Cartoons

She-ra and the Princesses of Power Season 3 Review [Spoiler 3]

I’ve been skeptical about She-ra for a while guys, I’m sure you noticed in my season 1 review.  I was fresh off of Voltron and the train wreck that was that ending, but I loved the old She-ra and had always mentioned to friends and family that I’d be on board with a more dramatic reboot with more fleshed out characters.

 

Seasons 1 and 2 were good, but I was still on the fence about it at the end of season 2.  There was potential, but the plot, pacing, and characters just weren’t quite there yet for me.

 

But season 3, season 3 you guys!  It was only a six episode season, but season 3!  UGHHH it was so good!  If you want my TL;DR opinion:  go watch season 3 right now.  If you’ve also been on the fence about giving this show a try, watching up to season 3 is going to make you decide whether or not you want to be into this show for the long haul.  For me, season 3 took me from being mildly interested in the show, to being heavily invested and willing to recommend other people watch it.  With my gushing out of the way though, onto my spoiler free review of season 3!

 

This season was one of Netflix’s infamous half seasons:  6 episodes for a full “season”.  For once, this didn’t bother me though, because the pacing of the episodes was done so well, and a lot of plot relevant  information was given to us in an even pace.  None of the episodes in season 3 were filler which was nice:  I felt like season 2 tried a little too hard to balance the goofy with the serious, and didn’t do a great job.  In season 3 however, each episode had some comedic beats, but they didn’t take away from the serious parts of each episode.  The character work still is a tad shaky, but it’s definitely improving and I think the balance between character development and plot progression has been fixed.  It doesn’t feel like either is suffering, like in previous seasons.  I’ve said before that the show needed to either be plot centric or character centric, but it’s somewhat proven me wrong in season 3 by doing both well.  I’d personally like more character growth, but if this is going to be a slow burn character wise, which it seems like we’re going for, then I’m all on board for this amazing scifi/fantasy epic story that season 3 has started to give us.

 

I feel like She-ra is having the opposite  effect Voltron did.  Voltron season 3 was the last amazing season.  In She-ra, season 3 is the start of it being a fantastic show that I can’t wait to see more of.  Certain characters still erk me, but now it seems like they’re doing so because of a clear vision for the story to go and it’s not just a case of characters fitting tropes.

 

Season 3 is sosososososo good guys.  Like I said, it got me over my Dreamworks Voltron burns and makes me have hope for this to be a fantastic show.  Please don’t prove me wrong She-ra!  With the amazing pacing, epic plot, and fabulous characters, I highly recommend watching season 3, and giving this show a chance.
Have you watched She-ra and the Princesses of Power Season 3?  Would love to hear in the comments!

Video Games

So I’m Kind of Obsessed with Space Channel 5 Part 2 – Aka, a Review

Game accessibility doesn’t always start and end with it either needs to be an audio game, or it needs to have straight up accessibility features built into the UI.  Sometimes, all it takes is solid gameplay, simple controls, and game mechanics that are easy to grasp, and entertaining enough to mix up into different levels.

 

I recently went through the process of setting Steam up on my computer.  It was to test out a demo of a game that I was told it was going to be accessible, and turned out there were features in menus, but not for the gameplay.  I had gone through the process of setting it all up however, which wasn’t very easy to do (Steam setup isn’t accessible, but workable.  Topic for another post) so I figured, why not keep it installed on my computer, and play some games I knew I had always wanted to play, but were only on Steam.

 

I asked on Twitter for some game recommendations that a blind gamer could play, and got a response from a fellow blind gamer.  Their list was super helpful, and on it was Space Channel 5 Part 2 – a rhythm game from the Dreamcast era, that had easy controls, and said every pattern you were supposed to match verbally.
It’s been a week, and I’ve already clocked 9 hours into this game!  It’s so much fun, and such a basic setup.  It’s not only a rhythm game, but it has a plot that’s equal parts epic, and epically ridiculous.  The soundtrack is fantastic – very reminiscent of Cowboy Bebop and Space Dandy music, and I find myself bopping to the music and wanting to replay the levels just to hear said music, and watch specific story beats in the game.

 

Now the big question for blind gamers, is it accessible?

 

For the most part, yes.  The game itself is playable, but when you first boot up the game, there’s a game config screen that doesn’t speak, and it just seems like the game didn’t load.  My computer doesn’t have the best specs, so I thought I just wasn’t able to play the game, but when I had sighted assistance, they had to setup the config screen initially.  After that, the game loaded with no issues…in Japanese.

 

So upon further research, there’s a glitch in the game that starts the language in Japanese.  To fix this, I went into the text file of the config in the PC folder for the game.  Change the voice language from “1” to “0” and reload the game, and you should be good to go!

 

As far as level accessibility, there was one hang up in Report 5 that I’d like to point out.  At that part of the game, there’s one section where you’re dancing against a robot, so instead of verbally voicing the commands, they just make robot noises.  There’s a later section in that level where all they say is “Chu” for every command, and you have to shoot with different patterns there.  So what I did to get past that was watch this video, write down what Ulala was saying, and toughed through it as best I could.  I really just wanted to beat the game, so wasn’t  trying to get a perfect score, but those sections would totally be memorizable in later playthroughs, and I really want to work at getting good at the two sections in this report that I’d have to memorize.

