She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Tagged: TV

US animated tv series (2018-current). DreamWorks Animation. Developed by/Executive Producer Noelle Stevenson. Directors include Jen Bennett and Stephanie Stine. Writers include Josie Campbell, Katherine Nolfi, Laura Sreebny and Noelle Stevenson. Voice cast includes Lauren Ash, Aimee Carrero, Karen Fukuhara, Morla Gorrondona, Keston John, AJ Michalka, Marcus Scribner, Lorraine Toussaint and Christine Woods. 39 24-minute episodes to date. Colour.

A reboot of the Filmation animation series She-Ra: Princess of Power (1985-1986), created by Larry DiTillio and J Michael Straczynski. This was a spin-off from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983-1985) (see also Masters of the Universe), but targeting girls rather than boys. Both series were linked to a Mattel toy line.

Captain Adora (Carrero) and her friend Catra (Michalka) are cadets in the army of Emperor Hordak (Keston), which seeks to liberate the planet Etheria by defeating a rebellion of evil princesses. But after Adora finds the Sword of Protection she is captured by Princess Glimmer (Fukuhara) and her friend, Master Archer Bow (Scribner). Adora learns that the Rebellion (people living in rural communities and beautiful castles, using Magic and at one with nature) are good and her side (living in ugly constructions, using war Machines, destroying nature and called – even by themselves – "the Horde") are evil. Discovering that the sword can transform her into eight-foot She-Ra, Princess of Power, she vows to defeat the Horde. The first season's plots often centre on the attempts to capture Adora, initially by the sorceress Shadow Weaver (Toussaint), Hordak's second-in-command, then by the newly promoted Catra.

Though the Rebellion uses Magic, it is strongly linked to the science of Etheria's self-proclaimed original colonists, the "First Ones" (see Imperialism). Princess Entrapta (Woods), an eccentric Scientist easily distracted by Robots, studies their Technology; following a misunderstanding she leaves the rebels for the Horde and, continuing her research, she learns that Etheria is deeply embedded with the First One's technology. The previous incarnation of She-Ra had put Etheria into another Dimension: it is eventually revealed that this was not to protect Etheria, but to protect the universe from the First One's plan to use Etheria's magic as a super-Weapon, through their AI, Light Hope (Gorrondona). Hordak is trying to create a portal to allow the forces of Horde Prime, of which he is an imperfect Clone, to enter: Entrapta shows him what he's doing wrong, but discovers it will "create a warped reality that will collapse in on itself"; this doesn't prevent a now embittered Catra from activating the portal, and Adora finds herself in an Alternate History where she failed to discover the sword. A sacrifice is made and the real world restored, but the portal's temporary opening has been noticed by Horde Prime. Prior to his arrival, Adora and the now-Queen Glimmer find themselves at loggerheads; whilst Catra – following the desertion of her last friend, Scorpia (Ash) – begins to understand her sense of abandonment is the consequence of her own actions, not the malice of others.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power has weaned itself from the Clichés of its source: many Horde members are portrayed as normal, likeable people and the Horde is also shown to be, to some extent, a meritocracy. As with the original show, the debt to the Star Wars franchise is clear; other influences include the television animation series Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008). Though the response has largely been favourable, dissenting cries were heard from some middle-aged males, complaining that the female characters in this children's show are not as sexy as they were in the original, whilst also fretting over the show's strong LGBT ambience. Viewers able to abide such wickedness will find that this is one of the finest current animation series, with engaging characters, much Humour and engrossing storytelling. [SP]


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