How Sofia's Controversy Created Elena of Avalor

With the Realm of the Jaquins special coming up this weekend, now is a good time to discuss the origins of Elena of Avalor. It started last year as a spin-off of Sofa the First, and thus far, it's proven to be little more than a mere shadow of its predecessor. Elena's premiere was celebrated with an elaborate coronation ceremony at the Disney theme parks, viewing parties, and shout-outs all over the media. Sofia got none of these things. Why? You may not like my answer. Nearly all of the attention focuses on Elena's heritage as a Latina princess, not the quality of the show or the character. I am in no way denying the importance of diversity and representation in the media, but let's take a quick look at how Elena of Avalor came to be.

In 2012, Sofia the First premiered with a special entitled Once Upon a Princess. It went on to become a regular television series airing on Disney Junior in 2013. Princess fans watched the series with great anticipation, and they were n…

Jewel Riders Is the Best Princess Show You've Never Seen

Long before Sofia the First received her magical amulet, there was Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders (also known as Starla and the Jewel Riders). Featuring three girls wielding enchanted jewels powered by friendship, this 1995 series produced by Robert Mandell was a staple of my childhood. To this day, it features everything I love in an animated series--a diverse cast of characters, magic, transformations, flying unicorns, beautiful music, a gorgeous pastel color palette, and a rich world with a well-paced story.

In many ways, Jewel Riders was ahead of its time. Instead of focusing on an ordinary girl from the real world who was granted mysterious powers, Princess Gwenevere resides in a completely re-imagined version of Avalon where magic is commonplace and is well aware of her magical destiny. She has been preparing for it her entire life. In this detailed world, young people are chosen by Merlin to wield magical jewels to solve problems with unstable magic outbreaks, commonl…

Review: Elena of Avalor - Realm of the Jaquins

As I mentioned in my last post about Elena of Avalor, today was the premiere of With the Realm of the Jaquins. In this hour long TV special, Elena travels to Vallestrella, home of the legendary jaquins, the mythical winged jaguars that are the national animals of Avalor. Anyone who has seen Elena of Avalor is already familiar with the jaquins. Elena was always good friends with Skylar, who often let her ride him just like Sofia the First flies round on Minimus. This special revolved around the training of the three youngest jaquins--Nico, Ciela, and Avion--to be guardians. When Nico was unfairly stripped of the chance to pass his test due to the meddling of the villainous Victor Delgado, Elena sought out the jaquin king, Verago, in Vallestrella to convince him to give Nico a second chance.

In some ways, this episode is more of the same, as Elena once again represented Avalor as an ambassador to an royal ally and practiced her lackluster diplomacy skills. However, there were also things that st…

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 tha…

Magical Girl Princesses

It's the premiere week of Mysticons, so let's talk about magical girls and their impact on princess mythology. The magical girl craze began in Japan as a genre of anime called "mahou shoujo." No one knows exactly how it started, but it is believed that the first magical girl appeared in 1966 as Sally the Witch. Though individual stories vary, all the series in the mahou shoujo genre contain grade school-aged girls who receive sparkly trinkets that allow them to transform into pretty superheroes. They fight bad guys by screaming magical words and releasing different types of spells, usually in a pretty sequence of recycled animation. The concept seems rather silly from an outside perspective, but it definitely sells. Not all magical girls are princesses, but it is a common overlying theme, most likely because the genre was created for the same target audience.

The most princessy magical girl anime would probably have to be Go! Princess Pretty Cure (pictured above), wh…

Sorry, No New Tangled Episodes This Month

This year, we've been gifted with not one, but two new animated princess series. There's Mysticons, which began this week, and Tangled: The Series, which started in March, based off Disney's 2010 movie of the same name. This is far from the first time Disney has made an animated series from one of their movies. In 1992, they made a fantastic Little Mermaid series and followed it up with an Aladdin series, a Hercules series, a Tarzan series, and more. With most of these averaging at around two seasons each, there's no way of knowing if Tangled will outlast its predecessors at this point. As Disney Channel is prone to do, the series is currently on an unannounced hiatus that will last at least a month, making this a good time to look back at what's happened in it so far.

