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Synopsis:

The Mane Six are off to enjoy a day at the beach, and Fluttershy is off to return a fish she named Gil who she healed of a damaged fin, although she’s clearly suffering from such separation anxiety that she can’t bring herself to do it. While lounging around, a ship driven by a pirate stallion pulls up looking for a new crew to go on an adventure. While Applejack is distrustful, Rarity is smitten with the pirate, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie are eager for adventure, Fluttershy (who dropped Gil accidentally back into the ocean when the ship pulled up) wants to go along to get her fish back, Spike is recruited as the “parrot”, and Twilight Sparkle wants to come when the pirate challenges her navigation skills. Applejack ends up coming along as well to keep everyone out of trouble. The pirate tells them their mission is to find his old crew, have them tell him where they hid his treasure, the “Map of the Wandering X”, and then use it to get his “jewel”. While Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash head into a pirate town to track down the crew, Fluttershy recovers Gil but keeps him a secret from the others, and Applejack begins to suspect the pirate’s motives and even his sanity as he seems to be acting rather odd. As for the girls, they find the crew and manage to force them to take them to where they hid the pirate’s map, but also reveal the pirate is the most infamous pony pirate in the world: Hoofbeard. Furthermore, they abandoned him because they believe he went mad endlessly searching for the wandering X on the map, which constantly changed places, and since the map itself was cursed to never be destroyed or lost, they threw it into a pit containing the Ghost of the Gallopinghost Islands: a giant crab. After leading the girls to it, the pirates run for it and leave the four to deal with the monster.

With Rainbow Dash’s speed and Pinkie Pie’s help summoning an army of tiny crabs, the girls outwit the big crab and get the map. At the same time, however, Twilight Sparkle sees the big crab got a bottle with a note in it: one of many that Hoofbeard has constantly been throwing into the ocean everywhere they’ve been. On opening it, she reads that he’s making a threat to a group of individuals about taking his “Jewel” from them. On returning to the ship, the girls begin to fear that Hoofbeard is either out of his mind as his crew said or is leading them into trouble. Rainbow Dash remains fiercely loyal to him, but when the girls start sailing for several days with apparently no end in sight, fearing the original crew was telling the truth, they take over the ship in a mutiny and head for home (getting Rainbow Dash to go along by tempting her with the offer of being the new captain). Yet soon after taking off, Twilight discovers the map truly does have a wandering X on it, and soon they crash right into it…discovering that it’s a pod of merponies. Hoofbeard reveals “his jewel” was a merpony named Jewel that he fell in love with, but the merpony kind forbade it and forced Jewel to stay with them. They angrily begin to toss about the ship to try and drive it off. However, Fluttershy interjects, getting everyone’s attention by firing off a cannon, and reveals she’s been talking to Hoofbeard and learned that if you truly love someone, you can’t force them to be with you; you have to trust that love will bring them back. On saying this, she sets Gil free, and the merponies realize that Hoofbeard’s love for Jewel brought him back to her and have a change of heart. Twilight uses her magic to give Hoofbeard fins and gills so that he can stay in the ocean with Jewel as much as he wants, and after he thanks them the merponies summon a Mantahawk to take the girls back to Equestria. Gil pops in one last time to wave goodbye to Fluttershy, now with his own family, reinforcing her statement that love always “finds a way home”.

Review:

Arr! Avast! Salty dogs! Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum! Shiver me timbers! Walk the plank!

…Sorry, I didn’t know what to do with my review this time, so I figured putting in pirate stuff would make it more fun.

Kind of like what this arc did.

After a strong start, the comic series, by now, had degenerated into more fluff and humor. Some of it works to me. Some of it just seems like it’s “there”. This is one of those “there” ones. It seems, at least as far as the comic is concerned, when they do a non-drama-intensive arc, the best parts are when they can load it full of goofy allusions that only adults can get. This one didn’t have that. It was far more basic. It was the girls “playing pirate”.

I dunno. I’m not a huge fan of pirates. I read “One Piece”, yes, but as I mentioned in my Honest Trailer the Straw Hats haven’t engaged in a legitimate act of piracy in close to 50 mangas. Pirates are one of those “plot intrigue tools” that people go for when they have no ideas. Dinosaurs are another big one. So are robots. Essentially things that are unusual but somewhat intrinsically fun in their own right even if they’re all done the same all the time. However, it seems very “old hat” to me. A lot of this arc just appears to be “going through the motions”.

I suppose the backstory with Hoofbeard is a bit interesting, and people who are fans of the older series (for whatever reason) would like the fact that Merponies finally got the FIM treatment in this one. Me? I was never a huge fan of them, the same with pirates. The fact that the CMCs, Granny Smith, and Big Macintosh just seem to appear out of the blue in the pirate town, or at least clones of them, just seems awkward.

Is it a good arc? Well…I can’t think of much that’s horribly wrong with it, but I can’t think of anything terribly good about it either. Again, if you’re a fan of pirates or merponies you’ll probably like it. If you’re not, your thoughts are probably like mine were…

Meh.

Fun Facts:

This arc occurs chronologically some time after the Season Three finale, and is the first arc to feature Twilight Sparkle as an alicorn. Based on its resolution, it seems it takes place some time after “It Ain’t Easy Being Breezies”, but this isn’t necessarily true.

The comic implies the pineapples that Applejack makes the juice out of is alcoholic or in some other way a narcotic.

While Hoofbeard is a synthesis of numerous pirate characters, he seems to draw the most from Captain Jack Sparrow from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series.

The crabs that were pinching Pinkie Pie earlier eventually cheer her on, even making little signs for her. 😛

The Gallopinghost Islands are obviously a takeoff of the Galapagos Islands.

When the girls arrive in the pirate town, up on the second level is a pony with messy black hair, dots for pupils, a scar under his right eye, and a straw hat. This is a pony version of “Straw Hat” Luffy, the main character of “One Piece”.

For some reason, the CMCs, Big Macintosh, and Granny Smith are all pirates in the pirate town…

When Rainbow Dash battles the pirates and swings from the chandelier, she yells: “Hey you guys!” This is an allusion to “The Goonies”, when Sloth dresses up like a pirate and comes to the rescue.

The crab’s hole is full of random treasures, including a pony version of the Mona Lisa, an Egyptian mask (for a human…), an old pizza box, a Mr. Potato Head, a pile of old energy drink cans, and a G1 My Little Pony. The layout of the cave itself, however, resembles Ariel’s grotto in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”.

“Merponies” were a subset of toys in the “My Little Pony” franchise and have made appearances in the various incarnations of the series. This was their first appearance in the “Friendship is Magic” incarnation, and thus far they have only appeared in the comic universe (although the Sirens in “Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks” have the true forms of merpony-like creatures).

Rating:

2.5 Stars out of 5

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