Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

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mrdent12
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by mrdent12 »

Despite being a filler type episode in big arcs, these Elena and Isa type stories are fun. The writing of their sisterly relationship was well done.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

mrdent12 wrote: Sat Apr 09, 2022 9:00 pm Despite being a filler type episode in big arcs, these Elena and Isa type stories are fun. The writing of their sisterly relationship was well done.
Yeah I often found “Isa episodes” easily ignorable, but it shows the writers gave some thought to everything. Both were different and could be both wrong and right.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

39) "All Kingdoms Fair". I feel I've seen this one quite recently. It's mostly an "Armando" filler episode, but explains him a bit- he has a brother who is super-competitive and derogatory around him, causing Armando to get flustered and make mistakes. This is pretty well the whole episode, as he causes screw-ups at the "All Kingdoms Fair" and Elena & others have to talk him up. Elena: "You've really become an excellent Chief of the Castle" Esteban: "And it only took you two years" "Well, it was worth the wait!"- I like how that's sweet, but it actually acknowledges Esteban's point, lol.

I do like how the whole town seems to love Armando, joining in the big song singing him up... but this his big brother shows up and he's immediately flustered- it's clear the pressure is causing the mistakes in the first place. Elena calls this out, but Armando still accidentally sets a fire that sets off a stampede that nearly wrecks everything. He's ready to move back home and be cared for by his protective mother until Elena points out the various good things he's done, and requests his aid in fixing it. So he sets up a "sleepover" in the park to make up for the ruined inn, and everyone loves it- he even sells all the family's cheese by offering free samples (something his brother had rejected), proving himself once and for all. And his bro points out he's been hard on Armando his whole life ("and for that... I am truly sorry").

Meanwhile, Dona Paloma is being herself as usual, boasting about how she's always elected Magister of Trade and runs unopposed... but Julio (remember him!?) pops up and interjects, running for the job himself! And the other merchants actually like the idea, but he's actually listening to them! Even Gabe's dad shows up again! So this kinda "filler" episode is nonetheless pushing some things forward and reminding the viewers that all these old characters weren't mere one-offs to be "fixed". Julio actually wins, leaving Paloma actually looking hurt (even Esteban looks concerned), but he's soon overwhelmed by requests, and holds out the olive branch- she offers to become the Assitant Magister, but he says "Assistant TO THE Magister"- an Office gag that works equally well here. She suggests being his assistant is humiliating... and of course Esteban says "This is true- this is why I suggested it!".


Next up... possibly the show's least-liked episode, lol. Elena trying to set Charoca up with another rock monster.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

40) "A Lava Story". Aka the fanbase's least favorite episode, lol. Okay, so I've met a lot of fans who say it's not THAT bad and they do enjoy it. But it's such obvious "Filler", in part because it reintroduces Charoca, who is otherwise unimportant to the show (his debut was the first time Elena disobeyed the council, but wasn't really important for HIM), and almost entirely deals with him trying to mack on a female rock monster named Charica.

HOWEVER, this one does build on past episodes- Prince Alonso's introduction, more accurately. The bridge he & Elena broke ground on has FINALLY been built, and his father will not let him forget how bad he almost bungled that (awakening a giant monster that nearly destroyed the palace). Elena, feeling a bit bad over how much Alonso's being dissed, invites him along with the mon fuego beside the bridge suddenly awakens- Elena brings Charoca over to meet the OTHER rock monster, and it's a GIRL!

Elena's "OHHHHHHHHHH" reaction is pretty funny. Alas, Charoca takes some bad advice and despite the two falling in love with each other quickly (via song! And mutual appreciation of rock gardens), Charoca "tells her what she wants to hear" by sharing her complaints over "that noisy bridge" and bringing up his desire to break it. But of course she overhears him tell Elena the truth and freaks out over it. Charoca fears he's ruined his chance at true love thanks to Alonso's bad advice, so Alonso finally kinda figures things out and brings up his father saying that "Actions speak louder than words"- he has to SHOW her how he feels. And so he deliberately agitates her into setting off the mon fuego, and smartly uses his "cooling lava" powers to create a giant sound-blocking rock-glass wall around her mountain. This ends the noise, and lets them make up.

