Adventure Time Review: S8E18 – Horse and Ball
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Adventure Time Review: S8E18 – Horse and Ball

August 31, 2019

The person beloved by all known as James Baxter
used to be just another horse in the big city, until he became disillusioned with the bleak
and dreary day-to-day grind and took off. He began his separation from the city-horse
lifestyle by sending his savings down the river, and apparently deciding to go nude,
since all the other horses shown wear clothes. He finds a beach ball which he has a predilection
for, and a very sad bat. To cheer up the crying bat, he balances atop
the ball and reads out “games bookstore” incorrectly, and from that moment on becomes
immortalized as James Baxter forever. As he travels across the land making people
smile and laugh, he forgets about his bat friend, who flies off, supposedly never to
be seen by him again. James continues to do his horse and ball routine,
day after day, until he hits an exploding elderly mole-man and goes into shock. I found “Horse and Ball” to be a cautionary
tale about creative expression, about the dangers of grounding yourself entirely in
the expectations of other people when relentlessly pursuing your art. James was fond of the beach ball in the first
place, but he created the horse and ball routine on the spot for the purpose of cheering somebody
up. Making others happy made him happy, so he
rolled with it (pun intended). But it seems like overtime the happiness turned
into a burden. When James had his routine come to a sudden
stop, and his autopilot was basically deactivated, he started to suffer from trauma. He was unprepared and incapable of engaging
in anything when he could no longer do what he always relied on; he was lost, and emotionally
detached, and suffering from drastic depression. That’s not a reaction somebody who is mentally
well would have. James Baxter never engaged anybody on a personal
level and never built relationships. He didn’t maintain a friendship with the
bat as he continued his routine for others, which forced the bat to make the difficult
decision of leaving James to pursue their own life goals. If one works relentlessly and nonstop to please
others, one may end up having no personal time, no actual friends, and a complete lack
of self-care. James Baxter is a representation of what can
happen when the drive to create for the enjoyment of others gets taken to an extreme; despite
being the center of everyone’s attention, you may actually be isolated and alone. James was likely depressed for a long time,
possibly without even realizing it. There’s a common concept that those who
look the most joyful and bring the most happiness to others are the ones with the most pain
and sadness within them. Those who appear to have everyone’s adoration
feel the most alone. This was the feeling I got from James Baxter. Raggedy Princess provides an interesting contrast
to James. Unlike him, she has no audience or fans. Her kingdom is an empty trash heap that rarely
seems to have visitors. Raggedy Princess goes as far as to sabotage
others just so they can be around for her to share her poems with them. But Raggedy Princess loves making her poems,
even if no one sticks around to hear them and discuss them with her. Even as Jake compliments her kingdom
and holds it in the highest regard [Jake: “Truly, this is a fine kingdom.”], Jake still
does not engage with Raggedy Princess’ art. She toils away at what she loves without being
able to share it with others, whereas James Baxter toils away at sharing his art with
others despite no longer finding pleasure in it. Yeah, this episode is really depressing. It does have an uplifting conclusion though,
as Finn’s honest and true feelings toward James Baxter make the horse realize he has
to also live for himself, and not just for others. Creating for others can be fine, but one needs
to be able to exercise and satisfy their own creative desires as well. So for the episode’s ending scene, James Baxter
goes out and dances, for nobody except himself. “Horse and Ball” continues season 8’s
streak of having really strong episodes. And yet, for some personal preference reasons
which I can’t quite put my finger on, the episode didn’t resonate with me as much
as I feel like it should have. I really appreciated the themes in the episode
and how they were explored. I’d be down to eagerly discuss the episode
at a moment’s notice. I enjoyed the dialogue and interactions, especially
Shelby’s. [Shelby: “Stab him.” Finn: “What!?” Shelby: “With a giant syringe.” Finn: “Wha!?” Shelby: “Of respect.” Finn: “Ohh…”] Despite all this, something still failed to
ignite that spark within me that makes me giddy after I finish an awesome episode. What Finn said to Prismo in the episode “I am a
Sword” *MY BAD, episode was actually “Is That You?*
about friends kinda applies to my feelings: “Sometimes you can think somebody
is totally cool but you never become besties. And I dunno why that happens…” That is really close to the general feeling
I have towards this episode. Despite my personal lukewarm experience, I’d
still call “Horse and Ball” a really good episode. I never expected James Baxter to make a return,
but I’m glad that when he did, there was heavy emotional stuff about artistic expression
tagging along with him. And of course, the fluid animation created
by the legendary human James Baxter is always a treat to watch.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. I just thought about the episode "wheels".
    Finn is not anymore with Fire princess for a long time and what if he gets closer with Bronwyn?
    Now that he saw some stuff about humans and that he knows that he can see them when he want, i think he's gonna be more relaxed (and i did noticed that Finn is a lot more chill now).
    He didn't really met Bronwyn right? And i think they can get alone because they are pretty chill and he knows better what not to do with a girl now.
    Does anyone agree with me?

  2. It's literally impossible not to LOVE James Baxter's ways to animate himself. THAT, is the definition of true pure talent…

  3. The fluidity of the animation in this episode absolutely left me speechless. I had to watch it a second time, just so I could see it again!!

