And here we are: the fourth episode, the final part to Season 3’s Battle for Mewni storyline.
Given the title and imagery you’ve seen so far, it’s a good bet that a certain lizard-creature, is going to come into play in this story. So, let’s get on with it!
On her own, Star manages to infiltrate her family’s castle, but reveals to Ludo what he doesn’t know…that Toffee, whom he thought was long-gone, is inside his ‘wand-hand,’ and is controlling him!
Needless to say, this doesn’t sit well with Ludo, and he wants this problem taken care of. Star believes she may have a solution…but it soon leads to revelations and much more, than she and her friends could possibly have conceived of!
Watching the whole Battle for Mewni storyline, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like, if these four episodes had finished off Season 2 (instead of the cliffhanger we received). With this episode, it truly feels like a rollercoaster ride of a 22-minute story…and this is just the fourth episode of the new season!
Going over this story, I couldn’t help but feel that while it had some little ‘filler’ bits here and there, it’s one of the few stories that seems to quickly put aside nonsense, and throws us into the fray. This is one of those episodes where a number of revelations are revealed to us…and it feels like a lot of things that we have been wondering about for awhile, have finally been given some attention!
Since he disappeared at the end of the first season, many of us in the Star fandom have had numerous theories regarding Toffee and his ‘end-game.’ We’ve seen he can be an enigmatic puppet master, but it feels that with this episode, he has (so far) cemented himself as one of the series’ top baddies (sorry, Ludo).
Michael C Hall returns with his calm, enigmatic voice, that just gives Toffee that air of menace that makes him so scarily enjoyable to watch! Most notable is one scene, where he gives the equivalent of ‘three mic drops,’ in under 2 minutes!
Though Toffee figures into the story, it’s main character is Star, as she braves a number of dangers, and gets in over-her-head, in ways that I’m sure had many fans gasping at the events that unfolded before us!
Star last mentioned that she is not one to come up with plans, and we somewhat see that work both for, and against her in this story. She makes choices one would almost consider foolish, AND does things that show maturity, showing how far we’ve come from that first image, of a girl who conjured up a flaming rainbow in the first episode.
Aside from Toffee and Star, the rest of the cast are there largely as supporting players.
Ludo has a smaller role in this piece, but will probably get one of the episode’s most memorable moments.
Marco Diaz, Queen Moon, and Buff Frog show up for this episode as well, but seem to largely be here for ‘moral support.’ Even so, they play their parts well, with Moon getting probably one of the more emotional moments of the episode.
It was nice to also see how the previous episode Puddle Defender, brought Moon and Buff Frog together as allies, and makes me hope we’ll get more of this going forward.
This was the first episode I can recall, that while there are mysteries still unfolding, it felt complete (and emotional) enough, to jump to the top of the list of my favorite 22-minute episodes for the series (so far). I remember watching Gravity Falls, and being surprised that Disney was allowing some shocking-yet-amazing storytelling and graphics. It appears that taking of chances, has also been allowed with this series as well.
While there are some moments that seem to slow down for a comedic joke or three, there is more drama and emotion that overrides them, to deliver one of the best episodes the series has to offer!
Final Grade: A
Toffee proves to still contain secrets and questions within the world of Star vs the Forces of Evil, but it brings forth enough drama, emotion, and revelations, that it ends up becoming one of the best episodes the series has produced!
Even with some minor comedy moments that seem like ‘speed bumps’ in the overall story, there’s plenty of great stuff going on, to make one forget most of it’s underwhelming moments.
And with that, The Battle for Mewni is now over…but what other adventures await Star Butterfly, Marco Diaz, and their family and friends in the next episodes of this season? Questions still abound related to some items in the series. Plus…(former) Queen Eclipsa, is still alive!
Sadly, we’ll have to wait until November to find out! Yep, another hiatus, and then we’ll see what happens next. My guess is, given the new opening and closing segments that show more dimensions, let alone Star being back in the Kingdom of Mewni, this season may take place over Star and Marco’s “summer vacation” time.
“Star, it’s called summer,” Marco told Star in the Season 2 episode, Starcrushed. “And it’s gonna be great.”
It may sound great, but we’ll have to wait a few more months to see just what the rest of this season has to offer.
Until then, expect a few little Animated Dissection posts regarding the series (and the possibility that I may be reviewing the new Ducktales series!).
Halfway through Star vs the Forces of Evil’s Battle for Mewni storyline, things are looking rather bleak for the Mewmans in their dimension. Not only is the magic power that Star Butterfly and her Mother use failing them, but Ludo has taken control of the Kingdom of Mewni!
The third episode of Season 3, shifts us into more adventures for our main characters, revolving around unlikely alliances, both for Mewmans, and Monsters.
After circumstances force them out of their hiding place, Star takes her Mom to Buff Frog’s place. However, while Star seems to be right at home with the monster, Queen Moon seems a bit uncomfortable with their surroundings.
One of the more intriguing character developments to come out of Season 2, was regarding the monster Yvgeny Bulgolyubov, aka Buff Frog. Upon being given some tadpoles by Ludo, Buff Frog gave up (most of) his evil ways, and strove to become a caring and devoted father to his children.
Getting to see Star and Buff catching up like old friends was a treat, and the way the writers threw Queen Moon into the mix, proved to be quite entertaining. It’s also notable in showing how Star differs in thinking from her Mother. Whereas Moon is more confident with a plan in place, Star is more willing to improvise on the fly.
Much like the segment Mewnipendence Day did for Star’s character, it feels like this story works as a ‘growing’ experience for Moon. Some stories like to throw a character out of familiar surroundings to see how they’ll act, which is often a great way to learn more about who they are.
We’ve seen Moon interact with ‘monster royalty’ (such as with Ludo’s parents), but it seems a given that she’s avoided the more ‘common monsters,’ scattered throughout the kingdom. Of course, as we saw in Moon the Undaunted, she may have decided to avoid most monsters altogether, given how they affected her life.
A notable part of the story, is Moon trying to play a boardgame with Buff Frog. The scene is a highlight for me, given it ends up being humorous, but also gets rather serious when we learn a bit more about Mewman/Monster relationships, and each culture’s perceptions of the other on Mewni.
