Tag: review

MLP Review: “It Isn’t The Mane Thing about You”

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Rarity is getting ready for a photo shoot for “Vanity Mare” with Photo Finish with emphasis on her mane. She goes around town enhancing business for the Flower Ponies, a Scottish pony selling fans, and Davenport (Quills and Sofas). However, Rarity’s mane gets messed up by some super sticky string from Pinkie Pie celebrating the Cake Twins’ one-year sneeze anniversary. (It’s Pinkie Pie. Don’t question it.)

They both go to Zecora for a mane conditioner and a magical cleaning potion. Of course, without labels to tell which is which after Zecora pointed out what Rarity should take, the potions get switched. (By the way, those asking about labels have a more legitimate point than those asking why Rainbow Dash didn’t try to fight off/fly away from Caballeron’s hench ponies in last week’s episode. That said, this is a cartoon and the switcheroo is as old a trope as time.)

So instead of a soft, bouncy mane; Rarity has most of her mane removed. Since a new potion would take a while, she frantically goes to her friends to help fix her mane with the expected results that they are not super effective. This hurts Rarity since after the switch, ponies appear indifferent to her presence and now she has to cancel photo shoot.

The rest of the Mane Six and Starlight remind her that her mane isn’t the main thing about her and bring up her accomplishments on the show. Rejuvenated, Rarity inspires many a fandom artist by shining from the inside out. Oh, that photo shoot did take place thanks to Rarity’s friends and Rarity ends up on the cover of Vanity Mare.

If there is one given about MLP over the years, Rarity episodes are usually on song and wind up some of the better episodes of the series. This is no exception. Rarity’s MO is to bring the beauty out in everything, so it’s understandable that she wold get distraught if she can’t bring it out of herself after this incident. That’s why you have friends to help bring it from the inside out. Of course, when Rarity sports the punk look, that sets the episode alight.

Just when you think Season Seven might have been tapering off a bit (not that it really has), here’s Rarity to get every pony energized again.

GRADE: A

StatManDan

MLP Review: “Daring Done?”

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A.K. Yearling retiring? Not on Rainbow Dash’s watch! She and Pinkie Pie travel to A.K.’s home to find out what is going on. What is going on is that Daring Do is getting a negative rap in a village of Somnambula Southern Equestria where she is accused of wrecking a statue of Somnambula among other things while on her adventures.

The three travel to try and clear her name and come across a hooded figure (read: Dr. Caballeron) who is spreading the story of Daring Do’s supposed recklessness. We get to hear the Legend of Somnambula and how she defeated a sphinx through hope (Subliminal message**Read Legends of Magic #5**end subliminal message).

When Rainbow confronts the hooded figure at the statue, Caballeron reveals himself and takes Dash to the temple “thanking her” for breaking Daring Do’s spirit. Just as Rainbow is about to sink into a pit of slime (because TV-Y), Pinkie reminds Daring Do that she would never let anything happen to Rainbow and they use the steam vents below to rescue Rainbow Dash.

Caballeron’s plan was to defame Daring Do so he could carry out his deeds uninterrupted such as pilfering the village of its glowpaz. Caballeron is chased off and A.K. Yearling will not be retiring after all.

The moral is supposed to be to never lose hope as was the case with Somnambula in the legend when things don’t go as intended. It’s a good lesson, but the episode is bit too predictable in its setup. You could tell it was Caballeron under the hood. The episode is still enjoyable, but it suffers from predictability if you have seen the previous episodes with Daring Do.

GRADE: B

StatManDan

MLP Episode Review: “To Change a Changeling”

In this episode, Starlight and Trixie pay a surprise visit to Thorax in the Changeling Kingdom. However, the “welcoming committee” is Pharnyx bagging them to brother Thorax. Pharnyx has yet to fully reform preferring the old ways of the hive. Most of the other changelings have reformed (thanks to a more assertive Thorax with advice from Ember), but Pharnyx is the last holdout.

Starlight and Trixie try to reform him, but the former starts to think it’s a lost cause and that Thorax will eventually have to chase him out of the hive since no one else likes him. Starlight then impulsively alters a trail of leaves to lure a maulwurf so the hive can see Pharnyx’s good side in his role as a protector like he was for Thorax at an early age. However, Pharnyx apparently has left and the maulwurf is on his way.

