Episode 01 – The Sword, Part 1

In which Adora becomes She-Ra for the first time.

Well, I have to say, I didn’t think this would ever happen. A revival of He-Man seemed likely at some stage; a revival of She-Ra rather less so. But let’s be fair: by 2018, He-Man had already had two follow-up series, so it seems only reasonable that She-Ra gets her own turn. And I’m sure that a modern series couldn’t possibly be nearly so enraging as the old She-Ra was … could it?

So, let’s start at the beginning. As in the original, Adora is a member of the Horde, though here she’s a young trainee. Catra is her best friend, and they are both under the tutelage of Shadow Weaver, who seems to approve of everything Adora does and harbours a deep dislike of Catra. We also get a vague hint of mysterious origins for Adora, since Shadow Weaver mentions having found her as an orphan child and taking her in. There is a chance that this may not prove to be the whole truth.

Adora: “Shadow Weaver sounds kind of … evil, no?”

Be that as it may, Shadow Weaver – on Hordak’s orders – promotes Adora to Force Captain and tasks her with destroying the rebel insurgency at Thaymor. Catra is a little jealous of Adora’s promotion, but all is forgiven when Adora takes her out on a joyride in a skiff to the Whispering Woods – a dangerous place allegedly teeming with monsters, rebels and moving trees.

Thanks to Catra’s crazy driving, Adora is knocked from the skiff and falls to the ground below. When she lands, she has a vision of a sword, along with some loon wittering about needing to restore balance to Etheria and a hero needing to emerge. The vision ends when Catra lands nearby and wakes Adora up, and the two of them return to the Fright Zone.

Adora: “Nice sword. I wonder if it’s in some way relevant to my life.”

It’s now time to meet the rebels! Queen Angela appears to be in charge of the Rebellion, and her daughter Glimmer is in a position of high rank but seemingly little authority. Rather like the old series, then. Bow is also knocking about, and he’s Glimmer’s best friend. He’s also a little more competent than his former self: he’s got a scanner of some sort, which he might even have built himself, and with it he’s detected a powerful piece of First Ones technology. He suggests that if Glimmer finds said piece of technology, Queen Angela might recognise her abilities.

So off they go to the Whispering Woods, and the scanner leads them directly to the sword – and to Adora, who has also returned to the forest in search of the sword she saw in her vision. The three of them get embroiled in an undignified tussle for possession of the sword, which ends when Adora has another vision, learning from Light Hope that the sword is meant for her and that she must fight to save Etheria – for the honour of Grayskull. Ooh, that gives me chills, that does.

Needless to say, once Adora wakes from her vision, Glimmer and Bow don’t see things the same way, and they certainly aren’t willing to give her the sword. Instead, they tie her up and start walking her back to Castle Bright Moon as a prisoner. On the way, they pass a village devastated by the Horde, and Adora begins to question whether her adopted family are genuinely a force for good on Etheria. Before this can really take root, however, the three of them are attacked by an enormous spider creature, and – on the spur of the moment – Adora seizes the sword, cries “For the honour of Grayskull” and transforms into … She-Ra!

She-Ra: “Yes, yes, biker shorts. Let’s move on.”

In today’s adventure…

Sadly, if not particularly surprisingly, the famous moral segments have not been carried across from the original series to this reboot – though that’s probably a good thing, because we don’t need to see that insipid lunatic Loo-Kee. Therefore, it’s going to be up to me to carefully sift through the episodes and try to work out the moral message contained within. This week, I think the lesson is that if you find a magic sword in a forest, don’t pause to have a vision before picking it up, otherwise your enemies will probably catch you and tie you up. I don’t care if you don’t think this lesson is relevant to everyday life. That’s what I learned.

Character checklist

The main gang today is Adora, Catra, Shadow Weaver, Glimmer, Bow and Queen Angela. We also meet Light Hope, some other Horde trainees, including one called Kyle, as well as a Horde training officer, and of course a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance for She-Ra herself.

Kyle: “Am I going to be a main character? Or am I not? It’s all so exciting.”