The most important plot development is that the King is finally proud of Alonso, who's owned up to his mistakes and given others credit. This, to me, kind of "saves" what is otherwise a pointless episode. A "Charoca Love Subplot" is what gives this one its bad reputation (especially as neither character will EVER appear again save as backgrounders at Elena's coronation in the Series Finale), and it IS incredibly predictable all the way through until the end, but at least it has that.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

41) "Song of the Sirenas (Part One)". And now begins the show's biggest arc in earnest (so big that the OPENING changes!). Kind of the climax of the series, in a way. Like the end-point of the story that started in the beginning. The only thing left was her coronation. And oddly enough it gets tied into a thing with mermaids for whatever reason, as Elena & Co. visit her cousin Duke Christobal in a more "holiday seaside resort" part of Avalor, Nueva Vista, and Sirenas show up! But one can shapeshift into human form, along with her brother.

I love everyone practicing on the boat to start- kind of a showcase of them "leveling up". Elena also debuts the "Vanish!" power, which was introduced in a series of shorts called "Scepter Training With Zuzo", as he took over her training. I like how they use exposition to set up everything. In the first four minutes we know A) they're on vacation, B) Elena has a cousin we never knew about (and they explain away Esteban saying he was Elena's only cousin), and C) the Sirenas are hated monsters for causing shipwrecks... but that no character in their teenage years has heard of it happening, because it hasn't, and they've changed.

Nueva Vista looks REALLY cool. I wonder if they invented it just because the guys who designed Avalor City were like "Hey, look at this OTHER cool palace/city we designed!" Very pastel as well. The Duke initially doesn't show too much of a dark side in this one, but there are some clues- he dresses a LOT like Gov. Ratcliffe from Pocahontas, and is just too dainty and ostentatious a dresser in a way. And then talks about "what little we have" and offers a huge amount of caviar.

Then quickly we meet the Sirenas- Princess Marisa & Prince Marzel have been spying on humans with their giant seahorse buddy, and are attacked on-sight. Even NAOMI dislikes them! Turns out they sank ships decades ago, and killed many (including Christobal's father). But they haven't in years, and we find out why- a human woman was tossed from an attacked ship, and the King turned her into a Sirena and fell in love with her- that's why their kids can shift into human form. The Queen made him stop the war against the humans, but the old grudge remains.

I like how this isn't all "Black & White". MANY humans hate the Sirenas for what they've done, including Naomi and other "good"-aligned characters. The Sirenas are hated by everyone BUT Elena and some of the younger characters. So it's not just "only evil people dislike them". It makes it more than just a simple "LOL nope only rotten people think this" situation. And the Sirenas WERE murderous (defending their home territory from human encroachment, as they saw it). But Marisa & Elena make fast friends (Marisa literally singing her people's history with a pretty good, soft song- they don't often put TWO songs in one episode, but later ones are pretty packed with plot), and they endeavor to make peace. But the Duke shows his true colors and attacks the Sirenas on-sight.

"Marisa- your HEART is in the right place. It always is. But the humans DESPISE us, and with good reason!"- interesting stuff that makes this more than a black & white issue. The king isn't just being like King Triton and "Stay away from the humans!", and acknowledges past faults. oh dang, I found the King & Queen's voices to be epic, and no wonder! Edward James Olmos & Rita Moreno!

And then Elena's float in the floating parade is diverting deliberately by the paddlemen and she's left alone- a horrifying scene sees Fiero appear from the shadows, and soon SHURIKI joins him! "Inferno!" and "Blaze!" battle evenly, but Fiero knocks Elena down with his knockback spell- Elena tries the "Vanish!" power, but it DOESN'T WORK, leaving her necklace visible (so the power she debuts this episode actually fails and screws her over)- this leads her to be blasted by a "Chaos!" spell and then knocked into the water- the last thing we see is a drowning Elena looking up as Shuriki chuckles with glee and the world grows dark... too bad we didn't see a way to save a drowning human in this exact episode!

