Recapping the Story of Amphibia, Pt. 1
If there are any cartoons out there right now that I think everyone should be watching, I could name two on Disney Channel alone. Those cartoons being Amphibia and The Owl House. However, we’re here to focus on Amphibia.
If you have followed my blog for the last two years, then you know just how much I love Amphibia. This quirky show about a girl stranded in another world is one of the best cartoons that Disney’s put out in years. Between the lovable cast of characters (several of which have some big names behind them), the complex world the show takes place in, and the themes regarding coming-of-age, true friendship, and overcoming toxic relationships, Amphibia is a work of art. With Season Three premiering this Saturday, I decided to go back and recap events thus far to prime us for what might be the final season of the show. So, come with me as we hop into the amazing, epic, hilarious, and emotional story that is Amphibia.
“The Name’s Anne. Anne Boonchuy”
First and foremost, Amphibia is the story of Anne Boonchuy, a 13-year-old Thai American living in Los Angeles, California, with her Mom, Dad, and her two childhood friends, Sasha Waybright and Marcy Wu. Sasha’s the leader of the trio and an alpha girl, while Marcy’s the brainy, yet absentminded, member of the group. Both aren’t exactly the best influences on Anne.
On Anne’s 13th birthday, Sasha and Marcy talk Anne into stealing this strange-looking music box from a pawn shop. However, when Anne opens it, the box magically transports them to an alternate dimension called Amphibia. Unlike Earth, Amphibia’s populated by sentient amphibians. Worse, Anne’s separated from her friends.
Not long afterward, Anne gets discovered by the residents of Wartwood, who immediately think that she’s some monster. However, after she saves the townsfolk from a giant pray mantis, they (reluctantly) decide to let her stay while she looks for her friends and a way home.
So, Anne ends up moving in with the Plantars, a local family of farmers. They consist of Hop Pop, the elderly, overprotective head of the family. There’s Sprig, his adventurous (and irresponsible) grandson who’s quick to befriend Anne. Lastly, there’s Polly, a tadpole with a strong craving for action and violence. They also have Bessie, the family snail and main mode of transportation.
The first half of Season One revolves around Anne adjusting to life in Amphibia, while the Plantars adjust to Anne. Anne shows them how to make pizza, and they almost die. She also adopts a caterpillar that reminds her of her cat back on Earth…only for it to turn into a giant butterfly monster and almost eat the Plantars. Anne remodels a failing local restaurant as a Thai fusion place…and almost gets everyone there eaten. You can see the trend.
Outcast to Town Hero
A month or so passes, and Anne and the Plantar’s have adjusted to each other fairly well. However, the rest of Wartwood still treats Anne like a freak and an outcast, much to her dismay. Then one day, a group of newcomers arrives in town: Toad soldiers. Hailing from Toad Tower, they rule over the Valley where Wartwood’s situated, and they’ve come to collect everyone’s taxes for the year. After Anne manages to best one of them in combat, they invite her to join them. Seeing this is as a chance to get respect from the townsfolk, Anne accepts.
Things take a dark turn, though, when it appears that no one in Wartwood’s paid their taxes. Thus, the Toads proceed to take items from everyone, much to Anne’s concern, though she keeps quiet. Once they go after the Plantar’s (who Anne knows paid their taxes), though, Anne stands up to the Toads in front of the entire town. Despite her best efforts, the Toads overpower her, even breaking her arm in the process. Seeing Anne stand up for the Plantar’s, the townsfolk rally to her defense. Meanwhile, Sprig reveals that the town Mayor, Mayor Toadstool, had secretly hoarded all the tax money for himself. Taking the money for themselves, the Toads return everyone’s valuables and drive off, though not before promising Anne that this wouldn’t be the last she saw of them.
Having witnessed Anne’s selfless bravery for themselves, the residents of Wartwood abandon their distrust of her and accept her as one of them. Thanks to that, Anne becomes the town hero and unofficial protector of Wartwood.
More Misadventures Ensue
Having won the respect of the people of Wartwood, Anne more or less begins to fit in with everyone as a whole. However, her newfound acceptance doesn’t stop her or the rest of the Plantars from getting into more trouble as she continues to find a way to leave the Valley and get home.
