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Amphibia (TV series)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Amphibia
AmphibiaLogoTransparent.png
Genre
Created byMatt Braly
Voices of
Theme music composerDoug Petty
Opening theme"Welcome to Amphibia" (instrumental)
Ending theme"Anne's Theme" composed by T.J. Hill (seasons 1–2)
"Anne's Theme (Remix)" composed by T.J. Hill and vocals performed by Brenda Song, Justin Felbinger, Bill Farmer, and Amanda Leighton (season 3)
ComposerT.J. Hill
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes48 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producerMatt Braly
ProducerTara Badawy
Running time22–24 minutes
Production companyDisney Television Animation
Release
Original networkDisney Channel
Picture formatHDTV 1080p
Audio format5.1 surround sound
Original releaseJune 17, 2019 (2019-06-17) –
present
External links
Website
Production website

Amphibia is an American animated television series created by Matt Braly that premiered on Disney Channel on June 17, 2019.[1] The series features the voices of Brenda Song, Justin Felbinger, Bill Farmer, and Amanda Leighton.

The series has been renewed for a third season, which premiered on October 2, 2021.[2][3][4]

Premise

The series chronicles the adventures of an independent and fearless 13-year-old Thai-American girl named Anne Boonchuy (Brenda Song).[5] Anne is peer pressured into stealing a mysterious music box on her birthday that magically transports her and her two best friends Sasha Waybright (Anna Akana) and Marcy Wu (Haley Tju) to the world of Amphibia, a wild marshland tropical island full of anthropomorphic amphibians and threatening creatures. Anne is separated from her friends and taken in by the Plantars, a family of frogs that consists of excitable young Sprig (Justin Felbinger); unpredictable and adventurous baby pollywog Polly (Amanda Leighton); and overprotective and traditional grandfather Hop Pop (Bill Farmer) who live on a farm in the town of Wartwood. As she bonds with her newfound family, Anne gradually learns what it means to be a hero and develop a true friendship, all the while trying to find her friends and return home. Meanwhile, Sasha allies with Captain Grime (Troy Baker), leader of the warfaring toads of Toad Tower, who seek to control their home of Frog Valley.[6]

In season two, Anne and the Plantars go on a road trip to the Amphibian capital, Newtopia, to learn the secrets of the Calamity Box and find a way to get Anne home. There, Anne reunites with Marcy, who offers to help restore the box's power through a series of ancient trials, unaware that Amphibia's ruler, King Andrias (Keith David) secretly has his own plans for them. Meanwhile, Sasha and Grime plot to invade Newtopia and overthrow the monarch, allowing the toads to rule over all of Amphibia.

In season three, Anne and the Plantars are transported to Anne's home in the suburbs of East Los Angeles. Anne must now help the frog family adjust to the human world and keep their identities a secret, while searching for a way to return to Amphibia and stop Andrias's invasion on the Multiverse. In Amphibia, Sasha and Grime lead the people of Wartwood in a rebellion against Andrias, who plans to use Marcy as a vessel for his master, an entity known as the Core.

Production

Development

On February 19, 2018, Amphibia was greenlit by Disney Channel alongside The Owl House.[1] The series was created and executive-produced by Matt Braly, previously a storyboard artist on Gravity Falls and later a director on both Gravity Falls and Big City Greens. According to his Twitter account, he had been working on the series for almost two years before being greenlit,[7] though he began to conceive the project while work on Gravity Falls began to conclude.[8]

On May 15, 2019, Disney Channel renewed Amphibia for a second season ahead of its premiere.[9][10]

On June 23, 2020, the show was renewed for a third season ahead of its second-season premiere.[2] In a Reddit AMA, Braly referred to Amphibia as a "three act show" with season two as the "2nd act", implying that Season 3 will serve as the final season of the show.[4]

