I love you Mao Mao!
Finally, my dreams are coming true
Show me how
How to be a hero, like you!"
Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart is an animated adventure comedy from Cartoon Network and Titmouse, created by Parker Simmons, a former storyboard artist for OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes. It was announced on May 20, 2019; in addition, the first episode was uploaded to Cartoon Network's website and app the same day.
Mao Mao and Badgerclops used to travel the world as wandering heroes, until one day they crashed into and broke the Ruby Pure Heart, destroying the barrier protecting Pure Heart Valley. Mao Mao feeling personally at fault, he and Badgerclops, joined by the adventure-longing Adorabat, work together to defend the valley and its residents from all sorts of monsters and mayhem.
Leading into the premiere, eight new episodes became available on the app on Friday, June 28. The series made its official debut Monday, July 1 (6:10PM ET/PT) on Cartoon Network, with new episodes continuing to premiere on Mondays through summer.
Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart provides examples of:
- A Bloody Mess: Invoked in "Popularity Conquest", with cherry pies.
- Animesque: The show's creator worked on OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, so it isn't too surprising that this cartoon emulates quite a bit of anime tropes, from the incredible Action-Hogging Opening, to the Chibi designs of the characters, to the use of Manga Effects such as Hexagonal Speech Balloons and Visible Sighs.
- Arc Words: "Legendary" is repeated quite a lot, for humorous effect and has a factor into Mao Mao's motivations.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: In "Ultraclops", Badgerclops is turned into a giant to fight a Kaiju-like monster invading the valley. After dispatching it, however, he refuses to turn back to normal, so Mao Mao and Adorabat also get big to confront him.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Pretty much everyone in the rogues gallery of Orangusnake. Take Fearwing: Having metal wings is cool, but definitely isn't useful for... y'know, flying.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: In "Breakup", Adorabat wishes she could spend more time with Mao and Badgerclops, and it backfires on her, as Mao and Badgerclops spend too much time with her.Adorabat: I wish, I wish, I wish, with all my little HEART!
- Blessed with Suck: Many of the members of Orangusnake's rogues gallery; special mention goes to Fearwing, who has metal wings too heavy to fly, and Ratarang, whose only ability is to turn into a boomerang to be used by someone else.
- Blunt "Yes": In the episode "Mao Mao's Bike Adventure", Adorabat keeps saying "yes" to all of Mao Mao's questions.Mao Mao: You know something you're not telling me, don't you?Adorabat: Yes!Mao Mao: The identity of the one who stole my bike.Adorabat: Yes!Mao Mao: Really? Uh, so you're hiding them!Adorabat: Um, yes!Mao Mao: Where are they?Adorabat: Um, line?Mao Mao: What?Adorabat: I don't know what I'm supposed to say here.Mao Mao: Adorabat, you're not just, you're not supposed to say yes to everything I ask.Adorabat: Oh! Okay!Mao Mao: Alright, start again, start again, start again.Mao Mao: Who stole my bike?Adorabat: Yes!Mao Mao: [groans]
- Buffy Speak: Adorabat exclaims "I want that," referring to Mao Mao's general lifestyle, and upon getting a confused response from him, she replies while gesturing, "Thiiis!"
- Crapsaccharine World: Played for Laughs. Pure Heart Valley, at first glance, seems all sunshine and rainbows, with all the residents being cute and colorful animals reminiscent of Care Bears, but without the protection of the Ruby Pure Heart, the town is constantly under attack from giant monsters and the residents themselves, despite at least some being actual adults (one mentions he's 30), are very immature, suicidally stupid (such as deciding that the middle of a street is the perfect place to have a picnic), or unrepentant criminals (Mao Mao is seen arresting a few of them more than once.).
