Pony Think Tank takes on “Dance Magic”

 

As the author Equestrian City, it’s no secret I’m partial to Equestria Girls. In my humble opinion, it’s got far more potential for storylines that are relatable to modern issues, not that the MLP show isn’t good at it, but it feels more real.

 

That and it has Sunset Shimmer. 😉 Sunset is by far the most 3 dimensional character they’ve ever made, even more so due to the fact she was, by best I can tell, supposed to be a throwaway character for the one off movie “Equestria Girls”. She turned into something must more, my adoration for her is no real secret either.

 

Each year, it became like a superbowl like wait for that years “Equestria Girls” movie, the best being, again in my own opinion, Rainbow Rocks.

 

So when I heard we were doing three shorts, immediately my hopes of a unlimited series for Equestria Girls soared, as most are aware. The Polish dubbed versions came out to give us a sneak peak, and of course then the English dubs came out, followed by the actual reveal recently on Discovery Family.

 

The first of which, I’ll give my two cents on now, since, well everyone and their brother, sister and mother have already posted theirs, why not me?

 

Dance Magic

 

The title and theme song are, lack luster, but I imagine it will be that way, since it’s really just prototypes.

 

My initial thoughts were “Oh great, they are just doing this one to burn off a song they didn’t use in Friendship Games” and thankfully, it was more amusing than just that. The feeling of familiarity came back immediately as I watched the opening, listening to all the voices I’ve come to love. I was thrilled that we were going to see Rarity do something rather than be window dressing. I’ve always thought she needed more work, thankfully, they seem to be listening recently in the main show 😛 But, I was further overjoyed by the fact that one of the biggest letdowns of the Friendship Games (one of many) was the lack of use of any of the Anti-Mane 6 they worked on hyping up and then barely got any interaction with.

 

This time we get to see Sour Sweet, Lemon Zest, Sugarcoat and Sunny Flare, the analogues to various Mane 6 members. Sunny Flare was nice to see, as she got one line in the movie, and oddly, by the midway point, they felt twice as fleshed out as they did in the 3rd movie.

 

I’m still a bit in the middle about how quickly these girls reform (it seems we’re all about reforming people, if we keep this up we’ll have no villains ;/ ) But, by the time we get to the solution of the problem in a tidy package of 22 minutes, it doesn’t even feel like the dance number (which includes a set of repeated animation, but I can forgive that for this time, it’s all proof of concept it seems for a series “Can we do it” sorta thing)

As the episodes winds down after Pinkie’s rather epic rapping, we come to the conclusion that these four of Crystal Prep are in fact now friends, despite all the hopes some had that they’d return like the Dazzlings might, later.

 

Overall, it’s a lovely episode, feels a bit typical. Here’s something I’ve somewhat noticed having watched them all several times in various languages. Each episode seems to be a audition in a way. This one is a typical MLP-ish episode.

 

  • Problem presented.
  • Solution Given
  • Speedbump.
  • Readjust Solution.
  • Epilogue.
  • Sprinkle in a song somewhere and you’re done.

 

The 2nd one is more an homage to Scooby Doo, although the mystery is really easy to guess, and the third one is trying to compress a movie battle AND a cross over into 22 minutes, which, well I’ll go into that later 😛

 

Anyway, thanks for the read, and by all means, please discuss in a civil way, I LOVE to interact and bounce ideas off.

 

MLP Season 5 Analysis

Hello my followers, all four of you! 😛

I’ve been silent for a bit as I work on Equestrian City and The Clopping Dead, but I’m not dead, nor am I going anywhere.

I’ve decided to change format a bit after a rather insightful fan told me I’m less of a reviewer and more of… an analyst. So that’s where we’ll be going from now on in terms of titles. Pony Analyst! 🙂 No name changes or anything, just the article headers will change slightly.

In the meantime, as the clock ticks down to the season premiere of our 6th round of pony goodness and we eagerly (well I do) wait for EqG 4, I’ve decided to give a small update and a few passing notes about our last season.

A HUGE thank you to my newest pony friend, Kestrel, for their thoughts and editing expertise! I hope to continue to work with them as I move forward!

The last season gave us some wonderful things, it had a proper villain for once (Starlight Glimmer) and for the most part our episodes were not cringe-worthy in terms of spoon fed lessons and too many musical numbers. The one thing that set it apart is unfortunately the one thing that broke the pace a bit for me as a viewer and I’ll go into that briefly.

