April 9th (Arthur)
"April 9th" is the seventh season finale of Arthur.
What started as a normal day in early spring ends up being a traumatic experience for Arthur, Binky, Sue Ellen, and (to some extent) Buster after their school catches fire.
Why It Rocks
- While tackling adult issues and concepts is certainly the entire premise of the show, this episode in particular is exceptional in that it's particularly dark and serious, with strong and emotionally relatable undertones in a kid's cartoon.
- Emotionally heart wrenching scenes. While it's clear that the creators intended to sympathize those who were emotionally scarred as a result of the September 11 attacks in particular (given that this episode aired just over a year after the attacks), it actively attempts to be timeless in its conveyance of trauma to the audience, while at the same time showing genuine respect for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder without pandering to them.
- The creators split the episode's story into four different arcs displaying different effects of a trauma, showing that they did more extensive research than usual when storyboarding this episode. Binky's story represents post-traumatic stress disorder, Arthur's story represents generalized anxiety disorder, Sue Ellen's story represents the stress of losing an important item, and Buster's story represents the naivety of relating to others' traumas.
- Continuing from WIR #3, the four main characters of the episode have firm development, and are more relatable than usual.
- Strong, bittersweet conclusions to each story arc that demonstrate realistic solutions for dealing with trauma; while all of them mostly boil down to sharing traumatic experiences with others, the episode is completely unafraid to show the variety of ways in which such a feat can be accomplished, from painting a mural to bonding with someone deeply affected by the experience.
- At no point is the episode's overarching message unnecessarily dumbed down.
- The animation is great like always.
The episode has received critical acclaim for its timeless take on dealing with traumatic events. Mr. Enter in particular called the episode an antithesis to the TTSW excuse.