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Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 18) – Crystal Clear / The Hard Way

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While the last few episodes of Star vs the Forces of Evil have had stories that focused on Star Butterfly and Marco Diaz handling some problems of their own, episode 18 of the second season, zeroes it’s focus back on Season 2’s larger, universe-altering storyline.

But enough talk about doom and destruction, let’s dive right into our analysis of Episode 18!

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-Crystal Clear-

Late one evening, Star and Marco end up being trapped in crystals, and taken by a snake-handed creature named Rhombulus.

The over-reactive Rhombulus, brings them to Chancellor Lekmet of the Magic High Commission, on suspicion that Star, is behind the alarming draining of magic within the universe.

Just like the segments Running with Scissors and Mathmagic, Crystal Clear gives us some more insight into a few more members of the Magic High Commission (as witnessed in the segment, Page Turner).

Unfortunately, the segment’s focusing on Rhombulus and the Chancellor, proves to be one of the least-entertaining character explorations so far this season.

Rhombulus’ erratic nature, put me in mind of another crazy character we’ve seen earlier in the season: Mina Loveberry. Both of these characters seemed intriguing at first, but their stories just meander…and not like the intriguing ‘meandering’ that we get from a story with someone like Glossaryck of Terms.

The Chancellor is also a rather blase character. He’s in a high position of power, and yet Rhombulus is one of the only creatures that can understand him(?). There is a small addendum that Rhombulus is Lekmet’s caretaker, but it feels like it’s glossed over pretty quickly.

Star is the only other character, who gets the most conversation time with Rhombulus during the story. What is most interesting, is that when faced with a rather over-reactive being like Rhombulus, Star acts as a pretty calming ‘voice of reason’ (maybe this could be something she’s learned from being around Marco?).

In a way, the story feels a bit like Page Turner, in that we’re given some information that may make this story a bit more relevant in future episodes, but for now, it just feels like a lot of stuff is being thrown at us…boring stuff.

Final Grade: C+

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Best line from segment (said by Rhombulus): There’s nothing evil about Lekmet. He’s the most pure-hearted, hard-working angel/goat/demon there ever was.”

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-The Hard Way-

Now that Ludo has Glossaryck of Terms, and Star’s ancestral spellbook in his clutches, he is dead-set on learning how to properly use his wand. At first assuming he’s going to have to use force, Ludo is surprised at Glossaryck’s willingness to teach him!

It feels like it’s been awhile since we’ve seen Ludo operating within the world of Mewni, and there’s quite a number of revelations to be had here.

When it comes to Ludo, Glossaryck has no qualms about teaching him magic from the book. It feels like there’s no strings attached, as Glossaryck gives Ludo plenty of positive reinforcement to his wand usage…though, is there possibly more to what the little blue man has in mind?

This story feels a bit like Crystal Clear in how it gives us little tidbits of information, though unlike that story, there’s enough ‘open space’ in this story, that the information we are given, ends up sticking in our heads.

We even get a little more information on Ludo’s past. We’ve seen scant information about his past up til’ now (with a weird little bit in the Season 1 story, Marco Grows a Beard), but the items revealed here, makes me wonder just how old Ludo really is. When you think of how he has reacted, he acts like a spoiled child at times, who just wants to be taken seriously.

The directors manage to do a lot with such a simple story idea, and it makes The Hard Way, very easy to go back into, and watch over and over again!

Of course, like most stories this season, the final few minutes are where the writers drop a house on us…and not just any house, but a 3-story mansion of eye-popping revelations!

Final Grade: B+

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Best line from segment (said by Ludo):” Oh, I’ve got plenty of taint already.”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Glossaryck of Terms, in The Hard Way): “…You kiddin’ me?”

Both segments in this episode, feel like they are giving us some very important information going forward, though they each have their own ways of doing so.

Crystal Clear attempts to give Star (and us), some more information on the Magic High Commission, as well as what is going on in the universe, regarding the draining of magic. Unfortunately, the rather erratic nature of Rhombulus, doesn’t really make him as interesting (or endearing) as the last few High Commission members we’ve met. Star also seems to be included out of necessity here as well, but does show her ability to listen, and show compassion to those who are somewhat erratic.

The Hard Way ends up being the more interesting, and better-structured story of the two on hand. Getting to learn more about Ludo, as well as Glossaryck’s teaching ‘methods,’ ends up making the story just fly by. There are also plenty of new revelations, and one major bit of information, that definitely makes the story stand out in a big way.

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With episode 18 down, that just leaves 4 more to go for Season 2 (including two 22-minute stories at the tail-end!). Next episode, we finally get the proper return of our favorite club-cheeked taskmaster, Ms Heinous! Plus, Marco intends to prove his worth to his Sensei, against the rich and snobbish Jeremy Birnbaum. Word is these stories are both Marco-heavy in their content. Will that be the case? Come back in a few days, and we’ll see!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 17) – Mathmagic / The Bounce Lounge

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And we’re back, to review another episode of Star vs the Forces of Evil!

Well, after the one-two punch of intrigue that was episode 16, let’s dive right in, and see what episode 17 has in store for us!

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-Mathmagic-

After accidentally creating a ruckus in class during Ms Skullnick’s math lesson, Star is forced to go up to the blackboard, and solve a math problem.

