She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
This She-Ra is less edgy than the original perhaps, but more modern. She-Ra represents modern Feminism and it is interesting to note the sometime subtle differences crept up in the 32 or so years that have passed between the two versions. The 80s She-Ra sexualized the characters and placed their ages around 20-25 years old. The new one is drawn more modestly and makes the characters more like 16-18 years old. They also removed the tie in to He-Man. It is cool because that makes She-Ra less dependent on her men in general. They also downplay the role of Hordak and emphasize Shadow Weaver’s influence instead.
Without He-Man they had tweak the origin story. We have hints, but haven’t gotten a detailed history. It seems people from Eternia landed on Etheria in their spaceships. They had advanced technology, which was lost over the centuries. We find out that each of the “Princesses of Power” were each given a rune of power. The runes helped them protect themselves and the planet. Now the Horde is destroying the planet and they need to band together to stop the Horde from killing them all. It keeps the original undertones of Feminist Ecology while not blaming technology. Its vision is one where technology can be used to balance things rather than destroy them. In this version, greed is seen more as the issues more than industry.
I noticed the influence of Norse Mythology in the original cartoon, but the new cartoon highlights those influences even more. She-Ra’s headdress hinted at her status as some sort of goddess or Valkyrie. Now with the presence of the runes we see a confirmation of this Norse influence.
The truth was the original She-Ra was pretty much a white-washed fantasy world. I applaud the diversity in the Netflix Series. In the new show Bow is black and Perfuma appears to be of mixed race. Mermista looks to be Indian perhaps and Frosta in an Eskimo who is all of 11 years old. Frosta reminded me of Lyanna Mormontt from Game of Thrones. Both Lyanna and Frosta are tiny but fierce.
It was an interesting choice to portray Glimmer who has curves that show she is a fuller figured gal. I liked the mother-daughter relationship between Glimmer and Angella. While Glimmer comes across as whiny and annoying at first, we eventually do see the struggle to become an adult and be taken seriously. Angella obviously worries about her daughter, but begins to let her grow.
One thing I noticed is that there is no rebel camp where Glimmer and Bow hangout. Glimmer still lives at home and who knows where Bow stays when he is not hanging out at the castle Brightmoon. The rebellion seems to be centered with Angella and Glimmer. During the Netflix Series we see Glimmer recruiting the other princesses, which begins to build the rebellion.
The original She-Ra drew a great deal from Star Wars with the rebel camp and the storm trooper robots. They even had laser guns. This new series downplays the robots. The troopers look more like they are from Halo than Star Wars. Not to mention the fact the droids draw more from the Star Wars Prequels and even The Incredibles than the original Star Wars.
Swift wind is less She-Ra’s companion and more about freeing other horses while occasionally helping out. Lighthope is no longer a beam of light with a male voice. Instead, she is a hologram the helps Adora. Lighthope is more like Synergy from Jem in this one. Scorpia is may be a bit butch, but she has a softer side in the new series. The old Scorpia alternated between silly and cruel.
One character I wish we saw more of was Castaspella. She was always one of my favorites. The new series portrays her more as kooky aunt than a serious sorceress. She was good for a laugh, but I wished they had explored the role of magic and mysticism more. It seems to me they really missed opportunity.
However, they did include a hint at Shadow Weaver’s back story, which was cool. I wasn’t sure what to think of this new Shadow Weaver. She seems much more malevolent in this one. While the 80s cartoon drew inspiration from Maleficent, this new Shadow Weaver reminded me of the villain from Big Hero Six. I think it is perhaps the style of the mask and they way she throws her tendrils of shadows around. I also noticed Shadow Weaver relied on psychological manipulation as well as magic to control Adora and Catra, which made her scarier somehow.
I liked the way Adora stumbled onto Madam Raz’s house in the woods and helped her pick berries. They pulled off the forgetful, but wise old woman well. And I liked how she talked to her broom but the broom didn’t talk back this time. I just wish they had spent more time with her. I felt like she knew a great deal more than she was letting on. If only Adora had known what questions to ask!
Mermista grated on me at first with her apathetic teenager routine. She was all like “whatever.” Eventually she grew on me though. Her relationship with Sea Hawk is amusing. I noticed that Sea Hawk is written more like Jack Sparrow instead of Errol Flynn. Although I like the humor attached to Sea Hawk, I found his character to be less developed than some of the others.
The best and most developed relationship is the one between Adora and Catra. They were kind of catty toward one another in the original, but the new show adds depth to their friendship. They still care about each other even if they are on different sides of the conflict. This alone makes the series worth watching.
Overall, the series is intelligently written and drawn well. It doesn’t underestimate its viewers like the original ones sometimes did. Also, the Netflix series feels like it has an arc while the original 80s cartoon felt very episodic. In any case, I can’t wait for Season 2 to see where they take it. The 13 episodes we got were just not enough!