Those of you who read me know that I’ve done a rundown of the villains of the series and have noted the growth writing wise each antagonist we get goes through. Discord is not equal to Nightmare Moon nor is Sunset Shimmer equal to Starlight Glimmer. Each was a step, or version, of improvement.

So first and foremost let’s get Starlight out of the way. I said at the beginning I was rather impressed with her as a character. For once we had a villain, a true card carrying villain that was NOT above trying to kill our protagonists. She tries several times but fails, and in true fashion, runs to fight another day.

Sunset was a prototype it seems, with The Dazzlings being the basic character improvement before the final mold that gave us Starlight Glimmer. She was near perfect in her construction as an antagonist it was making me delightfully giddy that we would have a real showdown at the end of the season.

BEST VILLAIN
See? Completely in the zone and very determined she is in the right. AWESOME villain.

Reasons? Here’s a few:

  • She’s got motivation, real 3 dimensional motivation that unlike previous baddies she doesn’t spill immediately so we can just fix her. A real villain doesn’t sit and tell you why they are they way they are because…THEY DON’T THINK THEY ARE WRONG! They shouldn’t have to explain themselves… and she doesn’t.
  • Secondly, she’s the one offended in the exchange, at least from her point of view. She’s the one, from her perspective who’s been wronged and is merely trying to make things even again and punish those responsible.

These things made her a wonderful arch nemesis for Twilight, whose increasingly passive aggressive assault during the seasons as grating on my nerves personally, and let’s be honest, it was becoming far too formulaic.

Then came the final episode, and immediately before the end of the first part I literally felt like Marty McFly when I sat up and said “She stole my idea!” and laughed out loud.

Starlight’s final point is that she actually had a long term plan as opposed to one that could be destroyed in 22 minutes like some unnamed villains. The most effective idea to destroy someone as powerfully connected magically, politically and friendship-ily… as Twilight would not be a frontal assault like Discord or Clancy Brown tried. It would be to go back in the past and stop her from even becoming friends with her Power Ranger-like cadre of ponies in the first place!

As simple as this is, I’m surprised it took them this long to pop this idea into the storylines.

As the episode plays on, we find out that no matter what Twilight tries, she ends up in a endless circle of a time loop (at which point those of us who watched Friendship Games go “Ohhhh! “ and slap our heads) and she and Starlight seem to be destined to dance the tango of eternity.

However, after a lot of fanservice via the possible futures we see, one or two I personally like, we come to the meat of a villain: WHY? Why are you so grumpy?

It’s at this point I became entirely entranced at the story Starlight told us, like Mr. Freeze telling us his reasons, I felt entirely taken in by her short, but effective, flashback. Those of you who haven’t seen it… first, why are you reading this and two, long story short: the only friend she had as a child got his cutie mark but she didn’t, and it drove a wedge between the two of them. Naturally, logic suggested to her in her state of emotional distress that isolation was the immediate solution, so never to be hurt again.

Cutie Mark Reason
A super villain is born!

After a while, she came to the conclusion it wasn’t entire possible to stay alone, so she formed a brilliant plan: a world where everyone is equal. No bad feelings. No one has to leave, no one ever hurts you again, or anyone else, due to cutie marks.

Ever.

Let’s stop for a moment. I want to make a point about what this episode says on a deeper level. The point we don’t entirely see because of the happy ending we’re forced with at the conclusion is one I’ve made several times. Cutie marks can be just as much of a blight as a blessing. They skimmed and dodged with that cheat in The Cutie Mark Crusaders’ episode so none of the girls would have to turn on each other, but this is the clear cut issue that happens a lot more than we’re observing in the world I’m willing to bet.

The cutie mark is shown to us to be what every pony yearns for, what everyone wants and what makes them special. We are never, until this moment, subjected to the darker and more grim reality of the mark: who it leaves behind. The parents that take Starlight’s friend from her took into no consideration how it would affect others (if you can trust the narrator) and just shipped him off to Canterlot.

I for one applaud this rather blunt and breakthrough episode that shows us not everything is happy-happy-joy-joy in this land.

Remember, the brighter the picture, the darker the negative.

