Filmation Studios (September 9, 1985 – November 28, 1987), Classic Media (September 28, 2010), 2 disc set, 430 mins, 1.33:1 original aspect ratio, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, Not Rated, Retail: $19.98
Adora, formerly a Force Captain for the evil Horde, fights for freedom and liberty in the mystical land of Etheria. With the magical Sword of Protection, she invokes the grace of Castle Greyskull and becomes She-Ra, Princess of Power! Together with her band of rebels and her flying unicorn Swift Wind, she battles against the Horde led by the evil Hordak and his minions.
The Sweatbox Review:
There’s something fascinating about She-Ra as an animated heroine. After 25 years of entertaining children and adults, she has endured as one of the most iconic female symbols of the 1980s. Because of that, it’s surprising that the character has never been revived in a modern form. There’s something incredibly modern about how she was portrayed back in the 80s that I believe would still resonate with girls today who are frankly lacking powerful action heroines. When the character was introduced in 1985, she was a direct, female response to the testosterone-filled He-Man: Masters of the Universe show. In Princess of Power Filmation and Mattel, who up to that point had focused on more cute and cuddly characters aimed at young girls, teamed up to create a character that would have broad appeal. She was a princess, but she was also a warrior with a flying unicorn. She was able to stand up to even the most powerful villains and that made her appealing not only to girls, but to many boys who would never have admitted to watching the show back in the day.
The first five episodes of the series were initially released as part of a theatrical animated feature called She-Ra: Princess of Power . The movie was only moderately successful at the boxoffice, but when the animated series made its debut that same year, it became one of the more popular cartoons on the air. In the first five episodes, He-Man’s alter-ego Adam is on a mission for the Sorceress on another world called Etheria. He is charged in finding the person who is meant to hold the Sword of Protection and liberate the planet. While searching for the chosen person, he finds Etheria overrun by an oppressive regime called the Horde, made up of alien invaders who settled on the planet. In one small corner of the planet, the Whispering Woods, a small rebellion is taking shape and that’s where Adam first meets Adora, the Force Captain of the Horde who has been sent to squash the rebellion. It doesn’t take long before Adam realizes that Adora is actually the one he has been looking for but he must first convince her that she is working for the wrong side. Eventually, Adora sees the truth behind the Horde and joins the rebellion alongside Adam and the rest of the rebellion. When she lifts the Sword of Protection into the air and invokes the grace of Greyskull, she is transformed into She-Ra, the Princess of Power.
In most She-Ra episodes, the Horde is the central antagonist and stories typically begin with a group of individuals in a village, town or kingdom being repressed by the Horde. This is when the rebellion shows up to save the day with She-Ra in their lead. Many episodes on the show involve crossovers with characters from He-Man: Masters of the Universe. Adam and Skeletor are regular visitors. Adam frequently makes a visit to Etheria to visit his sister or because Skeletor has made an appearance. It’s interesting to note that Skeletor was actually a member of the Horde who was left behind on Eternia when they unsuccessfully tried to invade it. The episodes with He-Man are some of the best episodes on the set because it is always interesting to see He-Man interacting with She-Ra. Their powers are truly matched whenever they fight together and they actually seem to fight better as a team. Some of my favorite episodes with both of them fighting together include “King Miro’s Journey” and “He Ain’t Heavy”. Of course, stories do not always revolve around Eternia characters and other great episodes on the set include “Return of the Sea Hawk” (a great action-adventure story), and “A Loss for Words” (one of the more interesting episodes that deals with freedom – in this case freedom of speech).
Aside from Adam/He-Man who frequently makes appearances on the show, She-Ra can also count on a large group of warriors and allies to fight by her side. These include Bow (an archer), Princess Glimmer of Brightmoon (who can manipulate light), Madame Razz (an absent-minded magician), Broom (Razz’s talking broom), Kowl (a wise owl-like bird), Castaspella (a sorceress), and Adora’s horse Spirit (who turns into Swift Wind, a flying unicorn). In some episodes, She-Ra and her friends are captured by the Horde and she actually has to rely on some of her other allies to help her. One of my favorite characters in the series is Sea Hawk, a pirate who first meets Adora when she tries to convince him to use his skills for good and help the rebellion. Sea Hawk is one of those Hans Solo-like characters heroines usually grow fond of and it is no different in this case. While the two characters never fully develop a relationship together, his appearances on the show at least bring a different chemistry to the episodes.
