Original Air Date: 16th August 2002.
Director: Gary Hartle
As part of the ongoing celebrations for He-Man & The Masters of the Universe’s 40th Anniversary, Mattel are releasing every episode of the critically-acclaimed Mike Young Productions “200X” animated series, which ran from 2002 to 2004, on the official Mattel Action YouTube channel between now and October.
Since I’ve been a massive He-Man fan since I was only about 5 or 6 years old back in the early ‘80s, I thought it might be fun to share my thoughts on each episode as they’re released. Particularly since I’ve only ever binge watched the entire series a few times over the years, rather than watching it in its intended episodic format.
The debut episode opens in the recent past with a slightly younger Captain (not yet King) Randor leading the assembled Masters against the evil Keldor (not yet Skeletor) and his forces. One thing that’s immediately obvious from this iteration is the sheer scale of the supporting cast, both good and evil, which is something the original Filmation series was often lacking.
While nobody really gets much of a spotlight outside of the bigtime players (although stay tuned, because that is most definitely about to change), seeing such a rich background of colourful characters in the first episode really helps to underscore just how expansive this version of Eternia is. Heck, just watching the assembled might of the Evil Warriors trying to take down the Mystic Wall with their various abilities had my inner child going absolutely nuts!
This episode does a good job of establishing the style template for the action scenes moving forwards, with MYP fully embracing an anime-esque approach, with exaggerated leaping, posturing and weapon twirling aplenty. It’s worth pointing out that your individual mileage on this style may vary, and personally, I’m probably somewhere in the middle – yes, it’s definitely a cool aesthetic at times, but it often gets a little repetitive and drawn-out, particularly the aforementioned ‘twirling’.
There’s one thing that niggled me a little about this episode at the time, and it has certainly become more of a niggle in the wake of Revelation’s Netflix release. Namely just how damn unlikeable Prince Adam is here. Considering the hysterical backlash Teela’s actions in Revelation received, it’s baffling to see how Adam’s bratty, selfish and downright unheroic performance here gets completely overlooked. Of course I know it’s all character development, which I’m all for, but the disparity between the “fan” reaction to the beginning of both characters’ arcs is certainly puzziling, to say the least.
Another minor niggle is that the colours here are more than a little muddy and washed-out looking, which deprives the cartoon of a lot of its energy – in my opinion, at least. I actually thought I’d just seen a ropey version of it previously, but with this being as close to an official re-release as you’re going to get, I’m now convinced that this is sadly how it actually looks. Disappointing sure, but not exactly a deal breaker, and the animation itself is still top notch throughout.
A strong opening episode then, albeit one without any He-Man (bait and switch, amirite?), which sets out the stall for what to expect from this series moving forwards, for better or worse.
Full Masters of the Universe (2002-2004) Review Archive – CLICK HERE
[WATCH THE FULL EPISODE BELOW]