I like it when shows that I grew up watching are given new life. It makes them relevant, fresh, brand new for a new generation of fans while bringing in elements that made the show fun for us older fans to watch. Dreamworks, just as they have done with Voltron, reinvents an iconic show for today’s kids. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is an updated version of the 1983 original series, She-Ra, Princess of Power.
Now, some people began shooting the series down before it even started. I, for one as a fan, am enjoying the series and like the direction Dreamworks is taking it. They have given Adora a viable origin story, something that was fully explored in the original series. This helps in getting to know more about her even for older fans. I like that the characters were made young. Some fans did not like this, wanting She-Ra to be a butt-kicking badass. But by making the characters young, this leaves room for development of their stories. We get to see them grow into their roles as heroes, especially Adora, who has this responsibility of fighting for Ethernia and defeating the Dark Horde thrust onto her shoulders when she finds the Sword of Protection. Like the original series, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is aimed at young girls and pre-teens to give them a hero to look up to in the vein of DC Comics’ Wonder Woman. However, this She-Ra series is more relatable than Wonder Woman and even the 1980s series. For one, it features an almost entirely female cast of deliberate diversity, both as regards appearance as well as character traits, which range from good to “evil but understandable”, “utterly amoral” or “full-blown hippie”. One example of this is Glimmer. Her appearance has been changed from suave and sleek like a super model to a pudgy teen with a quick temper and stubborn demeanor. Girls today can see Glimmer as a character who doesn’t need to be like a model in order to be strong.
The same can be said about Adora. Quickly, fans passed judgement on her new design, stating that she looked ‘tomboy-ish’ and ‘lacks sex appeal’ when compared to her 1980s counterpart. As fan of the original series, I’m in favor of the change and understand to reason behind it. All the female characters in the original series were similar in appearance and body type due to production time and to sell the toy line. She-Ra is a warrior. A hero. An endearing person. She does not need to be sexualized in order to be those things. She does not need to be ‘glamorous, sexy or voluptuous’ to a strong female character. The focus should be on her as a person and this series does that. Adora is not perfect. She knows her responsibility and will have to deal the struggles of becoming a hero as she settles into the role. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power keep the attention on Adora and her friends as they come together as team and the struggles that come with forming fast alliances with people you barely just met. This adds an interesting dynamic to the show because they’re not going to be a perfect team and you need that conflict to show these varying personalities and how they act and react with each other. However, they will work together for the greater good.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is visually impressive. It takes elements from the source material and make them fresh again from the design of the characters to environments to the battle sequences. Adora’s transformation is reminiscent of Japanese anime, specifically magical girl series such as Sailor Moon. Furthermore, He-man is not needed. DreamWorks made the conscious decision to not have him appear in the series. They want She-Ra to stand on her own as a hero, separate from her male counterpart. I feel that this is the right choice since she wasn’t given this chance in the original series.
Overall, She-Ra is a fun and interesting new take on an old classic that has the right balance of action, humor and heart. Just like the titular character herself.