Welcome readers, to my first ever liveblog. This is Sterok, and I plan to liveblog the Winx Club series from start to finish. Or attempt to at least. This is one of my favorite series, and I figured I might as well share it with you people.
Now what is Winx Club? It's a Magical Girl series about a girl named Bloom, the friends she makes, and the magic she discovers. It's actually a fairly atypical magical girl series, but more on that later. Despite what it may look like at first, it isn't an anime. Winx is an Italian cartoon series that started in 2004 directed by Ignio Straffi. While it's not an adaptation of anything, it does draw from other series like Sailor Moon. There's also some similarities to Harry Potter, but that's not important.
Before I begin, there is one thing I must clear up. Winx has been either blessed or cursed with not one, not two, but three different English dubs, all with their own up and downs. The first is the 4Kids dub, which apparently features decent voices, but also changes the characters and plot from the original Italian script. The second is the RAI Cinelmune dub, which has weak voices and some inconsistencies in the translation, but is overall faithful to the original Italian. The third is the Nickelodeon dub, which condenses the early seasons, but has good voices and is mostly faithful to the original Italian.
I will be following the RAI dub, due to it's better accuracy in the translation and because I watched that version first. Well, that and 4Kids only dubbed the first three seasons. At minimum the first two seasons will be with the RAI dub, and the next two seasons will probably also be RAI, but we'll see when we get there. Nick made condensed specials for the first two seasons, so I can't use that until season 3 at the earliest. Now, I may refer to the other dubs occasionally for whatever differences they may have, but the RAI version is what I'm following.
Lastly, this is obviously not a blind watch. I have seen the whole series before, so I will be referring to future events and spoilers as I go on. If you really care about spoilers, then it's probably best not to read this. But then why would you be reading a liveblog anyway if you cared about spoilers?
And with that, let's begin the first episode "An Unexpected Event". Kind of a bland title really, though it is accurate. 4Kids calls it "It Feels Like Magic", which I admit is probably a better episode name. Oh well.
Not much to say about the opening. We see the five main characters, then we are shown some scenes from the show and see the boyfriends and the main villains. The song is decent, but nothing spectacular. Ironically, while this is the first theme some Winx has, it's not the one I associate most with Winx Club.
Our story begins on Earth. Specifically, the city of Gardenia. Bloom's room is then shown, having drawings of the city and fairies. She also has her pet rabbit sleeping in her room with her. Bloom's mom, Vanessa, tries to get her up, but Bloom wants to sleep in. Lazy girl. Vanessa gets her up by telling her she's late for school, which gets her right up. I see what this does. It establishes that Bloom is a very studious student that is concerned about her education and doesn't want to miss school. That or she's a truant and is only one skipped day from being expelled.
Just kidding. She's on vacation. Probably summer vacation, but it's never specified. Bloom is annoyed and tries to go back to bed. She's tired because she was reading a book about fairies. Vanessa thinks the stories are just silly, but Bloom doesn't think so. Vanessa wants Bloom to help her in the shop, to Bloom's dismay.
Cut to the kitchen, where Bloom is complaining to her dad, Mike, that she wants to go somewhere fun with her friends. Yeah, like she has friends at all. Seriously, I don't think we ever meet an Earth friend of hers until season 4. Anyway, Mike insists hat she's still her baby girl, and that she can do what she wants when she's older. Bloom points out that she's already 16 and everyone else is allowed to go places on their own instead of the beach every year. Her parents say that they have a present for that will help her get around Gardenia. Now what could this be? A car? A motorcycle? A helicopter?
It's a bike. Not sure what she was expecting, unless she has a license, which I doubt she has. She obviously wanted something better and pouts, but she takes off on it anyway with her rabbit, Kiko. Mike thinks she likes it, but Vanessa realizes that Bloom wanted something better, like a scooter.
