From the studio that would (eventually) bring you Sailor Moon and Pretty Cure, comes 1981's fully animated adaptation of Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake. Superior in nearly every way to "The Swan Princess" and it's creepy amount of sequels, this adaptation gives us strong willed Prince Siegfried, who undertakes to rescue the lovely Princess Odette from the wizard Rothbart. The classic fairy tale is adapted into atmospheric anime style that will seem familiar to Toei fans, and though not as masterful as Studio Ghibli works, is quite serviceable and pretty. The music is haunting adaptations of the famous music from the ballet, and as for the voices, they can be a bit over the top but not all that horrible. The movie is appropriate for all ages, though some children may be sensitive to Rothbart's abusive tirades.
You can view the film in English on YouTube!
Toei's Swan Lake Part 1
Toei's Swan Lake Part 2
Toei's Swan Lake Part 3
Sakura Kinomoto is a normal 13 year old girl. Oh, yes, perfectly normal… until you realize she’s a powerful magician. During her Elementary school years, Sakura was selected to be the wielder of the Clow Cards, a series of magical cards that give her control over various items in the natural world, such as the classical elements. On the night before her first day of middle school, her original deck of cards turn clear and lose their power, in their place, Sakura is given a new medallion that turns into a staff used for catching a brand new batch of cards. Sakura, her magical guardian Kero, and her friends Tomoyo and Syaoran, (say it SHAO-ran) race against the clock to gather the new cards and keep them safe from an evil enchanter who would use them for his own gain.
Sakura is a genuinely sweet, lovely girl who has the almost magical ability to charm people into becoming her friends, simply by being kind to them. She befriends the new kids, hangs out with the “nerds”, is a conscientious student, and fairly patient little sister. When her brother Toya goes too far she blows her stack a little, but nothing horrible. She’s a good daughter, respectful to her elders, and is in all a great role model. Toya, for all his teasing loves Sakura very much and wants only the best for her. Sakura’s best friend, Tomoyo, is generous with her gifted sewing and adores her cousin/bestie and encourages her in her battles. And as for Syaoran, he loves Sakura very much, and pledges himself to her service as her protector. He risks life and health to keep that promise. He’s polite, chivalrous, and brave, and unlike Sailor Moon’s Mamoru, is actually useful in battle! The show is very slice of life, aside from the occasional magic battle, so it’s very mild and gentle, almost relaxing to watch.
With all this positive talk, you might wonder about some negatives. There’s a lot of magic flying around, that’s for sure. The Clow Cards and the new Clear Cards both bear a good deal of resemblance to tarot decks, but are used only for the purpose of projecting Sakura’s latent magical abilities, not for necromancy or fortune telling. Syaoran’s magic comes from his mastery of the feng-shui compass and calling on various elemental gods, using “ofuda”, slips of paper written with words of power and protection. Yue, one of Sakura’s magical guardians, is a silver haired young man with white, angelic wings. He’s not an angel, but he sure looks like what most people think of when they hear that word. Kero can also transform between a soft plushy looking form and a winged lion.
There’s very little violence in “Clear Card”, mostly magic blasting and some minor danger aimed at our young heroine. Sakura’s friend Akiho is being used by the sorcerer Yuna D., the main antagonist to get close to Sakura so he can steal her magic. Neither girl knows this, however, but that kind of makes it worse. Another minor issue is the VERY mild crush between Syaoran and Sakura. It’s actually pretty sweet, so it’s not a big issue, no kissing, only hugs and small presents like home cooked lunches and teddy bears are passed between the two young sweethearts.
In all, Sakura is a great role model and “Clear Card” is in all a show that’s worth your time. My one and only issue is the fact the cards look like tarot cards. If they didn’t, I would wholeheartedly recommend. As they do, I would say, if you or your kids are interested, this is a good show to try, if you can overcome the appearance of the cards. So, recommended, but only at your comfort level.
In the third original Barbie movie, we meet the charming and beautiful Odette, (Kelly Sheridan) who bites off a little more than she can chew while trying to rescue a unicorn. The unicorn leads her into the magical hidden valley ruled by the Fairy Queen, (Kathleen Barr) who was overthrown by her treacherous cousin Rothbart. (Kelsey Grammer) Rothbart has turned all the Fairy Queen’s faithful servants into animals who can return to their original forms from sunset to dawn each night, a fate he also places on Odette, changing her into a swan, when it is found that she can touch a magic crystal that can destroy Rothbart’s magic. Odette then meets Daniel, (Mark Hildreth) the gallant prince of the kingdom she lives in, and finds out that only true love can give the crystal it’s power. Of course, Daniel and Odette have the true love that can supe up the gem to it’s full power, and Rothbart can’t have that!
Despite the fact that this is a movie starring Barbie, Barbie of Swan Lake has it’s good points. The story’s main theme, that love is more powerful than evil, is always a good one, though how, realistically speaking a three day relationship could be true love is beyond me. This is a fairy tale, however, you kind of have to take things at face value. True love is defined as “two people who love each other more than they love themselves” which is very valid and astute for a direct to DVD movie based on a toy!
This being a fairy tale there is a good deal of magic, pictured by sparkles and beams, activated by thought alone, never an audible spell. There is a small amount of violence, some name calling and some jokes involving skunks. Rothbart also threatens Odette and her friends with physical violence.
When people think of Barbie they usually think of shopping, clothes, boys, more shopping, boys… did I mention shopping? But this movie, along with Barbie in the Nutcracker, Barbie as Rapunzel, and The Magic of Pegasus present a whole new face to Barbie, one that holds to traditional femininity, strength, courage, and loyalty, not shallowness. While newer Barbie movies embrace the triteness that people associate with the world’s most popular fashion doll, Barbie of Swan Lake holds to a message that is fit for little princesses across the board.
In Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, we meet Sarah, (Jennifer Connelly) a young teen who would like nothing more than to live in a fairy tale, believing that her father and stepmother make her do awful things like babysit and interrupt her playtime. (They are in fact very reasonable in their requests.) When Sarah makes a foolish wish to have her baby stepbrother taken by the goblins, the Goblin King Jareth (David Bowie) steps in to deliver. Sarah regrets her choice and has to run the treacherous Labyrinth to rescue the baby and learn to grow up.
