Monthly Archives: April 2013

Season 5 Could’ve Been Worse: Enter the “Magical Girl Slump”

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Hello there again.  If you’re like me, then you’ve noticed that there has been a lot of complaining about Season 5 lately.  A lot of it is justified.  But this post is all about how it could’ve been worse.  As a matter of fact, if any word can describe S5, it would be “formula.”  Yes, the plotline does repeat itself quite often, but “formula” is meant to mean this: Winx Club‘s dilemma has happened to just about every magical girl series out there.

The diagnosis for S5 is the “magical girl slump.”  This is a term I coined to describe how just about every show in this genre tries to accommodate to a younger fanbase, often with new characters…and very rarely with a good result.  The way fans complain about Winx Club reminds me of how I’ve seen Sailor Moon fans talk about “SuperS”, or Tokyo Mew Mew fans with “a la Mode.”  Most of these series come out of this slump alive and kicking, ready to wow the fans with an even better season.  But some fall prey to cancellation due to this…and Winx Club fans could learn a couple lessons from these failed attempts.

One of the most universally hated victims (which got cancelled after only 25 episodes) is Shugo Chara Party, the third season of the fan-acclaimed anime Shugo Chara.  During the first two seasons of the program, Shugo Chara was a hip card-themed magical girl series with a unique protagonist, a fascinating love triangle, developed characters, and catchy tunes.  But a lot of the reason why I’m so positive about S5 is because I started watching it after I watched Party.  To me, this show makes Winx’s writing look like Charles Dickens wrote it.

The first mistake that Party made was to have a segment for the regular characters and another for the Charas (small, pixie-like people created from a person’s wishes and dreams).  Sounds a lot like Winx Club and Pop Pixie, right?  But unlike Straffi’s decision to have two completely different shows, these two ideas were stuffed into one program.  The Chara segment, “Pucchi Puchi” was actually the most enjoyable part of the show.  But it gave less time for actual plot, whereas if it went the Pop Pixie route, it wouldn’t have that problem.  (By the way, I still totally want Nick to dub Pop Pixie.  I haven’t watched any of the episodes online, and I really want to see it.)  But anyways, the plot segment (Dokki Doki) lasted ten minutes, and Pucchi Puchi also lasted ten minutes.  How would they find a way to fill a thirty-minute slot?  You aren’t going to like the answer.

This dilemma is when the Eggs–nicknamed Heart, Spade, Clover, and Diamond–come in.  Imagine random young women cosplaying as Winx before every program and making it so you only get ten actual minutes of the actual Winx.  Creepy, right?  (Nothing against cosplayers, though; they just don’t transfer well to television.)  That’s essentially what the Eggs were–a musical band forced to do inane activities to fill the ten minutes.   For half of the 25 episodes, they were an incomplete band–and the program aired shameless plugs to “enter to become Diamond.”  Though Diamond is probably the most tolerable of the group, since her shyness seems to be the only personality shown other than giggling like little girls.

The first type of Egg segment (stopped when Diamond came) involved the Eggs competing in a trivia-meets-Japanese game show contest in which Heart always seemed to win.  The questions, however, were mind-numbingly simple, and seemed to be only promotions for keychains (pick up the character as the answer) and songs (which character sang this).  If a Winx version of this would exist, the question would be something like this: Who uses the power of the Dragon Flame?  That’s just how darn easy the questions were, almost as if they were trying to hammer information into the new viewers’ heads.

The second was a personality quiz.  One of the Eggs would always be revealed as having an “embarrassing” trait, and the others would laugh at them.  It had the most potential for viewer participation, but isn’t this just kind of mean?

The third was a nail art segment.  Nice idea on paper, but actually, the Eggs only used stick-on nails and put stickers on the nails.  This is a mockery of what real nail artists do for a living.  (For a real look at Japanese cosmetology, I highly recommend the manga Beauty Pop about young men who aim to create an all-in-one hair/nails/makeup/aromatherapy/massage salon.  Why hasn’t anyone ever thought, “If we put a masseuse in here, maybe more women would get their hair done” ?  Just saying.)

The fourth was a segment in which Diamond goes into the studios.  Again, good idea on paper, but all she really does is misuse her cuteness to convince the animators to give her promotional stuff.  If I went all the way to Italy to do that, I think they’d kick me out.

The fifth was a dance segment, but their dance steps are nowhere near as elaborate as real dance teams.  (Again, bring mockery to those who actually respect their industries!)  They pretty much repeated the same steps quite often.