I do feel like this one owes a lot to attempts to boost up the doll line. I remember a BUNCH of "Sirena" stuff showing up in stores.
Which turned out to be the last gasp of the toyline, which soon ended.
mrdent12
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by mrdent12 »

I appreciate tension when the hero is made to look to die, but it sort of is ruined when the one on the verge of death is the title character of a kids show no less. It becomes less of a nail biter and more of a puzzle. In this case, that puzzle is already solved so there is not even that.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

42) "Song of the Sirenas (Part Two)". And of course the first thing that happens is the thing they briefly showed us last episode saves Elena. But this one is the BIG game-changer. Naturally King Pescoro is like "No- we must always hide from the humans!" even after Marisa brings Elena to him. And the Duke finally plays his hand when Elena returns, arresting her because he's loyal to Shuriki (who paid for his loyalty with gold, which Elena unknowingly cut off).

"I was attacked". "By who?" "The sorceress who killed my parents" You REALLY don't hear the word "killed" used a lot of in modern-day cartoons, especially Disney ones. The '80s were full of that (to the point where it's actually shocking to hear it when I go back and watch them- every villain is like "KILL THEM BOTH HAAHAHAHAH!"), but things changed in the 1990s. So hearing Elena say it is rather jarring. I do find it funny that Marisa disobeys her father literally every single time, lol.

ou can tell this has the top-tier direction on it because I see a lot of the "heads turned to the side" poses- tricky unless you're REALLY good at posing. It's interesting how quickly this episode turns into the GIANT fight scene they've been teasing for 10+ episodes, too. And it's appreciably epic. And it's "Mateo Levels Up: The Episode" now as he's the only reason they're alive and he's completely mopping the floor with everyone, haha. He stops Vestia, stuns all the villains, breaks everyone out of jail and saves them from the falling mast. "Me and Gabe against THREE Malvagos?" "I like our odds!" And it takes everyone working together- Gabe disarms Victor but is stopped by Carla, who is stopped by Migs. And Mateo & Fiyero having a Lucha Libre battle with magic is probably the single most well-directed action sequence the show ever had. Mateo straight up leaps off of a Jacquin to fire off a counter spell, and parkours off the scenery. Then Mateo literally WALL RUNS using his powers, then pulls out a goddamn RIDER KICK to blast Fiero across the courtyard!

Mateo has Fiero dead to rights ("You've learned MUCH, boy"), but gets distracted by Gabe's shouting (nice job, Gabe) and Gabe is held hostage... but Naomi comes in with the lasso for the save, Fiero's knocked back, and Mateo grabs his tamborita and casts the petrification spell from Fiero's debut, freezing him in stone AGAIN, with some incredible direction as Fiero slowly freezes as he desperately attempts to cast one more spell, his hand stopping an inch from his own tamborita. And that does it for Fiero in this series.

And then it's the final battle between Elena & Shuriki- Skylar is beaten and Cruz runs away ("You're on your own!"), leaving just the two of them casting back and forth. Elena's scepter gets nailed by the Scepter of Night, leaving her vulnerable- a first attempt at "Vanish!" doesn't work and Shuriki blasts her as she tries another! Shuriki walks up and smiles at her victory, but her hair gets brushed aside by the "wind", you hear "MISSED ME", and Elena rematerializes- it worked! And with one "BLAZE!", Shuriki gets SHOT IN THE FUCKING FACE and she's gone for good. Some unfortunate directing and wording led people to think Shuriki had been shoved into the Jewel of Night the same way Elena had been stuck in the Amulet for 41 years, but Craig Gerber on Twitter was like "No- she ded".

