Adventure Time is one of those rare cartoons that has the ability to appeal to children and adults. Focused on a human boy named Finn and his dog Jake, Adventure Time can be at times both fanciful and quite dark. Part of the reason for Adventure Time’s appeal is it’s outstanding ensemble, including fan favorites Princess Bubblegum (Bonnibel if you’re nasty) and Marceline, the Vampire Queen.
Princess Bubblegum rules over the Candy Kingdom, with a firm yet gentle hand and is Mensa levels of smart. Marceline is a bit of a rebel who plays a mean bass, and lives off the color red, not blood. A 2011 episode of Adventure Time titled “What Was Missing” caused a bit of a stir when it alluded to perhaps, more than platonic feelings between the girls. The video recap referencing this was removed shortly there after, but the subtext remains. PB and Marci have a bit of contemptuous relationship that smacks of underlying teenagey feelings. At one point during “What Was Missing” Marceline sings a song directly to Princess Bubblegum that includes the line, “I want to drink the red from your pretty pink face.”
Well. How do you like them apples?
At the end of the episode it’s revealed that Princess Bubblegum sleeps in one of Marceline’s old t-shirts, and thus, a ship was christened and launched on the fandom seas. Ahoy, Bubbeline.
Picture from Adventure Time artist Natasha Allegri’s Tumblr
The most recent episode of Adventure Time, “Sky Witch,” brings Princess Bubblegum and Marceline front and center and appears to shift Bubbeline from subtext to canon. Jesse Moynihan, co-writer of Adventure Time even stoked the fires of fandom by posting this photo to his Instagram. (You had me at the first SHIP, Jesse.)
The episode opens with a slumbering Princess Bubblegum, wearing; you guessed it, Marceline’s shirt.
That would have been well and good, but then this happens. Princess Bubblegum sniffs the shirt. Wait, sniff isn’t an accurate description. She INHALES it.
Inhales it like it’s the first rainfall after millennia of desert conditions. Like the last bloom of the last lilac tree on earth. Like she’s smelling a blueberry muffin made by God, him/herself. Considering she lives surrounded by candy and walking, talking baked goods, that’s saying a lot. It’s such a teenage moment, one I’m sure many of us have experienced. Trying to breathe in the lingering scent of the one we adore, so that maybe it becomes a small piece of our emotional DNA. For a show with cartoon characters, set in a fantasy world, it’s a wonderfully real and tender moment. When she goes to slip on some regular clothes, it’s revealed she keeps a picture of herself and Marceline on her closet door.
Marceline shows up, wearing an outfit that can only be described as Roller Girl Chic, and asks Bubblegum for help dealing with the Sky Witch. She’s vague about the reason why but tells Bubblegum it’s important, and that is enough. (I’d also like to note that the girls appear to be drawn to look slightly older than they have before.)
When they reach the witches lair, it’s revealed that she has taken Marceline’s beloved teddy bear, Hambo. Princess Bubblegum doesn’t understand Marceline’s attachment and then utters a line, laced with so much mean girls sentiment and snark, it may be my favorite thing she’s ever said.
“Raggedy Princess can make you a new Hambo in like, three seconds. Or Raggedy Princess can be your new Hambo. She’d do it too. That girls got like, zero self respect. Heh, that’s mean. Don’t tell her I said that.”
Marceline convinces her to continue the search for Hambo nonetheless. While Marceline is distracted by the witch’s Crabbit (part crow, part rabbit) Princess Bubblegum stumbles upon a secret room full of belongings. Also there is this box.
That’s why I love Adventure Time. Anyway, the box is full of receipts, including one that states some weenis (their word, not mine) named Ash (Marcie’s ex) sold Hambo to the witch. It turns out that the witch collects sentimental affection, and Hambo is full of it.
Princess Bubblegum tells the witch that she’s bound by duty to recognize the exchange of goods for legal tender, but she’s not leaving without a certain raggedy ass stuffed animal. She reunites Marceline and Hambo, then the three take their leave of the witch.
Unbeknownst to Marcie, Princess Bubblegum made a trade to the witch in order to get Hambo back. The witch holds up Bubblegum’s beloved Marceline shirt, victorious.
“The physic resonance on Hambo is nothing compared to this baby!” she yells.
So there we have it, shippers. Princess Bubblegum sacrificed what she cherished the most, for the thing Marceline treasured above all. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
What do you think? Could Adventure Time be inching closer to a same sex romance between PB and Marcie? If so, Adventure Time could be breaking some serious ground in non-anime children’s programming. Could representation in cartoons be a next step in visibility on television?