Amphibia

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Name: Amphibia
Abbreviation(s):
Creator: Matt Braly
Date(s): June 14, 2019 – May 14, 2022
Medium: television
Country of Origin: USA
External Links: Wikipedia
Disney Wiki
Amphibia Wiki
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Amphibia is a Disney Channel cartoon which began airing on June 17, 2019 and completed its third and final season on May 14, 2022. The show is partly inspired by creator Matt Braly’s own childhood experiences in his visits to Thailand.

New episodes were generally released first on Disney Channel's app (and cable TV on-demand services) at midnight before airing on TV in the morning, as was Disney Channel's general practice at the time (the last two episodes, however, first aired on TV, during primetime). Back episodes of the show are available on Disney+ in certain countries.

Canon Overview

The series focuses on the adventures of 13-year-old Anne Boonchuy, who finds herself in a land populated by amphibians. With the help of her frog companion Sprig and his family, Anne adjusts to life in the titular world of Amphibia as she tries to find a way back to her own world while a true friendship between Anne and Sprig grows.

Characters

Fanon

One draw for the series was the representation of Thai characters; the main character Anne Boonchuy is the daughter of Thai immigrants to L.A., and her voice actor Brenda Song (of The Suite Life of Zach & Cody fame) and showrunner Matt Braly are both half-Thai.[1]

The series is often compared to Gravity Falls, a show Matt Braly had worked on previously, for sharing similar elements and art style.

The fandom is predominantly active in Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Discord, and Amino.

Terminology

  • Amphibsona: A -sona of either a human or a frog-person in the Amphibia universe.
  • Spranne: a portmanteau of Sprig Plantar and Anne Boonchuy, used in canon by the characters themselves: "Spranne against the world!" It is rarely used in shipping context; the characters are treated as adoptive siblings in-universe and by most fans.
  • The Night: a fanon title give to The Core before it's name was revealed. It came from a piece of decoded text shown within a book about the music box; "Three stars burning bright, come from beyond to expel the night. Whether they fight or embrace the fall, their choice shall determine all."

Shipping

  • Spraddie: a portmanteau of Sprig Plantar and Maddie Flour, first teased in “Hop Luck”, the ship canonically sank in “Cursed!”, leaving their relationship in good terms.
  • Sprigivy: a portmanteau of Sprig Plantar and Ivy Sundew. First teased in “Dating Season”. Canon as of "Anne of the Year". The focus of the comedic season three episode "Sprivy".
  • Sylvia/Hopediah, Sylvia/Hop Pop: the ship between Sylvia Sundew and Hopediah Plantar, teased in "Hop Pop and Lock" and "Family Fishing Trip".
  • Sashanne: a portmanteau of Anne Boonchuy and Sasha Waybright.
  • Annarcy/Marcanne: a portmanteau of Anne Boonchuy and Marcy Wu.
  • Sashannarcy: a portmanteau of Sasha Waybright, Anne Boonchuy and Marcy Wu. By the end of the series it had become one of the most popular ships in the fandom.
  • Olivia/Yunan: two high-ranking newts serving under Andrias. The first popular non-canon (at the time) ship among fans outside of the main three human characters; the two are often depicted in fandom as adoptive mothers to Marcy.
  • Ally/Jess: a canon ship between two characters featured in season 3's "Fixing Frobo".

Anne/Sasha, Anne/Marcy, and Anne/Sasha/Marcy have generally been the most common ships in fanart and fanfiction. These ships made up around two-fifths of Amphibia works on AO3 around the midpoint of season 2 (although the fandom was considerably smaller prior to the season 2 finale, and Olivia and Yunan had received little screentime together).[2] The popularity of F/F in the fandom is likely influenced by its overlap with other contemporary Western animation fandoms (such as The Owl House, Steven Universe, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and The Legend of Korra) where canon F/F relationships are prominent.

Popular Copypastas

It’s them. It’s always them.

"It’s them. It’s always them." comes from the popular Sashannarcy fanfic What Happens When You Make It by im_at_my_limit. The full context of the quote was in relation to Anne struggling with her increasingly romantic feelings for Sasha and Marcy.

It’s them. It’s always them. Her past, her life now, the future she won’t let herself imagine, much less accept. Hell, even ancient, timeless prophecies. It’s always been the three of them. They’ve worked so hard to get here, to make themselves better for each other’s sake.

The work was part of an ongoing series at the time, gay people back from frogland what will they do, and became so well known within the fandom that fans began quoting it when discussing Sashannarcy. Eventually it became common to tag mundane items, such as pens, traffic lights, cups, that were in blue, pink/red and green (the colours associated with each girl) with "It’s them."[3] It was later added to the description of Sashannarcy on urban dictionary. Due to the nature of copypastas many do not realise the phrase comes from a piece of fanfiction, possibly because it is often shorted to simply "It’s them", and many of the comments on the fic react with surprise and delight upon learning its origin.