This was an overall entertaining story, and getting to see Star, Moon, Buff Frog and his children interacting together, proved to be a highlight! There was a decent balance of comedy and storytelling, that has made this one of my favorite segments so far this season!
Final Grade: A-
– King Ludo –
Now that he has taken over the Kingdom of Mewni, Ludo attempts to get it’s inhabitants to like him, but finds resistance from everyone. Meanwhile, Marco and King River are locked in the dungeon, with Marco attempting to get them out, and restore River to the throne.
Most of the entertainment value of the story, stems from Marco meeting up with three members of the royal court: the songstrel Ruberiot (whom we know from last season), court jester Foolduke, and a Mime.
I didn’t expect to find myself entertained by them, but their banter and Marco trying to wrangle them together, proved to be very memorable (notably the rather quiet visual reactions of the Mime!).
Even Ludo manages to have some funny moments. His personality can waver between funny and annoying, and here, many of the beats for his childish thoughts on being the Kingdom’s ruler, proved to keep me smiling throughout. I did have to wonder how many of his lines, were improvised by his voice-actor, Alan Tudyk.
Compared to the last Ludo-based segment we saw (episode 2’s Book Be Gone), this one feels a bit more entertaining when it comes to the comedy regarding Ludo. While there was a bit more ‘rinse-and-repeat’ regarding him being abused by the book in the last story, this one lets us see just how unfit he is to rule.
Of all the main characters, it is King River who is mostly sidelined in this story. He has a few more serious moments here than in the Marco and the King storyline, though I felt they could have pulled back on some of his incompetency, in the face of what is going on.
Even with my minor gripes, this story proved to be a surprise, and I’ve found myself watching it a number of times since it came out!
Final Grade: B
So far this season, this episode has offered a very entertaining 1-2 punch of stories, making it a pretty enjoyable viewing experience.
Puddle Defender helped shed a little more light on Mewni’s ‘monster relations,’ showing how Star Butterfly and her Mother interact with Buff Frog and his children. Almost like a nice breath of comedic air to calm us down, it also proves well-written and insightful, in giving some character development to Moon, and challenging her perceptions of monsters.
King Ludo feels a little like Puddle Defender in it’s storytelling, but doesn’t delve into the dramatics regarding character development. This story is largely Marco’s, as we see him interacting with a few members of Mewni’s royal court, attempting to save King River. The inane bantering of Ruberiot and Foolduke may wear thin on some, but there is a method to the madness (and some fun, silent comedy moments with the Mime in their group). King River gets a small chance to shine, but it feels like once again, he serves as little more than comic relief.
Next episode, the Battle for Mewni comes to an end, with the eerily named, Toffee. Star has headed off to her Kingdom to confront Ludo and Toffee, and circumstances are pushing Marco to step up his game. How did I feel about where this epic 4-parter went? Come back soon to find out!
With the first episode of Season 3 introducing us to a dangerous (and uncertain) new Mewni, along with Queen Moon’s past, I was eager to know what stories lay ahead in the second episode of the Battle for Mewni storyline.
This time, Star and her Mom take a backseat, as we focus on Ludo, Glossaryck of Terms, King River, and…Marco Diaz!?
Following events at the end of Season 2, we have Ludo waking up, wondering what destroyed his lair, and why his wand is suddenly a part of his right hand! We also find that Glossaryck of Terms and the wand’s Magic Instruction Book, are still with him.
After being informed by Glossaryck that he took down the Magic High Commission, Ludo eagerly wants to write about this in the book (nevermind that he doesn’t know just how he defeated the commission!), but finds that the tome is somewhat uncooperative, and…it might not ‘belong’ to him anymore…
In this story, Glossaryck is his usual, enigmatic self, though like some other appearances of his, there may be a ‘method’ to his ‘madness.’ Also notable, is that one theory I had regarding how he operates, may have been partially confirmed (regarding his place in space and time).
Much of the story’s focus is on Ludo, and like Wile E Coyote trying to catch the Roadrunner, the humor from the segment comes from Ludo trying to get the book to cooperate with his demands. There is the typical humor of using Ludo’s incompetence and childish nature for comedy, but also within the story, is a chance to show us once again that he can be vulnerable, and naive.
The structure of Book reminded me of a few other episodes, where the story tends to be off-the-wall for the majority of the run-time, but in the last few minutes, they suddenly shift from comedy-to-drama. They tried to use this with the segment titled Starstruck last season, but it failed to redeem that story. A better version of this method, was used in a segment titled Collateral Damage, though it’s ending wasn’t quite as ‘heavy’ as what we have here.
With By the Book, that dramatic turn near the end actually worked, as we’ve seen that Ludo has wrestled with his emotions, and sometimes, his snap-decisions and desperation to be taken seriously, can lead to bitter regret.
Rewatching some of the Season 2 episodes recently, I was surprised to see the story had even included some continuity with Bird and Spider, from the end of last season! Those little ‘easter eggs’ are always fun to find.
Final Grade: B
With Queen Moon gone from the Kingdom of Mewni, King River tries to keep morale up with constant partying. However, when Marco arrives from Earth hoping to find Star at the castle, River may have to face some harsh realities.
I found this segment surprising, especially in seeing how Marco was sad about Star going away in the first episode of season 3, but finding out here, that he still retained his pair of dimensional scissors from last season (I thought maybe Star had them with her)! Given how he can easily travel to Mewni, that show of emotional depression seems rather out-of-place now (to me, at least).
King River Johansen is our main focus here, much the way Moon the Undaunted focused on the Queen. However, while Moon’s story was intriguing, King River’s modern-day tale just doesn’t feel as wholly entertaining.
Personally, I was hoping we’d get a little more introspection into River’s background, much like what we had with Queen Moon. We have seen in the past that River can seem competent, but it feels like the further we’ve gone on into the series, the more he’s been used largely for comic relief. It’s starting to make me wonder just why Moon married him in the first place (maybe she didn’t marry him for love, but because he was a loyal and caring friend?).
For this story, Marco serves as a ‘cheerleader’ for the troubled King, oftentimes trying to put things into perspective. We’ve seen Star can take after her Father when it comes to uncontrolled recklessness, and much like Marco oftentimes talking sense to her, he does the same to River here. Of course, it isn’t so hard to see Marco doing this, given that his own parents seem a bit ‘childish’ at times as well.