Now, as we close to the end of the season’s last episode, we have the epic showdown between Starlight and Twilight (and her companion HumDrum… er… Spike). There’s a long winded lesson in reality BOTH parties present to each other.  Both, honestly, make sense and make for great back and forth… great conflict is sure to come for years between these two!

Then, the writing team takes out a lighter and sets the entire concept on fire, turning it to ash in front of our very eyes. Starlight has a sudden change of heart, one that makes this analyst turn his head up and literally plant their head on their desk in frustration. A perfectly good, possible LONG TERM villain, and we go and destroy it ALL. ALL of it.

and we puss out
After an entire season of build-up, they end up holding hands and hugging! *Facedesk*

That is why I say that overall, Starlight Glimmer was both a success… and a failure. She succeeded in being the latest version of a villain that our characters fight and provides a REAL genuine threat. She, however, fails not as much to her fault more than likely a need to pull a punch by the writing team or Hasbro, as she stumbles and falls into the hole that is “All Villains Can Be Reformed” cliché Purgatory.

 

As a series, we HAVE been growing, but the show honestly needs to grow up a bit faster. I can hear all sorts of reasons, and in fact have on Twitter, why we can’t.

Oh, it’s a kids show”

Well partially it is, but Hasbro has shown and acknowledged the more mature of us as being part of their income. Lets not forget the Y Rating has been removed as well, another step towards progress.

Oh, they can’t do that, what would the children think?”

Honestly, I think our latest generation of children COULD do with a nice dose of reality in the early years. Not ALL the time, but to shield them from negativity altogether? The idea that everyone’s nice on the inside, you just have to try? That’s dangerous to preach. Why? BECAUSE THEY AREN’T! History is full of examples to back that up.

All in all, the last episode I give a 8 out of 10.

Points lost for the cop-out at the end and the fact there’s very little of the other girls in it, save bit parts.All in all, the overall product is an improvement on previous. Just watch Season 2 and compare it to five and you’ll see evolution in maturity and the way the characters are written. I for one do hope the writers keep going forward with complexity and depth with their newest season! We’ll just have to see 😉

 

Equestrian City Update

The Equestrian City section has had a major overhaul! Check it out the Announcement below:

PonyThinkTank.Com has been overhauled slightly and now hosts all my Equestrian City fanwork! 🙂 The wikipedia, the prologue and the cast of characters. Check it out if you like Superheroes and Equestria Girls. I promise you won’t be disappointed 🙂

Check it out here!

I’ll still be doing reviews, but mainly focusing on my fan work, so stay tuned and I’ll next tell you why Hasbro blew it with Starlight Glimmer in my next review 😉

 

-Watchfire

Season 5, Ep. 4 “Bloom and Gloom” – Review and Commentary

(( Alas we have no viable way of getting screengrabs for this episode. If anyone has ideas where to get some, even hasbro isn’t selling the episode XD))

Bloom and Gloom

So here we are, second real episode into Season five! Lets see what they’ve decided to give us to make our brains go “ooo” and “ahhh”!

Those of you out there reading this should know I’m a fan of the show, and my remarks are meant to be in good taste and not meant to bring the show down for the most part!

So we start out in the Cutie Mark Crusaders Treehouse, where we learn that Babs Seed has earned her own cutie mark (scissors oddly enough). They go on to discuss what a majority of us tend to run into when we think about the idea of the CMC is that once you get your breasts cutie mark, your NOT part of the group anymore.

This of course scares Applebloom as no doubt she doesn’t want to go back to being a single string guest star! On the other hand I swear I hear the girls a bit older in their voices, intentionally or not, it’s nice to see progress as I do hate a Static time line.

As Applebloom and Applejack discuss the inevitable conclusions I spoke of above, they settle in for a nice summer’s nap. Now as most of our veteran viewers can remember, we haven’t had a nightmare episode for Applebloom. Previously we had Scootaloo camping and being chased by the headless horse and Sweetie Belle’s episode was the weaker of the two. So of course from a literary standpoint we all must have come to the conclusion by now that this is the third and final one before we either dive into babs or all three in a 80’s style tribute to the explorers dreamscape.

AJ and Applebloom share a lovely moment and AJ’s singing reminds me why I like her voice overall.

