The Magic of Animation: She-Ra

Spoiler Alert!!  While I will not reveal every secret of this show, I will be getting into the details, which will give away some of the story-line and character development.  I hope I shared enough to convince you to watch the show.  There is so much more that is hard to fit into a single blog post. 😊

At the time of this writing, this show is available for viewing on Netflix (US) and available for digital or physical purchase.

Need some more magic in your life with a strong female lead?  Fear not!  Netflix brings us an updated She-Ra: Princess of Power.  This has become one of my favorites!  We start with our main character, Adora, in the only home she knows, training to be the best warrior she can.  Her best friend, Catra, is completely jealous and never seems to be happy for her.  Their known enemy are the group of princesses who harness powers of different elements.  The mysterious group of princesses and their followers are called The Rebellion.  After taking a joyride through the Whispering Woods, Adora discovers a sword.  She touches it and has strange visions she doesn’t understand.  After returning home, she cannot stop thinking about the sword and the things she saw.  She returns to find the sword once again and runs into two members of the Rebellion.  As they try to take control of the sword, a huge creature makes an appearance.  Adora grabs the sword to attack the creature and transforms into a warrior princess.  The legend comes to life.   Adora couldn’t be more surprised.

Adora’s world rapidly changes as she comes to realize that not only was she on the wrong side of the great war, but is directly part of the solution.  She struggles to understand fully until she meets an ancient “First Ones” artificial intelligence.  She quickly makes friends with the young members of the Rebellion and joins their cause to reform the Princess Alliance.  Season One introduces all the main characters and develops the friendship between the Adora, Bow, and Glimmer.  Over the span of five seasons, the relationship between Adora and Catra evolves from best friends to enemies.  They are bound to destroy each other, but something always keeps them from completing their task.  Shadow Weaver, mentor and guide to Catra and Adora, never adjusts to the loss of Adora.  As a way to cope, she is abusive to Catra throughout the series.  Catra did not do much about Shadow Weaver’s behavior until later in the series when she grabs power for herself.  Catra learns that grit and hard work don’t always bring you what you want.  She claws her way to the top and lacks fulfillment. 

The character development is phenomenal.  As the seasons continue, there are true moments of humanity. 

Adora / She-ra:  Adora is our lead in this story of ours.  She was raised by the Horde, so she was born ready for battle.  She joins the Rebellion early on in the series when she learns she has a connection with a magical sword.  The sword transforms her into a tall, strong, and mythical princess warrior named She-Ra.  Her brute strength can take down any enemy or robot.  Her sword shoots out an energy the rivals just about anything.  The struggle between fighting against her previous friends, including Catra, and fulfilling her destiny carries us through the series.

Catra:  Catra is best friend to Adora and enemy of She-ra.  You could see how that might make the relationship difficult.  She strives to become a leader within the Horde.  Ambitious and hungry for power, Catra tries to please the leadership.  She has mixed results.  She takes out her anger and hurt out on Scorpia over the duration of the series. 

Bow:  Bow is a close and long-time friend of Glimmer.  Bow is brave and is always inventing new gadgets for the Rebellion.  He fights with a bow-and-arrow (naturally).  Bow is famous for his trick arrows.  He is also one of the few male leads in the entire series.  Bow is usually the one that is keeping everyone’s spirits up in times of struggle.  Bow, Glimmer, and Adora make up a “The Best Friend Squad” and Bow never lets the others forget it. 

Glimmer:  Glimmer is the only daughter of Queen Angella and by definition princess of Bright Moon.  She has a difficult relationship with her mother.  Glimmer has a level of courage that the Queen never seem to gain.  Glimmer is constantly rebelling against her mother, which leads her on fantastic adventures.  She has the power to teleport herself (and others).  This becomes increasingly important as she helps fight the on-going battles of the war. 

Scorpia:  Scorpia is a Force Captain in the Horde and a beast in battle.  She is probably the nicest “bad guy” you will find.  She is loyal to Catra more than the Horde itself.  Scorpia has an affection for Catra that is never returned in any way.  Scorpia believes that being a good friend to Catra is more important than her own feelings.   Scorpia feels like she is just a cog in the machine, but her true value is revealed later in the series as the Rebellion is trying to activate the Heart of Etheria. 

Shadow Weaver:  Second-in-command in the Horde and a powerful sorcerer.  She draws magical power from the Black Garnet runestone.  She is a mentor to Catra and Adora.  Shadow Weaver has a complicated past and most characters, even people in the Horde, don’t trust her.  She pushed the limits of “what is acceptable” when using magical powers and is an outcast for much of the second half of the series.

Hordak:  Leader of the Horde.  He keeps to himself in a large lair.  From the beginning of the show, he shows no mercy or forgiveness towards anyone.  Hordak is harsh with all his subordinates and is easily upset.  He rules by fear and is pretty successful at it.  Later in the series, he actually becomes friends with Entrapta, which tells you more about Entrapta than Hordak. 

Entrapta:  Honestly one of my favorite characters.  Affectionately referred to as “the geek princess”, she is one of the more complex characters of the entire show.  With no magical ability, she uses her genius level knowledge of First Ones technology to create robots and even a portal into another dimension.  Entrapta is usually so engrossed with her work, she doesn’t always realize when she is being used.  Her interpersonal skills are lacking and so she doesn’t really take ideological sides.  Entrapta is all about the science.  As her exposure to other people is increased, she starts to learn about how feelings work.  Like a good scientist, she doesn’t give up after a couple of failures.  She presses on to find the solution.

Mermista:  She becomes part of the main princess circle early on the series and continues to be a resource to the team.  She has a very blasé attitude most of the time, but when a big decision has to be made, she fights for her opinion with a fierce determination.   Mermista controls liquid water with great power.  She actually likes Sea Hawk, but would never admit to it openly.  This is used for comedy throughout the series.

Sea Hawk:  The best sea captain around.  Obviously!  Sea Hawk will charm you with his sea shanties and his sense of “ADVENTURE!!!”  He loves tall tales and has some of the best comic relief moments.  Sea Hawk fancies the company of Mermista, but she barely gives him the time of day. 

Purfuma:  The first addition to the Princess Alliance and controller of all-things plants.  She has a sweet demeanor and a peaceful soul.  However, Purfuma will take down a fortress with a plant monster if needed.  Her deep connection to nature and the feelings of others balances out the group of rugged warriors. 

These are just a few of the main characters.  There are so many supporting characters that come and go over the series.

The animation style is beautiful 2-D and hand-drawn.  The animation design reflects the different parts of the stories.  The princess scenes are very colorful and bright, while everything in the Horde is dark (literally, lacking proper lighting).  The princesses all have rounded features and the members of the Horde mostly have sharp edges and harsh contrast in colors.  The various characters are of all shapes and sizes and species. 

The writing is rich with world-building and character backstories.  There is friendship, enemies, war weariness, romance, magic, science, forgiveness, and betrayal.  Some characters are not fully good or fully evil.  There are some that make a full swing of redemption to join the princesses in the final moments.  In my recent re-watch, I found parallels with Avatar: The Last Airbender, Harry Potter, and the Borg from Star Trek

I have to give a special shoutout to the music in this series.  The mix of traditional scores and 80s synth match the animation perfectly.  The music enhances one of the best transformation scenes I have seen since Yu-Gi-Oh.  I love the spirit taking over and helping the scared hero in times of need.

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