SPOILER WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Netflix's She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
In Netflix's She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, fans are getting a familiar spin on Adora and Catra, though there's one big change to their relationship. They're not co-workers in Hordak's army like the '80s series depicted -- they're actually best friends, raised from childhood, striving to be Force Captains for the villain.
As Season 1 progresses, we see it's more of a sisterly relationship, which makes for great chemistry when Adora turns hero and begins to harness her powers as She-Ra, which inspires her to oppose Catra's antagonistic ways. Upon close inspection, though, their intertwined journey feels very similar to Masashi Kishimoto's story of Naruto and Sasuke.
Kishimoto's manga premiered in 1997 as part of Japan's Weekly Shōnen Jump, and has since yielded several anime series, animated movies, spinoff books and plays, with a live-action movie also planned. It's one of the most popular manga stories of all time, currently continuing via the Boruto franchise. But no matter what, the franchise will forever hinge on Naruto and Sasuke, and now we're seeing a very similar narrative being spun with Adora and Catra by showrunner Noelle Stevenson.
Adora is very similar to Naruto in that she's an orphan who holds infinite potential, which is why the evil Shadow Weaver values her so much. She can't afford to lose her for Hordak, so she's gaslighted and trained her to be a weapon. However, Adora finds out she's meant for a greater destiny. She discovers the Sword of Protection, which allows her to don the mantle of She-Ra. Naruto endured a similar journey in Konoha, where he grew up as an orphan not knowing of the unlimited power inside him, courtesy of the Nine Tails Fox, Kurama. Upon discovering they could be a force for good, both readily accepted their fates and make it their duty to save the world, immediately.
In Catra's case, well, the Sasuke comparison is even more fitting. Sasuke was viewed as Naruto's rival, but as the hero made it clear numerous times, he was also his brother. Sasuke didn't have Naruto's raw power, though, and had to work hard for everything, which is the same path Catra follows here in Hordak's Fright Zone. Of course, when she sees what Adora becomes, she grows jealous, just like Sasuke did when he saw Naruto becoming a messiah-like figure.
What's so tragic is Adora/Naruto never cared at all for this competition and would have gladly sacrificed everything to save their best friend. The comparison comes full circle when you look at Naruto: Shippuden, which focuses on Naruto trying to retrieve and redeem Sasuke. They constantly clash, with Sasuke turning down Naruto's olive branch. Here, Catra does the same, slapping away Adora's hand (literally) time after time. But no matter what, you know Adora won't stop trying to show everyone that, despite Catra's traumatic childhood (a lonely one which bears a painful resemblance to Sasuke's), she can be a beacon of hope to Etheria, too.
That said, there's a clear sense of entitlement in both Catra and Sasuke, which, had they ignored and simply become instruments of good, would have resulted in them enjoying the same kind of reverence showered upon Adora and Naruto. But they're selfishly fixated on outdoing their better halves, which is why Catra opts to spurn Adora's request to turn a new leaf. As with Sasuke, ultimately Catra just wants to be recognized as the better sibling.
Eventually, Naruto succeeded in his mission and brought Sasuke back to the light. With She-Ra's first season ending with Catra deposing Shadow Weaver as Hordak's second-in-command, well, her redemption looks way more unlikely. But just like Adora, we won't give up hope that she too can save Catra's soul.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, starring Aimee Carrero, Karen Fukuhara, AJ Michalka, Marcus Scribner, Reshma Shetty, Lorraine Toussaint, Keston John, Lauren Ash, Christine Woods, Genesis Rodriguez, Jordan Fisher, Vella Lovell, Merit Leighton, Sandra Oh and Krystal Joy Brown, is now available on Netflix.