In this very 80’s movie, we meet a young lady who doesn’t want to grow up. Ok, fine, everybody feels like that sometimes, but Sarah takes this desire to it’s logical conclusion, refusing all responsibility, almost trading an innocent baby for her selfish wishes. It’s true that she does understand the enormity of her mistake, but that doesn’t stop her from almost giving into the Goblin King’s temptation, as he all but promises to make her the princess she’s always wanted to be.The Labyrinth and Jareth represent Sarah’s childish desires to escape from the adult world of pain and responsibility. In refusing Jareth, Sarah accepts her new responsibilities as a young adult, while treasuring the memories of her childhood.
This movie does have it’s disturbing points, including mild peril, scary creatures and the threat of kidnap itself. Mild language and potty humor are also present (the potty humor is a major deviation from Jim Henson’s model), some may also take exception to Jareth’s tights which he wears throughout the film, as they are errr… form fitting. But it’s no worse than going to a classical ballet really.
In all Labyrinth is a very interesting fantasy movie. As a lover of fantasy, I can relate to Sarah’s desire to live in the land that she loves to read about and escape to a place where “nothing ever hurts again”, but that’s never a good idea. Sarah learns this lesson well and demonstrates it, presenting a not by any means perfect, but effective coming of age story. Recommended for teens 12 and up.
Like the heroes and couples I've written about previously, many heroines inspired me. Some of them will be obvious, but some will not. There are no one-to-one comparisons here, each girl is heroic in her own way, but not the same as any man. I admire girls in media who are more than pretty faces, I admire their kindness, their compassion, their skill or their intelligence more than anything else. You may find that they are all fighters... but not all in the same way.
15: Princess Ariel of Atlantica, from Disney's The Little Mermaid.
I was three, OK? For a long time I admired Ariel for her take no crap (not even from her father) attitude. I wanted to be her... well, be a mermaid anyway! But as I got older, I turned away from Ariel as a role model and turned to a more appropriate princess. The less said about this brat the better really. Sorry, Ariel Fans...
14: Princess Jasmine of Agrabah, from Disney's Aladdin
Jasmine, from Aladdin became my favorite princess next, and she is still my favorite princess. Jasmine was also a "take no crap" kind of girl, but in a more respectful way than Ariel, with her storms and pouts. Okay, yes, she did technically run away from home, but she learned the hard way *why* it was a good idea to wait for an escort. In the follow on series of films and TV series we find that Jasmine was well educated in the arts of negotiation, the self-sacrifice required of a princess, and compassion, even for people who have mistreated her. All of these factors together gave me the impression that here was a royal lady, one worthy of my admiration.
13: Mulan, from Chinese Legend and the Disney Film
Mulan began life in Chinese legend, the story of a girl who chose the supreme virtue of Filial Piety over the limitations of her sex in her culture. The Disney film brought her to the rest of the world, though she was well known inside her native China. And for me, I looked in her eyes and saw a girl not unlike me. She was beautiful, and she was brave. She was smart and loyal. So she became another heroine I could find inspiration in.
12: Kim Possible, from the series Kim Possible
Man, there's a lot of Disney characters here, isn't there? It gets better the older I get, LOL. Anyway, Kim Possible was a series that Disney ran when I was in my early teens. Kim was a heroine for hire, using her tech, cheer and martial arts skills, and brains to defeat a selection of colorful villains. Like many superheroines of the same time, Kim let nothing stand in her way, but she was also went out of her way to help people, tutoring younger kids, helping her cheer squad as their captain, and standing up for her bullied bestie Ron Stoppable. (and NO I don't like the Ron/Kim relationship!)
11: Three way tie: Airazor and Blackarachnia from Beast Wars Transformers, and Arcee, from Transformers Energon
Some of my first fan fictions were written about these ladies. Airazor was the only female on the good-guy team for quite some time. Petite in stature, sharp witted, and perceptive, Airazor brought a cool head to the sometimes bullheaded Maximal team lineup. First friends with, and then something more with Tigatron, the fiercely independent white tiger, they taught me the value of the slow-burn romance.
Kidnapped while unconscious and forcibly reprogrammed, Blackarachnia lives by her wits, hoping to outsmart everyone and survive her hostile existence. Until one Maximal takes the chance and shows her a better life, a life of real freedom and real love. Silverbolt, (from my Heroes list) shows her a way to redemption, pledging himself to her service as a good knight. Though fully capable of fighting herself, she learns to rely on others and what redemption can do for a person.
Arcee wasn't a huge character in any version of Transformers she was in (with the exception of "Transformers Prime" which I haven't seen), but she was always seen as a competent worker and great leader. She is, in fact the very first female Transformer, created by the director of "Transformers The Movie" for his daughter. (However, the first Female Transformer to appear on the show came a few months before the movie came out. She was Optimus Prime's sweetheart Elita-One) Arcee was known for taking no funny business from anyone and cared for all the people, humans and robots under her.
10: Snow White, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
There was a time when I bought into the feminist lie that Snow White was a passive, pining, princess dependent on men to save her from her problems. As I've gotten older, however, I've realized that Snow is perhaps the strongest of all. No matter what happens to her, she keeps a positive outlook on life. She looks for every opportunity to make people smile, acts as a civilizing influence on the Dwarfs, and is a hard worker. She could've been a passive princess, but instead she's an active force, just not in the way feminists want!
9: Tie- Madoka Kaname and Mami Tomoe from Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Though the anime "Puella Magi Madoka Magica" is full of tragedy and suffering, two of the five girl cast were confident in the good and the beauty in the world.
Mami Tomoe is the eldest of the group, being between the ages of 16 and 18. She is beautiful and brave, believing in goodness, justice, love, and selflessness. With her battle cry "Tiro Finale!" she proclaimed victory over the evil around her. The cruel Incubators took advantage of Mami's goodheartedness more than once in the series timelines, but she never gave up her hope. Some of Mami's determination and hope rubbed off onto Goewyn, one of my favorite heroines to write for.