- Crying Wolf: In "Bao Bao's Revenge", Badgerclops has a hard time believing Mao Mao's story about Bao Bao because of his tendency to overdramatize everything. It then turns out that everything about the story is true, except the part about Bao Bao being a fierce warrior, when he's just an adorable shiba inu; Adorabat figures that it was because Bao Bao broke Mao Mao's heart by running away, so he played up his fierceness in his mind.
- Disney Villain Death: All but three of Orangusnake's henchmen end up plummeting to their dooms because of Mao Mao's interference with their roll call, and are never seen again.
- Distant Duet: Parodied in "Bobo Chan" with Badgerclops depressed and singing to Bobo Chan who he left in the wild, with her singing back but saying nothing but "bobo". Mao Mao is horrified at how pathetic the whole thing is and demands that Adorabat stay inside when she tries to leave the house as if to stop her from seeing something offensive.
- Eyepatch of Power: Badgerclops, one of the show's strongest characters, wears one.
- Eyes Always Shut: Badgerclops' visible eye is always closed, and his other one is covered with an eyepatch. "Breakup", however, shows his uncovered eye wide open, to distinguish the time he used to be a bandit.
- Fantasy Helmet Enforcement: Mao Mao and Badgerclops have helmets that close over their heads whenever they get on the aerocycle. Adorabat has to put on her helmet manually, though this is usually skipped, with her just having it on whenever she appears on the bike.
- Foreshadowing: In "Popularity Conquest", we see Mao Mao without his gloves on in one of the outfits he gets stuck in, and he is shown to have cat paws. It isn't really relevant in that particular episode and seems like it might just be a side effect of the cuter and friendly persona he's putting on, but it comes back a few episodes later in "Thumb War" where at a thumb war competition, he's forced to remove his gloves, showing that his "hands" really are just paws, with nubs for thumbs, much to his embarrassment. The gloves apparently are prosthetics to have proper length fingers.
- Freudian Excuse: "Not Impressed" reveals that much, if not all of, Mao Mao's egotistical and glory-seeking traits are motivated by a subconscious desire to please his father, who neglected him as a child in favor of training his sisters.
- Freudian Slip: After Mao Mao finally gets Ol' Blue to say he's impressed with him (by wearing a disguise, but still), Mao Mao begins to celebrate, but ends up blurting out "I knew you loved me, DADDY!" in front of all the other Sweetie Pies.
- Funny Background Event: Some episodes feature these:
- Ramaraffe waking up and emerging from her hiding place in "Bobo Chan", only to see the heroes dealing with a gigantic monster. She immediately turns around.
- In "Outfoxed" Penny can be seen throwing Benny into the pond for a gift. Later in the episode, Benny can be seen amongst the piles of stolen goods Rufus and Reg have.
- Glory Seeker: Mao Mao's primary goal in life is to become a legendary hero. He's ecstatic when he realizes that he can become one by protecting the Valley after having accidentally broken the Pure Heart Ruby that hid the Valley away previously.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: Orangusnake's pirate gang become this after Mao Mao ends up leaving his gang reduced to just three goofy, somewhat-ineffective members.
- Gory Discretion Shot: In the "Mao Mao's High Flying Ride" clip, Mao Mao decapitates the Impressaur, which is displayed in shadow over a valley resident as they go from joyful to terrified.
- Hidden Depths: Mao Mao is definitely a glory seeker, but he has a strong sense of responsibility, given his response to breaking the Ruby Pure Heart and to Adorabat's collateral damage filled first battle.
- Invisibility Cloak: How the Pure Heart Ruby hid the Valley. Once Mao Mao crashed into the Ruby (which was in part the fault of its invisibilty), the cloak fails and the Valley is now exposed to danger.
- Line-of-Sight Name: In "The Perfect Adventure", Adorabat invents a mystery concerning the delivery vans with bags full of apple bombs after seeing a kiosk that sells lip balm.
- Malicious Misnaming: In Mao Mao's flashbacks to his childhood, it's shown that his father, Shin Mao, didn't even bother to get his son's name right on a regular basis.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Orangusnake, the main villain of the series, is an orangutan with a snake head.
