Been really enjoying this show. It took a couple episodes to grow on me, but there’s just something about it. The other night I found myself thinking that I couldn’t really imagine Fangbone having the sort of toxic fandom* that a lot of cartoon shows do, like Steven Universe or even, to an extent, Adventure Time. And I think I may have stumbled upon why.
Fangbone celebrates and reinforces classical masculine virtues.
The overarching theme of the show is brotherhood and camaraderie between two young men and how they learn important skills and virtues from one another: hard work, dedication, honesty, loyalty, martial prowess, etc.
Both main male characters have plenty of comic foibles, but neither is portrayed as dumb in the sort of broken and helpless way you so often see, despite the frequent use of fish-out-of-water comedic situations.
Fangbone may seem wild, weird and silly because he’s a Barbarian trying to fit in with a bunch of suburban school kids, but his biggest fault is not he’s a dumb barbarian but that he can be hard-headed. Yet part of why he is hard-headed is that he is very traditional, very honest, and very loyal. As the guardian of Drool’s toe, he is under a tremendous burden which, while many things in the show are played for laughs, is treated as a serious responsibility. So sometimes he can push others much harder than they can take and in ways that can alienate, but his “Battle Brother” Bill is always there for him to remind him that he is not alone in his burdens.
Bill is kind of the straight man to Fangbone. As the “civilized” character, he reigns in some of Fangbone’s more uncouth and abrasive behavior, just as Fangbone is able to pull Bill out of the comforts of modern civilized life to make him a stronger, braver and better person. Bill
But the typical “lesson” of the day for an episode of Fangbone?
-Strength is a virtue, Intelligence is a virtue, and they need not be exclusive
-It’s okay to push your friends to better themselves, but you can’t be a dick about it
-Honesty is the best policy
-One should not break an oath (even if it was an oath to a villain)
-Always be there for your Battle Brothers, and they will be there for you
The adult male figures who appear in the show are hardly role models (Bill is fatherless, the Barbarian wizard is a twit, and the Clan Leader is hardheaded and taciturn), but that ends up serving to reinforce how much Fangbone is a show about boys growing up to be men under difficult circumstances. Without role models, they can only pursue the ideals; despite the adversity they face, they do so admirably.
*:I’m sure I’ll be proven wrong on this someday.