Bloom angsts about how her dad won't ever let her ride anything faster. She comes across another girl named Mitzi, who mocks her for not doing anything special during vacation. Mitzi obviously has rich parents, since she has a nice scooter/motorcycle. The show calls it a scooter, but it looks to me more like a motorcycle. Either it's a translation issue, or I'm just an idiot. Bloom and Kiko obviously don't like her, and they leave.
She arrives at a park, and Kiko runs off. Kiko then immediately runs back screaming. Like a rabbit obviously, since he is a totally normal rabbit of course. Who can run on two legs apparently. Kiko brings her to some woods, where she sees the person who will change her life forever.
A blonde girl with wings and armed with a scepter is fighting some tiny red ghoul things. She smacks them around and blasts them with magic, burning them with what appears to be light or sun magic. Commanding them is a large yellow ogre wearing some large trousers. The ogre catches one of them in his fist and crushes it into nothing. Nice effect to make him look scary. The girl tells the ogre to get away, lest he face the wrath of the sun and moon fairy. Sun and moon, keep that in mind.
The ogre just charges her and knocks her down. He tells the ghouls to pin her down, which they do. He grabs the scepter and mocks the fairy for not being so tough. Bloom, who has just been watching from the side surprised until now, yells at him to let her go. Bloom quickly realizes that she can't actually do anything. So we've seen that she likes to complain a lot and that she's a complete moron who does things without thinking. Props I guess for trying to take him on anyway.
The ghouls attack her, and she turns away, but then conjures up a magical barrier that repels the ghouls. Bloom is naturally completely confused as to what she just did. Kiko, having just been cowering earlier, tries to act like he was awesome before a ghoul tries to attack him. Bloom smacks it away with a stick. Well the girl certainly has guts. The ghoul even explodes. Which mostly means the thing sucks, but hey, Bloom has gotten her first kills now. She's already moving up in the world.
The ogre grabs her and threatens to smash her. Bloom promptly then uh, explodes I guess. A large magical surge comes out from her, blasting the ogre away. An image of an eastern style dragon also briefly appears. The fairy compliments Bloom as being powerful. The fairy takes back her scepter and goes to help Bloom, with the sun shining on her. Bloom probably sees her as a brave and shining fairy right now, which she probably is.
The fairy blasts the ogre away and destroys more of the ghouls, with Kiko trying to imitate her. One of the ghouls manages to tear off a piece of Bloom's pants before the ogre teleports away. The fairy is relived that that he's gone, but she then collapses. Her clothes change from a fairy form to more royal looking clothes. Her wings also disappear. Bloom decides to get her home.
The ogre, named Knut, reports to three mysterious shadowy figures, who are female going by their voices. They are angry that he failed to get the scepter, but Knut tries to explain that an Earth girl got in his way. When his mistresses ask what she's like, they realize he doesn't have his glasses on, which means he didn't get a good look at Bloom. They are clearly annoyed at having a near-sighted ogre. Which is weird actually. Poor guy must have gotten abused a lot in ogre school.
Knut tells them not to worry, since he has a piece of Bloom's clothing that a hunting troll can use to track her. The troll appears... which is blue and has a thong. Magic creatures are either weird or lame so far. The troll gets her scent, and Knut is ordered to return to Gardenia to find the girl.
It's night in Gardenia, and Bloom's parents don't understand what happened. Wait, how did Bloom get her home anyway? Did she just carry her on her back while biking home? I'd like to imagine someone asked why she was carrying an unconscious girl and for Bloom to answer that she was drunk. Bloom is terrible at explaining things, and Mike doesn't believe Bloom. He wants to call the police and get the girl to a hospital.
The girl wakes up and thanks Bloom for her help. She introduces herself as Stella. When Vanessa wants to call her parents, Stella says that might be difficult, since she comes from a far away kingdom called Solaria. She is a fairy and was trying to get to Alfea castle in the realm of Magix. Mike is fed up and tries to call the police, but Stella uses magic to turn the phone into vegetables. Mike gives off a humorous "duh" sound then.
