Summer Camp Island really sneaks up on the viewer. With little pre-awareness you jump in thinking it’ll be just a wacky little show but there’s something much more… soft about it. While other cartoons rely on visual gags, serialized plots, or even millennial humor to entertain audiences? Summer Camp Island is more about putting you at total ease and making you think.
The plot seems fairly straight forward, with Oscar and his best Hedgehog going to summer camp on, of course, an island. It takes a turn though when the parents leave and the island is revealed to be a magical island! Not Harry Potter magical, I’m talking everything has a face magical.
Okay, that kinda sounds like horror but it’s actually super cute. Even Oscar’s pajamas can talk (and might be my favorite character.) The opening episode focuses on Oscar’s anxiety about coming to camp and not being able to handle how weird it all is. The second features Alice, a witch who wants to turn everything cute even if it’s against its will. Again, sounds like horror but it’s actually super cute.
The jokes don’t fly fast in these episodes, you aren’t beaten over the head with zany actions, and it’s all fairly slice of life. That doesn’t mean its mindless or devoid of substance, there are actually some nice little jabs at society that will really make you stop and go, “oh dang, that’s deep.”
That’s the strength of the series. It gets you comfortable enough to hit you with these deeper topics without being alienating or “too much.” It’s not a roller coaster ride of emotions like Steven Universe, it’s more a nice trip on a fluffy cartoon cloud where you contemplate existence.
In our day and age where everything has such a bleak outlook its nice the show doesn’t just want to make you feel good, although it succeeds at that very well. It also takes a few moments to question why we feel certain things and if that can be changed.
The first episode has a great message about giving things a chance even when they put you off at first. The second questions how we perceive others and how we think we know what’s best for people who aren’t like us. The resolution to that episode in particular has a nice little tag to it that demonstrates these sorts of issues don’t always wrap up cleanly.
It’s a much chiller show than you’d expect from the fast paced cartoons of today, especially ones that are eleven minutes long. It revels in little moments like the moon delighting in seeing everyone or Oscar’s pajamas wanting to talk.
The stakes are never super high but that’s just fine. It, like Cartoon Network’s We Bare Bears, is a wonderful warm hug of a show. Twenty episodes of it will be airing throughout the entire weekend of July 7th on Cartoon Network so you’ll have plenty of chacges to check it out. You’ll be glad you did.
Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. Follow him on Twitter!