Tag: dnn

SU Review: “Gem Harvest”

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We went to a gem harvest and a Thanksgiving episode broke out. Steven has his autumn visit to Peridot and Lapis where they are raising a farm. The vegetables don’t come to life, though, until Steven creates a pet pumpkin for the pair. All of sudden, a crusty pilot arrives and claims the barn. Greg and the Crystal Gems arrive on the scene and it turns out to be Greg’s cousin Andy and they used to be part of a flying team called the Flying DeMayo’s.

Andy, or “Uncle Andy” to Steven, eventually calms down and comes around to what’s going on by throwing a party. It turns out to be a pseudo-Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, the vegetables (that aren’t like Veggie Head), and cake. However, Andy then goes away again giving Peridot and Lapis the barn after feeling out of place. Steven follow him and asks him to come back. It turns out that the rest of Andy’s family all went their separate ways leaving just him to carry on the act—when he could’ve used his plane to visit the rest of his family. He does come back for the party and we’ll see if he becomes a recurring character.

This was a surprising episode. We get a family member on Greg’s side this time and at first he’s like the “conservative relative” that seems to always bring up something political as evidenced by calling Peridot and Lapis hippies at first. However, as Steven is ever the peacemaker, Andy shows a lighter side and goes with the flow. It is relatable for people to get bitter when everything around them changes and it’s not to their liking. That’s what we got with Andy as he only focused on the act and hasn’t seen Greg in over 20 years. Overall, though, he makes for an interesting character and likely one we’ll see again.

Again, there was no clue that this was actually going to be a holiday episode, but that is what we have there and it’s actually quite a heartwarming one. If there’s anything to take issue with, it’s that the dialogue at the table was very corny and awkward amongst the Gems. Outside of that, everyone was likable in this episode and surprises everyone by being more slice-of-life than the adventure that “Bismuth” became. Steven Universe is back and for that, we are very thankful.

Pluses and Minuses:

  • + Peridot and Lapis farming
  • + A new addition to the family
  • + A surprise (if accidental?) Thanksgiving episode
  • – Dialogue at the table

GRADE:  A

StatManDan

Sunday Morning Derpy Feature: Pixar’s Featurette – Borrowed Time

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And now for something completely different.

While we have been called the “Mtv” of pony media, due to the fact we branched out beyond the colorful equines, our only real reason for doing so is the fact this site was started by a bunch of animation fans who generally enjoy animated flicks from television shows, to movies, to fan films.  I would personally call myself a general animation fan due to the fact that I do not exactly pay close attention to the animation industry.  I’ve watched plenty of it, was that one ‘stoner’ eons ago who caught the premiere of Adult Swim’s original shows airing unannounced at 4am on Cartoon Network.  As someone born in the early 80s, I got to ride that now very classic wave of cartoons, from the Saturday Morning shows like He-Man, Voltron, Transformers, Thundercats, My Little Pony and then advancing to the Disney Afternoon after its inception.  I say general as one of the big draws to Friendship is Magic from many people in the pony community was the fact such industrial names as Lauren Faust & Rob Renzetti were attached to the show.  I fell into the void thanks to nostalgia, as I watched the show and had the toys as a kid.  But enough about me.

Earlier in the year we had a featurette dubbed Piper, about a Piper chick learning about life along the coastline.  In line with much of Pixar’s content, it was emotionally filled and light hearted.  And while the studio has experimented with some dark concepts within their movie franchises, Their new featurette was created to show that animation can be dark and gritty, but not in that emo Hot Topic way.

Borrowed Time is the short story about a Sheriff and his son in the old west, and a life changing event.  Clocking in at 6 minutes and 45 seconds total, like anything Pixar produces, you might want to be prepared for some feels, and possibly a tear.  Unlike other features and featurettes from Pixar, the story covers some really dark subjects in a mostly visual story.  A few words are spoken in it, but for the most part it is pure eye candy.

The darkness of the short film was one of the main points of it.  Its creators wanted to show the general media world that not all animation has to be aimed at ‘kids’, but that animation could tell a really good story.  While most fans know that, the fat executives think otherwise, though are now just slowly coming around to it in many established places.  Watch this feature, its practically better than anything mainstream Hollywood has crapped out.  Don’t worry though, I’m sure they’ll reboot this short story in another 5 years and change a few things.

Since I’m a fan of telling people to go form their own opinions, do not consider this a review.  Just a ‘hey check it out’ deal.  Directly below is the featurette, and a behind the scenes clip from its creators.