The so-called “plot segment” was filler.  The one rule of fiction is this: changing the main character of a franchise very, very rarely turns out well.  And such is the case with “Dokki Doki”: instead of the relatable, punk rock-loving teenager Amu who has no clue what to do with her life, we get Rikka, the standard-issue “I’m nice to everyone and I love the world” type who fans tend to assume is a Mary Sue.  And they got rid of one of, if not the most-loved character on the show, Ikuto, who’s pretty much Brandon’s-flirtatiousness-meets-Riven’s-broodiness with violin talent added in.  Probably because a “bad boy” isn’t something a younger audience should be seeing.  Roxy doesn’t have that good of an explanation.

However, Ikuto also disappears for a point in the manga, so that is somewhat (emphasis on “somewhat”) justified.  But his singing sensation younger sister, Utau, and her laid-back, soccer-loving boyfriend, Kukai, also got a large chunk of their screentime cut.  Those two were my favorite characters, so that’s where I started getting mad.

Pretty much, Party alienated all of its fans with its bad writing, lack of plot, and general annoyingness.  But when you look at this, don’t you just think, “At least Winx isn’t like this”?  Think about how bad it would be if we just watched people dressed as Winx and lost all of our plot.  Winx hasn’t crossed that dubious road yet, and hopefully never will.

But the way I see it, the line that will ruin Winx isn’t anything that’s been said in this season.  It is so out-of-character that if it were actually said, it would sink Winx to a Party level.  Let us hope and cross our fingers that it is never said.

That line is when Aisha says that she’s in love with Ogron.

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I knew you were probably expecting my next post to be the first chapter of Zenith of Corruption, and as a matter of fact, that’s the way I myself was expecting it.  However, with the success of my last post, The Rules of Winx Fandom, I felt like I wanted to take a more serious side on one of the issues brought up in that post.

So, before I bring up the actual main idea of the post, I’d like you all to listen to this song. 

(Now, it’s in French, but don’t worry.  The English lyrics are here: http://planet-leesti.co.uk/music/goldman/neen.html)  Pretty much, what the song’s all about is rivalries throughout history and how, if you were to put yourself in their shoes, you might make the same decisions they did.  Doesn’t apply to Winx Club much, does it?

Actually, and sadly, it does.  That gets me to my main point: the RAI/4kids rivalry.  It’s been around forever, at least ever since there’s been an English dub of Winx, and all Nick did was throw another party into the battle.  Most of the time, the fans of the two groups just criticize the other group, simple as that.  That’s not what I have a problem with.

Now, I don’t want to name names, and I want this to be completely anonymous.  However, I saw some people on the Winx blogs discussing how, not only is the 4kids dub not “really” Winx Club, but also implied that 4kids fans were not true Winx fans.

I know that 4kids fans had some difficulty moving on to the Nick dub’s changes, and I know that this caused people some annoyance.  But can’t there be a way to criticize a certain dub without criticizing its fanbase?  Are those commenters truly correct?

If you look at some of the most successful Winx blogs out there, Believix Wings and Just Another Winx Fan, both of their creators, Sibylla and Eric, originally started watching the show through 4kids.  Even if you are on the same sides as they are, put yourself in the shoes of another dub fandom: would you still go on their sites or stop going there because they’re different?  If they find news that has been reported by no one else, would you believe them?

I have faith that you would.  I too originally watched 4kids, and didn’t have that much trouble adapting to the new changes.  I can somewhat understand where the RAI fans may be coming from, as yes, 4kids did make a lot of changes, and a lot of their fans didn’t know that Winx Club was from Italy and thought Nick stole it.  But I found out easily enough: it’s on the Wikipedia page for it.

Think of this as my equivalent to a moment in Season 4.  I’m being like Roxy right now, trying to convince the Earth fairies that not all humans are bad.  And I’m saying that not all 4kids fans are bad, and that not all RAI fans are bad.  Same goes for Nick fans.  There are just those people out there who put us in a negative light, and I understand that you want to take it out on others.  But at least try to reason with one another.  Look past the dubs and realize that fandoms should be categorized by similarities, not by differences from within.  Look for those similarities, and don’t take the easy way out with stereotypes.  See into the person’s true nature.  If we reject all new fans, or all fans that don’t meet certain requirements, we won’t have a fanbase anymore.  Because even if they meet their goal, and the opposing parties go away, they’ll just find more things to fight about with one another.

That doesn’t mean that you have to pretend to like something you don’t.  That’s not what I mean at all.  You can still have your opinions, your constructive criticisms.  You don’t even have to listen to me at all.  But don’t label the fans themselves.  They deserve better than to be insulted.  At the end of the day, they like the same characters, the same animation, just with different scripts and somewhat different plots.  And I am not ashamed to be a 4kids fan.

No, I refuse to call myself a 4kids fan.  That just goes along with the labeling, the cliques, the teasing.  Why use their terms when I’m really just trying to stop all this.

I am not a 4kids fan.  I am a Winx fan.

The Rules of Winx Fandom!

