"Adventure Time" Chinese Rip-Off: What Does an Adorable Animation Short Have to Do With Gamergate?

adventure time characters
Season 6 of "Adventure Time" is back in 2015! Cartoon Network

A Chinese cartoon ripping off “Adventure Time” has appeared on YouTube. The bizarre mirror universe “Adventure Time” includes obvious parallels to Jake, Finn, and even the Lich. While the actual plot of the Chinese “Adventure Time” doesn’t seem taken from any specific episode (though it can’t resist having a Princess character), the opening theme song is vintage “Adventure Time,” with lots of friendship, action, and folksy music.

Check out the Chinese “Adventure Time” rip-off, “The Legend of Lucky Pie”:

"Adventure Time" or "The Legend of Lucky Pie"?

Still not certain we've got a genuine "Adventure Time" rip-off on our hands?

Let's just compare the title card of "The Legend of Lucky Pie"...

adventure time chinese rip off
It's Legend of Lucky Pie Time! Photo: Pendleton Ward's Brain

... to the actual "Adventure Time" title:

adventure_time_t
It's Adventure Time! Photo: Cartoon Network

The Chinese “Adventure Time” rip-off “The Legend of Lucky Pie” is at its most “Adventure Time-y” in the opening credits, but there are numerous notable similarities throughout. According to Wendy Zhao the “Adventure Time” rip-off is meant to “fight the ‘tacky’ and ‘trite’ animated shows usually shown in Chinese media.” Well, if you’re going to steal from the best…

Plus, it even has the approval of “Adventure Time” writer and storyboard artist Steve Wolfhard:

 

 

But where did this bizarre, Chinese “Adventure Time” come from?

The “Adventure Time” rip-off video is available on several Chinese video sites. According to investigative work by Cartoon Brew, the Chinese “Adventure Time” is not a series, but a “team of enthusiastic animation friends” who put together the short. The young crowd of rip-off animators took a picture of themselves and posted it to this forum thread (about a third of the way down the page).

So how did it wind up in front of Western viewers?

The earliest reference to The Adventure Time-like “The Legend of Lucky Pie” on English websites seems to be this Jan. 12 thread on 4chan.

Unfortunately, even an adorable Chinese kids cartoon is entangled in the ongoing Gamergate culture war. While the requisite 4chan thread racism and sexism is to be expected, the posting of the Chinese “Adventure Time” rip-off to Kotaku has reignited old (by Internet standards) animosities.

The video uploader, Michael Wood, added a banner (you can see it in the still above) to the video after the Kotaku post, pointing new viewers to his video diary take on Kotaku and other gaming blogs. If you’ve encountered Gamergate rhetoric before then you probably know what to expect (for some representative examples of his thinking, check out his horrific Twitter account or the page for his racist, alt-history Trayvon Martin novel).

It only takes a single click to go from adorable “Adventure Time” silliness, to some of the most poisonous and anti-humanist ideas it is possible to articulate. I’m not sure what to make of that. The Internet is an absurd place.

Join the Discussion