On the other side of the cast of characters are the vilains led by Hordak, the leader of the Horde, and She-Ra’s nemesis on Etheria. Hordak is a mechanical creature who looks more like a vampire robot and who can turn parts of his body into weapons and rockets. He is terrible as a villain and typically loves to tell his victims what he plans to do with them before actually doing it, giving them ample time to get away. Other villains on the show include Shadow Weaver (an evil sorceress), Catra (a woman who can turn into a cat), Mantenna (a four-legged monster), Grizzlor (a hairy beast), Leech (an amphibian-like creature that sucks the energy from his victims), and Scorpia (a half human/half scorpion mix). What is interesting about the villains on this show, and what differentiates them from He-Man, is the fact that Adora was once a part of the Horde and this is actually brought up in several episodes. All of the villains know who she is and are angry at her for leaving them and joining the rebellion. It is interesting to note that while both She-Ra and He-Man have swords, they never actually use it to fight against a villain. Most of the battles usually end up with the villains being flung far away or being captured by a rope or chain.
The twenty episodes on this set are broken down as follows:
1. Into Etheria
2. Beast Island
3. She-Ra Unchained
5. Battle for Bright Moon
6. Duel at Devlan
7. The Sea Hawk
8. The Red Knight
9. The Missing Ax
10. The Prisoners of Beast Island
11. The Perils of Whispering Woods
12. The Laughing Dragon
13. King Miro’s Journey
15. He Ain’t Heavy
16. Return of the Sea Hawk
17. A Loss for Words
18. Horde Prime Takes a Holiday
19. Enchanted Castle
20. Three Courageous Hearts
Is This Thing Loaded?
Unlike with the previous 2006 BCI release, there are no special features included in this set.
The case for this DVD release is like a storybook. A thick cardboard case with digipak interior opens up like a storybook with the two discs inside, one on each side. The cover features a prominent shot of She-Ra yielding her Sword of Protection while the back features three screenshots from the show. Everything is very pink and purple, clearly evoking the girl power on this set. The inside of the case is designed to look like a teenager’s notebook with poems and doodles all over the place. It’s a neat design if a little bit more girly than I expected. There is also an insert inside the case with a list of the episodes found on the set.
Ink And Paint:
The episodes are being released here in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The quality of the print is pretty good with the cell art looking very clean. Here and there we can see a cell shadow, but overall it is a good transfer. There is very little grain and dust found on the print which seems to have gone through some cleaning. The episodes are vibrantly colored and vividly animated with lots of red hues. The world of Etheria is very bright and colorful and it looks good on this set. The episodes on the set can be played either individually or by selecting the “Play All” function. Chapter stops are included within episodes and between each episode.
Only a basic English Dolby Digital 2.0 track is being included in this release. No alternate languages or subtitles are available.
She-Ra: Princess of Power was and continues to be a good show. While it was not the best show to come out of the 80s, it was probably one of the best Filmation series. With He-Man, Filmation created a fun action-adventure story, but most of the plots were relatively simple when compared to some of the more complex storylines and issues dealt with in She-Ra. I’m not saying that we should take She-Ra too seriously, but stepping back I found much more to the show than I initially thought I would find. While in He-Man, the plot usually centered on the battle of good versus evil, She-Ra dealt with other issues such as oppression, freedom of speech, liberty, and justice. She-Ra as a character is also much more proactive and she always finds ways to be of service in the rebellion against Hordak and his Horde instead of waiting for a villain to attach. As a character, Adora is also much more complex as she is also fighting to redeem herself for the time she spent with the Horde. All of this makes for a much more interesting show and I’m glad to see it have continued life on DVD. This is a bare-bones release for She-Ra, especially when compared to the lavish BCI release from a few years ago. However, with a new more affordable retail price, this might be a great option for those that missed out on the previous release or for the more casual fan of the show looking to see it again.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?