Obscure Princesses

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…

Why Be a Princess if You Can Be a Lady-in-Waiting?

Let's say a princess asked you to be her best friend. Would you jump at the chance? That was precisely the role that a lady-in-waiting was hired to fill. You would have to be of noble birth, of course, but let's imagine that luck was in your favor. Considering how many stories, films, and shows are about princesses, it's surprising how few of them acknowledge their esteemed companions. If a princess is a superhero, her lady-in-waiting would be her sidekick. Is being a sidekick so bad? You would still get to be part of the all action at court. Only in recent years has the lady-in-waiting role made a comeback in the media.

There are many benefits of being a lady-in-waiting. Though it was an unpaid position, ladies got free room and board in the castle and beautiful gowns to match their status. Let's face it. Those are two of the best perks of being a princess. The position comes with esteem and honor for yourself and your family, and you get a royal best friend who confi…

The Princess and the Pea Is the Best Movie You've Never Seen

When you think of non-Disney classic animated princess movies, what comes to mind? Anastasia, Thumbelina, and The Swan Princess, right? All three of those have one thing in common with the Disney classics, which is that they were all in theaters at some point. Not all movies get that lucky. For Mark Swan, who painstakingly directed The Princess and the Pea under Feature Films for Families and his own studio, Swan Productions, distribution was no small feat.

It's surprising to know that this movie was an independent production because the animation is top notch. It looks like a lot of it was probably rotoscoped because the movement is so fluid. The characters never go off-model, and there are some gorgeously detailed background paintings throughout the course of the film. Composer Alan Williams wrote some terrific new princess songs for it, including "Kingdom of Heart" and "Out in the Wide Open World." It's a shame these will never show up on a princess kara…

Barbie Is a Part-Time Princess

Did you know that Barbie has starred in almost 40 movies? Yesterday, I talked a little about remakes. Barbie has told so many different stories in so many different personas that some of them overlap. Instead of retelling the same stories, though, the writers have tried be as original as possible each time, even with up to three movies coming out every year since 2001. These movies are made up of all the things girls love--princesses, mermaids, fairies, magic, horses, etc. Barbie has portrayed the role of a princess over a dozen times! She plays a very active part in each story, so even if the CGI isn't perfect, parents can rest assured that it's a great influence on their young girls.

I've mentioned a couple of Barbie's movies in my "Swan Lake" and "Rapunzel" posts. It really is impressive how much original princess content Rainmaker Studio has come out with over the past decade and a half. Of the 37 current Barbie movies, Barbie has been a princes…

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Is the Best Spin-Off You've Never Seen

We all know about my many issues with ABC's 2010 Once Upon a Time series, namely that it has been going on for far too long. In 2013, a spin-off series was released, entitled Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. This one-off series was half the length of a single season of Once Upon a Time and was superior in every way possible. It followed the adventures of a grown-up Alice who fell in love with a handsome young genie from Agrabah. This series is the reason I was so upset that the latest season of Once Upon a Time recast a new mischievous and morally questionable Alice. The Alice I grew to love from the spin-off was everything I could possibly want from a modern-day warrior princess with a penchant for daydreaming. Wonderland is a powerful adventure that is full of passion, romance, and fantasy. I was pleased to find that the series is still available to watch in full on its official website.

Upon watching the pilot again, I was pleasantly surprised by how much of the story was reveal…

Dyesebel Is the Best Mermaid Princess Show You've Never Seen

In 2008, the Philippines released a mermaid princess telenovela that was based on a popular graphic novel by Mars Ravelo in 1952. Dyesebel is loosely based on the story of "The Little Mermaid" with a few distinct differences. It was Dyesebel's mother, Queen Lucia, who first fell in love with a human and left the underwater world of Sirenea to be with him, sacrificing her memories of her life as a mermaid in the process. Dyesebel was born on land, but because of her tail, her mother returned her to the sea, entrusting her to her best friend, Banak, to raise her. Her human father, Tino, was murdered by humans who believed that mermaids were bad luck. Unaware of the circumstances of her birth, Dyesebel grew up curious about the human world until one day, she fell in love with a human and was doomed to follow in her mother's footsteps. The 2008 adaptation of Dyesebel is performed in the native Filipino language Tagalog, but I was about to watch it with English subtitles …

