the silly little frog show that changed my life
welcome to Amphibia, folks
Today, we’re skimming the surface of possibly my favorite animated show, like, ever. It’s called Amphibia. In summary: frogs + magic + evolving friendships/identity = the story of a first-gen-immigrant-kid experiencing a seriously magical adventure. AKA, there is NO WORLD in which I don’t watch this show.
I was enchanted by Amphibia from the opening theme song. Not to mention the premise of the world (frogs! newts! toads! no caecilians, though ... sad), the chaotic family dynamic established right at the beginning, the setting of a quaint farming town (I was sold at the little market called “Grub ’N’ Go”).
I came across some media that mentioned the show’s creator, Matt Braly, was inspired by his experiences as a first-gen American kid visiting his parents’ homes across his life growing up. Amphibia pays homage to the yearning for connection, the fight to move past feeling out-of-place, and the rapidly adapting nature I’ve found to be a common experience across many of us with immigrant parents. All of this is done subtly, for the most part, but there are moments where these experiences shine through directly — moments I can’t detail here for fear of spoilers, of course, but just know that the main character’s parents? So much more than the stereotypes we far too often see in media.
Most of all, though, the show addresses head-on the impending, inevitable fate we all, kid-of-immigrant or not, face: change. It’s ever-present, whether it takes shape in longtime friendships growing apart, in unforeseen family tragedies, in self-confidence and identity, or in something else entirely.
And even beyond this story resonating with me for its content (yeah folks, my list KEEPS going), I fell in love with Amphibia because it’s a masterclass in immersing audiences in a world that connects from start to finish — without dumping pages of backstory to establish conventions (not that I don’t love a good backstory in some cases, don’t get me wrong). The first season is full of whimsy and delight, with each episode self-contained ... or so it seems. While at first the show doesn’t indicate an overarching plot beyond “main character has been zapped into new world and needs to get home,” every bit of detail revealed is re-addressed in later episodes, from character quirks to trails of clues to events of the show’s finale. By season two, Amphibia clearly demonstrates that it knew exactly what it was going to be AND where it would ultimately go, right from the very first episode.
It’s heartwarming, it’s uplifting, and it beautifully captures the transformation from feeling out of place to carving out identity regardless of circumstances. With all the sappiness in my heart, Amphibia was exactly what I needed at the time I first watched it (aka, several months ago when I was fighting COVID and also a gnawing sense of apathy). The story and its characters reminded me how to seek wonder in the everyday, and that even big-and-scary changes will ultimately be okay (and often good) — many of the same feelings I encountered when I first moved to San Francisco and re-watched the iconic Studio Ghibli movie Kiki’s Delivery Service, in which a young witch works hard to find community in a new city.
All that said, please watch this show before I spoil it in gory detail when I inevitably write future posts about the actual content and how exactly it made me cry my eyes out (in a good way).
It is the final Friday of October 2022. Thus, at the close of this year’s ✨frogtober✨ celebration (slant-rhyme and all), I leave you with a few final frog-recs as well as some lessons I’ve learned from frogs (and amphibians generally) this month.
1) Teacup, a delightfully sweet game in which you are a frog who simply wants to restock her tea stash in time for a party with her friends. I have played it twice, both time with much delight.
2) This song made of entirely frog sounds.
1) Identity is not confined to merely the labels we’ve created (see: frogs have always been perfect).
3) Change is inevitable and that’s okay, owning mistakes is always good, leaving space for forgiveness without getting to see the outcomes is difficult but often necessary ... and yeah, a silly little frog show absolutely reminded me of that (see: me imploring you right now to watch Amphibia).
Thanks for following this weird frog-adjacent journey. Potentially expect this again next year because honestly? I haven’t had this much fun writing (for fun) in ages.
Take care and happy Halloweekend, friends. May you continue dreaming of frogs!