Madoka Kaname is an ordinary girl, one who believes in the goodness of her fellow humans, assuring sometimes depressive Homura that there are things worth fighting for in this world. Her very nature is to love her friends, so much that she would give anything for them, including to be with them for a time. When she becomes a Puella Magi, her magic is so powerful that she is able to create a paradise for all magical girls, so that if they fall, they will not fall without hope. Madoka's wish was to save her friends from suffering, and for that, she must live in a separate dimension from them, waiting until the day when she can bring them with her. Madoka's gentleness, innocence, and self-sacrificial nature influenced Princess Iona, who loves her friends and her people.
8. Catherine Chandler, from Beauty and the Beast (1987)
Catherine Chandler, and up-and-coming young lawyer has the world at her feet. She has everything she could wish for... until one terrible night when it's all stolen from her. Attacked and left for dead, she's rescued by Vincent, the kind lion man who tends her wounds and gives her back her courage. Together with Vincent, Catherine solves mysteries and protects the innocent as an assistant DA. Early on in the series, Catherine plunges headfirst into danger, often needing Vincent's rescue before getting her feet under her and learning not to be so reckless. But even then, she can always count on her knight from below to help her. Like so many of these characters, Catherine is loyal to the people she loves, willing to risk everything for her beloved Vincent she refuses to disclose his existence to anyone, even when her life is threatened.
7: Tzu Yingtai, from Chinese Legend
In Chinese legend there are four great love stories, each of them about the lovers overcoming great odds to be together. One of them is the story of Tzu Yingtai and Liang Shanbo, who are also known as The Butterfly Lovers.
Tzu Yingtai is the ninth child and only girl in the Tzu household. Her brothers taught her to read and all sorts of scholarly refinements, leading her to wish to attend collage. She's a girl, of course, collage is only for boys in ancient China. So what does Yingtai do? She dresses up as a boy and heads off for the collage of Hangzou. Yingtai is clever, so clever that even her roommate, Liang Shanbo, doesn't realize. Shanbo's kind of a dipstick, but he's Yingtai's dipstick, and she'll do anything she can to make sure she can marry him. Sadly, fate intervenes. Yingtai's intelligence, cleverness, and beauty have gained her a rich and powerful admirer, Ma Wencai, who is equally determined to make her his bride. Yingtai likes Wencai well enough, but doesn't want to marry him. Wencai bullies Yingtai's family to compliance, which breaks Shanbo's heart. He dies for love of Yingtai, only days before her wedding. Yingtai promises she'll fulfill her duty, but only if she can pay her respects to her beloved. When she arrives at the grave, the ghost of Shanbo appears, and takes Yingtai with him, leaving only a pair of butterflies in their wake.
There's a little romantic who hides in the back of my mind who loves stories of star crossed lovers overcoming even death to be together. Not Romeo and Juliet though. That whole thing is a disaster. Yingtai and Shanbo are a kind of star crossed I can get behind. They actually want to sacrifice for the sake of their beloved, pretty speeches don't matter for them, only faithfulness and truth.
6: Stormy Llewellyn, from Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas
Dear, sweet Stormy grew up in the school of hard knocks. Orphaned at a young age, sexually abused by her legal guardian, and rescued by her uncle Father Llewellyn, Stormy could've turned into a fearful shell or a bitter woman before her time. But instead Stormy takes life and love by the horns, seeing adventure around every corner. It's her sense of adventure that directs her to Odd Thomas, the boy who can see ghosts. Odd and Stormy believe they're destined to be married and live happily ever after; well, as happily as one can when one's husband is helping ghosts. But tragedy strikes, leaving Odd all alone, but Stormy is always with him in his heart.
Steadfast Stormy is a heroine I can get behind. She's brave, kind, faithful, hopeful, and supportive of her man. Some scenes in the book are a bit suggestive, fair warning, but Stormy's a good girl. She wants to do what's right for everyone around her.
5: Tie- Lucy Pevensie, from The Chronicles of Narnia, and Dorothy Gale, from The Wizard of Oz series
These two young heroines of classic kid's lit made a large impact on me that continues to this day. Lucy is the youngest of the four kids in the Narnia books. Her childlike faith and sense of wonder is what drives "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" forward. Unlike several people in the series, Lucy never gives up on Aslan, always trusting him to pull them through whatever danger they're facing. Lucy is unfailingly kind and brave, choosing to see the good in everyone, as evidenced by her friendship with Tumnus the faun.
Like Lucy, Dorothy is determined to be kind and see the good in everyone, her selfless courage often winning the day. But she also takes no backchat; Dorothy has no tolerance for bullies and will fight back if necessary. most famously by hurling water on the Witch of the West. When faced with Witches, Gnome Kings, or Lions she shows no fear; this fearlessness and love of adventure being her main attributes.
4: Samantha "Sam" Carter, from Stargate
Brains and beauty meet in Sam Carter. As one of the founding members of SG1, Sam finds herself in all sorts of dangerous situations partnered with a semi-suicidal loner, a nerd who can barely hold his gun, and an alien who barely speaks a word... at first. Sam, Daniel, Jack, and Teal'c become more than partners, they become family. Sam is a skilled soldier, as well as an expert in astrophysics, astronomy, and many other sciences, and tends to be a cool head when it comes to dealing with aliens and other surprising circumstances, often being the brains of the outfit.
3. Princess Arwen Undomiel and Princess Eowyn of Rohan from Lord of the Rings
Ah, yes, more characters feminists can't stand. More often than not accused of passivity and the ultimate crime of "giving it all for a man", Arwen and Eowyn are nevertheless heroines worthy of the title.
