Amphibia Season 3, Episode 18 (Series Finale) Review
The hardest thing anyone can do in life is saying goodbye to something you love. Accepting that change is inevitable, nothing lasts forever, and what we know today could be different tomorrow. This will happen no matter how badly we may not want it, but that doesn’t have to be bad. Even if the hardest thing to do is saying goodbye to what you love, you’ll always have the memories it gave you to cherish. Nowhere is this more important than in the final episode of Amphibia.
Those who follow my blog will know that I’ve watched Amphibia from the very beginning. It may have started out slow, but I could see the seeds of what it would become even then. Amphibia would be a show with big themes hidden beneath the guise of a kid’s cartoon, and it didn’t just meet my expectations, it surpassed them in a way that few shows have ever done. After almost three years of following it, we’re here at the end, and like any good story, it feels bittersweet. However, while saying goodbye to something can be the hardest thing, I was wholly prepared to do so, though not before reviewing it. So, please indulge me as I write this extra-long review for one of the best cartoons I’ve ever seen.
The Core’s Final Gambit
Picking up right where ‘All In’ left off, all of Amphibia celebrates the defeat of Andrias and the Core. However, the story is not over yet. As we’ve seen, one part of Leif’s vision had yet to come true: the part where Amphibia’s Moon falls into the planet. That is until the Core flees to the Moon and reveals its last resort. Thousands of years ago, it converted the Moon into a mobile storehouse for an army of its most dangerous creations. Now, it’s planning on crashing the Moon into the planet, wiping out everything to claim the stones it sees as its property.
This moment is a send-up of several similar plots in other works of fiction, most notably the ending to Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and Sonic Adventure 2 and a major arc in Gurren Lagann. Matt and his team do a fantastic job showing how the Core truly is the worst of Amphibia, willing to destroy its own home rather than admit defeat. Or, as Sasha puts it, it’s a sore loser.
As Mother Olm arrives and explains the full depth of the prophecy, she admits that there’s no guarantee that the girls will win, even with the power of the Calamity Gems. Moreover, if they do, they risk draining the Gems of all their power and their only way back to Earth. Despite everything, Anne, Sasha, and Marcy don’t hesitate to retake the full power of the Gems and fulfill their destiny.
Studio-Trigger Level Animation
While ‘All In’ was the climax to much of the action of Amphibia, ‘The Hardest Thing’ delivers just as much, if not more so, than even the K-Pop fight. The animation goes beyond Western animation to the level of Studio Trigger anime. The over-the-top fighting, the Calamity Trio using the full breadth of their powers, and the instrumental remix of “No Big Deal,” which should probably be the show’s unofficial theme by this point! Everything about this moment was flawless, like the final, epic boss battle for a video game.
While most of the characters wrapped up their arcs in “All In,” there’s still room for one more to finish: Andrias. Having spent a thousand years believing Leif abandoned and forgot about him, he fell under the abusive influence of the Core and his father, Aldrich. Fans will probably already know this, but Andrias is a dark reflection of what Anne could’ve turned into. Both fell under the toxic influence of people who they thought they could trust. Both got betrayed by people they called friends. Unlike Anne, who grew from her experiences and learned to forgive Sasha, Marcy, and Hop Pop, Andrias never did. He remained under the toxic influence of his father as part of the Core.
This only makes what happens next even more satisfying. Finally having had enough of his family, Andrias echoes Anne’s words from ‘Reunion’ by standing up to his Dad, crushing his crown, and committing his remaining machines to help the girls. This was such a powerful moment for me that I had to fight to keep myself from cheering out loud.
Anne Comes Full Circle
Even then, though, that’s not enough. And this is where Anne completes the character arc that she’s been on since she arrived in Amphibia.
When Anne first arrived in Amphibia, she was still a relatively good kid. However, she was prone to frequent acts of self-centeredness, all of which blew up in her face. It wasn’t until she realized that her actions hurt her self-esteem and kept her from being accepted by the people of Wartwood that she truly began to change. Her confidence in herself began to grow, she stood up for herself and what she knew was right and grew into a hero of Amphibia.
