Amphibia Series Overview
When Gravity Falls ended in 2016, fans had to go looking for a Disney cartoon good enough to be its successor. Many people think they found it in the form of Star vs. The Forces of Evil, but now that show has also come to an end. They won’t have to wait long for a successor to it, though. As of this week, Disney’s airing the cartoon that looks to be a hybrid of Gravity Falls and Star vs., Amphibia. It also has shades of the “Isekai” genre that’s controlling anime lately.
The show’s created by Matt Braly, who worked as a storyboard artist on Gravity Falls. If he was good enough to work on Gravity Falls, then I have faith in his abilities. The show follows Anne Boonchuy, a normal, somewhat self-centered 13-year-old girl who gets magically transported to Amphibia, a world populated by sentient frogs. She soon befriends a young, adventurous frog named Sprig, who helps her adjust to life in her new world. With Sprig’s sister and grandpa by their side, the two set out to find a way to get Anne home while also becoming the first real friends they’ve ever had.
There’s a lot of good things that I can say about this show, but for now, I will limit it to three main things.
A lot of the inspiration for this show comes from Matt Braly’s childhood. Like Anne, he’s Thai-American, and he would spend part of his summers as a kid with relatives in Bangkok, Thailand. Like Anne, he felt out of place in such a strange place but would grow to love it and all it had to offer. Now he wants to bring that love to western audiences. Face it: while efforts are being made, cultural diversity is still underrepresented in cartoons. If Amphibia ends up doing as well as it promises to do, it could change that. Even a small step is always a step forward!
A Hybrid of Past Successes
Ever since I learned about it, I’ve seen people on social media drawing comparisons between Amphibia and the successes of Disney’s recent past. Out of all the comparisons made, two of the biggest have been to Gravity Falls and Star vs. The Forces of Evil. Given that Braly was a storyboard artist on Gravity Falls, the resemblance is unmistakable. The art style and the character’s appearance is a lot like the show. Some even speculate that they take place in a shared universe! While that remains to be seen, Amphibia does carry on Gravity Falls‘ love of mysteries, given that the need for Anne finding a way home being a driving force behind its plot.
On the magic front, it’s more like SvTFOE. Both shows have a female lead sent to another world, albeit Anne has no way back as of now while Star could travel as she wished. It does nail down the magical adventure aspect that SvTFOE had, though. You get that feeling by looking at the weird creatures that inhabit Amphibia. Heck, Buff Frog and his kids look like they would fit right in! Plus when I went on YouTube, a lot of the comments were about how it was like Star or Gravity Falls.
Brenda Song’s Return to Disney
One of the major selling points of this show is that Anne’s voiced by Brenda Song. If you grew watching Disney Channel in the 2000s, then you’ll best remember Brenda for her role as wealthy heiress London Tipton in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and The Suite Life on Deck. For the longest time, she was one of Disney’s biggest stars, but after Suite Life ended, they parted ways. Amphibia will mark the first time in almost eight years that she’s worked with Disney.
As someone who grew up watching The Suite Life, I am a big fan of Brenda Song both in an outside her roles. She’s been a good role model for kids, even though her character is not known for her brains. As a bonus, Brenda’s also Thai-American, so this gives her a chance to show off her family’s culture.
My Verdict: Jump On In It
Do I think this show could be the next Gravity Falls? Given the person who’s making it, I’d say it has the potential. Could it fill the hole in the hearts of fans of SvTFOE? It just might. Or am I and other fans holding up to too high a standard because we can’t get over the fact that these cartoons are over? I… won’t deny that.
Legacy or no legacy, though, I won’t deny that Amphibia looks like it could be a fun show. I reserve my judgment until we see more of it, but right now, I find a lot of promise in it. Whether you’re a fan of Gravity Falls in search of your next fix or just looking for a good time, then Amphibia is one show you may want to watch.
But if I see people trying to start shipping wars over this show, I’m going to be disappointed. Not every show has to have couples in it!
Click here to see my other animation stuff.