Adventure Time showrunner Adam Muto addressed one concern he has about the franchise's latest spin-off Fionna & Cake.
Based in the world of the beloved animated series, Fionna & Cake follows the misadventures of a gender-swapped alternate reality version of series protagonists Finn the Human and Jake the Dog (who are also seemingly set to appear in the spin-off).
The series centers on Fionna Campbell, a 20-something in a dead-end job who dreams of a world of magic that eventually travels through the multiverse to the colorful world of Ooo where the original series largely took place.
Fionna & Cake is just the latest spin-off of the fan-favorite Adventure Time series after the mainline show's finale aired over five years ago.
One Concern from the Fionna and Cake Showrunner
Speaking in a recent interview, Adventure Time: Fionna & Cake showrunner Adam Muto shared he had one concern for the animated spin-off series.
Muto told The Washington Post, that there "absolutely" was a concern going into Fionna & Cake given "a lot of sequels and reboots released recently, with mixed success:"
Q: "There have been a lot of sequels and reboots released recently, with mixed success. Was there ever any concern about adding to these stories?"
Muto: "Absolutely. We had the original series and we try not to touch it too much. There are appearances by characters from it, but I think I’m very conscious of like not stepping on what we’ve done before."
He continued, calling working on the Adventure Time spin-off "a very weird dance:"
"It’s a very weird dance now because so many of the things that get traction are [intellectual property]-based or legacy, and you want to make cartoons, but you also want new ideas to live."
Supervising director Ryann Shannon piped in to say, "You just want to make sure that it’s satisfying on its own:"
"You just want to make sure that it’s satisfying on its own, as opposed to relying on predecessor stuff … Having the focus be on these characters and their growth helps me distinguish the projects."
When asked about balancing bringing back familiar faces and reimagining the story, Muto revealed it all was hashed out "in the writer’s room and in the boarding." It was during those processes, one could easily see "when you were trying to fit in one too many things:"
"I think a lot of that was just in the writer’s room and in the boarding, how much an episode could hold. It became clear when you were trying to fit in one too many things or it was diffusing the attention too much. So a lot of the characters that ended up showing up were the ones that had analogues in the other ['Adventure Time'] episodes, so that we could get that contrast, as opposed to just trying to cram in as many as we possibly could."
Shannon added "I don’t think it’s like cameo-fest," but there are moments when fans will "see a character in the background" and be like, "There they are:"
"I don’t think it’s like cameo-fest, but it is a thing where you’ll see a character in the background and you’ll be like, 'There they are.' Which I feel like, does that job. If you like a character, you’ll like it even if you just see them for a couple frames."
How To Build the Perfect Adventure Time Spin-Off
Jumping back into a world like Adventure Time for a spin-off is always a risky thing, and as evidenced by Adam Muto and Ryann Shannon's quotes, the Fionna & Cake creatives seemed to grasp that.
It is incredibly challenging to balance whatever new story is being told, while still giving fans of the franchise hints of the familiar to still make it feel based in that world. And Fionna & Cake seems to do that.
The Adventure Time spin-off has aged up with the audience, telling a more mature story, that will touch fans' hearts just like the original series did when they were younger.
And it is doing it with characters that, yes, were in the mainline series, but were only there for a couple of episodes. So, it is very clearly fleshing out a part of the Adventure Time world that was largely left unexplored when the OG show was on the air.
But it is not all new. There have still been some familiar faces to pop up. Finn the Human makes an appearance, having aged quite a bit since fans last saw him, and even Donald Glover's Marshall Lee has a surprising role in the animated spin-off.
This perfect mix of old and new is what makes Fionna & Cake (and any good spin-off for that matter) tick.
The series has earned near-universal praise, garnering a rare 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (albeit on 10 critic reviews). So, obviously, Muto and Shannon have done something right with the Adventure Time follow-up.
Adventure Time: Fionna & Cake is now streaming on Max