Okay, I know this looks like a bait and switch. In a way, it kind of is because I’m doing a Let’s Watch because my research for the youth-scarring shows of yesteryear has led me to some things that need to be dug through further before I can give you the full experience (aka: I am searching desperately for that Care Bears episode where the evil spell turned kids into gremlin troll things with no emotions).
However, I felt this was appropriate as part of Scarred For Life Month because sweet merciful crap, My Little Pony: The Movie.
Spoilers: that thing is in the Top 5 Scarred For Life moments, okay? A ‘Rainbow of Darkness’ inflicting body horror on adorable cartoon horses? Yeesh. And that’s not even starting on the Death World the ponies of previous animated generations lived in.
And as we’re about to see, that has not changed. There has always and I dare say, will always been a sense of general wrongness that pervades the universe of My Little Pony, as if the ponies are the only decent things in a world where everything else starts at ‘asshole’ and goes right on up to ‘hostile to all life’.
It’s at this point that I know I’ve already started losing some of you because this is a blog post about FiM and some of you are wondering why this show was/is such a big deal. I will attempt to explain, though as we are also about to see, that’s something I’m still figuring it out myself.
First, this is either the fourth of fifth ‘generation’ of the My Little Pony franchise. That is, like Transformers, the show has been rebooted every six or seven years since its debut in the 80’s as a merchandise-driven kid’s show. Unlike Transformers though, MLP has a reputation for being Sugar Bowl level of saccharine and bland despite honestly trolling the depths of existential horror even the Conan cartoon dared not tread in the first generation.
Yes, it’s a thing.
From what I can tell, the middle generations still existed on a Death World, but their sin remained that they were almost aggressively bland. The reason for this seems to be that they were written for girls and as I’ve said before, girls shows don’t have the best track record of being good for anyone to watch. Because sexism.
This changed within the MLP franchise with a new showrunner, Lauren Faust, who just wanted to make a good show in the modern style with lots of Fantasy adventure only with ponies. That’s reportedly not exactly what happened—with only a few of the initial run of episodes being adventures with the rest being slices of life—but her push to make the show smarter and the character more relatable seems to have succeeded…
…which is where the Troubles started.
See, MLP ended up appealing not just to the demographic of young girls it has always been aimed at, but to a much larger demographic which turns out to have included males ages 18-35. That’s not a bad thing by itself, but this fandom was very big and very vocal and to a point confrontational in the sense of ‘yeah, I like a show aimed at little girls—wanna make something of it?’ to the point that the internet backlash was brutal. Firefly brutal. Actually worse than Firefly brutal. There are some forums I’ve been on that now, four years out, still ban MLP discussion.
There are part of the show that sort of let to this (I’ll get to that in the actual review), but today, the backlash has toned down to a greater degree and the fandom is still fairly strong.
I am not part of that fandom. It’s not that I hate the show, it’s just that I haven’t been hooked like I was with Young Justice or Leverage. Also, I’ve never had any problem liking some media that was ‘for girls’, so there’s no added novelty to liking a girls’ show for me, meaning that even if I was a huge fan, I wouldn’t see that part as a selling point.
What even brought this whole thing to my attention was a webcomic called Friendship is Dragons, a campaign comic (one which uses screenshots from an existing property to build a story as if that property was ‘actually’ the result of a roleplaying game campaign—see also Darths and Droids) that uses MLP:FiM as the basis of a pretty cool D&D campaign. It must be in my nature to discover more stuff via fanworks than actual viewings.
So what we’re going to have here is an outsider’s unbiased opinion of the focus of one of the more controversial fandoms. I’m hoping the distance of time will mean this won’t be a powder keg type thing, but more of a moment of thoughtful analysis (provided things don’t happen to piss me off like in the Code Lyoko review).
So without further ado, Let’s Watch: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Episodes 1 & 2 courtesy of DailyMotion.
We open with a storybook-based mythology lesson bout a pair of Greek-style goddess….er… ponies who reigned over the sun and moon until the moon goddess went all Loki on sun goddess, necessitating the use of something called the Elements of Harmony (conveniently in gem form because Fantasy) to seal her ‘forever’ in the moon.