We do get some more information about the lower-levels of the kingdom, and some of it’s denizens. At times, the low morale and ‘everyone in a state chaotic quandary,’ reminded me of when Echo Creek Academy went haywire in the Collateral Damage storyline last season.
Overall, it feels like the show’s crew tried to give us a little humor before the story ends on a cliffhanger, but I still feel like they missed a golden opportunity to explore more regarding River.
Final Grade: B-
Compared to the first episode’s segments , the second episode’s feel a bit less exciting. There is information to be gleaned here, but it’s buried within stories that feel like a small gag, stretched thin.
Book be Gone brings us back into the story of Ludo and Glossaryck, and seems to act as a form of ‘comic relief’ from the rather heavy storytelling of the last episode. While there is humor derived from Ludo trying to make the book obey him, it’s final moments get rather dramatic, in ways that I don’t think anyone expected.
Marco and the King brings Marco back to Mewni, as we see him observe the King in action. The story has it’s moments, but it feels like King River has sadly begun devolving moreso into ‘royal comic relief’ for the show, making me wish the storyline could have given us more information about his past.
Whew! Well, we’re halfway through The Battle for Mewni.
Next time, we’ll review Puddle Defender, where Star and her Mom seek help for their predicament, from an unlikely source. Plus, in King Ludo, we’ll see Mewni Castle under new management, and Marco trying to find a way to help King River, with some very unlikely Mewmans. See you back here in a few days!
Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 3, Episode 1) – Return to Mewni/Moon the Undaunted
Wow…has it really been almost 5 months already!?
When last we left our inter-dimensional cohorts in Star vs the Forces of Evil, Toffee had officially returned, and was in possession of Ludo’s body. The Magic High Commission of Mewni had been taken out, and Queen Moon found herself facing off against one of the most powerful foes she had ever encountered!
Things were also in a precarious place for her daughter, Star Butterfly, who was forced to leave Earth, but not before confessing to her friend Marco Diaz, that she had a crush on him.
There was so much left open (even some threads from the first season!), that we pondered just what the world of the show would look like, when it returned to us. However, I don’t think any of us could have fathomed the Battle for Mewni event that was announced on the DisneyXD channel.
This event combined the first four episodes of the season into a ‘movie,’ that was released on July 15th, 2017. While I originally considered reviewing the episodes as if they were a movie, I felt it best to focus on each of them by episode, just as I’ve done with in previous reviews.
And so, let’s see what the first episode of Star vs the Forces of Evil’s third season, had to offer.
After the events at the end of last season, Queen Moon is faced with several daunting tasks. These include reviving several members of the Magic High Commission and keeping her daughter Star safe. However, Star feels that they need to confront Toffee, and feels that her Mother is purposefully avoiding her duties.
Ever since seeing Star have some personal moments with her Mom in the Season 2 segment Game of Flags, I had been hoping for some more mother/daughter interaction, and that’s what we get here.
We see a bit of a personality clash between the two, notably in how Moon is struggling to do (what she thinks is) the right thing, and Star not quite seeming to fathom how dangerous things have become (possible shades of her Father).
There’s also a small scene with Marco and his parents, showing how they’re handling Star’s absence on Earth. It’s a nice little moment, before we are fully plunged into the more serious (and dangerous) world of Mewni.
While the story is integral to the Battle for Mewni storyline taking place, it felt a bit uneven, as we see Mother and Daughter struggle with their different viewpoints. We see Star falling back on wanting to use her wand multiple times, even though her Mom cautions her that the magic coursing through it is ‘tainted.’
A saving grace of the segment, comes near the end, when Moon begins to give more information regarding her past, causing Star to take pause. We’ve seen that some times she can respect her Mom, and there comes a rather touching moment between the two, as Star soon realizes some shocking information regarding her Mother, and Grandmother.
The segment is a nice lead-in to the following one, in that much like in her past, Moon is struggling with how to do the right thing…which I think almost any adult with a child can attest to.
Final Grade: B
“I did a lot of things you won’t be doing” – Moon Butterfly (Season 2, Episode 8)
This line always stuck out in my mind when I heard Moon say it, and it almost feels like it foreshadows this story, which is what (I assume) Moon tells Star, continuing the storyline from the previous segment.
After her mother is killed by a rogue monster general known as “The Lizard,” Princess Moon is thrust into the role of Mewni’s new Queen. However, as she grapples with the responsibilities and having to make grown-up decisions, she decides to try and seek help from an unlikely source: former Mewnian Queen, Eclipsa.
Like many, I’ve been somewhat fascinated by the unknown backstory regarding Star’s parents. A young River Johansen (aka Star’s future Dad) also figures into the story here, but in a very minimal fashion. However, it shows that even at this young of an age, it may have been a friendship between River and Moon, that led to their eventual marriage. We even get to see young River verbally showing support for Moon, as many of the ‘adults’ around them, doubt her competence.
What is also notable, is that part of the story’s plot actually answers a question I had, regarding issue 2 of the Deep Trouble comic series based around the series’ characters. However, given what is transpiring within this story, it’s safe to assume that comic issue’s story, takes place after the events we see here.
There are a number of other familiar faces that show up in this segment as well. I was very surprised to see Mina Loveberry in the story, though not as off-her-rocker as she was in the segment Starstruck last season. There’s also a new relation introduced named Count Mildrew, who seems to be rather ‘dramatic’ about certain things. We haven’t seen him depicted in the series yet, and one wonders if he may resurface further in the season.
Of course, one of the more exciting moments, comes when we finally get some time with Queen Eclipsa (voiced by Esme Bianco). Her appearance here feels like a subtle hint of things to come in this season. Eclipsa comes off as being a bit off-kilter, but somewhat serious. However, I can’t help but feel she is hiding something sinister (her cheekmarks are spades after all…which represent ‘death’ in fortune-telling).
With the story being an intriguing character study of a preteen Moon Butterfly, I will say the moments with her dealing with the monsters, feels like the weaker part of the story. Some may note that it doesn’t quite go the way we saw in the Grandma Room tapestry from the Into the Wand segment, but I feel this is the writers saying how history, often isn’t like how it is depicted by artists, after-the-fact.
It is also notable, seeing a number of little character moments the animators give young Moon. Notable is her curling up into a ball, or gripping the long strands of her hair in a nervous fashion, similar to some things that we’ve seen Star do on occasion when she is frustrated, or fearful.
