She-Ra Princess of Power Volume II
BCI Eclipse / Ink and Paint
The second DVD compilation of She-Ra Princess of Power contains episodes 33 to 65 of the first season. She-Ra was a spin off television cartoon series of He-Man and The Masters of the Universe. Like her brother He-Man, She-Ra’s series was a syndicated cartoon series based on an action figure line from toy manufacturer Mattel. However, unlike He-Man, She-Ra was intended to be an action series for girls. I’m not sure if it was the case in fact.
The beauty behind She-Ra, both the television series and the toy line were that it was combined with a new subset of toys from The Masters of The Universe toy line, Hordak and his Horde. The main villain in He-Man was Skeletor. But Hordak was scheduled to bring some freshness to the line and more villains for He-Man to fight. As the only She-Ra villain was a Barbie doll-like, villain named Catra, the cartoon series would have failed if Hordak and his horde had not become She-Ra’s main villains.
I would say that this was marketing genius. Create a toy line and a television series that combine toys that girls and boys will like. As a spin-off series, as stated in the DVD extras, containing interviews with the series’ writers, She-Ra’s universe was more coherent. The writers had become more proficient and the writing was generally better. This made for a better animated series than He-Man which had could appeal to all kids.
Most episodes in volume two of the She-Ra DVD are 22 minutes stories, although there are a few two-parts tales. There are of course, several crossovers with He-Man, which doesn’t hurt at all. The stories were toned down so that younger children could view the cartoon series. For example, although She-Ra wields a sword, she hardly uses it to combat opponents. It’s usually a defensive weapon or transformed into something that will catch the bad guys and save the day creatively.
And there lie-in the essence of She-Ra, although based on the premise of world combining fantastic elements and science fiction, straight violence was rare and there was much comedy. Although at times, this can dumb down the stories, the series has aged relatively well. She-Ra, may I remind animation afficionados, was the grand lady of 1980s animation. The only other series that I know which had such broad appeal with a female lead, was Jem and The Holograms.
However, unlike Jem, She-Ra was not about romance. She was and still is a great role model for girls and boys. There were always an adventure and some treachery to be expected from Hordak’s troops and sometimes, some bickering within the rebels who attempted to free their planet from Hordak’s rule. She-Ra’s character was a mix of Mary Marvel and Wonder Woman. Her alter ego, Princess Adora was much more effective and a stronger character than her brother Prince Adam, who acted like a lazy coward.
As for the animation, it was a Filmation series. That means it was shot on a shoestring budget and had a lot of reused animation sequences. Of course, Filmation was good at reusing this stock footage. It could swing by at least 30 seconds worth of stock footage every episode, just by showing Adora’s transformation into She-Ra. And like dogs trained by Pavlov, kids awaited eagerly that part of the show.
There is only one episode with commentaries on the DVD. More would have been great. However, the sixth DVD contains profiles of characters, a storyboarded episode and model sheets from the characters. The introduction titles are short and not annoying, which is a good thing.
I would recommend She-Ra not just to nostalgic collectors, but parents looking for a safe and entertaining series for their children. It’s full of wholesome values and the although a psychologist approved the scripts (which usually means, it’s bad animation in my book), the series is memorable enough, that I felt like getting the first DVD and some He-Man compilations too.