And with that, the major arc of the series is over with. Shuriki, the villain from the beginning, is dead, and Fiero, the next most powerful recurring villain, is gone forever, too. All that's left is to mop up the remaining four. Curiously, we never see Duke Christobal again, either! So now the show has completed a big arc and only has "Elena's Coronation" next, meaning we need a new villain as well. And this goes a route I didn't expect, too. All in all, a remarkably epic episode- I often advertise this series to others using just this short arc- as they epically built up several villains, made each one impactful in their own way, and set up a mega-villain squad up against the heroes and culminated in this huge multi-person fight scene that sees all our heroes "Leveling Up" and kicking ass, with some extremely well-animated and choreographed fight scenes.

I feel like the Sirenas were important for a handful of episodes around this time, but eventually disappeared. I hadn't even realized Daria had a "Focus Episode" until I went back for research, lol. The Seahorse guy is very "toyetic". Did they not ever make a toy of him? Though I'm often surprised at how many things on this show seem to be about "selling toys" that never get made, haha. Like Elena's sparkle-dresses that change colors. It seemed an ideal time to sell "fashion packs". But they sold the same doll with a new dress EVERY TIME.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

43) "The Tides of Change". This one is a rather strange one-off in the history of the show- the only episode to heavily feature Daria, the Captain of the Guards of Coronado. A Sirena who dislikes humans (and Elena in particular) and doesn't want to do this planned "Feast of Friendship" between the two races, she's voiced by Rosario Dawson, who was a pretty solid "get" who was unfortunately probably too busy to show up much elsewhere, so this is one of her few speaking roles, and she doesn't matter in the future. Humorously, she was so pointless to the show that I literally forgot about her ENTIRELY when I did my Elena builds, as I looked her up and went "WTF?". I at least remembered the weird river dolphin bad guys.

I do like the concept of her, at least- most of the Sirenas were good, so we needed an antagonistic one to showcase against the charming ones- one who didn't care for people and represent the old mistrust- the same way the show cleverly uses Esteban & Naomi- major characters- as anti-Sirena ones. And Daria reveals a scar on her fin to at least indicate WHY she keeps this personal judge, just before Naomi reveals that her grandfather was killed by Sirenas in the past.

So her plan is to ally with the Malandros- evil shapeshifting river dolphins (part of South American folklore) to break up the Unity Pact vica them shifting into a Sirena & human to start a fight. This actually works, but the dopey-looking Malandros boss was clever, and had the coral-based warning system of the Sirenas deactivated, having tricked Daria. Elena, who of course was working on the "Bloom!" Scepter power JUST THIS EPISODE, has the trick for getting it to work, but they throw in the wrinkle that her Scepter is fritzing out these days since the Shuriki fight, so add in some more drama. Elena & her allies (Naomi notably refuses to go, even now) get into a scrap with the Malandros, but are captured right when the power finally works, activating the alarm and driving off the bad guys. Naomi apologizes in the end.

Not a bad one, but one that kinda feels either like... not quite "Filler" I guess, as it elaborates on some stuff from the previous three-parter. But since Daria is unimportant and is by far the biggest character here despite never reappearing in a big way, and she largely gets away with what is basically treason, it's a bit odd.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

44) "The Return of El Capitan". A rare "Abuela Focus Episode" sees him reminisce about his days as a masked youth swordfighter superhero, with his two friends who died in a shipwreck while he was captain (in a cute bit, Prince Marzel suspects it might be the Sirenas- the writers seemed aware they'd over-used the "Sirenas sank my relative's ship" trick). And of course it's a "Dia De Los Muertos" episode (indicating ANOTHER year has passed!), so Elena can see the spirits of Abuelo's friends! They were "Los Tres!"- basically a trio of Zorros, and they were great heroes, fighting in secrecy because they were noblemen who weren't allowed to fight.

