The honor of Grayskull is very much intact in Netflix’s reimagining of She-Ra.
“She-Ra and the Princesses of Power,” which begins streaming Nov. 13, is another remastered 1980s animated hit from Netflix and DreamWorks. At first glance, this show seems designed to bring in a younger, Snapchattier audience than their other ’80s redo, “Voltron: Legendary Defender.” (“Voltron,” however, has more than satisfied those who grew up watching it — I’m speaking from experience here.)
“Voltron” didn’t stray too far away from its original artistic origins: The plots were deeper, but the overall look of the show’s first outing was there. But before anyone had even seen a trailer or episode, “She-Ra” dealt with the eye-rolling social media cries of those not happy with the new the look of the series. The reworked design, which is cartoonier and seemingly hopes to engage young girls dreaming of being warrior princesses instead of satisfying an aging male gaze, was debuted online by 26-year-old showrunner Noelle Stevenson. Stevenson, an Eisner Award-winning comic book creator, was tasked with maintaining the essence of “She-Ra,” but was allowed to go back to the drawing board when it came to the origins of her universe.
But this new version of “She-Ra” is not so different from its predecessor that it will be unrecognizable to longtime fans. Stevenson and her creative team have kept plenty from the original show, from the evil Hordak and his Horde army to the classic “She-Ra” antagonist, Catra. There are unicorns and, most importantly, there is still Adora, the protagonist whose life is turned upside down when she comes across a magic sword that, when raised, turns her into She-Ra, a superpowered force against evil. (And yes, she says “for the honor of Grayskull” before every transformation. Did you really think they’d leave that out?)
Adding to the “She-Ra” lore are the other Princesses of Power. There are many, each with special powers and varying personalities, coming in all sizes, ages and colors. They are scattered across this universe after once being unified. That division gives Hordak and his army room to take over all of existence. It is up to Adora (who was raised by the Horde and now fights alongside their resistance) and her new BFFs Bow and Glimmer to find a way to unify them once more, as they hope to build an alliance against an evil not even She-Ra is powerful enough to take on alone.
At the heart of the new series is the sisterly bond-turned-feud between Adora and Catra. Though adversaries during the original show’s run, their relationship is given a much more in-depth look this time around — and part of the many welcome additions to this mythos. Both grew up as children raised by the Horde, and we’re given glimpses of the things that brought them so close together. We also learn why Catra began to distance herself from Adora before Adora defected and eventually became She-Ra. Their relationship manages to be heartfelt despite the inevitability of the two becoming enemies. Catra’s claws and determination to be the best are just as potent as the power of Adora’s sword.
The voice cast of “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power” is top-notch, led by Aimee Carrero (She-Ra/Adora), who is no stranger to voicing princesses; she’s also the voice of Princess Elena in Disney Channel’s “Elena of Avalor.” “Blackish’s” Marcus Scribner voices the comical Bow, and teleporter Glimmer is voiced very sweetly — surprisingly — by Karen Fukuhara, the same actress who sliced up bad guys as Katana in “Suicide Squad.” Master manipulator and sorceress Shadow Weaver is “She-Ra’s” best vocal treat, articulated with intimidation by Lorraine Toussaint, who only answers to Horde leader Hordak (Keston John).
You can also add “She-Ra” to the list of Netflix shows with a theme song/opening credits so good it must not be skipped, right up there with “Daredevil,” “The Crown” and “Narcos.”
Don’t skip “She-Ra” because it doesn’t come off like you remember: The power, the sword, the lore — it’s all here. Give it a chance for a story crafted with care that you won’t soon forget.