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Western Animation / Black Star

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"John Blackstar, astronaut — is swept through a black hole — into an ancient alien universe. Trapped on the planet Sagar, Blackstar is rescued by the tiny Trobbit people. In turn he joins their fight for freedom against the cruel Overlord — who rules by the might of the PowerStar. The PowerStar is split into the PowerSword — and the StarSword. And so, with StarSword in hand, Blackstar, together with his allies, sets out to save the planet Sagar. This is his destiny."
"I am John Blackstar."

Blackstar is a 1981 fantasy-adventure cartoon from Filmation. A precursor to the far more successful He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) (only 13 episodes were produced), Blackstar followed the adventures of an Earthly astronaut, the eponymous John Blackstar, and his "allies": Klone, the elf-like ShapeShifter; Mara, the lavender-skinned Magical Girl; Warlock, his dragon-like Cool Steed; and the Trobbits, seven magenta-skinned little men who tended the Sagar tree on which the planet's environment depended — Balkar, their magical leader; the speechless Poulo; Carpo; Gossamer, who flew by means of his huge ears; Burbil; Rif, who talked like Walter Brennan and whose hat was permanently afire; and Terra. All these were in rebellion against the Overlord and his allies, such as the sorcerous Vizier, a horde of dinosaur-shaped stone robots, the Lavaloks, and a series of one-shot villains such as Kadray, the Time-Lord (no, not that one).

Interestingly, the eponymous hero was designed as an African-American (this was in keeping with Filmation's predilection for socially positive messages in its shows), but was subsequently changed to a deeply tanned Caucasian. It has been asserted that this was done at the behest of the network, but Filmation producer Lou Scheimer has disclaimed all memory of any such directive.

Should not be confused AT ALL with the Soul Eater character, or the Warrior Cats character. Nor should he be confused with BlackStar, the hip-hop group consisting of Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey (known at the time as Mos Def), or the instrument amp manufacturer, or the book, or David Bowie's final album. Also not to be confused with Dark Star, the final level in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, or the movie Dark Star. Also not to be confused with the adventure game Blackstar: Agent of Justice.

Blackstar provide examples of:

  • Alchemy Is Magic: The Functional Magic favored by Balkar, whose spells take the form of potions and elixirs. Makes sense given that the tree he lives in is a natural source of highly potent magical ingredients.
  • Ambiguously Brown: As mentioned above, Blackstar was originally going to be African-American, but ended up just sort of brownish with straight hair.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Averted, amazingly enough for a Filmation series from the Eighties. Any moral lessons are left implicit in the stories themselves.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The Sagar tree is the source of magical fruits and nuts that somehow support the entire population of the planet. Many episodes involved the Overlord making some kind of attack on the tree.
  • Art Imitates Life: For the last day of winter, Poulo builds a life-size, very realistic ice sculpture of Blackstar and Warlock. When Kryos attacks and the real Blackstar is unavailable, Mara uses her magic to bring the sculpture to life and fight for them. Icy-Warlock is actually able to breathe an ice-based fire similar to the real Warlock.
  • Bald of Evil: King Kryos has a nice and shiny blue dome and is most definitely a bad guy. Justified in that he may actually be made of ice since he melts away once spring is released.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Subverted in "Crown of the Sorceress". Blackstar saves a beautiful woman from a big ugly guy who was attacking her. Turns out the big ugly dude was the good guy.
  • Bifurcated Weapon: The StarSword, wielded by Blackstar, and the Overlord's PowerSword, are the split-off sections of the PowerStar.
  • Big Bad: The Overlord. Most of the villains the heroes have to face (with the notable exceptions of Kadray and The Tree of Evil) ultimately report directly to him.
  • Big Good: Balkar, who is the primary caretaker and guardian of the Sagar Tree the entire planet depends on. Sadly, as is typical of this trope, he's no match for the Big Bad in combat and must rely on Blackstar to be his champion.
  • Captain Ersatz: The "Trobbits" were simultaneously expies of Peyo's Smurfs, J. R. R. Tolkien's hobbits, and Disney's Seven Dwarfs.
  • Cool Airship: Carpo made one to help the Trobbits get around that could be towed by Gossamer. The air-whalers have a fleet of these, supposedly made buoyant by using dead air whales.
  • Cool Horse: Blackstar has his dragon-like mount Warlock, but Kadray the Time Lord showed up with a winged bull who fired freeze rays from his eyes. Resulted in some fun aerial combat shots.
  • Cool Ship: The Golden Galleon which delivered the nuts and fruits of Sagar to the Mermanites before it was sunk by pirates. The aforementioned pirates also had one, equipped with an animated prow done in the shape of a dragon head that held a tractor beam.
  • Cute Mute: Love him or hate him, Poulo looked adorable.
  • Deadpan Snarker: What Blackstar is supposed to be.
    • The Overlord got in a few good ones, too, occasionally.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted in the sense that it happens in the very first episode. When the Overlord falls into a volcano, at the end, they are celebrating gaining a new ally (Amber the sorceress) against the Overlord. When Klone is confused about what they all saw, Blackstar responds "Oh, I think it will take more than a volcano to stop...the Overlord."
  • Ear Wings: Gossamer the Trobbit.
  • Enemy Mine: In "The Overlord's Big Spell" (see Evil Is Not a Toy, below).
  • Episode Title Card: As usual with Filmation series.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Overlord.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: As the Overlord finds in "The Overlord's Big Spell", when he summons the demonic appearing Brelarand to destroy the rebels — which of course fails spectacularly and leads to an Enemy Mine with Blackstar.
  • Evil Is Petty: While a case can be made that any Big Bad would want such an Artifact of Power just to keep it from the heroes, the Overlord only seemed to become interested in the Healing Stone when Blackstar needed it to save a trobbit's life.
  • Evil Knockoff: In the episode "Tree of Evil", an evil tree makes evil copies of the Trobbits, Klone, and Blackstar himself.
  • Evil Overlord: He was even named "The Overlord".
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The Overlord has a basso profundo voice.
  • Expy: Since this is Filmation, Blackstar's premise shows a lot of influence from their earlier adaptation of Flash Gordon. It also presages their later He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) in many ways.
  • Fanservice: Like many of Filmation's series, Blackstar was replete with muscular heroes and busty, leotard-clad heroines.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: On one episode, Mara toasts Blackstar; Klone is quick to point out that the toast in question is made in "clear, cool spring water." Festive.
  • The Future: Blackstar comes from a future Earth which has developed interplanetary flight. In "Spacewrecked," we learn that Earth has an entire fleet of spacecraft, and has developed a time-traveling space-ship as well.
  • Genius Serum: The Knowledge Nuts of the Tree of Sagar have this temporary effect on anyone who eats one, one of the reasons the Overlord wants the tree.
  • Giant Flyer: The Air Whales of Anchar, in their eponymous episode
  • Giving Them the Strip: Done by Balkar and Rif when Typhot tries to feed them to his sea monsters.
  • The Good King: Balkar is officially titled King of the Trobbits, and is even referenced as "King Balkar" by a few characters in the show. Arguably before Blackstar showed up he was also the leader of the Resistance.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The Emerald Knight in The Quest; Lilah in The Air Whales of Anchar
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: What happens to Kadray. Hit by his own time scepter, he's reverted to an infant. The Heroes opt to leave him with the Sand People so they can Raise Him Right This Time.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Many of Blackstar's combats seemed to be accompanied by these.
  • An Ice Person: Kryos, the Ice King, and arguably his whole winter themed army who actually melt away when their plans are foiled and the spring thaw comes. On the side of good, Ice-Blackstar and Ice-Warlock count.