However, Star has no idea what she is doing, and decides to claim ignorance…but suddenly, finds herself stuck in a time-loop that refuses to end, until she solves the math problem!

This is another one of those ‘lessons for Star’ storylines, where Marco takes a backseat, and she has to figure out just what the heck is going on. And frankly, for being a story that seems to spend most of it’s time spinning it’s wheels and going nowhere…it’s pretty fun!

If you’ve read some of my previous Star reviews, you might have seen me mention that the concept of ‘time,’ is something that pushes my buttons (thank you, Back to the Future!). After seeing some time-related elements in last episode’s segment, Running with Scissors, Mathmagic provides us with another story about how time and space work in this series, beyond the norms of our own Earth realm.

With this segment, we also get the return of a familiar face, in the form of Father Time (last scene in the segment, Freeze Day), and, more information on a newer character, named Omintraxus Prime (voiced by Carl Weathers). Omnitraxus had a small cameo in the segment titled Page Turner, and just like Hekapoo in Running with Scissors, he gets an expanded role here, that shows just what he’s capable of.

Mathmagic could have easily been a throw-away segment, but the fact that we got some more information about ‘alternate universes,’ and a little more information on Omnitraxus, may mean there’s something here, to keep in mind as we move forward.

It does feel like there’s a bit of fan-service when we see several alternate universe Star Butterfly’s (among other things), but overall, it’s a decent story about Star understanding a bit more about how the universe works.

Final Grade: B

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Best line from segment (said by Star Butterfly): “What is happening, and why do you keep wearing these terrible hats!?”

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-The Bounce Lounge-

Star gets a visit from Princess Pony Head, who tearfully informs her ‘bestie,’ that their old hangout, The Bounce Lounge, is closing!

Wanting to save their old hangout, Star and Pony Head decide to get their old crew back together, in hopes to keep the party going!

Having seen a number of cartoon series over the years, it seems a given that sooner-or-later, a series will get to a story like this one, where a group of friends band together to save a place that means a lot to them. To most who watch movies, this will probably seem closer in tone to the main theme of The Blues Brothers (minus the Police chase at the end, among other things).

The story plays a bit fast-and-loose with Star and Pony Head’s past, as well as a number of their Bounce Lounge friends. Most of the story, is mainly them trying to get the gang back together.

Where the story trips up for me, is in regards to it’s payoff at the end.

Milly Sparkles (the Bounce Lounge’s owner), is the character that is largely throwing out little bits of information here and there about the lounge, but it is in her final revelation, that may make some ask, “why didn’t you just tell us ‘that’ in the first place?”

There is the rather grown-up message about how nothing lasts forever, and in a sense, sometimes, we may need to move on. That may not be easy for younger viewers to grasp, but for the older viewers (like myself), it’s something we’ve all encountered at least once in our lives.

Milly Sparkles’ voice is provided by Constance Shulman, which may sound familiar if you watched cartoons in the 90’s. Constance was the voice of Patti Mayonnaise from the TV show, Doug (both on Nickelodeon, and ABC)and Milly marks her first animation voice-over work, in over 18 years!

Another notable cameo, is the character of Johnny Blowhole, a dolphin who was first introduced to us die-hard fans, in the current Star comic book series (available at most comic stores near you!). This does make me wonder, if the Deep Trouble comic mini-series, is canon with the show (can anyone on the show confirm this for me? Please?!).

We also get some return appearances by quite a few other characters (such as Kelly and her boyfriend Tad from Goblin Dogs), as well as a much larger cameo appearance, by the pirate bunnies we’ve seen on-and-off throughout the series (though we still don’t have names for them).

The segment reminds me of a few anime I watched in my teens, where every-once-in-awhile, we’d have a ‘random dance party’ episode. Despite the somewhat lukewarm ending, it was fun to see Marco get swept up in the excitement, as the Bounce Lounge came alive again (thanks to Brian H Kim’s ‘sick beats’).

Final Grade: B-

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Best line from segment (said by Princess Pony Head): “What!? I thought that’s what you were thinking!”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Star Butterfly, in Mathmagic): “You expect the punch line to be one thing, but what you end up with is just logic. Classic anti-humor!”

Well, episode 17 wasn’t as wholly-entertaining as the last episode, but still, not that bad overall!

Mathmagic has some mind-bending fun with time and space, while also teaching Star a lesson about trying. The information Omnitraxus Prime gives about alternate dimensions (let alone the imagery we see about them), makes it a segment I’ve come to watch several times!

The Bounce Lounge fills itself up with that youthful vigor to try and bring life back to a place that needs a helping hand, though falls a bit short in how it wraps itself up in the end. Even so, it has enough good vibes and good will to get me to bop along to it’s catchy beats!

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And now, comes another couple days hiatus, while we wait for episode 18. Just like Hekapoo and Omnitraxus Prime, another character from the segment Page Turner, will be showing up in the first segment of the next episode, and it looks like Star is going to be taking a little trip with him. Plus, the segment after will hopefully answer a question many of us have had for awhile: Now that Glossaryck is under Ludo’s control, will he end up driving the crazy little bird-creature, even crazier?  We’ll see you back here soon, to find out!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 16) – Baby / Running with Scissors

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Wow. Probably not since I decided to review the entire first season of Star vs the Forces of Evil, have I done another review so close to the previous one.

