This week on Forgotten Childhood I had intended to do one of my all-time favourite cartoons, The Animaniacs, upon hearing the tremendous news that it had been made available on Netflix. However, it’s not on Irish Netflix and we here at the Arcade do not condone IP switching. In fact, we’ve never even heard of it, don’t be silly! So, while I wait for legal means to view that and give it the almighty praise it deserves, here’s another blast from after-schools past, The Winx Club.
The Winx Club is a show about 5 magical fairies studying magic at the Alfea Academy. It focuses on Bloom, a girl from Earth who didn’t know she had powers. Joined by her friends Stella the Sun Fairy, Musa the musical fairy, Flora the flower fairy and Techna the digital fairy, Bloom will discover her mysterious origins and learn to control the mythical dragon fire.
So clearly, the creators of this show have an aversion to the same old 4 elements laid down in previous magical girl shows, but the idea of digital and musical powers is actually a pretty cool new spin… that is until one of them says they’re going to “kick some booty”. This show has apparently had multiple English dubs, all of them bordering on silly at times, but the one I remember as a kid was the one by 4Kids which aired on Nickelodeon. You remember 4Kids, right? The company held responsible for ruining some of your favourite anime? Yeah, that one! Their dub is actually the better one in this case, as the original RAI dub found on Netflix had me cringing a little bit. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and the memories I have of sitting in front of the telly watching Winx (and wishing I had magic powers… don’t judge, you all did it!) left Techna’s high-pitched British incarnation as the only one for me. What’s more, something I noticed back when I was a kid and something I still appreciate now is that one of the supporting characters is played by none other than Dan Green, otherwise known as Yugi-Frigging-Mutou!
Looking back at The Winx Club I have to say it’s still somewhat enjoyable. Yes, it’s silly and a tad bit predictable, but among shows about normal earth girls finding out they have magic, a trope which every young girl aspires to, it’s not the worst! However, it should be noted that when I say “It’s still enjoyable” I refer solely to the first season. I haven’t kept up with the latest iterations of the show but from what I can gather they’ve added a new fairy, the magic of Charmix, several nightmare fuel CGI renderings, the magic of Enchantix, and a whole heap of lengthy power up sequences.
I swear, if there’s one thing 4Kids shows loved doing, whether it was Winx or Yu-Gi-Oh! or Cardcaptors, it’s power up sequences! Half the show is costume changes between normal people and their super badass selves! I didn’t get time for this article to watch every single consecutive season of Winx, but I did get to watch a 30 minute video outlining every single transformation and honestly it’s somewhat disturbing. The girls seemed to go through a phase where changing clothes was much too tame, and like Miley Cyrus they had to outgrow their childish audience by being nude. Seriously, if you skip to about the halfway point of this video (or watch the whole thing if you’ve the inclination, we won’t judge!) you’ll see the sequences where the girls used to just poof into their outfits with some fancy effects and close-ups of their hands got replaced by either shiny nudes seemingly growing their clothes, or just simple magic effects covering over butt close ups. Honestly, I know there’s fanfic for everything out there, but the idea that the creators at one stage or another thought about drawing their characters naked is a little too real for me.
All in all, I liked revisiting The Winx Club. It’s weird how much of it I remembered given that it was never in my top 5 cartoons as a kid. However, I do think the depravity of the internet has ruined me a bit. I doubt little 10-year-old me, who dreamed of becoming a magical fairy and kicking the butt of evil would have drawn a link between half-naked fairies and the possibility of a creator getting much too attached to his creations. Give it a go if you’re missing a piece in your magical girl binge.