By the end of the story, I couldn’t help but find myself feeling sorry for Moon. She had to grow up before she was ready, and assume an air of nobility and seriousness, that she seems to wear at times almost like a mask. It is also clear she may have made some mistakes during the events we see, leading to some scars that have affected her, well into her adult life.
Episodes that give us introspection into characters usually press my buttons, and this one is definitely one I intend to keep coming back to.
Final Grade: A-
With the first episode of Star’s third season, we have a pretty good two-segment lineup.
Return to Mewni helps show a comparison/contrast between Star and her mother, Moon. Mewni has become a much more dangerous place, as we see Moon struggling to make Star realize that magic may not be able to save them. That struggle is integral to the storytelling, but at times, it feels like it doesn’t flow as smoothly as it should.
Moon the Undaunted finally gives us a look into Moon’s past, one that is informative, yet sad. We see how Moon as a pre-teen, is thrust into a world of responsibility she’s not yet ready for, and makes some mistakes along the way. I hope this opens up the possibility of more backstory for Moon and her husband River, telling about their lives before Star was born.
With 4 episode released at once, the episode reviews are going to be flying by over the next week or two. In the second episode, we’ll catch up with Ludo, following the events of the end of Season 2, in the story segment, Book Be Gone. Then, we’ll check in with Marco, as he journeys to Mewni, and encounters King Butterfly, in Marco and the King. See you back here soon, to discuss the next episode!
Wow. Who would have thought that almost 2 years ago, I’d find myself actively watching a cartoon from the DisneyXD cable channel…and I don’t even have cable!?
Daron Nefcy’s series Star vs the Forces of Evil, managed to push my buttons, given it’s weird humor, as well as it’s own take on ‘magical girl anime.’ Because of it’s unconventional storytelling (being written by myriad storyboard artists and writers), the show is often fascinating, in seeing where it’s episodes will lead.
Over the last few years, I’ve heard of Daron and a number of the show’s staff appearing at numerous events, but was never able to be near any of them. This year, there was word that she would be attending the bi-yearly D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. The Expo is a celebration of all things from The Walt Disney Company, and seeing several items related to Star on the show’s itinerary, I decided to check them out!
With the impending release of the 1-hour Battle for Mewni Season 3 special that weekend (actually, the first 4 episodes of Season 3), I expected a few extra events revolving around the series, but everything related to Star, I found to only be happening on the first day of the Expo.
One thing that bugged me about some fan-related events in the past, is that noone was able to record or chronicle most of what had taken place in them (such as the last few panels out of San Diego Comic-Con!). With that in mind, I decided to focus on chronicling what I experienced during this year’s expo.
And so, on Friday, July 14th, 2017, I found myself in an enormous line, snaking around the outside of the Anaheim Convention Center, mere steps from the Disneyland Resort. Some in the line, had been there since the night before, attempting to get into some of the bigger panels throughout the day.
Once I had made my way through the masses of humanity and onto the convention floor, I immediately headed to the D23 Expo Arena, for their first panel of the day: From Screen to Page: “Gravity Falls” and “Star vs the Forces of Evil.” The panel would cover the process of creating books for both of the series.
(Note: while there was discussion about Gravity Falls at the panel, I’m only going to be focusing on the information regarding Star vs the Forces of Evil).
Before I could even sit down, I was already smiling, seeing a number of cosplayers who came dressed up as characters from the show. However, there were no obscure characters I could see, but plenty of Star Butterfly’s and Marco Diaz’s. The majority of Star’s were dressed in her ‘ghost squid’ dress, though one was dressed in Star’s royal Mewnian dress, and one had her green dress from Season 2.
Our panel’s moderator claimed he was a big fan of both series, and first brought out series creator Daron Nefcy, and Dominic Bisignano. While many of us know Daron as the creator of the series, many might not be as familiar with Dominic, but he’s been a part of the series since the beginning!
Along with working on the book Star and Marco’s Guide to Mastering Every Dimension, Dominic has worn many hats on the show, working as a storyboard artist, writer, director, and voice-actor (he voiced the minotaur woman in the Quest Buy segment from Season 1, as seen on the left).
We also heard from several people from Disney Books, who worked on the guide as well. What was great to hear, was that the people from Disney Books, are also fans of these series , and oftentimes, want to put out a great fan-pleasing product!
Also during the panel, Daron and Dominic managed to spill some secrets in regards to some of the show’s episodes:
- The segment in Season 2 titled Ludo in the Wild, was originally going to be completely silent, with the little bird-creature never saying a word. However, voice-actor Alan Tudyk watched the piece, and improvised all the dialogue and sounds Ludo makes during the sequence, and it was soon edited to incorporate his ad-libbing.
- When it came to the Bounce Lounge’s music from the Season 1 segment Party with a Pony, Dominic said he told composer Brian H Kim, to make it sound like “bad German techno music.” (Personally, I rather liked what Kim came up with).
- Upon viewing a layout of Star’s 3-story bedroom that she magicked at the Diaz’s house, Daron and Dominic explained how they didn’t have a fully-realized floor plan, and could often play around with what was on the upper floors.
There were also questions that were asked, that had been submitted via Twitter. Of course, the moderator saved the biggie for last, about making the fanshipping mania known as “Starco,” canon.
Both Daron and Dominic weren’t saying yes or no to that one, but did say that they didn’t believe in ‘forcing’ characters into relationships, reminding me of a line Marco said to Tom in Mr Candle Cares (“You can’t make Star be your girlfriend, unless she wants to”).
When the moderator asked a question about what Daron thinks about the fandom, she made mention of how she was somewhat intrigued by people on Twitter, who created accounts based around the show’s characters. One she made special mention of, was supposed to represent Marco’s parents (Raphael and Angie Diaz). A call was put out into the audience to see if the account’s creator was with us, but there was no response.
We were also treated to two Star-related surprises at the panel.
The first was a short clip from the Battle for Mewni Season 3 premiere, where a younger Moon Butterfly, goes to meet with a monster general, some called “the lizard”…but whom most of us know, as Toffee!
The second surprise, was the announcement that another book related to the show would be coming out at a later time: Star’s Magic Instruction Book!