Writing

The show was based on Braly's childhood trips to Bangkok, Thailand.[11] The series' tone was inspired by films by Aardman Animations and Studio Ghibli,[11][8] while its storytelling format was inspired by Gravity Falls and Steven Universe.[12] Braly was also inspired by video games such as The Legend of Zelda and Chrono Trigger when creating the series.[13] Other inspirations for the series include shows Braly watched in his childhood, such as Batman: The Animated Series and Disney's Gargoyles; he precisely cited Gargoyles as an inspiration for the series' story arc.[14] According to Braly, one of the reasons he created the series was because he wanted a show whose lead character had a similar arc to Gravity Falls character Pacifica Northwest, as he felt that "to have this character change so drastically was so rewarding, and that's why [he] knew [he] wanted [his] own show to have some of that element as well".[11] The character of Sprig went through several changes through development, with the developers constantly giving him different ages, before choosing to make the character a younger brother-like figure for Anne.[15] Similarly, Anne, Sasha, and Marcy were originally fifteen-years-old because they wanted the series to have a high school-like feel, but were aged down in order to appeal to the series' target demographic; due to this, the trio often realizes actions more akin to high school students, such as driving and having part-time jobs.[16]

The series marks the first animated show to have a Thai-American lead.[8] Braly, who is Thai-American, chose to make the series' lead character, Anne Boonchuy, Thai-American because he wanted more Thai characters in television series.[17] According to Braly, Anne was loosely inspired by his grandmother.[11] He described Anne being Thai-American as "a number one priority", as he wanted Thai-American kids to see themselves reflected on television.[8] Braly also made the character dark-skinned due to his mother's family being tanned.[18] Season 3, which is set on Earth, further delves into Anne's Thai heritage, including an episode set on a Wat Thai temple on Los Angeles. Braly described the temple's representation in the episode as "pretty accurate", as it is important for him to represent Thai culture accurately.[16]

Braly chose to make the series to be centered around a frog-populated world because he felt that, due to how frogs change from tadpoles to frogs, they were perfect for the series' theme of change.[19] Braly also implemented themes involving social classes and environmental awareness into the series, with Anne interacting with frogs of several different social backgrounds and learning to "appreciate the natural world around her".[18]

Three of the series' four writers are women, which Braly felt necessary due to the show centering on a teenage girl.[11] Storyboard artists are allowed to pitch their own ideas for an episode, a practice Braly took from his time at Gravity Falls.[11] Braly wanted the series to feature intense sequences, yet still being appropriate for all ages, constantly checking-in whether a scene is too terrifying for children and whether a scene is what it's intended to be.[15]

Casting and voice recording

On March 27, 2019, it was revealed that Brenda Song would star in the series as the voice of Anne Boonchuy.[20] In April 2019, it was reported that Justin Felbinger would voice Sprig Plantar in the series.[9] On May 15, 2019, it was reported that Amanda Leighton and Bill Farmer joined the cast as the voices of Polly and Hopediah "Hop Pop" Plantar, respectively.[9] Over 50 actresses auditioned for the role of Anne, including Anna Akana and Haley Tju. While the role ultimately went to Song, Braly cast Akana and Tju as Anne's human friends, Sasha and Marcy respectively, instead.[4][2] According to Braly, certain roles were written with a specific actor in mind, such as King Andrias, who is voiced by Keith David.[4]

Muppet performer Matt Vogel (as Kermit the Frog) made an appearance in the season 2 episode "Swamp and Sensibility".[21] However, Kermit himself (whom Vogel performed since 2017) was credited for the role in promotional material;[22] Kermit previously appeared in two promotional web videos for the series,[23][24] as well as in a D23 Expo panel promoting both the series and Big City Greens.[25]

According to Braly, Song add-libbed several jokes during recording.[26] Similarly, Alex Hirsch improvised several lines for his appearance in the season two episode "Wax Museum".[27] During the COVID-19 pandemic, cast members had to remotely record their lines from their homes, after which they sent their lines to the series' editors.[28]

The guest stars for season three include Whoopi Goldberg, Archie Yates and Jason Ritter.[3]

Animation

Rough Draft Korea, Sunmin Image Pictures, and Saerom each provide animation. Braly chose those animation studios due to them still working with hand-drawn animation, a style Braly favored for the series.[29] The animators spend three to four months working on pre-production, with an episode taking about nine months to complete.[11] Forty staff members at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California also worked on the series.[11]

James Turner, a British illustrator most well known for his work on the Pokémon series of games (having created several Pokémon designs and worked as the art director for Pokémon Sword and Shield), provided artwork during the initial stages of the project.[30] The series' visuals were inspired by Jim Henson's 1982 film The Dark Crystal and the 1977 animated adaptation of The Hobbit.[11] The series' environments were also inspired by natural settings.[26] According to Braly, storyboarding for an episode begins after its script is finished.[29] Braly said that the different character designs for Anne and Marcy, in spite of both characters having Asian backgrounds, were because the producers "never wanted to be trapped into a character design just because of what people might think an Asian person 'should' look like in a cartoon", as the characters "are representations of folks, not caricatures".[4]

