Tag: editorial

Equestria Girls Review: “Dance Magic”

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The first of three Equestria Girls specials aired on Discovery Family, so let’s get to it. The Rainbooms are trying to raise money for repairs to the dock at Camp Everfree. They are still short of their goal after a car wash and time is running out. So Rarity suggests they enter a dance music video contest. Two problems ensue. The first is that they will need to use some of the funds raised already to buy costumes and equipment. The other is that the Crystal Prep girls (sans Indigo Zap) are also entering so they can hold their Spring Dance on a yacht—and they play to win. They also play to copy Rarity’s idea after she tells it to them which is a mash-up of dances you’d see on America’s Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance?, or Dance Fever. (Had to put in that older reference lost on younger fans.)

The girls try other ideas, though Applejack’s is something like a cooking show on CMT, Rainbow Dash foreshadows next week’s special, and Pinkie Pie….imagines as only she can. The Crystal Prep girls are also having problems. They have a dance routine (Rarity’s), but no song. Rarity offers the Rainbooms’ help on that in exchange for dance lessons from the Crystal Prep girls. The result is a well-animated musical number to go with the bonus track from the “Friendship Games” soundtrack. So both the dock gets the funds for repairs and the Crystal Prep girls get their dance on a yacht.

It’s a good special, though it borrows heavily from “Rarity Takes Manehattan” (albeit with no Coco Pommel) and the third act is a bit rushed here. I also have to fault the focus on a little bit. I mentioned the concepts, but there didn’t appear to be as much drive for the dance video until late given that they are trying to fund the repairs for the dock. Maybe that’s just me, though, so take what you will. The costumes were nice, though.

So, a plausible start for the first of these three specials, though a bit rough around the edges.

GRADE:  B

StatManDan

MLP Review: “Hard to Say Anything”

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Well, that sunk a couple ships! Big Macintosh has been delivering bushels of apples to Sugar Belle in Starlight Glimmer’s old village. Big Mac has developed a crush on her, but his shy demeanor prevents him from expressing his feelings. Just as he musters up the courage, a Justin Bieber look-a-like pony named Feather Bangs, muscles in.

The CMC, who are stowaways will try to give Big Mac relationship advice short of love potions because that worked so well in “Hearts and Hooves Day”. It all comes to a head when both Big Mac and Feather Bangs participate in an epic sing battle for Sugar Belle’s affections, but she has had enough of the nonsense.

Finally, Big Mac comes up with a solution that dates back to Sugar Belle wishing for more space to display her baked goods. So, Big Mac and Apple Bloom build a new shelf and Big Mac gets the girl. Meanwhile, the CMC offer Feather Bangs advice on how to woo the three ponies who resemble those who fawn over Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. And yes, waifu-stealing specialist Vincent Tong voices Feather Bangs.

This episode adds nothing to what we have seen before with love triangle episodes in animation, but that was not the goal. One goal the episode did achieve was that it made things far more tolerable than average. Big Mac got some much needed development in “Brotherhooves Social” and this episode does well to build on it. It also does well for the CMC to learn the error of their ways from “Hearts and Hooves Day” and their ideas are much more reasonable this time around. Sugar Belle was also likable here and I enjoy how Sugar Belle went into WTF mode early during the duel as things started to get awkward since Big Mac is a little bit country and Feather Bangs is a lot of cheesy pop.

Overall, it’s a good episode that builds on the development of Big Mac and to an extent the CMC after their misadventures in “Hearts and Hooves Day”. Plus, Big Mac gets the girl. What’s wrong with that? (Seriously? Why can’t he be with Sugar Belle?)

GRADE:  B+

StatManDan

Help! My Heart is Full of Pony! – Growing Up and Growing Apart

Source: MLP:FIM, Forever Filly

Source: MLP:FIM, Forever Filly. (Note how Rarity and Sweetie Belle are framed in such a way that they appear as equal as possible. Rarity is actually a lot taller than Sweetie, but this trick of the eye really drives the point home).

Filly Forever explores a very complex issue, and it tackles the subject matter so effectively that I can hardly contain my need to reflect upon it.  The lesson here is loud and clear, and easy to read, but the web of conclusions one can draw from based on one’s personal experiences is near infinite.  I’ve been turning it over in my head for hours, and the themes just get richer the more I think about it.
This story captures the bittersweet anger and joy one feels watching those of a younger generation come of age.  It captures the rage, and frustration that the younger generation feels as they struggle to be taken seriously.  Most importantly, it captures the tension in between.