I think everyone reading this knows how well that’s going to go. And yes, she was sealed inside the thing she’s the goddess of. I get the feeling it was lass banishment and more a working vacation while she plotted an grew more powerful. There is a 0% chance she won’t bust out of there before the fifteen minute mark.
As it turns out, the person reading this is our main character, Twilight Sparkle. I’m going to talk about character designs again in a bit, but her mane’s design with the lighter magenta streak, the voice, and the fandom’s tendency to draw her ‘human’ form as a black woman makes her eerily similar to someone I went to high school with. It’s messing with me every time I see her.
Anyway, Twilight wonders where she’s heard about the Elements of Harmony before and…
We get a theme song!
Okay, despite the shows I’ve done Let’s Watches for all having theme songs, there’s something refreshing about seeing a modern show with a theme song. They are often cut to make time for commercials these days, or worse, replaced by licensed music. Kids shows tend to be better with this, but not by much.
The theme song itself pleasingly fakes us out with the traditional ‘female vocalist sings the title of the show over and over, inexplicably pronouncing it ‘p-oa-nee” style of the previous generations before breaking into a bouncy, excited song with what I can only describe as a Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer-style ‘hip ukelele’ mixed in there.
It’s a good theme song, but as someone who is a fan of lyrics, it’s a bit fast to the point that I’m never going to be able to memorize that. The animation is nice and crisp as Flash animation tends to be, even with the ‘pop-up book’ style start to the opening. We’ve gone a lot more fluid since Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends.
It also gives us look at the character models. It seems like they’ve learned a lot from the original thick noodle legs of the some of the earlier versions and the utterly hideous uncanny valley horses of others. These ponies as stylistically cute while still having more horse-y faces and legs. They also have… for the lack of a better word… hairstyles incorporating their main and tail so Applejack has a ‘country girl’ lazy braid for example. It’s pretty cool and makes them much more distinctive than just ‘the pink one’ or ‘the blue one with wings’.
They do still have the weird suction cup feet though. You know, like how cartoon elephant feet are drawn? I never got this design choice. At the very least, you’d think they would have the bottom of the ‘foot’ be a different color to suggest hooves, but nope—a big, fleshy suction cup. Weird, but like the Powerpuff Girls’s flippers, I’ll allow it.
When the song ends, we rejoin Twilight as she’s invited to a party… and freaks out, fleeing while saying she has studying to do. The other ponies seem to be both used to and annoyed by her bookwormish tendencies. The key line here is ‘I think she’s more interested in books than friends’. Telegraphing that a little too hard, show.
Twilight books (heh) it all the way to… the Sultan’s palace from Aladdin? Seriously it’s a tower with an onion dome. She’s trying to think of where she’s heard of the Elements of Harmony and is so wrapped up in it that she doesn’t notice she just body checked her dragon (!) assistant Spike across the room and wrecked the present her got to give to the pony whose party she skipped out on. Twilight does not give shit one about the ruined gift and goes on to read up on a prophecy.
Yep, the moon goddess (now called the Mare in the Moon/Nightmare Moon) is scheduled to break out. There’s a cute joke here where she’s dictating a letter to Princess Celestia (the sun goddess… who she can just correspond with, I guess.) and Spike fails to spell ‘precipice’, ‘threshold’ and finally ‘brink’ before she gives up and says ‘something really bad is about to happen’. Spike then has trouble spelling Twilight’s name. We go for the triple threat when she tries to get him to spell ‘imperative’.
Matt Groening said it best: the audience loves the slow thinker and this got me to chuckle.
Okay, so I was being a smartass before. Twilight is being mentored by Celestia and really can send correspondence to her—in the form of Spike’s dragon breath being a sending spell. Kind of cool. As it turns out, however, this is the one time Celestia doesn’t buy into what Twilight is telling her. Instead of sounding the alarm about the unstoppable dark goddess, Cel tells Twi to lighten the hell up and go make friends. In fact, she makes it an order for her to go to a place called Ponyville (again: subtle) to oversee the preparations for an annual holiday.
The animation here is great with a lot of little acting cues as Twilight’s pride gets deflated.
Being a cartoon smart person though, Twilight thinks she’s smarter than the tangible god who is her teacher and decides to skip the ‘make friends’ part and study at the library she’s going to be staying at.