The Tangled series takes place after the events of the movie Tangled, but before the "Tangled Ever After" short, which showed us Eugene and Rapunzel's wedding. This timeline confused a …

The Voice of a Princess

One trait that is synonymous among nearly every animated princess is her beautiful voice. I have wanted to do a tribute to some of my favorite princess actresses every since I started this blog. Princesses have inspired me to sing loud and proud throughout the course my life and have also gotten me through some difficult times. Their sweet and powerful voices were full of emotion and helped me relate to them and feel more deeply than I would have ever thought possible. These are some of my favorite rock star voice artists who have each voiced multiple princesses and have had the biggest impact on what a modern princess should sound like.

Leading the pack is the legendary Tara Strong who has voiced an insanely large library of iconic characters, including not one, not two, not three, but four princesses. Currently, she is most famous for her work as Twilight Sparkle, who became a princess in the third season of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. I'm looking forward to hearing her…

Sofia and the Return of Princess Ivy

A magical Sofia the First special called The Curse of Princess Ivy came out in 2014. It had everything--dragons, drama, fun a wicked princess, and a guest appearance by Rapunzel. Of course, that was back when Sofia's amulet was still purple and summoned Disney Princesses to help her when she was in trouble (with the exception of Pocahontas). Now that Sofia has reached the next level of being a wise and benevolent princess, her pink amulet sends her to help troubled princesses. The last episode of the show used this ability to reacquaint Sofia with the vengeful Princess Ivy and teach us that there is more to people than what they appear to be.

From a design standpoint, Princess Ivy is very unique. Her hair is reminiscent of Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians with its split black and white aesthetic, but her face looks like that of a pretty youthful princess. She has a long dress with frills and ribbons like most classic princesses. However, the lack of bright colors that are iconic…

Review: Winx Club Revisited

I wrote a little about Winx Club, the 2004 Italian cartoon, in my "Faery Princesses" and "Magical Girls" posts, but I had only seen the first two seasons at the time. Not only that, but I saw the second season over a decade after watching the first. As it turns out, the show has aired seven seasons over the past 13 years, so maybe I wasn't being fair to write about it after having seen so little. I decided to binge everything I had missed to find out. When I started to navigate how to go about watching the later seasons, I discovered that the show was a bit of a mess. There are three different English dubs, and it switched networks several times, with years between some of the seasons. It's no wonder I lost track of it. Was it worth making up for all that lost time? Here's what I discovered.

Shows that run for longer than five seasons tend to come up with some absurd ideas toward the end to keep things going. Just look at the ridiculous concepts Once Up…

Princess Sisters

The fall of the Disney Prince left a gaping hole in many princesses' hearts that could only be filled by a different type of love. Instead of focusing on ladies-in-waiting and stories about friendship like in the Barbie movies, Disney decided to start giving their princesses siblings. Until recently, most of them were only children, and very few of them had two parents. I've written a little about Ariel's sisters in the past, but they come off as a separate entity from Ariel with the exception of a few episodes of the series. Modern princess sisters spend just as much time together as they do apart and compliment each other's differences, teaching children how to get along with people who don't share the same perspectives as them. The first Disney characters to achieve this were not Anna and Elsa, but Sofia and Amber from Sofia the First.

