Well, The Legend of Boo-Kini Bottom has become one of my favorite specials released within the past several years. Of course, that isn't hard to do when the only special from this decade I like is Hello Bikini Bottom!
The Legend of Boo-Kini Bottom is a nice surprise. Did we ever need a stop-motion Halloween special? Not at all. But the crew that worked on this episode put in a lot, and I mean A LOT of effort into this special. First off, the animation in this special is incredible. I'm personally not a fan of It's a SpongeBob Christmas! I find it to be a mediocre special with very ugly set pieces, and forgettable jokes that fall flat on their face.Thankfully, this special seems to fix all of the problems that It's a SpongeBob Christmas! had.
First off, let's talk about the plot (Yeah, yeah, I never gave my full two cents on the animation). The plot of this special is fairly simple, and I do give it credit for being quite original. Sure, we've already explored SpongeBob being scared around Halloween, but this special seems to turn the scenario around, focusing much more SpongeBob's overall Halloween experience, highlighting different ways his friends celebrate Halloween. The episode takes an interesting direction this way, and we get a lot of cool and interesting visuals, as well as some funny gags. Plus, a lot of moments in this episode actually serve a purpose in the plot. Yeah, Sandy's puppet she uses returns during the climax of the episode, which was something I honestly wasn't expecting. The cheap decorations on the Krusty Krab and Chum Bucket motivate The Flying Dutchman to show SpongeBob what true fear is like. I feel as though the pacing in this special comes off really smoothly, some scenes aren't faster than others, some aren't slower than others, they all seem to last an appropriate amount of time. Also, the conflict between the Flying Dutchman and SpongeBob is played out very interestingly. I really like the interaction between the two. Sure, we've seen them both interact before, but never really like this. Dutchy IS the antagonist of this episode. Sure, he's been the antagonist before, but he never really was the main antagonist. Sure, he was a pretty big foe in Ghoul Fools, but that was for just the last few minutes. He's an antihero in Ghost Host, a plot device in Money Talks, and only appears during the climax of Scaredy Pants. He finally gets his big break in this episode, and I feel as though him trying to one-up SpongeBob is a pretty interesting premise, tied in with the overall theme of SpongeBob looking at scary things in a whole different light.
As for the jokes, this is definitely one of the funnier episodes of recent time. There's plenty of good gags in this episode, especially Plankton and Krabs decorating their restaurants as the opposing restaurant across the street. I felt that was VERY creative, and quite original. Not to mention, SpongeBob's dream sequence had some chuckles, and there were some good visual gags (Especially the bowling pins one). I think the funniest part of the episode is probably the "WE ONLY HAVE ONIONS!" line. The absurdity of this joke, and sheer randomness of it is absolutely priceless. Seeing those giant onions roll out of Squid's house was definitely a highlight! Overall, I think this episode had it's humor down.
Now let's talk about the characters, I think they were really well written in this episode. I already discussed how much I enjoyed The Flying Dutchman's grand return in this episode, and how he plays off of SpongeBob. Now let's talk about the rest of the gang. Pretty much, they're all in character. No real flaws with their personality, or how they act, they're portrayed perfectly in this special. Not to mention, they're not useless. All of the main characters have some sort of impact on the episode's climax. Having The Flying Dutchman scare SpongeBob by trapping his friends in ghost form was genius! I felt that was a very clever push for SpongeBob to have a change in character. Overall, the characters are definitely one of this episode's strengths.
Now let's talk about the best part of the episode, the animation. I wasn't fond of It's a SpongeBob Christmas!'s animation. I felt as though it was a little too choppy at times, not to mention the setting was unusually drab. Thankfully, the animation is really improved in this episode, it is incredible at times! The sequence where SpongeBob and Patrick first go into the Dutchman's ship was very incredible to see in stop-motion (Of course there were obviously effects to make the ramp disappear, but I felt as though it was an impressive shot). The character designs feel a little more improved over the Christmas special, despite being pretty much the same. I don't know, maybe it's just the fact that this is in HD. Of course, there still remains the fault with SpongeBob and Patrick not having helmets in Sandy's dome, but I can forgive that for all the other massive amounts of effort poured into this episode. The Flying Dutchman is incredible in this episode, I think I like this design more than his 2D design! The episode seems a lot more colorful than the Christmas episode, and the atmosphere is appropriately lightened at various parts of the episode. I especially like the ghost counterparts of SpongeBob's friends. Those designs were pretty impressive.
I think the most baffling part of the episode was SpongeBob's brain sequence. First off, Plankton pretty much confirms this episode takes place after Sponge Out of Water, saying he's been in SpongeBob's brain before, and it's a frightening site. Meaning Sponge Out of Water is definitely a prequel. I think we all knew that at this point, but I just thought it was cool that the series was referencing one of their movies (Aside from the Goofy Goober references in past episodes). But the most interesting part about this surprising turn of events is that a completely different animation style is used in this scene! It's like if SpongeBob Comics was adapted onto TV, it's incredible! This odder, more modern-like style of animation (Which feels like a mix of Steven Universe and Clarence) is a perfect representation of SpongeBob's imagination, with bright colorful creatures of happiness, and all sorts of imaginative creatures of love. This was definitely a shocking turn of events which was a very creative way to finish the conflict.
While I do think the ending was kind of lazy, primarily Sandy and Krabs' dialogue, I think this is a very solid special. It seems to get just about everything right, great animation, funny jokes, a fairly original plot, it's definitely a Great Episode. I tell you, Season 11 keeps getting better and better. If we have more of these types of episodes with the amount of effort pushed to the max, and less episodes like Cave Dwelling Sponge, I think we're in for a really good Season. I give it a 9.4/10.