But, this is the world we live in, where new episodes are going to be popping up every few days, until we hit that magic Season 2 finale, at the end of February.

Well, enough chit-chat, let’s dive into episode 16 of Season 2!

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-Baby-

Concerned for her daughter’s magical training, Moon Butterfly sends Star’s fairy godmother named Baby, to have her evaluated.

Pretty soon, Star finds herself trying to make a good impression on Baby, while Marco is tasked with providing refreshments during the evaluation.

While I was entertained by Baby, I can see this story dividing some of the viewers, when it comes to entertainment value. My guess is some of the younger viewers might find it odd, while some of us who have been in the workplace for awhile, will get the humor in regards to Baby’s ‘interesting’ evaluation methods.

When it comes to characters, Baby is a strange amalgamation of cuteness, along with a facial expression that rarely belies what she is thinking, as she scribbles on her clipboard. Star’s father at one point calls her a ‘monster,’ but it’s hard to tell if she really is one, or if he’s just upset that she ate up his food (Baby has a bottomless appetite, that is used for comedic value in a few places).

If you’ve ever seen an episode of The Big Bang Theory, than Baby’s voice should sound familiar. Actress Melissa Rauch voices this new character with a cutesy tone, that has a slight, ‘off’ quality to it.

This is a segment that seems to shoot right for the middle. It feels like an important story, and yet, it doesn’t. There aren’t a lot of major revelations, and it feels like a smaller piece of the overall jigsaw puzzle, as we hurtle towards the end of Season 2. However, the items we’ve been told here in Baby, at least feel a bit more concrete than the revelations we were given in last episode’s segment, titled Raid the Cave.

Final Grade: B

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Best line from segment (said by Baby): “…how do you think it should work?”

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-Running with Scissors-

Not wanting to take the laser-puppies out for a walk in the rain, Marco borrows Star’s dimensional scissors, and manages to get the job done without leaving his room.

However, he soon abuses the power of the scissors, and is accosted by Hekapoo, who is the forger of all dimensional scissors.

Marco’s attempts to retrieve the scissors, soon leads him on a journey…one he could probably never have imagined undertaking.

As a character, Marco is often a fascinating study for me. While Star has magic powers to help her out, seeing an ordinary human being like Marco thrust into extraordinary situations, is greatly entertaining. Plus, as we’ve seen in other episodes, he is not one to give up when obstacles are thrust in his way.

This was one segment that I had no idea where it was going…and where it went, was somewhere that just blew my mind!

When I first saw Hekapoo in the segment Page Turner earlier this season, I simply assumed she’d be a one-shot background character. However, this segment shows that she serves a far greater purpose in the world of inter-dimensional travel. Of course, I am now curious as to why she was included in the Magic High Commission’s meeting in Page Turner (I’m guessing that the forging of dimensional scissors isn’t very profitable, and is more of a hobby for her?).

Much like how some segments made Star’s acquaintances Tom and Princess Pony Head seem less annoying, this segment really made Hekapoo a palatable character in my eyes. She definitely seems to fit into the archetype of a demon or a trickster, with the task she gives Marco. If she had a human equal, I’d say she could be an inter-dimensional version of Star and Marco’s human friend, Janna.

Another fun piece of the puzzle, is that we get more backstory on just where Princess Pony Head got those dimensional scissors she gave to Star in the segment, Party with a Pony.

This is a segment I could see spawning so many fanfictions within the Star community, both related to Hekapoo, and Marco’s journey. We’re only shown a fraction of what seems to be a truly huge story, and that in itself, with it’s myriad possibilities, makes the ‘teaser’ that is this segment, so much fun to watch!

If it seems I haven’t given away much regarding this segment, that’s for the best. To tell much more about it, is to give away so many of it’s mind-blowing scenes (I’m still trying to come to terms with some of them even now). Coupled with Brian H Kim’s music, they still give me pause to ponder (especially the final scene!).

Final Grade: B+

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Best line from segment (said by Hekapoo): “You humans are lame times a thousand. Boop!”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Star Butterfly, in Running with Scissors): “Oh no. He’s gone scissor-happy.”

…whoa…this episode is that rare one-two punch where both segments make for a wholly-entertaining 22 minutes!

Baby continues to build up the show’s Mewnian lore, as well as give some more insight into Star’s abilities, and hint at what the future could possibly hold. The overall segment is not very strong, and while many can probably guess the outcome, Baby’s low-key evaluation methods provided me with plenty of entertainment.

Running with Scissors to me, is one of the highlights of the season. A Marco-centric storyline, that shows just how far he’ll go to prove himself, even if the situation may not be totally safe. Star takes a backseat in this story, but I think like myself, you’ll be a tad more entranced by Hekapoo, and her demonic wiles.

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Now this was an episode, that makes me eager for what the next one will bring! Episode 17 of Season 2, will feature Star having to deal with mathematics (and possible repercussions?), and we are going to be making a return visit to the inter-dimensional Bounce Lounge (last scene in Season 1). See ya real soon!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 15) – Raid the Cave / Trickstar

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And, we’re back with more Star vs the Forces of Evil episodes on DisneyXD...and we got a veritable avalanche of new episodes coming our way!