 

MLP Review: “To Where and Back Again”

So two unicorns, a draconequus, and a changeling travel to save their friends from an evil queen. Actually, I’m getting ahead of myself like Tiny Pop UK was ahead of everyone. Anyway, Starlight received an invitation to come back to her old village for a sunset celebration. She had a bad dream about it, but Princess Luna enters the dream suggesting that she consult the Mane Six on what to do. They suggest bringing a friend along, so Starlight takes Trixie (much to Twilight’s disappointment).

The get to the village, but when asked to help judged a competition among other things, Starlight panics and leaves in a hurry with Trixie. Starlight tries to talk to the Mane Six and Spike about it, but find they are acting very strange. As it turns out, they aren’t them, they are changelings who have taken their place and have taken the rest of the Royal Family. (They are probably not going to tell us how, so don’t ask.) Thorax tells of the news from the Crystal Empire and they look to Starlight for guidance. Discord appears and joins the party since he wants to rescue Fluttershy.

So MLP’s version of “Suicide Squad” travels to the Changeling Kingdom, but they cannot use their magic as Queen Chrysalis has a magic nullifying-throne. Destroy that, get your magic and your friends back. One plan is to use a password to make sure they are them and not changelings. It’s gets a bit tricky, but one thing to note is that since Thorax made a friend in Spike, he no longer feels hungry for love. Oh, and his wings are a different color than normal.

When initially discovered, they use Trixie’s smoke bombs to get past one stage, then Discord’s “annoying personality” to get past another. But eventually, Discord gets captured as the changelings disguise themselves as Fluttershy. Sensing the Discord they have is an imposter, Trixie then sacrifices herself to allow Starlight and Thorax to escape.

Starlight enters the throne room to discover her friends and the royals trapped in cocoons up top, and Chrysalis waiting for her. Chrysalis pulls a Mane-iac by not thinking much of Starlight to use a drone for her, but Throax had already done that and Chrysalis goes after the real Starlight. The Queen’s plan is to use her drones to harvest all the love in Equestria so they can feed for generations.

However, Starlight tries to convince Chrysalis that she doesn’t need to do that since Throax learned to share love, Chrysalis dismisses that claiming a changeling’s hunger is never satisfied and tries to drain the love from Thorax. Starlight then tells Thorax to let her have all of it, and he does just that turning into something more colorful. The rest of the changelings follow, destroying the throne and freeing the ponies above. Starlight tries to reason with Chrysalis one more time that she doesn’t have to be an oppressive leader (and not just because she is facing the prospect of five princesses, a prince, a draconequus, six more magical ponies, and a baby dragon with daggers in their eyes.), but the latter rejects the offer vowing revenge as she takes her leave.

The rescuers and the rescued apart from Thorax head back to the village to celebrate with Starlight more self-confident and the season ends with Discord and Trixie on flying pigs.

So something different and amazing. We wondered where Season Six would take us in the finale. We knew that Thorax might be playing a part, but no one expected Trixie and Discord to play the same and in the role of rescuers. It’s also about some of the lessons Starlight, Thorax, Discord, and even Trixie have learned over the course of the season. Starlight is Twilight’s pupil and is forced to lead a project without her’s or the Mane Six’s assistance. Thorax, from his friendship with Spike, has learned there is a way to get love without resorting to force and is willing to help. Discord, well to say he’s a bit clingy to Fluttershy is an understatement, but it’s through her that he is on relatively good terms with the Mane Six. Trixie hasn’t gotten along well with the Mane Six in the past on the show—especially Twilight—but is Starlight’s friend and is making an effort to support her in a time of need.

The banter between Discord and Trixie is genius and fans will undoubtedly want more of that in the future. One wonders when the Changelings will return to the fold—likely Season Seven—but it does set up an interesting and potential story line in the future. The Mane Six and Spike play no rea direct role in this one (and this is the third time in six season finales that at least six of them have been captured at some point), but there are indirect roles from Twilight (to Starlight), Spike (to Thorax), to Fluttershy (her friendship with Discord). So another potential plot for next season would be how much the Mane Six and Spike have influenced others, but that’s really going back to Season Four on that one.

The only issue here is that there is a possible plot hole since odds are that the changelings are still in the three castles—Canterlot, Crystal Empire, and in Ponyville—and unless there it’s addressed in Season Seven or a chapter book, it’s a plot hole. There will be some who will take issue with the sudden events towards the end, but I won’t be one of them.

Really, this was a good season. It only really suffers because the top tier episodes from Seasons Four and Five are top tier for the whole series. I’ll elaborate more on that in the season review (read:  respond to this). So that’s MLP Season Six and it was an enjoyable season if not all mindblowing (Season Four) or emotionally absorbing (Season Five). That’s all for now. More later.

