20 January 2011

"She-Ra, Princess of Power" Season One, Volume 1

She-Ra, Princess of Power
Season One, Volume 1
Starring the Voice Talent of: Melendy Britt, George DiCenzo, John Erwin, Linda Gary, Alan Oppenheimer, Erika Scheimer, Erik Gunden
Written & Directed by Various
DVD Release Date: 7 November 2006
List Price: Out of Print Amazon


Wow! Of course as a viewer you have to make allowances for the limited production budget (which translates into heavily recycled material) and the writers weren't as free to be sophisticated as those of today's animation. Still, there's quite a lot to appreciate here if you're willing to overlook those elements--which, admittedly, can be a detraction. If you're into feminism and gender equality issues, anti-establishment rebellion, conflicts between nature and industry or human rights issues there's a good chance you'll find at least an episode to appreciate here (despite a general lack of subtlety). The humor is sometimes clever, sometimes absurd and often based on bad puns, but that's part of the charm.


It might also help viewers appreciate the recycled footage and music to know that those things helped keep production here in the U.S. at a time when nearly all animators had resorted to outsourcing their shows.  This all underscores how bizarre it is that a show made in Reagan's America would be so subversive, but there you have it.

As for the DVD release, Ink and Paint really did an outstanding job here.  The slipbox is designed to continue a spinal mural created on their He-Man and the Masters of the Universe releases.  If you have only their three She-Ra releases you still have a decent looking image on your shelf or you can turn the boxes the other way and display volume-specific information with a main character as you might find on a regular release.

The depicted spine features part of a mural spanning the Masters of the Universe.
Regarding the actual content, there are two lively episode commentaries, a storyboard comparison version of the first episode and a very satisfying documentary spotlighting some of the key writers (including J. Michael Straczynski!) from the show discussing their contributions to the series. (Of less interest are the 50 Character, Creature and Artifact profiles.) Disc 6 also includes some DVD-ROM goodies such as five assorted scripts, a coloring book, a comic book version of "The Secret of the Sword" and the series bible, all as .PDF files. All in all, a very satisfying DVD release for a show that had more going for it than I was afraid I would find after all these years.


If I had one complaint, it's that the first five episodes (collectively, "The Secret of the Sword") are presented as individual episodes the way they were broadcast on TV. I'd have preferred the singular, theatrical cut (yes, it was actually shown in theaters; my mom took my brother and me to see it as kids!). I understand that cut is on The Best of She-Ra, Princess of Power compilation release, but it would have been nice here.


This specific release is out of print, though another company now has the rights and has just begun to reissue this series on DVD.  If you can find the three volumes released by Ink and Paint, I think you'll find them well worth the trouble and cost.  We found all three at Half Price Books for $14.98 apiece little more than a year ago, and I've seen them there occasionally since.  It would be well worth taking the time to look.

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