In any case, it's quickly decided, with Elena as a go-between, that they should finish the last mission that ended with the shipwreck! They're to find a magic shield that could stop a deadly monster. This leads to the real conflict of the episode- that Elena is being protective of Abuelo, who is old and fragile, and him bristling under her doing so, finding it babying. I love the two guys being like "She's stubborn as a mule!" "You know who she reminds me of...?" and both going "LUISA!". Naturally, the monster has been scouting their old shipwreck and follows them to the island, where he confesses to stinking the ship (absolving Abuelo of guilt), but defeats the pair and steals the shield. Abuelo admits Elena was right to baby him and says "I am no longer El Capitan... I am just Abuelo", while he men say "We still BELIEVE in you, El Capitan", and a mysterious breeze brushes his mask under him. This naturally inspires him to save the day- Elena is tossed into the ocean fighting the monster, and Abuelo ninja-kicks the shield out of his hands then saves his granddaughter LIKE A BOSS. Elena is named "El Magica", as Los Tres becomes Los Quatro.

It's a pretty solid episode. Like most with simple problems it's VERY predictable, right down to the story beats (like someone failing and giving up, before being inspired to try again), but it develops Abuelo into more of a heroic figure and lets Elena be the negative person again, underestimating someone. It's interesting we're still in Nueva Vista, as they don't want to make this JUST the setting for the Season Finale, but actually use it as a new setpiece for a while for the show to "refresh".
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

45) "Finding Zuzo" This is a pretty unique one, in that it not only focuses on the Spirit World, but the big "character thing" is a huge disagreement between Elena & Naomi, who usually get along. Elena actually acts very snotty when Naomi brings up the need to demolish an old lighthouse Elena's father built, because it's now too small for a port this size ("I think I know what's best for my kingdom, thank YOU!" complete with sassy "hands on hips" pose and hair flip). Aimee is so funny here. Just snapping at Gabe (who wants permission to chase Victor & Carla) but acknowledging it's not his fault- it's just because Naomi angered him, haha. When he suggests the lighthouse solution seems like a great idea, she snaps "Well, no one asked you!", then stomps off, saying "Permission granted by the way. I'm gonna slam the door right now, but it's not because of you" *SLAM*.

So it turns out that Zuzo has been kidnapped by ORIZABA, and holllllllllly crap I'd completely forgotten she had returned. Now with wings full of holes thanks to Elena's Scepter, she holds a wicked grudge and is planning on using Zuzo's "Spirit Guide" stripes to allow her to enter the human world and kill Elena, then create an eternal night in Avalor. And she's on what is apparently the DARK SIDE of the Spirit World, and oh man, they're building lore here. So Elena teams up with Cacahuate (Richard Kind's easily-annoyed sloth Spirit Guide character), then kiss up to King Bobo (now King of the Zanies), and I'm realizing why I glossed a lot of this over- despite some fun character bits, the "Spirit World" stuff never really landed with me. Just a bit too much of characters we never see otherwise. And goofy stuff like "King Bobo gets his own song". When EDEN ESPINOSA is in this episode.

That said, there's a neat bit where Bobo is being an asshole to Cacahuate and Elena snaps at their arguing, pointing out how Zuzo saved one and made the other a King, so they need to put aside their differences and stop arguing, which will feed back to her debate with Naomi earlier. But their ass-hattery ends up getting ELENA captured, and things are looking grim until they both admit fault and decide to team up properly- Bobo uses his evasive skills to trick Orizaba (who cannot fly any longer) into chasing him, which leads to Cacahute tripping her, and she FALLS INTO HER TRAP, literally being destroyed (her next appearance is as a dead spirit). And so everyone makes up and Cacahute & Bob now get along. And so Elena decides to put this lesson to practical use, and she & Naomi agree to simply dismantle the old lighthouse and put it on a higher cliff.

Overall, it's not that bad. Still with characters we won't see much use out of, and Bobo is legit annoying, but it does introduce the Dark Side of the Spirit World.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

46) "Snow Place Like Home" So with much of the show's metaplot kinda wrapped up for the moment, we get a reminder that not ALL the villains are beaten, as Victor & Carla are on the loose, along with Vesta & Cruz. However, Victor drives the "beasts" away with one too many rude remarks, permanently splitting the old villain league that'd build up. And also he creates a magical snowstorm that he can't stop (why is he that powerful?). This traps all the various characters during Navidad season- Elena, Mateo, Esteban & Naomi just fart around the castle wasting time (Elena trying to keep everyone's spirits up, then getting mad when they're unappreciative), but Gabe & Migs have to call off their hunting the Delgados & hide in a cave. Then Victor gets the moment that makes him a fan-favorite by carrying his daughter through the snow after she twists her ankle.

