Even in regards to the most drastic series reboots, Eddie Bowley’s three-step system to breaking down character design can help us understand the motivation and purpose behind these changes.
She-Ra: Princess of Power was an iconic part of many people’s childhoods and played a pivotal role in becoming who they are as adults today. In 2018, Netflix dropped a remake of the original show, vastly altering many of the character designs and dividing fans’ opinions towards the reboot. In his most recent video, Eddie Bowley discusses the creative direction for the series’ character design and why change may not be such a bad thing after all.
As Eddie mentions, when news broke of She-Ra’s shift in character design from her “curvaceous body and scant costume” to an appearance more fitting for a teenager was met with shock and, in some cases, anger from fans of the original series. She-Ra’s original design was indicative of the He-Man universe, pulling inspiration from classic goddesses; the series’ Netflix incarnation steps away from that. “She’s just a 17 or 18-year-old stepping out into the big, wide, colourful world and discovering herself, which is what the show is all about…just with magic powers and a talking horse,” explains Eddie. “There’s nothing wrong with sex appeal being part of a character’s design…it can be empowering without being exploited. It’s just not relevant here.”
Eddie’s goal in this video is clear – not to change his audience’s mind, rather, to give them insight into why these design changes may have occurred. By studying the characters from 2018’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, he has created a step by step guide to help discover the purpose behind character design and its influence on the show’s feel. The first step is to understand the character’s personality and quirks and how their different accessories or props might add to them. Eddie brings up Entrapta as an example, with her scatter-brained mentality shown in her use of a log to keep track of her thoughts. The second step in understanding character design is looking at how the animators have used shapes and colours, their connotations being just as important as props and accessories in conveying the characters’ personalities. Finally, Eddie wraps up with step three: simplify the detail and exaggerate the animation.
By encouraging us to analyse character design with intent, Eddie advocates for a deeper understanding of She-Ra herself and the weight that the show carries as a historically progressive, female-led animated series. “The 1980s series might have ultimately been a tool to sell toys, but it was one of the very few female-led action cartoons of its time and it granted many women unique opportunities to flesh out a world, story, and characters in a largely male-dominated industry,” Eddie said. “It’s this spirit of progressivism, equal opportunity, and inclusivity that is championed by the new series, managing to make something that both pays homage to the history while forging a path forward of their own design.”
Read more about Tally Kerr’s insight into how unemployment affects self-love. Alternatively, listen to dodie’s incredible two new live versions of her songs ‘She’ and ‘Monster’.