Pluses and Minuses:
  • +  Background of the Changeling Kingdom
  • +  Equestria’s Suicide Squad
  • +  Discord and Trixie banter
  • +  Starlight Glimmer and Thorax
  • +  Something different for a season finale
  • –  You’re changelings are still in your castle

GRADE:  A

StatManDan

MLP Review: “Top Bolt”

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The map has called Twilight and Rainbow Dash to Wonderbolt Academy to solve a friendship problem. They come upon a pair of pegasi named Sky Stinger–who is very confident, but lacks skill—and Vapor Trail, who has skill, but lacks self-confidence. The reason the former has skill is because Vapor Trail has been giving him a boost. Vapor’s so focused on making Sky look good, that she isn’t focusing on her own skills.

Of course, both Twilight and Rainbow have different ideas on the problem. Twilight wants Vapor to come clean with the truth while Rainbow prefers fixing things without telling them because that could jar their confidence. After the backstory of Sky and Vapor, they try Rainbow’s way first with Twilight helping Sky while Rainbow helps Vapor. The latter comes out ok, but Vapor is clearly struggling. The truth ultimately comes out and Sky’s confidence is shot.

Twilight and Rainbow return to their respective charges to work on their confidence and then help each other make it in the Academy. Friendship problem solved!

Here’s a unique conflict compared to previous episodes. Vapor has the best intentions, but what she is doing is holding both her and Sky back. Sky cannot be bothered to learn and improve on the basics because he doesn’t feel he has to, and Vapor is so focused on flying with Sky, that she isn’t focused on what she wants for herself.

Both Twilight and Rainbow have different ways of teaching, but there’s a reason why the map has called both together. Twilight was once not so good at friendship, but improved with the help of her friends and she’s now the Princess of Friendship. With Sky, practice will make perfect. Rainbow likes to bring out the best in everypony—especially flyers under her wing. So, Vapor must emerge from Sky’s shadow and the both have to help each other instead of one propping the other.

I feel this is the best of this season’s three map episodes as it has both T-Sparks and the Dashinator (I had to get that in there sometime) in mentoring roles and introduces two characters with a interesting backstory. It’s definitely the best map episode since “The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone”. We get to see the best in Twilight and Rainbow just before the Season Six Finale. We’ll see how many map episodes we get in Season Seven and whether Starlight (or anyone besides the Mane Six) will get called by the map. But for now, we get to enjoy a top tier episode for this Season before the finale.

Pluses and Minuses:

  • +  Twilight and Rainbow in mentoring roles
  • +  Great comedy
  • +  Two new interesting characters with an interesting backstory
  • +  A Make-A-Wish pony (Angel Wing)

GRADE:  A+

StatManDan

Opinion: From a Show ‘For Girls’ to ‘All-Inclusive’ Brand

(NOTE:  This opinions expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of DerpySquad, Spazz, Marimo, or Sprocket.)

When asked about potential challenges in marketing MLP as it is “limited” to the girls’ aisle at NYC Toy Fair 2016, Hasbro Brands President John Frascotti had this response:

“It’s all about “Friendship is Magic”, said Frascotti. “As we look at expanding that across audiences, what we find is that the brand has a credible authenticity. Last year in out licenses which we now call Consumer Products, [MLP] was one of our fastest growing opportunities in all types of aisles from apparel to consumables. As we look to expanding to Preschool and “Guardians of Harmony,” I don’t think we should think about Pony as being ‘limited’ to the girls’ aisle. In fact, we look at viewership in the United States, over 30% of viewership is actually boys.

“So the brand is evolving into an all-inclusive gender brand. And while it traditionally started as a girls’ brand, it really has the legs to go just about anywhere.”

 On Tuesday, Friendship is Magic Supervising Director “Big” Jim Miller tweeted an open letter after a tweet about the show being “for little girls”. Some interpreted the tweet as an admission of a “lack of effort” in what they believe to be a lackluster season in Season Six. My Season Six Review will come after “To Where and Back Again” airs on October 22nd in the US, but looking back at the grades I have given Season Six episodes, I have give three episodes an A+ (“Gauntlet of Fire”, “A Hearth’s Warming Tale”, and “The Times They Are A Changeling”). An additional 10 episodes were graded A or A- (so far). Compare that to a total of 12 episodes receiving A+, A, or A- in Season Five. Admittedly, I’m not the harshest reviewer of episodes, but that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

I feel all of this is less an issue of the show being “for little girls” than “fans” who feel entitled and feel the show should cater to them exclusively. If these “fans” bothered to recall the moral to “Stranger Than Fan Fiction”, they would realize that different people can like the show for different reasons. Indeed, the target demographic for the show is girls aged 6-12 and still is today and there are simply some things that the show will not be allowed to do unlike shows such as Steven Universe or Star vs. the Forces of Evil. It is a testament that many people outside that demographic enjoy the show, inspired by the show, and even felt their lives were saved by the show. All of that perhaps led to Hasbro declaring MLP an “all-inclusive brand” earlier this year.

