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New Eyes on He-Man and She-Ra

The shows hold up.                                                                         

...A Bunch Of Cool Stuff That I Was Not Cool Enough To Watch!

My friends had tons of He-Man toys and watched his show religiously.  Not me.  I can only remember seeing it for a few minutes at a time, when at one of their houses.  I thought it was weird and darkCartoon characters drawn in a realistic style were also strange for me.  In fact, I barely understood action figures, and my budget-conscious parents weren't about to encourage any change in that area.

image credit: My Toy Museum
Yes, this was too "grown-up" for me.

But "weird" and "dark" don't put me off any more.  As I grew up, I came to understand the fantasy genre. 
Now, with the influx of "retro" channels appearing on broadcast TV since the digital transition, I've been able to discover these action cartoons for the first time, and I like them. 

For real, this is cool stuff!

The shows are mainly hurt by the rule against violence in children's programming.  Swords are more props than weapons
.  People can never be punched or kicked, but doing so to robots is fine.  ACT and the FCC, working at cross purposes, created the mediascape that practically required cartoons to be half-hour commercials.

I understand that, so I can look past it.  I quite enjoy the supernatural worlds with science fiction devices thrown into the mix.  And some of the writers, like Paul Dini, aspired to transcend the hack level of their assignment. 

Many of the "messages" or "lessons" are good for kids, and they are not all relegated to the closing segments.  A common theme
demonstrated by the heroes is that we should be nice to everybody, even if they're mean at first.  She-Ra helps animals and stops The Horde from burning books.  Some of the more childlike characters often make mistakes, yet it's always OK, as long as they are honest about it.  And Orko usually needs to clean his room.

What a Whale!
We felt your pain, Orko. 

I've noticed an interesting dichotomy in my late night binges on these shows.  I have no illusions about it; plenty of stuff here is cringe-worthy at best.  Which show is better (or worse)?  To my taste, one has the better evil warriors and hero, while the other has the better heroic warriors and villain:

FaGian                                                      Classic Media

He-Man is a beefcake with a pageboy haircut, a weird bondage harness, and furry underwear.  As Prince Adam, he pretends to be a pampered layabout.  She-Ra is a more realistic role model.  She looks like a normal person.  As her alter-ego Adora, she is always in charge and on the ball.  Her sword can turn into anything, which allows kids pretending as her more options to be creative. 

On the other hand, I like He-Man's friends better than She-Ra's.  Teela and Man-At Arms are smart and strong; Orko is a goof but sometimes he can be funny, or brave.  By contrast, Bow and Madame Razz are annoying, and Kowl is just a conceited little coward.

Funtime Internet
"Let's get tacos!" "No, pizza!"

Both villains have their strong points.  Hordak, despite being Skeletor's old master, often fails by overreaching his capabilities in bouts of hubris.  I have a hard time deciding who looks cooler and has the more awesome lair, but Hordak will do something like crash
the air ship he's riding in with alarming frequency For that reason, Skeletor is the more threatening villain.

As for the henchmen, overall I think those in Princess of Power are better,
Mantenna notwithstanding.  Shadow Weaver, Catra, and Leech are cooler than Beast Man, Evil-Lyn, and Tri-Klops.

       Michelle C                                   Mike's Collection
Seriously, could you guys both just shut up?  Thanks.

To be honest, I enjoy watching She-Ra: Princess of Power more than I like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  But to be fair, I have to give them pretty even scores.  I could go on to analyze the soundtracks or more non-leading characters
, but it will all shake out the same way.  So I'll leave it at that, put some mozzarella sticks in the toaster oven, and settle in for an hour of adventure and morals with my new favorite old cartoons.  Which show do you like better?  Would you rather be on Eternia or Etheria?  Are you more about Power or Honor?  Let us know in the comments!

The midnight snack of kings

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Retro King of the Land Posted on Apr 04, 2015 at 08:26 PM

This was great.

shakin steak Posted on Oct 03, 2014 at 01:52 PM

For sure, Vaporman. That's why He-Man gets the checkmark for "good guys". Bow and Razz and Kowl and those purple forest elves are awful!

Vaporman87 Posted on Sep 02, 2014 at 05:54 PM

I think much of the reason that the She-Ra series seemed to benefit from better stories and backgrounds, was that the team at Filmation had lots of time to flesh out stuff and hone their development of the property first with He-Man. I could be wrong, but I've heard that said in "He-Man" circles for years.

