Produced by Dreamworks Animation Television; Distributed by Netflix
Showrunner: Noelle Stevenson
Producers: Noelle Stevenson, Chuck Austen
Cast: Aimee Carrero, Karen Fukuhara, AJ Michalka, Marcus Scribner
Release Date: 13 November 2018
No. of episodes: 13
Following the success of Voltron: Legendary Defender, Dreamworks has once again tried their hand at rebooting a beloved ‘80s franchise with She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Based on the 1985 series She-Ra: Princess of Power, the show was developed for television by Eisner award-winning author Noelle Stevenson.
The series follows Adora, a young soldier from the Evil Horde, who discovers a magical sword that transforms her into an ancient warrior known as She-Ra. Adora soon learns the truth about the Horde and the crimes they have committed against the innocent people of Etheria. Together with her new friends Bow and Glimmer, she travels to unite the many princesses of Etheria against the Horde, and learns to use her mysterious new powers for good.
In June of 2018, the world got its first look at the new She-Ra in an exclusive feature published by Entertainment Weekly. Fan reactions to the new character designs were mixed – some loved them, while others were taken aback by the drastic changes to the characters’ outfits and body types.
Despite going in to the series with an open mind, I have to admit that I was also not very impressed with the show from a visual standpoint. The animation and art direction of the show are pleasing to look at, but aren’t anything to really write home about. Still, there are some fun, anime-inspired touches sprinkled throughout the series, particularly Adora’s magical girl transformation into She-Ra.
More than meets the eye
She-Ra’s greatest strength lies in its writing and character development. Adora is your average, likable protagonist who wants to do good and save the world, but with a twist. As she was raised as a soldier by the Evil Horde, we see occasional flashes into her troubled past, from not being used to sleeping in a bed to devising battle strategies just to attend a party. While it’s played for comedy to keep things light, these scenes give a lot of insight and depth to her character.
Still, a good hero is nothing without a great villain to contend with – and the series main antagonist, Catra, certainly fits the bill. Catra was Adora’s best friend in the Horde, who Adora abandoned when she defected from the dark side. To everyone else, Catra appears to be determined to capture and punish Adora for treason, but it’s made clear to the viewer that deep down she’s a hurt young girl who simply wants her best friend back. The tension between these two characters is intense and the encounters between them will leave you on the edge of your seat.
However, I wish the same love and nuanced writing was also shown to some of the supporting cast. While Adora’s new friends Bow and Glimmer are decently written, I felt more could be done with the other princesses to make them less one-dimensional, even despite their limited screentime.
Much like its peers Steven Universe and Adventure Time, She-Ra hints at a much darker, almost post-apocalyptic story hidden beneath its fantasy setting. While there is no official confirmation on whether She-Ra has been greenlit for a second season, showrunner Noelle Stevenson has planned at least three more story arcs for the series, so we can expect to see both the world and its supporting cast fleshed out over time.
Verdict: A show for your inner magical girl
If you’re a kid at heart who’s looking for a fun, action-packed show that can be enjoyed by viewers of all ages, She-Ra is definitely worth checking out. The great characters and intriguing story make up for the plain but decent visuals, and can only be expected to improve as the series progresses.