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…

Disney Princess Enchanted Tales and Why It Failed

In 2007, Disney decided to create a direct-to-DVD animated series to supplement their Disney Princess brand called Disney Princess Enchanted Tales. The series was supposed to include two new half-hour princess stories per volume with original animation, songs, and stories. They initially planned three volumes with stories about Aurora, Belle, Jasmine, Mulan, and Cinderella. The series immediately got the shaft after the first volume, "Follow Your Dreams" was released, causing other stories that had already released teasers of clips and songs to never reach completion. Why was it such a massive failure? There are a number of factors that play into this.

I don't consider Enchanted Tales to be a series of sequels because it was not marketed as part two of anything, but I also don't exactly consider it an animated series either because it wasn't on TV and does not follow a continuing storyline. Instead, it is a bunch of random one-off specials meant to teach kids hea…

Most People Won't Recognize These Princesses

Previously, I've discussed why most people wouldn't recognize Daria from The Princess and the Pea because it was produced by a small independent studio in 2002. However, there are other animated princesses from movies produced by more well-known studios that simply did not make a big enough impact for people to remember or care about. They are the rejected princesses, the forgotten princesses, the princesses who would never graduate to become a Disney Princess. This is no small feat considering that not even all of the Disney Princesses are actually princesses. Our first example was released under Disney's obsolete Miramax studio name that they used for their B movies that they did not expect to succeed in the box office.

The Thief and the Cobbler has a complex history. It was the love child of animator Richard Williams who worked on Who Framed Roger Rabbit for Disney in 1988. He wanted to produce The Thief and the Cobbler on his own with no studio involvement in order to s…

Princess Kaguya's Wish for an Ordinary Life

The Tale of Princess Kaguya is an anime movie that was released by Studio Ghibli in 2013. It is based on the Japanese folktale "The Bamboo-Cutter and the Moon-Child." The themes of the story pertain closely to my recent analysis of vanity in princess movies. Just like every other fairy tale princess, Kaguya has a legendary striking beauty that is renowned for miles, bringing her many suitors who are willing to do the most difficult of tasks for the chance to gaze upon her. However, she assigns them these tasks not because she thinks that they need to prove themselves worthy of beauty, but because she has little interest in being seen as a valuable treasure.

Kaguya's wish to be treated like an ordinary girl in spite of her privilege is nothing new. Most Disney Princesses who are born into royalty resent the life they were given and wish to live a normal one. Aurora flings herself onto a bed and cries when the three good fairies tell her that she is a princess because she …

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…

Animated Russian Fairy Tales

Yesterday, a friend of mine shared an image she saw on Claire Keane's Twitter that sparked her interest. If you're out of the loop, Claire Keane is the daughter of the legendary Disney Princess animator Glen Keane who did concept art for the Tangled movie and series. She tweeted a drawing from a short Russian movie that was released in 1952 called The Scarlet Flower. The movie is a Russian adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast." After watching this lovely work of art on YouTube, I found a link to another animated Russian fairy tale from 1968 called Rusalochka, which is the story of "The Little Mermaid." The artwork in Rusalochka completely blew me away. Every frame looks like something that you would find hanging on the walls of a fine art museum. It was refreshing to see such a unique perspective on my favorite fairy tale.