 

But yeah, I love this game!  The goofy camp of the plot is totally my aesthetic.  I love all of the characters – Ulala is the best – and the gameplay mechanics are so sound.  It’s simple, and tons of fun, to the point where I’m trying to find other rhythm games exactly with this gameplay.  Sadly no luck yet, but still on the hunt!

 

This game is accessible, and I don’t think it was trying to be.  But it’s nice to find a mainstream game that just is accessible right out of the box more or less, simply because the controls and gameplay are just easy to grasp, and hard to master.  Having it all voiced was also nice, and something that easily makes a game accessible and it something common in mainstream games, so it’s definitely a step developers can consider when thinking of easy accessibility options.
This isn’t a game I see talked about a lot in the “What games are accessible to play for the blind” talks that pop up so much in blind gamer circles, so I really wanted to spotlight it on the blog, and hopefully help other blind gamers find it.  It’s hard to find good rhythm games to play, so I really hope you enjoy this one if you decide to pick it up on Steam!  I got it on sale, and it was totally worth the price.  I know I’m going to continue replaying this, I already have been turning it on to play through Reports again, and I’m trying to chug through the Ulala 100 stage dance challenge mode.  It’s just a game that’s huge amounts of fun, and I can’t recommend it more for fans of quirky games, with simple gameplay and a lot of heart!

 

So in the words of Ulala, this has been my swingin’ report show!  I really hope this helps anyone considering picking up the game and checking it out!

Cartoons

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 2 Review [Spoiler Free]

I watched She-ra season 2 over the weekend, and it was good.  I wasn’t impressed by it by any means, but it was a natural progression of the plot of the show, the characters are fun, and all in all, the episodes were cute.  I’ll be going into more detail about the shows construction more than the episodes here, because I have more to say about that.  But if you want a short answer to should you watch season 2, I’d say yes.  The character work is far more impressive than the writing, and it carries the plot onward, all be it a bit slowly.  If you watched season 1 and enjoyed it, season 2 will be very much of the same.

 

My major problem with season 2…is I’m seeing a lot of the issues we saw mid series in Voltron:  The Legendary Defender.  Voltron had a problem with plot execution, and shotty character work.  Where as in She-ra, I think they have the character work and growth down, but the plot and world building is very under developed.  My biggest issues here, is with the Horde as a whole.

 

We get these glimpses of the Horde throughout season 2, that are a bit deeper than in season 1.  Before, we only saw Catra and Scorpia, but in season 2 we’re getting a bit of a wider scale on their end.  We got to see Hordak and more of his plans, and we got the full backstory of Shadow Weaver.  But, for me, hordak isn’t an interesting villain.  Like I don’t see him as an imposing figure at all, even though he’s totally played off as such.  It isn’t the voice acting, it isn’t’ his presentation, but if we’re going to be having this super “intimidating” figure in the shadows, then I think we need to either have him shrouded  completely in mystery, only revealing his motivations later, or just put all of his cards on the table and let us know what he’s planning so we can get a better look into his character.  As he stands now, he’s half and half and not at all interesting.
This has a lot to do with the world building for me.  We found out something about Hordak that just opens up all of these questions about Eternia, but these questions fall apart once you throw in all of this First Ones tech being more high tech than what Eternia knows.  So what exactly is the angle with the world building here?  Is Eternai going to wind up being a destroyed Earth, or is it going to be something else.  The writing is trying to lead us somewhere, but there’s no clear line to the somewhere we’re supposed to be being led to, and it just comes off as the writers not knowing what exactly they want to do with the plot, and caring more about the character work.  I enjoy character based stories, but in this case, the plot needs to be a bit more basic than She-ra is trying to do.  Of course, this is just season 2, and one of those annoying 7 episode seasons, so maybe the writing will get better as the show progresses, but after Voltron I’m far more skeptical than usual, and aren’t putting a lot of trust in these Dreamworks reboots again just yet.
Shadow Weaver’s plot, once again just screams Hagar’s plot in Voltron to me.  I feel like after what happened to her in season 2, we’re going to get exactly what happened in Voltron”  she’ll pop back at the end of the show and be the true villain.  Once again, it may just be me being a skeptical viewer, but it’s not boding well for me as a viewer.  I’m hoping beyond hope, that I’ll be wrong and this writing team has learned from Voltron’s mistakes.

 

Like I said at the beginning  of this review, I like watching She-ra Princesses of Power a lot.  It feels so much like a modernized version of the 80s show, which is what keeps me watching the show.  I have enough hope for the writing team knowing what they’re doing for these issues I stated to not be long lasting ones, so I highly recommend giving She-ra a chance if you haven’t.

Cartoons

Voltron: The Legendary Defender, and Why Allura’s Final Fate in the Series Simply Doesn’t Work For Me

This is my final post in my 3 part series about Voltron:  The Legendary Defender.  If you’d like to see my thoughts on season 8, and my thoughts on Voltron as a whole, head on over to those posts.  This post is going to specifically be talking about a specific plot point in the ending concerning Allura.  If you haven’t seen the show and care about spoilers, do not read this post because it’s going to 100% be huge huge huge spoilers.  If you don’t care, or have watched all of season 8, then read on!