In the novels, Arwen is the daughter of Elrond, (her "Princess" title comes by virtue of her grandmother, Galadriel) with whom Aragorn falls in love. Elrond, unlike what is portrayed in the movies, is more than happy to hear this, but like a good father makes sure that Aragorn's intentions are right before giving his consent. And even this consent is conditional upon Aragorn claiming his birthright as King of Gondor. Then, and only then, will Aragorn and Arwen marry. Late in "Return of the King", Arwen's brothers Elendan and Elohir, arrive to help Aragorn with a present from their sister, a hand stitched war banner of the Tree of Gondor. After Aragorn and Arwen marry, Arwen gives up her rights as an elf to travel to the Undying Lands, and lives out the rest of her days as the wife of Aragorn.
Eowyn is the neice of Theoden, King of Rohan. When Theoden's son is killed by orcs, the crown of Rohan falls to Eowyn and her brother Eomer. In the novels, before the battle of Helm's Deep, Theoden asks his people who should rule in his place should he die. When they answer they only want a member of his house, he asks them who it should be, should he and Eomer both die. The answer? Eowyn, who is beloved by the people and as skilled as her brother in the arts of war. When Eowyn falls in love with Aragorn, she begs to be taken along to battle at Pelenor Fields, and when she's refused, she dresses as a man and goes along anyway. With Merry, one of the Hobbits in her saddle, she slays the Witch King of Angmar. When both of them are wounded, Aragorn makes them well again. It's in recuperating that Eowyn realizes it wasn't Aragorn she loved, only the idea of him. The man who does gain the privilege of marrying Eowyn is Faramir, the last Steward of Gondor. It is his gentle ways that win over Eowyn and help her to understand what she really wants.
2: Laterose from Martin the Warrior
Laterose had no business getting involved with Martin in the first place. Her job was to get her brother, Brome, back home to Noonvale, and nothing more. Though raised a pacifist, she could not stand idly by while dozens of her fellow creatures were being held prisoner by Badrang the Tyrant, the stoat who had imprisoned both her brother and Martin. Together, Martin and Rose rallied many creatures to the fortress Marshank to fight Badrang. It is during this conflict that Laterose is murdered defending her friend Grumm the mole.
Mr. Jacques had to field more questions about Laterose than any other character, I believe, At least that's what I observed. Many Redwall fans questioned why Laterose had to die, protesting that it was unfair. Mr. Jacques's answer? "Such is life." With these simple words, Mr. Jacques was essentially saying "Life's not fair. Sometimes good people die before their time." And taught many children this valuable lesson.
1: Princess Una from The Faerie Queen
As Spenser's epic poem "The Faerie Queene" begins, Princess Una, the beautiful princess of a country under siege by a Dragon, undertook a dangerous journey to the Faerie Queene's court in search of a knight to slay the Dragon. From among all the knights in Queene Gloriana's court, the youngest, Redcrosse (AKA George), is chosen. Redcrosse is a simple fellow, and a bit naive, willing to believe much of what people tell him. Ordinarily, this would be a good thing, but Redcrosse isn't as bright as some. More than once, Una has to drag him back on track, usually with the aide of Prince Arthur, a roving knight and prince looking to prove himself worthy of the hand of Queene Gloriana. Once Redcrosse, now called George, slays the dragon, he is able to marry Princess Una.
In the alegorical context of The Faerie Queen, Una represents truth, and the Anglican Church. Una (as Truth) is so attractive that even wild beasts serve her and satyrs worship her as queen. Beside her attributes as a personification of truth, her gentle bravery also makes her attractive to me, personally. She did what no other person in her land could: She left the safety of home and searched out help. She risked it all to save her people, and is ultimately rewarded for that bravery.
Anyone who has paid attention to Newbery Medal or Honor winning children’s books will know that most of them deal with a preteen, the preteen’s friends and family, most likely poverty and/or disease and most definitely an animal. Most of them also deal with the death or loss of one of those things, the main character, friend, family,or animal. Not this one. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin is a fantasy feast of wonder and joy, filled with sumptuous full color and monochromatic pictures like old fashioned fairy tale books.
Minli lives with her Ma and Ba in the poverty ridden Village of Fruitless Mountain. The family works hard all day, and Minli’s only outlet for her imagination is the fairy tales her father tells. One fateful day a man selling goldfish walks into town and Minli, the only person with any money buys a goldfish, and hears the tale of the goldfish man, who tells her that the Man in the Moon will grant her wish for a better life for herself and her Ma and Ba. So Minli sets out that night heading for the place where the mountain meets the moon. On her travels she meets characters from popular Chinese folk tales, and with the help of a dragon called Dragon, brings wealth and prosperity to Fruitless Mountain.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is sort of like the Wizard of Oz, in its aim and scope. Minli’s quest to reach the Man in the Moon teaches her a valuable lesson: that of contentment, by showing her that as long as she has her friends and family, she’s as rich as a queen. Though Minli is never greedy and always giving, this is a valuable lesson for her and her family. The story does have a hefty dose of magic it is of the usual fairy tale type, and those looking to use it for their own ends in greed will be punished. Minli does lie to her parents when she sets out for the Mountain, but this is never presented as a great idea, and this is commendable.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon earned the silver medal embossed on the cover by being what late elementary-early middle schoolers need to read: a good yarn! It can be read aloud to 1st grade and up and read alone by about 4th grade up, adults will also enjoy the story as it pulls you into this simple, colorful world.
Fans of the fairy tale genre will want to read this book. Parents will want to read this book. Kids will love Minli and Dragon’s trek to the impossible, while learning the important and wholly Biblical lessons of contentment and unselfish giving while having fun. Grace Lin has recaptured the wonder of the old tales as written by Anderson and Le Prince de Beaumont, a thing sorely needed in today’s children’s literature.
In Light A Way, the player adopts the persona of a young girl (you get to choose her name. I named her Celestine) who has been given a magical staff by the fey. With this staff she is to vanquish the wicked Umbras, creatures made of darkness who have imprisoned the fey and put out the sun. But a little girl can’t do it alone! Three fairies, born from the lights of Courage, Love, and Hope in the heart of our heroine arrive to help her. Along her way, the Girl gatherers allies like the Lumi Lantern and her Lumis, the Merchant Fey, and Turtie the Light Turtle on her way to the Shrine of Feys to set her world free from the curse of darkness.