Now we have met Stella. What can we tell about her already? Well, she's easily annoyed and doesn't care if she has to destroy your property in order to prove her point. Better fix that phone later Stella. Also, we're introduced to two of the planets in the series, even if it isn't immediately obvious that both are individual planets. Magix and Solaria will only be the first of many. Finally, we see a bit of casual magic from Stella, which indicates that she doesn't need to be in fairy form to use magic, which Bloom already demonstrated. She also doesn't even need to say any words to use magic.
Stella says that she was forced to land here when she was attacked by the monsters. Now I do have to wonder, did she run to Earth to escape the monsters, or was she attacked after she got to Earth. In the first scenario, I'm not sure why she would run to Earth of all places, but then again why she would go to Earth anyway in the second. Shopping perhaps? Anyway, Stella explains that Bloom saved her life with magic. She says that Bloom is a fairy, which gets Bloom excited. Stella asks if she's registered for the new program in Alfea, the best school for young fairies. Mike is just confused.
Knut teleports to Gardenia with the troll and some ghouls. The troll starts to lead the way.
Bloom takes Stella to her room, who is impressed by Bloom's drawings. Bloom is still confused about everything. Stella says that where she's from magic powers are a part of life and perfectly normal. She explains that strong feelings like fear can summon up dormant powers. The magic was always in Bloom; she just didn't realize it. Stella says that with the right concentration she can do anything.
Stella combines some pencils into one large pencil and tells Bloom to try and give them back their original shape. Since she's never used magic before, she can't levitate it or even bring out a spark of magic. Stella says that Bloom should come with her to Alfea to learn about being a fairy while fixing the pencils. Good to see that she doesn't forget everything. She says that Magix, the realm that Alfea is in, is beyond time and space and anything is possible in it. She's exaggerating based on what we see in the show, but she's just hyping Bloom up anyway. She offers to show Bloom Magix and summons a giant postcard.
The troll is tracking Bloom, but when Bloom crosses over into Magix, he loses her scent. Also, Knut and the troll are walking in the middle of the street with no cover. How does no one see them? Mike doesn't want to believe all the magic stuff, but Vanessa thinks it's real and doesn't want to deny Bloom's true nature.
Bloom and Stella arrive at Alfea. Stella is still pushing Bloom to go to Alfea, but Bloom is worried about leaving her life in Gardenia. Unfortunately, she only has one day to decide because Stella has to leave the next day. The two jump back to Earth.
The troll gets Bloom's scent back and identifies her house. Knut decides they will go through the back door and take the family by surprise. Because a 10 foot troll really needs stealth on magic-less Earth.
Kiko hears them trying to break in and fails to get his warning out to Mike and Vanessa. He tries to barge up the door. Since Kiko is casually moving chairs, I guess we can say this rabbit has super-strength. Or cartoon physics, whichever you prefer. The troll breaks in and starts thrashing the house. Mike and Vanessa are naturally terrified of Knut and the troll, but Stella and Bloom come down to confront them. And then...
Stella calls out Solaria and transforms into her fairy form. Here we get the first of many transformation sequences in the series. It's simple, with light covering her body to become her sparkly clothes while her hair turns into pigtails. The music is slightly specialized for Stella, with special lyrics over the normal transformation music playing. Of course, this is the first time we're hearing this, so it's not recognizable unless you listen carefully. Her ring on her hand is also revealed to turn into her scepter.
Stella kicks the troll, and Knut is annoyed that it is getting hit by a cutesy blonde. Since Bloom and Stella are outnumbered, Bloom offers to take care of the ghouls. She does this by running away from them. I'd laugh, but they do follow her. No matter whatever else she is, Bloom is brave. Once outside in the open where everyone should be able to see them theoretically, Bloom is at a loss as what to do to the ghouls. Stella blasts Knut outside, who conveniently crushes the ghouls. Stella is knocked through the window outside.