We then go through what TVTropes calls getting your ducks in a row, wherein we meet the rest of the cast at a rapid pace, starting with Pinkie Pie who… screams and runs off when Twilight introduces herself.
We move on to Applejack and… whoa are Spike’s eyes trippy here. On the whole, the animation is praiseworthy, but there are moments when some of the weaknesses of Flash and any other CG animation make themselves known. This is one of them: it’s very easy to forget to move an element without moving the connected elements accordingly. Hence spikes creepy, unmoving eyes here.
But yes, Applejack, who is in charge of food and seeing as 1) everyone who isn’t a dragon are horses and 2) kid aren’t going to relate to eating lots of hay and carrots, all the food is made up of apple-based desserts that coincidentally share names with her gigantic Southern family. There’s a cute bit with the ancient Granny Smith and Twilight having to sample everything against her will, and that’s the scene.
We move on to probably my favorite character here, Rainbow Dash, a lazy yet aggressive and athletic pegasus who is charge of the local weather. Yes, she controls the local weather. By physically lugging clouds around and punching rain out of them or punching them out of existence to clear the sky.
She ends up bodyslamming Twilight into the mud then cleaning her up with weather powers, leaving her with comically huge hair. I would groan at the hair joke if it wasn’t actually animated to move as it it was frizzed and poofy, making a decrepit visual gag kind of new. It also sets up…
Twilight now goes to see Rarity and for I think the first time, we discover that unicorn ponies are all telekinetic. I guess it makes sense that no one makes a big deal of it because they live in this world, but it just shows up and now it’s a thing. No explanation, not exposition, it’s just a thing… which I grudgingly admit I like. While I like my exposition in Fantasy stories, the fact that no one here has a reason to question or discuss this any more than we need to discuss fingers is a neat touch.
Anyway, Spike has an instant crush… and I’m not even going to question it. Dragons are like that.
Rarity herself is an ISO standard diva with the meanness removed and replaced with extra fussiness. She basically kidnaps twilight and tries to dress her up/fix her hair until Twilight manages to escape, only to happen upon Fluttershy.
Fluttershy, in a shocking twist of subtlety… is shy. And quite possible the most moe character I have ever seen. Right up until she spots Spike and her naturalist bent kicks in, causing her to excitedly go all Jane Goodall on the baby dragon, trying to learn everything about him—including literally his life story, much to Twilight’s consternation.
Twilight manages to temporarily ditch Fluttershy back at the library only to discover that Pinkie Pie’s fleeing earlier was actually running off to plan a surprise party. Annoyed (and dosed with hot sauce for another kinda cute visual pun where she temporarily turns into a Rapidash), Twilight stomps off to try and get some sleep, having accomplished nothing.
She first recites the prophecy again and there’s a line that triggers my old Scarred for Life senses: ‘the stars will aide in her escape’. It’s got a little Lovecraft on it. Are the stars in this universe sapient? I wouldn’t be surprised.
Spike comes and gets her later and it’s time to go see Celestia raise the sun for the longest day of the year.
And absolutely nothing horrifying happens.
Wait, no. Celestia doesn’t show up and instead a badass black mare trailing a mane of prehensile smoke arrives instead, declaring they’ll never see Celestia again. Rainbow Dash tries to kick her ass directly while Pinkie makes jokes, both of which Apple Jack puts the kibosh on because Apple Jack is the only one with a survival instinct.
Twilight reveals that yes, this is Nightmare Moon and… I can’t ignore this any longer.
Okay, so when the guards attack her, NM calls them ‘foals’ in the same context as ‘fools’.
I am a fan of puns. I make no apologies and feel no shame for that. And if that was where it stopped, I would actually find that kind of funny, especially since this means she’s also calling them babies.
There is also an underlying element of xenofiction (fiction about species that was not human or humanish) in this show: the characters talk about having their coats dyed, not their hair. They use ‘hoof’ where someone would say ‘hand’ (even though they have suction cups, not hooves). It makes sense.
But then on top of the puns and the xenofiction-based language, they add something weird that I think was the core of the fandom backlash: they inexplicably replace ‘everybody’, ‘everyone’, ‘no one’, ‘nobody’, etc with something along the lines of ‘everypony’ or ‘nopony’… and then the fandom started doing the same. In places that weren’t MLP-fandom centric.