Also... Hordak may be a step up from Skeletor, but at least He-Man only had ONE annoying comic relief. In She-Ra we get anywhere for two to four of those (Madam Razz, her broom, Kowl, and Hordak's pet). LOL

Hoju Koolander Posted on Sep 02, 2014 at 04:41 PM

This was a nice introduction to the site. I was always a He-Man devotee, I even had the light up sword and bop-bag, but in retrospect I can't deny that She-Ra is just a cooler character. Even her origin is better: stolen at birth and raised to serve evil, then redeemed by joining the rebels when her long lost brother shows up. I just watched the first few episodes of her series that made up the Secret of the Sword movie and thought it was waaaay better than 95% of the He-Man shows I grew up on. Plus, Hordak...just the best.

DoctorRyan Posted on May 18, 2014 at 03:26 AM

I have something to admit. I actually like the Masters of the Universe movie. Yeah, I admit they leave a lot of things out from the cartoon but for a stand alone story, I thought it was very cheesy, cool if that makes sense. Tell me that theme song don't send shivers down your spine.

shakin steak Posted on May 08, 2013 at 08:11 PM

I haven't seen the movie but I've seen some stills of Skeletor. I don't think the thing about his eyes is bad. It's like how different video game characters were in different media. Super Mario was drawn in many different styles in official print products and merch, for instance. Speaking of Mario, I've never seen that movie either. I know it's also drastically off-model/non-canon/whatever but I really want to watch both movies.

Vaporman87 Posted on May 08, 2013 at 04:37 PM

I wouldn't say it was "dreadful". A bit campy and unfaithful to the source material... yes. But not "dreadful.

raptor Posted on May 07, 2013 at 01:55 AM

Yes I saw the movie. It was dreadful and I thought Evil lyn was so not like the original that they may as well have renamed her. Totally not like the toys or cartoon. And Skeletor had actual eyes?

Vaporman87 Posted on May 06, 2013 at 03:27 PM

Yup. I've seen it a few times. I never thought it was as bad as people made it out to be, but it certainly left a lot to be desired. And the "re-imagining" of the characters left a bitter taste in my mouth.

After having read some interviews with the director, I felt less critical of the movie. He had so little to work with, and made the best product he could given the circumstances, budget, and studio red tape.

AceNThaHole Posted on May 03, 2013 at 10:24 PM

Has anybody seen the Heman movie here, from the 80s?

shakin steak Posted on May 03, 2013 at 07:38 PM

But I lack that connection with He-Man, too.

Vaporman87 Posted on May 03, 2013 at 06:45 PM

I think with Bravestarr, you have a lack of interesting characters. With He-Man, you could introduce new characters from the line and kids would feel invested in them simply because they had the action figure of that character. With Bravestarr, you lack that connection because of it's success was more dependent on the show as opposed to a toy line.

shakin steak Posted on May 03, 2013 at 05:41 PM

I will keep an eye out for DiTillo episodes. I mainly recognized Dini from his credits on Batman TAS. First time I saw his name on the opening shot of a He-Man episode I was like "Holy ****!" I think that was my first clue that there is some quality in there.

I've watched a few episodes of Bravestarr; so far it hasn't really grabbed me. Same with Ghostbusters.

raptor Posted on May 01, 2013 at 06:54 PM

Welcome to the world of He-man and She-ra shakin. I liked both shows growing up but always prefered BraveStarr over them, which was another Filmation show.

If you ask me, Hordak is a better villian than Skeletor but both dudes had their good qualities.

AceNThaHole Posted on Apr 30, 2013 at 06:52 PM

I didnt catch either of these much. But later I bought season 1 of Heman and I did like it quite a bit. The stories are alot deeper than you would think from what are basically comercials for the toys that last 30 minutes. They could have just pumped out pure crap but they went for quality, and thats rare.

Vaporman87 Posted on Apr 30, 2013 at 05:45 PM

An awesome article that's right in my wheelhouse.

As for my favorite of the two, I would naturally gravitate toward He-Man because that is the show I watched regularly in my childhood. But I can see why, having no prior experience with either, one would choose as you have.

There is a bit more creativity in the characters and stories in She-Ra, but without He-Man there would be no She-Ra. So a bit of what makes She-Ra good is owed to He-Man.

You mentioned Paul Dini who was very good at making the most of what he was given. But most folks in the "He-Man" cognoscenti will quickly refer to Larry DiTillo as their favorite episode writer. He is credited with creating some of the series most beloved (non-Mattel) characters (who are just now, with the advent of the Masters of the Universe Classics series, getting their first taste of action figure love). His most famous creation being Granamyr, the oldest and wisest dragon of Darksmoke (I own the "classics" Granamyr figure and it's HUGE!).

Larry also did episode writing for the 2002 He-Man series, and there he is also considered to have written some of the best episodes... especially those dealing with origin stories.

Thanks for this article shakin! I really enjoyed it.

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