  4. i feel you man this episode wasnt that great i still liked it but it did felt as good as some of the others
    for example jelly beans have power was so intresting :3 i have been waiting for so long for patience st pim to return and i was expecting it to be about the all mighty candy element XP since she couldnt use her powers properly

  5. Profound philosophical interpretation. This episode resonated with me MORE than I expected. Started lame… finished me almost in tears of happiness based on my own life experience! LOL

  6. Hey, man! You're so right… I didn't think of Robin Williams while watching, but I've known so many like that. Great point.

  7. Did everyone forget that when the young ones placed the dead old guy's nutrients maybe the reason that made the tree grow really large like shown in graybels 1000+ and lemon hope 2?

  8. This episode also pointed out that even when you don't have any concrete relationships, there are still people out there who care about you 💜

  9. I liked the message that this episode was trying to convey, but i felt that the execution wasn't the greatest? Especially the ending, it felt like it came out of nowhere.

  10. will you be doing a video on the adventure time miniseries islands its been out for a few days and I watched it and would really like to hear your thoughts on it

  11. I feel that way about a lot of things. I acknowledge why people like things but I just can't truly say I personally enjoyed said things. Final Fantasy 7 for example, IMO is a great game but its narrative is silly and doesn't make a lot of sense at some points. However, I ended up really enjoying it as a game in terms of RPG mechanics. I also really enjoyed all of the characters quite a bit. The story however was just not for me.

    Ultimately I end up feeling this way about a lot of episodes in AT because I miss the deeper meaning. That's why I love your videos so much, they help me understand.

  12. I enjoyed this Episode because (as much as its pains me to say it) it was the start of resolution. From a show that might be ending soon, Im glad to see even a mild Character such as James Baxter was given an ending to its own right. I doubt we will ever see him again and if so he'll be nothing but a Cameo.

  13. This episode is really topical especially with some of the entertainers here on YouTube suffering from the same thing especially vlogger

    Man Adventure Time knocking this one right outta the park once again.

  14. I thought this would be a boring episode, but the animation for James was beautiful, and the story/meaning of it is deep.

  15. i really love your contend and u are a really good theorist . I just wondert if u can what the series "Bravest Warrios" and make theories about it. The name of the show creator is Pendelton Ward. I dont know if this two worlds(bravest warrios and adventure time ) are connected but I think u can see the catalyst comet .

  16. Hey Elk have you ever considered doing if you haven't already a video on every version of Finn and a small back story.
    Demon amulet Finn
    Farmworld/Ice King Finn
    Pillow World Finn
    Wizard Finn
    ect ect

  17. I felt like raggedy Princess has sort of strange connection to the Pokemon Mimikyu from Pokemon Sun and Moon. They are shadowed and mysterious beings that are hidden under rags. Now Mimikyu is dressed in rags reminiscent of pikachu because that is what it hates the most so, could raggedy princess hate Princesses and is dressed up as one to try and take them down. Overall her presence in the episode felt strange to me.

  18. I think part of the giddy response i got from this episode is the familiarity of the real life james baxter and the work that he's done! do you think that james had a say in the story told in this episode or that its just a representation of how the creators feel about him?

  19. The best and most amazing thing about adventure time is how some episodes get so freaking deep and have such sadness within them and yet still manage to be happy and uplifting in the end.

    Some episodes (espeically the new island series) make it feel like I'm reading a 400~600 page book within a few moments because all of the development that goes on. Truly an amazing series and the best thing on cartoon network imo.

  20. my realistic genuine predictions for adventure time:
    i think jake will pass away possibly something to do with the lich as seen in alternative reality and he could go into some cosmic form seeing how he was born.
    his father passed away in the early seasons and he already has a grand daughter so he seems really old.
    also when will the movie take place, after the serious???
    plus I'd really love to see samantha the dog again and im thinking there's a chance we'll see Finns father in some form towards the end of the last season.
    hope someone reflects on this theory and say what they reckon.

  21. I think this episode very good.
    Through the story we can know James Baxter and bat had a little good time,But gradually James didn't care about that bat.So the bat has left him.Although James gives others happy,But he didn't forget the bat.
    When the ball broke,He lives in the sad after the bat leave him.But finally Fenn encouraged him,James realized that it was good time to let pain go.So he danced for himself in the end.
    It's just my feeling

  22. man, I love James Baxters voice acting, and especially his animation style. I makes the character really look like he is in 3D space, more than any other character seen in Adventure time.

  23. I get a really huge Bo Burnham vibe here… Him being clearly overwhelmed with the situation to create only for others, trying to live up to the expectation of him always being happy and funny, so that he gets to the point where he seems depressed.
    Ragity princess on the other hand is the example of what he said in the show "Make happy" before the performance of "Can't handle this" started: If you can live your life without an audience, you should do it.

  24. you know, james backster kind of reminds me of shiro from fate stay night in that they have the same mentality to help other's to the extent of self depravation, even if they themselves are raticly diffrent people from radically diffrent backgrounds.

  25. How DARE you force me to subscribe to your channel and spend the last 3-8 hours watching all of your videos and doing nothing else in my day off! Shame on you boy! Shame!

  26. To me, this is representative of a sudden change in a consistent life. Tragedy will touch everybody sooner or later. Once it touches you, it interupts your life, but this is life and how a normal person does indeed react. Being depressed is going to happen and perfectly normal. The exact opposite is true of what you said, if you never get depressed, then I would question how happy you actually are if losing something or someone never makes you sad.

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