In "Commander Anne"

In the run up to the season 3 episode "Commander Anne", which featured the return of Sasha, fans began circulating the phrase "In "Commander Anne" Sasha is revealed to be attracted to women." Riffs on the copypasta's continued to evolve each episode after and when the second part of the series finale "All In" was released on streaming services at midnight instead of it's intended delayed timeslot of 8pm, even crew members started making their own version such as "In "All In," Disney is revealed to be attracted to incompetence."[4]

When Sasha was revealed to be bisexual in the finale a canonically accurate version was quickly passed around the fandom: "In "The Hardest Thing" Sasha is revealed to be attracted to women."

Popular memes

A handful of fandom-specific memes developed in Amphibia fandom spaces:[5]

  • Memes of Marcy being stabbed, or of other characters seeing her being stabbed, in strange contexts.
  • Marky Wu - an awkward / silly deception of Marcy arising from a dispute over the pronunciation of the letter C in the ship name "Marcanne". The correct pronunciation is generally considered to be /s/, as in the name "Marcy"; the original drawing of "Marky Wu" was in reference to the "incorrect" pronunciation that would use /k/.
  • Maggie (a classmate of Anne's who does not travel to Amphibia and is not involved in the show's plot) being edited into screenshots of various scenes in the show.
  • Conjecture about how the U.S. military would respond to an invasion of Earth planned by the show's villain; such posts ranged from actual theorizing to jokes about how the villain would be unprepared to face the U.S. military, or about how obsessed the fandom seemed to be with the subject.
  • A theory (first posted on TikTok) that Anne would die at the age of 37.

Additionally, popular fan theories included Anne losing an arm or Sasha losing an eye.

Fandom overlap with The Owl House

There is a large overlap with the fandom for The Owl House, which shares the same network and studio, has a somewhat similar premise, and was created by fellow Gravity Falls alumna Dana Terrace. A Reddit poll in September 2021 indicated that over 40% of respondents came from the TOH fandom. [8]

Fans often compare and contrast the two shows. Reddit posts asking why Amphibia wasn't as popular attracted a variety of responses: [9] [10]

the owl house has a less niche premise. more people are interested in magic, and witches and demons, than frogs
[11]
Despite having only one season out, TOH has less filler. Almost all of season one of amphibia is filler (which isn't bad, but people really like a continuous story) and some people won't watch through all that filler to get to the awesome plot.
[12]

1.) The show starts off with a much slower pace, being a lot more episodic and having more of what seem like repetitive “filler” episodes early on. It makes it harder for people to get invested right away.

2.) The vast majority of characters on TOH are humanoids, which are inherently easier for people to relate to and empathize with than non-humanoid characters (i.e. frogs).

This does not mean that either show is better or worse - both shows are great, and both are well worth watching.

[13]

There would be one episode coming out every single day...For the entire season

So yeah the entirety of season 1 passed in less than a month

While the Owl House kept airing for far longer, giving it for its community to form

[14]
To put it bluntly. It’s because of the gay. It attracts a lot more attention. Both good and bad.
[15]

Controversies

Sasha/Grime Incident

On July 18, 2019, former storyboard artist Hannah Ayoubi posted a fanart of Sasha being carried bridal-style by the main antagonist, Grime, with both of them having faint blush on their cheeks.[6] There were many fans that did not react well to this image, accusing the artist of supporting pedophilia and creating child porn. The tweet had been deleted a few days later, with the accused artist issuing an apology, which has also been deleted later. This is the artist’s only comment that remains regarding the incident.[7]

Incidents like this, along with similar incidents from other cartoon fandoms such as OK K.O. Let’s Be Heroes, sparked some articles addressing the problems of modern children’s cartoons[8][9] and a hashtag on Twitter called #NotJustADrawing, which is a mix of criticism on modern children’s cartoons, testimonies of users’ pasts of being victim to grooming and sexual abuse, and other users condemning said criticism.[10]

On October 11, 2021, a streamily panel hosted various Amphibia voice talents for discussion, question and answer (QnA), and live signing. One of the fans present asked the crew, including Anna Akana (voice of Sasha Waybright), "what had been the craziest thing the fandom has done", and she had answered with, "the first romantic dream I had [as a child] was Freddie the Frog, and I remember very early on, people were drawing cute shipping fanart of Grime and Sasha, though I don't necessarily condone it, I was like oh my god, I remember what it was like to be, just a young girl, wanting to marry Freddie the Frog so bad, and I'm sure all of these young people are just watching Sasha and Grime and are just like oh my god I wanna be in that Amphibia relationship, and I think that was my favorite part, seeing all the anime and fanart of Sasha blushing and being carried around by Grime, and them slow dancing together, and I just thought that was very very sweet, and reminiscent of my childhood."[11]

Immediately after the stream, Anna Akana faced backlash to the things she had said, as well as to the controversial "edgy" jokes she had said on a podcast almost ten years prior (which she had apologized for years before her career on Amphibia). She had explained in a tweet answering the allegations from fans that she did not know that the Grime/Sasha fanart made by Hannah Ayoubi (as seen above) had been "painted in a romantic light", and that it wasn't obvious to her before the fans started "cancelling" her. She did not consider it pedophilic when she saw it, quote, "because he's [Grime] a toad", that she sees Grime and Sasha as equals, and only thought that the art style was cute. [12]

Most people had believed that Anna Akana had no intentions of condoning pedophilic ships or behaviors and that she had just did not word herself properly. Others believed that while what she [Anna] had said was wrong, the fandom was taking things way out of context and didn't give her time to clarify before they started jumping on "cancelling" her all the way to sending her death threats. [13] [14] [15]

Shipping (pro / anti)

Although the fandom hasn't seen any notable conflict between supporters of different ships, there is often contention between those who ship some or all of the main trio of human characters, and those who do not.

