Star Vs. The Forces of Evil, Season Four: Deciding to Watch Again
Being a fan of magical girl shows is a gift and a curse. When you were raised on Sailor Moon, with the watered-down dub that nevertheless pierced your heart as a five-year old and stayed with you till the Internet revealed a very delightful and painful narrative.
Star Vs. the Forces of Evil started as a love letter to the magical girl anime genre. Our lead is a princess given a magic wand and an exile to Earth to learn some control. She teams up with the local “Safe Kid,” a karate green belt, to fight monsters that wish to steal her wand. Magical hi-jinks ensue, as does tragedy.
Then . . . season two happen. More precisely, the second half of season two happened. The red flag was including a parody of Sailor Moon who is an unreasonable warrior later revealed as a racist murderer. Not cool, writers. I rage-quit after a point because I didn’t want to keep getting angry when so many people loved it.
Season Four premiered yesterday. It promises to end the story. I watched a clip, to feel ambivalence. The show has caused ample heartache, despite the original intent.
Obviously, this is going to be talking about the show’s later arcs, so we need this warning:
Why I Fell Out of Love
Star is a serviceable show. It tells a story, has a solid world, and seemed to pay homage to the previous anime that were dubbed for American consumption. The animation is a fun style, and the soundtrack will get stuck in your head.
The shipping turned me off. I loved Marco and Star’s strong platonic friendship. They knew that each can influence each other for the better; Star convinced Marco that he had more to offer to the world than he thought, and Marco grounded Star from her destructive impulsiveness. There was hope that Star would change and grow for the better.
That didn’t happen. Star remained reckless and impulsive. Eventually she realized she had a crush on Marco, after she had helped him ask out his childhood crush on a date, and succumbed to unwanted jealousy. When she finally does tell Marco, at the worst time possible, it sabotages his relationship and they never really talk about it. Marco’s even unsure if he can return her feelings when he’s on the rebound, and she gets back together with a potentially abusive ex. Star has reigned in some of her worse tendencies for the greater good, but it hasn’t been enough to curb her collateral damage.
A relationship wouldn’t work between them because Star doesn’t respect Marco. She takes him for granted, rifles through his wallet for fun, and ignores his legitimate concerns about her reckless actions. Marco will always bend over backward for her, but it’s hard for Star to do the same. Season Three didn’t really change this when Marco became Star’s squire, in hope of becoming an official Mewni Knight. For good reason, Marco’s parents are resentful towards Star for “stealing their son” and hurting his feelings.
Also, you can have crushes on your friends and not let it affect your friendship. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. I find it hard to have sympathy for Star when she could talk it out with someone about if her feelings are actually love or infatuation. The two are very different, and sometimes a teen can’t tell the difference. I speak from experience. There was no need for all this drama.
The other thing is that Star doesn’t show love towards its predecessors in magical girls. In fact, you could argue that it’s the G rated version of Puella Magica Madoka, an anime deconstruction of magical girls that sinks into depressing nihilism. Star begins the series as a magical princess with a wand; by the beginning of Season Four, she is no longer the heir with either. While the suffering is good for her since Star acts spoiled and entitled at times, it feels sobering. The Mina Loveberry thing was also not cool, revealing Mina as an antagonist when she’s obviously named for Minako Aino from Sailor Moon. It’s a low blow for us who grew up on those shows.
The Good Points of Seasons Two and Three
One aspect that the shipping arc doesn’t mar is the conspiracy of the Magical High Commission. They are a group of magical beings that try to boss around Queen Moon and her daughter Star. While Moon goes along with it at first, she gets suspicious in season three when investigating what happened to her ancestor Eclipsa, nicknamed the Queen of Darkness.
It turns out that the Magical High Commission imprisoned Eclipsa for centuries because she ran off, cheated on her husband with a monster, and had a hybrid baby, Meteora. The Commission sent the baby to St. Olga’s Reform School for Wayward Princesses, and replaced her with a peasant girl. Metora became the villainous Miss Heinous, who’s been shamed to hide her heritage.
This is all good stuff; Eclipsa was the best character of season three, easily, and her conflict to save Meteora while also needing to stop her sold the premise. It was clever how the creators hinted at the Magical High Commission’s true intentions. We get a morally grey resolution where Star does the right thing, but not necessarily the best one.
What Would Make Me Watch Again
At this point, watching Star isn’t healthy for me. It’s like seeing a feckless lover promise to be better and then disappoint. But part of me misses the wonder and character development from the first season.
Star would need to grow more as a character. She and Marco need to acknowledge that the relationship they have, platonic or romantic, isn’t healthy. It’s been forced, both in and out of the narrative. Marco also needs to figure out what he wants that doesn’t revolve around Star’s family drama.
Also, we need the return to a love letter to magical girl anime. We need the sincerity of the characters mixed with legitimate threats instead of the deconstruction. I’m not watching to get depressed about how there is no equivalent to what I saw as a kid. I’m watching to see something that shows the love.
Creators, you get one last shot at this. I hope you do the right thing, and end on a high note. And I hope you can return to what made season one fantastic.