Amphibia season 1 is at its heart the start of an isekai story. All you have to do is look up the anime term to see that. And yet, despite the fact that it’s not an anime, its slice of life fantasy premise already makes it better than 50% to 75% of all isekai anime. Mostly due to the lack of a Kirito clone getting yet another harem, and the addition of a lot more frogs.
Amphibia Season 1: Details
Amphibia season 1 is the 20-episode (separated into 39 segments) 1st season of this Disney animated adventure fantasy comedy series. Matt Braly (Gravity Falls, Steven Universe, Big City Greens) is the creator and executive producer of this series, as well as a writer, storyboard artist, and voice actor for it (he voiced Chuck the “I grow tulips” frog). Tara Badawy is the other producer for the series. T.J. Hill of The Owl House fame composed the music for this series, with Doug Petty composing the opening theme music. However, Hill did compose the ending theme music instead of Petty. Lastly, Disney Television Animation is the production company behind this series.
Amphibia season 1 features the voices of Brenda Song as Anne Boonchuy, Justin Felbinger as Sprig Plantar, Bill Farmer as Hopediah “Hop Pop” Plantar, and Amanda Leighton as Polly Plantar. Other notable voice actors for this season include Laila Berzins as Sadie Croaker, Stephen Root and Jack McBrayer as Mayor Frodrick Toadstool and Toadie respectively, Katie Crown as Ivy Sundew, Anna Akana as Sasha Waybright, and Troy Baker as Captain Grimothy “Grime”.
Amphibia season 1 debuted on June 17, 2019 and last aired on July 18, 2019. You can watch this season (and the next 2 seasons) only on Disney+.
Warning: spoilers for Amphibia season 1 below. If you want to watch one of the best isekai anime that isn’t actually an anime for yourself, then stop here, and come back once you’ve survived your first dive into the death world that Amphibia is.
Amphibia Season 1: Plot Summary
Amphibia season 1 starts us off by introducing us to the Plantar family, comprised of the elder patriarch Hopediah (also known by his nickname of “Hop Pop”) and his grandson Sprig and granddaughter Polly. As you can see above, the Plantar family are not humans, but a race of nearly human-sized bipedal sapient frogs currently living in a remote town called Wartwood. At the moment, the Wartwood residents are in an uproar because of a “monster” sighted near town. This doesn’t stop young Sprig from investigating though. Unfortunately, his investigation gets him caught in a snare trap the “monster” set. Fortunately, the “monster” turns out to be a 13-year old human girl named Anne Boonchuy. After some misunderstandings and conundrums (including almost getting lynched by the Wartwood residents), Anne is accepted into Wartwood and ends up living with the Plantars.
So how did Anne end up in Amphibia anyways? Well, a series of flashbacks reveal that on her 13th birthday, Anne’s friends Sasha Waybright and Marcy Wu got her a mysterious bejeweled music box. Only they didn’t actually buy the music box. They convinced Anne to steal it from a pawn shop. When Anne opened the music box, it sucked all 3 girls into it and spat them out into Amphibia. Not the most comfortable of isekai travels, but then again, most involve Truck-kun murdering the isekai protagonist. This is actually pretty painless in comparison.
The Human of Wartwood
As Anne adjusts to life in Wartwood and gets to know her new Plantar family, as well as the Wartwood residents, things are heating up nearby in Toad Tower. See, while Anne is enjoying slice of life antics in Wartwood, an aside reveals that Sasha is enjoying her own stay at the nearby fortress Toad Tower. Only, this stay looks a lot more like an imprisonment. Apparently, Toad Tower’s commander, Capt. Grime, is holding her as a strange alien he might get useful information out of. It’s only when Sasha helps him fight off a pair of monstrously huge herons that she gets some measure of freedom. Sasha uses this freedom to become Grime’s 2IC (second-in-command).
Her first job as 2IC is to help Grime put down a rebellion in Amphibia. Apparently, Grime wishes to make an example out of Hop Pop because he ran for mayor one time, and accidentally became a symbol of rebellion in the process. Sasha reunites with Anne in the process, but uses their friendship to lure the Wartwood residents to Toad Tower. Upon finding out that Sasha wants to execute Hop Pop, Anne sneaks out, frees the Wartwood residents, and tries to help them escape. This results in a duel between Anne and Sasha atop Toad Tower, along with the Tower’s partial collapse with some creatively applied usage of explosive mushrooms. Sasha attempted to sacrifice herself to save Anne, but Grime (surprisingly) rescues Sasha and heads off with her.
As the toad garrison marches away, Anne and her frog family ponders these developments. How will this affect the story? How will Anne get home now? Well, that’s what we’ll find out in Amphibia season 2.
Amphibia Season 1: The Good
The story of Amphibia season 1 is without a doubt the best part of it. Like I said, the story is basically the plot of an isekai anime. However, it’s a very good example of an isekai anime. The very fact that the story doesn’t feature a Kirito clone getting a harem already makes it a cut above 50-75% of isekai anime. However, Matt Braly goes several steps further, and writes a story that is not only intriguing, but also filled with a cast of lovable characters.
Speaking of characters: Anne Boonchuy and Sprig Plantar are also part of why Amphibia season 1 is great. They have such a good chemistry with each other. The former is a human girl completely out of her depth in an alien death world, while the latter is a froggy local growing up in said world. Those combination of qualities allows Anne and Sprig to play off of each other well. Hop Pop’s experience grounds them in reality, and Polly is…well, Polly. She reminds me of Toph Bei Fong from Avatar: The Last Airbender in many respects. The only difference is that Polly is a bit more of a Viking berserker than Toph is.
Lastly, the art of Amphibia season 1, and the entire show in general, is fairly appealing. At first, it makes the show look like a show for kids, but it grows on you the more you watch it. It gives the show a light-hearted appearance that contrasts with how nightmarish Amphibia actually is. And that’s not even going into when the show’s art does dip into Nightmare Fuel territory. All in all, the show’s art has appeal, contrast, and cuteness going for it, and I like it.
Amphibia Season 1: The Bad
My only complaint about the story of Amphibia season 1 is that it’s clearly written with younger viewers in mind. There’s no depiction of blood even for serious injuries (at least, not in season 1), and the plots of individual slice of life episodes tend to be a bit…childish. I feel like the show could’ve benefited more from a story written for older teens. You know, like The Owl House. Granted, that might’ve caused Disney to axe Amphibia just like they did with The Owl House. It would’ve been a shame if Amphibia never got the full 3 seasons it did. You got to take the bad with the good here.