Thorax, Starlight, and Trixie go after Pharnyx to see him battling the maulwurf, but is overpowered. Two changelings and two magical ponies is not enough either. The rest of the hive, initially unmoved by Starlight’s speech, is almost there. Ultimately, Pharnyx comes up with the solution by getting the maulwurf to keep hitting itself and retreating. Pharnyx ultimately transforms and is welcomed back into the hive.

This was a very good episode. You have a complicated character in Pharnyx who yearns for the old changeling ways, but yet is still interested in the hive’s safety. Thorax is really good here in not just converting the kingdom into something out of “The Office” in terms of activities, but in admonishing Starlight for altering the trail. It did work ultimately, but it is another impulsive move that could have backfired horribly. And then there’s the dynamic between Starlight and Trixie which is very solid.

Trixie is her usually hammy self while Starlight has to play the straight pony. This has become quite the partnership as the show has progressed and I wouldn’t mind more of this.

So overall, this was a very good episode thanks to the humor and the dynamics between the changeling brothers and between Starlight and Trixie.

GRADE: A-

StatManDan

MLP Review: “Campfire Tales”

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Gather around as we expand on the Legends of Magic comic series, Tales 2-4. It’s the annual Big Sister/Little Sister campout to Winsome Falls. However, their campsite is disrupted by a swarm of fly-ders and the sisters have to retreat inside a cave. There, they start to tell campfire stories to pass the time until the fly-ders move on.

Applejack is first by telling the story of Rockhoof (from Legends of Magic #2) and his origins and how he joined the Mighty Helm. Rockhoof gained his mighty strength by digging a trench to redirect the flow of lava from an erupted volcano to save his village. Apple Bloom was really excited by this tale.

Next up is Rarity and she tells the story of Mistmane (Legends of Magic #3) and how she sacrificed her own beauty to save her kingdom. Finally, after Rainbow Dash prevents the fly-ders from coming into the cave by blocking the entrance, she tells the story of Flash Magnus (Legends of Magic #4) and how he braved past a couple of dragons to rescue a pair of comrades.

After making the best of the situation, the CMC and their respective big sisters take the back route and discover a shortcut to Winsome Falls. That’s a bit contrived, but the rest of this episode was quite fascinating.

Every since Issue #51 of the main series, the direction has been to link much closer to the main series in Season Seven. That apparently holds true with the Legends of Magic series and the ever present world building even at this stage of the series. If you have seen the three issues in question, you at least have an idea of all three. If not, I’ll post after the grade (WARNING: SPOILERS!). But seriously, do read the comics. Some of them could well have been episodes on the show—especially some of the early issues.

The best of the three was the story of Mistmane with the scenery which seems to inspired from Ancient Japan as well as the Double Dragon battle between Mistmane and Sable Spirit.

Overall, this was a pleasant episode, as these flashbacks to a different usually are, and a nice tie-in to the comics which was promised just prior to the start of Season Seven.

GRADE: A-

StatManDan

WARNING: COMIC SPOILERS BELOW! If you do not wish to be spoiled by the synopses of these comics, look away now.

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MLP Review: “Triple Threat”

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This reminded me of a “Brady Bunch” episode once. Anyway, Spike has invited Dragon Lord Ember to Ponyville—as well as Changeling pack leader Thorax. The former is seeking friendship advice from Spike since the dragons’ competitive nature is a bit of hindrance. The latter wants to talk to Spike because he’s having a hard time with a pack of changelings who still prefer to feed off love. Spike is deathly afraid that neither will get along with each other and cause a war. This becomes Spike’s friendship problem to solve.

So, Spike (with the help of Twilight and Starlight) go out of their way to make sure Ember and Thorax do not see each other. After several awkward moments, the Thorax and Ember meet each other and nearly come to blows before Spike admits that trying to keep them apart fearing they would not get along. Ember thinking that because she’s “bad at friendship” and Thorax thinking that he may be too soft.

Actually, Thorax and Ember do get along on their own. Ember gives Thorax a lesson on being more assertive when enforcing rules of his pack and Thorax giving Ember lessons about talking about her feelings (what she didn’t like to do in “Gauntlet of Fire”). And then Spike learns a lesson about trusting his friends would get along with each other and his scales glow which means his friendship problem is solved.

About those awkward moments, some of them were funny. For example, Ember getting used to Pony customs and also mistaking Starlight and Twilight with each other. Of course, Twilight’s scene with the chairs was funny as well. However, this whole episode was weird with one awkward moment after another. It’s when Thorax and Ember have time alone that they start to click. It’s about giving them space to learn friendship and that was something Spike (and indirectly Twilight and Starlight) was not giving them. They are actually good in this episode, it’s Spike that was a bit iffy until late.

