Tag: editorial

MLP Review: “Fame and Misfortune”

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Remember that Friendship Journal and that Twilight hoped that one day other ponies could learn from her and the Mane Six. Well, that day came in this episode and if “Slice of Life” was a thank you to the fans, this episode is somewhere between a “Take That” and “WTF” to certain parts of the fandom (including those who review the show).

Where to even begin with this? There were critiques about how Fluttershy was learning the same lesson over and over (back in Season Four) and Fluttershy going to great lengths to show how more confident she’s become in this Season Seven episode. There was a critique about how “Twilight was better without wings” which I suppose was a shout-out to those who are so “Quibble Pants” about everything since “Magical Mystery Cure”. Of course, this episode was written by MA Larson–more than two years after he wrote his last episode, “Amending Fences”.

It seems there is a great deal of frustration in ponies (and fans of the show) who do not make an attempt to learn from the friendship lesson and descend into petty arguments such as who is best pony and other critiques of the show. Worse, the crowd outside the castle are still going at it by the episode’s end. The other lesson in this is a good one in that you can change how you deal with these things and you can take solace with those who do take the friendship lessons to heart as Starlight showed with Toola-Roola and Coconut Cream.

So yes, there will be many mixed reactions to this episode, and this episode aired during the weekend of BronyCon (which is likely a coincidence). My reaction is that it’s an okay episode, but left too many things out there like how Rarity is getting neg-repped via cancelled orders and the other ponies in the worst they have behaved perhaps ever in the series. The song was appropriate and the secondary lesson of how to deal with harsh (and sometimes unwarranted) criticism is one the show staff could use as well. At the same time, and this is something I have touched upon before, some fans could do well to actually apply the friendship lessons themselves rather than get into petty arguments like the ones seen here in this episode.

There are lessons for all of us here, and sometimes they can be pretty harsh as they were here.

GRADE: B

StatManDan

EqG Review: Mirror Magic

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After over four years, Sunset Shimmer returns through the mirror to pick up a new journal after her old one ran out of pages. The Mane Six are on a friendship mission, so Starlight Glimmer is there to give Sunset the journal–and go back with her to explore the EqG world.

Juniper Montage, now working behind the counter at the movie theater because of her actions in “Movie Magic,” finds a mirror enchanted by Equestrian magic that shows her what she wants to see and wishes things and the Rainbooms into the mirror.

Starlight is their to save the day though as she convinces Juniper that she could attain forgiveness. And yes, the Rainbooms (not to mention this whole franchise) is a VERY forgiving group!

If Starlight framed the argument into Juniper gaining acceptance, the ending may have a little more weight to it. Otherwise, it comes off as a bit of a plot hole. The revenge issue is spot on, though. Who knows that better than Starlight!

The main purpose of this episode was to do two things. Get Sunset back into Equestria and to get Starlight to experience the human world (as human as this world is). Other than that, it doesn’t do anything else special and it just follows on from “Movie Magic.”

In all honesty, this may have been better served if all three ‘Magic’ specials were combined in a single showing. In retrospect, “Dance Magic” should have been given a C+ while “Movie Magic” does deserve a B like “Mirror Magic” does. That said, it might have been better to turn this into a 90-minute special.

GRADE:  B

StatManDan

Equestria Girls Review: “Movie Magic”

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The episode begins with the girls on set for the latest Daring Do movie as a reward for helping save Camp Everfree thanks to a director who was a camp alumni. However, things are going awry with stolen props and set dangers. Looks like we have a mystery, gang!

One suspect is the star, Chestnut Magnifico, who is looking to get out of a contract due to time constraints so she can move on to the next project. The other suspect is director Canter Zoom’s niece Juniper Montage who knows her way around the studio. So yes, it’s her.

This whole episode is one big homage to classic Scooby-Doo complete with chase montages and Velma Twilight deducing how Juniper was the culprit. And Juniper would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids and their dog! (Sorry, not sorry!)

There is some eye candy to this episode such as the Rainbooms in Power Ponies form (Sunset as the Mane-iac since there are only six Power Ponies). There’s also an homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark at the end (which is ruined by Rainbow’s over-enthusiasm).

It’s not a bad episode, but it does come off slightly better than “Dance Magic”. The next one is the one most people are interested in, though, as Starlight Glimmer gets a turn through the mirror (and Sunset goes back through it).

GRADE:  B

StatManDan

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