Not sure what the reasoning or logic is, but it looks like we’re due to get the remainder of Season 2, in a constant roll-out over the next few weeks in February!

But we have so much time and so little to do…wait, strike that, reverse it.

Anyways, onto the the segments for episode 15 of Season 2!

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-Raid the Cave-

Following the events of the last episode titled Bon Bon the Birthday Clown, Star and Marco set out to try and retrieve her family’s spellbook, and Glossaryck of Terms.

Thanks to Buff Frog, the two infiltrate Ludo’s hidden lair on Mewni, and find a number of unexpected surprises.

This segment’s main focus is one that a number of people have been waiting for for a long time, though probably not with the kind of results we ended up getting.

Much like the Season 1 segment titled Matchmaker, Marco strongly recommends Star tell her parents about what has happened, but she seems to be under the impression that her parents will be very upset with what she’ll tell them. Star’s emotions and being secretive about some things, is one of the small highlights of the piece, and definitely makes her relatable in several areas.

We also get some more information regarding Star and her wand usage. There is also a callback to some special magic of hers we saw fleetingly in the first episode of this season, leaving us to wonder just how/why it may be triggered.

We are also introduced to a new sub-class of ‘monsters’ on Mewni. While many of us know of the more violent and warrior-type of creatures, we meet a group who dub themselves ‘alternative monsters.’ The show staff tries to have a little fun with these ‘hipster’ monsters, but most of what they try for comedy regarding their lifestyle, just didn’t push my buttons.

Personally, I feel that the ‘alternative monsters’ could have a role to play further on down the line. Plus, unlike most monsters who wish to fight Star, a few we meet here actually find her to be pretty cool.

Raid the Cave follows the continuing story regarding Ludo’s plans, but doesn’t really give us anymore revelations regarding it. I think like several other people, I’m hoping we’ll get a bit more focus on what that plan is in upcoming episodes, before we get to the big season finale.

By the way, there’s also a fun little gag referencing a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail in this episode. If you watch, see if you can spot it.

Final Grade: B-

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Best line from segment (said by Star Butterfly): “I thought your babies were sending us fanart!”

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-Trickstar-

Marco’s karate school Sensei is having a Birthday Party, and he and Star are invited! Sensei is super-excited when famed magician Preston Change-O, shows up to perform some magic tricks. However, as his conjuring continues, Star gets a sneaking suspicion that there’s more to the little man than he’s letting on.

We’ve seen Star being somewhat fascinated by ‘earth magic’ in some previous segments (like The Banagic Incident), but this is the first time that she’s seen magic performed by a magician.

Her growing suspicions about Preston, reminded me a lot of her reactions in the Season 1 segment, The Other Exchange Student. However, I will admit the tone of Trickstar, actually had enough entertainment value to get me to laugh out loud a few times.

We had been told that Weird Al Yankovic would be providing a voice for Season 2, and it turned out to be for Preston. Unlike some of his more wilder-sounding voices, Al takes a more low-key approach to this character, using a deeper tone that almost threw me off track.

Preston as a character, is also quite a ‘trickster’ in his own right. We see he can be a bit manipulative, and can play into others’ sympathies, which helps the segment play out into a quirky twist ending, that may not be for everyone.

Seeing Sensei again made me a bit apprehensive after the last time he was in a storyline, though here, he was played moreso for laughs in a way I could enjoy. We also have Jeremy Birnbaum show up for the first time since Season 1, and actually have a semi-funny cameo here. Seriously, this may be the first time many of us might feel a little…sympathy for Jeremy (I know…scary stuff!).

Final Grade: B

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Best line from segment (said by Marco Diaz): “The point of ‘earth magic’ is to, allow yourself to be entertained, by pretending that it’s real…just like love!”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Sensei, in Trickstar): “What!? I knew I didn’t feel dismembered!”

After the hiatus, and coming off a very strong episode like Bon Bon the Birthday Clown, I was glad that the return of Star vs the Forces of Evil did give us a semi-decent return.

Raid the Cave felt a little ‘flat’ in it’s storytelling and comedy, let alone some of the revelations and explorations that were made. However, it was nice to see some minor story-points come up, as well as Star taking further steps to try and be a bit more responsible going forward.

Trickstar to me, was the more entertaining of the two pieces. It’s far from a perfect segment, but I like that it had a Star-centric storyline, where we get to see how she reacts in unfamiliar situations, as well as how she is often thinking about the well-being of others. Preston Change-o and his characterization did serve as a decent foil, given that half the time, you aren’t sure whether he’s telling the truth, or lying to you.

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Well, if the Wikipedia entries are to be believed, be prepared for a full-on barrage of episode reviews over the next few weeks (we’ll see if I can stay sane watching and analyzing so much!). The next episode will feature segments where Star is visited by her fairy godmother, and Marco has some troubles of his own, revolving around a pair of dimensional scissors. See you back here soon for some analysis on the next episode!

An Animated Dissection: Thoughts on Marco Diaz and Jackie Lynn Thomas, from “Star vs the Forces of Evil”

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The month of November for the year 2016, brought a bloody mess on social media. People cursing, ripping at their hair, threatening death on any that would impugn on what in their eyes, was “perfection.”

