I’m not totally fond of the rebirth of episodic comedies in animation. Sure, there’s always a market for them but it feels like ALL the animated shows coming out now are either reboots, episodic comedies, or an episodic comedic reboot. (Animaniacs is the only one I’m excited for.)
I find that too many try and fail to mimic SpongeBob SquarePants or Family Guy – depending on the show’s target demographic. For kids’ shows, this means an over-reliance on physical comedy and toilet humor. I know, as a 25-year-old, these shows usually aren’t aimed towards me.
But I also know kids are smarter than we give them credit for, and they love shows with an edge. There is nothing most kids want more than a show they think is adult. Of course, kids range in maturity but there’s something for all ages in shows like Chowder or The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack or Ed, Edd n Eddy.
They all have humor that is far more risqué than it first appears, We haven’t gotten a lot of those shows lately it feels. So…I was hoping that The Fungies would follow in those footsteps.
I don’t know why. Maybe I’m an optimist.
While it doesn’t have that kind of adult-tinged humor I was hoping for, the show is a great experiment in animation. I think it has the potential to become a sort-of cult classic. Especially for those who like to imbibe certain substances. The whole show is fast-paced, brightly colored, and totally inane.
As the theme song explains, the show is about a small city of sentient fungi living in prehistoric times. Our main character Seth is a curious little boy with a passion for science that gets him into all kinds of mischief along with twin toddler siblings and adult brother Pascal.
The stories it tells are pretty standard for the kind of show it is.
Having fun with animation
The best part of the series is how it takes full advantage of the medium. Since the Fungies are fungi – they can lose or rearrange their extremities without much of an issue. They can even swap arms and legs with each other and combine themselves into new shapes.
The Twins are a great example of this – as most of the time, they’re literally one being. They can split up – but then they only have one leg and arm apiece.
The Fungies come in all shapes and sizes – there does seem to be a standard look., I assume to cut down on the work of character designers and animators, but out of the episodes, I saw there was a decent variety.
I’m sure there are going to be a whole lot of kids watching this show who grow up thinking Seth is a tomato because of his color scheme.
Of course, the fact that their bodies can move in extraordinary ways is something exploited and a plot of many episodes.
In one episode, Seth gives all the spare limbs in the hospital storage room away. In another, he takes his brother’s mustache, so he can pretend to be an adult. Several times, the siblings use their bodies to make a sort of motorcycle when they need to move fast.
It’s cute and quirky. It lends itself to a very visual kind of humor. I’m interested in seeing what else these fun guys can do.
And there are times when it changes mediums – usually to some kind of claymation/stop-motion hybrid. And the title card always features a claymation figure, which I love. It’s a nice little touch.
The animation itself is pretty smooth and easy to watch, and the color palette isn’t too bright. And style-wise it has that very round, smooth, storyboard-focused design that is currently popular.
For a show like this, it works. It doesn’t need to be overly detailed, realistic, or shaded. And it still maintains a fairly unique look.
Is this humor?
I did not like the humor in this show. That isn’t to say, the show isn’t funny. It’s just not my particular brand of humor. I can see and understand why other people would find this show funny, especially kids.
It’s a lot of juvenile butt jokes and shenanigans that anyone who has watched more than a few cartoons will recognize. Which is fine. It’s just not for me.
They try to do something different with all the stories, but none of them stick. I think it might be because I CANNOT stand the main character, Seth. At least in large doses. He’s your pretty typical little character.
He’s supposed to be 10 – but he seems to act a bit younger. And his scientific curiosity gets him into a lot of trouble. He does learn lessons, but they don’t seem to really stick. And that should be fine…if his shenanigans didn’t involve potential bodily harm to the innocent bystanders.
Pascal is also a character I CANNOT STAND. He’s the “child-like adult character,” and almost like Patrick Star, their voices are similar – but he’s not a total idiot. But I hate this archetype. He’s clearly over 18 – but he doesn’t work (he seems scared too) and wants to be a kid. He even acts like a kid.
