The title of this essay is stolen right from Heather Smith’s fantastic entry to the Adventure Time Forum
, a single issue journal published well before the final arc of the show that took a critical lens to the land of Ooo. Smith positions
Adventure Time as post-post apocalyptic, placing it more closely to anime and the work of Hayao Miyazaki than the dystopias and nuclear wastelands of American fiction. The difference is more than settings though. American apocalypses and post-apocalypses betray anxieties and assumptions of their creators (however intentional in the work). Fisher himself introduced the Capitalist Realism with an analysis of the post-apocalypse in Children of Men, arguing that the dominance of certain post-apocalyptic narratives demonstrates capitalisms occupation of “the horizons of the thinkable.” But this isn’t the only way to apocalypse.
Before I would have recognized it as such, the post-post apocalypse had been a powerful fantasy for myself and American audiences. See: the success of Ghibli. More recently though was Breath of the Wild. While certainly inspired from Princess Mononoke, BotW is a return to the ways of living that Mononoke cherishes, it comes after the end rather than exists before the emergence of such calamity. But it is not that BotW is an end as much as the beginning of the cycle returning anew. I dig into the nostalgia of this futurity more in my upcoming paper.
I also wrote this piece alongside my essay at Polygon on 13 Sentinels
, reading Fisher more closely. In it, I connect apocalypse to the idea that history has died, won’t die, or could start up again as a way to indirectly critique of the conservatism of other post-apocalyptic narratives of 2020. Namely: The Last of Us Part 2.
My presentation will return to Adventure Time with a necessary look at Japanese post-post apocalypticism. I will be making it available for future reference in some way if you can’t catch it live, and I will write more about it here when that goes up.