No, it’s not our current political climate. It’s overreacting fanshippers who have taken up arms at what has currently happened on the DisneyXD series, Star vs the Forces of Evil.

In episode 14 of Season 2, titled Bon Bon the Birthday Clown, Marco Diaz finally got to go on a date with his childhood crush, Jackie Lynn Thomas. However, one who seemed a little caught off-guard by this, was Marco’s friend (and inter-dimensional Princess), Star Butterfly.

Since Season 1, Marco Diaz has made note of his crush on schoolmate Jackie, and with a few episodes this season, we’ve seen that subplot rise to the surface, and quickly become a major story point in Season 2.

With the series now on hiatus through the winter months, and with many still wailing and gnashing their teeth about this, I decided to devote an Animated Dissection to this.

*Note: This Animated Dissection is written with the knowledge that the reader either knows about the storyline to “Star vs the Forces of Evil,” or is in no way afraid of being spoiled by certain revelations. Just saying…you’ve been warned.

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Marco Diaz, and Jackie Lynn Thomas

Though appearing for a split-second in the opening credits, Jackie gained our attention in the season 1 segment titled Match Maker. Star considers trying to hook some of the students up at Echo Creek Academy, but upon seeing Marco become tongue-tied as Jackie skateboards by, she thinks she needs to help him out.

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Near the end of the segment, Star’s supposedly getting rid of their teacher, has the entire class crowding around her, including Jackie. In that moment, Star takes the opportunity to push Marco into the limelight, claiming that he deserves “all the credit.” Jackie happily exchanges a few words to a tongue-tied Marco, making it the first time she’s ever talked to him.

The next time Marco had a major encounter with Jackie, was on a party bus for Brittney Wong’s birthday party. However, it was the worst place to try and socialize with Jackie, given Marco was suffering from a severe case of carsickness. In the end, Jackie ended up somewhat impressed by Marco, as he and Star helped save the bus from being overtaken by Ludo and his monsters (even if the end result was Marco projectile-vomiting into a trash-can, alongside Ludo).

A few episodes later, in the segment titled Freeze Day, further information about Marco’s crush came to light. As Freeze Day starts, Marco tells how at 7:56am every schoolday, he’s by his locker as Jackie skateboards by. He nods at her, and she nods back. During the segment, Marco and Star go to the Plains of Time, where an apparatus shows Marco his past. It is here that we see that since grade school, Marco has been doing the same thing: just smiling-and-nodding at Jackie as she passed by him

“Wow…I’ve been nodding for a long time,” notes Marco.

Upon returning to their plane of time, Marco takes his place by his locker, and does his daily nod as Jackie goes by. However, remembering how long he’s been doing this, he suddenly blurts out: “Hey, Jackie!”

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This causes her to stop for a moment and verbally address him, before skating off. It’s a small moment, but it shows another step in Marco’s character development. After having seen how much time he had spent not talking to her over the years, he managed to break the chain.

Episode 11 of Season 1 also had Marco sending Jackie cute kitten pics, and even getting her to sit next to him on the school bus during a field trip, after a rather hair-raising alien encounter in the Dimension of Wonders and Amazement.

As Season 2 began, Jackie seemed to disappear from the show, and it made me wonder if all that work to build up Marco’s feelings about her, were going to be thrown aside.

It turned out this wasn’t the case, when Jackie showed up in the segment titled Sleepover, where she attended an overnight party at the Diaz’s, with Star and some of her girl friends. Marco ended up being roped in by Flying Princess Pony Head, who noticed him trying to impress Jackie.

This then led to Pony Head setting up a game called “Truth or Punishment,” which soon asked that age-old question: “Who do you have a crush on?”

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When it came to Marco, he finally admitted to Jackie, about his crush on her. However, Jackie took the admittance well, and after the sleepover, remarked to Marco that she’d see him in school, leaving him in a half-eyed daze.

Having admitted his crush to Jackie and her not rejecting him, Marco then attempted to ask her to hang out, in the segment titled Naysaya. However, a curse put on Marco by Star’s ex-boyfriend Tom, caused a small head to grow out of his neck, spouting off all of his most embarrassing secrets (many of them involving  Jackie!).

Realizing he was unable to control Naysaya, Marco soon found himself confessing almost all of his secrets directly to Jackie, and finally, was able to ask her out. This then led to them going to a movie with some of Jackie’s friends, and leading to Jackie clutching Marco’s arm during a scary sequence!

And then, came Bon Bon the Birthday Clown. Jackie actually ended up asking Marco to a school dance, leading to an unforgettable night.

After finding the dance to be a little boring, Jackie suggested they go out on a date instead. This led to the two hanging out in a nearby park, where Jackie admitted how she admired Marco’s willingness to not give up. This led to them skateboarding on Jackie’s board, before the unthinkable happened: Marco Diaz, received his first kiss!

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However, the moment was broken, when it seemed that Star was in trouble. Both Marco and Jackie rushed to the cemetery where Star and Janna were, and the end, the two helped Janna from being attacked by large rats, and Star from being sucked into a black hole.

When it seemed Star was okay, Marco turned his attention back to Jackie, leading to Star showing a very sad look on her face…

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Why did the writers have to do this?

That’s the question a number of fan-shippers have been wailing about for awhile now. To me, it’s all very simple: character-building!

