Winx Club returns with season four after a CGI movie and a couple years off. This take covers the 13 episodes that led to the mid-season finale and subsequent hiatus. Now, synopsis in a sentence:
The Winx Club fairies travel to non-magical Earth in order to find its last fairy before her powers are stolen by the wizards of the black circle who have become powerful by that means and along the way the girls will display a bevy of new outfits -and some selfish behavior, start a cutesy business, battle the black circle and use their new powers to mind control people on Earth.
Okay, we threw some editorial spin into that synopsis. We admit it. Winx Club is regarded well in the Fortress, as a result we expect it to live up to its potential. After the initial kick off the season quickly devolved into what is least good about young female shows. Faults they had for the most part avoided in previous seasons. They would not regain their footing until episode 8.
Season one focused on Bloom gaining her fairy powers. Two on all of them gaining their quickly forgotten Charmix powers. Three was Enchantix. Continuing the tradition the new power up was Believix. It makes use of three wing types -a plot device so far underutilized.
The past power-ups were major plot vehicles needing to be individually and dramatically earned. Season four introduced Believix anti-climatically all at once with only the barest justification -even in Winx logic. Why give up such a valuable plot tool? The “learning about our powers from a book” replacement plot device was weak in comparison.
On the plus side season 4′s art direction was some of Winx’s best. While you may not be able to differentiate a Speedix wing from a Zoomix, the Believix outfits were good looking (with the exception of Musa -sorry, pantaloons are out).
The art direction also shone in their civilian outfits and especially in the design of Ogron and his black circle wizards. They made solid and overpowering enemies. So when they started resorting to subtle (and lame) half-hour TV plot tricks in order to beat the Winx girls instead of just taking them head on we shook our heads.
We liked the fact that Ogron and his goons had distinct, interesting powers. The Winx girls do too. However until the later episodes they were just flinging colored balls of light and beams. You can call a colored ball of light “fury of the dragon”, morphix, statix or anything-ix -it is still a colored ball of light! Later they finally started to manifest powers along their specialties.
The boyfriends/specialists continued to get short shrift and only occasionally showed that they are warriors trained to fight magic types.
Additionally, they were sent on the thankless mission to watch the girl’s backs and were treated rudely and without compassion by their flirty alleged girlfriends -especially Stella.
The animation was computer smoothed in episode 1, after that the overall quality lowered, was unclear and garish. Yet some of the still drawings in freeze frame are quite pretty. Some producer must have really stuck it to the staff to get improvement on characterization, story and animation fronts around episode 8.
The fairies’ “dust” powers were a little creepy. They actually seemed to alter the minds of people against their will, though that is not how they spun it. Especially the pawn shop owner.
The producers wisely chose Earth as an interesting new setting, and seemed to have overcome early stumbles. Season 4 could now live up to past potential.