I have a little sad news today. It’s time to wrap up my He-Man and She-Ra run on Sourcerer. I’ve had a great time here, and I loved getting to connect and reminisce with all the other fans who’ve commented.
If you missed any of the posts in the series, you can check them out at the links below.
I do plan to continue posting about He-Man and She-Ra in the future and I’d like to ask what Sourcerer’s audience would like to see from my posts. Originally, I had planned to post character profiles and bios. I realized that I don’t have any more information than the bios on he-man.org, and I think the fun of this series has been it’s connection to 80s nostalgia.
Over the summer I’ll be switching gears to a new series based on comments I’ve received about my cartoon posts. It’s a bit more serious, but I think you guys will enjoy it if you’ve liked the memoir posts!
Rose here, checking in with more He-Man and She-Ra musings. Last time, I shared a list of reasons why He-Man is awesome, so today I’ll follow up with an equally awesome list for She-Ra. I’m linking to some of Killersha’s fanart again, because it too is awesome.
Click the image to visit full size on DA.
She can pull off an alter ego without pretending to be something she’s not.
One of the things I emphatically hate about alter egos with superpowered characters is the tendency of these characters to pretend to be something they aren’t while claiming to uphold virtues like truthfulness and loyalty. Lies of omission and evasive half-truths annoy me as well, but I have more sympathy for those situations if I accept that the character believes he/she is protecting others. Princess Adora/She-Ra never dissembles. She’s competent, authoritative, brave, and outgoing in both of her forms, and Adora is nearly as popular and well-liked as She- Ra.
She saves her brother’s ass almost every time she sees him.
She-Ra is notable for its crossover episodes with the characters from He-Man, which ran even though He-Man was out of production when She-Ra aired. Most of them feature She-Ra hauling her twin brother out of some jam, even when He-Man ostensibly shows up to help HER in the first place. (There are some exceptions, and He-Man does return the favor a few times.)
She has compassion on the guy who lied to her for her entire life.
She-Ra’s back story is that her alter ego, Princess Adora, was kidnapped as an infant and raised as a member of the Evil Horde. Hordak and Shadow Weaver were both mentor figures to her, and he clearly dislikes them after she learns how they have manipulated her. In the episode My Friend, My Enemy, She-Ra breaks a spell that has been cast on Hordak by shedding tears of compassion
She climbed the highest mountain on Etheria without her superpowers.
This doesn’t really need much explanation, but the episode is called The Stone in the Sword, and the setup is that stone becomes damaged, and the only way for Adora to become She-Ra again is to go through a series of epic trials to reach the Founders of Etheria.
She doesn’t wear a bathing suit or a pink cape. (Unless she’s a toy.)
Okay, her costume is a little bit bathing suit like, but a skirt is a big improvement over bathing attire and leotards.
Her sword can turn into pretty much anything she wants.
Including wings in one episode.
She could have gone to live in a cushy palace but chose to stay in the woods with a bunch of strangers and fight the Evil Horde.
See the aforementioned back-story. She had a chance to return home and live as a Princess, but she chose to go back to The Great Rebellion, which had been her sworn enemies until a few days before.
8.Granamyr respects her. So does the Unicorn King
Granamyr, the great dragon I wrote about in 10 reasons He-Man Is Awesome, appears in the She-Ra episode Darksmoke and Fire. It’s a really cool episode for He-Man fans or fans of the Darksmoke dragons. I like it, even though there’s a bit of formula repetition with She-Ra having to earn the dragons’ trust. The Unicorn Isle episodes seem more like Darksmoke retreads to me, but I do like the character of the Unicorn King, and the focus on the unicorns is a valueable addition the show’s mythos. She-Ra’s way of earning the King’s respect is her own, despite similarities in theme.
She can do “snarky princess” without having a chip on her shoulder.
Everybody knows I love Princess Leia, so I’m partial to snarky princesses in general. I’m always glad to see one who can do it without being a jerk to everyone (especially the men.)
Her mother can fly a spaceship. And she pwns Skeletor’s ass. That is all.
Yet. This is a blatant repeat from the He-Man list, but if it applies to him, it applies to his twin sister.
I didn’t get to see The Secret of the Sword in theaters. I was worried I would miss something important to the series, but Filmation repackaged the movie into the first five episodes of She-Ra. That was the first time a cartoon series had done a five-part opening. The formula got to be pretty common in the 80s and 90s. It still happens on newer shows, though, usually in somewhat of a different fashion. Modern adventure cartoons are much more conscious of story-arcs that run through the entire seasons or even entire series. She-Ra is rarely given credit for that innovation.
Anyway, before I get out my soapbox here, let me share my She-Ra experience. The pilot episode, Into Etheria, impressed me. Okay, I was like nine, but I was in the show’s target demographic, so it must’ve been doing something right. Surprisingly, the rest of the five-part arc lived up to the pilot.
I loved the early episodes’ opening sequence because it was so different from He-Man, but it was still clearly Filmation. To me, it was different enough to catch my interest and familiar enough to feel like I was coming to a comfortable place. And it was gloriously cheesy in the way of most good 80s cartoons.