It Would have been so easy for Daron Nefcy and the show’s writers to say: Marco’s a boy, Star is a girl…put them together now! However, the show’s writers appear to have some ‘stronger’ ideas on how they intend to build the series.

This second season has seen plenty of changes to the format of episodes. We’ve had whole segments that have nothing to do with Star or Marco, and some that have taken the time to slow down, rather than be off-the-wall with craziness, like we saw in Season 1.

There also is one item in the series so far, that seems to be far from the minds of some of the most die-hard fanshippers: Star Butterfly and Marco Diaz, largely see each other as ‘just friends.’

In the segment Mr Candle Cares, Star even tells the school guidance counselor when he asks about Marco, that she just considers him a ‘roommate,’ and a ‘friend.’

Even when it comes to Marco thinking about Star, it seems he still sees her as a friend as well. Though Star was originally going to go with him to the dance in the Bon Bon episode, it was just ‘as friends,’ as Marco didn’t want to go by himself.

Some may find that rather strange, but trust me: I’ve been to several dances where the ‘just as friends’ card was played.

Some even threw a hissy fit when in the segment titled Naysaya, Marco mentioned how he “never held hands with a girl,” leading to numerous pictures showing Marco holding Star’s hand on quite a few occasions. I actually believe this is Marco considering holding hands in a more ‘romantic’ way, not as in the manner of casual friends.

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This all seems…very familiar to me…

In going over the Marco and Jackie bits from the show, I was reminded of some relationship developments in the show Freaks and Geeks, and the Harry Potter series.

jarco6In the show Freaks and Geeks, the character of Sam Weir (John Francis Daley), developed a crush on classmate, Cindy Sanders (Natasha Melnick).

Cindy was a cheerleader and seemed like a really nice girl, though originally, she only saw Sam as a friend. After she broke up with her boyfriend Todd, she dated Sam, only for him to find out she wasn’t as perfect as he thought she was. Eventually, it got to be too much for Sam, and he decided to break up with her.

I often feel that this story resolution came about, after it seemed apparent that Freaks and Geeks was going to be cancelled after its first season. The writers may have worried about not getting Sam hooked up with Cindy, and then dropped these character revelations to take care of Sam’s high school crushing permanently.

Maybe if Freaks had been able to get the go-ahead for another season, they would have continued with Sam still crushing on Cindy. Instead, they allowed that subplot to surface, and then fizzle in the span of two episodes.

jarco7In the case of Harry Potter, I found Marco’s infatuation with Jackie, a bit like Harry’s with fellow student, Cho Chang.

Harry developed a crush on Cho in his 4th year at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She was on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team, and Harry first attempted to ask her to the Yule Ball, only to find she was already going with Cedric Diggory.

After Diggory’s death, Cho had a hard time getting over it, and Harry attempted to comfort her. This led to his first kiss with her, as well as a short period of dating, before it seemed that Cho felt that Harry might have feelings for Hermione Granger. Eventually, they broke up.

Of the two relationships I described, I couldn’t help but feel that Marco and Jackie’s so far, reminded me very much of Harry Potter and Cho Chang. This is mainly due to the amount of negativity from the fanbase.

At the time I was really into the Potter books and series, I found very few who seemed at all to like Cho, or even give props to actress Katie Leung for portraying her on-screen. I found it to be rather ridiculous, because it seemed that the reason most hated Cho, was simply because Harry liked her. Of course, they had no problems shipping Harry with Hermione Granger, or Ginny Weasley (whom he eventually ended up with), but Cho was just the ultimate’ship-wrecker’ to most.

I get that same vibe from people who are just incensed with Jackie Lynn Thomas. In truth, Jackie isn’t a bad person. She’s been relatively nice, somewhat laid-back, and, we’ve seen how she’s willing to accept Marco for being a bit of a dork.

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Star reveals something she doesn’t realize

The writers actually inserted something rather interesting into the segment Sleepover, that not many picked up on (most notably, Star!).

When the “Truth or Punishment” game attempts to ‘punish’ them, Star claims that sometimes, things are not always black-and-white.

Some of the earlier things that the group claimed as ‘truth’ earlier, had changed given the predicament they were now in.

“You think of everything as black-and-white,” she tells the game, “but you can’t! It’s a bunch of different colors. A rainbow of feelings that’s always changing.”

Of course, the kicker came at the end, when the game (in an unheard moment) revealed that it wasn’t actually Oskar Greason whom Star has a crush on, but Marco!

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So, what happens next?

That seems to be on the minds of many.

My prediction right now, is that when we come back to the series (which as of this blog post, starts back up in a week!), Marco and Jackie are going to take the next step, and officially become a couple…which might not sit well with Star (or a number of fanshippers).

Personally, I could see this becoming a further study of her emotions. We’ve already had several examples of how they can affect the spells she casts, and that could be a real problem for her going forward.

It is also possible she could use the All-Seeing Eye spell she used in the Bon Bon episode, to ‘spy’ on Marco and Jackie more. Maybe her jealousy could also cause some future dates of theirs to go bad, and Marco soon finds out, and is upset that his best friend would do something like that.

This could lead to a very dramatic row between the two. The writers could really up the emotion, if Star and Marco get into a very serious kind of shouting match, where maybe Star just decides to go back to Mewni, distraught over what has happened. She’s already lost her wand’s spellbook and mentor figure Glossaryck, which may also affect her spell-casting on another emotional level.