I liken this to a fandom I am part of, the Browncoats, wherein we made lots of use of ‘gorram’ and ‘shiny’ (though my usage of ‘shiny’ is different) a lot in mixed company and annoyed a lot of people. Except at least ‘gorram’ is sort of relevant while ‘nopony’ is just weird when no one involved is a pony. Couple it with the internet’s irrational and at this point completely unfunny hatred of furry fandom and you can see where this goes.
I’m not saying it’s okay to ostracize a fandom for these things, but this is where I think it started: with real life (er… internet) conversations suddenly and unexpectedly taking a turn into xenofiction for no reason.
But I digress. This post is getting huge and we’re only now at Part 2.
Nightmare Moon kicks the crap out of the guards and declare that night will last forever before turning into smoke and flying away. Dash still tries to give chase, but can’t keep up. She then spots Twilight running off to the library and she and the other main characters follow, confronting Twilight about how she knows this stuff.
Twilight explains the plot she saw coming in Part 1 Act 1, and Pinkie finds the books she needs… by looking in the most obvious place.
As it turns out, there are six Elements of Harmony necessary to defeating Nightmare Moon: Honesty, Kindness, Generosity, Laughter, Loyalty, and the secret sixth that can only be brought about by a ‘spark’ activating the others. In a fit of weapons grade anti-subtlety, the camera pans over Apple Jack, Fluttershy, Rarity, Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash in order as Twilight reads off the names of the elements.
For every two steps forward in terms of storytelling, this show takes a step back. It’s kind of maddening until you remember it’s for kids and they’re not even going to get the xenoficiton stuff, or the twist that’s coming up. They need those cues and it’s unfair to really mark a show down for it.
But I will still mock.
Reading further, Twilight reveals that the Elements are hidden in an old castle (the audio was too garbled for me to make out the name/description). But they are all of them deceived, because Nightmare Smoke is spying on them and heads off ahead of them as they trek into…
The Everfree Forest. The way they talk about this place has my Lovecraft senses tingling, but the only threat here seems to be Nightmare Moon in Smoke mode. But what a threat she is! First up, she collapses the cliff they’re on sending four of six tumbling to their dooms (in a funny moment, the whole cliffside crumbles off the mountainside, leaving the pegasi Dash and Fluttershy flying unperturbed for a second before they realize that their friends are about to be murdered by the landscape.
While the fliers save Pinkie and Rarity, Apple Jack saves Twilight from falling, but can’t pull her up. Then it gets a bit weird with Apple Jack looking around and telling Twilight that she’ll be safe if she lets go until Twilight finally trusts her and falls… only to be caught by the fliers.
…Why didn’t she just say the others would catch her? Was that so hard? Because it’s kind of a jackass move: she let Twilight be talked into what from her perspective seems like suicide when she could have just said the others were there and everything was going to be okay.
Seriously, what the hell?
Anyway, the character slightly less evil than Apple Jack—Nightmare Moon, heads off and looks like she transforms into a big monster, once again ahead of the group. As it turns out, it’s a freaking manticore! Kind of a badass monster wherever you’re getting the vital stats, but to my shock and a dozen electric guitars in the head, the ponies charge the goddamn thing like manticore rasslin’ is the national sport.
Well all but Fluttershy because of course she doesn’t.
Actually, she’s pretty smart in this case—in more ways than one. As the others get kicked to the curb with ease, she keeps begging them to wait until finally she leaps between them and the thing… and proceeds to calm it like it’s a house pet, eventually removing a thorn from its paw (which s really Nightmare Moon in smoke mode).
Sadly, this Androcles Lion won’t show up again, but the group continues on until they come to a river that’s been made impassible by a bawling sea serpent. And let me tell you, this sea serpent just stepped right out of Hanna Barbara in the 1970’s. He’s one of those characters who you can’t tell whether he’s a slightly mean-spirited parody of ‘camp’ gay stereotypes, or an homage to old characters like Snagglepuss who was actually a parody of existing Hollywood actors. He’s hammy enough I guess, crying over NMM cutting off his rockin’ ‘stache, and his vanity sets him up as clearly Rarity’s challenge.
