Italian producer/writer/creator Iginio Straffi put together a unique television show with international appeal. Two key reasons for this success were timeless themes and classic story elements.
With all the darkness threatening our world these days, it was great to see people overcoming evil and their own weaknesses to triumph. Other themes like finding one’s true self and real friendship are hallmarks of not only Winx Club, but many of today’s most popular shows.
Another reason for its wild success was its consistent art direction and visual flair. Winx Club did not try to be less edgy anime, nor Disney fare. Instead it took its own path with stylized fashions, character designs, vehicles and environments. Undoubtedly Winx Club’s first targeted audience is young girls. To that end the focus is primarily on the lead female characters. However Winx Club can also be appreciated by anyone who likes a show with a ton of heart.
The story is about a young girl who comes of age to learn she has magic powers and (after a time) is a princess. Her biological parents are believed dead, but her search for them will form the longest arc. She goes off into another realm to learn about her powers and heritage and makes 4 friends who will be her allies throughout the series. Classic elements seen in many old stories and modern fiction.
This first season sets the stage and builds the foundation for seasons 2, 3 and the first movie. It sets in motion a welcome arc weaved throughout many of the episodes. As a result you always felt like you were going someplace beyond a single episode’s goal as the lead character Bloom learned more about and grew in her powers.
Like many a superhero show, when it came time to fight the baddies the girls transformed into their magical outfits. These were pretty and dare I say a little racy, but hey, it’s Italian. They can get away with it.
Three main schools exist for the teaching of youngsters in this dimension. Alfea is where the girl leads go (fairies) and is for “lawful good” magical girls if you will pardon the D&D alignment. The not-so-good magical girls (witches) go to Cloud Tower. They are anything from lawful evil to chaotic good. The mostly non-magical guys go to Red Fountain where they use special weapons and vehicles training to be “heroes”.
The three main villains for season 1 are (later) expelled witches with bad attitudes. They went all the way chaotic evil. The English dubbing for these three and all the characters really is a bit over the top, but it worked. The drama was sometimes quite serious. More so than would be in a similarly targeted recent American release. Likely the differing Italian standards. There were historical deaths, real danger, and permanent disfigurement (life as a pumpkin) to deal with. The seriousness added to the drama for sure.
Each fairy fought with unique powers.
- Bloom – dragon flame
- Flora – plants
- Tecna – technology (no surprise)
- Stella – sun power
- Musa - music
The multi-episode finale of the first season got pretty intense with an all out army sized battle at Alfea and a desperate showdown between Bloom and the head witch baddie Icy. You see the final blow only from a great distance as a huge emission of dragon flame. A fitting dramatic device that makes you imagine the final hit.
Winx Cub is a feel good gem with clearly defined good guys and bad guys that should appeal to young girls. You might also like it if you like pretty designs, stories about friendship and overcoming adversity themes.
Special Thanks to Zhanneel for the extra caps.