Once Upon a Princess, Sofia's 2012 premiere movie, was all about her rocky relationship with her new stepsister, Amber. Befor…

The Queen and King of Avalor

Today is the season 2 premiere of Disney Junior's Elena of Avalor, even though the last new episode was only two weeks ago. As is typical of Disney, the seasons have no set schedule with hiatuses that often take place in the middle of seasons instead of separating them. The new episode, "Jewel of Maru," is a worthy season premiere. It takes place on Dia de los Muertos, the Spanish celebration of the dead. This day is particularly significant to Elena because she learned in the first season that she has the mysterious ability to see ghosts on this day every year. It is also significant to Disney because of their upcoming movie, Coco, which centers on Dia de los Muertos. In the first season of Elena, the king and queen of Avalor had yet to make an appearance due to their untimely demise. Today's episode offered us our first flashback sequence and ghost appearance of them.

In "Jewel of Maru," Elena sings a song about wanting to make her parents proud as a rule…

Princesses in Tír Na nÓg

Tír Na nÓg is a land of eternal youth that originates from Celtic mythology. It is often associated with faeries because they are also common in Celtic myths. The most common story of Tír Na nÓg is about a beautiful woman named Niamh who fell in love with Oisín, the son of the leader of the Fianna clan on Earth. She took him back to her homeland of Tír Na nÓg where no one ever aged. They lived happily together there for three years. One day, he decided that he missed his family and wanted to visit them. Niamh sent him back to Earth on her enchanted white horse, but warned him never to touch the ground. Upon returning home, Oisín realized that 300 years had passed on Earth during the short time he spent in Tír Na nÓg, and everyone he loved was dead. When he inevitably touched the ground by accident, the 300 years caught up with his body, and he died of old age. This myth has rarely been touched upon by modern media, but the land of Tír Na nÓg occasionally does appear in fantasy stories…

How the Digital Age Revived The Little Mermaid Series

In 1992, Disney released a brilliant animated series based on their beloved The Little Mermaid movie. The series took place about a year before the movie and expanded on the geography and lifestyles of the merfolk in the underwater kingdom of Atlantica. It had memorable songs, decent animation, and clever stories. Ariel was as open-minded and loving as ever, helping all sorts of outcasts in her kingdom who thought that they would never find friendship or love. The Little Mermaid animated series is one of the best mermaid princess shows I have ever seen, matched only by Dyesebel. It's not surprising that older fans of the show often wondered what happened to it until recently. Unlike the movie, the series never received a proper DVD release. Only specific episodes of it could be found on Disney Princess VHS or DVD sets, usually alongside an episode of the Aladdin series that featured Princess Jasmine. Though The Little Mermaid series had a brief syndicated run on ToonDisney, it dis…

My Little Pony Season Finale Introduces New Mythology

The seventh season finale of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is everything that the movie should have been. Like in the movie, Twilight Sparkle must come to terms with a mistake she made, but this time, it was one that makes perfect sense for her character. After obsessively studying the journal of her idol, Starswirl the Bearded, Twilight finds a way to bring him back from Limbo along with five other legendary ponies who had mysteriously disappeared with him a thousand years ago. In her neurotically endearing eagerness to try a new spell, Twilight wastes no time in bringing back all six legendary ponies without considering the consequences. Instead of the of the happy interaction she was hoping for, Starswirl has a very low opinion of Twilight upon learning that she inadvertently brought back the dangerous Pony of Shadows who he had banished a thousand years earlier along with himself and his friends.

"Shadow Play," the two-part season finale, is a cautionary tale about…

Why Didn't Sofia Meet Pocahontas?

Sofia the First, everyone's favorite princess-in-training, has met every official Disney Princess that existed when her show began with the sole exception of Pocahontas. The power of her purple amulet granted her the ability to summon famous princesses whenever she was in trouble. Technically, she never met Anna either, but the episode "Olaf and the Tale of Miss Nettle" implied that she was supposed to meet her but got Olaf instead because her amulet was on the fritz. About a year ago, her amulet turned pink and granted her new powers. It now sends her to help princesses, meaning that the chances of her meeting Pocahontas at this point are virtually nonexistent. Why did they acknowledge every other princess movie except this one? Actually, they did acknowledge the 1995 animated classic in an episode of Sofia, but it was very subtle.