 

I want to break down this post in 3 sections, because I have a decent theory on what the writers were going for with Allura’s poorly executed death.  Now, I have narrative theories, and I have out of narrative theories for why it happened, but I’m going to be sticking with my purely narrative theories on why thematically, they feel like killing her off at the very very end of the show was the right choice.
I won’t even sugar coat it:  I hated this.  I hated this so much.  Character death in a story can be interesting if done right, if there’s a lead up to it, but there was absolutely none.  The entire series was leading up to another ending for her which was quite obvious, so killing her at the very end honestly threw me for a loop.  I was angry, but not for the right reasons:  I was angry that they did this, not because I was grieving  the character.  Just really not cool to have her be the only one who dies, after they spent all of this energy destroying a very interesting plot that could have happened early on, with Shiro dying.
But I’m going off on a tangent here, sorry.  Any time I think about it, it just makes me semi-rage.  OK, so I want to break this post up into 3 sections:
What I think they were narratively going for with this choice, why I don’t think it worked, and how I’d have written it differently.  I’m adding on this last part for the express purpose of making myself feel better, because I’ve been coming up with alternative endings ever since watching the ending that I think could have worked for the story they were trying to tell since the beginning of the series.

 

But with that long intro out of the way, let’s begin!

 

WHAT THE NARRATIVE WAS GOING FOR

 

I definitely think that in season 8 at least, they were trying to draw parallels between Honerva and Allura.  Two Alteans, on the exact opposite of the spectrum:  One who had lost everything due to a war, but otherwise had a loving family and upbringing.  Tarnished by the actions of the other:  an Altean who’s quest for knowledge ultimately warped and destroyed her, and her family.  Even when Allura had power on par with Honerva, she chose to use it in a far different way:  to protect the people she loved, and pave a future for them.  Allura’s motivations are purely from a selfless point of view, where as Honerva’s are from a selfish point of view:  She wants to use all of this power to get back what she lost, where as Allura wants to salvage and protect what she has gained.

Both are war orphans in a sense, but Allura found a family in the Voltron Paladin’s.  Honerva pushed everyone away to the point where she thought her only option was to do everything to regain what she’s lost, instead of trying to live in the present, and look towards the future.  Both return to their families in the end, the families that they’ve lost, and in the end join together to right the wrongs forged by the war caused by Galra, and Altean alike.

Even with The Entity plot line, we see these parallels drawn.  Honerva took The Entity into herself and started a 10000 year Universe-wide war.  Allura took The Entity into herself to stop Honerva, and to protect what she loves.  To “Finish this, once and for all” as Allura stated.  The Entity started corrupting Allura’s personality, and intent while it was still around, but in the end, she overcame it, and used the power to save not only her reality, but all other realities.  Honerva, on the other hand, had The Entity in her for 10000 years, and used it to do nothing but conquer, and spread hate, and tyranny.  So it’s obvious they were trying to pull the light vs dark thing here with both of them with this plot.

 

Honerva’s character work solely in  season 8 is superb.  All of this, I got simply from seeing her in season 8, and I have to tip my hat to the writers for fleshing her out in such a short amount of time.  As I’ve said in another post, the character work is always well done in Voltron, and it’s the biggest strength in the show.

 

But, Allura’s character work completely throws what they were going for with her sacrifice out the window…

 

 

WHAT WENT WRONG, AND WHY THIS DOESN’T WORK

 

For these parallels to have worked, and be driven home to the extent that I feel they wanted them to, Allura needed to exhibit some sort of tiredness, and form of loss.  Throughout the series, she does state not having a family to go back to, and she tends to look down when family is mentioned, but I don’t think this is enough to warrant her sacrifice at the end.  All signs throughout the series point to her being so happy she found Team Voltron, that they all were her family now, and although that doesn’t replace her previous family, I don’t think you can take the logic leap of “She’s been sad about Alfor not being around sometimes” to “She’s so sad that she would rather sacrifice herself for her Voltron family to live their lives, and for her to be with her original family in the afterlife, then to stay and live happily on Earth with them”.

 

Especially with the Lance love subplot, we see Allura as being so so so happy with him.  She has the support she needs both romantically, and platonically through him and the team, and to me it just doesn’t make sense for her to sacrifice herself when she had this to go back to.
That being said, the whole Altean magic plotting hinders this as well.  Like, Honerva absorbed enough quintessence to sacrifice herself, and herself alone, so why couldn’t she?  I’m fine with magic not fully being explained in a story, but Altean alchemy  was one of those things that just wasn’t explained enough for Allura to have to sacrifice herself to restore realities to make sense, when Honerva has more experience, and far more power at this point to do so herself.  I just think it was a thinly vailed attempt to draw these parallels of both were broken by this war, all be it in different ways, but now they both return to their families in death.
But if you’re going to show Allura as being so happy with her newly found family, then why go with the story beat of ending her life at the end?  When it was very obvious  throughout the show that her entire plot and character arc was she found a new family to live with, and be happy with at the end of all of this.
I’ve seen some people say her plot came full circle with her dying, because her losing her entire life as she knew it happened at the start of the series, and now it’s restored with her dying to be with them in the end.  This would have been a fine arc if it was shown like, at all in the series, and wouldn’t have felt like as much of a blow to us fans if it was more better displayed throughout the series, with a few quiet moments of her missing Alfor, and old Altea…but there literally was nothing leading up to she misses her old life so much, she wouldn’t’ mind dying for others to return to her old family.