I will admit that as much as I love where the show has taken Marco and Jackie, I can’t totally say that it is the ’emotional endgame’ many are calling now. Most are wailing and throwing tantrums online like overly-emotional teenagers (I also speak from experience), but as some of the more cool-headed have noted, there’s been no indication that what we are witnessing, is ‘concrete.’ Heck. so much of the series relies on things not totally being set in stone.

Some have even called out that Marco and Star are ‘joined for eternity,’ given the dance they shared in the Blood Moon Ball segment in season 1 (and that segment was even called back to in the Bon Bon episode). But, it might not be so simple.

In the Naysaya segment, when the miniature head sprouts out of Marco’s neck, Janna pulls out one of her occult books, and reads about the history of the demon curse. According to the texts, “it reveals itself, when the afflicted attempts to woo their true love.”

So, it might not be as simple as black-and-white, night-and-day. On one hand, we got the words of the demons and monsters at the Blood Moon Ball, and on the other hand, the Naysaya appeared when Marco attempted to ask out Jackie.

For me, I’m planning to take the ticket, and ride this ride out, as far as it can go. My one hope, is that the show doesn’t do what some Soap Operas do, and turn a perfectly nice character, into a two-timing, lying, backstabbing little-oops, got off on a tangent there.

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Comic Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil – Deep Trouble (Issue #4)

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Wow! It seems like just the other day I purchased issue #3, and now a few weeks later, we get issue #4 of the Star vs the Forces of Evil comic series!? Maybe this release is due to the delay getting the second issue out?

Needless to say, torrential rain couldn’t keep me from picking up the latest issue at my local comic store, as we near the half-way mark of the 8-part comic mini-series, under the main story title of Deep Trouble.

Now, let’s dive into our review of issue #4’s story, Cat’s Pajamas.

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Following the run-around that Glossaryck of Terms took us on last issue, Star Butterfly and Marco Diaz visit Flying Princess Pony Head in her jail cell, and explain that they need her phone/compact. As suggested by Glossaryck, it may contain clues as to why Pony Head has been imprisoned in The Waterfolk Domain.

Pony Head tells the two that she last saw it in The Dimension of Cats with Human Faces. Star sets off with Marco in tow, and ends up bringing along his two school friends, Alfonso and Ferguson (along with a few, cute surprises!).

Pretty soon, the group is knee-deep in cats (which isn’t good for Marco, who has a severe cat allergy!).

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Wow…now this was a very entertaining story!

starcomic4-1After issue #1, I was a little let down at the structure of issues 2 and 3. Fortunately, it seems this issue returns us to the main task at hand, in trying to find out who framed Pony Head.

Plus, the writing and pacing of this issue is fast and entertaining, making me happy to go back and read it several times over!

This issue is more like an undercover mission, so there isn’t a whole lot of funny scenarios with Star and Marco, though their characters seem right on the money (even if Marco is largely not enjoying the events of the story). Much like Marco’s negativity towards wet socks in one segment of the TV series, I can totally get behind his exasperation with cat allergies here.

Much like issue #2, we visit a domain that was mentioned in the TV series, but not fully-explored. In the season 1 segment titled Freeze Day, we got the vaguest of hints at what (horrors) lay in The Dimension of Cats with Human Faces. However, the one cat we saw on the show, may have been an exception, as most of the ones depicted here, seem pretty normal in their appearance (well, as normal as a cat with a human face can look).starcomic4-2

According to illustrator Devin Taylor on his Twitter feed, almost all the cats we see in this other dimension, are caricatures of some of the crew that work on the television series! Unfortunately, I’m not good with faces, so I’ll leave it up to the more Twitter-obsessed Star fans to figure that stuff out.

One fun cameo I do want to point out, is the brief appearance of the Ruler of Purrkistan, Cashew (as seen on the right).

This is a fun joke/reference, as Cashew’s human face is a caricature of the series’ creator, Daron Nefcy. Plus, the name Cashew, derives from Nefcy’s own pet cat, AND a pet cat that appeared in her early comics of Star Butterfly, before she developed the DisneyXD series!

As Season 2 of the show has gone on, many of the fans who watched Season 1, have been perplexed at the absence of Marco’s two friends, who went on a few inter-dimensional adventures with our two leads, way-back-when (they also make a fun reference to one of them!).

starcomic4-3Ferguson and Alfonso don’t play a big role, but they do lend a hand here or there, as the story goes on. In a sense, the madcap romp through this dimension (with them along for the ride), almost reminded me of the Season 1 segment, Pixtopia. In this case however, Cat’s Pajamas is much ‘tighter’ with the story it’s telling, and it feels for all intents and purposes, like a TV segment treatment, re-purposed for the comic series. Plus, there’s a pretty entertaining deus ex machina, despite my usual dislike of such things.

Overall, I can’t find much wrong with Cat’s Pajamas. It doesn’t hit you hard with the comedy, but the story is one of the most solid so far, and, there is the fun factor of hidden easter eggs, as well as references to things you’ve seen, if you’re an avid fan of the TV series.

