From Cartoon Network and creator Parker Simmons (OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes) comes the adorable new animated adventure Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart. As the official description goes, “Mao Mao, Heroes of Pure Heart is a high-octane animated show that follows a samurai cat named Sheriff Mao Mao, who is an explosive loner and famous hero; Badgerclops, his slacker friend; and Adorabat, the adorable sidekick. Together, they work together to bring justice and peace to the people of Pure Heart Valley.” But does the new show live up to the hype?
Add a dash of Will Arnett‘s Batman, a bit of Puss in Boots, and the dynamic partnership of Green Hornet and Kato, and you’ve got an idea of what Mao Mao’s personality is like. The first episode, comprised of two 11-minute shorts, paints a grand picture of this adventurous loner who seeks to become a legend worthy of his own legendary family. His one-eyed cyber-badger friend and partner, Badgerclops, attempts to help him out in this quest but is often happier to just eat pastries and avoid stairs whenever possible. Together, they take on all manner of villains, namely sky pirates who are each mashups of various animals; the passing homage to classic Saturday morning cartoons can’t be overstated here. But it’s when Mao Mao and Badgerclops’ own rambunctious adventuring complicates life for a civilization of cute creatures leaving peacefully in Pure Heart Valley that the story really gets going.
Imagine if a comedic duo like Batman and Robin (think LEGO Batman) landed in Care Bear country; that’s basically what we’ve got in Mao Mao. The title hero’s own moral code prevents him from running off and leaving the Pure Heart Valley folk to fend for themselves after his own flying motorbike disables the valley’s defenses. Mao Mao’s “hero’s quest” temporarily gets derailed by his own overzealous attempt to complete said quest, but his momentary depression over that fact passes once he realizes that the valley itself is legendary, and becoming its greatest defender might just make him a legend, too.
Since I’ve only had a chance to check out the first episode (and the first two adventures) of Mao Mao, I’ll be cautiously optimistic with this one. It’s got a good start and great heart (and Adorabat will carry it far), it just remains to be seen how much original mythology will make its way into the narrative. Just like Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and OK K.O.! took some time to build up the behind-the-scenes drama, Mao Mao could benefit from a deeper storytelling well in the long run. But for now, we’re happy going on cute, original adventures with this trio.
Mao Mao, Heroes of Pure Heart premieres today, Monday, July 1st, on Cartoon Network.