So as Applebloom wakes up, a second time through the episode shows several clues regarding the level of reality as it slowly fades away, much like our real dreams do. I’ve always loved when they do that (My favorite episode of all time on Futurama was The Sting for the subconscious work Fry was doing) and this one is no different. AB wakes up and behold she has herself a quickie mark of a Pest Pony! A quick homage to Darth Vader and then our heroine is thrust into her new life as a Bug Control Specialist. She’s given a crash course that might as well be called how to be a Pest Pony in 15 easy lines! The old fellow she’s replacing trains her and he’s off to the good life now that someone else has been given the job. (an interesting take on dirty jobs in this civilization)

The pest in question is called, get this, “Twittermites”. I can’t help but think about how the writers threw that one around describing these. The more spread out they get the worst they get, the more you have the more powerful, ect. It’s an interesting commentary on Twitter itself. Mindless insects that alone are fine and almost cute, but you get ALOT of them they do repairable damage.

THATS one of the points I built this blog for 😛

So a quite cameo of Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon leads to Bloom caving to peer pressure again and inadvertently unleasing Twitter on the entire town of Ponyville! Bloom makes her way to a forest area where a mysterious voice offers to help her, and she has it wipe off her mark. NEVER trust mysterious voices kids.

Now much like in real life, Twitter destroys something before it really knows all the facts and Applebloom witnesses the destruction of the farm and..she wakes up. (those of us who didn’t see that coming, please stand up :P)

What was interesting was that Applebloom starts to TRY and fix her mistake but oddly enough, she’s told NOT to even try since she doesn’t have a cutie mark for the job. I’m not entirely sure what to make of this on a subconscious level that we’re watching this on. Does Applebloom truly think you can’t do ANYTHING unless your mark tells you?

So, Round 2, she wakes up, and fragments of her mind seep in and slowly manipulate the “reality” she’s in. Like reloading a save, the entire setup from before plays out and she and Applejack have breakfast this time is more flamboyant.

The dream lampoons the entire thought I had regarding CMC. The moment ONE of them got a mark, it would shatter their friendship entirely. So that of course means we ask the stranger for help again, taking it away. THIS time the other two now have their marks and tell her to go away, much like DT and Silver Spoon would act. The interesting deep level here is we as the audience and thus AB never SEE the marks Scoots and Bell claim to have, leading to the conclusion that it’s not the cutie mark that AB fears the most, it’s the isolation and rejection that may come with it. She doesn’t NEED to see the mark nor would her mind make one up for her, it’s the emotions tied to it.

Round 3, she wakes up again, by this time we’re all aware of the dream so the writers tip their hand. Breakfast is just insane this time and Applejack, much like a poorly scripted bot, says exactly the same thing despite AB now very concerned about the whole situation. A humorous Mix-Mash of AJ, Big mac and Granny occurs and AB screams herself awake for fear of rejection and exile from her family. The subtext here is that as she’s spiraling toward consciousness, her mind’s losing control of making coherent pictures, so Big Mac’s voice comes from AJ, Granny says Mac’s line, and as such she doesn’t notice as structured thinking is slipping from her.

Round 4 she wakes up (yeah right, this is a reminder of the intro to Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare :P) and has HAD it with the entire waking up and not waking up issue, and just as quickly solid reality fades and she confronts this stranger who keeps helping her.

Thankfully since this IS a dream, most veterans watching should know that Princess Luna isn’t far behind (and I do love me some Luna :P) and she sheds some moonlight on the subject. It turns out the stranger / shadow IS Appleblooms own projection of fear. The overall lesson we’re to learn here is in the end YOU tend to be your own worst obstacle.

Then we get a barrage of doors that reminds us of the Matrix and we peak in on Sweetie Bell and Scoot who are having the same issues as Bloom is having. (I love that Rarity gives Bell a 1.0) We see that Luna is watching everyone’s dreams, which is kinda creepy, but oddly comforting. The real question I have there is if she’s awake and watching over Canterlot / Equestria via that ledge and telescope, does she also project herself in two places at once?

So to wrap up the entire issue, Luna decides to bring all three to a Dream version of the clubhouse (which has..ALOT of Rainbow Dash Merchandise) and they decide to make sure that no matter what mark they get when or where, they will of course remain friends.

Overall I give this a 7 out of 10 (bonus for Luna speaking <3) and I think this is a nice book end to our nightmare episodes of the CMC. I can’t wait till once of them get a mark and we see how well in execution the plan works.