 

This death wasn’t led up to in season 8, either.  She absorbed The Entity sure, but there was never any explanation as to what The Entity was, and by the last 3 episodes of the series, it just…wasn’t there?  So saying the only way she could get rid of it would be a death doesn’t make any sense to me either.  If they wanted to keep the rest of the season entirely the same, they could have easily written in that taking in The Entity was irreversible, so she might as well use the power to save realities, and that also would show giving in to the side of evil to stop evil, has consequences and isn’t’ the answer.  As it stands, her death just feels like a cheap shock value stunt at the end of the day, instead of having the impact it could have if, once again, the plotting and theming was executed better.

 

It really bothers me that at the end of the day she saves everyone all by herself too, like why not have all of Team Voltron sacrifice themselves if that was the route they wanted to go?  That would still be sad, but make more sense than just her doing it, and drill home our teamwork overcomes all obstacle’s theming we had for all the series.
But I’m starting to get into my last part, so let’s just move on to the last section.

 

MY DIFFERENT ENDING BRAINSTORMS

 

OK so, I’ve thought of a few different ways to end the show.  The first one that came to mind was, everything plays out the way it did in the end, we get Honerva’s change of heart.  Allura offers to help her fix what she’s done, but Honerva goes “No, I’ve caused you enough Greif.  I’ll do this by myself.  Live happily Allura, don’t make the same mistakes I did!”.  She uses all of the quintessence she absorbed from the entire galaxy, and restores it back to the galaxy, giving back all realities she destroyed.  Voltron appears, with Allura in the blue lion, we have our 1 year flash forward, but in Lance’s plot, we see him and Allura together, spreading peace across the galaxy, and retiring to the farm to rest and be in love.

 

If you want to go the character death route, what I started saying earlier is what I would have done.  If you want a sacrifice, either make it be all of the Paladins, so the theme of teamwork runs throughout the entire series, or you have them make an even bigger sacrifice:  they need to use Allura’s alchemic power, but she simply doesn’t have enough power to do so.  But what do they have that does?  Why, Voltron and the lions, of course, they are made of pure quintessence after all.  So Allura uses her magic, with Voltron as a battery, and they sacrifice the lions to restore realities.  You could even bring back the lion bond plot that kinda got dropped throughout the series, and have them connect with their lions for the last time to say their goodbyes.  Something akin to the ending of season 6, making them sacrifice something so important to them, but in doing so having them save the day.  This way, we can still get our time jump, still get the epilogues, but the Paladin’s all have something to grieve  over together.
I think with this ending it would bring them together even more as a family, and they’d bond even stronger – once again, drilling home the overall theme of six broken people bonding together to become even closer than family.  Have them take that  selfie, but instead of an Allura statue, it’s a Voltron statue, or five statues of the Lions, and in the back is a statue of Voltron.  Show the epilogue, then the end credits scene can be the Lions flying out of a galaxy, the six paladins sensing the bond between their lions reform, and smiling because they know they’re alive out there somewhere.

 

Even if you wanted to keep the ending entirely the same, you totally could, but instead at the end have the Lions sitting there, and then they spark to life.  All five paladins feel it, run to them, and see Allura slowly stirring in the cock pit of the Blue Lion.  Lance grabs her, she slowly rouses, grabbing her turns into him hugging her tightly, only for the rest of the team to join in on a group hug.  Pan out to a group shot of the six of them, and the Lions behind them – perhaps their eyes glow, as if they’re smiling, happy that their chosen are reunited again, and can live their lives together.

 

Since earlier in the series, we saw Shiro was in the consciousness of the Black Lion, this totally could happen – just have Allura in the consciousness of the Blue Lion, but her Altean magic took time to reform her body, and that’s why it took a year for her to reappear.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

The fact that I can come up with three endings like this I feel is a good indicator of how wonky that ending was.  It just felt unplanned and unnecessary, and like I said earlier only there for shock value.  My headcannon is that Lance gets Allura back, and they live happily ever after.  I’ve seen some fan theories that Allura becomes the new Lion Goddess, or Goddess of the Universe because of her sacrifice which is a nice ending…if that were their intent, but all we have to go off of is some ending credits scenes, and major theorizing.  It isn’t open ended, it’s just messy, and like I’ve said so many times, it leaves a horrible end note prevalent on an otherwise fantastic series.

 

And that is the end of my 3 part Voltron series folks!  Not gonna lie, I was majorly frustrated with how the show ended, and writing these have majorly helped me vent out my frustrations with the directions the show ultimately took in the end.  I sincerely hope that we get a 1 hour OVA where they fix what went wrong in the final episode, because leaving it as it is with Allura dead, after she already had to sacrifice so much is just not cool with me, considering the major themes of the show.

 

 

I hope you all enjoyed these posts, as rambly as they got at certain points.

 

So do you have any thoughts on how Voltron ended?  Let’s talk about it in the comments!

Cartoons · TV Shows

The Voltron The Legendary Defender Retrospective:Characters, Plotting, and Theming

In my last post, I talked about Voltron The Legendary Defender Season 8.  This post, I wanted to have a bit of a retrospective on the series.  So this post, I’m going to be talking about the show’s writing, plotting, and characters, what they did right, and what they did wrong.

 

The biggest thing I see people say about Voltron:  The Legendary Defender is “missed potential” and I have to say, I agree with that statement.  There were a lot of wonderful character moments, some very good plotting and theming in the beginning of the series, say until about seasons 5 or 6.  But somewhere along the line it just fell off the wagon and I’d like to try and figure out where and why that happened by dissecting the writing and themes of the show in general.

