Episode Review: Star vs The Forces of Evil (Season 1, Episode 4 ) – Cheer Up, Star/Quest Buy
4 episodes in, and I can’t believe I’ve become hooked on DisneyXD’s new series, Star vs The Forces of Evil. The adventures of Princess Star Butterfly and earthling Marco Diaz, has already captivated me with its hand-drawn animation, emotionally engaging characters, and storylines that are just weird enough without being too ridiculous. In fact, it’s worked so well, that I’m intending to review every single episode for the rest of Season 1. Personally, I can’t recall the last time an animated series has claimed me as a fan almost from the very beginning.
Episode 4 brings us two segments, entitled Cheer Up, Star, and Quest Buy. So let’s jump right in to gauge my thoughts on these segments.
The episode starts with Star and Marco already being attacked by Ludo and his monster army. However, Star is perplexed as to just how/why Ludo is attacking them. Marco then explains the events that led to their current predicament: a twisted, sticky, heartbreaking tale that involved ‘the worst day ever,’ fish, musicians with records, and…”Space Unicorns.”
I will give the writers credit for throwing us halfway into the story, and then back-tracking to the beginning. Marco’s ‘worst day ever’ is pretty by-the-book, but Star’s fascination with a young musician named Oskar is rather cute, as she hopes he’ll call her (though on Marco’s cellphone). Composer Brian H Kim ups the ‘feels’ with a wonderful little music-box piece as Star waits by her phone. I was always enthralled by little emotional moments like these in other cartoons, and this one here definitely helped sway my feelings for the episode.
As well, there’s some fun little comedic moments, where we see both Marco and Star trying to cheer each other up regarding their sad moods during the segment. I’m not the easiest person to make laugh, but I actually found these comedy moments amusing, and a few of them are still stuck in my head. That’s what sold me on the story: the little things the characters do. I’m sure the storyboard artists were a major help in realizing a lot of what made this episode entertaining.
Speaking of little things, Eden Sher really adds an extra dimension with what she does with Star’s voice. From her trembling sigh thinking about Oskar, to her annoyance at being interrupted during a phone call.
Much like the episode School Spirit, this one plays around with Star’s foreign naivete, with her misunderstanding that Oskar has “a record.” There’s also a fun little callback to the 2nd episode’s segment titled Match Maker, in that we briefly see Star’s “F-” test paper as she waits for Oskar to call.
Marco’s parents are nowhere to be found in the episode, but a fun little game for repeat viewers, is to examine all the odds and ends in their backyard shed. There’s quite a few art supplies in there…including an animation disc! Someone on Twitter even wondered: were Marco’s parents former animators?
A fun item that may stick in most peoples heads, is the ringtone on Marco’s phone: the song Space Unicorn, by Parry Gripp. Much like Everything is Awesome is to The LEGO Movie, I could see Space Unicorn really becoming associated with the show very soon, given its catchy and fun-sounding nature.
Final Segment Grade: B+
When Star loses the charger to her magic wand, she and Marco make a dimensional jump to the maze-like Quest Buy, a labyrinthine store that has everything…even a run-in with Ludo and his gang on a shopping excursion.
The concept of a magic wand needing power (albeit, magical power), is a rather fun gag to go on, though they do try to add a ticking clock mechanism to the plot, claiming the wand will forever cease to function without a charge. I guess we can just assume Star’s parents and ancestors were just more careful with keeping the wand powered up?
This is also the first episode since Party with a Pony, where we’ve found ourselves in another dimension. I must admit, I LOVE the concept of Quest Buy, which is like a neverending CostCo/Best Buy/Fry’s Electronics/etc with very little information on where to find anything…which is how most of those stores are in real life! The dilemma of finding the right charger for Star’s wand, reminded me of this past December, when my Dad and I found ourselves looking over dozens of HDMI cables, unsure which would be the right one for his TV and Blu-Ray player.
It’s also fun to see Ludo and his minions also attempting to just be ordinary, everyday creatures doing daily things. We get a few little jokes here-and-there in Quest Buy as well, notably regarding the nonchalant “sloths” working the floor that provide little assistance (“that’s not my department”).
There’s also a little subplot about messiness vs orderliness, though luckily it doesn’t get too front-and-center. It’s definitely one of several items that pop up but don’t overstay their welcome.
The episode is also one of the first where Star’s magic wand is unable to get her and Marco out of a tight spot, leaving the two to work together with their strengths and mental powers.
Though it is entertaining, the episode does feel a tad rushed in places. Star and Marco encounter a Sphinx and even booby-traps, but one can’t help but feel that the concept of being lost in a maze-like store might have been better suited for a full 22-minute episode. After all, for a place called Quest Buy, one can only imagine the kinds of madness its customers encounter. Then again, whose to say we might not find ourselves back in this dimension for another crazy purchase in the future?
Final Segment Grade: B
In conclusion, Episode 4’s segments were a pretty entertaining duo. On one hand, we got to see some emotion between Star and Marco with Cheer Up, Star. And on the other end, we visited another of the myriad dimensions this series has to offer, with Quest Buy.
*Coming up in Episode 5, Star Butterfly brings the Diaz family to her home world of Mewni, and ends up attending a Birthday Party for Echo Creek Academy’s head-cheerleader, Brittney Wong. What wonders/craziness will unfold? We’ll find out soon enough.*