Both of these movies have a classic and otherworldly feel to them. The Scarlet Flower tells Charles Perrault's version of "Beaut…

Princesses of the Animation Industry

What are the first names that come to mind when you think of the people behind your favorite fairy tale princesses? The Brothers Grimm? Hans Christian Anderson? Walt Disney? Don Bluth? John Musker and Ron Clements? Considering how empowering so many of these stories are to women, it's surprising that the overwhelming majority of people behind them are men. The recent success of Patty Jenkins behind the 2017 Wonder Woman movie and the inspirational writing team of Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna behind the CW's princess culture-inspired Crazy Ex-Girlfriend series got me wondering why Disney has so few women behind its own female-driven classics. Even independent princess filmmakers like Don Bluth and Richard Rich got their start at Disney, making it virtually impossible for anyone to find much success in the animation industry without working there or at another major animation studio first. In an industry that's so biased toward men, animation ingenues like myself bar…

Saban Princesses

A few weeks ago, I received a comment on my YouTube channel to check out a '90s cartoon called Princess Sissi. I was never one to pass up the opportunity to discover a new princess show, so I did a quick YouTube search and commenced binging. The animation and acting were nothing to phone home about, though Sissi's American voice is notably dubbed by Terri Hawkes, who is known for playing the most famous Magical Girl princess of the '90s, Sailor Moon. I found that her voice was far more suited to a mature duchess than an immature middle school student. What stood out to me about Princess Sissi was the overarching theme of romance. While princess movies often focus on true love, princess cartoons rarely incorporate it into their episodic storylines. For that reason, I was reminded of Saban's Adventures of The Little Mermaid, another '90s cartoon about the trials and tribulations of a blonde princess struggling to be with the man she loves. I did a little research and…

Review: Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs

There are a ton of cultural discrepancies involved in the production and distribution of the recent "Snow White"parody movie, Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs, and I mean a ton. It was produced by a Korean animation studio called Locus Animation. Despite having been around for roughly a decade according to their website, they have never produced an animated movie before this one. Even though the main characters look vaguely Korean and one uses ofuda talismans as an attack, the movie has a full cast of American voice actors. You may have heard of Red Shoes from the controversy it caused at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, where numerous people complained about a billboard for the movie featuring a skinny and fat version of Snow White with the tag line "What if Snow White was no longer beautiful and the 7 Dwarfs not so short?" This billboard sparked anger from the western world about the princess body image issue over to the implication that being skinny is equivalent to…

Let's Welcome Disney's First Jewish Princess!

When I first learned that Elena of Avalor was going to do a Hanukkah episode, I was hoping for a two-part special like The Magic Within that would provide enough time for the first Jewish Disney Princess to assert her individual identity outside of being Jewish. However, just like the Maccabees, I will make the most of what I've been given. "Festival of Lights" came out today as a single episode that focused almost entirely on Jewish characters celebrating Hanukkah, and I do not want to downplay the historical significance of it in any way, shape, or form. I've seen many holiday princess specials, and this is the first one that Disney has released about characters who grew up with the same traditions as me. This is so important because it normalizes Judaism for today's audience of children by showing them that not all fairy tale princesses celebrate Christmas.

"Festival of Lights" had a similar story to most Christmas specials except that it was about H…

Three of the Most Messed Up Princess Tales Ever

Many people like to talk about how much darker the Brothers Grimm stories were than their movie counterparts. Yes, we all know Cinderella's stepsisters had their eyes pecked out by birds, and Snow White's stepmother was forced to dance in burning hot iron shoes until she died. However, I find medieval punishments for wicked deeds far less disturbing than glorifying or rewarding characters for malicious actions. Did you know that in the story of "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp," Aladdin wins the princess's hand in marriage by teleporting her into his bed on her wedding night and teleporting her new husband outside to sleep in the cold? Author A.G. Marshall wrote a fantastic short story about this aspect of the fairy tale called "The Princess and the Lamp." Women being treated as property is quite disturbing by today's standards, but here are three examples of even more disturbing stories where princesses are rewarded for downright wicked behavior.

