REVIEW: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 1

She Ra

***Spoiler Warning***

She has the Power

She-Ra is back in a fantasy adventure series all ages can enjoy. DreamWorks brings us 13 episodes of an animated masterpiece that not only brings some classic nostalgia back to life, but updates it for new viewers. The demographic is in that niche area of younger people, little kids to pre-teens specifically, but also has some in-depth emotions older viewers and honestly some of the coolest storytelling I’ve seen in television. It does not restrict the quality of its storytelling just because it’s a kids show. Also, the show was developed by the creative mind that brought us the comics Nimona and Lumberjanes, Noelle Stevenson. She’s shown she can write fun adventure stories about young girls and continues to do so with this show.

Episode 1 & 2: The Sword Part 1 & 2

Episodes 1 and 2 remind me of the hour-long movie cartoon premieres that are later separated into two episodes of my youth, as they did with Young Justice and Justice League back in the day. These first two episodes perfectly establish the main characters of the show: Adora/ She-Ra, Glimmer, Bow, and the recurring villains Shadow Weaver and Catra. There are even new characters like, Lonnie and Kyle.

Now, the art style is more kid-friendly and less pseudo-realistic than the original, but the shapes and sizes of the people in this show are genuinely realistic instead of a bunch of scrawny white girls. The animation flows beautifully and respects the original design of every character. Also, the show doesn’t stop and explain the powers of any character, they just show you. The viewer knows Glimmer teleports because she teleports, Bow uses a bow and arrow, and Adora, even before she’s She-Ra, shows you she can fight in the first scene. All in all, this was a strong start to the series, even if some of the plot points were kind of generic in a good versus evil, finding yourself adventure story kind of way. I mean, who doesn’t realize people that live in a place called the Fright Zone are bad, but still, an excellent start.

Verdict: 4 out of 5

Episode 3: Razz

She-Ra and Razz

One of the main subplots of this series is Adora figuring herself out, so this is the generic trying to activate your powers episode. She also has to convince the Princess Rebellion to trust a Horde soldier. It also has a Kowl pillow, Swift Wind, and then Razz shows up, so She-Ra veterans rejoice. Catra deals with losing Adora, and Shadow Weaver uses her for her own ends. Meanwhile, Madame Razz is a weird Yoda-like mentor character that I love. She establishes what the Princesses and evil Horde were and are. Adora does her awesome magical girl transformation and saves Swift Wind, then gets saved by Razz when she can’t defeat them all on her own. Then we get that awesome, “I’m She-Ra but I was also a Horde soldier” scene in front of the Queen, paralleled by Catra meeting Hordak. It’s a solid episode that develops Adora and Catra’s stories evenly.

This episode is also the first one with the intro and new theme song “Warriors” by Aaliyah Rose. I never skipped the intro while watching because it’s short, beautiful, and makes me feel good inside.

Verdict: 4 out of 5

 

Episode 4: Flowers for She-Ra

This is the weakest episode of the season. The show is great at being episodic while continuing the story, but I’m so tired of the “We don’t want a fight, we’re pacifists, please save us” plot. That describes Princess Perfuma and the kingdom of Plumeria. Also, I don’t know why Adora keeps wearing her Horde soldier uniform other than cartoon logic. Sure the episode furthers the main stories of She-Ra and Catra like the rest, but the overall idea of the episode is cliché which can work but also feels like a really obvious deus ex machina at the end.

This episode is also the first appearance of Netossa and Spinnerella, the latter voiced by Noelle Stevenson herself, who are kind of in the background for the whole season. In conclusion, this episode continues the story but was a little bland in comparison to the rest of the series.

Verdict: 3 out of 5

Episode 5: The Sea Gate

Each episode builds on the last, stretching the world and introducing new characters. In this case, we get the adventurous Seahawk, the water controlling Princess Mermista, and Catra’s new best friend Force Captain Scorpia. Seahawk is fun wrapped in pirate clothing. Throughout the episode, he starts to sing and is then interrupted, which makes when he actually sings all the more entertaining. Seahawk ended up being my second favorite recurring character followed by the character that appears in the next episode. In the end, this is a fun world-building episode that also has a really cool scene between Catra and She-Ra, when She-Ra was repairing the Sea Gate and Catra was just talking to her, still trying to get her childhood friend to come home. Almost every episode has a scene like that, and it was one of my favorites.

Verdict: 4 out of 5

Episode 6: System Failure

This is the spooky episode that introduces my favorite recurring character in the series: Princess Entrapta. She’s an inventor obsessed with the First Ones, the creators of Etheria, but one of her inventions goes wrong and all her robot servants go haywire. This is kind of a Halloween episode with a spooky atmosphere and some really great horror-inspired aesthetics, but it also tells a great story of someone without powers in this world and how She-Ra can’t always be there to save them.