This little dash and blast game is simple enough to play. Tap the monster and the lights of your fairies and Lumis weaken the beast, while your staff charges to deliver the final blow. It’s beautifully animated, charmingly designed, and has very snazzy graphics for a free to play game. However, it does have some mystical mumbo-jumbo that parents need to be aware of. Some of the staves used by the heroine bear resemblance to some Egyptian ceremonial objects, there’s some talk of gods and goddesses, Zodiac signs, temples, and of course magic is in use, including special attacks known as spells. I wouldn’t call it terribly problematic, I saw far worse in Sailor Moon, but still a little disconcerting for a game ostensibly aimed at elementary aged girls. It’s also rather addictive as you can advance rapidly the more Umbras you slay.
In all, Light A Way is a beautiful game, but not one that little ones should play alone. I would recommend parental guidance for sure and careful time limits. My final word is: Mixed. If you choose to dive in, you’re in for a treat, if you decide that this journey isn’t for you, that’s all good too.
Sailor Moon Crystal chronicles the adventures of the Sailor Guardians, Usagi (Sailor Moon/Princess Serenity), Ami (Sailor Mercury), Rei (Sailor Mars), Makoto (Sailor Jupiter), and Minako (Sailor Venus, no, I don’t know why she’s last when Venus is the second planet from the sun) in their fight to protect earth and the moon. They are joined by Mamoru (Tuxedo Mask), Usagi’s future boyfriend, and together the team faces The Dark Kingdom who want to rule over both the earth and the once inhabited moon. Are you confused yet? It gets better.
Usagi is the reincarnation of Moon Princess Serenity (not to be confused with the cargo ship of the same name) who fell in forbidden love (of course) with Prince Endymion of Earth (reincarnated as Mamoru). In a combination of classic tales “The Weaving Maid and the Herd Boy”, “Princess Kaguya” and “West Side Story” the lovers are violently parted when an evil force drives the humans to attack the people of the Moon. Endymion gives his life to protect Serenity, Serenity’s friends (now the Sailor Guardians) are all killed trying to help the two, and in despair Serenity takes her own life.
Reborn on earth many centuries later (because once wasn’t enough) Usagi is a normal, if a bit immature, 14 year old living in Tokyo when she and her new friends are given their powers and memories back. Mamoru is three years older than Usagi, and has been searching for the identity of the mysterious girl he’s seen in his dreams for many years. Which is totally normal and not creepy at all... All these various plots weave together to make a reasonably harmonious whole… though it probably makes more sense in Japanese culture.
Usagi, for all her faults (and she has a few!) is a sweet, kind, loyal girl, who loves her friends and in return, her friends love her. Sometimes I wonder why, but, loyalty is always commendable. OK, not always, but usually. Mamoru is an exceedingly loyal and noble boy, who would willingly die for his lady-love. Again, with some of Usagi’s behavior early on, I wonder why. But through her adventures, Usagi greatly matures into a much more responsible and princessly young woman.
There is a good deal of non-bloody violence, (And my, aren’t these villains gentlemen to allow the girls to transform and do their catchphrase thing before attacking?) and some minor swearing, but the greater problems with Sailor Moon are twofold: The Spirituality (which is not surprising considering the country of origin) and the main character herself. Usagi begins the series as a whiny, spoiled, crybaby brat. Like I said, she is much improved by the end of season one, but for about 10 episodes preceding the finale, Usagi sobs, screams, and faints her way through her adventures. I found myself wondering more than once, “This is your big feminist heroine?! Literally anyone on her team could do better than this! And feminists complain about Scarlet Witch being emotional!” I wanted to reach through the screen, shake her and yell “My Gosh, pull yourself together!” And the crying gets worse whenever Mamoru is involved; it seems like every time the boy is on the screen, Usagi breaks down in tears. Sheesh, someone needs some couples counseling.
There is also a little matter of Usagi and Mamoru’s age gap. In their previous lives, it seems that they met when they were older, maybe in their late teens or early twenties. Three year age gap in early adulthood? Totally fine! That’s about how far my mom and dad are, but not when Usagi is 14, that makes Mamoru 17. So then, is it normal in Japan for a girl in her last year of middle school to have a high schooler boyfriend, or what? How about for this same high schooler to render the unconscious girl aid in his apartment? Nothin’ off about that? Okay then…
The spirituality is typical of anime, a hybridization of Zen Buddhism and Shinto. Rei is the most spiritually attuned of the crew. She has some form of psychic ability and is a Shrine Maiden (basically a female acolyte in a Shinto temple). Rei’s gifts make her a valuable exorcist, and uses scrolls written with words of power in her attacks. Sailor Mercury’s battle cry, “Douse yourselves in water, and repent!” also speaks to the spiritualized aspects of the anime. It’s also stated that prayers to the power of the moon are more effective than magic against evil. So... basically blatant paganism.
All in all... No. Just no. Run as far away from anything Sailor Moon. It’s simply not worth suffering through Usagi’s flaky behavior and paganism. Instead of Sailor Moon, I recommend her sister magical girls from the “Pretty Cure” series for younger girls. For older girls in the 14 and up range, I would recommend “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”. The Pretty Cures and the girls from “Madoka” are much better role models. And almost no paganism.
I know, I know, my previous lists are "Writing Wednesday", so why the change? Well, because this one is more media commentary. I've noticed my favorite heroes and stories getting shredded for the most inane reasons by feminists, most recently from actors like Kristin Bell and Keiara Knightly. Primarily because of the way women are treated, subjects of consent and empowerment, so I understand. Don't get me wrong, consent matters, but innocent kisses and coming to the ladies' rescues don't seem that bad to me. It almost seems like feminists would prefer abusive behavior over gentleness and sweetness.
The latest victims are Princes in the Disney Princess films. Their crime? Snow White's Prince (his name's Florian) and Prince Philip kissing their unconscious sweethearts and Cinderella's Prince's crime of wanting to rescue her from her abusive step-family. Okay... yeah, I can see why this would be a problem (!) Many of these same people then praise couples like Harley Quinn and the Joker or Christian Grey and Ana from "50 Shades of Grey" for their progressive ideas. You call this progress?!
