My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Equestria Girls: Mirror Magic

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Synopsis:

Following the events of “Movie Magic”, Juniper Montage is unhappily working at a movie theater job at Canterlot Mall, growing increasingly unhinged and convinced that she could have been Daring Do in the upcoming movie and that the Rainbooms are to blame for all of her problems. While shirking work, she accidentally comes across a hand mirror that has been exposed to loose Equestrian magic, which shows her reflection as a glamorous movie star loved by all. Meanwhile, the girls are excited about the premiere of the film and their chance to see themselves on screen, but Sunset Shimmer is worried about their new powers and what it means for the future. While obsessing and writing to Twilight Sparkle, she realizes she’s almost out of space in her old journal, so Twilight writes for her to return to Equestria to pick up a new one. She does so only to find that the Mane Six have been called off on a friendship problem; leaving Starlight Glimmer behind. On seeing she is both bored and curious about the human world, Sunset decides to take Starlight back with her for a short visit. During this time, the rest of the girls stop by the movie theater as Juniper is growing increasingly obsessed with the mirror. Angry at seeing them, she accidentally says she wishes the girls would disappear; sucking them into a limbo within the mirror and trapping them there. Meanwhile, while Sunset and Starlight are looking for the girls, and Starlight ends up helping Sunset deal with her own worries about the future, they come up to the theater and spot that Juniper has Fluttershy’s hair barrette, which was dropped when she was trapped. Sunset uses her own tactile empathy to learn what happened as well as the fact Juniper wanted to be Daring Do so that people would notice her, yet her attempts to reason with her fall on deaf ears as she traps Sunset too. Unfortunately, uniting the seven geodes in the mirror causes a burst of Equestrian magic to transform Juniper into a giant humanoid monster obsessed with everyone idolizing her. Starlight confronts her and manages to get the mirror away from her, but in doing so accidentally cracks it, and as she struggles to escape Juniper’s wrath the mirror begins to fall apart; correspondingly beginning to destroy the dimension the girls are trapped in. She tries to reason with Juniper as well, saying what she really wants is a friend, causing her to confess that what she really fears is that no one will ever pardon what she’s done. When Starlight assures her the girls will forgive her, Juniper wishes “to make things right”, releasing the girls and restoring herself. Given their own pasts, Sci-Twi, Sunset, and Starlight all accept her apology along with the girls, and Starlight soon gets some good news as the first entry Twilight makes in the new journal is for her to enjoy her stay in the human world a few more days.

Review:

This was the most eagerly anticipated entry in the specials as soon as it was revealed the human version of Starlight Glimmer would be in them. I myself thought it would mean that the next villain would be the human Starlight Glimmer, and knowing how good of a villain she had been in Equestria I expected something astonishing. I eventually got that corrected when more teaser images came out, revealing that this was the Equestrian Starlight Glimmer turned into a human, but by then I was even more excited on seeing that Sunset Shimmer would return to Equestria briefly and we’d get to see her in pony form again.

So if I had to sum this special up in one word for me personally, it would be…disappointment.

I had been waiting on pins and needles ever since “Rainbow Rocks” for Sunset Shimmer to make a return to Equestria. Maybe it would be an episode where the Equestrian Mane Six would need her help. Maybe it would be when she wanted to atone for what she had done. What I was really hoping for was for her to meet up with Princess Celestia again for what I felt would be a heartwarming scene, where Sunset would finally apologize to her and Celestia would say that her original “favorite student” had finally made her proud. I even thought it would have been wild if Sunset would have returned and found herself turned into an alicorn following the events of “Friendship Games”. Heck, I was even looking forward to her reaction on meeting the Equestrian Mane Six.

And what did I end up getting? She pops into the Castle of Friendship to reenact Twilight’s schtick from the original Equestria Girls…and that’s it, mostly. By far, that was the biggest letdown of this episode. So much wasted potential and scenes…for that.

Now on to Starlight Glimmer…

As I’ll touch on when I finally get to Season Seven, when the prospect of Starlight Glimmer actually leaving the cast at the season premiere reared its head…I surprised myself when I realized I didn’t want her to go, meaning I had not only finally accepted Starlight as a cast member but actually liked having her in the cast. That said, I still would have preferred her as a villain in this one. Even if she would have been redeemed, I would have felt it was a chance to do her redemption “right”.