It looks to follow the same route as the creation of the Gravity Falls Journal 3 book, taking a fictional tome, and filling it out with more material. My one hope is we’ll finally be able to decipher the Mewnian language (something I’ve been trying to do since Season 1!).
When she had come onstage, Daron was carrying something that looked like a copy of Journal 3, but was in actuality, what I assumed to be a physical mock-up of the instruction book! Holding it aloft, it is about the same size as Journal 3, and not the 4-foot tome that almost broke Marco Diaz’s back. Of course, one wonders if there may be a limited edition, with the kind of care and detail afforded to the limited edition release of Journal 3.
In discussing the book and what was inside it, Dominic made note that he felt that when it came to reading books, Star was a ‘skimmer.’ This meant that she would skim a page for some words, but not read through everything. Apparently, there was more to the spell that gave Marco his monster arm in the Season 1 episode of the same name (though I guess we’ll need to wait to find out what more there was, besides “Releasio Demonius Infestica”).
After the panel, I headed off to the autograph signing for Star and Marco’s Guide to Mastering Every Dimension.
Rules for the event were that no outside material could be brought into the signing area, and that anything signed, had to be purchased from the Expo. What was most bizarre about this rule, was that for a book signing (of which I’ve attended quite a few!), there was noone at the signing area, with books to purchase!
If you wanted the book, you had to walk a ways over to the Disney Consumer Products booth, and purchase it there.
When I got to the Products booth, there were signs near the books saying “get this autographed,” but the message seemed vague. It didn’t explain who would be doing the signing, or more importantly, when and where it was happening! I could imagine someone buying the book, and then finding out they had missed the event.
When I returned to the signing area (see picture on left), I was surprised to find that the line for Daron and Dominic held only a few dozen people, while for the Gravity Falls creators, their queue had been closed off, as I gazed upon several hundred people on the other side of the signing area! Needless to say, I wasn’t going to be getting a copy of Journal 3 signed that day.
While waiting in line, there was still plenty to see and do, given that many of us who were there, were fans of the series. It was exciting to discuss episodes and scenes with some people that were just as crazy about things as I was! One girl was eagerly quoting lines from the film (oftentimes not caring that her voice was escalating in volume, as she excitedly quoted a number of familiar scenes!).
Speaking of crazy, my vote so far for best Star/Marco cosplay at the expo, goes to this couple (right), who dressed up as Princess Star Butterfly, and Princess Marco Diaz, from the St Olga’s Reform School for Wayward Princesses episode! The fact that they went all-out to do these obscure costumes definitely shows they’re pretty big fans. Plus, the woman had custom-made her own Flying Princess Ponyhead!
When it was my turn to finally meet Daron and Dominic, I was pretty excited, and explained how even though I was outside the show’s target demographic, the storytelling kept me intrigued, let alone how Star was the first series that had made me put down money for season passes on iTunes!
While I had their ears, I also decide to lay down a few fan theories I had.
One of them was based on Glossaryck of Term’s rather laissez-faire attitude in recent episodes, which I attributed to him being able to see from the beginning to the end of time. I didn’t get a yes/no answer, but Dominic said I was “on the right track.” Plus, as a bonus, he drew a little image of Glossaryck above his signature when he signed my book (left).
Another theory that I posited to Daron, was regarding Star’s wardrobe, which is decidedly retro when compared to what the other kids in Echo Creek are wearing.
I felt that when the Royal Family -arrived on Earth in the first episode, the King and Queen saw what people in the Earth dimension were wearing, and decided Star needed proper attire to fit in. I imagined that they had stopped at the first clothing store they came to…which happened to be a thrift store, and Star had stocked up on retro dresses from 30-60 years ago.
Daron said she thought it was an interesting theory, though in early ideas regarding the series, she said she felt that Star would have gotten some of her outfits and accessories from a Halloween store. This would have led to Star even using a pumpkin-shaped trick-or-treat basket, as a purse!
Along with her added information about the series, Daron graciously signed my book, AND, drew a little sketch of Star (right)!
I also had to ask Daron, if we were ever going to see the end of the Deep Trouble, 8-issue comic series (that had stopped running shortly after issue #4 was released in January). Sadly, Daron said she didn’t know if we’d get the next 4 issues, with the possibility that low sales and limited availability, might have contributed to Joe Books stopping it’s publication of the title. I did hint to Daron, that I hoped maybe one day, the final 4 issues could be collected in some type of trade paperback (which has currently been done for the first 4 issues).
As I exited the signing area and was putting my book away, I suddenly saw a guy in an aquamarine shirt attempt to enter through the exit.
“Sir, you can’t go in there,” said the security guy nearby.
“No it’s okay, I work on the show,” he replied.
As I looked at the guy’s face, I suddenly realized, I was standing in the presence of Adam McArthur (aka the voice of Marco Ubaldo Diaz)!
I quickly voiced that Adam was correct, and a few seconds later, the guard let him enter the signing area. As he did, I struggled to try and get out my book and a pen, but by then, Adam had sidled up to Dominic and Daron, and become a part of the signing for the rest of those in line.
I was still hoping to get the chance to catch Adam when he left, so I went for a short walk, hoping to be back in time for the signing to end. However, I returned to find the area empty.
After that, my attempts to see the Expo’s big feature animation panel involving Disney Feature Animation and Pixar Animation Studios, were met with bitter failure, as I and many others were shut out due to the huge crowds (many of whom had lined up since the day before to get into that panel!). With nothing else big to wait for, I puttered around, eventually heading outside the front of the convention center, taking a gander at the numerous cosplayers milling about.
As I headed back towards the convention center’s front doors, I suddenly heard someone calling out to me. I turned to my right, and to my surprise, there sat Adam, with a friend of his!
He claimed he had only meant to pop in and say ‘hi’ to his coworker/cohorts, but did say he was willing to spend a little time to talk with me, if I wanted to. I have to say, getting some time to talk face-to-face with Mr McArthur, made the loss of not getting into the animation panel melt away in seconds!
As I sat down eagerly, I first had to thank Adam for giving me a shout-out on my Birthday earlier this year. For those wondering, when the ‘Star-bomb’ of Season 2 episodes hit, Adam did a live Marco Diaz stream, where you could tweet him questions to try and answer. This took place the same day as my Birthday, and I had a huge smile hearing him say my Twitter handle (and even getting my last-name right!).