And she solves it by commiserating with him, rips off one of his scales and kills him with it.
Okay, that’s not what happened, but for a little longer than a second, they really play it off like she did, right down to showing her holding the slae triumphantly as if it were a sword.
But no, what she actually did was cut off her tail, which she then uses telekinesis to attach to the serpent’s ruined mustache. He is, of course, overjoyed and thankful, allowing them to pass.
Now, however, the group faces… scary looking trees.
I am not kidding. Nightmare Moon seems to be getting lazier with these deadly obstacles. We go from throwing them off a cliff to annoying dangerous monsters… to scary trees. No, the trees do not attack. They are just trees. They stand there and wait to be cut down for lumber.
Apparently, after charging a giant scorpion lion, it’s trees that kind of look like they have faces on them. Luckily for them, Pinkie isn’t six years old and laughs at them, encouraging them all to do the same through a little song and dance routine.
It’s… alright as far as songs go. Not great, just alright. But then maybe I’m just distracted by the fact that laughing at the slightly spooky trees erases their scary faces in a puff of smoke.
What. Did the freaking moon goddess just waste magic on illusions of jack o’ lantern faces on a bunch of trees? That are destroyed by laughter? This is the same psychopath that threw them off a cliff, right? I… I… forget it, next scene.
The group is getting closer now and they come to one last obstacle: a rope bridge that’s been cut. There’s another cute ‘forgot Rainbow could fly’ bit here before Dash flies across to retie the bridge. When she gets ready to do it, however, she’s approached by a group of ponies and cool jumpsuits (like the Blue Angels type ‘Wonder Bolts she expressed admiration for earlier). The leader, who sounds exactly like Nightmare Moon, offers her a spot in their ranks… if she walks away from fixing the bridge.
This? This is a better challenge. It’s not trying to kill them, an act that will only spur them to action if the survive, it has the potential to drive a wedge between the group. Dash, however is more loyal than that and tells them thanks but no thanks before fixing the bridge, completing the journey, as they have now arrived at the castle.
Inside, they find the Elements… sort of. Here, they’re rocks with the gem shape carved into them instead of gems. Oddly, none of them comment on this, though it could be that they didn’t see the images the audience did. They take them down off the pedestal and Twilight tries to figure out how to get the sixth.
Only Nightmare Moon has been waiting and kidnaps Twilight to another hall within the castle. I’m not quite sure why she brings Twilight with her, but there’s a quick staredown, followed by a charge and Twilight can apparently teleport. Looks like it takes some effort (chalk another one up to the animation) so I won’t ask why she didn’t ‘port to safety on the cliff. She landed between the Elements and cranks the magic to maximum to try and activate them…
…at which point Nightmare punts her away and smashes the goddamn things.
I will question this one. She’s known where the Elements were since she spied on the group in the library, and she didn’t just immediately super-smoke over there and smash them then?
Actually—and I wish this was made clear—it seems like smashing them means nothing but a demoralizing move, as Twilight hears the others coming to help her and realizes that it’s the spirit of the Elements that count. And those spirits happen to be embodied by her friends.
Realizing this creates the spark that activates the smashed Elements, reconstituting them into magical girl style jewelry for the others and summoning the fifth Element
…not that one.
No, it’ magic! Get it? The spark was friendship and through it. Magic was called down. Friendship is Magic.
And then they hit Nightmare Moon with a Carebear stare.
I am not kidding. It’s a rainbow beam that engulfs her and consumes her in a pillar of light as she screams like the Wicked Witch of the West. I would make fun of this, but this and the Carebear stare always seemed pretty cool to me. It’s the power of Love and Friendship weaponized.
And so the eternal night is canceled early, heralded by the rising of the sun and the arrival of Princess Celestia. It’s an interesting choice they have here to actually have the ponies prostrate themselves before the goddess… princess… whatever. I’ve seen it before in cartoons, but there’s more weight to it here and it really does seem like they are in religious reverence.
Celestia points out to Twilight that the ‘make some friends’ directive was literally the most important part of what turned out to be a save-the-world mission for Twi. Then we get the big reveal: Nightmare wasn’t destroyed, just depowered and de-crazied, reverting to an adorable pony who is all weepy and apologetic now instead of hammy and awesome.
