Tag: opinion

MLP Season Six in Review

I knew I forgot something! Actually, I didn’t because I had tons of other things going on between the end of “To Where and Back Again” and now. Anyway, admittedly this season was not as stellar as Seasons Four and Five. It was not as mindblowing as Season Four or emotionally pulling as Season Five. It was still an enjoyable season nonetheless. As usual, we go from 24th to 1st. Of course with time, opinions tend to change about certain episodes and indeed, I’ve adjusted the grades of some episodes in Season Six. You’ll find out which ones along the way. So let’s get to it!

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SU Review: “Three Gems and a Baby”

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Once in a while, we get stories like this and it’s appropriate givent the holiday season. During a blizzard, Greg and the Gems tell Steven about a story when Steven was a baby. Vidaila had let Greg use her house to take care of Steven. The Gems come by and give Steven presents he’s clearly too young for.

Steven’s gem glows and each of the Gems get an idea about what it could mean. Amethyst thinks is Rose shapeshifting, Garnet thinks Steven is a fusion trying to unfuse, and Pearl thinks it’s Rose trying to communicate. In other words, they all think it’s Rose. They take Steven and find out that Steven is Steven and not Rose and they and Greg agree to figure out things together.

It is established that changing and growing does not come naturally to Gems, though Amethyst has been depicted as younger in previous episodes. This was simply a nice story during the holiday season before yet another hiatus.

GRADE:  A

StatManDan

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

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:

MLP Review: “Where the Apple Lies”

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Before I begin, I shall say that the review for “To Where and Back Again” will take place on October 22nd so that those who have the iron will to avoid all spoilers until then get the chance to watch it live. Now, to this Saturday’s episode.

Apple Bloom is caught in a lie about delivering cider instead of zap apple jam to Filthy Rich (recall “Family Appreciation Day”) and AJ scolds her about how lies can lead to lots of trouble. AJ knows this through personal experience which leads to an embarrassing story back to when AJ and Big Mac were youngsters. Back then, AJ was a compulsive liar and Big Mac was very talkative and valued braun over brains. This makes sense in a way because what we were as teenagers could be vastly different to what you are now if you happen to be an adult.

Anyway, Filthy Rich wants to sell the Apple Family cider at his family’s store which he now runs. AJ makes a deal where he could get some early cider, but Granny Smith tells her to “un-promise” Filthy Rich. Filthy Rich threatens to discontinue business with the Apples as he is offended that AJ is reneging on the deal. And that’s when the lies really begin.

AJ lies about Granny being sick, and then has to tell another lie after another so that Filthy Rich and his then fiance Spoiled Milk doesn’t discover the truth about Granny. The Apples all go to the hospital to feign Granny being sick of Apple Blight which is really a tree disease (i.e. does not affect ponies) and is forced to have Granny be an “expert doctor” and Big Mac be the patient.

AJ finally comes cleans as Granny was about to operate on Big Mac and apologizes. That’s followed by Big Mac for not taking paying attention to what AJ has to say instead of just talking all the time—especially being full of talk as a teen apparently. Granny more or less accepts their apologies and tells them that she is not going anywhere, yet, and threatens to go to Filthy Rich’s grandpa if he even things of severing ties with the Apples.

So we get the story about how AJ began to value honesty and how Big Mac valued not shooting his mouth off all the time and being more thoughtful. It’s an OK episode, but the lying by AJ got quite cringeworthy. Admittedly, she is a little too easily forgiven in the end, but it is a relatable lesson and those of a certain age could remember that LDS Church PSA during the late 80s/early 90s about lying. The sight of a teenage AJ and Big Mac interesting, but it’s not outstanding. Plus, it confirms the that in MLP universe, the ponies are much older than their EqG counterparts and the age difference between AJ and Apple Bloom is larger in the pony universe.

The other plus in this one is that you hope in Season Seven that we get at least one backstory episode where one of the Mane Six discover their element. We saw each of them have their element tested in Season Four, but it would be nice to go back in time to see how Rainbow Dash begin to value loyalty or Rairty generosity. But that’s for another day.

Pluses and Minuses:

  • +  AJ and Big Mac as teens
  • +  A potential concept to explore in Season Seven with Elements
  • –  Lies being to get cringeworthy and too numerous
  • –  AJ a little too easily forgiven

GRADE:  B-

StatManDan