Like all good things, Adventure Time has come to an end. As sad as that may be, there’s another story from series creator Pendleton Ward’s imagination worth your attention, and it’s about to make its triumphant return.
Bravest Warriors tells the story of four teens who become the newest generation of spacefaring, dimension-hopping heroes responsible for protecting the universe from all manner of mayhem-loving ne’er-do-wells. Outfitted with technology that transforms their emotions into weapons made of hard light, Chris, Beth, Danny, and Wallow, travel from crisis to crisis as they try to maintain the peace and discover their places in the world.
Bravest Warriors blends the whimsical lightheartedness of Adventure Time with the sometimes bawdy, nihilistic sensibility of Rick and Morty to tell a story about a group of teens who are really just trying to figure out who they want to be. In their own ways, each of the Warriors is fighting to move out of the shadow of the Courageous Battlers, the kids’ parents who once fought evil much in the same way they do.
Bravest Warriors began as a series of quirky, irreverent web shorts, but after becoming a full-on show in its own right composed of 22-minute-long episodes (that are technically produced as two individual episodes linked together), its story took a dramatic turn for the better. Much like Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and a lot of other animated shows with fantastical narratives, Bravest Warriors is the kind of story that becomes deeper and stronger as your understanding of its mythology grows.
The team’s rise to prominence comes not as a result of their battling prowess but because their parents mysteriously disappear into the perilous See Through Zone, leaving the universe in desperate need of new heroes. The opportunity to test their mettle and prove their might brings out both the best and the worst in the Warriors, who all know that their new lives come at the price of having lost their respective families. Though Bravest Warriors revels in absurdity, poop jokes, and gags about hooking up with aliens, there’s an undercurrent of sadness and loss incorporated into each character’s larger arc.
Danny, the inventor of the team, struggles with the insecurities and emotional baggage that come along with growing up as an overweight, ostracized kid. Wallow, an optimistic tank of a man, brings a much-needed lightheartedness to the Warriors when they’re in the existential valley of uncertainty and depression. Beth is the team’s rightful leader who struggles to make herself heard by her peers even though her levelheadedness and quick thinking are often what ends up keeping them alive. The merewolf Plum is the most mysterious and monstrous of the Bravest Warriors, and Chris, well he’s perhaps the most complicated of the lot.
Chris’ status as the most powerful Emotion Lord—a thinly veiled poke at Doctor Who—is something he can’t quite wrap his mind around. It means that he’s destined for greatness even though he’s depicted as being one of the team’s wimpier members. On some level, Chris knows that were he to fully access his Emotion Lord powers, he could potentially change the past and alter the course of history. All of the things he wants—his parents’ safe return, Beth’s love, and the defeat of evil once and for all—are things he could have if only he understood how to go about making them happen.
It also doesn’t help that it isn’t at all uncommon for his future self to come to the past to antagonise him. In the show, the future is an unknown filled with infinite possibilities for everyone, but for Chris, it’s something he knows that he should be able to master, but simply can’t quite yet.
It’d be criminal not to mention that Catbag, a cat/ladybug hybrid with the uncontrollable ability to jump to alternate universes, is one of the most adorable cartoon characters of all time.
Bravest Warriors isn’t quite as dense a show as Adventure Time and ultimately, that works in the show’s favour in a huge way. Each adventure with the crew is designed to be easy to dip into to allow viewers to get to know the characters and the worlds they visit a little better.
At this point, Bravest Warriors is already four seasons deep and while it may sound like a daunting task to catch up before the series returns this Friday, all of the show’s previous episodes are available to watch for free now on YouTube's Cartoon Hangover channel. So, hey, what are you waiting for? Get to it, heroes.
Featured image: Nelvana (VRV)