Amphibia (TV series)
|Created by||Matt Braly|
|Theme music composer||Doug Petty|
|Opening theme||"Welcome to Amphibia" (instrumental)|
|Ending theme||"Anne's Theme" composed by T.J. Hill (seasons 1–2)|
"Anne's Theme (Remix)" composed by T.J. Hill and vocals performed by Brenda Song, Justin Felbinger, Bill Farmer, and Amanda Leighton (season 3)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||49 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer||Matt Braly|
|Running time||22-24 minutes (2 11-minute segments, excluding specials)|
|Production company||Disney Television Animation|
|Original network||Disney Channel|
|Picture format||HDTV 1080p|
|Audio format||5.1 surround sound|
|Original release||June 17, 2019 –|
Amphibia is an American animated television series created by Matt Braly that premiered on Disney Channel on June 17, 2019. The series features the voices of Brenda Song, Justin Felbinger, Bill Farmer, and Amanda Leighton. A second season premiered on July 11, 2020, and a third season premiered on October 2, 2021.
The series chronicles the adventures of an independent and fearless 13-year-old Thai-American girl named Anne Boonchuy (Brenda Song). Anne is peer pressured into stealing a mysterious music box on her birthday that magically transports her and her two best friends Sasha Waybright (Anna Akana) and Marcy Wu (Haley Tju) to the world of Amphibia, a wild marshland tropical island full of anthropomorphic amphibians and threatening creatures where they're separated (Anne landing in a forest, Sasha landing by Toad Tower, and Marcy landing in Newtopia). Anne is taken in by the Plantars, a family of frogs that consists of excitable young Sprig (Justin Felbinger); unpredictable and adventurous baby pollywog Polly (Amanda Leighton); and overprotective and traditional grandfather Hop Pop (Bill Farmer) who live on a farm in the town of Wartwood. As she bonds with her newfound family, Anne gradually learns what it means to be a hero and develop a true friendship, all the while trying to find her friends and return home. Meanwhile, Sasha allies with Captain Grime (Troy Baker), leader of the warfaring toads of Toad Tower, who seek to control their home of Frog Valley.
In season two, Anne and the Plantars go on a road trip to the Amphibian capital, Newtopia, to learn the secrets of the Calamity Box and find a way to get Anne home. There, Anne reunites with Marcy, who offers to help restore the box's power through a series of ancient trials, unaware that Amphibia's ruler, King Andrias (Keith David) secretly has his own plans for them. Meanwhile, Sasha and Grime plot to invade Newtopia and overthrow the monarch, allowing the toads to rule over all of Amphibia.
In season three, Anne and the Plantars are transported to Anne's home in the suburbs of East Los Angeles. Anne must now help the frog family adjust to the human world and keep their identities a secret, while searching for a way to return to Amphibia and stop Andrias's invasion on the Multiverse. In Amphibia, Sasha and Grime lead the people of Wartwood in a rebellion against Andrias, who is using Marcy as a vessel for his master, an entity known as the Core.
On February 19, 2018, Amphibia was greenlit by Disney Channel alongside The Owl House. The series was created and executive-produced by Matt Braly, previously a storyboard artist on Gravity Falls and later a director on both Gravity Falls and Big City Greens. According to his Twitter account, he had been working on the series for almost two years before being greenlit, though he began to conceive the project while work on Gravity Falls began to conclude.
On June 23, 2020, the show was renewed for a third season ahead of its second-season premiere. In a Reddit AMA, Braly referred to Amphibia as a "three act story" with season two as the "2nd act", implying that Season 3 will serve as the final season of the show.
The show was based on Braly's childhood trips to Bangkok, Thailand. The series' tone was inspired by films by Aardman Animations and Studio Ghibli, while its storytelling format was inspired by Gravity Falls and Steven Universe. Braly was also inspired by video games such as The Legend of Zelda and Chrono Trigger when creating the series. Other inspirations for the series include shows Braly watched in his childhood, such as Batman: The Animated Series and Disney's Gargoyles; he precisely cited Gargoyles as an inspiration for the series' story arc. According to Braly, one of the reasons he created the series was because he wanted a show whose lead character had a similar arc to Gravity Falls character Pacifica Northwest, as he felt that "to have this character change so drastically was so rewarding, and that's why [he] knew [he] wanted [his] own show to have some of that element as well". The character of Sprig went through several changes through development, with the developers constantly giving him different ages, before choosing to make the character a younger brother-like figure for Anne. Similarly, Anne, Sasha, and Marcy were originally fifteen-years-old because they wanted the series to have a high school-like feel, but were aged down in order to appeal to the series' target demographic; due to this, the trio often realizes actions more akin to high school students, such as driving and having part-time jobs.