By March 24, 2020, Disney Television Animation was closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with work on the series continuing remotely.[31] By that point, the producers had started storyboarding the season 2 finale, while other episodes were only partially completed.[32]

Music

T. J. Hill composed the score for the series.[33] During production on the series, Leslie Wolfhard, wife of storyboard artist Steve Wolfhard, pitched to the producers a song, which they ended up using in the season 1 episode "Taking Charge".[34] On July 23, 2020, Hill created a SoundCloud playlist featuring 10 tracks from the first season's score.[35]

A song titled "Welcome to Amphibia", performed by Celica Gray Westbook, was originally intended to serve as the series' theme song.[36] However, the song was later discarded in favor of an instrumental theme.[37] According to Braly, "Welcome to Amphibia" was written due to orders from Disney, but he eventually convinced the studio to use an instrumental theme instead, as he disliked the song because he felt it didn't fit with the show or its main character.[37]

Hyper Potions composed a new version of the instrumental opening for the show's first "Theme Song Takeover" video.[13] A third version of the opening, with lyrics by writer Dan Siegel, was written for the second "Theme Song Takeover" video.[13]

The first season finale, "Reunion", features the song "Lean on Me" by Bill Withers. Braly said that he constantly listened to the song while developing the relationship between Anne, Marcy, and Sasha, so, when work began on "Reunion", Braly chose to use the song for the scene in which Sasha tries to sacrifice herself.[38]

On April 23, 2021, an extended play album, titled Amphibia: Battle of the Bands, was released.[39] The album features the songs "Heartstomper", written by T.J. Hill and performed by Akana, and "No Big Deal", written by Adam Gubman and performed by Song, Akana, and Tju, as well as instrumental covers of both songs by Hill, Todd McClintock and Adam Gubman, respectively.[40][39][41]

Season three will feature a Christmas special with a new song written by Rebecca Sugar of Steven Universe fame; Braly previously served as a writer and storyboard artist in the Steven Universe episode "Lars and the Cool Kids".[3]

Marketing

On July 19, 2018, during the Star vs. the Forces of Evil and Big City Greens panel at San Diego Comic-Con, Disney released an early version of the intro for the series.[42] They also gave away a limited-edition plush toy of Sprig Plantar.

On April 26, 2019, Disney FanFest released a music video for a vocal version of the opening theme titled ″Welcome to Amphibia″ performed by Celica Gray Westbrook[36] and a two-minute clip[43] during a livestream.[44] It was discussed to be used as the intro song.[45]

On May 14, 2019, Disney Channel released the trailer,[46] with Disney Channel releasing the final version of the intro 3 days later.[47]

Amphibia also included shorts, beginning with Teen Girl in a Frog World. The shorts premiered on September 3, 2019.[48]

Episodes

SeasonSegmentsEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
13920June 17, 2019 (2019-06-17)July 18, 2019 (2019-07-18)
23620July 11, 2020 (2020-07-11)May 22, 2021 (2021-05-22)
3TBATBAOctober 2, 2021 (2021-10-02)TBA

Ratings

Viewership and ratings per season of Amphibia
Season Episodes First aired Last aired Avg. viewers
(millions)
Date Viewers
(millions)
Date Viewers
(millions)
1 20 June 17, 2019 (2019-06-17) 0.39[49] July 18, 2019 (2019-07-18) 0.34[50] 0.41
2 20 July 11, 2020 (2020-07-11) 0.39[51] May 22, 2021 (2021-05-22) 0.33[52] 0.36
3 8 October 2, 2021 (2021-10-02) 0.43[53] TBA TBD 0.36