And this is Mild compared to some other incidents in the animated cartoons and comics. Harley has been thrown from windows, forced to hide her own child from the Joker, and has other, more horrible things happen to her. "Suicide Squad" shows a Joker committed to Harley's rescue, but my question is "why?" Joker always has an ace up his sleeve, does this Joker really love Harley? But the actions of one version of the Joker doesn't undo years of Joker abusing Harley.
Here's a hot tip: DON'T go for a guy who pushes you around and makes you feel bad about yourself. Go for a guy who treats you like this:
And makes you feel like this:
Don't settle for Joker when you could find a Thor, a Ten, a Howl, a Bog King, or an Aragorn. Wait until you find a man who will treat you like the lady-princess you are.
Enough of T.K.'s free advice corner, on to the list!
15: Genie and Eden, from Aladdin the Series
Introduced in the episode "Some Enchanted Genie", Eden, Genie of the Bottle is the servant of a young homeless girl named Dandi. Genie meets Eden while he's searching for his own lamp, which was stolen by Abis Mal, an inept criminal mastermind. Exuberant and bubbly Eden is the perfect match for Genie, and even little Dandi sees it and sets them up on a date. On their date, Genie sweeps Eden off her feet and makes her very happy. A carelessly spoken wish ruins their happiness for now, but Genie and Eden are immortals. They have time.
In Disney's Descendants, we're introduced to Jordan, Genie's daughter, and we can assume that she's Eden's child too. Inheriting the best traits of her parents, Eden's wit and Genie's zest for life, Jordan is one of the more enjoyable characters in the franchise. She loves planning parties and making clothes and jewelry for her friends at Auradon Prep.
14: Aladdin and Jasmine, from Disney's Aladdin
My all- time favorite Disney couple is Aladdin and Jasmine. Since I've talked about my love for Aladdin before, I won't say much. I love their dynamic most of all. Aladdin is able to offer Jasmine someone who will take care of her in many ways, and he will make a good king because he knows what it's like on the mean streets. Jasmine is good for Aladdin because she smooths off his rough edges and gives him the impetus to be a better man than he was before.
13: Tie- Tigatron and Airrazor and Silverbolt and Blackarachnia from Beast Wars Transformers
Though a very odd choice, these two couples were my first introduction to sci-fi romance.
Tigatron and Airrazor are opposites. He's a cat, she's a bird, he's tall, she's short, she's gregarious, he's a loner. As the first of the good characters to arrive on Earth with no memory of the Transformer homeworld, Tigatron and Airrazor are connected first and foremost to the planet and understand it more than their comrades. Convincing stoic Tigatron to be her friend was a tall order for Airrazor, but she succeeds admirably. Despite their differences, the two are rarely apart, together until the end.
Blackarachnia was kidnapped from the good guys while unconscious and forcibly reprogrammed. She doesn't know another way to get on besides by her wits and using her feminine wiles when she has to (Yeah... A little uncomfortable for a cartoon, LOL). When Silverbolt arrives on the scene, and acts so different from everyone else, (refusing to fight or harm a female, treating her with respect and kindness) she can't help but be attracted to him. It seems doomed since they are from two different factions; but they make it work, overcoming any and every roadblock in their path to be together.
12: Batman and Wonder Woman from Justice League
The writers of "Justice League" never meant for Batman and Wonder Woman to be a thing at all. This peck on the cheek was never meant to be an indicator of a relationship. But the fans took this thing and ran with it, and the writers said "This isn't a half bad idea! Let's do it!" It wasn't a big thing in the cartoon, but it was there. Wonder Woman is very sweet, and tries to pry Batman out of his shell, which Batman resists mightily. But he can't resist, not really. This accidental relationship has even bled into the live action universe, with hints at a "WonderBat" relationship there too.
"One: dating within the team always leads to disaster. Two: you're a princess from a society of immortal warriors; I'm a rich kid with issues... lots of issues. And three: if my enemies knew I had someone special, they wouldn't rest until they'd gotten to me, through her." (Wonder Woman smashes a gargoyle in her hand) "Next?"- Wonder Woman and Batman (Courtesy of Warner Brothers)
11: Chuck and Sarah from Chuck
Chuck Bartowski feels like a looser. He's working a dead end job in a dead end town. His college sweetheart left him for a rival and he's still living with his sister in their family home. All that changes when an old buddy sends him a message containing the Intersect, a computer program for the human brain that instantly identifies targets and what they've done. The Government knows this has happened and sends Sarah (who works with the CIA) and John (FBI) to keep an eye on him. Throughout the series, Sarah and Chuck get closer and fall in love. They fight obstacles, face death, and take on the US Government to be together, with a smile on their faces and martial arts under their belts.
10: Odd and Stormy from Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas
Odd Thomas and Stormy Llewellyn are high-school sweethearts who believe they are destined to be together. They both live and work in their hometown of Pico Mundo, California, among the town characters and ghosts of the town. Ghosts are drawn to Odd, as he is the only one who can see them and help them move on or get justice. Stormy is one of the few who knows about Odd's gift, and helps him whenever she can. They are well matched, devoted to one another, and even after tragedy strikes, Odd is true to Stormy.
9: Sophie Hatter and Howl Jenkins from Howl's Moving Castle
Sophie Hatter is the oldest daughter of the Hatter family, and because she is the eldest daughter in a family living in a place where fairy tale tropes are real, the best she can hope for is to own her father's hat shop. She considers herself very plain, so she dedicates herself to making the very best hats in the land and not worrying about an adventure that will never come for her. She's wrong, the adventure of a lifetime awaits! The Wizard Howl has long loved and searched for Sophie and throughout their adventure together, Howl makes it his mission to build Sophie up. He fights for her, calls her beautiful, and treats her like a queen. As Howl helps her, she helps Howl break down the shell of callousness and selfishness he's built up around himself, making him a better man.