We talked a bit about those Marco chat sessions, leading me to ask about a hunch I had.
During the chat, someone had asked for the recipe to “Marco’s Super-Awesome Nachos,” and Adam had read off a list of ingredients and directions. When I picked up Star and Marco’s Guide a few weeks later, I noted the recipe seemed the same, and Adam confirmed that he had been reading off an early copy of the book he had on hand during the Q&A event!
It was right after this, that I decided to see if Adam would sign my copy of the guidebook. He gave his signature a little message as well (see left), and I will say, I did eat some nachos the next day at a nearby Rubio’s (any chance to have their super-awesome fish tacos!).
I was also curious, given how Marco can scream and yell a lot, if Adam ever lost his voice after any sessions. I was assured that that hadn’t happened, though when it came to some video game vocal roles, Adam said he had to push himself a bit harder.
My inquiry about his voice, had come about thinking of him screaming in the episode Monster Arm, which I claimed was my favorite episode.
Upon hearing this, Adam related a fun little story. Apparently, when he sometimes encounters voice-actress Grey DeLisle (who voices Jackie Lynn Thomas on the show), she playfully greets Adam with one of her lines from the episode (what that line is, I’ll leave for you to figure out).
I was also curious, if there were any episodes Adam worked on, where he really had a hard time keeping a secret. That turned out to be the case with Running with Scissors, where he was really excited about playing an older version of Marco. We even had a little discussion regarding the mind-bending nature of that segment’s ending.
Eventually, Adam was drawn away by some other people he and his friend were meeting. He apologized for cutting the conversation short, but I was fine with it. He had given me some of his time, and personally (especially at conventions with this many people), I never want to be ‘that fan’ of a series, who monopolizes the time that others can partake in.
By the way, In case you’re wondering, I did not ask Adam about ships or anything top secret (I don’t want him to lose his job, and there’s plenty of other fans who can ask that stuff, and get vague yes-or-no answers). My goal is to usually inquire about some things that I can get answers to.
So that was my crazy “Star Day,” which went pretty well, considering the helter-skelter insanity of the first expo day.
Both Daron and Dominic were great to talk to (though I probably could have asked more in-depth questions of them for hour!). Originally, Adam wasn’t scheduled to show up, but his appearance was quite a surprise. I and many fans have thrilled to him giving little shout-outs and appearances on social media, and it was nice to see he was just as personable in person! I will admit, much like how Star got distracted by ‘certain things’ in Running with Scissors, I found my brain going on auto-pilot a few times as Adam talked, because his voice just seemed to drift into Marco’s so effortlessly, that I began to imagine it was Marco talking to me at times.
While all of my Star-stuff happened on that Friday, I managed to carry over some of that fandom to the next day, when I and a person at the Airbnb we were staying at, decided to line up 5 hours before the Saturday live-action film panel. Having over 5 hours of time to kill, we began looking for ways to keep ourselves pre-occupied.
Along with discussing pros and cons regarding animated and live-action Disney films, I had mentioned my liking the Star series, and had downloaded some epsisodes onto my iPad for viewing, which we proceeded to watch over 3 hours of (one that seemed most appropriate to our line-waiting, was the Goblin Dogs episode!).
To my surprise, my companion was enjoying them and cracking up, as well as asking some questions about the show.
Later on when we met up for dinner, she said she had gone back to the Airbnb, and looking for stuff on Hulu, saw that the show’s two seasons were available. However, due to the sketchy wifi at the place, she was unable to watch any episodes, but claimed she planned to watch more at a later date!
So yes, we may have another person joining he fandom! She also got a kick out of Princess Smooshy’s “Cameraphone” line in the Sleep Spells episode, and in a Facebook post, included that in a hashtag, giving me a laugh!
Sadly, I had no way to watch The Battle for Mewni that day, but given the Star-related hijinks that I had been a party to those 2 days, I was feeling pretty happy. Though for some of you wondering what I thought of the first 4 episodes of Season 3, my review of them will be coming over the course of the next 2 weeks.
A few weeks ago, I gave my verdict on my 5 least-favorite segments, from the second season of Star vs the Forces of Evil.
Now, a few weeks later, I think I’m ready to reveal the 10 story segments that I enjoyed the most out of the second season of the show.
This year’s list is a bit more extensive, given there were over 38 10-12 minute segments this season to choose from. So, let’s dive in and see what I thought!
Note: This Top 10 list only covers the stories that spanned 10-12 minutes. 22-minute episodes like “Bon Bon the Birthday Clown,” “Face the Music,” and “Starcrushed,” are excluded, given the extra time and storytelling makeup.
I won’t lie: trying to come up with the segment to go into the ’10’ slot on these lists, is usually the hardest thing to do. I bounced around segments such as Just Friends, The Hard Way, and Gift of the Card, but in the end, settled on Game of Flags.
This story gives us a little more background into Star’s family (with both the Butterfly and Johansen clans), as well as their yearly game of ‘flags,’ which Star is eager to take part in.
We get some background and insight into how both sides of Star’s family seem to revel in a game that is pretty ridiculous. In the end, Star realizes this, and attempts to make a change to the family tradition.
Most notable in regards to this segment, is how we get to see some more of Moon Butterfly (aka Star’s Mom), being a little more attentive towards her daughter. Some additional information is revealed about Moon, AND, a positive reinforcement from mother to daughter, regarding some things that Star believes in.
When it came to seeing a full return of Star’s ex-boyfriend Tom, I don’t think anyone could have comprehended what this episode would be (well, aside from hundreds who assumed from the promo art, that the two were possibly going to embark on a love odyssey of fan-gasmic proportions!).
Instead, we get the two finding out that despite their dislike of certain things (and each other), they do find common ground on some things, such as their enjoyment of music by the group, Love Sentence.
We get some great music by Brian H Kim, as well as Nick Lachey doing vocals for the song, Awesome Feeling. And, we get Tom and Marco doing a duet, which I think elevated the story in some people’s eyes (and probably won voice actors Adam McArthur and Rider Strong some additional followers on Twitter!).
There’s also a sub-story in regards to a karate master Marco and Tom both like, and while it isn’t the strongest sub-story, where Friend-Enemies took it, was pretty satisfying (and humorous)!
