Review: Mysticons - "Sisters in Arms"

Warrior princess fans, rejoice! There's a new team of action girls out today, and they're called the Mysticons. Never heard of them? That's not too surprising. They had a pretty small promotional campaign that I only found about by chance through a post on an animation blog I follow. Now that we're all on the same page, I have some exciting news. To kick off the series, this magical girl power team is going to have a new episode every night this week on Nickelodeon! Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.


As you can see from the promo art, Mysticons is an animated series about four female warriors with magical abilities. In the first episode, they learn that they were chosen as the fabled warriors when all four of them touch the ancient Dragon Disk at the same time. While they do get a brief transformation sequence that is more akin to Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders than a magical girl anime, the Mysticons' abilities are more action-based than magic. The show's world is loosely based off Dungeons and Dragons, so everyone has her own race and class. Arkayna, the princess, is a dragon mage, Emerald, the dwarf, is a knight, Zarya, the, er, human who's not a princess, is a ranger, and Piper, the elf, is a striker. If you've never heard of a "striker" before, she basically throws giant rings at people, making them fall down.

The progressive nature of a series about an all-girl action team was no accident. It was initially created as a boys show in 2013, but the production studios wanted to make something that would appeal to a girls market. Thus, the genders of the main characters were switched, and the story went through heavy rewrites, giving us a forward-thinking series about girls who kick butt, and not just by pointing wands and shooting sparkles at bad guys. The show's creator, Sean Jara, saw the importance of having positive role models for modern girls. He put a lot of effort into having a heavily diverse cast of female characters. Plus, 80 percent of the writing team is female. Sign me up, please!

The world the show takes place in reminds me of the one described by Pixar for the suburban fantasy movie they teased at the last D23 Expo. There is definitely a Dungeons and Dragons influence, but the time period looks very hip and modern. There are smart phones, cars, ancient prophecies, and faeries all in the same world. I've never seen anything quite like it. I guess magical lands don't always have to be stuck in the middle ages. The girls use a lot of modern slang and one of them even makes fun of one of the villains when he speaks in an older style of English. Of course, the government is still a monarchy. How else can we have our princess heroine?

I found the dichotomy between the four girls to be very unique for this type of show. They don't instantly become friends when they gain their powers, but they don't start out as four complete strangers either. Instead they are split into two opposing groups, both literally and figuratively. Princess Arkayna and Emerald live a life of luxury together in the palace as best friends, training the royal Griffin, Izzy, whose relationship to Arkayna is akin to that of Princess Gwenevere and Susnstar. Conversely, Piper and Zarya are homeless orphans who live on the streets and steal both to survive and to help other kids who are too weak to take care of themselves. The two sets of girls do not get along at all at first due to their very different lifestyles, meaning the show will be teach an important lesson about tolerance for different types of backgrounds. I liked that even though the girls did not get along as a group, they weren't alone individually. From the very beginning, Arkayna was best friends with Em and Piper with Zarya. There was no stereotypical lone wolf character who had to learn to let her guard down. They were all friendly, sociable girls who simply did not see eye to eye.

So far, I'd have to say my favorite character is Piper, who is essentially an elf version of Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. She is excitable, adorable, and loves to state the obvious. It's difficult to believe she had just as difficult of a life as her cynical and tough-as-nails best friend, Zarya. As far as princesses go, Arkayna, though somewhat spoiled, is neither particularly feminine nor is she much of a tomboy. She loves her mother, but not her responsibilities. Her step-brother, Gawayne, makes her look like a saint. He is the annoying little brother who gets away with everything, which is likely to be a much bigger problem in the near future, but I won't spoil that part if you haven't watched it yet. Em, the royal griffin wrangler, is far more studious in her responsibilities, but that doesn't get in the way of her close friendship with Arkayna.

If you're wondering what Middle Earth would look like in modern times, Mysticons is the show to watch. Aside from that, it's a terrific contemporary action show for girls, full of magic, drama, and diversity. It has characters from all different backgrounds who are not unrealistically nice and don't immediately get along with each other for no apparent reason. The premiere episode, "Sisters in Arms" is available to watch for free on Nickelodeon's website right now with a new episode every day this week, so what are you waiting for? Go Mysticons!