After hours of being treated like a foal, Sweetie Belle, in her frustration, snapped at Rarity, “You don’t even know me anymore.”

It’s a devastating thing to have to say, and it’s a devastating thing to have to hear, but it’s true.

As an adult, I can think of a great many friends and relatives with whom I was very close during my childhood who don’t know me at all these days.  I don’t know them either.  It sucks and it hurts.
Preventing loved ones from drifting apart takes a surprising amount of work, and once you have drifted, reforging those bonds can be very difficult.  Add a generation gap, and it becomes even more complicated.  You go from dealing with each other as child-and-adult, to dealing with each other as adult-and-adult.  It’s a tumultuous transition for everyone involved.  For starters, the need for new boundaries never becomes clear until they are broken, and until both parties can examine, and articulate the problem accurately, which takes rather a lot of trial and error.

It’s frustrating.  It’s painful.  Most of all, it’s frightening.  You both need to work at it, and if you can’t figure out how to grow together, you are doomed to grow apart.

Forever Filly tackled that problem head on.  The story itself is quite simple, but the complexity of this conflict lies in what we already know about the characters.

Let’s start with Rarity.  She had, in past episodes, found Sweetie’s childishness irritating when it got in the way of her work and her ambition.  In Sisterhooves Social, Rarity had had a lot of important work to do.  That work of hers got in the way of bonding with Sweetie, just as much as Sweetie Belle’s presence got in the way of Rarity trying to meet her deadlines.  Sweetie Belle wanted to help, but she was just a kid, and her efforts just ended up getting herself underfoot (under hoof).
It’s a scenario that most of us know very well from our own lives, in one form or another.

However, now, it’s the total opposite.  Rarity finds herself at the top of the fashion world, having achieved most of her dreams and ambitions, but she misses her sister. v She yearns for the days when they had bonded together, and longs to spend uninterrupted time with her.  Sweetie, on the other hand, is now the one who has responsibilities to take care of.  She has become an entrepreneur in her own way, and doesn’t have time to spend with her sister.

The scene where Rarity admires the wall of the crusader headquarters, and the photos of their satisfied “clients,” is brief, but it tells us volumes about Sweetie – profound information.  It tells us exactly the type of pony that she is growing into.

They say that kids don’t learn from what you tell them; they learn from what they observe.  In this moment, we see just how much of an influence Rarity has been on Sweetie’s life.  The work ethic that Sweetie had despised in her sister as a child, has sunk in, and become her own, as she cultivates real responsibilities, and moves toward adulthood.

It’s the sort of thing that’s impossible to put into words, but when you see it, and really think about it, it shines a light on both characters – who they are – what they mean to each other.  There’s a piece of Rarity that Sweetie will always take with her, and it will arm her throughout her life.  The problem is that Rarity can’t see that.  She mistakes that genuine professionalism for flight and fancy – a quaint form of child’s play.

That tiny moment not only captures so much about the characters, it conveys the very essence of the conflict at hand – the gap that needs to be bridged.

I could spend rather a lot of time pointing out parallels in the dynamic between the two sisters in this episode, and the dynamic that they had back in Sisterhooves Social.  It’s certainly a topic worth discussing, as there are quite a lot of subtle differences in characterization that make this episode an elegantly told story.  However, I’m concerned more with the message than dissecting the narrative itself.

When Rarity realizes the error of her ways, she expresses her sorrow that “[She] didn’t know that the last time [they] did those things would be the last time [they] did those things.

This line pretty much says it all: about growing up; about life; about the need to cherish every moment, while at the same time, not being afraid to let those moments go.  I personally didn’t know that the last time that I pushed my youngest on the swingset would turn out to be my very last time doing that.  It was a day like any other.  I don’t even remember anything about it right now because it was so very unremarkable.

I don’t remember the very last time I helped with my kids’ shoelaces either, nor the very last time my own mother needed to help me with mine.

There was no ceremony.  No grand announcement in either case.  It just sort of happened when no one was paying attention.