Stay tuned for more folks!

Season 5, Ep. 3 “Castle Sweet Castle” – Review and Commentary

Caste Sweet Castle

So here we are, the first real episode of season 5 and oddly, it starts out like season 4: centering around a castle!

This time we’re not re-enacting a Scooby Doo Skit though, this time we’re dealing with a rather relocatable issue that our lead, Twilight has. Namely she’s having issue adjusting to her new castle, it just doesn’t feel homey to her compared to the tree-brary (Which we blew up at the end of last season to show that Tirek was a really big threat as well as instill a sense that change is coming)

So after the other 5 realize Twilight’s issue, they send a recently awoken Spike (Who we find out sleeps with a Rarity Doll..leading us to another question that if Rarity is the only one who really sews, who made that for him? ) with her to the B-side of
the episode
the Spa! (Which doesn’t have a name it seems)

Who do you suppose made that for him? ;)
Who do you suppose made that for him? 😉

The girls then get to work making the place feel homey and inviting, which naturally means we need to break into song! Which we do, though Rainbow Dash leads us in this time, refreshing change. Overall the song isn’t horrifically long, in poor juvenile taste, or painful to watch as the style and construction has honestly come a long way compared to previous seasons.

Wonderbolt-Statue
How Heavy you suppose that is? Wonder if you need to cast a spell on each new furniture piece if you live on a cloud…

Sadly we see that once again, without Twilight’s leadership aura that apparently is only effective if she’s within 40 meters, the girls end up decorating the castle in their own style, completely missing the point of what they intended to do, which was to make it more inviting to Twilight. We can forgive this as we haven’t even gotten to a real second act and we can feel the pacing, at least I could. Incidentally I wonder if I could get a real life version of that Wonderbolt statue we see in Rainbow Dash’s rarely seen house interior?

So the song ends with a wide shot of the Map of Equestria that looks suspiciously like a Skyrim Mod that needs to be made (Or for that matter already has been, I seem to recall riding a giant Derpy in Skyrim at one point so who knows WHAT’S been made already?) and the reality of their futile effort sets in. Rarity’s Bridzilla trait kicks in and everything falls apart without Twilight’s paragraph long monologues.

Skyrim-Pony
If you look close enough you SHOULD be able to see Winterhold!

It should be worth noting that in order to buy some more time for another revision, Rarity AGAIN takes advantage of Spike. I’m beginning not to like her at all, what is that like 5 major times she’s knowing strung him along? There’s a lesson for the kids watching. :/ Hopefully we’ll get an episode where it comes full circle and is properly addressed.

What's the lesson in this again? :P

Meanwhile on the B side of the episode, we see Twilight and Spike at the Spa. Here’s another thing that stuck out in my head was that for a world that’s moving at the same speed as Equestria Girls World, their technology is radically skewed. We see a dryer for her hair that no doubt requires Post-Industrial technology, yet they still haven’t harnessed the power of the internal combustion engine. This re-enforces my theory on technology purposefully being held back by higher ups.

Hair
“At least we get some lines this time…”

But I digress. 😀 The highlight of the B side is the Spa ponies get a set of longer lines! Still can’t place their accents but I’m sure someone else will. I like when the backgrounders talk, I’d enjoy it if they got David Tennant to voice Dr. Whooves but I doubt that’ll happen anytime soon. Offhandedly, I don’t seem to remember the Tree-brary having a name, I mean the Spa is called the Spa, when did we call the Tree-brary “Golden Oak Library”? Oh well. At least we can sell it with a proper name now. 🙂

As the act finally comes to a close, the girls back at the castle realize that they need to think outside the box, and end up making quite a beautiful Chandelier of Memories (maybe we’ll call it that?) highlighting moments we all remember, using the roots of the tree-brary to keep a reminder of her last home in front of Twilight. Now we can let Twilight settle in, and set up the ability to do a “Clip Show” using the memories, so everything’s fine. Interestingly, there must be a France-like providence, as Dashie uses “touche” and we’ve already seen Applebloom end up shouting in French. Wonder when we get to go there? 🙂

Overall I enjoyed this episode, I’d give it a 5 out of 10, average, but not horrible. I’ll just leave you all to comment and hopefully stir up CONSTRUCTIVE debate or words of anytype!

Until next time!

-Watchfire