I have been on the fence about writing a review about She-Ra because I wasn’t sure if the series was Science Fiction or Fantasy. Much of Science Fiction has elements of both, but I try and stick with titles which lean heavily on the side of science fiction. After watching season 2 it is clear, She-Ra is much more sci-fi than fantasy.
A little She-Ra history
The original She-Ra title She-Ra: Princess of Power, debuted in 1985 as a spin-off from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. I was a massive He-Man fan and remember seeing She-Ra for the first time. Since I was 8 years old I wasn’t the biggest She-Ra fan.
In the original version, Adora (She-Ra) is Adams (He-Man) twin sister. She was stolen from Eternia by the Horde and taken to Etheria. On Etheria Adora is brainwashed and trained to be a force captain.
On Eternia the Sorceress in Castle Grayskull dreams of Adora and when she wakes up finds the She-Ra sword. The Sorceress summons Prince Adam and gives him the sword, then sends him through a portal to Etheria to find his sister.
Over a three-episode story arc, Prince Adam interacts, battles, and is captured by Adora and the Horde. Adam eventually escapes and makes it back to the Whispering Woods.
Adam finally decides to transform into He-Man and go get Adora. He finds a fright soldier, steals his armor, and sneaks into the fright zone to give Adora her sword. Adora takes the sword and says the words which break the mind control of Shadow Weaver. Adora turns into She-Ra. She and He-Man bust up the Horde.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
The new She-Ra has a bit different origin story. He-Man is unfortunately absent. There is also no mention Adora is from another planet. It took until the last few episodes of the new series for Entrapta to realize Hordak was not originally from Etheria.
In the Netflix version, it’s unclear if Adora is kidnapped or found. Either way, Adora is raised by Shadow Weaver and indoctrinated instead of brainwashed with a spell. She eventually sees the Horde as the enemy and runs away. She flees into the Whispering Woods where she finds the Sword.
One big difference from the old She-Ra is that the new She-Ra is much more based on First One’s technology. The First Ones used technology in crystals and other objects to give them properties and special powers. In the 1985 She-Ra, the Sword of Protection was a mythical thing, in 2018 She-Ra its a piece of First One’s tech.
If She-Ra weren’t a reboot I would think she has nanobots in her blood and other technology which gives her strength and speed. The tech is not just in the Sword, once Adora has the sword she can also instantly read first ones writing.
Many characters are the same between the two series. Almost all are reduced in age and changed to reflect the modern views on attractiveness. Buzzfeed did an amazing before and after comparison of all the characters. If interested you can check it out here. There is also an anime style to the animation, although it’s very mild. The color palette is my favorite part, it is very vibrant pinks, oranges, and blues reminiscent to the original series. Feels like a mix of vintage She-Ra mixed with vintage My Little Pony mixed with Japanese anime.
Story – 3.5 Stars
The overall story is fairly interesting. The plot is a variation of Princesses VS Horde in each episode. The interesting part is the unification of the Princesses of Etheria to fight together. Each Princess has their own powers gifted from stones. The story seems similar in many ways to episodes of Avatar the Last Airbender. Some of the episodes get repetitive but they are all entertaining. I was sad when I had watched them all.
Cast – 4.5 Stars
When rating cartoon voice actors there are only two main criteria I consider. The first is if their voice fits the character. It’s important Horak sounded scary. Kreston John did a nice job making Hordak scary while showing hints of different emotions such as impatience and frustration. I also think Aimee Carrero voiced Adora and She-Ra perfectly.
The second area I consider is the actual acting part of voice acting. Does it sound like the actors are reading from the script? How are the transitions? How emotionally expressive are the actors? I didn’t notice many occasions where the actors cause me to remember they were voicing an animation. Most of the actors were completely transparent. I actually think Carrero did a much better job in both criteria than Melendy Britt did with the original She-Ra. Something about Britts voice in the original She-Ra made her sound like a 1950’s soccer mom or school teacher. Her voice did not fit the character at all.
Animation – 4 stars
The Animation was done by Dreamworks and Mattel creative. I love the way they modernized She-Ra while still making it feel like the old She-Ra. The color pallets were bright without being overwhelming. The characters were stylized a bit like Anime without making it totally disproportioned. I don’t think it broke any new ground with animation but it was a solid execution.
Technology – 4 Stars
Since this is GregReviewsScifi I have to spend some time talking about the technology in She-Ra. The introduction of the First Ones blurred the lines between Fantasy and Science Fiction. It seems all the powers She-Ra and the other princesses have is all based on First One’s technology.
During the series Entrapta spends time working on reanimating robots and other technology, Hordak is trying to open a wormhole to another planet, and She-Ra is being trained by an AI with a holographic body. If you didn’t know this was She-Ra the description would read like a classic Sci-Fi novel.
Unfortunately, the show doesn’t go into detail on how the First Ones technology works. It turns out all the First Ones are gone and they didn’t leave any instruction manuals with their technology.
Either way, She-Ra makes solid use of known Science Fiction technology. Hopefully, we will see more in the next season.
Originality – 3.5
A remake starts at 2.5 stars. If it was modified and is better then we go up from there. If it’s worse… down it goes.
I went back and watched some original She-Ra just to refresh my memory. Even when I was young I preferred transformers, G.I. Joe, Voltron, Robotech, etc. to He-Man and She-Ra. I always prefer Sci-Fi to Fantasy. The original She-Ra was even lower on my list than He-Man. However, I did watch She-Ra when it originally aired.
The new She-Ra is better in many ways. The story gives Adora a more empowering backstory. Instead of being Adam’s sister she is a princess who was kidnapped and brainwashed. Adora had to overcome those obstacles and unite Etheria against the Horde. The storyline stands alone. Adora did not have to wait for her big brother He-Man to rescue her like in the original series.
The introduction of the Old Ones is also a pleasant addition to the story. As a Sci-Fi lover, I prefer technology to Magic. I have to give at least a 1-star bump for moving to a more Science Fiction story.
The new She-Ra is better than the original. I watched the original She-Ra as a kid and liked it. I didn’t love it. In the 80’s cartoons were the best part of the after school ritual. According to IMDB the second season was on Saturday mornings. I don’t recall every watching She-Ra on Saturday but it’s possible.
If you are a kid of the 80’s She-Ra is a must-see. It entertained as well as it reminded me of being a kid. All around a good time.
Great review, Greg, but be careful of the fans of the original; they’ll castigate you for saying Aimee Carreo is better Melendey Britt! But you’re right, she’s wasn’t as good as Aimee is.
Thanks for the comment! I’m sure there are lots of different opinions out there. I remember loving the original She-Ra. When I rewatched it, it wasn’t as great as I remember.