- My Greatest Failure: After learning that he broke the Ruby Pure Heart, Mao Mao instantly decides that he'll stay there and make up for his actions by protecting the valley, as that is what a real hero would do. Subverted when Orangusnake indirectly points out that doing so would make someone legendary, to which Mao Mao immediately perks up as he realizes his mistake has given him a ticket to become a legend.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The trouble for Pure Heart Valley begins when Mao Mao and Badgerclops accidentally crash into the Ruby Pure Heart, as they couldnt see it, and create a large crack in it, thus negating its protecting power, leaving it ripe for stealing and the valley ripe for monster attacks.
- Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Adorabat says this verbatim after the two she was cloud-watching with walk off, one in anger and one in fear over her trying to see a monster in the clouds.
- Now What?: The Sky Pirates have this reaction in "Bobo-Chan," after their plan to ambush and tie up the Sheriff's Department actually works. They clearly didn't think they'd get that far.
- Older Than They Look: The citizens of Pure Heart Valley are small, technicolored creatures with cutesy voices, making them seem like kids. Mao Mao also initially believed they were all kids, prompting one bird-person to exclaim "I'm thirty!".
- Parental Neglect: From what little is seen of Mao Mao's father, Shin Mao, it's clear that he favors his daughters over his only son (whom he doesn't even call the right name).
- Politeness Judo: In "He's the Sheriff", after King Snugglemagne joins Mao Mao's posse and gets fired because his excessive politeness hinders them, Snugglemagne and Boss Hosstrich engage in one of these, competing in face-slapping with gloves, exchanging compliments, a gentleman's handshake with the two of them taking turns judo tossing each other, and putting their cloaks over a puddle with the loser being the first one to walk across the puddle; Snugglemagne manages to leap the puddle and overwhelms Hosstrich with his charm.
- Adorabat's name is a portmanteau of "adorable" and "bat", being an adorable bat.
- Badgerclops' name is a portmanteau of "badger" and "cyclops", being a one-eyed badger.
- Power Crystal: The Ruby Pure Heart protects the Pure Heart Valley with an Invisibility Cloak... until it's broken.
- "Rashomon"-Style: In "Breakup", Badgerclops tells the story of how he and Mao Mao met. Then Mao Mao questions the details and parts of the story are shown again with changes. Badgerclops claims Mao Mao was lonely and pathetic when he first saw him, then Mao Mao makes Badgerclops a baby in need of rescue, then Badgerclops claims that he was only pretending to have his foot trapped by falling rocks, showing him putting one tiny pebble on his foot, which Mao Mao struggled to lift.
- Reality Ensues: Fearwing cannot fly because his wings are made out of metal and thus, too heavy for flight.
- Repetitive Name:
- Mao Mao's name is just the word "mao" twice.
- The same is applied to Bao Bao, his former partner and pet.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Many of Pure Heart Valley's citizens, the aptly named Adorabat included, fitting with the Sugar Bowl theme of the setting, are small, wide-eyed creatures that resemble stuffed animals.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In "The Perfect Adventure", Badgerclops quits going along with Adorabat's adventure scheme because he's tired of having to climb so many stairs.
- "Sick Mao" has one to G Gundam of all things as Mao Mao recites a parody of Domon Kasshu's Shining Finger chant as he uses his illness to defeat the ice dragon, complete with a Suspiciously Similar Song to the Shining Finger theme!Mao Mao: My body burns with a terrible fever, and it's your turn to feel the heat! Take this! My germs, my viruses, and all of my pathogens!
- In "Popularity Conquest", Mao Mao is forced by the king to try different outfits to make him more popular with the townspeople (since they aren't fans of his gruff and angry behavior). Among other outfits, he's seen dressing up like Finn (with the king vetoing the outfit because "that's over") and Robin ("I see that one all the time"), before the king settles on an outfit that's a dead ringer for Steven Universe, complete with Mao Mao awkwardly contorting his mouth into an inoffensive smile and singing with a ukulele.