In the 2015 episode of Sofia the First, "The Secret Library," Sofia discovers a hidden passageway beneath her castle where a boat …

Sofia's New Quest

Tonight's episode of Sofia the First reveals that she is in her final semester at Royal Prep, the magical princess school run by the Three Good Fairies from Sleeping Beauty. This is surprising because even though the show has been around for five years, Sofia shows no sign of aging. At the same time, she's constantly evolving. Her new pink amulet transformed her from the one who needed advice from other princesses into the advice giver. Her new job as a protector of the Mystic Isles also lays a huge responsibility upon her shoulders. The two-part special that kicked off this storyline introduced a recurring villain named Prisma who tricked Sofia into thinking she was her friend. Once the truth was revealed, Sofia and Amber worked together to capture Prisma at which point she was locked in a dungeon by the other protectors of the Mystic Isles.

In last week's episode, "The Mystic Isles: The Falcon's Eye," Prisma escapes from the dungeon using a door-making devi…

Arkayna's Sacrifice

Last week's episode of Mysticons called "All Hail Necrafa" was a low blow for Princess Arkayna, the dragon mage leader of the Mysticons. The series has had an ongoing trend of episodes that end badly or unresolved, which is unusual for a princess show. This episode, in particular, ended on a huge cliffhanger with the most powerful villain in the show's universe freed from her dimensional prison. Queen Necrafa is a perfect example of how all queens seem to be evil in stories that center around princesses. There is a good queen in the show, but as is also common in princess tales, Arkayna loses her parents in the first episode and is forced to fend for herself. All is not lost, however, as they were not dead, but merely placed under a spell that turned them to stone. Arkayna wishes to use the Codex to free them from this rocky prison, but the astromancers, who are supposed to be magical allies to the Mysticons, do not want her to risk using it before destroying the mag…

Power Princess Leaders

Princesses can't be damsels in distress all the time. One day, they will need to rule an entire kingdom. Though many princesses start out sheltered and powerless dreaming of freedom, some of our favorite animated princesses start out early and learn how to lead their companions in the fight against evil. Though these stories do give princesses more freedom than they would probably realistically have, they also open up the range of female-targeted entertainment to different types of girls. Magical Girl groups usually have a princess leading them, but it's becoming more common among Disney Princesses as well. This is a tribute to all the princesses who can wear pretty dresses and still be strong and powerful leaders at the same time.

For me, Princess Gwenevere from Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders was the first one to show me that a princess can be a great leader. Even though she loves dressing up and flirting, she aggressively refuses to wait around for a man to come fin…

One Hundred Princesses for My 100th Post

Today is a major accomplishment for me. I started this blog 100 days ago, and I've managed to write a new post in it every day since then. Some of the topics were easier to come up with than others. I also had to go back and edit some after the fact due to poor proofreading. Speaking of which, I'm really sorry about the disastrous short story from my first Story Saturday post. The whole thing was written on my phone on the way to a Mermaid Art Show event in San Diego, so I was a little distracted. I promise to put more effort into future Story Saturdays, which should be easier now that I will no longer be writing new posts every day. Don't worry, though. I will still keep everyone informed of the latest princess news and review all the new princess movies and specials. Without further ado, in celebration of my 100th post, here is a list of 100 princesses with all of the posts I've made about them (in no particular order). Thank you so much for reading my blog. 1-11: T…

Review: Tangled - Queen for a Day

Right on the heels of Once Upon a Time's Rapunzel fail, Disney's Tangled: The Series released a new animated Rapunzel special called Queen for a Day. I will admit that I had higher hopes for this than Once Upon a Time due to the stronger quality of writing the show has in comparison. Unfortunately, the special turned out to be mostly exposition for an established character from the show to turn evil in future episodes. It wasn't terrible, but it lacked direction. Queen for a Day spends too much time focusing on Rapunzel when it was really meant to provide the backstory for the other character, which makes the pacing feel erratic throughout most of the 45 minutes. There are spoilers below the image, so if you plan to watch the special, please do so before reading on.