8: Thor and Jane Foster from Marvel's Thor
Prince Thor of Asgard is sent to earth to learn humility after his rash actions lead to war on his homeworld. Once he arrives he meets the curious and beautiful Jane Foster, an astrophysicist investigating phenomena in the New Mexico desert. Showering Jane with all the courtesies he has been taught since birth, Thor wins her heart and with it the compassion and nobility that makes him worthy to wield his hammer once more.
In Thor: The Dark World, Thor rushes to save Jane when she becomes a living host for the Aether, a cosmic substance. He continuously risks everything to keep Jane alive and safe, his throne, his father's wrath, and his life, all for her. For Jane's part in both movies, she keeps Thor tethered firmly to the ground, her frail humanity giving Thor something to fight for and protect.
7: Tie- Nine and Rose Tyler and Eleven and Clara Oswald from Doctor Who
Rose Tyler is a normal, innocent shop-girl in London, the Ninth Doctor is a war-torn and bitter man. They meet when the Doctor rescues her from a stampeding herd of mannequins (this is Doctor Who, crazy stuff happens all the time!) and destroys the shop where she works. Intrigued by this man, Rose can't resist when he invites her to come with him on adventures. Together, they race around the cosmos, hand in hand in one predicament or another. Rose's light and warmth reaches the icy Nine and pulls him away from the brink and to the sun.
Clara is much the same, though Eleven is more sad than angry. Eleven has lost everyone he cares about by this point, when Clara floats like Mary Poppins into his life. She floats in and out, always just out of reach until the Doctor catches her and never really lets her go. His Impossible Girl makes him so happy, and she is happy to be with him.
"Do you wanna come with me? 'Cos if you do, then I should warn you — you're gonna see all sorts of things. Ghosts from the past. Aliens from the future. The day the Earth died in a ball of flame. It won't be quiet, it won't be safe, and it won't be calm. But I'll tell you what it will be: the trip of a lifetime!"- Nine (Courtesy of the BBC)
6: Barda and Scott Free from Kirby's Fourth World
Barda and Scott Free were created by comics great Jack Kirby in the late 1960s. Barda was one of villain Granny Goodness's Female Furies, while Scott was a freedom fighter on the planet Apokolips. The unlikely pair fell in love and escaped to Earth where they set up shop as show-people, showcasing Scott's escape artistry, and occasionally assisting Superman against the forces of Apokolips, but seeking only to be a normal couple on Earth. Fat chance!
Easily one of the most stable couples in the DC continuum, Scott and Barda really love each other and despite pressure within and without, they are determined to make it through. Barda's personality is actually based on Jack's wife Roz, so like Tolkien's Luthien is a love-letter to his beloved that has stood the test of time.
5: Samurai Jack and Ashi from Samurai Jack
I wasn't too pleased when I heard about Samurai Jack Season 5. When everyone boasted about the more adult aspects of the new show, I said to myself, "Why mess with a great formula?" I was pleasantly surprised.
In this miniseries, Jack has spent 50 years wandering the world without aging and is no closer to getting home. Just when he is at his lowest, seven cultists called the Daughters of Aku attack him. Jack is horrified to realize that he must now shed human blood to escape them. Most of the women fall to their deaths, only one, Ashi surviving. Jack, determined to regain his honor takes care of Ashi, despite her protests and screams. Ashi comes to realize that she's been lied to her entire life, the Samurai is good and Aku is pure evil. With this realization, Ashi turns her back on her old life and after making herself a new dress from flowers and leaves, joins Jack on his quest. Jack and Ashi become a team, then a couple, working together to "get back to the past" and end Aku once and for all.
4: Sherlock Holmes and Molly Hooper from BBC's Sherlock
In BBC's modern Sherlock, the famed detective is often assisted by pathologist Molly Hooper. A quiet, girl, Molly has a huge crush on Sherlock, but he rarely notices her in any capacity other than professionally. Of course, Sherlock fans being what they are, they can't let that stand. Sherlock and Molly have evolved into a will they-won't they situation, leaving fans guessing whether they'll become a couple. I am personally in the Sherlock-Molly camp and hope Molly's patience pays off!
3: Gawain and Lady Ragnell from the Legends of King Arthur
I couldn't leave my boy Gawain off this list! When Sir Gomer Somer Jore (Don't ask me, it's Medieval literature) sets an impossible riddle to King Arthur, Gawain sets out to solve it. The riddle is "What do women truly desire?" Of course, everyone has a different answer. Just before he has to answer, Gawain meets an ugly hag in the forest who offers the answer in exchange for a boon which she will as for when they return. The answer, "to have their own way" is the correct one, and Sir Gomer is defeated. And what does the hag want for her boon? To marry Gawain! Gawain, being who he is consents and marries her. When they're alone, the hag, Ragnell asks Gawain a question, would he rather her be beautiful in the day and ugly at night, or ugly in the day and beautiful at night? He can't bring himself to say, because it's she who would bare the brunt of people's stares, so he gives her the choice. In giving up his will, the curse on Ragnell is broken, giving her back her true beauty once and for all.
2: Tie- Aragorn and Arwen and Faramir and Eowyn from Lord of the Rings
Both Arwen and Eowyn are maligned by feminists for the ultimate crime of "giving it all for a man". Arwen of course gives up her immortality for Aragorn, and Eowyn her life as a shieldmaiden for Faramir. But this reduces these women to only one aspect of their characters and makes their noble spouses out to be the bad guys. It's more complex than that. There are people who have defended these couples far better than I ever could, so I will only say that what Arwen and Eowyn wasn't in vain. On the contrary, what they gave up was for the good of all Middle Earth.
1: Beauty and the Beast, pretty much any combination.