While Ludo has been a major fixture in Season 2, this story stands out, as an example that Season 2 was not going to be like the first season. Most notable, is that Star Butterfly is not actually part of the overall storyline!
The tone of the piece is almost like a nature documentary, as we see Ludo struggling in the aftermath of the end of Season 1, and how a discovery of his, will lead to even more dangerous things later on.
Despite being a pivotal story, Wild ranks lower in the Top 10, due to the somewhat repetitive nature, and Wile E Coyote style humor of the world just treating Ludo like a punching bag. However, as the story goes on, we see him fight back, and re-evaluate his direction in life.
I will admit, my first viewings of this story didn’t really do much for me. But as the season has gone on, it’s grown on me.
It’s a great character study, seeing how Star deals with a dog that won’t let go of her wand. We’ve seen her often being off-the-wall, but in this story, she tries to be logical with a few sub-characters, who get to be the weirdos in the story.
Marco also is pretty much the straight-man of the story, telling Star that she needs to resolve this problem on her own. There’s also an ‘Earth-world problems’ subplot for Marco, showing him trying to drink from a juice pouch.
Most notable in the segment, is a wonderful little piano bit near the end by Brian H Kim, that sounds eerily reminiscent of some Japanese dramas or emotional anime, as the story attempts to cross it’s final hurdle.
Marco Diaz trying to get together with his crush Jackie Lynn Thomas, was like ‘catnip’ to me throughout the first season. When I found out this subplot would be continuing on in Season 2, I was eager for more stories of Marco working through his feelings.
Marco having to deal with the little Naysaya head that tells his most embarrassing secrets, is one story I couldn’t keep off here. The plot-point helps prove that once again, Marco Diaz is the kind of guy who can try to power through the worst of things, if he puts his mind to it.
Plus, we get Star being a caring friend and enthusiastic cheerleader, as she keeps trying to get her ‘bestie’ to ask out Jackie. Pretty much everytime Star was on-screen, I had a smile on my face.
Just like the story in Sleepover, we get a little more information on Jackie, though she’s still somewhat of a character enigma by the end of the piece. However, the final moment was one of my favorites, and is currently my iPhone’s lock-screen image.
In some cases, this story could be seen as somewhat of a throwaway segment, but it has some nice bits buried deep within it’s structure.
The sleepover aspect, as well as dragging Marco into the festivities is rather fun. The typical ‘truth-or-dare’ game ramped up to the inter-dimensional game of “Truth or Punishment,” proves to be quite entertaining, even if at the end, it gets a bit weird.
However, what saves the storyline, is Marco finally admitting his feelings for Jackie, and, we get some further insight into Star’s feelings, as well as a rather interesting analysis of people’s emotions, and how they can change over time.
After her rather lackluster appearance in the season 2 segment Gift of the Card, I wondered if we’d get a proper episode with the former headmistress of St Olga’s Reform School for Wayward Princesses, and lo and behold, we got this!
This wasn’t quite what I was expecting for a full-return of Heinous (as well as her sidekick Gemini, who finally has his name revealed here!), but the storyline was one I was rather intrigued by.
Instead of an all-out brawl, Marco’s parents want him and Star, to find a compromise with Heinous, who has fallen on hard times after being cast out of St Olga’s. Rarely does one get a story where a non-violent compromise is attempted, and it’s resolution proves to be a well-done little surprise, with the return of “Princess Marco.”
There’s also a fun resolution to a money-based gag that has been heard throughout the season.
I have a feeling many will discount this story, but to me, it was one of the first this season, that seemed to get a bit deep, in regards to relationships, and what the future could hold for the characters.
Most notable, was seeing Star get very quiet about realizing that no matter what she wants to do, she still has the duties of becoming a Queen hanging over her head.
There also is the reunion of Marco Diaz, and Tom, Star’s ex-boyfriend. Their small scene seems to play off as rather ‘boring,’ but I feel there’s some interesting revelations about the characters. Tom reveals his thoughts on Star, and Marco reveals his feelings about relationships and couplings (“You can’t make Star be your girlfriend, unless she wants to.”).
Humor isn’t very prevalent in this storyline, but the few moments that it does appear, are still some that are stuck in my head, months later.
Much like Ludo in the Wild, this segment also attempted to do something out of the ordinary.
We get to see where Star Butterfly’s myriad spells ‘live,’ and get the chance to shine a light on a character that seemed pretty insignificant.
This story may not be as entertaining for younger audiences, given how we see Spider and his cohorts dealing with their daily life of helping Star, as well as the question of, “what is my purpose in life?” That storytelling angle of playing to some of the ‘older’ viewers, was definitely noteworthy in my eyes, and made me feel that some of the writers may have brought some of their own life experiences to the table when storyboarding this one.
The ending has a pretty great payoff, though I find it’s smaller, character-driven moments with Spider with a Top Hat being emotional, helped propel this story up the chain.
Yes yes, I know: my favorite 11-minute segment, and Star Butterfly isn’t the main character in it!
When Marco Diaz uses Star’s dimensional scissors, he meets up with Magic High Commission member Hekapoo, who gives him a task to get them back.
This was not just a fun and emotional storyline, but one that got incredibly mind-bending after awhile, managing to put weird and wild together, and come to a place I and many others, could probably never have fathomed!
As the story winds down, it ends up leaving us with plenty of questions, as well as some pretty heavy emotional scenes, underscored by some great music by Brian H Kim, which might be his most emotional piece so far for the series!
Sadly, it feels like the ending was quickly forgotten in stories going forward, but for a brief moment, Star vs the Forces of Evil, made me deeply ponder the ramifications and journey that Marco Diaz had just been on…one that the fans could surely speculate and build upon in fanfiction or discussions outside of the series!
And there you have it: the 10 segments from season 2, that just really impressed me a great deal!
Keep in mind that this list is based on my tastes, and I’m sure there are some who didn’t see some of their faves make the list.
As always, would love to read in the comments what you Star fans think. Did anything match up? Was there a segment that you really enjoyed? Always up for a discussion on the series, as we wait impatiently for what season 3 has in store for Mewni, and possibly, Earth.
As stated in my previous Star-related article, I got a few other things I want to discuss about the season, and hopefully, I’ll have another article soon for you fans out there.