Nevertheless, it’s not a terrible episode, it’s good because of and despite some awkward moments from all the characters involved.

GRADE: B

StatManDan

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

MLP Reviews: “Discordant Harmony” and “The Perfect Pear”

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Two for the price of one this weekend. Let’s get straight to it!

After many a tea party at Fluttershy’s place, Discord decides to invite Fluttershy to his house for tea. Since Discord has never hosted a tea party before, he needs to figure out what would be best for his guest. Upon receiving advice from Pinkie Pie to just make her feel comfortable, Discord forgoes the singing ginseng tea, flying teapots, and sneezing piñatas to a normal setting which is very abnormal for Discord.

So much so that Discord starts to fade away since “normal” behavior is unbecoming of Discord. Fluttershy comes to the rescue by causing her own chaos such as knocking over tea cups, speaking to many reflections of herself, and trying to undo the extreme makeover Discord’s other selves done. That gets Discord back to his chaotic self and he brings back the aforementioned singing tea bags, flying teapots, and sneezing piñatas.

Discord feared initially brining those things in would drive Fluttershy away because they are so different and many ponies don’t get their friendship. Fluttershy counters that he’s introduced her to so many things since they became friends and that she likes him because of their differences.

There are two things that carry this episode. The first is John de Lancie’s voice acting which is always stellar with Discord. The other is Fluttershy in the third act which is more of the self-confident Fluttershy we have seen this season. We also see a side of Discord we have not seen before in that he is not as assured of himself when it comes to hosting a tea party. It’s almost a role reversal from earlier interactions between the two characters.

Anyway, this was a good episode and one where Discord is in a different role than an agitator and couple with the more self-confident Fluttershy we have seen this season.

GRADE: B+

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So, “The Perfect Pear”. Out of all the characters that you can focus on in the series, an episode that involves Applejack’s parents is perhaps the one that is most anticipated of them all. Not only that, you have William Shatner and Felicia Day in this episode. There was a feud between the Apples, led by Granny Smith, and the Pears, led by Grand Pear (voiced by William Shatner). The only Apple and Pear who got along was Bright Macintost and Pear Butter (aka “Buttercup”)(voiced by Felicia Day)—Applejack’s, Apple Bloom’s, and Big Mac’s parents!

Not only is there the shock that they are half pear, but they go on a tour of getting to truly know their parents through those that knew them such as Burnt Oak (who knew Bright Mac and his honesty), Mrs. Cake (whom Buttercup helped get her cutie mark through baking), and Mayor Mare (more on that later). I’m not sure anyone expected a “Romeo-and-Juliet” type story at all.

Everything about Bright Mac and Buttercup’s romance is very heartwarming. The song is one of the best in the series and will be in many a fan’s head for years to come. It’s also very bittersweet, not just for the obvious reasons, but how things came to a head when Grand Pear announces that the Pears are moving to Vanhoover. Rather than lose the love of his life, he plans a secret and not-so-splashy wedding with Buttercup, officiated by Mayor Mare, and witnessed by Mrs. Cake and Burnt Oak. The marriage goes through, but faced with an ultimatum from his father, Buttercup chooses staying with Bright Mac instead of moving while Granny Smith ultimately accepts her.

The Apple Siblings go about mending fences with their grandfather, who really came back to Ponyville to do the same, and with Granny Smith, who apologizes for not telling them about their parents sooner. The episode ends with the siblings and grandparents together at a winding tree with apples and pears.

I honestly though Season Five had the monopoly on emotional episodes such as “Tanks for the Memories,” “Amending Fences,” and “Crusaders of the Lost Mark”—the latter two being two of the best episodes the series has had. This episode will have fans have the feels for years to come.

Everyone involved puts in an outstanding performance from special guests Shatner and Day; to regulars Ashleigh Ball, Michelle Creber, Peter New, Tabitha St. Germain, and Cathy Weseluck; to newcomers Bill Newton (Bright Mac) and Bill Mondy (Burnt Oak).

Season Seven has had a gem in “A Royal Problem” that’s a bonafide top 20 all-time episode. This is a top five all-time episode. That’s all credit to the cast and crew of the show for delivery such gems—especially in the show’s advanced age. One of the most anticipated episodes perhaps in show history is truly one of the best in show history.

GRADE: A+

StatManDan