Insults

This may be a gentler series than the older cartoons, at least based on the level of vitriol flowing from our characters’ mouths. I didn’t catch a single gratuitous insult from anyone.

Oh No, Bow!

Let’s see if new Bow manages to be even half as stupid or sleazy as old Bow. My betting is he won’t. That magical combination of characteristics only shows up once in a blue moon. New Bow does make a valiant effort to be really dim, though, by shooting an arrow directly through Glimmer’s window. I know he aimed at her bedpost, not her, but how could he know she wouldn’t move even slightly? If she had, he’d have killed the princess. Good one, Bow.

Bow: “I promise I’m not sleazy. Honestly.”

Does it have the Power?

I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive when I heard She-Ra was being rebooted. The original series, while far from perfect, holds a rather special place in my heart, and I wasn’t sure a modern take on it could do it justice. Though I remained happy enough throughout the trickle of pre-release material – news, trailers and clips – I knew I would never be quite certain until I saw the actual series.

Happily, it won me over within about 20 seconds. This episode is very well put together, with an entertaining opening scene that hooks the viewer right from the start, and introduces all the characters so well that we already feel we’ve known them for years. In a sense, I suppose we have, but it’s very easy to dissociate the new versions from the old – Glimmer in particular already has more character after one episode than she did after 93 in the Filmation series.

The plot is pretty simple, but it’s all we need while we get to grips with the characters and the world they inhabit. I wouldn’t mind betting things get a bit more complex later: we certainly seem to be heading for a bit of a clash between Adora and Catra. There are also numerous hints dropped about deeper back story: the mention of the First Ones, Adora’s confusion over the meaning of Grayskull, and of course the afore-mentioned business of Adora being taken in as an orphan child.

Finally, the animation. It’s no secret that the series suffered something of a backlash prior to release, and the animation seems to have been what most of the fuss was about. (Well, that and the ridiculous clamouring about SJWs, which was so barking mad that I can’t even be bothered to go into it.) Regular readers of this blog will know that animation isn’t my focus: I notice it when it’s really good or really bad, but in general, I gloss right over it in favour of the story. This happened here too: yes, it doesn’t look like Filmation, and yes, it looks like a very modern animation style, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s fine and does the job. It probably won’t win any awards, but I couldn’t even say that with any certainty because I’m not an expert. That’s probably all I’ll ever say about the animation on this series, to be honest.

In short, yes, it’s got the Power. Loads and loads of Power. I want to see more!

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5 thoughts on “Episode 01 – The Sword, Part 1

  1. This iteration of the franchise was just so much fun, and had so much heart and charm to it, that I can forgive it almost anything. It wasn’t perfect, and the animation was a little rough at the start but soon picked up. But anyone complaining about the animation is wearing nostalgia goggles for Filmation’s notoriously ropey stuff at times. I’m still here for the journey.

    I think it is notable that the two best reboots of both He-Man and She-Ra did not try to be continuations or retellings of the the original, but only used the basic premise as a jumping off point to go in wildly different directions. I approve of that, but I suspect that is another journey entirely.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Awww, at last! The series that truly re-ignited the power of Filmation classic!

      Must admit, I rather fond of new She-Ra. Those series are quite coherent in their effort of creating the complex world, with complex characters and intriguing plotlines. They aren’t ideal, of course – but very captivating to watch)

      P.S. My special favorite is how they portrayed Horde – not as stereotypical “EVUL ARMY OF EVUL!!!” but as pretty realistic-looking military organization, with irs own ideology, quite nice propaganda campaign (anti-Princess posters make me laugh really hard), and members who are sincerely thinking that they are good guys of the whole conflict.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. 🙂 I’ll delete the duplicate post!

        As you’ll see, I started off enjoying the new She-Ra very much indeed. As time went on, I think it began to collapse under its own weight, but for the first season at the very least, it was one of the best things in the MOTU universe.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad you enjoyed it, curious to see if “Oh No, Bow” will be replaced, as this version is a bit too well-adjusted! Excited to get our first insult on the scoreboard too – from memory I’m pretty sure Shadow Weaver has a few good old fashioned sneers to dish out…

    Liked by 2 people

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