Star Vs. The Forces of Evil: Emotions Done Right

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With only a couple days left until Star vs. the Forces of Evil’s season-2 finale, the downpour of episodes we’ve been spoiled with leading to this two-part television event has come with many interesting revelations. Plot development and character growth are two significant features of the series that places it in the high-quality & must-watch television categories. Season one only began to find its footing towards its last few episodes, but season two has proven itself to be exceptionally enjoyable, to the point where any viewer uncertainty that came about in season one is long forgotten.

 

As a character, Star has gone through a large amount of change. At the beginning of the series she was simply a naive and destructive princess battling ill-equipped and incompetent monsters. Now she is a queen-to-be who is facing her emotions and battling inner demons while on the verge of losing everything. Following the events of Just Friends, which aired only a few days ago, we as the audience have been exposed to a very different Star than the character we were shown from the start.

 

What stands out about Star Vs. is how it deals with the characters’ emotions. The care in crafting their personal growth and emotional development is astonishing. And dare I say something that hasn’t been seen since Avatar: The Last Airbender- think of Aang’s emotional state in regards to anything from loosing Appa to struggling with the thought of killing Firelord Ozai (if you can think of a more recent example in an animated television series, I applaud you).

 

Just Friends isn’t an action-packed episode, but it definitely speaks plenty in an emotional sense. In this episode, Star gets herself, Marco, and to his (and the audience’s) surprise, Jackie tickets to a Love Sentence concert. In other words she willingly invites the girl that Marco is (unofficially) dating despite her semi-conscious romantic feelings for him. This tells us that despite the jealousy she felt towards Jackie in Bon Bon the Birthday Clown, Star is still in denial of how she feels towards Marco- or maybe she’s completely aware of her feelings and is just trying to convince herself that they don’t exist. Either way, inviting Jackie to the concert is her way of placing herself in a position that goes against her personal emotions.

 

So this can either be Star’s selflessness in placing Marco’s and Jackie’s feelings ahead of her own . . .

OR it can be a self-focused act of proving that she’s completely fine with the thought of Marco dating Jackie.

 

Personally, I believe in the latter statement, or possibly a mix of both. Star is in denial and doesn’t like having romantic feelings towards her best friend because she already feels it putting a strain on their friendship. But she could only hold on to her conscious denial for so long. Witnessing Jackie and Marco getting emotionally closer was difficult enough, but seeing them kiss causes Star to completely burn with jealousy.

 

The scary part isn’t just that she keeps these feelings bottled up, but that she does it with a smile.

Even Marco wasn’t able to tell that Star was hurt. And this is the person who spends the most time with her and knows her better than anyone else.

The end of this episode is exceptionally significant because Star becomes completely conscious (or drops her state of conscious denial) in that she has romantic feelings towards Marco. She can no longer act oblivious or deny the way that she sees him. But since he is currently head-over-heels for Jackie, Star is aware that she is too late- and this very thought is beginning to consume her with negative emotions. It’ll only be so long until she blows up.

As we have witnessed, through her hiccups with dark magic, the fact that Star’s emotional state is tapering poses a threat to herself and everyone around her. The manifestation of her pent-up anger, frustration, and sadness can only end in someone getting hurt (physically and/or emotionally). And with the references to Evil Queen Eclipsa and the constant comparisons between her and Star, Star’s turn to the dark side is pending. What I really want to highlight about this episode is that Star’s emotions are being unpacked so intricately.

 

Unlike many other animated series, Star didn’t start off with feelings towards Marco, instead she only begins to develop these feelings as she gets to know him. They fall into their current dynamic quickly, however, they begin to get to know each other over each episode. From having their weekly “friendship Thursdays” where they make nachos and watch telanovelas, to even discussing their dreams, Star and Marco’s friendship is genuine. It only makes sense that Star is jealous over his attention, that was once 100% hers, being transferred to someone else. Star is not being irrational over her emotions, instead the audience truly feels for her because we’ve gotten to know these characters as they have gotten to know each other. They were thrown together during the first episode, and although some actions are implied as occurring off-screen, the audience truly feels like they are part of the journey.

 

Star supports Marco’s efforts to get Jackie’s attention. If it wasn’t for her, Marco wouldn’t be dating Jackie at the moment (from Star convincing Marco to say hi the Jackie in Time Freeze to inviting Jackie to her sleepover and convincing Marco to play Truth of Punishment with them). Despite her feelings towards him, she places his happiness first. She wouldn’t intentionally sabotage them. Even in Bon Bon the Birthday Clown when Star accidentally caused Jackie and Marco to fall off the skateboard they were riding together, she felt deeply regretful.

But the best part about this love triangle, is that Jackie is presented as cool, kind-hearted, forgiving, and most importantly  a really good friend to Star. Rather than your typical love triangle that involves one person who is so obviously perfect for the protagonist along with someone who is completely wrong for them, Star Vs displays two amazing female characters that would not only both make Marco very happy and vice versa, but they are also good friends. Star, along with the audience, can’t even feel irritated at Jackie because she is such a great person- as they all are. This leaves Star with no one to blame but herself, which can only add to her inevitable emotional explosion. But more significantly, this might just be the best example of a love-triangle done right in animated television (and based on all of the titles I’ve personally watched, all of television as a whole). The characterizations of these protagonist and background characters are done with so much thought that they feel like actual people rather than surface-based caricatures.

 

Star’s feelings towards Marco aren’t forced, but a natural progression of their friendship that is intrinsic to these characters. And in this sense, Star Vs. takes a phenomenally-unique approach to the overdone love-triangle trope. And most significantly makes these animated characters and their emotions feel very real and completely relatable.

 

For a series about a magical princess from an alternate dimension, Star Vs. the Forces of Evil is refreshingly realistic.

 


I personally approached this series as a withdrawal buffer to Sym-Bionic Titan after binging its short-lived 20-episode run. By no means did I expect to completely immerse myself in Star Vs. nor did I even remotely expect it to become one of my top-five series of all times. I am ecstatic that I came across this gem and am stoked that it’ll be back for a third season this summer!

 

UPDATE (02/28/2017): Star Vs. the Forces of Evil has been renewed for a 4th season, which is currently in progress!

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