The series marks the first animated show to have a Thai-American lead. Braly, who is Thai-American, chose to make the series' lead character, Anne Boonchuy, Thai-American because he wanted more Thai characters in television series. According to Braly, Anne was loosely inspired by his grandmother. He described Anne being Thai-American as "a number one priority", as he wanted Thai-American kids to see themselves reflected on television. Braly also made the character dark-skinned due to his mother's family being tanned. Season 3, which is set on Earth, further delves into Anne's Thai heritage, including an episode set on a Wat Thai temple on Los Angeles. Braly described the temple's representation in the episode as "pretty accurate", as it is important for him to represent Thai culture accurately.
Braly chose to make the series to be centered around a frog-populated world because he felt that, due to how frogs change from tadpoles to frogs, they were perfect for the series' theme of change. Braly also implemented themes involving social classes and environmental awareness into the series, with Anne interacting with frogs of several different social backgrounds and learning to "appreciate the natural world around her".
Three of the series' four writers are women, which Braly felt necessary due to the show centering on a teenage girl. Storyboard artists are allowed to pitch their own ideas for an episode, a practice Braly took from his time at Gravity Falls. Braly wanted the series to feature intense sequences, yet still being appropriate for all ages, constantly checking-in whether a scene is too terrifying for children and whether a scene is what it's intended to be.
Casting and voice recording
On March 27, 2019, it was revealed that Brenda Song would star in the series as the voice of Anne Boonchuy. In April 2019, it was reported that Justin Felbinger would voice Sprig Plantar in the series. On May 15, 2019, it was reported that Amanda Leighton and Bill Farmer joined the cast as the voices of Polly and Hopediah "Hop Pop" Plantar, respectively. Over 50 actresses auditioned for the role of Anne, including Anna Akana and Haley Tju. While the role ultimately went to Song, Braly cast Akana and Tju as Anne's human friends, Sasha and Marcy respectively, instead. According to Braly, certain roles were written with a specific actor in mind, such as King Andrias, who is voiced by Keith David.
Muppet performer Matt Vogel (as Kermit the Frog) made an appearance in the season 2 episode "Swamp and Sensibility". However, Kermit himself (whom Vogel performed since 2017) was credited for the role in promotional material; Kermit previously appeared in two promotional web videos for the series, as well as in a D23 Expo panel promoting both the series and Big City Greens.
According to Braly, Song add-libbed several jokes during recording. Similarly, Alex Hirsch improvised several lines for his appearance in the season two episode "Wax Museum". During the COVID-19 pandemic, cast members had to remotely record their lines from their homes, after which they sent their lines to the series' editors.
Rough Draft Korea, Sunmin Image Pictures, and Saerom each provide animation. Braly chose those animation studios due to them still working with hand-drawn animation, a style Braly favored for the series. The animators spend three to four months working on pre-production, with an episode taking about nine months to complete. Forty staff members at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California also worked on the series.
James Turner, a British illustrator most well known for his work on the Pokémon series of games (having created several Pokémon designs and worked as the art director for Pokémon Sword and Shield), provided artwork during the initial stages of the project. The series' visuals were inspired by Jim Henson's 1982 film The Dark Crystal and the 1977 animated adaptation of The Hobbit. The series' environments were also inspired by natural settings. According to Braly, storyboarding for an episode begins after its script is finished. Braly said that the different character designs for Anne and Marcy, in spite of both characters having Asian backgrounds, were because the producers "never wanted to be trapped into a character design just because of what people might think an Asian person 'should' look like in a cartoon", as the characters "are representations of folks, not caricatures".
By March 24, 2020, Disney Television Animation was closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with work on the series continuing remotely. By that point, the producers had started storyboarding the season 2 finale, while other episodes were only partially completed.