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If you go on enough Winx blogs, you’ll find that there tends to be a pattern as to the way the fans observe the show.  Whether major or minor, these patterns are the “Rules of Winx Fandom,” and while you don’t need them to be a fan, a lot of fans can relate to saying or hearing one of these things.  In short, these rules aren’t set in stone, and are largely generalizations, but they’re fun for making observations (or counting how many times these show up…or making a bingo board out of these).  So, without further ado, here they are:

1.) In any situation, no matter how illogical, the topic will always shift to Nabu.  No exceptions.

Now, this is one I’d like to elaborate on.  This is (in my opinion) the ultimate Winx rule.  Think of how many times you’ve seen people discuss whether Nabu is dead or in a coma.  Now look at a major fan blog (Una di Noi works best, since it consistently gets the most posts/hits) and look at how many topics he comes up in.  I’d venture to guess that he gets almost as many, if not more, mentions as Bloom.  That’s right, the main character.  Nabu really is magical.

2.) If for some reason Nabu does not come up, Roxy will be mentioned.

3.) If Roy is mentioned at all, he will be a subject of complaint.  Anything he does will be seen as a flirtatious behavior towards Aisha, who is treated as though she still has a fiance.

P.S. That “Roy being Nabu in disguise” theory you may have heard was actually a fan theory I posted on TV Tropes a while ago under my account “ravenfrost.”  I never thought it would actually be debated to this extent!  (And no, I’m not taking credit for someone else’s idea, though someone else may have reached the same conclusion.)

4.) If Bloom is mentioned, she will be a subject of complaint.  She will likely also be blamed for the lack of special edition dolls for other characters or even Musa and Tecna dolls themselves.

5.) The only Stella people complain about will be her Nick personality.  Her original personality is intensely liked by a large chunk of the fandom.

6.) People will scream in happiness when a minor character is seen in a preview clip or any preview art.  (Galatea at the Sovereigns’ Council, most recently).

7.) Winx fans have a condition known as pixie withdrawal, which stems from the lack of small, winged beings for a long period of time.  The only true cure is for Rainbow to bring pixies back.  Selkies have been proven not to cure pixie withdrawal.

8.) Every time Tritannus talks about needing more energy, a fan will be groaning somewhere.  Eventually, it starts a chain reaction.

9.) There will be Musa/Riven drama in every season.  Some fans will likely groan at this, too.

10.) Never talk about a certain dub unless you want to be criticized.  There is no rivalry like the 4kids/RAI rivalry.

11.) Musa and Tecna will never get enough screen time.  Bloom will always steal the attention somehow.

12.) Almost no one likes the Sirenix hair color changes.

13.) Enchantix will always be seen as the universally best fairy transformation.

14.) No one likes both Harmonix and Sirenix.  You either hate Sirenix, hate Harmonix, or hate both of them.

15.) No matter what happens, we’ll stay loyal Winx fans.  No matter how negative something is, we’ll always see the positives of it.  And Winx will always be close to our hearts.

Introducing rainbow FICTION

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Welcome to rainbow FICTION, your brand-new hub for Winx-based fanfictions!  Why the change, you might ask?  Well, originally, I just wanted to do the Valentine’s fanfic, but then my mind shifted to the standalone fic “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Alfea” and the upcoming serial fic Zenith of Corruption, and I thought it was high time we have a fanfic page!  Now, this will not  replace Rainbow Dust.  It’s merely a new addition.  The website name will still stay the same, and the part of the site that addresses news, reviews, and other articles will also be called “Rainbow Dust.”  It’s merely the story section that will be called “rainbow FICTION.”  And if any of you are wondering about the strange capitalization, I did it so that you would instantly tell the difference between the two names.  That way, you don’t end up on the rainbow FICTION page instead of the Rainbow Dust general page.

Anyway, here is just a sampling of the potential works of mine that might show up on here:

Zenith of Corruption–This is the one that will likely be coming out very soon, anywhere from a few days from now to a week or so from now (sorry for the delays).  This addresses the adventures of the fairies who don’t always get the limelight: Nova, Roxy, Galatea, Mirta, and Tecna.  It covers their journey to Zenith, and they discover the reason why the Winx never got too close to that particular realm.  Look forward to it!

Harmonix: Another Story–This is another serial one that should come out in about two weeks to a month from now.  It will be released alongside Zenith of Corruption.  It is a parody fanfiction that pretty much will not have a fourth wall.  It is about what would have happened if instead of the Selkies, the Winx get bonded to…the Elements of Harmony, the lovable characters from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  Among some of the hilarious things that occur in this one will be the revelation that the Creature of the Rainbow Mantle was Princess Celestia in disguise and Tecna meeting up with Discord!  But the Trix, in their quest to earn Sirenix before the Winx, capture the “Creature of the Dark Mantle” (read: Princess Luna), mistakenly believing that is the key to beating the Winx!