- "Sick Mao" has one to G Gundam of all things as Mao Mao recites a parody of Domon Kasshu's Shining Finger chant as he uses his illness to defeat the ice dragon, complete with a Suspiciously Similar Song to the Shining Finger theme!
- Sick Episode: "Sick Mao", in which Mao Mao is sick, but won't admit it because it would mean he was weak. He actually uses this to defeat the ice dragon attacking the Valley, by making it sick.
- Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: In "Not Impressed", a citizen named Ol' Blue is the only one who is not impressed by Mao Mao's heroics. Mao Mao becomes desperate for recognition from him because he's reminded of his father never paying any attention to him.
- Something We Forgot:
- At the end of "Ultraclops", Mao Mao feels like they forgot something. Cut to one of Adorabat's shed skins from when she was giant flopping over a house.
- In "Breakup", Mao Mao, Badgerclops and Adorabat have just defeated the Rock Monster when Mao Mao suddenly remembers that they left the oven on; cut to the headquarters on fire.
- Sugar Bowl: Pure Heart Valley was one for thousands of years thanks to the Ruby Pure Heart shielding it. The buildings are all pastel colored and the citizens are small and childlike.
- Tagalong Kid: Adorabat wants to be a hero like Mao Mao, and wants to join him in adventures. After saving him and Badgerclops from the pirates in the pilot, she's made assistant deputy.
- Take That!: In "Popularity Conquest", when Mao Mao is trying for a new look, one outfit he wears is similar to Finn from Adventure Time. Snugglemagne rejects it, saying "That's over", because the series aired its final episode in 2018. Then, Mao Mao tries with an outfit similar to Robin from Teen Titans Go!, which Snugglemagne also dismisses it, saying "I see that one all the time", a reference to that series taking up a lot of Cartoon Network's timeslots in the United States.
- Temporary Bulk Change: In "All By Mao Self", Mao Mao puts weights on his legs to challenge himself. After he removes them, his legs are longer and muscular, which he uses to fight the Sky Pirates. At the end of the episode, his legs are back to normal, with Mao Mao commenting that he'll likely not do that again, as the legs chafed him.
- The Drifter: Mao Mao and Badgerclops were this before they became the sworn protectors of Pure Heart Valley. Mao Mao in particular likes the freedom of just wandering around having adventures, while Badgerclops prefers to settle down.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Orangusnake's reaction to the fact that all his competent minions fell overboard.
- The Unapologetic: Mao Mao in "Mao Mao's Bike Adventure" refuses to admit he was wrong about the pirates stealing his skybike because he is "never wrong", instead trying to pin it on the Sweetie-Pies, despite all evidence to the contrary. When it is confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that the pirates stole it, Mao Mao's whole outlook is shattered.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Mao Mao's desire to be a legendary hero is at least partially a bid to gain his family's respect.
- Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: In "Bobo-Chan," the Sky Pirates (specifically Rammaraff) come up with the fairly simple plan of ambushing and tying up the Sheriff's Department while their guard is down. Of course, this actually works, and the Sky Pirates nearly succeed in throwing Mao Mao, Adorabat, and Badgerclops off a cliff (even though it took them a minute to come up with that part).
- Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: In "Thumb War", Badgerclops wins his matches because the other Sweetie-Pies are too afraid to fight him on account of he's too big. In the end, he gets the trophy for first place by bribing people like crazy.
- World of Funny Animals: All the characters are Funny Animals: Mao Mao is a cat, Badgerclops is a badger, Adorabat is a bat, and so on.
- Working Through the Cold: Mao Mao attempts this with limited success in Sick Mao, until he decides to use his germs as a weapon to fight the ice dragon.
- You Remind Me of X: Mao Mao makes Adorabat his sidekick because her adventurous attitude reminds him of himself.