For “fans” and “analysts” who feel the need to nitpick anything and everything on the show and go ballistic when it smashes their precious head canon, it really does come of as entitlement or being incapable of getting off their high horse (or really a certain other ungulate that I shall refrain from using on here) because the show is not Ben-Hur or Batman:  The Animated Series. It’s insulting.

It is especially insulting to believe that just because some TV shows have females are the main characters and is set in a universe that is predominately female and the primary target audience is female—they are automatically inferior to shows where a male is the central character and most if not all the females on the show are one-note. I’ve gone on record saying this show is one of the best of this decade—if not the best this decade.

On a side note, I’ve repeatedly spoken out against harassing show staff whether it is concerning this show or others. Frankly, I feel more people in the Pony Media and prominent members in the fandom should do the same. It’s far too easy to say “just ignore the trolls.” Sadly, some people continue to act like jerks go out of their way to be jerks towards show staff or the “horse famous” in the fandom. Conversely, everyone has their own way of dealing with this garbage. Unfortunately, there are times where ignoring them is simply not an option and that additional steps need to be taken root out such misbehavior.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a show whose target audience is girls aged 6-12 that so happens to have a massive following outside that demographic. Girls deserve quality entertainment like “Big Jim” said and I still feel they and those who aren’t girls aged 6-12 are getting it through this show. To suggest that because the show is targeted towards the target audience in question somehow automatically makes it inferior, is an insult and is ridiculous.

StatManDan

PS:  Below is the full text of Big Jim’s note:

Help! My Heart is Full of Pony! – Happy Equestrian New Year!

Source: MLP:FiM Season 1, Episode 1

Source: MLP:FiM Season 1, Episode 1

Happy Equestrian New Year!   (Yes, I realize that, in some parts of the world, midnight has come and gone, which makes me a bit late, but please bear with me).  6 years ago today, our universe was forever changed when a children’s show called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic tore a hole in the spacetime continuum and offered us a glimpse into another realm – a place populated by small colorful horses – a place saturated with bright colors, bright music, and even brighter morals.

My Little Pony, the show, has had ups and downs.  A lot of us like to argue our vastly contrasting opinions regarding which episodes were great, and which episodes were not so great – which season best captured the essence of what Pony can and should be – which writers, etc. etc. etc.  One thing has remained objectively consistent throughout all of that – optimism.  My Little Pony has given us six straight years or passionate, relentless optimism.

Today is the first of the year 6 A.E. (Anno Equi), and in celebrating it, we celebrate not just the show, and the fandom, but also that optimism.  We celebrate the world of Equestria itself – what it stands for – what it means to us.  We celebrate the millions of lives touched by My Little Pony, and the thousands of lives it changed in a truly transformative way.

Today is the sixth anniversary of the day when two great truths were first revealed here on the planet Earth: the fact that friendship is magic, (it is); and the fact that the sun and moon are steered, not by science and math and stuff, (as previously believed), but rather, by magical horse princesses who smile down on us through the celestial bodies that they control via a rift in the spacetime continuum that leads to the horse dimension.

Happy Equestrian New Year, everypony!  Happy 6 A.E.  Here’s to six more.

-Sprocket

You can also follow Help! My Heart is Full of Pony! on tumblr, on FimFiction

And on Patreon.  Please contribute if you are so inclined.   No pressure.

Origins of the MLP G4 Fandom: The Two Tribes

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For the record, the following rambling editorial is a recount of the very early days of the fandom.  I call it a rambling editorial as its over 3000 words and was written in a not so sober state.  While the spelling has been checked, there may be plenty of other mistakes lurking around that didn’t appear during my quick review of it.

This editorial covers the early days of the fandom, from its start on 10/10/10 with the show and the six months that followed.  These months of course were very critical to the development of the community, its when the stage was set.  While the title of the article sounds like fanfic, I discuss one topic of interest of mine with the community, namely the evolution of it all.

So in celebration, here is a boring essay on the early days of the fandom.

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