Instead, she comes in to save everyone again. Ok…I’ll accept it somewhat this time because that was pretty much Chekhov’s Gun. They weren’t going to bring Starlight in unless she was going to save everyone, but I’m still unhappy about how it relegates everyone else to the sideline. The one who gets the worst is Sunset Shimmer. She already has the most “useless” power. While one could plausibly make the argument Starlight overheard the few things she said after grabbing Juniper and so her power did end up helping, Starlight is also ingenious enough to deduce these things from the way Juniper was acting, so…Sunset’s already useless power served no useful purpose. Again. :/

Speaking of which, it came as little surprise that Juniper Montage did not end up being most people’s favorite villain. She wasn’t very sympathetic in the previous special, but now even less so. As I said, she got a bigger break than she deserved, yet she blames everyone else for her own bad situation she got herself into. Her job may be menial and not too glamorous but it is something she’s getting out of sympathy rather than something she’s gotten for herself, and she’s not even handling it gratefully. She spends the bulk of this special being rather vain too, obsessing over a glamorous vision of herself. She even outright says she prefers the company of the mirror to anyone else. Now, granted, the episode was trying to say that’s a bad way to live and she might have been influenced partially by the magic at that point, but it’s still pretty high marks in terms of vanity. The audience doesn’t feel quite as good as they should for her at the end as a result, in my opinion.

And, of course, there’s the usual complaint about a lot of Equestria Girls content…all of the girls are side characters to one or two leads. Only this time Sunset and Sci-Twi both end up getting upstaged by Starlight Glimmer. It’s more pronounced in this one because they only had 22 minutes to work with one of their drama based episodes, although with the other two specials taken into account it’s not so bad.

Was there anything outstanding that was good about this episode? Well…

With this episode, I realized something about Starlight Glimmer. While she’s definitely the most magically inclined and powerful out of the girls and possibly out of the characters as a whole, she never actually uses that power to resolve situations like this. Rather, her “other” power comes into play. The same ability that Starlight used to use to manipulate and control others she can use to persuade and convince others of her point of view. Whether for good or evil, Starlight is a master at manipulation and getting others to do what she wants. This helped me to realize that this is the way Starlight prefers to deal with things.

Also, on the second viewing, I realized the resolution was a bit more satisfying that I gave it credit for. As nasty and vain as Juniper was being, it turned out the real reason she wouldn’t accept that she was the one at fault all along was because she felt to admit she had done something wrong would be akin to making her unlovable…that she didn’t deserve to have anyone pay attention to her. That would have been even worse than being ignored to her, so she had to find someone else to blame and keep blaming them. The real reason she ignored Sunset was because releasing the girls would have been admitting she had done something wrong. And the reason Starlight was able to get her to stop where Sunset couldn’t, even after she went nuts, was she said something key: she told Juniper her actions would be something she’d regret forever. That made her realize her anger was really self-hate and regret for her own bad choices and now she’d be stuck with them.

One lesson the show hasn’t really touched on yet was the problem some people have (adults more than kids) in which they believe if anyone knew the truth about their pasts or who they are that they’ll be unlovable, leading them to live fake and ultimate self-destructive lives. This episode…only kind of brushed on it, but it did touch on it a little.

But even then, this special was the most “confused” of the set to me. It looked like it didn’t know if it wanted to expand the bit with Juniper Montage into another film like “Legend of Everfree” or if it wanted to serve as a way to introduce Starlight Glimmer into the Equestria Girls franchise. Aside from her serving as the deus ex machina and a couple scenes with Sunset, the latter plot doesn’t work that well. The funny thing is that Starlight Glimmer was originally accused (and still is to this day) of being the franchise’s main series’ answer to the unexpected popularity of Sunset Shimmer. The two interacting with each other was expected to be a lot wilder or more involved too, perhaps being a rivalry as both are Twilight’s “students”. Instead, the two seem to hit it off pretty readily. That could work too as they do have parallels with one another…but even that was woefully underplayed due to time constraints. There was a lot more potential for character-to-character interaction, but they had to just push it forward to get Starlight into the human world ASAP.

Ultimately I feel this episode could have been great and we ended up with “meh”. Sunset returning to Equestria is something that could have had a whole movie devoted to it. Starlight coming to the human world is something that could have had a whole movie devoted to it. Instead, Juniper, who again is not many people’s favorite Equestria Girls villain, had to take up the bulk of the screen time building to the conclusion and resolution. While I’ve rated all of these specials as average, this one was the closest to getting bumped up to 3 Stars, but it just didn’t take advantage of what it had.

Fun Facts:

Humanized Diamond Tiara and Filthy Rich are at the mall in the background at the beginning. Other humanized versions of character pop up at the mall too.

The mall is running the “Dance Magic” movie video. As near as I can tell, that’s the only real way the special ties into this.

While not a perfect likeness, the movie poster, in keeping with the fact that film is a human version of “Daring Do and the Marked Thief of Marapore”, is a bit of an adaptation of the book cover art.

Rainbow Dash has nicknamed Sunset Shimmer “Sunshim”, something that carried over from the fandom.

Hayburgers are eaten in the human world…for some reason. O_o Humans can’t even digest those. Odd when you remember “Rainbow Rocks” featured pepperoni on a pizza…which is creepy when you realize Twilight Sparkle probably ate some of that.