 

Needless to say, spoilers for all of Voltron:  The Legendary Defender are going to be in this post.  With all of that out of the way, let’s get into it.

 

CHARACTERS

 

My favorite part of Voltron had to be the characters.  They just started out so fleshed out, and working so well individually, as well as as a team.  I think both configurations of teams worked, but I will say in later seasons, they found less and less to do with Shiro, and his plots probably fell flat the most.  But in the beginning, all of them had really interesting motivation’s and struggle’s, and it was just a joy to see them deal with them while growing as Team Voltron.

 

When the character work started to fall apart I feel, is when they finished the characters first wave arcs.  Shiro was dealing with PTSD, Pidge was trying to find her family, Keith was struggling to accept himself, and was trying to learn how to work together with his team when he’d rather just stay the lone wolf he started out as.  But when all of these arcs came to completion:  Shiro “dies”, Pidge finds her family, Keith finds his Mother and grows, the characters just started to fall flat.  It wasn’t because they weren’t still interesting, all of their core aspects that made them loveable were still there, but without having an external story for them to deal with individually, they felt like they just became one-dimensional.  We went from each of them having their own hardships, and together coping with them and becoming stronger to deal with the plot happening around them, to just having them all be “Voltron Paladin’s”.  When the writers wanted to focus more on the plot, is when the characters suffered.  Instead of having the characters interact with the plot, the plot happened and propelled them forward.  It was this weird thing, where they weren’t inactive in the plot, but at the same time, the plot stripped away what made the characters, the characters.

 

I’m not one of those people who think in season 8, not having character moments made it less of a season.  I think by that point, they had grown their bond, so we were able to have it take a backseat to the story.  But when throughout the rest of the seasons, there’s this constant battle between focusing on characters, or focusing on plot…I think there’s a major problem tonally.  What I think needed to happen was there needed to be a choice made early on in the shows run.  Were they going to make it primarily a character focused show, where the plot mattered, but took a backseat to developing character relationships and their stories, or was this going to be a space epic, where the plot was the foremost important thing, and the characters were going to not be a big focus.  This got split in every season past season 3 I feel, and the show overall suffered for it.

 

PLOT

 

I think the plotting is the weakest link in the series overall.  In the first two seasons, there was a clear goal:  Destroy Zarcon, take down the Empire.  After that plot was finished, Lotor comes into the story and that’s interesting as well, but where it falls short is the sub plots for characters throughout the series. We have these plots dragged out for seasons on end, only to have them finally revealed, but then concluded within 3 or less episodes of the reveal.  There needed to be time to tell these stories, instead of having a huge windup and resolving it so quickly that you’re not sure why it happened in the first place.  I’ve addressed some of these issues in another article, so if you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on this, head over there.
This goes along with a lack of risk taking with these plots.  It seems like they wanted to go there with some of them, but they just didn’t for some reason or another.  It threw off some strong character beats that could have happened, and not following through with them really just made you feel like, why was this happening then?  In the end a lot of plots just were never resolved, and if that were to happen, then why open them up in the first place.

 

The plot felt rather nonsensical in a lot of points after season 3, as well.  They would try to tell this epic story that would start out making a lot of sense, and being super engaging.  I feel like a lot of times however, they would get carried away with action scenes, and drawing out suspense, that when it was time to resolve the plot, they just had to figure out this really quick resolution that would make little to no sense.  This is especially apparent  at the ends of season 6, and season 8.  They either needed more episodes, or needed to cut out the filler (there were a lot of them that were fun and really goofy, but had absolutely nothing to do with plot) so if they wanted to have some more time explaining the plot more accurately, perhaps filling out some things that would lead up to the season or series finale, the plotting dropping the ball halfway through the ladder seasons perhaps wouldn’t have happened.

 

I think seasons 1 through 4 were done very, very well.  Season 4 was waffling a bit, but it really felt like their vision was lost from season 5 onward.  I enjoyed the characters, and action in those later seasons, but the plot just started to feel like they wanted to lead into something, but weren’t quite sure what.

 

Biting off more than they could chew definitely feels like the theming overall with the plotting in the ladder half of the series, especially in season 8.  They wanted to do something grandiose, but overall just weren’t sure how to finish up the plot, so ending it made it feel rushed, nonsensical, and forced.  If only we had the plotting from the first few seasons throughout, plus the awesome character work…

 

THEMEING

 

And finally, we get to what in my opinion, is the biggest misstep of the series.  The theming of the show completely went out the window at the end.  The entire point of the series was that a group of broken people can come together, become even stronger as a unit, and overcome all obstacle’s.  But halfway through the series, they decided to separate characters.  Keith went off on his own multiple times, and for some seasons he wasn’t even in it for pretty much all of it.  In the end, instead of the entire team working to stop Honerva, Allura is the only person who can, and does.  Pidge goes off to take care of finding her family on her own, and I think Hunk and Lance are the only two who don’t have plots where they just go off on their own and do things if I’m remembering correctly.  This dichotomy  really does the show a disservice, as when the final battle comes for most seasons, they all come together, form Voltron, and save the day.  But sometimes, this just feels so hollow, because they’ve spent entire seasons apart from each other, and doing their own things.  Once again, this wasn’t prevalent in the first four seasons, but definitely was more of a thing in the 2nd half of the series.
Team Voltron is far stronger as an ensemble character piece, and not having that be the central theming throughout the series, and not just in the first half, was not wise for the writers.  I feel like once Shiro stopped being the Black Paladin, they weren’t sure what to do with the team.  I don’t think Allura in the blue lion was a bad move – in fact, I loved that so much – but not having much to do with Shiro at that point, and not sure how to retune the team dynamic when Allura was part of the team and just not a paladin was sort of odd.  Not sure why that was the case, but they just weren’t sure what to do with the theming then and didn’t realize that they could have had Shiro be just as important in the plot outside of the Black Lion, just like Allura was when she wasn’t a paladin of Voltron.