Reception

Critical reception

Amphibia received very positive reviews from critics and audiences. Common Sense Media's Emily Ashby rated the show 4 out of 5 stars and praised the series for its characters and themes, writing that "Sprig and Anne's adventures are a joy to behold, mostly thanks to their delightfully compatible personalities and the sweet friendship that develops between them" and that "the story illustrates issues like bullying and emotional manipulation in ways that will resonate with kids and tweens and can prompt discussions about the topics".[54] Bekah Burbank of LaughingPlace.com praised the series' ability to balance its humor and its terror elements, as well as its pacing, characters, and animation, stating that "Amphibia is clever and goofy with plenty of jokes to keep kids laughing and just enough scary content to hold their attention. The show moves quickly and is broken into two 11-minute episodes that, at least for the premiere, form one complete chapter. The animation is bouncy and colorful and the characters are a delight".[55] Collider's Dave Trumbore gave the series' first two episodes a 4 stars rating, feeling that they "[served] as a great introduction to the series".[56]

Awards and nominations

The show won an Annie Award for "Best Character Design" in 2021. In the same year, it was nominated for an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Children's Animated Program", but it lost to Hilda.

Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref.
2021 Annie Awards Best Character Design Joe Sparrow (for "The Shut-In") Won [57]
Daytime Emmys Outstanding Children's Animated Series Amphibia Nominated [58]