Review: Rolf Kauka's Once Upon a Time

One of my readers informed me about Rolf Kauka's Once Upon a Time, an obscure German animated adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale "Frau Holle." After a quick search, I was pleased to discover that someone had uploaded a nostalgic VHS recording of the entire film on YouTube. The animation reminded me of the old Disney knock-off tapes I used to watch when I was a child, but the storytelling and music were several notches higher in quality. Since there are no other famous adaptations of this fairy tale, I can see that the filmmakers worked very hard to do it justice. They did a terrific job for the time period and what I can only assume was a humble budget. The story has a lot of heart and a unique presentation. What sets Once Upon a Time apart from other animated fairy tales is that it completely excludes the protagonist from the first ten minutes of the movie. "Frau Holle," the story it is based on, is similar to "Cinderella" in the regard that …

Review: The Princess Twins of Legendale

For those of you who aren't savvy in the world of underground Hollywood, there is a studio called The Asylum , whose sole purpose is to create low-budget imitations of popular movies in the hopes that an old granny will forget her glasses while shopping and buy one on DVD for her grandkids, thinking it's that big blockbuster movie they're always yapping on about. When they set their sights on an upcoming release from a major studio, they rush to get their imitation out before or around the same time as the one they're mimicking so they can pretend that they came up with the idea first. The Twin Princesses of Legendale  was not produced by The Asylum, but it feels like it easily could have been. In actuality, it was produced by a modern toy company called MGA Entertainment , which is famous for making Bratz and  L.O.L. Surprise dolls. You would think that a toy company producing a low-budget movie would only do so with the intention of selling toys, but surprisingly, m

Review: Tsioque

Tsioque (pronounced "chalk") was an unexpected surprise buried within a video game bundle on Steam. It's a point-and-click adventure game where you play as a (very) young princess trying to liberate her castle after she is imprisoned by a powerful shadow lord. The game is created entirely with hand-drawn animation. It opens with a lovely storybook narration about how Tsioque's mother, the brave queen, left the kingdom to fight a phoenix, leaving Tsioque vulnerable to the shadow lord. The gameplay begins after she is captured and placed inside a prison cell in the dungeon. Once she figures out how to escape, has free rein to explore the mysterious and often dangerous areas of the castle. Each room is full of fun and surprises just waiting to be discovered. Despite its child protagonist, Tsioque is not what I would consider an easy game. If you enter the wrong place at the wrong time or react too slowly, you can easily get caught by one of the many villainous castle gu

The Nutcracker Prince Is the Best Nutcracker Movie You've Never Seen!

The holiday season has begun, but like many other things this year , it is a mere shadow of its former self. That's why I was so pleased when one of my readers referred me to an animated version of "The Nutcracker" that I had missed during my childhood. The Nutcracker Prince  is by far the most accurate version of E.T.A. Hoffmann's "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" that I have ever seen. After my overwhelming disappointment with Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms , I thought that the Barbie movie was the closest I'd ever get to an accurate feature based on this classic fairy tale. I was wrong. The Nutcracker Prince  is an animated film released in 1990 with a surprisingly impressive cast of voice talent. Sadly, there's no chance of seeing it on Disney+  any time soon because it was distributed by Warner Brothers , one of the only major film studios that Disney does not own (yet). However, it is free to watch on YouTube for those o

Princess Syalis Is a Heroine We Can All Relate To!

Princess parodies  may have been all the rage throughout the 21st century, but you've never seen one quite like this. Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle  is an anime comedy that explores what happens to a kidnapped princess while the hero is off trying to rescue her. However, Princess Syalis couldn't care less about being rescued. All she wants to do is get the most comfortable sleep she can possibly muster in her new castle. After all, what else is there to do when you are whisked away from your royal responsibilities and left alone in a nice room with lots of friendly demons as neighbors? Though Princess Syalis may have been kidnapped, she is no damsel in distress . In fact, the innocuous demon inhabitants of her new home soon become more like servants to her than captors. My favorite thing about this anime is that it rips apart the conception that kidnapped princesses are helpless victims who can't do anything but sit around and wait to be rescued. Not only does Syalis


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