Amphibia: Sprig vs. Hop Pop
August 4, 2021 7:58 PM - Season 1, Episode 11 - Subscribe

Unhappy with Hop Po's leadership, Sprig challenges Hop Pop to a ceremonial fight and wins, becoming the new head of the farm. Predictably, disaster ensues.

  • No one almost dies in this episode, although Hop Pop thinks he's going to. It's true that a pest from Sprig's vegetables threatens the kids, but that doesn't seem on the level of the mortal threats in past episodes.
  • Anne has nearly become a full-fledged family member at this point; this story is Plantar family shenanigans that doesn't hinge on her being an outsider at all. One of Amphibia's little charms is seeing the tall gangly human girl accepted as a member of a family of frogs.
  • The Plantars demonstrate another wacky tradition, that they can challenge each other to lead the family. For some reason, Polly is moderator of these.
  • Hop Pop is gone for only a day and a half, how did they build all that stuff around the house ("PLANTAR FARM 2.0 friendship edition plus") in that short a time?
  • Tombstones: "Big Lick," "Forever HOPPIN'", "SLIPPY he slipped."
  • Continuity: while in exile, Hop Pop gains a pet (friend?) in Jeremy the Beetle, who shows up in later episodes.
  • In the empty cupboard, there is a piece of fruit (?) in the corner drawn somewhat in the shape of the "Cool S."
  • From the backpack: beachwear.
posted by JHarris (4 comments total)
This might be a good time to talk about my opinions about Amphibia overall. As should be obvious by now, I really like the show. But I don't think it is always perfect.

When Amphibia is at its best, it is a story about a very different person from the Plantars and the residents of Wartwood becoming accepted and loved. There is something beautiful about that, and when it's coupled with writing of Gravity Falls caliber, it's great. And as the story ramps up, especially when Season Two starts, the direction the series goes is very interesting, and I think it's rewarding to follow it through its turns.

Where it falters? Sometimes stories feel a little too by-the-numbers. Almost all of the story beats of Sprig vs. Hop Pop, for instance, I could see coming. Many episodes have obvious morals. Sometimes the show deconstructs this, but not usually with the assurance of Gravity Falls or Steven "I always get what I want!" Universe. And I've started noticing how often one character or other says some variation of "(Let's|We can) DO this [thing]!" and it's surprisingly often. Of course, I am in the secondary audience for Amphibia, and the kids the show was primarily made for aren't as crammed full of tropes as I am.

I think Amphibia is worth sticking with, even if you notice these things too. Just, please bear with it while it finds its rubbery hoppy legs.
posted by JHarris at 5:27 AM on August 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

Not everything can grow up to be Owl House, but that took a while to become excellent too.
posted by Marticus at 3:24 PM on August 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Sure season 1 takes some time to get going, but if I turn on the TV and my choices are between a season 1 Amphibia episode and a season 1 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, I am going to watch the cartoon.
posted by eckeric at 8:21 AM on August 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Not everything can grow up to be Owl House, but that took a while to become excellent too.

I think I was on board with The Owl House within the first five or ten minutes of episode one, but that might just be me. I have a soft spot for weirdos with a penchant for fantasy.

Amphibia is solid, but—even aside from JHarris's astute analysis—I think it suffers by comparison with some of the truly stellar cartoon series from the last few years.
posted by xenization at 9:37 AM on August 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

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