  • I Choose to Stay: In one episode, a rescue ship from Earth (piloted by Blackstar's beautiful girlfriend, no less) navigates the black hole, finds John Blackstar on Sagar, and offers to take him home. He very nearly takes her up on it, but he finally decides that he's too important to the natives' rebellion against the Overlord, and he chooses to stay. The last scene is her returning to Earth, and sending a message ahead that she wants to come back with proper military forces to help John defeat the Overlord. Sadly if predictably, it was never followed up on.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: The StarSword/PowerSword.
  • Last-Name Basis: (John) Blackstar, to the point that his friends on Sagar don't even know he has a first name. Indeed, Lt. Katana (from "Spacewrecked") is the only person to actually call him "John" in the show.
  • Loincloth: Blackstar
  • Luke Nounverber: John Blackstar. Luke Adjective Noun to be precise.
  • MacGuffin: The PowerStar; the Sagar Tree
  • Magical Girl: Mara; Amber in "City of the Ancient Ones"
  • Mecha-Mooks: The Lavaloks
  • Merchandise-Driven: Blackstar's toy line actually didn't appear until several years after the show was off the air, only hitting the shelves after He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) had become a hit. Despite this, they sold well, and the toy line lasted for a couple of years.
  • Nemesis Weapon: John Blackstar wields the Star Sword in the cause of liberty, while the Overlord wields the Power Sword, bent on conquest and tyranny. The two swords were once one whole weapon called the Power-Star, which was split in two during a revolt against the Overlord's iron rule.
  • Noodle Incident: We never do find out why exactly the Overlord's ultimate weapon split in half, which would seem to be a really big deal. This is exacerbated with the way the graphic of the Power Star splitting is used to indicate scene changes in the episodes.
  • Only One Name: When Blackstar's girlfriend from Earth arrives in the last episode, his Sagarian friends are startled to hear her calling him John, since they just know him by his last name.
  • Orcus on His Throne: The Overlord is absent for a few consecutive episodes. Blackstar and friends battle a few other villains before the Overlord appears again. This is in keeping with the Overlord falling into a volcano in the first episode. However, Blackstar (and the audience by proxy) is Genre Savvy to know that "It's gonna take more than a volcano to stop the Overlord." Some of these lesser villains are clearly said to be working for the Overlord, which would not make as much sense if he were truly dead. So he is assumed to be staying behind the scenes for now.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Delilah the Dryad, in "Tree of Evil".
  • Our Gryphons Are Different: Klone becomes one in "Tree of Evil".
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Vampire-Men in "The Air Whales of Anchar".
  • Panacea: The Healing Stone, which can cure any malady by placing it on the afflicted's body. It's the only thing Balkar knows that can save Poulo from the Poison of the Pond.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Carpo the Trobbit does this to the stems of Fire Fruit to make them explode, like grenades, before throwing them. In one episode, he does this before feeding them to some Fire People who were helping Blackstar.
  • Plot Coupons: Blackstar's Star Sword and the Overlord's Power Sword, originally two halves of an almighty weapon, and somewhat mirroring the two halves of the Sword of Power wielded by the hero and villain in early versions of the He-Man mythology.
  • Pure Magic Being: Mara — when the Overlord uses a spell to leach all the magic out of Sagar, Mara's life-force grows weaker and weaker as it is drained away.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The Emerald Knight in The Quest; Amber the Sorceress in City Of The Ancient Ones.
  • Red Right Hand: The sorceress Amber from "City of the Ancient Ones" has a monstrous red left hand for some reason.
  • La Résistance: Blackstar and his allies.
  • Rotoscoping
  • Samus Is a Girl: The Emerald Knight
  • Scenery Porn: Used for the infamous "Filmation pan", one of Filmation's favorite methods of avoiding new animation.
  • Soul Power: In "The Zombie Masters", Shaldemar uses this in conjunction with a Soul Jar to turn people into zombies.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The beginning of "Kingdom of Neptul" shows a huge storm at the Sagar tree. The cutesy "peaceful" music that usually plays over scenes there starts, but is drowned out after a few seconds of the oppressive darkness and more appropriate music of Blackstar and his friends desperately trying to find the thing they need for a spell to fix things.
  • Spikes of Villainy: The Overlord has a nice set on his helmet.
  • Stock Footage: Naturally for a Filmation series. The most notable probably being Blackstar and Warlock's "Heroic Swoop" sequence.
  • Stripperific: Most of the women's outfits — Mara's is typical. Then again, Blackstar himself isn't wearing much.
  • Super-Strength: Blackstar possesses this, though not to the extent of other Filmation heroes of the time, such as He-Man, She-Ra, BraveStarr and Captain Marvel, nor does he use it as often as said heroes. Still, there are several points where he displays greater than human strength by lifting large stone monsters over his head, throws large boulders around, and similar feats. His strength seems more akin to a hero that likely partially inspired his creation, John Carter of Mars.
  • Sword Beam: Both the Star Sword and the Power Sword are capable of shooting energy bolts.
  • Time Master: This is the power of Kadray the Time Lord, via his time scepter which lets him advance or regress targets through time. His most notable uses were to turn the ancient Sagar Tree back into an acorn, cause vines to sprout and entangle his pursuers, and even turn an entire desert back into a wild jungle.
  • The Voiceless: Poulo.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Klone's power.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Blackstar.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: According to commentary on the DVD collection, "The Air Whales of Ancar" is supposed to be one for Moby-Dick, complete with the episode's villain's being a stand-in for Captain Ahab.