Verdict: 5 out of 5

Episode 7: In the Shadows of Mystacor

Glimmer decides Adora needs a break with her Aunt Castaspella on Mystacor for some relaxation. I am just realizing that name is “Cast a spell,” but Glimmer calls her Casta in the episode and I didn’t notice. We get a good look into how Adora got tics from how she was raised. We also see one of my favorite aspects of the show, which is how the seeming contrast between She-Ra and Adora balances with their similarities, and that works really well here.

Verdict: 4 out of 5

Episode 8: Princess Prom

Up to this point the show was kind of episodic, which can work, but was getting a little old. She-Ra goes somewhere to recruit or save a princess, fights bad guys, wins, wash, rinse, and repeat. This episode, on the other hand, was the needed catalyst of change. It really portrayed the flaws of our leads and genius of the villains, whom we we might take for granted by episode 8, since they keep losing. This is also a “here’s everyone we’ve met so far” episode and it rehashes all the Princesses in a cool way that reminds you they are part of this world. In the end, this episode really pulls at the insecurities of Adora and Glimmer and leaves us with an awesome cliffhanger.

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5

Episode 9: No Princess Left Behind

The Princess rebellion, led by She-Ra, come together to save Glimmer and Bow from the Fright Zone. This is an excellent episode where we get to see all the Princesses do their part. We also finally get to know Kyle, the Horde soldier, who I hope continues to grow in importance. They get Glimmer back, but only by sacrificing one of their own, which breaks up the Princess Rebellion once again. This was a solid episode that showed how serious this show can get and they honestly could’ve ended the season here, but I’m happy they kept going.

Verdict: 4 out of 5

Episode 10: The Beacon

Entrapta lives! She also joins the bad guys, mainly out of confusion, and Glimmer glitches. This episode really sets up for the end of the season and is kind of lost in the whole, but still works. I’d give it a higher rating because I love Scorpia, Catra, and Entrapta together, but thought it was really dumb that Glimmer didn’t talk with her Mom about glitching. I felt Glimmer had developed more than that. All in all, it works but doesn’t reach the full potential the show has shown me it can reach.

Verdict: 3.5 out of 5

Episode 11: Promise

She Ra Catra

Adora goes back to the First One place in the Whispering Woods from episodes 1 and 2 to figure everything out, only to run into Catra, giving us the best episode of the season. The majority of the episode is Adora and Catra cutting between present-day trapped in this mountain and a simulation of their memories together growing up with the Horde. This was one of the best episodes of television I’ve seen all year, with forms of growth and development for the protagonist and antagonist that honestly blew my mind. Catra, who I already thought was cool, became one of my favorite villains while watching this, and even if she turns good later, this episode showed how powerful a presence she already is.

Verdict: 5 out of 5

Episode 12: Light Hope

Adora has returned to Light Hope for the generic exposition episode that explains everything vaguely enough so we get an idea what She-Ra’s deal is while Catra pretty much replaces Shadow Weaver in the Horde. A glitching Glimmer, Bow, and a newly sentient Swift Wind save She-Ra from herself in the end, in the classic “should I learn my secrets or save my friends” kind of scene that barely works. Swift Wind does get my fourth favorite recurring character award for the fact that he’s been going barn to barn liberating horses.

Verdict: 3.5 out of 5

Episode 13: The Battle of Bright Moon

She Ra Best Friend Squad

The finale is fun and we get to see pretty much all the Princesses, even Netossa and Spinnerella, fight in cool ways against seemingly unbeatable odds. Everyone has a moment, and there’s an awesome final fight between Catra and She-Ra that caps off the season, but the finale was still a little too bland and deus ex machina for my tastes.

Verdict: 3.5 out of 5

For the Honor

There have been a lot of reboots in recent years: Voltron, Thundercats, DuckTales, and at least two TMNT ones. Even though these were successful, there were other series that were just money grabs at people’s nostalgia. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power isn’t just a good new show, it’s true to the roots of what the original show stood for and honors its predecessor with a new take on the series for the children of today. The show, though capable of being enjoyed by all, represents a huge positive example for young girls via positive female leads without falling into negative stereotypes. The original She-Ra series was created when producers realized little girls enjoyed the He-Man cartoon and this series is awesome because it gives little girls another show in which to see they can be heroes, leads, and protagonists that a lot of cartoons didn’t provide in the past. This show is a fun adventure for all ages that I genuinely enjoyed. I felt like I got more than I deserved by the finale and am insanely excited for season two and all the possibilities of the show.

Oh, is this a bio? I better tell people who I am and what I do, right? Well, that's easy I'll explain that I'm a writer of sorts who goes under the alias of Nobody, but my friends call me Kade because that's my name. Check out some of my short stories on Tapas.io under Social Cues of Mythology.

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