And I think what makes this worse, is my thoughts that this character is supposed to be representative of millennials – scared of failure and full of imposter syndrome. This is played sympathetically – but it rubs me the wrong way.
It may be just my dislike of Pascal’s character archetype in general – especially in a show that already features child protagonists. I don’t get the point. I can see how his desperation to be a kid, in the episode where Seth takes his mustache is supposed to be funny but as a 25-year-old woman who gets mistaken for a teenager often – I don’t get what’s so great about being mistaken for a child.
Stop offering me kids’ menus. Stop patronizing me. I am a fucking adult.
It’s just really NOT my style of humor.
And of course, this show is a little heavy on morals. It’s mostly Seth who learns the lessons – but since this is episodic, they don’t exactly stick. His biggest issue is LISTENING. Now, I don’t think this is intentional AT ALL – and I only saw about 10 of the 40 episodes available (because I do not have the time to watch all 40. Who does?) so it could be different in later episodes, but it seems Seth has particular issues listening to women.
Part of this may be because most of the people in authority and adults in this show are women- but he does the same with his classmate Claudette.
He doesn’t listen to his dinosaur friend Pam when her instincts tell her to hatch a mysterious egg and all he wants to know is what’s inside; he doesn’t listen to his mom when she tells him to stay put and not play doctor, and he doesn’t listen to his teacher.
In one of the last episodes, I saw he goes on a boat journey with three of his classmates.
And this is the only time I saw him get his comeuppance. His classmate, whatever her name is, is his main rival. After interrupting class one too many times and getting other students involved – the kids are asked to do a weekend project. Claudette- thinks a simple tri-poster board and model will do.
And you know what? Fair. Work smarter not harder. Plus she got dragged into it. But they go with Seth’s idea and make a ship instead. And Seth decides to head to the open seas rather than home while everyone is sleeping.
And they get caught in a storm.
The girl takes over, and she chews him out, rightfully so. But she is also taught a lesson to speak up. That’s fair – but Seth really deserves the most blame here. They never point out that maybe Seth is sexist.
But they’re fungi – so maybe their genders may be different. It’s true in reality. And Dino refers to the egg as “they” since…you know the characters don’t know the gender BUT — that doesn’t make the show immune from the biases of its showrunners and creators. Now, again, I could be wrong.
But also the main female Fungi characters tend to be colored – more overly femininely with pinks and purples instead of yellow, blue, red, green….like the background characters. And that’s not exactly a great look.
If you want to be “inclusive… respectful and kind,” maybe it’s time to re-examine those biases that may not seem so obvious, It’s hardly the worst sin in a show – but considering it’s 2020 you would think they’d be more aware of this.
Why is this on HBO Max?
Considering the direction CN is going towards with their cartoons and the lack of popularity with non -Netflix streaming services, I don’t understand why this show was relegated to HBO Max. It seems like a silly decision considering its broad mass appeal to audiences of all ages.
I mean I’m disappointed but not quite surprised about Infinity Train’s relegation there – considering everything that happened last season — but I wish they were better at advertising the service since both these shows might not get more seasons due to a lack of views because PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THEY EXIST.
I don’t know what the future has in store for The Fungies but I hope it’s good because even while I have my issues with the show – I think the spirit of the show will be good for a lot of people and inspire a lot of young animators with its colors and easy to replicate art style. But if I had to pick one – I’d still choose Infinity Train to be renewed over it.
There’s also just not a lot else to talk about with this show.
And that’s fine.
Not everything needs to be deep or analytical or full of themes and allusions. That’s just what I like.
And that’s the scoop!
Year of release: 2020
Length: 40 episodes around 12 minutes each
Creator: Stephen Neary
Directors: Derek Evanick, Diana Lafayatis, Katie Aldworth, Nick Edwards (supervising), Valerio Fabbretti (art)
Producer: Brent Tanner
Voice Actors: Harry Teitelman, Stephen Neary, Tama Brutsche, Jennifer Coolidge
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