-Sprocket

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MLP Review: “Parental Glidance”

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We’ve been waiting for this one! Well, at least those in the US who did not wanted to be spoiled by the early Canadian releases. Scootaloo takes a page from Wil E. Coyote’s playbook to vault herself up to Cloudsdale to research on Rainbow Dash for a school paper on the Most Inspiration Pony. Unlike Wli E. Coyote, Scootaloo is successful in getting to Cloudsdale and right into the yard of Rainbow Dash’s parents—Bow Hothoof and Windy Whistles.

Bo and Windy give Scootlaoo a tour of Rainbow Dash’s foalhood home and Scoots is like a foal in a candy store. Plus, Bo and Windy are extremely supportive of her daughter. However, when Scootaloo tells Dash’s parents that their daughter is in the Wonderbolts, we find out why Dash did not tell them.

There’s being supportive of you children at what they do, and there’s taking it to eleven like Dash’s parents do. To put it lightly, they can be a bit embarrassing while Scootaloo does not see anything wrong with it. Dash finally snaps when her parents cheer her putting away a towel and asks them to leave. This upsets Scootaloo because she has not had parents as supportive as Dash’s are.

Dash then tells a story about how she wasn’t always the best at racing, but got better as the years past with her parents supporting her all the way from participation badges to gold medals. Realizing that she has taken her parents for granted, she tries to make it up with them. I’ll skip the working title and say that Dash and the Wonderbolts put on a show in honor of her parents. And then the episode ends with Dash and her family giving the same supportive treatment to Scootaloo with her report (which only got a B since it was heavy on photos and a moldy sandwich).

We have seen the evolution of the CMC as the show has progressed and they have become much better characters from Season Four onwards. Last week, we had Sweetie Belle giving a lesson to Rarity about how the former is no longer the sweet little filly from years past. Here, Scootaloo is giving Rainbow a lesson about how important it is to have supportive parents—even it is to the point of embarrassment which sometimes parents do.

Admittedly, Bo and Windy are very likable in this episode and sometimes reminded me about those MasterCard ads with Peyton Manning. Rainbow is also not completely unreasonable here. It does get embarrassing if your parents cheer every single little thing you do, but the point here is that they have been very supportive and helped give her the confidence to be who she is today. That’s something you just do not take for granted.

Overall, this was a fantastic episode with a lot of heart in it. Not just for seeing Rainbow Dash’s parents for the first time, but the role Scootaloo plays as well.

Post-Episode Notes:

  • CUT THAT RIBBON! CUT THAT RIBBON!
  • Dash’s parents are very likable
  • Scootaloo does very well in central role
  • A ‘B’ for the report?!?

GRADE:  A+

StatManDan

MLP Review: “Forever Filly”

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As a reminder, reviews for both MLP and for Steven Universe will follow when the show officially airs in the United States. So the review for “Parental Glidance” will be after next Saturday.

Rarity has been busy with the Spring Transition at her Canterlot shop when she comes across a picture of her and Sweetie Belle—and then realizes it’s been ages since she last spent time with her. Determine to make amends, she sets aside a day with her to do the things they used to do together (or so she thinks).

Sweetie Belle and her fellow CMCs are working with Zipporwhill to help her with her cutie mark and her dog Ripley who does not seem to want to play with her anymore. However, Sweetie Belle is pulled aside when Rarity wants to spend time with her. They do all the things they used to do when Sweetie Belle was younger and things the latter is clearly not interested in doing now. She’s grown up a bit and wonders if Rarity even realizes that.

Sweetie Belle does realize that Ripley is a bit older and suggests to Zipporwhill that he may not want to play with puppy toys, but rather chase sticks, etc. Rarity sees this—after jumping to the conclusion that Sweetie is being ungrateful—and is proud of the pony that she has become as they try to find new things to do together.

So here’s yet another episode that is an example of how things have changed over time with the show. Sweetie Belle is more mature than in earlier seasons and of course Rarity now has three stores instead of one. The CMC are now in the business of helping others with cutie marks. I have a feeling we are going to get quite a few of these episodes this season. This was still a good episode, it just does not add anything special or does anything new. However, many will get a kick out of the sister photos, especially with Rarity being a ham.

