You know what I miss most about being a kid? Saturday morning cartoons. Sitting down with a bowl of cereal at eight in the morning and turning on ABC’s Kids or Fox Kids or any other combination of a television channel and the word Kids and watching cartoons until the sun reached its peak at noon. With Netflix and Hulu at the touch of a button, I have tried to recreate that experience with a line-up of kids cartoons; granted, much more modern than DuckTales and Tale Spin. One of the shows I’ve come across is Star vs. the Forces of Evil! A modern Disney cartoon well on its way to a fourth season, the show focuses on a 14 year old princess from another dimension named Star who comes to Earth to complete her education on how to be proper royalty. Properly animated (none of that flash animation crap) and hyper-active, this little cartoon is perfect for those of us who want to be both a magical princess and a road warrior!
Like most of today’s kids cartoons, e.g. Adventure Time or Gravity Falls, Star isn’t just a series of one-shots, but also contains an overarching arc that plays through the undercurrent of the show. As stated, the show focuses on Star, a Sailor Moon inspired princess who lives on Earth with her new family, the Diaz’s, and causes mischief wherever she goes. She and her friend Marco Diaz spend their days getting in and out of trouble, exploring both the magical and non-magical worlds, and generally goofing off. She also has her own consistent bad guy a la Ice King, this one in the form of a bald, bird beaked, little man named Ludo who is constantly attempting to steal Star’s wand. Devious! With Ludo in and out her life and the pressure of being the new Queen of her home world looming, it seems like Star’s troubles are just starting!
I’ve watched a lot of cartoons in my day and I hafta say, Star vs the Forces of Evil is by far one of my favorites. Star is the best weird girl that’s ever been animated onto the small screen. From her goofy headwear and colorful dresses to her constantly changing themed bags, her design is fun and quirky without making her too obnoxious. Her creator, Daron Nefcy, was heavily inspired by magical girl manga, with many manga elements going into her creation such as her over-the-top personality and offbeat voice. Her friend Marco, who changes from a safety conscious side-kick to martial arts enthusiast, was also inspired by fan boys of Dragonball Z. Together, they learn lessons about life and each other and solve their problems within an 11 minute window without repeating the same story twice.
The side characters are also fully fleshed out and help contribute to the overall feel of the show, with some even getting their own episodes. In season 2, we get to what happened to Ludo after the first season finale and Stars on-and-off enemy Buff Frog gets his own episodes as he struggles to provide for his children. Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper magical girl show without a couple of romances involved and both Star and Marco deal with their feelings for other characters (and eventually, for each other). Essentially, it’s what you would expect from a current kids cartoon and I love that today’s creators are just old cartoon nerds like the rest of us. The show doesn’t underestimate its viewers, both children and adults, and understands that shows can be both complex and fun. Throw in some puppies that shoot lasers and have hearts on their buttholes and you got yourself a show!
Production wise, Star vs. didn’t skimp on any details, but then again, it is owned by Disney. The animation is fluid and punchy with just the perfect amount of noodle arms. It lacks the stretch and squash animation of traditional Disney animation which, frankly, would’ve looked goofy with this type of storytelling. The character designs are largely unique from one another and they all look age appropriate, so no 16 year old Gwen Stacy’s in a barely-there bikini. Perhaps the only real complaint is the first several episodes of Season 2 seem to suffer musical composition problems where long strings of scenes that should have musical accompaniment end up being mostly silent, making the episodes awkward to watch. I never realized how important music is to a cartoon until you don’t hear any, it was super weird. Luckily, the problem gets fixed by the fourth or fifth episode and the rest is smooth sailing.
If you’re looking for an all-ages cartoon for your weirdo kids, look no further than Star VS the Forces of Evil! The first three seasons are now on Hulu.