On the show's subreddit, the amount of ship-related content on the front page has sometimes been a point of contention, with comparisons sometimes being drawn to the Owl House subreddit - particularly by fans frustrated with the dominance of Lumity content there when the show isn't airing. The general consensus seems to be accepting of shipping, however; it's usually acknowledged that shipping two (or more) characters does not necessarily mean you want the ship to be endgame, and fans generally accepted during the run of the show that - given the show's focus on the existing platonic relationship between the trio - no romantic relationship between them would be made canon.

A large number of pro- and anti-shipping posts came during a period in late March of 2021 (which preceded the post-True Colors fandom boom), which prompted a number of meta posts.

Seems that a small chunk of the subreddit is worried that the entire fandom is hellbound and going to be overrun by shippers posting everywhere. I want to point a few things out about that:

  1. Shipping isn't new in Amphibia, and shippers aren't a new addition to the fandom. We've been here since day one, we haven't burned the place down and that's not changing.
  2. As it stands, most of Amphibia posts are going by the same ratio of memes, fanart, what have you as they always have. Jumping at ghosts only makes you look paranoid.
  3. Lots of anti-shippers reference TOH, which is supposedly overrun by shipping. It's shipping a lot right now (round 50% of posts) because its on hiatus and hasn't got a lot of news to talk about. When it was still getting episodes, the balance was more evenly distributed. Saying 'TOH fandom does nothing but shipping' is like saying that kids at recess do nothing but play all day. It doesn't hold water.
  4. Even if you think all of the above is wrong, you're not helping the sub by anti-shipping. "We gotta prevent the sub from being overrun by shippers so we'll outnumber shipping post with posts that whine about shipping and troll the shipping posts till they go away" isn't exactly saving the fandom.
[16]

Over in /r/fanfiction, a post was just created and quickly removed for breaking subreddit rules. The OP said they had run an experiment on creating fandom toxicity, and had done so on this subreddit. The OP claimed that the anti-shipping drama recently seen in this subreddit was purposefully manufactured as a social experiment. So I hopped over here and took a look, and found this post.

From the post that got removed, it seems like this is usually a peaceful subreddit. It sounds like the experiment is over, so hopefully that's good news for you guys. The removed post was a crazy read.

[17]

The Airing of "True Colors"

In the weeks before the premiere of "True Colors" (the season 2 finale), Matt Braly and the crew of Amphibia posted promo art for that episode. There was even AMA planned just before the episode set premiere on Disney Channel. The premiere was postponed by the network at the last minute for reasons unknown and the new air date uncertain. Matt's twitter postings on the matter seemed to hint he was very upset about the delay and gave a vague reason why Disney delayed the airing. Then "True Colors" get released on iTunes. Apparently, Apple wasn't told the airing was delayed on released the episode as originally intended. The leak further enflamed the fans of Amphibia who were already upset about the cancellation of the airing of "True Colors". The content in the episode gave more of an idea why the episode's sudden airing cancellation. The mismanagement of the episode airing on the part of Disney made Matt and the fans even more upset.

The episode aired on Disney Channel a few weeks later; a content warning was added before the episode, and a preview of the season 3 intro, which was nor part of the leak, aired after its conclusion. Both elements were part of a compromise to get the episode on air without any changes.[16]

“Everyone keeps asking like, ‘When is Amphibia going to have another one?’ or ‘When is The Owl House getting a disclaimer?’ and guys, the disclaimer is for when the process broke. Assuming all good things you will never see a disclaimer again. The [True Colors] disclaimer was a band-aid on a situation, and it’s really important that everyone is in lockstep creating this content.”
Matt Braly (May 2022) [17]

Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Fanart

Animation

Fan Video

Communities and Other Resources

References

  1. ^ Celebrating Thai Culture | Amphibia | Disney Channel, from Disney Channel’s Youtube
  2. ^ AO3 Data Dump Fandom Stats - Disney Television Animation. March 28, 2021. Accessed August 15, 2021.
  3. ^ it's them reddit post
  4. ^ Adam Colás' tweet
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ OMG WHO DREW THIS?!?!?!??! screenshot of the tweet in question, which has since been deleted.
  7. ^ “Whew. Love the internet”
  8. ^ Kids’ TV Has a Porn Problem
  9. ^ Cartoon Fandom has a Puritanism Problem
  10. ^ #NotJustADrawing on Twitter
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ [3]
  13. ^ [4]
  14. ^ [5]
  15. ^ [6]
  16. ^ Sit Down and Think With Amphibia Creator Matt Braly, linked from /r/amphibia, June 1, 2021. Accessed Aug. 15, 2021.
  17. ^ [7]