Now, if I were writing this, Nightmare, now Princess Luna would have joined the party and the threat of turning into NMM again, or the temptation to do it for short times for a power boost would have been a central theme. I’ve watch eight episodes now and she isn’t even mentioned again, though I know she shows up later, though not in the main cast.
Now given, NMM wasn’t the smartest villain, nor did she have the best motivation (how dare you sleep through the half of the day I rule!), but she was pretty cool with the smoke powers, hammy voice and general interesting design. To my knowledge, while Luna does come back, NMM is never seen again except in flashback and that’s a shame. The shift to more slice of life stories in the series means there wasn’t room for an arc villain, and that’s a shame.
Anyway, things wrap up with Twilight deciding to stay in Ponyville with a new decree from Celestia to study Friendship, which makes a lot of sense seeing as it’s the power source for the kingdom’s hidden superweapon.
So how’s it fare over all?
Well I first have to say that the animation is, for the most part, gorgeous. There are a few outright errors, but they aren’t indicative of the style. What is sometimes off-putting is the occasional moment where a character model is twisted into grotesquely. Most notable being Pinkie during her musical number where she goes bipedal and into a pose that looks terrifying given that she still has the horse-y legs. Also, they all look bizarre when they get their elements and spend a few seconds in a semi-bipedal position floating in the air. It looks like they’re trapped half-way to human and it’s very… body horror.
The story is pretty good. It’s a nice, basic quest/test of character set-up, and while I wish they had come up with a better test than scary-face trees, it works well enough. I award some points for the fact that Celestia did, in fact, outright tell Twilight exactly what she needed to do, but in a way that ensured she actually made friends and didn’t try to force it. That was pretty clever.
Here and there, there are clear weak points that come from it being a kid’s show. There’s no subtlety, and a lot of the jokes are too bland to be actually funny, for example. This is made up for by the characters actually being fun, and the worldbuilding being much better than expected.
As for the question I ask after every Let’s Watch: how is this as a first episode.
Hard to say.
As I explained, the idea that this show would be adventure oriented didn’t materialize, so eight episodes in, the structure of the series as presented here doesn’t repeat. From here on out, we mostly see the ponies dealing with day-to-day life—which isn’t bad, just not what the first episode would lead you to expect.
The characters are introduced adequately here, though each episode usually pushes one or two into the background in the interest of the half-hour format. The world is also set-up well here and the actual non-villain related tone remains the same.
I’d give this a B- for pilot, B+ for the overall quality. I get why this show achieved its fandom, but it didn’t really grab me to the point where I can’t wait to watch the next episode.
Though in the last few moments of the post, I do want to share my theory as to why this thing became so popular with twenty-somethings and males. There’s a lot of discussion about the changing gender politics of the milenial generation and eternal childhood and the, but I want to put forth this one from my mere eight episodes of exposure:
This is one of the only shows out there right now featuring twenty-somethings.
Yeah, they never describe the ages of these characters, but their situations spell it out: Rarity has been running her own start-up business for an undisclosed amount of time. Apple Jack is in the family business and just getting a taste of being fully in charge of it. Dash is a burn-out with a job that requires minimal effort and her natural talents. Twilight is almost explicitly a post-grad taking an internship, and Pinkie seems to coast by ‘helping out’ at what seems to be another family business. Everyone is clearly past school and are picking their way through finding their places as adults.
There is a book genre called New Adult which caters to those between teens and ‘full’ adulthood’ because that’s a thing now, but if we’re completely honest, at the moment, said genre is 80% sex and 500% geared toward female audiences. So to an extent, this sort of audience experience is at least available for women.
Young men on the other hand don’t really have that. Scrubs is kind of like that if you’re a doctor, and back in the day, you had Friends, but there everyone had already pretty much become set on their path. Judd Apatow movies pretty much run on this and that’s probably where they got so popular too. Same with How I Met Your Mother.
I’m willing to bet most fans don’t even notice it consciously, but are drawn to that nonetheless.
But anyway, I’ve put down eight (!!) freaking pages about ponies and I’ve got like five chapters of Soul Battery to write before December, so there you go. I’m kind of sad Nightmare Moon wasn’t scarier because she had a long legacy of utter terror to uphold and she failed.
