Once we were surprised to find ourselves fans of the Winx franchise. But that was long ago, before the changes of season 4. Seasons 1-3 were able to meld action and cute elements into something that had worldwide acceptance. Season 4 at first could not decide whether it would retain that broad spectrum appeal or niche down into the saccharin fantasies of 8 year old girls. Sadly they chose to focus almost exclusively on the latter.
Winx, a show about girls focused first on a female audience. But it also secondly included action and plot points appealing to males. It is amazing to us how much weaker the show is when those secondary qualities are removed. If you liked Winx for what came before, it may no longer be for you. If you have a taste for really girlie plots, garish outfits that appeal to pre-teens, and plot cliches below previous levels it may still be for you.
Some cliches you may have thought only Japanese, but the Italians have jumped into the worn out “humans are polluting the earth and must be punished” diatribe with a heavy hand. Be thrilled by lines from grubbly looking loggers like: “Thank you girls. From now on we won’t damage nature no more.” Barf. Is this Captain Planet? It was indoctrination.
How about the 2nd half of season 4 one sentence plot synopsis: The Winx girls live out pre-teen business fantasies, ignore their boyfriends, start a band, flirt with other men, fight a spaceship made of ice (really!), befriend woods-loving natives, rebuff and brainwash eeeeevil loggers, then free a group of fairies, war against them, stand around and watch Nabu sacrifice himself in a contrived manner, and finally freeze 3 black circle wizards who were trying to make the most of their bit part -oh, and Roxy finds her mother who turns out to be a queen of faeries.
“Yeah, what about those cool ‘Wizards of the Black Circle’ villains they introduced at the beginning of season 4?” Frankly, they were wasted, underplayed, de-powered and underused. They spend a good portion of the episodes skulking around sewers. How the mighty have fallen. How these guys ever managed to trap the ancient fairy order of Earth we do not know.
“How about their special new wings?” Those interchangeable wings felt forced. Like they were a selling point on a doll and shoehorned into the episodes to boost sales. Is that too cynical? We also noticed the animation quality varied from decent to awful. Even when the drawings were okay the animation did not live up. This is not a comic book.
What about their new level of powers? Yes; Winx to Charmix (remember those?) to Believix to two more in just a few episodes: The decent looking but slightly overdone nature based Sophix and the cool looking wintry Lovix. (They wanted to use “Omnitrix” but another franchise already claimed it.). The Sophix episodes were weak and more or less turned the Winx girls into hippies. Most of you do not remember hippies – and maybe that’s for the best.
On the bright side, the specialists were slightly more than an ignored afterthought during these episodes. They are trained to fight magic users. It would be nice to see them actually team up with the fairies more.
We are sad that Winx has moved away from us. We are the same people, it is the show that changed. Oh there will still be some great drawings based on this series. Some nice products; maybe the next movie will be good. But can Winx return to what made it such a phenomena?