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

I feel like this review sounds like I wasn’t a fan of the show, which is so far from the truth.  IT’s just seeing the series finale, and how big of a misstep it was, and how much it’s literally upset every fan I’ve ran across, it just feels like “missed potential” is the perfect word to describe Voltron.  A lot of plots that fell short that had tons of promise, a lot of characters that had lacking development.  A lot of side characters introduced, as if they were meant for more, only to be never addressed again.  Overall, the unwillingness to go with more mature themes of the show that they so obviously were setting up is strange to me – and you can say “But it’s a kids show!” but killing off one of the main characters is something that a kids show wouldn’t do unless it was trying to be more mature, so why not go all the way with said maturity, and take the risks with the plotting that were shouting at us all throughout the series?

 

So what went wrong?  A lot of fans are theorizing that there was corporate interference, and the creative team paid the price for it.  I think that’s very much the case, because it really feels like how they ended the show isn’t what they were going for at all.  But those are all just theories, and we’ll never truly know unless someone in the crew or cast speaks out about it one day.

 

And thus ends my retrospective on Voltron:  The Legendary Defender as a whole.  I loved you Voltron, but you were by no means flawless.  Your ending made an otherwise amazing show just be ok, and I’ll forever feel so disappointed by it.

 

But those thoughts are for the next, and final post in this series:  Voltron:  The Legendary Defender, talking about the ending.  If you want to see my thoughts on the final season, you can head on over to this link.

 

What are your thoughts on the series as a whole?  Would love to hear in the comments!

Cartoons · TV Shows

Voltron: The Legendary Defender Season 8 Review [Spoilers]

It’s over my friends.  After 2 some odd years, Voltron The Legendary Defender is over.  It’s been one heck of a ride, but I won’t say that the ending is something…that I liked, or that I expected.  In fact, the ending made me so furious, that I had to decompress over the weekend after binging it all on Friday.  I went to the reddit for Voltron to talk to other fans, which is something I’ve never done for the show, that’s how upset I was.  But after taking some time, I think I’m ready to talk about this.  I need to talk about this so I can get my feelings out about it, and move on with my life.
I have a lot to say about this season, and the show as a whole.  So I’m going to do a series of 3 posts, this one just talking about season 8, the next one talking about Voltron as a whole, it’s flaws and positives, and the last one…talking about the ending.  In particular, something that happened in the ending.  It’s probably not what everyone is thinking of, but it’s the thing that affected me most and I really need to write a post about that specifically, along the same lines as the 2nd post in this series:  What I think they were going for with that choice, why it wasn’t executed well, that sort of thing.

 

That being said, the first half of this post is going to be spoiler free.  The 2nd half is going to have spoilers, because it’s unavoidable when talking about a series finale.  But I’ll be sure to label spoilers with a big old heading so you can leave if you don’t want to know what happens in the ending.
So with that out of the way, let’s get into my general thoughts of season 8!

 

GENERAL THOUGHTS

 

The season starts out very well, giving us the resolution to story arcs that were lingering for quite some time.  After the first episode, we start the season with some backstory for a certain character, then go right into the rest of the season having action, some “filler” episodes, and the ultimate ending of the series.  The filler episodes this season were the best of the series, in my opinion:  They got the themes they wanted for the filler across and lightened the mood, but at the same time they propelled the plot forward – which is something that previous filler episodes haven’t done before.  They usually would put the plot at a standstill, then next episode would pick up the plot again.  But seeing filler that leads into plot, and that grows characters was nice, and I wish we had more of that throughout the rest of the series.

 

The character moments are few and far between in this season, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.  The characters bond was pre-established, so we didn’t really need to see them interact as much as in past seasons.  I really enjoyed what we got though (seeing Pidge and Allura acting like sisters in the first episode was one that certainly warmed my heart) and just seeing the culmination of the six main characters relationship was such a treat.  Seeing how Keith, Lance, and Allura grew throughout the series especially was nice.  Like they are completely different characters between the beginning and the ending, and their character arcs were handled well..for the most part.  But we’ll get to that in the spoilers section.

 

The villain of the final season was a major lead up that also was something culminating throughout the entire series, and I really liked it.  Not only was it a personal battle for our Paladin’s, but it also was a matter of saving their universe, and multiple others.  Once again, the villain  was handled excellently…until the ending.  The action was on point, and the stakes just kept on ramping up higher and higher…but then the climax just utterly fell flat, and felt rushed, and like the writers  had expended all of their energy getting to the point of the final battle, only to realize “Crap, how are we supposed to resolve this?”.

 

Of course, the answer is AlluraXMachina!

 

But that, once again, is getting into spoiler territory. So I think at this point, it’s time to talk about it.  The thing that’s going to just make Voltron a great series, instead of the amazing series it could have been…

SPOILERS!  SPOILERS!  TURN BACK IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS!!!!!!