Next Week: The Ten Most Unintentionally Scarring Moments in TV and Movies.
Before I go though, I’d like to announce that the Patreon is up and running and I’ve already got a patron—that’s awesome. The first Patron rewards will be going out Sunday, so if anyone wants to be in on the first wave, that’s… not a lot of time. To my very first patron: thank you so much1 you have no idea what a great feeling it was seeing that.
Also, if anyone happens to be in Virginia, I will be appearing at the Culpeper County Library on October 17th for their Local Author Extravaganza. I’ll be signing and selling books and I’m told I’ll get to speak… which should be interesting. It’s completely open to the public, so if you’re in the area, you have no excuse :p
Hey, just so you know this for some reason did not show up on the main page.
Thanks for the heads up! I put the wrong category on the post, which stopped it from apearing in the correct list.
Ponies, then. Unlike most shows you write about this stands out as something I’ve actually seen, having attended these half-ironic events called we call Ponytron where adult people sit around all day and watch MLP a full season at a time.
The show has some unfortunate issues if you look too close. The vaguely racist zebra character, the fact that the Equestrian society is tiered (Got wings? You’re middle class. Got a horn? Elite. Neither? Proletariat, literally the only pony type tasked with feeding everybody. Both? You’re royalty.) It probably wouldn’t bother me since there’s no reason fantasy worlds should all be perfect, except this show is for kids. What kind of values are being taught here other than friendship?
Another issue is fandom, but let’s be honest: All fandoms are horrible. I generally avoid intentionally the fandom of anything I like because they invariably make me soon wish I’d hated the original work. So no offense, but that little “my fandom is better than their fandom” bit? It’s like how toys that make an awful noise don’t bother the one playing with them. One never sees how horrible something is from the inside.
An interesting feature of the show is that each season begins with a big villain episode and the rest is slice-of-life. This means that if you only watch the first episode you get a very wrong picture of the show, especially since the general expectation would be that the dramatic villains would be season finales rather than openers.
I’m still not far enough along to have seen any clear class divides. They haven’t left Ponyville yet (and I haven’t seen the zebra either, though she showed up in FiD) and the only characters focused on are the mains, who have Protagonist Jobs (Lazy Layabout, Farmer, Business Owner Who Can Close Up For A Week With No Consequences–all that’s missing is a writer/performer). I was assuming the Princesses were like gods or something though–are they really in charge because they’re mutants? Do all the ponies live a thousand years? This show is weird.
It seriously wasn’t my intention to say my fandom was better than anyone’s just draw the comparison and explain why one went too far for me. I also pointed out this was no reason to ostracize a fandom and that the internet is full off assholes.
Also, the do have at least one other ‘adventure’ episode in S1 that I’ve seen: the dragon one. I felt that was the more D&D style episode anyway, especially with Rarity fully going up there to steal everything and Dash fully expecting to kill the damn thing.
Later on in the show there are more princesses who lack the living god-status of Celestia and Luna. Also Twilight Sparkle eventually grows wings, which immediately automatically makes her a princess. So rulership really is a question of anatomy. And while they try not to rub the watcher’s face in the class division, it comes out in little things like the important, wealthy people in the capital being almost exclusively unicorns and the ground ponies having to feed everyone being a simple fact nobody pays attention to aside from being mentioned in a school play about history, and of course the lack of counterexamples.
Yeah there are some adventurous episodes that aren’t starters, but they lack the doomsday-save-the-world-scale of the season starters.
It’s totally not an excuse, but in the land of no thumbs, I guess the pony with telekinesis is… queen?
How DO the others hold things anyway? I’ve seen them pick things up, but they have no grasping appendage–Maybe those are suction cups.
Seems like an acceptable break from reality for making cartoons about magic ponies to me, but wouldn’t be all that surprised if it got explained at some point since surprisingly many things are.
Like that scary forest? The forest is scary because the plants there grow without anyone taking care of them, and in the setting that’s unnatural and terrifying. This is actually mentioned at some point.
That’s actually kind of awesome. Seeing as they control the weather and every other plant seems to be the result of someone’s special talent (or the focus of an entire bloodline’s talent like the Apples), that’s a clever bit of world building.
I wonder if there’s a pony whose job is to make grass happen…