Also surprising, is that it doesn’t feel like there’s a wasted frame or word balloon in the piece. Out of all the wacky adventures chronicled so far in the comic series, this is one that I highly recommend picking up!

Final Rating for Issue #4: A

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Though cover art for issue #4 has been out already, there has been no information released regarding issue’s 5-8. So far, the only word about comics-related future releases, is an ad in the back of issue #4, telling of a comics collection coming next month. My guess is this will collect the first four issues.

Plus, at the end of this issue, there’s a small glimpse of a familiar food truck from Season 2, selling a rare and very tasty inter-dimensional treat. Looks like we may be seeing the return of a questionable little goblin in the near future.

Hope to be back soon, to see where this story will take us next time!

Comic Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil – Deep Trouble (Issue #3)

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Well, that was…pretty quick.

After the delayed release of issue #2 of Star vs the Forces of Evil‘s comic mini-series, I thought we’d be well into 2017 before we saw the next issue.

Instead, we got it as an early Christmas present! Pity I didn’t find it while on Christmas Vacation in California (even strutted to the comic store listening to Brian H Kim’s song, Marco’s Good Time Theme!).

But, my local comic shop that got the first two issues has kept up being the area’s go-to distributor on this series, and I picked the latest issue up a few days ago!

And now, it’s time for some of my thoughts and opinions on the third issue’s storyline, Glossy Knows Best.

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After their recent jaunt to the past, Star Butterfly and Marco Diaz return to Marco’s house, with Star still intent on trying to find a way to clear Flying Princess Ponyhead’s name in The Waterfolk Domain.

Summoning her wand instruction book’s mentor Glossaryck of Terms, she asks for his help, and soon, Star and Marco find themselves transported into a somewhat familiar (but slightly-more-unsettling) suburban household.

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With Glossy Knows Best, we come to that oh-so-special style of storytelling that we’ve seen in certain segments of the television show: the kind where we’re thrust into a world where most of the time, we are swept up in a tidal wave of weirdness, trying to understand just what is going on.

starcomic3-3The title of the story is a parody of the old TV sitcom, Father Knows Best. However, most will probably see parallels to several films idealizing those past family sitcoms (such as Pleasantville, or The Truman Show).

Of our main ‘dynamic duo,’ it is Star who gets the most ‘screen-time,’ trying to keep it together, in the face of all the Glossaryck-induced weirdness.

Sadly, much like issue #2, Marco doesn’t really get much to do here. While his role is a tad larger than the last issue, it seems he gets in a small number of funny moments, while the rest of the time, he just seems super-annoyed by what is happening.

By the way, if you thought Glossaryck was a bit off-putting as a hairy-legged little blue man, the world he pulls Star and Marco into, may make you recoil in terror regarding the additional characters he creates.

Going over the story, I found that I surprisingly enjoyed it’s pacing. However, I did expect a tad more attention-to-detail, when it came to the word balloons of some characters. Several times, I found myself mentally re-writing a lot of the dialogue, to sound like something that Eden Sher or Adam McArthur would say.

starcomic3-2And of course, like in the TV series, there are a few little dabs of ‘questionable humor’ that may make some readers squirm in their seat.

Not to say there aren’t some fun visuals in several places. There’s also some tie-ins to what we’ve seen or experienced on the show (such as Glossaryck calling Marco “Margo” at one time, like he did in the segment, Star on Wheels). Plus, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it caricature of a certain actor whose done some voice-work for the show.

Throughout the story, one gag the artist reuses, is an ‘angry close-up.’  I guess it’s meant to be humorous, but it only worked a few times for me. We’ve seen the ‘angry close-up’ used well in several places (like in the TV show segments School Spirit, and Hungry Larry), but the less-is-more approach to them on television, just seems more satisfying.

There also seems to be a severe lack of comic sound effects in some moments. A few scenes had me expecting a ‘slam’ or a ‘vhip’ regarding some movements, but such things are largely just depicted by a tiny amount of speed lines. It almost feels like the kind of motion scenes I would expect to see in a storyboard session, where you’d have the storyboard artists draw the scene, and then verbally explain what’s happening, along with the sounds that would be made.

starcomic3-1Glossy Knows Best isn’t without it’s faults, but strange as it may sound, it feels a tad more solid in it’s overall story structure, than last issue’s Ol’ Moon River storyline. Yes, I hate to say that about a storyline involving some background on Star Butterfly’s parents, but this story just seems to have a better flow to it, even though like most Glossaryck-based appearances, it’s an awful lot of ‘nothing’ to get to the ‘something’ at the end.

Of course, given how deep we dive into the world of Glossaryck, it’s going to largely be up to the reader if they are willing to ride the ride, or just scream to be let off.

Me? I’m weird enough to ride the ride.

Final Rating for Issue #3: B

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starcomic3-4Well, I think we’ve had our fill of Glossaryck for now. So that means, 3 issues down, and 5 more to go!

Coming up in issue #4’s story, word is that Star and Marco will be visiting the dimension of cats with human faces (which was touched upon briefly in the segment Freeze Day, in Season 1). Plus, we’ll get the return of two familiar faces we haven’t seen yet in Season 2 of the show: Marco’s friends Ferguson, and Alfonso!

Will they be there to lend a hand, or somehow cause more chaos to reign? See you back here (hopefully soon), when we review the next issue!