Stella reassures Bloom, saying she's called the Specialists. Bloom is obviously confused. We get a scene of Mitzi watching TV and being annoyed by all the racket. The troll prepares to smash the two fairies, but then a whip thing wraps around and halts it. Four guys armed with weapons and wearing capes have arrived. A guy with glasses and a laser/ray gun. A blonde guy with a blue sword and shield. A purple-haired dude with what I think is a rapier and the whip thing. A brown-headed guy who's just leaning on a big green broadsword.
Purple dude isn't worried and is acting all smug, thinking it will be easy. Broadsword guy warns him to not be so cocky since it's only heir first mission, and purple indeed gets thrown and lands next to the girls. The troll tries to hammer on blonde guy, who defends with his shield. He tells broadsword guy, who is called Bran..., I mean Sky. Sky uses his sword to create a large gap in the ground, halting the troll's attack.
Glasses geek shoots the troll into the gap. Purple dude gets up and obviously doesn't like girls. He destroys a few ghouls before getting punched by Knut, who is then blasted by Bloom and Stella from behind. Bloom realizes that she really can use magic. The Specialists advance on Knut, who teleports away.
Stella introduces Bloom to the Specialists. Smug purple dude is Riven. Broadsword dude as mentioned before is Bran, I mean Prince Sky. Glasses geek is Timmy. Blonde guy is Sky, I mean Brandon, Prince Sky's squire. They put a collar on the troll and say goodbye to the fairies before teleporting out.
The next day Mike is cleaning up the house. Stella offers to fix it with magic, but Mike turns down the offer. Bloom is prepared to go to Alfea with Stella. Mike is very worried and is still reluctant to let Bloom go. However, Mike and Vanessa want to come with Bloom and see the Magic Dimension for themselves. Stella says it's technically not allowed, but the rules are meant to be broken so who cares.
She activates her scepter and teleports everyone, including Kiko to Magix. Mike is astounded that it really exists. Stella says they need to get to Alfea soon. Classes are about to begin. And so ends the first episode.
Well, a lot happened didn't it. While there isn't any major hook or anything that really stands out, it manages to be a decent first episode. We meet the Bloom and Stella and get to know them a little bit. Bloom wants to do more with her life. She doesn't want to be constrained by her parents. She's very brave, and maybe a little brash. Stella comes across as a little vain, but also very nice and sweet towards Bloom. She really does want to help Bloom become a fairy.
One unusual thing for a magical girl series is that the main character's parents learn about the magic almost immediately, which is uncommon in the genre. Mike is overly protective of Bloom and really dotes on her. He's also reluctant to accept magic. Vanessa wants Bloom to live up to her true potential and explore the magic. They do take the revelation of magic surprisingly well, but considering season 4, that might actually make sense. I'll get into that later.
Kiko is shown as a brave and loyal rabbit. As pets go he's pretty cool. Unlike most magical girl main lead pets, Kiko doesn't have anything obviously special about him.
Knut is shown as a little pathetic and subservient to his mistresses. Their goal is unknown, but whatever it is seems to be heinous.
The Specialists get a little characterization as well. Brandon, the blonde one, seems to be focused on the job. Sky, the broadsword guy, is apparently a prince, yet he is on frontline heroic duty. He's also aware of their limits, given his comment to Riven. Riven is smug and eager to prove himself and apparently doesn't like girls. Timmy is similar to Brandon, as he's also concentrating on the job. Interestingly, you can't easily tell who will be dating who from this episode alone. More importantly, their weapons, Timmy's gun especially, hints at Magix having advanced technology in addition to magic.
The animation isn't that great and looks off occasionally, but overall it seems okay and workable. Bloom's voice is pretty bland. Stella's voice is actually pretty good though. Her voice actress is probably one of the best in the RAI dub.
Well, tune in later for more Winx Club.