Fuck. Yeah. Theres nothing quite like a bipedal shotgun wielding horse to bring home your point. Bravestarr was a show that I never saw as a child, probably because it was so awesome that if I had caught but a glimpse of it my eyes would melt from their sockets. My eyes finally feasted upon it while watching Spanish cartoon network completely drunk on a cruise ship docked in Ocho Rios. I thought perhaps, that it was all a lush dream and that I may have made it all up but before I passed out, clutching a pen and a tour guidebook I wrote “Bravestar” so that I would not forget what I had seen.
The flight home was as intense as you can imagine. I held in my hand the tour book, slowly thumbing the corner in quiet anticipation. The wait was horrendous. We landed, loaded up the car, and drove home. As we rounded my street my knees began to quiver and my palms started to sweat. I burst the car door open and what began as a swift walk became a flat out gallop, much like Thirty/Thirty and his hooven gallop of justice. I threw my bags down haphazardly, and leapt towards my room thrusting myself into my chair. The screen flickered on and I typed as fast as my fingers would allow me “Bravestar” into google. I hit “I’m feeling lucky”…because I was.
This was the moment of truth.
“How was your trip?” someone I didn’t bother to notice asked. I mumbled something unintelligible as the search loaded and there before me, was the wikipedia for Bravestarr. I had spelled it wrong but that didn’t matter now, my dreams were real. It’s like finding a leprechaun or slaying a dragon…or doing both at the same time. This was a time for celebration.
There but for the grace of God go I. I had found the holy grail. Bravestarr is everything a childrens cartoon should be and more. It had animal sidekicks, space ships, lasers, cowboys, Anthropomorphic panthers with German accents…you name it this show had it. I don’t know much about the actual history except for the opening but I like to imagine since Bravestarr is a marshall of “New Texas” that America had literally won the space race so well that not only are they spreading throughout the galaxy but they’re the only known humans to exist in space. This is exactly what President Eisenhower was going for when he signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act.
The alternate history of New Texas and how it came about aren’t really elaborated upon in the show so I prefer to imagine my own:
After John Wilkes Booth botched the assassination attempt of Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln immediately set in action the space program, realizing his mortality and inevitable death he wept as he had never seen the stars up close. Instead of focusing on the economic and cultural problems America faced, everything was put into getting to space. The tolls on the government were heavy and many died in building the first rockets but under Theodore Roosevelt in the early 1900’s America launched their first manned spacecraft.
The implications of this action were broad and nations began to set their own space programs up, thus beginning a space race in the 1920’s. Sadly, America was not prepared to deal with the hardships that followed and still suffered a great depression in 30’s. Luckily a man named FDR took office and set up his New Deal, which was “Get to the Moon.” This unheard of proposal led America into a finacial boom as millions looked towards that spherical white orb and dared to dream.
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor during WW2, the Americans had already landed 3 spacecrafts on the moon. There they found ancient alien technology, left by Godkings countless millenia before, far superior than any an Earth man had touched. Using it from their moon stronghold, the Americans launched satellites that encircled Japan in a giant fire shield. The other nations immediately agreed that they would stop the war and the Japanese were never let out of the barrier, which is why they don’t appear in the show.
From this moment on America held all the cards and left the rest of the world a husk of their former selves. They took their empire from Washington to the moon and then beyond until they’d reached a place they dubbed New Texas, not forgetting their roots. Here a lawman was born, of Native American decent…somehow. A man known only as Bravestarr.
Bravestarr had a huge variety of characters and to my knowledge paved the way for women’s rights unlike any children’s show before it. The love interest character Judge J.B. McBride, was a redhaired judge…just like Judge Judy, except her jurisdiction was space and she wore a black cowboy hat. I’m pretty certain before this cartoon there were no female judges at all, so Judge Judy has a lot to be thankful of Bravestarr about. Bravestarr is the Susan B Anthony of Western cartoons.
That not deep enough for you? Alright I got some deep shit here, another main character was the villain who was a zombie cowboy named Tex Hex who fired energy bolts and tried to satiate his immense greed. He was an obvious allegory to the corporate greed of America while Bravestarr was representing the good expansionist/freedom aspects. They were two faces of the same coin, both powered by ancient gifts from benefactors (much like the patriot forefathers) who fought for what they each believed was neccessary.
Tex was once a man who had found love and could have easily given up his life of crime to live happily with his girlfriend. He chose instead to follow his sinful heart and seek out fortunes away from her. This is much like how America could have stayed with Britain and lived a peaceful coexistance but instead decided to venture off on her own, to satisfy her own greed. Tex’s entire backstory is a comparison to the American Revolutionary War.
Most importantly however, it also had one of the greatest characters ever created, Thirty/Thirty. He’s basically every childhood dream you can possibly think of:
1. He’s a talking animal. Every kid wants their pet to talk to them. It’s like a need that only cartoons can fill.
2. He can transform. “You know what would be awesome? He should change into a shotgun wielding manbeast.” Find one thing wrong with that. It’s not possible.
3. His name. It’s the same word twice with a slash in the middle. No kid on earth is going to say thats not cool.
4. He wields an “energy laser shotgun” Yeah, okay.
If you took everything that makes a child fall in love with a character and put it in one guy…Thirty/Thirty is your answer. Although I guess the answer would actually be 1.
Finally a draw to the show for kids was Bravestarr’s animal powers. Now I’m fine with this tactic as it’s used in a lot of different medium and oftentimes can lead to neat gimmicks. The problem with Bravestarr though was his animal forms didn’t really make any sense:
- Eyes of the Hawk: Enhances his vision and can also grant him an aerial view of the surrounding area.
- Ears of the Wolf: Gives him super-hearing.
- Strength of the Bear: Gives him super-strength.
- Speed of the Puma: Gives him super-speed.
Alright so he has to turn each of these on for some reason and they aren’t usually working at the same time. That’s fine…I guess, but the problem comes when he bears up and starts throwing boulders. Bears aren’t usually known for their boulder throwing prowess, much less in the ability to lift 4x their own weight. I guess this isn’t supposed to be taken literally but if all I watched was Bravestarr as a child my understanding of the animal kingdom would be much different than the norm. The same goes for speed of the puma where he literally takes off so fast he becomes blurry. Now I’ve never seen a puma run in person but I don’t think they usually break the sound barrier.
The animal forms are neat and all but for the most part he could have gone without mentioning them at all and I could have just believed he had normal Native American spirit powers. You know, the usual stereotype.