Ok fans of Star vs the Forces of Evil, it’s time I delivered some good news, and bad news. After a show’s season concludes, most reviewers decide to make…some lists.
Given that we had 22 episodes for Season 2 (comprised of three 22-minute segments, and thirty-eight 11-minute segments), I thought I would do like last season, and do some lists regarding the 11-minute story segments.
First up: let’s just get those least-favorite segments out of the way, with this Top 5 list.
*Note: Keep in mind this list only covers the segments that run 11 minutes, not full-length episodes. Given how much extra time is given in full-length episodes to tell a story, this list judges the shorter segments on their merits, and faults.*
This season, saw the introduction of many new characters to the show, several of which seemed to be connected to some very important roles, within the show’s multiverse.
Crystal Clear attempts to give us a little backstory on Rhombulus, and Chancellor Lekmet, who are members of the Magic High Commission.
Rhombulus ends up bringing Star and Marco before Lekmet, claiming that Star is somehow responsible for the draining of magic in the universe. However, as the segment goes on, it just feels like a loud, noisy, and meandering romp.
Each member of the Magic High Commission was given a segment, to show a bit more about themselves, and who they are. However, out of all of them, Rhombulus’ storyline feels the weakest for all members of the MHC.
Rhombulus himself seems to be the ‘muscle’ of the group, acting on his gut first, and asking questions later. In small doses this works fine, but with this story, it feels like director Giancarlo Volpe, was asked to stretch out a concept, that just didn’t feel like it could hold together entertainingly, for 11 minutes.
Star Butterfly shines a bit here, given that she becomes the voice-of-reason to Rhombulus’ little tirades, but even that isn’t enough to make this story appealing. We even get some hints of things that I assume will be paid off in the future…but as some stories have shown, there aren’t any guarantees if that will happen or not.
Maybe Season 3 will redeem this story, but for now, it made my list.
This story plays out as a tag-team storyline of sorts.
We see Ludo running across some rats on Mewni, along with him finding out that he can coax power from his newly-acquired wand, usually when he finds himself getting upset.
On Earth, Star attempts to get out of doing chores, and summons a creature named Cloudy to do her work. However, he ends up making a mess, and Star’s attempts to fix his attitude, don’t go over so well.
After watching more of Season 2, it feels like this story was not meant to give us any easy answers, and to maybe draw our own conclusions about what is happening, let alone how emotions affect the power of the wand.
Ludo’s storyline is the more interesting of the two, but when put together, it feels like a slog as each storyline, goes from one incident to the next. It’s one of the first examples we get of Star’s magic going green instead of pink, showing how her emotions can affect her wand’s magic, but I almost wish it could have been done a bit better.
I like a good puzzle, but this storyline just felt like things got a bit too vague at times.
This is one of those stories that feels like they had a decent concept, but then when it came to building it up…it just ended up becoming ‘filler’ for the season.
After freeing her classroom’s pet hamster Marisol out of sheer boredom, Star is put in detention, and Marco is tasked with getting Marisol back.
Star being thrown into detention, and then working with Janna to help their fellow classmates endure their time, feels like it just attempts to be a wacky adventure, with very little substance. I couldn’t help but imagine a story where Star and Janna go on an inter-dimensional adventure might have been more entertaining, or if the story became a more group-oriented piece, where Star and the detention gang all make it out and run amuck (the story at one point seems to make it like this could be an option, but then just sidesteps it).
Marco’s subplot feels pretty unnecessary, almost like it was a last-ditch effort to somehow include him in Star’s story.
Personally, the title made it sound like a weekend adventure was in store for Star and a couple of her girl friends (like the more entertaining segment, Sleepover). I also feel the story should have had a different title: Coup D’etention.
For Season 2, very little has been mentioned in regards to Marco’s karate training, with just two stories (Red Belt, and All Belts Are Off), focusing on the relationship between Marco Diaz, and his strip mall dojo’s Sensei. While both seemed to meander, All Belts felt like the weaker of the two.
We get a much larger role for Marco’s arch-enemy, the rich little punk named Jeremy Birnbaum, who is chosen by Sensei to represent the dojo.
The underlying message of “you don’t need to be awarded to be considered a good person,” just feels shuffled away til’ the last few minutes, along with a heart-to-heart between Sensei and Marco, that I wish could have been better expanded upon.
Trying to get us to focus on how much of a jerk Jeremy is, and trying to make it funny, is where the story just falls off a cliff for me. Some of the season’s stories can really push my buttons when it comes to humor, but the attempts to make Jeremy’s escapades seem funny, just felt like a lost cause.
I think any fan of the series will have to admit: this segment just felt like a huge letdown!
Following early imagery of warrior-girl Mina Loveberry, many of us were expecting big things from this woman whom Star seemed to look up to. Unfortunately Mina just came across as another ‘looney from Mewni.’
The story is meant to show how sometimes you should follow your own judgement, but it just gets bogged down in Mina doing something weird or strange, every other time she’s on screen.
Marco largely is on the sidelines, making this a story where Star is forced to draw her own conclusions, but sadly, it just feels like a lesser variation on that ‘good girl gets drawn in by the wrong crowd’ afternoon special like I’d see on TV when I was younger.
There’s also some minor stuff about government, that feels shoehorned in in a rather throwaway moment in the last few minutes, and Mina’s reaction to Star’s resistance, feels like a shoehorned concept that could have been better handled with more time.
What’s weird is in the last 5 seconds, there’s a strange little emotional moment, that almost attempts to make us forget Mina’s crazy shenanigans. Sadly, by this point, the damage has been done, and those 5 seconds cannot salvage the story.
Keep in mind that these are just my opinions, and I’m not saying you have to go along with them.
There were a few other 11-minute segments in this season that I did consider putting on this list, but in the end, each of the ones listed here, were stories that I just kept having issues with, when I would go over them after they premiered.
If you liked what you read, leave a comment, and tell me if you have any agreements or disagreements. Or, maybe there’s an 11-minute segment that you felt was deserving of being in this list. Always up to hear what others in the fandom think (other than the constant fanship wars that never seem to end!).
Next time we discuss “Star vs the Forces of Evil,” we’ll talk about something a bit more positive: My Top 10 favorite 11-minute segments, from Season 2! Hope to see you soon in a few weeks for that post!