Image Credits: Center- Rebecca Leveille. Smaller Pictures, from upper left- Belle and Beast- Disney, Bog King and Marianne- Lucasfilm, Goliath and Elisa- Disney, Hank McCoy and Carly-Disney/Marvel, Martian Manhunter and Rose-Warner Brothers/DC, Jadzia Dax and Worf-Paramount Pictures, Kira Nerys and Odo- Paramount Pictures, Vision and Wanda Maximoff- Disney/Marvel, Beauty and Lord Argus- Megan Kearney, Vincent Wells and Catherine Chandler- CBS
By far though, my favorite couple is almost any combination of Beauty and the Beast. For whatever reason, I have always loved the image of physical power matched with physical weakness. That's not to say that my favorite Beauties are weak! No, they are often the strongest among heroines, choosing danger over safety for the sake of people they love. But I have rules that govern this story, the Beast must be a genuinely good man, never abusive or using his power for ill. The Beauty must also have a spine, and not put up with nonsense from anyone. She must be able to stand on her own two feet against what ever is thrown in her path, not just swoon prettily over random bits of furniture. The breaking of these rules is why I can't stand "Twilight" (stalking is abuse), "50 Shades of Grey" (Abuse is abuse) or "The Ancient Magus Bride" (what the heck, Japan!?). Victim-hood is not sexy, ladies. In most versions, Beauty is offered two versions of manhood, one who uses his power for ill (like Gaston in the Disney version) and one who is ugly, but virtuous. When she chooses virtue, Beauty receives her reward, a virtuous partner.
Today, dear readers I have a very special treat: An interview with an author! I recently became friends with a young lady named Kendra Ardnek who, like myself, loves fairy tale and fantasy. She and I connected through a Facebook group called "The Arista's Band of Fairy Tale Retellers", a group I joined because of our similar aims: to use our talents and love of fairy tales for God's Glory.
So, I would like to bring you a special feature on her newest novel "The Worth of a King."
Here's the story:
Princess Obsidia’s father was killed the night she was born. Since there was no male heir, the crown went to the man who killed him, by Dialcian law. This never bothered her, growing up, and when it comes time for Obsidia to choose her husband, she chooses Prince Delaney, the son of that man, with little hesitation. Only then does her life start crumbling around her.
Adrian expected to live a normal life, taking his father’s place at the print shop when his father retired. But, on his eighteenth birthday, when the princess’ engagement is announced, his world is ripped out from under him when he learns that his life was a ruse, and he is the twin brother to the princess – and expected to take back his father’s throne.
Delaney knows that his country is hovering on the brink of war – and that his father may harbor murderous intentions towards his intended bride due to her Zovordian blood. He wants nothing more than to protect Obsidia and his people, but as merely prince, he has little power against his father.
The ancient war between the Dragons and the Immortal King and Queen is nearing its climax, and the three are already caught in it.
Meet the Arista herself!
Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairytales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She's been or acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. "Finish your story, Kendra," is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that glorify God and His Word.
Find her online at: Website || Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || Amazon
Kendra was good enough to let me ask her a few questions about her new book, so here follows our interview.
1: Introduce yourself!.
Hi! I'm Kendra E. Ardnek, a dragon-fairy who is obsessed with fairy tales and other forms of literature.
2: Who influenced your writing journey?
Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, my mom, and whoever founded NaNoWriMo
3: Do you listen to music while you write? If you do, what are some favorites?
It used to be a no, but lately I have been. I have a YouTube playlist with over a thousand songs on it. I like songs with a strong beat underlying them, that helps keep me focused.
4: What are some other things you like to do?
Run around the yard in circles like a crazy person, mostly. I also play video games a bit.
5: Who are your favorite characters in this book?
Nadilynn, Laura, Amber, Granite, Obsidia, Delaney, and Adrian ... just to name a few. This book had an awesome cast that I loved writing about
6: What are your favorite Fairy Tales?
The obscure ones, especially the weirder ones. Little Good Mouse, The Golden Bird, The White Cat, Puddocky, The Evil Enchanter, and Fairer-Than-a-Fairy ... and many, many more.
7: Do you have any tips for young writers?
First of all, don't worry about your writing being terrible. You'll get better. Second, read, read, read, and write, write, write. You need to absorb a lot and create a lot before you'll find your style. Third, write fearlessly. It's said that there are only two rules when it comes to writing - but that nobody can agree as to what those rules are. Don't let anyone else hold you back.
And now, a special preview of "Worth of a King!"
“Well, it’d still be more fun,” Nadilynn pouted. “As it is – how long have we been cooped up in here already? How much longer will it be before we reach the first village?”
Delaney sighed. “We should be there soon,” he answered. “And we’ll spend the night there before we leave for the second village in the morning.”
“You didn’t have to come with us if you didn’t want to, Nadi,” Obsidia pointed out. “We’re just visiting twelve villages and collecting a girl from each one. Hardly exciting.”
“Oh, but I really had no choice in the matter,” Nadilynn countered, shaking her head. “Tradition demands that Obsidia has a proper female companion. If I hadn’t volunteered, your mother would have had to come instead, and since she is still convinced that you marrying Del is the worst idea ever, I don’t know that the three of you could have survived this whole excursion. I’m sure that you both much prefer me.”
“Ah yes, you’re quite correct,” said Delaney. “With you, we only need to survive endless meaningless chatter, not murderous glares.”
“My conversation isn’t meaningless!” Nadilynn protested. “At least I don’t spend three hours discussing the nuances of a law about chickens, or four about whether some king’s death was natural or due to poison.”
“No,” said Obsidia, dryly. “You spend five hours talking about how sashes are so in style.”
“They are so not!” Nadilynn exclaimed. Then she lowered her voice “Not thick ones, anyway. Ribbons used as sashes are acceptable, belts, especially beaded belts, are best…”
“And there we go,” Delaney groaned. “You did have to get her started.”
Obsidia just shrugged and mouthed a “sorry.”
And also a special announcement! If you want to win a paperback copy of "Worth of a King" and a bottle of peppermint oil, Kendra is running a giveaway on her blog! Head on over to Knitted By God's Plan to learn more!
If you want to learn more about Kendra and "Worth of a King", you can check out the other blogs on the tour:
Dreams and Dragons
Light and Shadows
I'm T.K. Wilson, Read my blog for great information and stories about dolls, toy restoration, Christian Fantasy and so much more! Blog updates Mondays and Fridays.