The title Queen for a Day really drives home the fact that the special is supposed to be Rapunzel's story, and it is. Unfortunately, her story feels more like the "B" plot that the writers are try…

The Inconsistent Aladdin Series

In 1994, Disney created an animated series of their 1992 masterpiece, Aladdin. The movie was an incredible work of art which recently joined the ever-expanding list of princess anniversaries in November to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Unfortunately, the television series fell rather flat in comparison to the film. Though it lasted a grueling 85 episodes, most of it has been forgotten by the general public with the exception of a small handful released alongside episodes of The Little Mermaid series on VHS featuring Princess Jasmine. I recently took the liberty of watching all 85 episodes to see if the show could withstand the test of time. My findings were not promising.

The Aladdin series was introduced with The Return of Jafar, Disney's first sequel, and one of the worst. It's no wonder, then, that the series sports the same cheap animation, flimsy storylines, and lack of character growth as its intro movie.Though it occasionally gave the characters new outfits (as pictur…

Holiday Princess Specials

December is here, which means there's no fighting the holiday spirit. Lights are twinkling, Christmas songs are invading all the radio stations, and princesses are spreading their holiday cheer. Holiday specials that feature our favorite princesses usually come in the form of cheaply produced sequels, but there are other forms of media as well. For instance, there was a Disney Princess DVD called "A Christmas of Enchantment" released in 2005 that contained mash-ups of clips and shorts from various Disney productions, but it quickly fell in the same direction as the Disney Princess Enchanted Tales series. There was also a Disney Princess Christmas Album released in 2009 with new holiday songs performed in many of the original voices of the Disney Princesses in which they harmonize beautifully about their excitement for the holiday season along. The album contains a few covers of classic Christmas songs as well.

The newest holiday princess special is the 21-minute long Fro…

Your Favorite Princess Cartoons Are Making a Comeback

It seems like everywhere you turn, a series from our childhood is getting revived. From Fuller House to Raven's Home, all of our favorite characters have grown up and gotten smartphones. There was even a new Hey Arnold! movie recently. What does that mean for princesses? A ton of live-action remakes, for one thing. That doesn't mean that animation is completely dead, though. Lately, there have been several announcements about our favorite childhood princess cartoons getting revived with new artwork and new stories. This is good news for traditional artists because it means that CGI still hasn't completely taken over the world of animation. It also means we have an opportunity to relive the things that made us happy as children without the awkward feeling of being outdated.

The most recent announcement is about everyone's favorite animated warrior princess from the '80s, She-Ra: Princess of Power. This reboot of He-Man that started as a good idea, but was poorly exe…

Review: Tangled - Secret of the Sun Drop

Yesterday was the long-awaited season finale of Tangled with a two-part episode called Secret of the Sun Drop. After 22 episodes, the season has finally come to a close. The hour-long special was a terrific payoff for a fairly inconsistent season. It was everything the previous Queen for a Day special was building up to. At last, learn the truth behind those mysterious rocks from the first episode and the connection they have to Rapunzel's magical hair. Varian's story, which has been foreshadowed since the previous special, also comes to fruition here, though I hope that this isn't the last we see of him. The season finale boasts two fantastic new songs, one of which I would love to see become the new theme song, as the current one could use some improvement. It also builds the groundwork for the second season, showing us that Rapunzel's story is far from over. Secret of the Sun Drop takes place on Rapunzel's 19th birthday, marking a full year since her escape from … re

There's a New Princess in Mysticons

The action-packed girl-power Nickelodeon cartoon, Mysticons, just had a plot-shattering reveal in their latest episode. Before you begin reading, please be aware that this thread contains major spoilers for the episodes "Three Mysticons and a Baby" and "Star-Crossed Sisters." If you don't want the episodes spoiled, feel free to watch them on Nickelodeon's website and come back after you've finished. I was surprised to learn that the series did not have much of a break between seasons one and two. Instead, they decided to kick off the second season in a big way. Are you ready for it? It turns out that Princess Arkayna is not the only daughter of Queen Goodfey. Years before the show began, Nova Terron, the authoritarian leader of the astromancers, separated Arkayna from her (fraternal) twin sister at birth in order to prevent a dangerous prophecy from coming true.

