Netflix’s new iteration of She-Ra is what most reboots hope to be. It is refreshing and up to the standards of today’s entertainment, while paying homage to what made the original show nostalgic.
While the show does have pacing issues that span the first few episodes and pop up again occasionally in the second half of the season, the major story beats are well-plotted and make She-Ra and the Princesses of Power easily viewed again. The character designs, at the very least, are something to keep your interest as one minor conflict is hung onto and made into a major point for an entire episode.
Most of the show’s cast has been entirely redesigned and given major expansions on what resembled their personalities in the original show. The art style, while containing a few noticeable errors in continuity, such Adora’s sword disappearing from shot to shot, is gorgeous and obviously done with great care. Each character has a unique, instantly recognizable design, and their personalities show a similar distinction. One-note characters in the original shows have been transformed into fully realized creations.
Adora, sadly, isn’t the most interesting or distinguishable main character, at first. She seems like the typical chosen-one protagonist archetype. The side cast makes up for her faltering at the start. Bow, particularly, pulls more than his fair share of the weight in the first few episodes as the comic relief and also the voice of reason in the Friendship Squad’s initial meeting and subsequent trek through the woods.
The princesses are also designed spectacularly well. The episodes in which we meet them are a bit formulaic and hammer home the same morals again and again, but once they’re given the ability to reach outside of their boxes in the second half of the season, their characters shine. Part of what makes the second half of the season so successful is the ability to see these princesses interact with each other outside of their typical environments.
A couple of the episodes could have been taken out to improve pacing and story impact throughout the series. There was an episode that made its main conflict oppose the whole theme of friendship that carries throughout the show, which renders the episode somewhat flat. The dialogue could use some improvement as well. After the episode “Princess Prom” there is a noticeable improvement in line quality, but the lines in the first few episodes are often stilted and awkward. The dialogue is part of what made Adora such a foreign and flat character in the first half of the season, all too often her responses only made the barest of impact on her character or the world around her and it seemed as if she were only reacting very slightly to the events happening to her with real emotion.
The show also takes some real risks that pay off. The closeness of the princesses and the relationship between Catra and Adora make for some of the most interesting dynamics on the show. She-Ra’s almost all-female cast is also one of the strongest points in the show. Too many times the feelings and actions of adolescent girls have brushed aside or made light of in exaggerated ways. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power devote time to the consequences of being a girl in a highly competitive environment, as well as promoting a healthy example of friendships that many girls could use and model.
Overall, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is an engaging show that demonstrates it can and will improve in further seasons.