The Elena bit is very predictable... HOWEVER, we get a big Esteban bit where he's accused of being grouchy and bossy all day, and he finally lets out that he's worried about his grandparents, who raised him after his own parents died in a storm all those years ago. So everyone apologizes to Elena and brings everyone to a party. Mateo also realizes why his counter-spell of the blizzard didn't work (Esteban rushed him and he missed the order you're supposed to bang the tamborita in). So everyone's all happy... and just like THAT, Victor & Carla are confronted by the sight of ASH, the never-before seen wife of Victor and mother of Carla! And so this "filler"-ish episode also slams us with the show's new Big Bad.

So like... kinda predictable, but it gives us the best Victor moment ever, explains more of Esteban, AND introduces Ash. This show has some great show-runners.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

47) "Two Left Fins" And just like that, we're back to Nueva Vista, lol. And I think this is the LAST time these characters are meaningful to the plot, as Prince Marzel is trying to show he belongs with the human kings (bringing the trio of kings who rejected Hector during the last "Royal Retreat"). Since King Pescoro is injured in a 30-second bit of trouble, Marzel has to go, but then Seahorse Guy puts it into his head that Marzel, who is still clumsy on land, needs to REALLY prove himself, thus causing a lot of trouble. So naturally this turns into a "Just Be Yourself" story, as Marzel keeps acting like an elitist douche but screws up everything, leading to humiliation. Elena convinces him to bring the kings to underwater Coronado, which impresses them and seems to fix everything... but then he takes them to the "off-limits" kelp forests, which was helpfully explained one minute earlier as something that could permanently turn you into a Sirena. And only one random flower can save them! But it's too far! But Marzel remembers the carriage Elena showed him earlier and makes one for the seahorses, gets to the island, and (since Elena immediately hurts herself trying) climbs up the side of a cliff to get the flowers (helped by King Raj, who is of course an expert rock climber, as shown 10 minutes earlier).

So a pretty simple episode, but one that is mostly based around setting up like eight different plot points (carriage! kept transformations! Raj can rock-climb excellently!) and the usual "Be Yourself" story.

---

Aaaaaaaaaand this is basically it for the Sirenas in the story of "Elena of Avalor". Which is... kind of weird, yet somewhat fitting, maybe? I mean, most shows would introduce these guys and only use them 2-3 more times, and in various episodes, mostly as backgrounders. But here they were a big deal! But... only for a bit! Yet the show makes it seem like they're gonna big a Big Deal going forward: what with naming 4-5 major characters. Having Rosario Dawson play a random one who gets focused on for a full episode. Their area is the setting for the final battle between Team Elena and Team Shuriki. Then a few other episodes have them as side characters while other things happen (like in "The Return of El Capitan"), as Nueva Vista is the setting for a few later things.

But then there's a couple of random episodes not set there ("Finding Zuzo" and "Snow Place Like Home", and after the big episode for Daria and this one for Marzel... that's it! We never see them again! Like, until Marisa does a run-in during the finale! That's THIRTY EPISODES! And it makes it feel like a lot of this stuff was just a waste? Kinda? Like it's both more and less what other shows would do. I can't help but feel like one of the next 30 episodes should have shown them again, even as minor characters. Because since they're not used again, it makes this all feel like a temporary push for some dolls (and it was- Mermaid Dolls are big business and they were pushing these as the last gasp of the doll line) and then everyone gets discarded like they don't matter. Keep in mind this is a show that brought JULIO back again and again in increasingly-important roles! So the "Nueva Vista Arc" ends up being two major Shuriki-War episodes, two character-based ones, and one additional one as a backdrop to an Abuelo story. Just a very odd "Season Finale" set of the show's run, then a couple eps of the new season before the "Ash Arc" starts up.
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