Firstly, when Hop Pop gets fed up with Toadstool’s greedy and corrupt leadership, he ends up running for Mayor of Wartwood. Despite winning over everyone in town, he ultimately loses because he didn’t think to campaign throughout the Valley.
In another misadventure, Anne and Sprig visit a traveling bazaar in the hopes of learning more about the Music Box, only for it to nearly be stolen. Hop Pop wins it back for them, and they decide it’s best to leave it in his care. However, Hop Pop secretly buries it in the yard, as he knows something about it that the others don’t.
Events for the season ultimately culminate with the residents of Wartrwood vote Anne “Frog of the Year,” complete with a party. More misadventures ensue before the townsfolk acknowledge how much Anne’s grown since coming to Wartwood, and the party gets underway. However, it’s crashed by an army of Toads from Toad Tower, and helping to lead them is none other than…Sasha.
Reunion With Sasha…and Rift
Like Anne, Sasha got transported to Amphibia. Unlike Anne, though, Sasha ended up at Toad Tower with the warlike Toads. She was captured and imprisoned by their leader, Captain Grime, who wanted to know who she was and where she came from. However, all that changed when a pair of giant herons attacked the Tower. Working together, though, Sasha and Grime drove the beasts off. Impressed with Sasha’s fighting and leadership skills, Grime offered to make his new second-in-command and help her get home if she helped him get the Valley under control.
In the present day, Sasha and Anne’s reunion becomes filled with tension as Sasha and Grime invite the town to Toad Tower for a party. In reality, though, it’s a trap. When Hop Pop chose to run for Mayor of Wartwood, he inspired Frogs across the Valley to stand up to the Toads. Now, to quell the growing uprising, Grime plans to have Hop Pop executed before everyone’s eyes.
Outraged that Sasha would help make this happen, and thanks to Sprig’s encouragement, Anne finally manages to stand up to Sasha, defeating her in an epic sword fight. But before Grime can kill Hop Pop, some well-placed exploding mushrooms bring Toad Tower down. In the process, Sasha nearly falls over a ledge, with Anne and the Plantar’s trying desperately to save her. In a moment of self-sacrifice, Sasha chooses to let go, only to be saved by Grime at the last moment. The ordeal leaves Anne traumatized and her friendship with Sasha in doubt, but as everyone returns to Wartwood, the Plantars are there to comfort her. And thus, Season One of Amphibia comes to an end.
Only the Beginning
From the start, I knew that Amphibia had the potential for greatness. After all, series creator Matt Braly was a Gravity Falls alumni. In addition, the show’s cast had some serious talent behind it. We had veteran voice-actor Troy Baker as Captain Grime and Anna Akana as Sasha, and those two are amazing. On top of that, Hop Pop was voiced by the legendary Bill Farmer, AKA the voice of Goofy for the last 30 years. However, the biggest name attached to the series was the voice of Anne, Brenda Song. Anyone who grew up watching Disney Channel in the 2000s would recognize her as London Tipton.
As this was the show’s first season, it never really got the chance to explore the deeper mysteries. In particular, we didn’t get to learn much about the music box at the center of the story. That said, the first season of a show’s meant to introduce the cast and give us a rough idea of the world at large. In this regard, I’d say it succeeded. It was this fun, epic otherworldly story.
My main complaint about the show doesn’t even have to do with Amphibia itself, but how Disney handled it. This was a cartoon from the line of Gravity Falls, and it was coming out less than a month after another big cartoon, Star vs. The Forces of Evil, ended. However, Disney decided to release all the episodes in bulk, four episodes a week over the Summer of 2019. While good for viewers, this hurt the show’s long-term growth in popularity. Not to mention how it didn’t help the careers of everyone working on them.
Fans would have to wait a whole year for Season Two to come out, but it would be worth it. However, you’re going to have to come back tomorrow if you want to hear my recap of Season Two. Or, you can watch Amphibia on Disney Channel, DisneyNOW, or Disney+. It’s worth it!