Who is the new princess who spent her life in isolation without knowing her family? It's…

Mysticons Played Its Fans Like a Violin

When writing about shows that haven't ended yet, there is always a risk of analyzing something that may no longer be valid a few weeks later. This has happened to me twice with Once Upon a Time when I pointed out that Tiana did not appear to be a princess by birth in the series, which turned out to be false a couple of weeks later and later that their Rapunzel storyline wasn't actually about Rapunzel, whose storyline turned out to be covered the following week. Despite these minor incidents, though, I have never felt quite as duped by a TV show as I did with last week's episode of Mysticons entitled "Twin Stars Unite." You may recall my post about the new princess in Mysticons, in which Proxima, who had mainly been a background character up to that point, was revealed as Princess Arkayna's long-lost twin sister. The writers proceeded in having us believe this lie for an unprecedented five episodes, which translates to over a month in viewing time, before reve…

Elena's New Quest

Over the past five years, Sofia the First has shifted gears from meeting past Disney Princesses, granting happy endings to unfinished stories, becoming a protector of the whimsical Mystic Isles, and stopping the efforts of an evil sorceress from obtaining collecting magic trinkets of former Disney villains. The series has done a fantastic job of staying interesting by constantly changing the direction of the story before it gets too tedious. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for its spin-off, Elena of Avalor. The big twist in last week's episode, "Rise of the Sorceress," is that the series is regressing back to its roots by returning to the conflict that was introduced in Sofia and the Secret of Avalor, the special that revealed her backstory. Shuriki, a sorceress who trapped the teen princess inside an enchanted amulet for forty years, has predictably returned in a twist that has been a long time coming.

While Sofia's biggest fault is a lack of confidence in h…

Sofia the First Mimics Progressive Real-Life Princess Law

This is a big week for Disney Junior's princess in training, Sofia the First. After an indefinite hiatus, the show is back with a new episode every single day this week. There are going to be some pretty big ones including the introduction of a disabled princess and a return to Merroway Cove, where Sofia's mermaid princess friends live. Today's episode, "A Royal Wedding," was no exception. The episode was set during the wedding of Sofia's Aunt Tilly to Sir Bartleby, both of whom were introduced last season. Tilly is a fun Mary Poppins-like character who is the older sister to King Roland. She revealed in an earlier episode that she had inherited Sofia's magical Amulet of Avalor before it was passed down her. Sir Bartleby struggled to confess his feelings to Tilly because he was afraid she would be put off by his odd high-pitched voice, but she accepted him the way he was as soon as she learned the truth. However, none of that was addressed in their weddin…

Zarya in a Tiara Is Basically the Best Thing Ever

The latest Mysticons episode, "Game of Phones," began with Princess Arkayna calling up her newly-discovered twin sister Zarya and asking for her tiara size. "I don't do tiaras," Zarya scoffed in response. Of course, in perfect comedic timing, the next shot was of a very unhappy Zarya sitting on a griffon with a small yet hilariously out of place golden tiara fastened to her short purple hair. This scene was very funny because it portrayed a symbol of femininity on a character who openly dislikes all things girly. It also goes to show how far the princess trope itself has gone in modern times from being a symbol of feminity to being a symbol of strength. More and more princesses are now warrior archetypes, while damsels in distress have become all but obsolete.

Of course, Zarya, in particular, is a special case. Like Proxima, the red herring in the "twin sister" story arc, Zarya was raised without a family or an identity. However, she and Proxima handl…


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