Review of She-Ra (Season One)

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For the honour of Grayskull! Time to review another cartoon that I have watched on Netflix. In spite of the unimpressive trailer, which has received much ire online, I recently decided to check out the thirteen episode She-Ra reboot. Although I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of the original show, I was curious to see how the series would turn out, due to its connection with Masters of the Universe. Back when I was a kid I dug watching the adventures of She-Ra’s brother He-Man, and I also owned several of the Mattel toys. He-Man was an awesome superhero who protected the fantasy world of Eternia. Just like Superman, I never understood how he managed to preserve his secret identity. When prince Adam transformed into He-Man the only things that would differentiate the two was a tan and fewer clothes.

OVERVIEW

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power follows the exploits of an orphan girl named Adora. The first episode establishes that she is a rookie soldier serving the Evil Horde empire. Adora is a model officer and has recently been promoted to the rank of force commander. Her allegiance to the Horde ends however when she witnesses first hand the atrocities they commit on Etheria’s peaceful populace. Who could have possibly predicted that the Evil Horde is evil? Adora defects to the Princess Alliance, a group made up of mostly female warriors who possess a range of elemental and magical powers. Not to be outdone Adora soon acquires a special ability of her own, courtesy of a magical sword she discovered in the nearby Whispering Woods. By lifting up the blade and yelling out her catchphrase, Adora is able to morph into the titular Valkyrie who is blessed with enhanced strength.

Most of the series follows Adora as she travels across the land with her new pals Glimmer (a teleporting royal) and Bow the archer. The trio are tasked with securing aid from neighbouring kingdoms, in the hopes they can all band together to repel the invading Horde. Instead of Sylvanas, this Horde’s leader is a scary chap named Hordak. He only makes fleeting appearances in season one though. Adora’s chief antagonists are characters from her past. The first of these is the person who raised her – a witch named Shadow Weaver. She-Ra’s other rival is childhood chum Catra, who feels hurt that Adora decided to abandon her in favour of joining the Princesses. Although too proud to admit it, Catra starts the series off wanting to bring Adora back to her side. Later however, when Catra’s achievements begin to gain recognition, the relationship sours. Catra begins to view Adora as someone who has always held her back.

VERDICT

My rating for She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is three stars. I went into the series with low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining it was. That said, I still prefer the reboots of Thundercats and He-Man over this Netflix production. I would say that those shows were more to my liking, as they had better action and were less goofy. On several occasions She-Ra’s dialogue and gags made me cringe (now I know what He-Man’s cat Cringer felt like). Although the individual storylines of each episode were nothing special, I dug Etheria’s lore. Hopefully next season will delve deeper into the sci-fi origins of She-Ra’s power. Rather than sorcery, it’s hinted that her sword is linked to an ancient race of interstellar travellers. Another thing I am looking forward to, from future episodes, is how the Adora/Catra dynamic develops. Can the pair patch things up or has the cat girl gone past the point of redemption? We will have to wait and see.

One thing that will put off many potential viewers, from giving She-Ra a chance, is the hideous artwork. It’s hard to believe that DreamWorks were behind the creation of this series. They used to produce films that were on Pixar’s level. I would blame the TV sized budget, for the lacklustre visuals, but the studio’s work on Voltron proves they are capable of much better. Another stylistic choice that won’t go down well with old school She-Ra fans are the character redesigns. Virtually all of the cast have had their race or skin colour altered. Depending on where you stand this may be a triumph for diversity or an example of SJWs trying to indoctrinate young kids via children’s programming. Apart from those changes, some characters have had their body sizes tweaked too. Glimmer has gone from being a super model, in the eighties series, to a plus size teen. I blame her powers for that. Maybe if she walked more, instead of teleporting everywhere, she would lose a few pounds.

18 thoughts on “Review of She-Ra (Season One)

    • This show isn’t technically an anime, but I don’t usually review Western shows so I didn’t have a better category to file it under. Old cartoons getting a reboot isn’t actually a new thing. In recent time we have seen new versions of Voltron, My Little Pony, Thundercats and so on.

      I wonder why these shows get a new lease of life. Young kids don’t have nostalgia for them and the tone/look of the series is so different to the original that they sometimes scare off the original fans.

    • You might be thinking of Teela, a redhead who was a recurring character in He-Man. She-Ra is one of the few characters in this show who kept the original cartoon’s design. This version of She-Ra however looks less curvy, as she is younger. I think Adora looks better in her regular form, than when she transforms.

  1. Good lord the art for this really is hideous. I’m usually fairly tolerant of such things, but it’s actively off-putting here.

    Still, glad to hear you gave it a chance and that it actually provided some entertainment rather than being the unmitigated garbage a lot of people seemed to assume it was going to be.

    Re: your above comment, I really don’t understand it either. As you say, young kids won’t have any nostalgia for the original version, and old nerds like us will be frustrated with character redesigns and suchlike. It seems counter-productive, but I guess the controversy brings in some “spite views” if nothing else. That doesn’t seem like a sustainable business model, though!

    • The visuals make a poor first impression. Based on comments I have read a lot of people refuse to give the series a chance because of how it looks. There are some scenes in the series that look much rougher than the trailer I linked to.

      My dislike of the art however applies to many of the modern day cartoons that come out in the west. After the initial backlash I have seen positive feedback for the series. It looks like this generation’s kids like the show. Most youngsters have never been exposed to the original series. They would have liked the cartoon, even if it was called something else. Slapping the She-Ra name to the programme probably caused more bad press than attract viewers.

      • Yeah, a lot of modern-day cartoons have a very similar look. It tends to be referred to disparagingly as “CalArts” or “beanmouth”, the latter being a reference to the fact that any character grinning has a mouth in the shape of a jellybean.

        I dunno. Weirdly “unkempt” art seems to be popular, as stuff like Adventure Time will attest — I never got into that because I just couldn’t get past how much I disliked the overall look of it — but I’d much rather see something with some detail and craft to it.

  2. I had no idea there was a She-Ra reboot coming until a few days ago when I started seeing complaints. The designs aren’t bad, but I don’t think Dreamworks captured the anime-like style animation very well, like you and Pete said.

    • It was a similar story for me. Were it not for videos of people ranting about the series, appearing on my YouTube recommendations, I would not have known that a She-Ra reboot existed. Some of the redesigns are okay, but for the most part I prefer how the old cartoon looked (the animation has aged badly however). She-Ra would have got less flack if it looked more like the Voltron series that DreamWorks made.

    • Nothing wrong with being chubby, but you would think someone who is out fighting in a war would be more in shape. Glimmer’s weight was worth a mention, as it is an example of a character redesign that I didn’t care for. I might have been less critical of the new looks if they were drawn better.

  3. I envy how you find all of these shows on Netflix. I’m honestly stumped when it comes to looking for shows outside of the Marvel cinematic universe. It’s also news to me that He-Man has a sister but then again, I don’t know anything about that series.

    • Blogs and YouTube are a fine source of information for anyone who wants to hear about what is worth watching on Netflix. I also find that leaving a thumbs up rating on anything show you enjoy helps. When you do that Netflix starts to list off similar shows that you might like on the home page.

      I knew that He-Man and She-Ra are related because of a crossover movie I watched on VHS, back when I was a kid. The film was pretty much the origin story for the eighties She-Ra. With respect to this reboot, Eternia is referenced but there is no mention of He-Man at all.

      • Legend of Korra, was a fantastic example where both genders were fleshed out and developed at an extremely high level. Always end up going back to that series. Happy Holidays to you and yours also 🙂

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