Fate: The Winx Saga review: All in on magic, but not on the Magical Girls
Cartoons made particularly for ladies typically highlight relationship. Whether that implies effective fairies collaborating to conserve the day or attractive super-spies on a hidden objective, these programs are typically constructed around the sort of satisfying relationships in between girls that are all too uncommon on the cinema. While animations produced kids, which are most likely to highlight experience and self-reliance, regularly get adjusted to live-action variations for older audiences, that’s been rarer for girl-focused programs. And it’s due time that altered.
Winx Club, the long-running Italian animation about a group of best-friend fairies, is among the couple of specifically girl-focused programs to make the leap to live action, through a darker, edgier series from Vampire Journals developer Brian Young. Netflix’s Fate: The Winx Legend casts the exact same spell over the intense, aesthetically dynamic animation that Chilling Experiences of Sabrina and Riverdale provided for their family-friendly Archie Comics equivalents. It has a remarkably nuanced plot that dives into the implications of war throughout generations — however it comes at an expense, for the characters and for that familiar sense of relationship and shared assistance.
[Ed. Note: This review contains slight spoilers for Fate: The Winx Saga]
Fate: The Winx Legend follows fire fairy Flower (Abigail Cowen) as she enlists at the Alfea school for fairies, a wonderful boarding school that trains high-school-age fairies all over the Otherworld. Fairies reside in a different world than human beings; various kinds of fairies have various powers, typically including a natural aspect or taking advantage of psychic capabilities like noticing others’ feelings. Flower invested her entire life believing she was a human, up until an awful mishap exposed her intense powers.
While at school, she fulfills 4 other ladies: light fairy princess Stella (Hannah van der Westhuysen), athletic water fairy Aisha (Valuable Mustapha), aloof mind fairy Musa (Elisha Applebaum), and adventurous earth fairy Terra (Eliot Salt). Flower simply wishes to find out more about her past and her magic, however the more she finds about her strange origins, the more dark tricks she discovers.
Unlike the brilliantly colored animated series, the brand-new program takes a more grounded visual method, however stops working to specify an unique appearance of its own. The characters are more fully grown and edgier than their animated equivalents — in the exact same method that Chilling Experiences of Sabrina distorted the adventurous comedy lead into a persistent, bold witch, Fate: The Winx Legend provides the family-friendly heroines harder edges. Attractive Princess Stella offers with her controlling mom, Aisha’s self-confidence becomes almost abrasive brashness, and Flower’s adventurous lead character mindset presses her to exceptionally careless choices. It’s what the more significant plot needs, however it’s a plain contrast to the usually better characters of the animation.
2 staying characters have actually been suppressed: Musa and Plants, whose initial animated styles were influenced by Lucy Liu and Jennifer Lopez, respectively. In Netflix’s live-action variation, Plants isn’t even a character any longer — she’s now Terra, a sweet yet uncomfortable earth fairy. Terra does include some body variety to the otherwise stick-thin cast, however it would be more significant if she wasn’t the butt of every damn joke. A great deal of her story focuses on her being an uncomfortable loner, which might’ve been empowering had the remainder of the cast extended a hand to her. Rather, the other ladies make fun of her long babbles and continuously see her as a source of inconvenience, despite the fact that she’s infallibly kind to all of them.
That usually antagonistic mindset in between the ladies marks the inmost contrast with the initial program. The enjoyment and power of wonderful woman reveals originates from the friendship in between characters. In Fate: The Winx Legend, the relationship feels required. There are periodic touching scenes, like the ladies signing up with Flower to consume outside the lunchroom when she doesn’t wish to deal with the gossiping trainees. However even in those scenes, it seems like the lead characters hardly endure each other. Since so little foundation sealing their relationships was laid, the teasing doesn’t come off as spirited small talk, however rather as catty and mean-spirited. A shoehorned-in love triangle in between Stella, Flower, and dull sword-wielding Sky (Freddie Throp), a trainee at the close-by school, just makes things even worse. When they conserve one another, it’s not since they care, it’s a responsibility: “Ugh, I probably shouldn’t let my roommate get killed.” Young’s authors appear to believe that developing girlhood relationships implies turning them into very finely veiled competitions.
However while the characters and their relationships suffer, Fate: The Winx Legend does produce an engaging, nuanced plot. The worldbuilding is interesting, using a spin on the animated series’ world of fairies and non-magical, sword-wielding Experts (an expensive method to state knights, generally). Magic school is a reliable story setup, and utilizing the fairies’ classes to describe how their world’s magic works is effective and interesting.
Once the plot gets rolling — ancient, dark animals called the Burned Ones have actually resurfaced, years after they apparently ended up being extinct — it weaves an engaging style about the older generation correcting their errors. However by attempting to proceed, the older characters have protected the more youthful generation from the reality. The more youthful characters know little about their world’s dark past, but the more they uncover, spurred mostly by Bloom’s quest to find more about her own history, the more they doubt the motives of their professors and mentors. The plot focuses on the scars war leaves across generations, adding layers to each character’s motives. By the end of the first season, the more youthful characters are left wondering whether the heroes they trusted did the right thing, whether the villainous figures had a point, and what that means for their own path going forward.
But that arc would be more compelling if the characters were likable or interesting, or if they shared even half the bonds of their animated counterparts. As it stands, while the darker and edgier plot elevates the cartoon into a story for a young adult audience, the darker and edgier characters detract. While the girls declare they’re good friends by the end of the first season, that claim never really feels earned. Still, the evil they face — not just some malevolent overlord, however social injury nobody understands now to browse — produces a nuanced story that the characters might become, if the program continues.
The six-episode opening season of Fate: The Winx Legend premieres on Netflix on Jan. 22.
Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.