 

OK so.
I loved everything about this season.  Sure, there were certain things that just weren’t answered, like what happened to all of the Shiro clones, and a lot of stories mentioned that just…weren’t addressed or touched on again, like Veronica trying to make friends with Acxa, and that whole ex-Lotor’s General’s crew having that episode was nice but it wasn’t really closure.  That the other General popped up, wanted to kill Keith, and then just decides not to because of a few nice words was choppy writing, and it feels like it was something that the writers wanted to have more time with but couldn’t.  Lance and Allura, though there was lead up throughout the entire series for it, when it actually happened we just got a phew scenes of it, and it didn’t feel like it got as developed as it should have when they actually got together – they just had their relationship go from 0 to 100, and even though I loved they’re fluffy moments, I would have liked to see the actual relationship take time, just as much as them getting together did.

This season was very much Allura’s story, which was…alright?  Once again, it just sort of came out of the blue.  Like the previous seasons had very much a tone of teamwork makes us all stronger, but in season 8 Allura just was the focal point, and as much as I love her it felt like major tonal  whiplash because this isn’t how the show was.  If we had a season format, where every character had their own season to shine and have their arcs, then focusing on Allura would have made more sense.  But as it stands, this was an ensemble piece that just decided to make 1 of the characters become the main one at its climax.

 

Along those lines, like the themes in general got a mish mosh and the tone of the show suffered for it.  Voltron is notorious for the central message that all of the heroes will win, no matter what odds will face them.  Shiro dies?  No worries, AlluraXMachina will bring him back.  Pidge needs to find her family?  No worries, she’ll find them, none of them are dead, or evil, and she’ll find them and put her family back together again.  But for some reason, in the final episode of the final season, they decide to throw all of that out of the window.
OK so this is a huge huge huge spoiler so if you really don’t want to know it, don’t read on.

 

But they set the precedent that no matter what, all six of our main characters will win the day, that none of them will die, get injured, or any of that…
Only to kill Allura in the literal last ten minutes of the show?

This was what ruined the season for me folks.  After everything we had been through, she’ dies.  Granted, she chooses to sacrifice herself to save the universe, and all its realities, but like…there was absolutely no lead up to this what-so-ever.  Allura has always been a selfless character, like it’s in character for her to do so, but I mean from a writing standpoint, there was absolutely no lead up to this.  She absorbs the Entity, which also has no real explanation to whether or not she got rid of it after a certain point (just seemed like a plot device to get some episodes going, if I’m being completely honest) and there just was no in-universe logic to why this had to happen.  I would have been heartbroken if she died regardless, she’s my favorite character, but they don’t explain any of the reasoning properly so it just feels like they needed AlluraXMachina to do her thing once again, but this time decided to kill her?  Allura, who’s suffered the most, sacrificed the most out of all of the characters, is the one who has to die, when Honerva has the exact same power set as her, had absorbed all the energy of the universe, and showed that she was willing to fix her mistakes because of a very quick heel turn because of some memory flashback provided by our favorite Altean.  Like, if there were any lead up to this what-so-ever, if they had dropped some scenes explaining why this had to happen, then it could have been better and seeing that it would be inevitable for Allura to die would have been interesting.  As it stands however, it feels rushed, forced, and an answer to the plothole they wrote their selves into.  How do we fix Honerva destroying all realities?  Altean magic, of course!

 

This is what I’m going to need an entire post to talk about.  This, it’s execution, how clunky, and unnecessary it is when they spent an entire season bringing Shiro back to life earlier in the series, just isn’t cool.  It makes an otherwise amazing series and season just feel like we didn’t get the ending we were promised from the beginning.

It honestly felt like this wasn’t the ending that they wanted.  It feels like from how the show was going,  That it was going to end with EVERY PALADIN alive, and happy, and that suffering and sacrifice has its rewards for our heroes.  That Allura lost her family, but she has a found family in the paladins and can start anew in spite of all of her life hardships.  This terrible execution of theming, this rushed resolution to the plot, isn’t new to Voltron:  Legendary Defender, but it was excusable when overall the story was enjoyable.  If we had an extra season, I wholeheartedly believe we’d have a plot much like the Shiro clone plot in which the other paladins go to save Allura from a dimension in between realities.

 

The rest of the ending was fine.  I didn’t mind the epilogues itself, but everyone but Allura getting their happy ending leaves such a bad taste in my mouth.  This was an ensemble piece, and in my opinion that means the entire team should have made it out alive.  Teamwork, and supporting each other was a huge theme of the series, so Alura alone sacrificing herself is just a bad way to end the series.  I’ll be talking about this in another article however, so I will leave it at that.

 

If you’re a fan of Voltron:  Legendary Defender, this season is like the others.  Lots of action, good mech battles, decent characters, very choppy writing and poor execution for some key plot points.  This season felt rushed, and I really think that we needed an extra 13 episodes to get the story that the writers wanted to tell.  Allura dying was just there for shock value, and as I said earlier, it really doesn’t feel like what the show was heading towards, but sigh it happened so we have to deal with it.  I shall stick to my headcannon that the Lions fly off to get Allura so her and Lance can live on his farm, and have lots of half Altean, half Earth babies.  Such a bittersweet ending, that sours an otherwise amazing series, and season.

