It’s time to go back to our childhoods, the 80’s to be exact, and even more specifically: saturday morning cartoons! Just think back a little on those days where you woke up early on saturday, your parents usually still asleep. In your PJ’s you crawled out of bed, went to the television set to switch it on and selected Sky Channel. And not before long the intro music started for your favorite television show (well at least to your child’s mind it was) Fun Factory! The show itself I honestly didn’t care for much, but it’s the cartoons that mattered. So many awesome animated series were introduced there. Inspector Gadget, M.A.S.K., Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, and of course my favorite of the 80’s cartoons, Transformers. Now if you are from that era, you might have noticed there is one missing from that list of mentioned cartoons, namely He-man. So why did I omit this one? Well, there is a very simple reason for that: as a kid I really didn’t like it. I thought it was dumb, and it just didn’t appeal to my young mind at all. I wanted robots that could change into cars, planes and other cool stuff not some beefed up guy with a magic sword yelling that he had the power. And now, more than 30 years later I’m writing a post about that show. Not to hate on it, but to praise it for what it is, an amazingly well made cartoon that we simply don’t see the likes of anymore in these modern times.
He-man a short history
The cartoon for He-man has it’s origins in a toyline that was developped by toy giant Mattel. The first of the figures were released in 1982, and one of the things that was really cool about them, was the fact that they all had a mini-comic included within the package. You can learn more about those in a post that I wrote for a collected edition of those comics right here. The comics created the background for some of the characters and the mythology of the world slowly began to take shape. Soon after that, work began on the animated series that was being created by Filmation studios. In 1983 the series called He-man and the Masters of the Universe, hit the airwaves and began to make it’s way across the world. It was at that moment the first syndicated cartoon series that was based on a toy. Needless to say it became a very popular show, that eventually reached a whopping 130 episodes, and even had a companion series in the form of She-Ra, who was He-man’s sister. Eventually not surprisingly, a live action movie was made that starred Dolph Lundgren as the muscular hero. (One that is honestly a bit cheesy, but had it’s own particular charms). Now that I have talked a little bit about the background of the series, let’s dive more into the story of the show itself.
He-man and The Masters of The Universe
He-man takes place on the mythical world of Eternia. It’s a place where magical energies and all kinds of mystical creatures make a home for themselves. Prince Adam is the son of Eternia’s rulers, King Randor and Queen Marlena, and someone who doesn’t really takes his role all too seriously. Most of the time he comes late on assignments, or likes to just doze off for a while, much to the annoyment of Teela who is the captain of the Royal Guard. However all of this is a front, as Prince Adam has a very important secret. In his possession is the Sword of Power, which allows him to transform into the most powerful man in the universe: He-man. He is Eternia’s protector against one of the most vilest creatures on the planet, the evil Skeletor. This villain is always trying to conquer the secrets of the mythical Castle Grayskull, and if he ever succeeds at that, will make him all powerful and nearly unstoppable. But He-man is not alone. Together with Teela’s father Man-At-Arms, the gentle Orko, and the Sorceress who is Castle Grayskull’s guardian, he tries his best to stop Skeletor and his evil henchmen. The classic battle of good versus evil rages on, and becomes ever more difficult. But He-man never, ever gives up, a fact that Skeletor knows all too well.
It’s strange how, as time goes by, one’s perspective on things can change so much. As mentioned, even though I still watched He-man when I was younger, I really didn’t like it so much. Having recently come into the possession of the entire series on dvd that has now totally changed. He-man is a very well made cartoon, that contains iconic characters, but above all stories that have a lot of depth which is a credit to the writers of the show. One interesting fact is that one of those writers is J. Michael Straczynski, who later created one of the best science fiction series ever made: Babylon 5. So what exactly makes this animated series so much fun to watch? For one thing it’s the many colourful characters. On the side of good it’s of course He-man himself that steals the show. He is a true force of righteousness, with high moral standards and an inspiration for kids at the time. Each episode has a “moral message” at the end, that for instance warns kids to stay off drugs, and even deals with sometimes heavy themes such as suicide. I think it’s something that is very clever, but also something that shows how different this cartoon really was at the time. The evil Skeletor is probably the most recognised villain from the 80’s, an evil looking and menacing figure, that for most of the time never succeeded in his own “clever” plots.
The show while having a serious tone, also has a lot of humour in it. It never becomes too dark, and every episode usually contains some great one-liners that are tough not to laugh at. Throughout the series, He-man has to overcome many challenges. Most of these deal with the threat that his nemesis Skeletor poses, but there are also many other evil forces at work on the planet of Eternia. Recurring themes are friendship, love, and having faith in oneself. And that is one of the other things that I really love about this series. It’s a really positive show, one that is always able to lift your spirits, even when you have a bad day. It’s also a cartoon that has withstood the test of time very well. Sure, the animation might look a bit dated now, but it’s characters and message certainly aren’t and I haven’t had a single moment where I felt someone watching this today would not enjoy it. As an adult there is still a lot to like here as well, if not for the great sense of nostalgia that this show still evokes. He-man is simply put, one of the best and greatest animated adventure series ever made and is a delight to watch for people of all ages. This brings this installment of Retro Raist to an end. I’m leaving you with a look inside the awesome series guide by Dark Horse comics. Next up in Retro Raist is….no, I’m keeping that a secret for a change. Because really: “ I have the poooooooweeeerrrrrrr!!!!!!!”