T. J. Hill composed the score for the series. During production on the series, Leslie Wolfhard, wife of storyboard artist Steve Wolfhard, pitched to the producers a song, which they ended up using in the season 1 episode "Taking Charge". On July 23, 2020, Hill created a SoundCloud playlist featuring 10 tracks from the first season's score.
A song titled "Welcome to Amphibia", performed by Celica Gray Westbook, was originally intended to serve as the series' theme song. However, the song was later discarded in favor of an instrumental theme. According to Braly, "Welcome to Amphibia" was written due to orders from Disney, but he eventually convinced the studio to use an instrumental theme instead, as he disliked the song because he felt it didn't fit with the show or its main character.
Hyper Potions composed a new version of the instrumental opening for the show's first "Theme Song Takeover" video. A third version of the opening, with lyrics by writer Dan Siegel, was written for the second "Theme Song Takeover" video.
The first season finale, "Reunion", features the song "Lean on Me" by Bill Withers. Braly said that he constantly listened to the song while developing the relationship between Anne, Marcy, and Sasha, so, when work began on "Reunion", Braly chose to use the song for the scene in which Sasha tries to sacrifice herself.
On April 23, 2021, an extended play album, titled Amphibia: Battle of the Bands, was released. The album features the songs "Heartstomper", written by T.J. Hill and performed by Akana, and "No Big Deal", written by Adam Gubman and performed by Song, Akana, and Tju, as well as instrumental covers of both songs by Hill, Todd McClintock and Adam Gubman, respectively.
Season three features a Christmas special with a song titled "Our Special Time of Year", which was written by Rebecca Sugar of Steven Universe fame; Braly previously served as a writer and storyboard artist in the Steven Universe episode "Lars and the Cool Kids".
On July 19, 2018, during the Star vs. the Forces of Evil and Big City Greens panel at San Diego Comic-Con, Disney released an early version of the intro for the series. They also gave away a limited-edition plush toy of Sprig Plantar.
On April 26, 2019, Disney FanFest released a music video for a vocal version of the opening theme titled ″Welcome to Amphibia″ performed by Celica Gray Westbrook and a two-minute clip during a livestream. It was discussed to be used as the intro song.
Amphibia also included shorts, beginning with Teen Girl in a Frog World. The shorts premiered on September 3, 2019.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||39||20||June 17, 2019||July 18, 2019|
|2||36||20||July 11, 2020||May 22, 2021|
|3||TBA||TBA||October 2, 2021||TBA|
|Season||Episodes||First aired||Last aired||Avg. viewers|
|1||20||June 17, 2019||0.39||July 18, 2019||0.34||0.41|
|2||20||July 11, 2020||0.39||May 22, 2021||0.33||0.36|
|3||9||October 2, 2021||0.43||TBA||TBD||0.36|
Amphibia received a very positive reception from critics and audiences. Common Sense Media's Emily Ashby rated the show 4 out of 5 stars and praised the series for its characters and themes, writing that "Sprig and Anne's adventures are a joy to behold, mostly thanks to their delightfully compatible personalities and the sweet friendship that develops between them" and that "the story illustrates issues like bullying and emotional manipulation in ways that will resonate with kids and tweens and can prompt discussions about the topics". Bekah Burbank of LaughingPlace.com praised the series' ability to balance its humor and its terror elements, as well as its pacing, characters, and animation, stating that "Amphibia is clever and goofy with plenty of jokes to keep kids laughing and just enough scary content to hold their attention. The show moves quickly and is broken into two 11-minute episodes that, at least for the premiere, form one complete chapter. The animation is bouncy and colorful and the characters are a delight". Collider's Dave Trumbore gave the series' first two episodes a 4 stars rating, feeling that they "[served] as a great introduction to the series".
Awards and nominations
|2021||Annie Awards||Best Character Design||Joe Sparrow (for "The Shut-In")||Won|||
|Daytime Emmys||Outstanding Children's Animated Series||Amphibia||Nominated|||
|2022||Annie Awards||Best TV/Media – Children||"True Colors"||Pending|||
|Best Direction - TV/Media||Kyler Spears & Jenn Strickland (for "True Colors")||Pending|
|Best Editorial - TV/Media||Jennifer Calbi, Julie Anne Lau, Andrew Sorcini, David Vasquez & Yoonah Yim (for "True Colors")||Pending|
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