 

And those are my final thoughts on Voltron:  Legendary Defender season 8.  It had such a strong start, so many amazing nods to characters we’ve seen in flashbacks, and in the story.  My favorite interactions hands down were Allura and her Father getting to reunite, and seeing the original paladins help our favorite team in the end.  But fanservice like that doesn’t make up for the plot holes, bad execution, and pointless character death this season was plagued with.

 

And that’s what I’m left with guys.  This is where I’m at.  I went from fiery anger, to “I can’t believe they did this” to dull acceptance, and I guess that’s where I’m at now.  It’s up to you whether or not the ending will ruin the entire series for you, but for me, at this current point in time, it does and I don’t think I’ll be rewatching the show anytime soon, or watching anything else these writers produce.  I can’t bring myself to watch a show I enjoyed so much only to have such a hugely disappointing  ending be thrown at me, so yeah.

 

 

Watch season 8 of Voltron for all of the good in it, and let’s flock to fanfiction if the ending we got isn’t something that we liked.  I know I for one will be doing so.

 

 

And that’s it for my Voltron:  The Legendary Defender season 8 review.  Next post in this series, I’ll be talking about the series as a whole, and trying to dissect what went wrong, and what went right overall with the writing in this series.  Hope you come along for the ride!
Have you watched the series finale yet?  Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!  What parts in the season did you like, and what were deal breakers for you?

Cartoons

She-ra and the Princesses of Power Season 1 Review

In my older years, I got into watching old 80s cartoons.  When I watched She-ra, I was like “This show is so great, I’d love to see it redone as a more dramatic, fantasy show” so when She-ra and the Princesses of Power was announced, I was beyond excited.  Reboots are something the internet is so divisive about, but I don’t really care about the whole “It ruined my childhood shows” garbage that tends to spew when they’re announced.  The old version exists, you can still watch it.  The new version is made differently in most cases, so you can enjoy it, and it’s older counterparts equally, for different reasons.  Did She-ra and the Princesses of Power pull that off successfully?
I think so!

 

Let’s break this review down into 3 different parts:  Plot, characters, and my overall thoughts of the 1st season of the show.  I won’t be comparing it to the 80s version, because it’s such a different entity from the 80s version that you can’t really compare them.  I will say that what they did with the plot works, and they do a wonderful job of paying homage  to the themes of the original show, while modernizing them at the same time.  Both stand alone as their own thing, so if you’re in the mood for some glorious 80s camp that has a lot of heart, watch the old She-ra.  If you want a really good fantasy/sci-fi narrative, with fleshed out characters, watch the reboot.

 

PLOT

 

The plot of She-ra is very much like the plot of the old version.  Adora finds herself as part of the Horde, the bad guys, only to find out during a mission that she’s been chosen to be the next She-ra to defend the planet…from The Horde.  She decides to turn against her home and join the Rebellion to stop the Horde, and that’s the basic plot.  Now She-ra and the Princesses of Power takes this premise further, because She-ra doesn’t have He-Man to play off of in this.  So in this one, Adora is just an orphan, and still turns on the Horde.  I find this to be extra interesting, because this way she’s turning on her family that she grew up with, and they really drill that home in the narrative, both with Adora’s arc and how the members of the Horde treat her.  This more adult handling of plots and themes is prevalent  throughout, and it just shows a major care for the source material, and wanting to expand on it.
I kept on explaining the show to my family as “This is basically fantasy Buffy” and I still hold to it.  The characters are slightly different, but the core group of characters you can easily point at and be like “Adora is Buffy, Glimmer is Willow, Bow is Xander”.  This isn’t’ a bad thing, but the theming of the show in general just feels like it borrows a lot from that.  The supportive friendship between those three, to the final decision Adora makes in regards to holding the mantel of She-ra:  everything is very Buffy-esk, but in a fantasy setting and it culminates into this really interesting, dynamic story.  If you like a fantasy world, with some sci-fi thrown in, and really good character building, then defs give the plot a try.

 

CHARACTERS

 

I find this problem with most Dreamworks shows, but the good guys are all good, and the bad guys are all bad.  They try to use the dynamic of Adora and Catra’s relationship to make it more of a character piece for the bad guys, but still at the end of the day Catra is bad, Adora good.  Now that’s not to say that the characters don’t have their own arcs, and aren’t interesting on their own merits, but I do hope that we get out of that mold that is very noticeable in Dreamworks shows.

 

They did a really good job updating the characters though.  No longer is Glimmer just the annoying fairy, and Bow the incompetent archer.  They aren’t sidekicks by any means, but them and Adora stand together as their own friendship unit, or “Best Friend Squad” as Bow puts it, and it totally works.  You can see why they are friends, and how they strengthen and grow each other, and how individually they are fleshed out characters on their own.  The supporting cast are no slouches either:  all have super defined personalities, and I can’t wait to see how we expand on them more as well.  Just a really well done job modernizing the core concepts of the 80s  characters, once again the writers knew what they were doing.

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

And that’s the biggest thing I can say about this reboot:  It modernizes everything that we loved about the old She-ra.  Like I said earlier, both stand alone on their own rights as shows, but you can see the love and care put into this reboot with the plotting and character development.  If you like a dramatic, fantasy/sci-fi magical girl adventure show, definitely check out season 1 on Netflix!  Fingers crossed we get an animated Jem and the Holograms reboot XD