Star Vs The Forces of Evil is different from most other cartoons aimed at girls. At first, you might not see why—the main protagonist is called Star Butterfly, a super enthusiastic teen who loves rainbows, unicorns, pink and kicking butt. StarVsFoE is only the second Disney TV Animation to be created by a woman in seventeen years, Daron Nefcy. StarVsFoE created such a buzz within Disney that they renewed the show for a second season before the first season had even aired.
Princess Star Butterfly’s enthusiasm and blind-optimism have got her into enough trouble that her parents are considering sending her to reform school, the dreaded Saint Olga’s Reform School for Wayward Princesses. It’s all about to get much worse though as Star has just turned old enough to inherit her family’s powerful magic wand. Fearing an unintentional Starmeggedon as their daughter learns how to use her wand’s power, Star is sent from her home dimension of Mewni to the one that holds Earth.
There she attends school while living with the Diaz family, meeting her best friend, adventurer and fellow 14-year-old Marco Diaz. She is forced to protect her wand from the evil Ludo, who using his army of monsters, wants to take the wand and rule the universe. Using inter-dimensional scissors given to Star by her best friend Pony Head (literally a floating pony head) the battles span dimensions as Star defends her wand by narwhal blasting her foes into submission.
StarVsFoE is aimed at tween and teen girls but adults are not left out, I’m enjoying it and a few of the episodes have had me laughing out loud. This is a show with a wide appeal, this is Disney cutting into Cartoon Networks traditional audience. I said the show was different, well it’s something of a blend of other shows. I’m reminded of Invader Zim in some ways; remove the grossness of Zim, apply a cute filter, mix with a sanitized Ren and Stimpy, and you have the over the top stories of StarVsFoE.
The show has stylised and distinctive artwork, it’s like Japanese and Western animation went to the same party, hit it off and ended up in a wardrobe together. After fumbling around for half an hour of fun times, the resulting tryst included a lost bra, a watch that no longer works, and nine months later StarVsFoE. It never lets go of it’s girl focused cuteness and the show is filled with puppies (firing lasers from their eyes), butterflies, bunnies, rainbows and hearts. Even the colour palette leans towards the pastel side; it’s everything that makes up the traditional pink-fluffy-princess trope crossed with Sailor Moon.
The real difference is that Star Butterfly is never helpless, she runs headlong into danger to protect her friends or her wand. She’s both brave and flawed, as she has no clue what she’s doing and her impulsive enthusiasm seems to create nearly as many problems as it solves. It’s really cool to see a girl who is into cuteness and rainbows also kick-ass and enjoy it. My daughter loves StarVsFoE over the top cute and she laughs maniacally as Star Butterfly fights using her wand. Like “magical girl” anime, Star yells out the spells she’s casting, these include:
- Narwhal Blast, which shoots out a stream of narwhals, spiking or crushing foes
- Bunny Rabbit Blast, powerful energy blast, with bunnies, allowing super jumps
- Syrup Tsunami Shockwave, a massive wave of sticky maple syrup
The show isn’t perfect, although we have the ongoing threat of Saint Olga’s and the evil but incompetent Ludo, the show still hasn’t created an overarching plot, it’s all feeling a little hollow right now. The format of having two eleven minute shows isn’t helping either, as some of the stories feel rushed. I’d like to see some full length shows that give the characters more space to breathe; more backstory and character development please!
Another thing that bugged me was Marco’s personality change, he’s retconned after the pilot, he goes from overly safety conscious to martial arts expert looking for adventure. The other problem is the show is really patchy, an excellent episode can be followed by something … meh. It makes me wonder what’s going on behind the scenes when we can have the excellent ‘Mewberty’ and the mediocre ‘Party with a Pony’. The show has so much potential, and while it’s never bad, I hope it manages to be more consistently good.
StarVsFoE isn’t as complex as Adventure Time or Steven Universe, and I don’t think it will be, either. I hope it adds more depth by delving more into the characters and their emotions more, as well as the backstory of Mewni and Olga’s reform school. If you like Wander Over Yonder (which also involved Daron Nefcy), Sailor Moon, Gravity Falls, Steven Universe or the high energy randomness of Zim, then you really should try out StarVsFoE. It also has perhaps the best opening theme ever:
Marcy (@marcyjcook) is an immigrant trans woman and writer. This includes Transcanuck.com, a website dedicated to informing and helping trans Canadians. She also has a nerd job, too many cats, is a part time volunteer sex educator and has an ongoing sordid love affair with Lego. Those last two are not related… probably.
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