Notes

References

  1. ^ a b "Amphibia | Disney Channel Press". DisneyABC Press. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Ramos, Dino-Ray (June 23, 2020). "Disney Channel Renews 'Amphibia' For Season 3; Kermit The Frog, Jenifer Lewis, George Takei And More To Guest Star On Season 2". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Rivera, Britt (July 24, 2021). "Disney's Amphibia Season 3 Sets October Premiere Date [EXCLUSIVE]". Screen Rant. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e Braly, Matt (August 22, 2020). "I'm Matt Braly, creator and executive producer of Amphibia - Ask me anything!!!". Reddit. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  5. ^ Brown, Tracy (June 14, 2019). "'Amphibia' creator wants kids to feel seen with his Thai American heroine". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (February 23, 2019). "Disney Greenlights Originals Amphibia, Owl House and More Star Vs.". Animation Magazine. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  7. ^ Petski, Denise. "Disney Channel Launching Toon Series Amphibia and The Owl House, Renews Star vs. the Forces of Evil for Season 4". Deadline.com. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d "Matt Braly on Bringing Thai American Representation to Disney Channel's "Amphibia"". June 13, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c "Animated Comedy Amphibia Gets Early Season 2 Order at Disney Channel". The Hollywood Reporter. May 15, 2019.
  10. ^ Pedersen, Erik (May 15, 2019). "Brenda Song's Amphibia Renewed for Season 2 Ahead of Series Premiere on Disney Channel". Deadline Hollywood.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Zahed, Ramin (June 7, 2019). "The Perfect Leap: Matt Braly's 'Amphibia' Hops to Disney Channel". Animation Magazine.
  12. ^ "INTERVIEW: Creator Matt Braly on "Amphibia" – Animation Scoop". www.animationscoop.com.
  13. ^ a b c Radulovic, Petrana (August 14, 2020). "The Disney channel series inspired by Zelda finally gets a retro-game reimagining". Polygon.
  14. ^ Talking Amphibia On Disney Channel With Matt Braly – Exclusive
  15. ^ a b "Wonders of Animation: Talking to Matt Braly of Amphibia - CGMagazine".
  16. ^ a b Matt Braly On Amphibia Season Three, Animation During The Pandemic, And The Family Of Anne Boonchuy
  17. ^ "'Amphibia' creator wants kids to feel seen with his Thai American heroine". Los Angeles Times. June 14, 2019.
  18. ^ a b Chik, Kalai (June 14, 2019). "Interview with Amphibia's Matt Braly". Asia Pacific Arts.
  19. ^ "5 Reasons to Leap into Disney Channel's New Series Amphibia". D23. June 13, 2019.
  20. ^ Bennett, Anita (March 27, 2019). "Brenda Song Returns to Disney Channel in Animated Series Amphibia". Deadline.com. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  21. ^ Spears, Kyler (director); Gloria Shen (writer) (August 8, 2020). "Swamp and Sensibility". Amphibia. Season 2. Episode 5A. Disney Channel.
  22. ^ Haasch, Palmer. "Exclusive: Kermit the Frog is guest starring in Disney Channel's frog-focused show 'Amiphibia'". Insider.
  23. ^ "Kermit the Frog Reacts to Disney Channel's "Amphibia" in New Video". July 16, 2019.
  24. ^ "Exclusive: Watch Kermit the Frog in action as 'frog consultant' for Disney Channel's 'Amphibia'". EW.com.
  25. ^ Cast of Disney Channel’s “Amphibia” and “Big City Greens” Come Together with Kermit the Frog for Lots of Laughs
  26. ^ a b "Amphibia Creator Matt Braly on Brenda Song as a Thai-American Character". Collider. June 14, 2019.
  27. ^ Schneider, Michael (July 6, 2020). "'Gravity Falls' Creator Alex Hirsch Brings Back the Mystery Shack, Sort of, via Disney Channel's 'Amphibia' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
  28. ^ Zahed, Ramin (July 9, 2020). "Matt Braly Dives in to Second Season of His Hit Show 'Amphibia'".
  29. ^ a b "Matt Braly's 'Hoppy' Childhood Memories Inspired New Disney Channel Series, 'Amphibia'". Animation World Network.
  30. ^ Turner, James. "Amphibia". Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  31. ^ Patten, Nellie Andreeva, Dominic; Andreeva, Nellie; Patten, Dominic (March 24, 2020). "Animation Production Is Still Going, Sometimes Slower, Amid Coronavirus Crisis".
  32. ^ "Amphibia Creator Matt Braly Talks Season 2, Kermit the Frog, and Quarantine Struggles". TV Shows.
  33. ^ T. J. Hill [@tjhill] (May 21, 2019). "Exciting update time! I am thrilled to announce that I am the composer for a new @DisneyChannel series called Amphibia! The show debuts Monday, June 17! Huge thank you to @Radrappy and the entire Amphibia crew for the opportunity to be a part of this incredible series" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  34. ^ "08 - Taking Charge". AMPHBI-CREW. August 2019.
  35. ^ "Amphibia Season 1 Score Excerpts". SoundCloud.
  36. ^ a b "Celica Gray - Welcome to Amphibia (From Amphibia)". Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  37. ^ a b "r/amphibia - Comment by u/Matt_Braly on "I'm Matt Braly, creator and executive producer of Amphibia - Ask me anything!!!"". reddit. August 22, 2020.
  38. ^ Matt Braly's Reddit AMA
  39. ^ a b Newsdesk, Laughing Place Disney (April 23, 2021). "Digital EP of Music From This Week's "Amphibia" Released Ahead of Episode Debut - LaughingPlace.com".
  40. ^ "Battle of the Bands (From "Amphibia")". April 23, 2021 – via open.spotify.com.
  41. ^ "Amphibia: Battle of the Bands (EP) Soundtrack (2019)". www.soundtrack.net.
  42. ^ "AMPHIBIA OPENING + BETTER QUALITY (SDCC 2018)". Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  43. ^ "Sneak Peek of Amphibia". Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  44. ^ "Disney Channel Animation Celebration Panel 2019 Fan Fest". Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  45. ^ Matt Braly [@Radrappy] (June 6, 2020). "Internal politics.  I'd love to chat about it in the future if people are interested" (Tweet). Retrieved June 23, 2020 – via Twitter.
  46. ^ "Trailer | Amphibia | Disney Channel". Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  47. ^ "Theme Song | Amphibia | Disney Channel". Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  48. ^ "Disney Channel's "Amphibia" and "Big City Greens" are Joined by Kermit the Frog - D23 Expo 2019". Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  49. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (June 18, 2019). "SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 6.17.2019". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on June 19, 2019. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  50. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (July 19, 2019). "SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 150 Thursday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 7.18.2019". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on July 19, 2019. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  51. ^ Mitch Metcalf (July 14, 2020). "Top 150 Saturday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 7.11.2020". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on July 14, 2020. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  52. ^ Mitch Metcalf (May 25, 2021). "Top 150 Saturday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 5.22.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved August 28, 2021.
  53. ^ Mitch Metcalf (October 5, 2021). "Saturday 10.2.2021 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved October 5, 2021.
  54. ^ "Amphibia TV Review". Common Sense Media. June 11, 2019.
  55. ^ "TV Review: Disney Channel's "Amphibia"". LaughingPlace.com. June 15, 2019.
  56. ^ "'Amphibia' Review: Disney's Frog-Out-of-Water Series Delivers Compelling Characters". Collider. June 17, 2019.
  57. ^ Annie Awards Nominations: ‘Soul’ & ‘Wolfwalkers’ Lead Field For Animation Prizes
  58. ^ "Daytime Emmy Awards" (PDF). Deadline. June 28, 2021. Retrieved June 28, 2021.

External links

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