Sometimes all it takes to bring out a better side of a person is a change of scenery. This idea is at the core of “Bun Bun,” which brings Cinnamon Bun into the spotlight for a story about getting a new start in a fresh setting. Cinnamon Bun was the big buffoon of the Candy Kingdom, but he’s grown up considerably since becoming Flame Princess’ champion in the Fire Kingdom, showing that he can handle responsibility without screwing up. His time in the Fire Kingdom has been a very good thing for his maturation, but Princess Bubblegum worries that her old friend gets lonely as the only candy person in the kingdom, so she uses past Cinnamon Bun experiments to create Bun Bun, an adorable little hellraiser with no concept of bad or evil.

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Bun Bun is incredibly cute, and much of this episode’s charm comes from Cinnamon Bun’s new companion and her naïve discoveries of the world. Writers and storyboard artists Somvilay Xayaphone and Seo Kim have a strong understanding of kid mannerism and speech patterns, and Ashly Birch gives a great performance as Bun Bun that emphasizes the character’s gleeful innocence. That sweet voice hides Bun Bun’s dark side, and while she doesn’t have any idea that she’s doing bad things, she’s still compelled to do them.

When Cinnamon Bun shows Bun Bun the Fire Kingdom’s collection of art, she topples a statue and punches a hole in a painting, and while everyone around Cinnamon Bun gets a good laugh from Bun Bun’s behavior, he’s embarrassed by her behavior. That embarrassment turns to terror when Bun Bun enters the room where Flame King is being held captive and sets the evil monarch free, but ultimately Bun Bun’s actions have a positive impact.

Flame King flees to the forest to build up an army that will help him reclaim his throne, but he quickly realizes he’s not suited for war. His plan is to invade the Fire Kingdom with an army of chipmunks wearing “flame costumes” (headbands with candles on them) that will spray Flame Princess with water guns, and he knows it’s a garbage strategy. That’s when Bun Bun suggests that instead of war stuff, Flame King should just try chipmunk stuff, and although he’s initially insulted by the suggestion, he quickly comes around to the idea of Flame King, Bun Bun, and their kingdom of vermin.

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Through Flame King’s experience, Xayaphone and Kim delve into the differences between imprisonment and rehabilitation, and once Flame King is taken out of an environment that fuels evil impulses, he starts to evolve into a less vengeful person. He wasn’t changing or growing inside of a prison cell, and although there’s always the possibility that Flame King will try to attack again, Flame Princess sees the benefits of letting her father live on his own in a new place with new friends that soothes his negative emotions. Maybe Flame King was always meant to be the Chipmunk King, and he wouldn’t have discovered this path for himself if it wasn’t for Bun Bun’s interference.

While Cinnamon Bun is dealing with all of the Bun Bun drama, major developments unfold for Flame Princess and Finn, who have grown up in their own ways since they dated. Flame Princess extends an invite for Finn to stay and hang out in the Fire Kingdom, and their subsequent conversation is a pivotal moment in their relationship. Finn apologizes for the way he manipulated Flame Princess when they were dating, and his heartfelt apology shows his ex-girlfriend how much he’s changed. Their scenes together do excellent work rekindling their friendship, and the soft guitar music in the background creates a relaxed atmosphere that reflects the comfort these two friends have with each other.

“Bun Bun” is an episode about second chances, and while the Flame King story is fun, the Finn and Flame Princess thread introduces a lot of intriguing possibilities for the future of these characters and their relationship. Right now they’re starting up their friendship again, but there’s definitely a flirtation between the two of them that suggests there may be more romance for them down the line. Finn screwed up before, but he’s a different person now and this new Finn could be one for Flame Princess to love.

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Stray observations

  • I hope Hot Dog Princess feels better soon. I wonder what the story is there.
  • Flame Kingdom security check: Turn around, jump back, jump forward, reach for the sky.
  • Flame Princess’ freestyle rap skills can use some work, but the most important thing is that she’s going for it. If she keeps practicing, her flow could be fire.
  • Flame Princess is the coolest person to play charades with.
  • Finn: “How’s it feel to be alive?” Bun Bun: “Uh…it feels good, I think. What’s the opposite of good?” Finn: “Bad. That’s funny that you don’t know that word, but you know the word ‘opposite.’”
  • BB: “I’m Bun Bun. Are you a chipmunk?” Flame Princess: “No.”
  • “I’m 100 percent evil. What’s evil?”

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