By the way, if you like stories set in fantasy worlds about princesses who kick butt, be sure to check out the first book I ever wrote, Elf Princess Roweena. It's about an elven princess who teams up with a fairy to save her homeland from the wicked gremlins. Things get complicated when she finds herself falling for one of them. Like Mysticons, it was loosely inspired by Dungeons and Dragons.

Comments

Nice Jewel Riders comparisons.
Juli said…
Great review! I'm really enjoying the series so far! Have you been keeping up with it? Mysticons is beginning to get quite intense. I really hope the ratings show promise for future seasons.
Lisa Dawn said…
Thanks! I've been keeping up with it on Nickelodeon's website as well as I can, but they've been behind in posting them. Right now, they've only posted up to episode 11, but it looks like they aired up to 15 today. Some episodes seem more like filler than others. I'm eager to see Arkayna free her parents.
Hope35 said…
I could not resist doing a few more MLP comparisons (I really like both shows too).

Totally agree with Pinkie Pie for Piper and in fact my early nickname for her was Pinkie in honor of their resemblance.

Next were a little more of a challenge:

I considered Twilight Sparkle for Kay but am reluctant there. Both are loving, friendly, very heroic and determined BUT Twiley is very introverted at first, bookish and nerdy, being an avid student of magic and Kay is more of an extroverted action girl, only being forced into understanding magic because she has to.

So ironically in every aspect, Proxi, is WAY more like Twiley and this is considering that currently Proxi is running around playing the villain role while Twiley has only had very short term stints at corruption (with the writers preferring to show her weaknesses as more realistic things like being too strict and all work and no play at times instead of bloating them into big-time evilness).

I think for Kay then I would go with Princes Cadence. Though only a supporting character I think she is a good match for more aspects of Kay's personality across the board (& you could have Mal be the Shining Armor equal as a bonus).

With both being tough and tomboyish, picking between Rainbow Dash and Applejack was just a small debate here for Zee and Em but I went with:

Zee I went with Rainbow Dash because she seems to be more athletic and determined

Em I went with Applejack because she is a bit more of a down home country girl but still pretty tough when she needs to be.

Also because I couldn't resist, I went with Trixie for Tasma's MLP expy, especially if Tasma ends up having to help the heroes in some way but isn't really happy about it which could well happen.

It might be more interesting for them to have a story, either in the cartoon or the upcoming comic and novel books where my MLP Twiley and Trixie expies, Proxi and Tasma have to work together to rescue the Mysticons, even if they don't particularly like or trust each other with Tas perhaps having some residual hatred of the Mysticons and Proxi being concerned that her good self isn't strong enough to rescue her honorary sisters and worried that Tas could be a wild card who endangers her and the rescue mission as a whole.
Hope35 said…
Reading this again made me smile (albeit a bit bitter-sweetly because I wish this show had a longer run or at least had an hour-long finale) and I found as I've watched this 1st ep again recently I had a couple observations:

1. I hadn't noticed it myself but another Mysticons fan poster noted at about 2:27 there is a blink and you miss it foreshadowing moment where Zee is standing in front of a lion king of the jungle logo at an angle where it looks like the crown is briefly on her head (hinting at someone being a long-lost princess perhaps?)

2. Piper IS the 1st soon-to-be Mysticon seen in this ep, which is both awesome and awful. It's awesome because it does show that the series does want to be cute and funny and appeal to young single-digit aged girls. But it's awful because by the end of the ep, after those same little girls see bad Taz kidnapping super-cute Choko and scaring Zee and Piper then Kay's parents turned to bone/stone with scared looks on their faces and Kay crying over them, those little gals are in for some big nightmares.

And we won't even mention that sadly by the end of this series, Piper herself had mostly gotten the shaft in favor of the princess twins and even Em got a bit more attention than Pipes.

Plus we STILL have no announcement on when or dare I say if (though the thought of it makes me cringe) Piper's own Mysticons' focus novel will be out. Piper has the most mysterious background too and finding out evil Necrafa was also an elf? There's so many ideas that IMHO one could make 3 Piper-focused novels easily without blinking so I hope we'll at least see 1 of them before we have to resort to writing this story fan-fic style ourselves!

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