Post-episode notes:

  • Another episode of how times have changed
  • Does not really add anything
  • Photos are hilarious
  • Rarity overdoes things, but that Rarity being Rarity

GRADE:  B

StatManDan

SU Review: “Lion 4: Alternate Ending” & “Doug Out”

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We’re back with another Steven Bomb. And like the last Steven Bomb, grades will be handed out at the end of the Steven Bomb on Thursday.

We start with Steven looking for secret messages in the video from Rose. He’s unable to find anything that could answer what his “magical destiny” when Lion coughs up a key. The key opens a door in the desert that leads to…..Rose’s garbage bin. But wait, there’s a video there and it’s entitled, “For Nora”.

Lion then takes him to Greg and they see the video and it’s merely the same video except if Rose gave birth to a girl instead of a boy. So, it would’ve been Nora if a girl, and Steven if a boy. In the end, it turns out that Rose just wanted Steven to be Steven—nothing really more.

We’ll see if there is more to that story, but it might be that Steven was trying too hard to figure out the “magical destiny” from the video. But of course, we are certain to find out more as the week progresses.

StatManDan


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We get a visit from Connie’s Dad and he’s on a case of a break-in at Funland. Doug asks Connie (aka Veronica Cucamonga) and Steven (aka Peter Pizzapopolous) to join him. For most of the episode, Doug’s flashlight is not super effective as the culprit is giving them the slip. Connie and Steven finally corner the suspect and it’s Onion.

Doug was trying to show that his job is adventurous, but ends up looking silly, especially compared to the adventures Steven and Connie have been on. Connie says that she enjoys spending time with him as a respite from the serious things in her life. They let Onion go thinking they scared him straight, but did he really do it?

Well, we’ll just have to wait for the rest of the Steven Bomb to figure out.

StatManDan

MLP Review: “Fluttershy Leans In”

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As you may have guessed, we are refraining form jumping ahead and only reviewing episodes as they air in the United States. So, the “Forever Filly” review will be next week.

This episode begins with Fluttershy taking parkour hopeful Angel to the vet to check on his injured foot. However, Dr. Fauna is completely overwhelmed with animals in her building which was indirectly the result of Fluttershy’s recommendations.

Fluttershy sees an opportunity to pursue a dream of building an animal sanctuary. This is a Fluttershy that is much more confident and has her vision. Three of the Mane Six recommend ponies to help her. However, each of the ponies have their own ideas that directly clash with Fluttershy’s. Fluttershy wants an open-air facility while Hard Hat (Pinkie’s recommendation) thinks she would be better off with something similar to the hospital. Fluttershy wants natural decor. Dandy Grandeur (Rarity’s recommendation) feels the place could use something more lavish. Fluttershy does not want any cages. Wrangler (Applejack’s recommendation) brings exactly that.

None of Pinkie, Rarity, or Applejack can be blamed for their recommendations. They were just offering advice on ponies who have helped them in the past. It’s just the visions of Hard Hat, Wrangler, and Dandy Grandeur clash with those of Fluttershy’s. Fluttershy is upset and fires them. Her fears are confirmed when Dr. Fauna brings the animals and they disapprove.

Undeterred, Fluttershy decides to call on a pony whom she can trust in building the sanctuary the way she wants. That pony is Big Daddy McColt. The McColts are good at building stuff and the sanctuary is designed the way Fluttershy wanted with help from her friends. It is also a big success as the animals readily approve of the new Sweet Feather Sanctuary.

The star of this episode was unquestionably Fluttershy and this was an episode to show not only how more self-confident and assertive she’s become, but to give her a chance to expand on her role of animal caregiver. The episode did its job.

Are there a few nitpicks? Maybe. We never knew until now that Fluttershy had a dream to build an animal sanctuary, but she’s never been this confident and self-assured before. As for Dandy Grandeur, Hard Hat, and Wrangler; they could have gotten away with trying to impart their visions on Fluttershy if this was an earlier season, but not this season. It’s similar to “Suited for Success” when Rarity’s friends tried to impart their visions on what their Gala dresses should look like.

But overall, this was a fantastic episode which set out to show how far Fluttershy has developed from the timid pegasus all those years ago, and how there was something beyond just caring for animals at her cottage.

Post-episode notes:

  • The evolution of Fluttershy
  • Relatable problem with pursuing dreams and visions.
  • Gave Fluttershy something beyond just caring for animals.

GRADE:  A+

StatManDan