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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8 responses »

  1. Season 5’s problems mostly come from the lousy writing and the fact that Tritannus is a terrible villain. They’re certainly not structural problems, and the show can be saved in season 6. It was season 4 that introduced a bunch of characters, with mixed results. Roxy was okay. The Wizards of the Black Circle were good. The Fairy Pets were bad. The Earth fairies were good. Season 5 I think can actually be faulted for not focusing enough on the new characters. The only one that has made any real impact is Tritannus, and maybe Roy. Nobody cares about the Selkies, and the new royals aren’t leaving much of a mark. So it’s true that season 5 hasn’t been ruined by superfluous new characters that waste time on pointless things.

    The big problem is that people are seeing the characters being derailed or losing prior development. Bloom can’t go for two episodes without obsessing over Sky. Stella is suddenly childish and yells at people over the slightest things. Flora has lost most of her confidence and competence. Musa is mostly fine, but she’s done almost nothing and her trust issues with Riven are still bad. Tecna has become slightly more reserved, especially in her relationship, but her character is still fine. Aisha is the only one who has developed somewhat, but that’s mostly because she’s had the hardest times recently. The show hasn’t decayed into nothingness, but the overall poor handling of the characters does not bode well for the show’s future.

    It’s difficult to be optimistic by saying it could be worse. Sure it could, but that doesn’t give the writers much reason to improve. We want the characters to be handled with care. No character has been ruined yet, but Bloom, Stella and Sky have all been walking a fine line. There’s still time for this season to either improve or mess up though.

    • Yeah, but a lot of what this is about is how most shows in the magical girl genre tend to have season slumps. It’s not so much a problem as it is a pattern. Hopefully, that pattern can be changed for S6, but at least some of the writing has been better (especially the way Stella is handled in the Pillar of Light mini-arc).

    • I agree Bloom, Stella and Sky are on a fine line, though I did watch a few episodes in Italian so I can safely say that SPOILER All 3 recover when they have to deal with certain situations Spoilers

      • I think Stella is the best off of the three, though. I like the parts of her personality I saw when I watched some of the later episodes (i.e. her intense love for her family, the way she can be insecure at times behind that confident personality).

    • Thank you for this great reasoning. I’ve been long asking myself about what was bugging me so much about season 5. And the poor character development sure plays a huge role in what’s been tripping up Winx lately from having that success it wants to have but in my opinion not deserves.Season 6 shows no improvement and I don’t see the reason this wasn’t cancelled after season 5. This whole stupid bonding relationship with nick just doesn’t make sense. Everything up until 2nd movie was great/awesome although season 4 could have been somewhat better. Anyway Nick’s animation makes the winx move like robots have fake smiles on all the time and is just no longer worth watching for me. Nick was Winx’s huge downfall and I don’t see them working out anything. Poor story line, none developed characters, too much focus on merchandise, looks cheap season 7 shall be cancelled!

  2. I remember watching Shugo Chara Party… I didn’t watch all of it as I, for some reason, stopped watching the series after there were only a few episodes left. I tried to cope by watching all 30 minutes, but I couldn’t stand everything and I just wanted it to speed up to the plot segment, which was really the only part I wanted to see. I remember when they did those character introduction thingies, it really was a total waste of time, because it started with the main characters, and since I had watched all of the 90 episodes prior to this, it was really, really uninteresting and I didn’t come away with new knowledge. Seriously, this is, like, the 100th episode of this series. Everyone should know the main characters by now. But, then, they ran out of main characters and they started to introduce the most minor characters ever. Like, characters that were only there for one episode.
    I probably got a few things wrong here since it’s been probably 2 years since I last watched it, but I still remember it.

    • Yeah, the character introductions were pretty lame. Not only that, but a lot of the plot segments were just rehashes of old plots. For instance, some of the plotlines (like Rikka getting her egg Xed) were directly taken from past arcs, much more blatantly than Winx did. It never really came past the level of looking like bad fanfiction.

      On the other hand, Winx’s main problem was the script, the characters, and the plot, all of which are looking better as we’re going towards S6. As much as I hate to say this due to fear of being flamed due to rivalries, I really do hope that S5 is just a slump that picks itself back up again, like what many fans thought about Sailor Moon.

  3. Pingback: Could Season Six Be Winx’s “Stars Season”? | rainbowdustwinx

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