Just on two years ago, Netflix released the first images of the newly rebooted She-Ra franchise, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
At the time, many “fans” were up in arms at the redesign of the show and its characters, for a variety of reasons we don’t need to get into.
A few months after, the show was launched on Netflix across the globe to much praise and stellar reviews. Many of these reviews focused on the character dynamics, diversity, messages of acceptance and tie-in humour, although there were still a few gripes to be had in regards to the artistic stylings attributed to the reboot.
The reviews also praised the show’s great storyline, even with a few fetch-quest plots strung together mid-season, which I too highlighted as one of my only grievances with the first season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
Fast-forward roughly 18 months later and we’ve slashed through 52 episodes in five seasons, culminating in an explosive finale.
Given the many other reviews already online for the fifth season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, I wasn’t planning on writing one at all. However, having sat on it for three weeks since I watched the season finale, I couldn’t shake the urge to put pen to paper.
The show is just that good, and easily in my top five list of animated shows.
With She-Ra and the Princesses of Power having gone from an audience score at roughly 70% to a much improved 90% by season 5, indicates just how much it has grown from all perspectives.
As I mentioned in my first season review of the rebooted show, I rewatched the original 1985 show. While the character may have held a strong place in many hearts as a positive role model, the show itself was ridiculously painful to watch again.
It doesn’t help that the original was created merely to sell more toys that appeal to young girls.
There were many who were quick to put the rebooted She-Ra through the Bechdel test and all other such breakdowns. No doubt it passed all these tests. With a cast that’s more than 90% female, I had no doubt it would.
But She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is a lot broader than just some tests, with its rich diversity, character traits, strengths and weaknesses, body types and abilities.
Season 5 is anything but a wrap-up. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, packed full of action and humour in droves.
Starting off right where we left things at the season 4 cliff-hanger, Adora is left without her powers as her Sword of Protection is now shattered.
The team now have to find alternative options to fight off Horde Prime’s army, who have slowly started taking over Etheria, first attacking smaller villages and then moving towards mind-control via chips on the back of their necks.
Unlike the previous seasons’ baddies, Shadow Weaver and then Hordak, Horde Prime has different motives. His attempt to bring peace to galaxy by making everyone exactly like him is a similar approach to Thanos in the Avengers films – with a warped view of life and how to bring about peace.
While many other animated shows focus on some kind of weapon, tech and gadgets or even vehicles as a central plot point to defeating the enemy, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power grows beyond this as the show progresses, specifically in season 5.
Viewers are drawn in with themes that go against the grain, where we start to care less about the how, what, why or when, but rather the who. It’s an extremely powerful logic.
Instead of the typical linear storyline, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power rises above the stereotypes, even bringing up the topic of the formulaic plots where the hero or heroine has to perform some kind of heroic feat or self-sacrifice to win the day.
The emotional journey of the 50+ episodes that have gone before the finale is tied together by similar themes of friendship, hope and love.
She-Ra’s reappearance is no longer powered by her sword, instead relying on the summoning the power within herself, with her suit also drawing power from her love of her close friends, Bow, Glimmer and Catra.
The new-look She-Ra that reappears is another illustration of how the show has grown. Leaving behind her shorts and flowy skirt with pronounced attachments, the suit is a lot more streamlined and minimalistic as a sign of maturity.
But, moreover than any of the growth in the series, it’s the relationship between Catra and She-Ra that makes the most waves.
Moving from friends to sworn enemies and back to friends again, there was always hope that the inevitable would happen. And, thankfully, it doesn’t feel forced either. The series had already proven it can address a broad array of modern issues by removing many of the stereotypes that plagued other shows when introducing racially diverse and gay characters.
The journey through the five seasons of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is extremely rewarding, with each character arc receiving attention and neatly rounded off. The relationships of each of the characters is far more significant than unwinding the lore and plot points. Even the shows humour draws from this.
In fact, it’s only because of these strong relationships that the powers of Horde Prime are overcome, breaking the mind control power he has over the Princesses.
The final season is far more action-packed with plenty of nail-biting moments to keep you on the edge of your seats. There are a few similarities between She-Ra and the likes of both Avatar animated series in terms of the powers on display and its overarching themes and rich lore. That said, each show is fairly unique, making it a must-watch for all fans of animation.
There is a lot of emotion in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, with almost all characters showing their vulnerability. But vulnerability does not equal weakness. Quite the opposite, in fact.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 5
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power has gone beyond the source material, creating something far more powerful. Netflix, DreamWorks Animation and the creative team lead by Noelle Stevenson have packed in all the action, all the adventure and all the character development you could possibly want in its 52 episodes.