Her journey didn’t stop there, though. After being used and betrayed by her friends, she could’ve moved on without them. Instead, she chose to forgive them in spite of everything. And, as we saw with what happened with Hop Pop, that’s one of the hardest things a person can do. She did it anyway, though, becoming a better person for it. Anne truly embodies what it means to have a heart and to grow into a better person. Thus, it makes sense that when the world she cares deeply about is threatened by her antithesis, the Core, she makes the most selfless act. Taking the power of all three Calamity Gems, Anne uses them to completely annihilate the Core, but at the cost of her own life.
A New Journey? Not Quite
The story doesn’t end there, though. After a (very frustrating) commercial break, Anne awakens in another plane of existence surrounded by stars and floating islands, one of which is a tiny house that represents her. Inside the house, someone is waiting for her: the cosmic Guardian that created the Calamity Gems.
This was a twist that I did not expect. Before Mother Olm, I assumed the Calamity Box, and the Gems were creations of Amphibia. Afterward, I accepted that we might never know where they came from. However, it turns out that we do learn where they come from: a cosmic being that takes the form of Anne’s cat, Domino. It saved Anne by creating a copy of her right before she died, essentially bringing her back.
The Calamity Gems True Purpose
At any rate, the Guardian saved her because of her actions. It had been responsible for watching over the countless Universes that made up the Multiverse but had grown weary and sought to retire. Needing a successor, it created the Calamity Gems to see how mortals would act when given potentially unlimited power. As Andrias’ family proved, not well. However, Anne was the only person who used the Gems for good in all those eons. Thus, it wants to make Anne its successor.
In a moment that encapsulates her arc perfectly, Anne says no. Despite her heroic actions, Anne admits that she’s made many mistakes getting there and would likely keep making mistakes in her life. Or, as she puts it, she’d blow up the Multiverse if left in charge. She admits that she still has room to grow and learn and that change can be the hardest thing one can do. However, if Sasha and Marcy, and more importantly, the people of Amphibia, could change for the better, then anyone can. Impressed by this, the Guardian sends her back to the mortal realm to live out her life, willing to wait until Anne’s finished living her natural life.
In other words, Anne could one day become a god. The Guardian also gives her a gift in Gem shards, enough to get her and her friends home.
Saying Goodbye is the Hardest Thing
Thus, the time has come to say goodbye.
This was a moment that fans knew was coming, and some dreaded. Some even wished for Anne and the Plantars to find a way to stay together. Instead, Matt and his team stick to the moral of their story, something that I applaud them for, and have the Calamity Trio say goodbye to Amphibia for good.
The final goodbye between the girls and the people of Amphibia is a heartfelt one. Marcy admits that she could’ve been less selfish and wished to have more time with Olivia and Yunan but makes amends with Andrias. Sasha and Grime try to be stoic but become blubbering messes. Those two are practically father and daughter at this point, and will always be such. As for Anne, she gives her Frog Family a beautiful goodbye, saying she’s proud to be a Plantar.
It’s long been my headcanon that Anne considers Sprig and Polly to be her adoptive brother and sister. While she calls the latter such, she doesn’t need to say it to the former. The fact that she gives Sprig her phone to help him one day (she probably backed everything up on her laptop) and hugs him before stepping through the portal confirms it all for us. Sprig is her little brother and always will be. Thus, saying goodbye one last time, the girls step through the portal and return home to Earth to live their lives.
The show could’ve ended right there, but it doesn’t. It’s time for an epilogue.
A Better Amphibia
Several years pass, and Amphibia gets restored to its former beauty as we see what happened to its people. Andrias gave up his throne and paid for his crimes against his people by helping to restore the plants. Given how he’s now wearing the pins from Leif and Marcy, he seems at peace.
Maddie’s running a potions shop with her sisters (who are still tadpoles, somehow!)
