Star Vs. The Forces of Evil: Magical Girls and My Family’s Culture

Copyright © 2015 by Disney-ABC Domestic Teleivision

Let’s be honest: it’s a good era for animation. We’ve got Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, and so much more, made for both kids and adults. And I’m quite honestly bummed that one of my absolute favorites, Gravity Falls, is no longer with us. But as luck would have it, I’ve discovered the next best thing.

Star Vs. The Forces of Evil is a series on Disney X.D. about two kids fighting monsters and magic across multiple dimensions. Star Butterfly is the Princess of Mewni, whose royal parents send her to Earth for a good education. Which brings Star into contact with high school student Marco Diaz and his family. It also means that Star is now a target for villains like Ludo, who desire the powers of her magic wand and revenge against the ruling class of Mewni. Of course, being a wacky show, sometimes the threat is Star herself when she loses control of her powers, which is why it’s handy to have someone like Marco around.

So, I’m not gonna lie. I got huge flashbacks to Gravity Falls when I started watching this show (which was after Gravity Falls‘s series finale). Not that this is a bad thing by any means. There’s the same madcap quality, the same earnest relationships between characters, the same spirit of adventure, and the same super-catchy theme song by Brad Breeck. I mean, even the main characters Marco and Star are essentially Dipper and Mabel Pines, mirroring their personalities almost perfectly. But again, the quality of this show stands on its own. It’s not trying to be Gravity Falls, but works as its own colorful, fantasy-driven series.

I also loved, loved, loved the infusion of Latino culture into this show. Our protagonist is Marco Diaz, with visible and fleshed-out Latino parents. There are various bits of Spanish dropped throughout the show, along with touches of Mexican culture (piñatas, mariachi, etc.). But it’s not a cartoon made solely for Mexican-Americans. It’s a show that can appeal to everyone and still have enough room for playing with specific real-world cultures. Honestly, I’m jealous that this kind of animation wasn’t around when I was a kid.

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but often times, it’s hard for me to talk about the animation quality of a show given how much talent and time goes into it these days. When you have a well-known animator like Giancarlo Volpe as a guest director, it’s hard to judge when the show does or doesn’t look so good as it could. But I will say (and it’s a small detail) that some of my favorite recurring bits is the animation on when characters’ eyes go big and glassy, with Star being the most common character for that.

Star Vs. The Forces of Evil is a delight and surprisingly deep, too. Much like Gravity Falls, it has a solid dynamic between two characters that plays well each episode, but it also has tons of untapped backstories and lore within the land of Mewni and the Butterfly family that can be used to tell all sorts of clever stories. I can’t wait to see its third season, and I hope you readers will enjoy it, too, if you’re not already watching.

Star Vs. The Forces of Evil is available through Disney X.D.

Bibliography: Star Vs. The Forces of Evil. Created by Deron Nefcy. Developed by Jordana Arkin and Dave Wasson. Directed by Dominic Bisignano. Perf. Eden Sher, Adam McArthur, and Alan Tudyk. Produced by Deron Nefcy, Dave Wasson, Jordana Arkin, Aaron Hammersley, and Dominic Bisignano. Disney Television Animation. Disney-ABC Domestic Television. Disney X.D. (network). Original broadcast run: January 18, 2015 – present.


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