I loved that the first episode began on Eternia (for familiarity) and sent Prince Adam (not He-Man, but Adam) on an epic quest. I have to admit that I really did like the look and feel of Etheria as compared to Eternia.
I was excited to see that the villains were actually in charge of Etheria and that She-Ra and her rebel companions had the deck stacked against them. Maybe it’s the Star Wars fan in me. The rebels get a lot of knocks for their visual designs. Some of that I agree with, but as characters, they seemed dramatic and compelling in those first episodes, and I especially liked that Adam decided to dispense with his cowardly prince disguise and just be his true self.
Shadow Weaver and Hordak seemed much more sinister and threatening than Skeletor or Evil-Lynn. The spell of deception that Shadow Weaver had on Princess Adora was serious freaking dark magic, and the level of manipulation Hordak exhibited with her was far beyond anything I had seen Skeletor accomplish.
The other villains, like Grizzlor, Scorpia, and Mantena, were kind of goofy, but then so were a lot of the villains on He-Man. Catra had as much potential as Evil-Lyn did, and I immediately wanted to know about her shape-shifting mask.
As much as I loved He-Man, I never felt like there was a sense of threat or danger (except on the rare occasion that something happened to the Sorceress or King Randor.) The heroes were firmly in charge of Eternia, and there was never any doubt that Skeletor’s schemes were going to fail.
In She-Ra, it felt different. I knew that the rebels would “win” each episode, but there was always risk of them being captured or retaliation from the Horde. How were they ever going to drive the Horde, with its massive army of robots and superior technology in general, off of their planet?!
Was Queen Marlena going to get in her spaceship and come to her kids’ aid? Was King Randor maybe going to send in the Eternian army? Well, obviously, those things would’ve killed the series before it started, but I was imagining a grand finale that ended something like that in a couple of years.
Did it ever happen? Well, a girl can dream. 😉
Well, I’m sad to say that I need to wrap up the memoir today. As I was writing, I realized I had a lot more to say about She-Ra, gender-based marketing in cartoons, and the state of “shows for girls” today, almost 30 years after She-Ra hit the airwaves, but all of that’s going to have to wait for another blog series. Maybe here, maybe over on my blog.
Hi everyone! It’s Rose back again with another installment of We Have the Power. Today I’m going to shift to talking about She-Ra.
I remember finding out that Filmation was doing the He-Man spinoff as clearly as I remember my introduction to He-Man itself. My parents had gotten us a subscription to He-Man Magazine, and somewhere in the winter 1985 issue, we found this ad for The Secret of the Sword.
Today, there are lots of concurrently running iterations of the same franchise. See the umpteen procedural dramas with spinoffs, like CSI or the more recent Chicago Fire/Chicago PD (soon-to-include Chicago Med?) In the 80s, a spinoff usually meant the original show was ending its production run, and that’s what happened with He-Man. So, as a He-Man fan, I had my share of resentment toward the Princess of Power. But I also wanted the story to continue, and She-Ra was promising that. (Sort of.)
This is my favorite piece of She-Ra fanart ever, by Killersha @ Deviantart. Click the image to visit full size on her gallery.
We heard somewhere that Filmation and Mattel wanted to do a show “for girls.” That annoyed me. As far as I was concerned, there was plenty in He-Man for girls to enjoy. Even as a kid, I disliked gender-based marketing.
That was probably because I rarely liked any of the cartoons that were explicitly marketed to girls. They were usually pink-ified, and featured a bunch of cutsey characters having interpersonal problems instead of what I thought of as “serious problems”– fighting bad guys and exploring strange and exotic places. (Rainbow Brite did have a pretty good adventure angle and the villains weren’t half bad by 80s standards, so I did watch that one from time to time.)
I thought, if Filmation wanted a “girl” show, it could easily have done one focusing on Teela and her relationship with the Sorceress and/or her duties as Captain of the Royal Guard. Apparently, though, the color palette in Eternia wasn’t “girly” enough, so instead they were going to switch planets and lighten everything up. While they were at it, they were going to throw in horses. Because, as everyone knows, girls love horses.
Well. I do love horses. And I had to admit that I did like the way She-Ra was designed. She wasn’t wearing pink, and she didn’t have on a bathing suit. She looked feminine without being cutesy, bubble-headed, or drawn to accentuate her sexuality. I liked the idea of a woman with similar powers to He-Man, and I liked the design of her sword. I knew that her headdress was an obvious re-working of an earlier character design from Masters of the Universe, and the She-Ra had a lot of physical similarities to Ileena.
But it didn’t bother me because
At least She Ra was dressed.
The color scheme was a lot better.
It did reflect the fine Filmation tradition of reusing character design and stock footage.
My sister was excited about She-Ra from day one, and I figured that if He-Man was going to end production, at least a spinoff would let us continue the story in some way. I decided to give She-Ra a try, and if you know me at all, you know that she won me over in a big way.