Toadie’s now running Wartwood with Toadstool as his aide.
Loggle’s back to being puny!
Grime, Yunan, and Olivia are now goodwill ambassadors for Toads and Newts, with the latter two married (shippers for the win!)
As for the Plantars, Polly’s grown into a full frog, something surreal, even looking at it now. Hop Pop and Sylvia rebuilt the Plantar farm, now growing avocados he got from California, while Frobo works the farm with MicroAngelo. Bessie somehow has children with Joe Sparrow? As for Sprig, he’s all grown-up and implied to be an adventurer alongside Ivy, writing his own journal using Anne’s phone. Everyone gathers in Wartwood for the unveiling of a new statue, dedicated to Anne Boonchuy, the savior of Amphibia.
Getting to see everyone in Amphibia living their best lives, all thanks to the impact Anne, Sasha, and Marcy had on them, is a fitting way to say goodbye to Amphibia for now. However, the fact that Ivy reveals the discovery of a new continent implies that there will be more adventures yet to come.
As for the Calamity Trio…
The show could’ve ended here, but it does us one better by giving the Calamity Girls an epilogue. Ten years have passed, and Marcy moved like her parents planned, and they all go on their separate paths, though they keep in touch when they can. Marcy’s now writing a hit webcomic (which I would love to see), and Sasha’s got a psych degree and helps kids work through their problems. This just shows how much Sasha’s time in Amphibia changed her, as before, she looked set to become a ruthless CEO.
As for Anne? She now runs an Amphibian exhibit as a herpetologist at the Aquarium of the Pacific, using what she learned in Amphibia to teach kids about amphibians. Anne thinks about how the hardest thing one can do is say goodbye to something one loves, but that it doesn’t have to be so bad. In addition, despite life changes, some things cannot change, like the bond between friends. As the series ends on Anne’s birthday, ten years to the day of the most important day of their lives, the Calamity Trio reunites, their bond stronger than ever before.
Then, we get an extra-long, cinematic end credit showing different locations seen throughout the show and the names of everyone who worked on it before finally settling on a retaken “BFF” photo of the Calamity Trio as the series ends.
What This Show Means to Me
Sorry if this review seems so long, but indulge me for a little more. When Amphibia first came out, I was going through a transition in my life. I started a new job, which was equally exciting and scary. In addition, I was trying to move on from the end of two other shows I liked, Game of Thrones and Star vs. The Forces of Evil. While I did praise the ending to Star vs., I admit that it could’ve been a lot better and that Disney didn’t give it the send-off it deserved. As for Game of Thrones, I was one of many fans disappointed by the lackluster ending. I needed something new to interest me, and Amphibia came right on time.
I’m trying to say that Amphibia ended up meaning a lot to me. It came at a time in my life when I needed something new to make things feel less stressful. And when the pandemic hit, I think Amphibia was one of the things that helped get me through the months of lockdowns. It’s why I’ve followed it so much. Even when I take away the fact that it’s from the Gravity Falls line of shows, it doesn’t change that Amphibia is a great show. I think it may be one of the best cartoons I’ve ever seen. Given how that includes Avatar: the Last Airbender, that’s a pretty big deal.
Amphibia was not a perfect show; no show’s perfect, just like nothing in life is perfect. However, Amphibia played all of its cards to the fullest extent of what it could do. It effectively balanced humor, character development, emotional moments, and world-building. And when you look at the series as a whole, it’s an absolute gem to watch.
Thank You, Matt Braly
Saying goodbye to something you love is the hardest thing to do. However, part of what makes a work of fiction special is the memories you make along the way. I made some good memories watching Amphibia, just as others have. Will I miss it? Yes, but something tells me that Disney might continue the story with comics or shorts. I doubt we’ll hear the last of it, but until then, it’s been a heck of a ride.
Matt Braly, if you ever end up reading this, thanks for making Amphibia. And thank you to everyone who worked on it. Hoppy trails to all of you.