop seems to know vaguely what it is, and I’m going to guess, that Grime, an evil toad, is much more aware of its true nature.
The show has a slightly sarcastic sense of humor and doesn’t get to “me-mey” like other shows. It carefully shows character growth, and while some things don’t always make sense (like how Anne’s phone still was charged in the beginning and how it survived its dip into the lake) the show finds a good balance between humor, mystery and action, though overall so far has been mostly humor.
There are serious moments that impact the overall plot, though the tenth episode gets around to revealing the series’ main villain as well as the fate of Anne’s friend Sasha, both of which were alluded to at the end of the first episode.
Sasha is now my favorite character. I love her attitude, and she seems very complex. I do want there to be some surprises, so I won’t say much else. She’s snarky, capable, and yet has an inner goodness to her.
And because I’m super excited about the series, I want to make one final prediction: the synopsis for the season finale says Anne will reunite with a friend from home. I don’t think it’s going to be Sasha. The episode will make it seem as though that’s what will happen, but she actually meets Marcie.
And I think Marcie is going to be established as a bigger threat than anyone else in the series. I’m calling it now.
But yeah, this is a great series. It’s a ton of fun and I love the setting, the humor, the animation and tone. And the fact that it already has a second season in production is a huge plus in my book.
And that’s the scoop!
Score: 9/10 (So far)
Year of release: 2019
Length: 12 episodes (of two eleven minute segments each) as of July 5
Creator/Executive Producer: Matt Braly
Producers: Jack Ferraiolo, Tara Badawy
Directors: Derek Kirk Kim, Bert Youn, Kim Roberson (supervising), Ian Worrel (art)
Voice Actors: Brenda Song, Justin Felbinger, Bill Farmer, Amanda Leighton
If you liked this read: 15 “Infinity Train” Theories and Predictions