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Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart

Entry updated 27 July 2020. Tagged: TV.

US animated tv series (2014; 2017; 2019-current). Cartoon Network Studios/Titmouse, Inc. Created by Parker Simmons. Executive producers include Chris Prynoski, Shannon Prynoski and Parker Simmons. Directed by Michael Moloney. Writers include Phil Ahn, Allison Craig, Akira Mark Fujita Nathanael H. Jones, Griffith Kimmins, Alexandria Kwan, Nora Meek, Emily Oetzell and Chris Ybarra. Voice cast includes Julian Barratt, Griffith Kimmins, Lika Leong, Christopher McCulloch, Parker Simmons. 40 eleven-minute episodes to date, plus two pilots. Colour.

Heroic adventurers Mao Mao (Simmons) and Badgerclops (Kimmins) crash their flying motorcycle (see Transportation) into the Ruby Pure Heart; as a result its Cloaking Device no longer protects Pure Heart Valley from danger. Mao Mao's moral code impels him to become the valley's Sheriff and defend the populace (see Crime and Punishment). The residents are called Sweetypies, with even the adults looking like cute animal children – as Mao Mao observes "this place is like an all you can eat monster buffet". Though the sweetypies are usually friendly ("you look soft, can I hug you?") they can be petulant if frustrated.

Mao Mao is a sword-wielding black cat and Badgerclops a laid-back humanoid Cyborg badger with a multi-purpose mechanical arm, mainly functioning as a Blaster. They are joined by Adorabat (Leong), one of the Valley's youngsters: she immediately idolizes Mao Mao and wants to be a Hero too. The trio all have neuroses: Mao Mao aggressively seeks approval due to his father's neglect ("not now Mo-Mo, I'm trying to train your sisters to become legendary warriors"); Badgerclops feels he is not respected and Adorabat can be jealous of the pair's friendship.

The main antagonist is the sky pirate Orangusnake (McCulloch): he has a high-tech skyship but a crew of questionable competence – one-on-one, even Adorabat can defeat them. Dinosaurs also occasionally attack the valley, or at least try to lick the Ruby Pure Heart. During the annual "Takesgiving" holiday, when the townsfolk gleefully give all their most valuable possessions to friendly Rufus the Fox (Barratt), Mao Mao upsets everyone when he arrests Rufus. The lesson that someone being nice doesn't necessarily mean they're good is eventually learnt by the Sweetypies, with surprisingly little trauma: Adorabat "the world in which I saw happy rainbow colours has suddenly been tinged with grey ... ah well, la-la-la".

The show's creator had previously worked on OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, whilst one episode is a Steven Universe (2013-2020) parody. Mao Mao and Badgerclops fit into the common adventure trope of the wandering hero(es) protecting a defenceless village from attack; albeit here they're also the cause of its defencelessness. The emotional focus is on Mao Mao's insecurities and his belief he must be seen to be a hero: however, this is principally a likable, fun series. [SP]


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