Sunset Shimmer’s design as a pony seems to have changed from her original appearance, but in her original brief appearance as her eyes were almost continuously narrowed and creased it’s actually hard to compare. At any rate, her own movements in Equestria are a parody of Twilight Sparkle’s own from the original movie, unable to grow accustomed to walking on for legs and not having hands. Her bag seems to “transform” into a saddlebag on crossing over into Equestria, although it could just simply be her new body anchoring it in place.

The new journal’s emblem is a combination of Sunset Shimmer’s Cutie Mark and Twilight Sparkle’s.

The fact that Starlight Glimmer says: “She wants me to learn as much as I can about friendship” indicates that this special might actually be set between Seasons Six and Seven.

Starlight Glimmer’s design is one of the more radically different from her pony version. In addition to being unusually dressed with ripped jeans and her “glimmer beanie, not to mention she gets a watch when crossing over into the human world, her hair style has a number of differences. Her eye style is rather similar to that of Aria Blaze, which might have been a hidden joke as fans were quick to pick up on the fact that Starlight Glimmer’s color palette was almost identical to hers.

There’s a meta joke in this special. At one point, Pinkie Pie grabs “the fourth wall” and says: “Nope! No wall over here!”

When Sci-Twi freezes the chocolate-covered almonds in midair, Pinkie Pie gobbles them up in a parody of Pacman.

Juniper’s transformation is figurative, similar to previous Equestria Girls villain transformations. Her desire is to be noticed, and so she turns into a giant dressed in “loud” clothing that’s impossible to not be seen. Similar to Gloriosa’s transformation, she also has sharp teeth and she becomes delusional, seeing all of the frightened mall patrons as adoring fans.

I happened to notice it didn’t take too long for Starlight to adjust to her human body, even able to perform a flip kick to knock the mirror out of Juniper’s hands. (Stifles “Pony Sue” comment…)

Pinkie Pie also addresses a leading criticism among fans: “Wow…we are a reeeeeeally forgiving group.” Nevertheless, I notice Sunset is the first to forgive Juniper, again indicating her element is Empathy.

Rating:

2.5 Stars out of 5

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My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Equestria Girls: Movie Magic

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Synopsis:

After getting his help for the fund raiser for Camp Everfree, the Rainbooms are invited by film director Canter Zoom to the set of the upcoming Daring Do movie for a behind-the-scenes experience. In between scenes being filmed, the girls check out the film studio and make separate discoveries. Sci-Twi and Rainbow Dash meet up with Juniper Montage, Zoom’s niece and honorary gofer; while Fluttershy and Rarity try to get an autograph of Chestnut Magnifico, the actor playing Daring Do, only to discover her enraged at a commitment she seems determined to get out of. A major disaster occurs when the props for the three relics key to the movie’s plot and approved by A.K. Yearling herself go missing, threatening to delay production until Chestnut’s contract expires and possibly cancelling the film. The girls suspect someone is sabotaging the movie on purpose, and soon seem to get their fears confirmed when a shadowy cloaked figure is spotted skulking around the set. All of the girls go in pursuit, but all of them save Rainbow end up being trapped temporarily, and on going after her alone Rainbow ends up locked in a prop room. The girls manage to track Rainbow Dash down, and after freeing her using her telekinesis Sci-Twi devises a scheme to get the culprit to reveal herself. With Canter Zoom’s help, the girls pretend to temporarily leave the film set unwatched; assuming that the figure has the props stashed somewhere on there as she was unable to relocate them to a more hidden spot earlier due to being spotted. Sure enough, the thief returns to the scene of the crime and is caught and revealed to be Juniper; who Sci-Twi suspected by piecing together clues she inadvertently left behind in her behavior. Juniper confesses that she wanted to play Daring Do in spite of being too young with no experience, and tried to sabotage production enough to get Chestnut to quit so she’d have a shot at the part. In spite of apologizing, her violation of trust gets her kicked off of the set; leaving her furious at the Rainbooms for exposing her. Chestnut’s contract conflict gets resolved and production resumes, and, as a way of saying thank you, Zoom lets the girls cameo as extras on the Tricorner Village set.

Review:

In keeping with what I said in the review for “Dance Magic”, this again has the feel of a short that was too big for a short, but this time it seems to connect to the overall plot for a movie that was too small for a movie. You honestly don’t even need to watch “Dance Magic” to get into this one. As for how it is?

This one definitely requires the most shifting into a “child show mindset” if you’re a nitpicker like I am, such as how all of the scenes for a Daring Do movie are being shot on film sets while a lot of the Indiana Jones movies were shot on location. But even ignoring that, I didn’t care for this one too much from a plot standpoint.

I’m not the biggest fan of the Daring Do lore on the show, but I’m even less of a fan of what this episode ended up being: Scooby-Doo. It wasn’t quite “on the nose”, but it had more than its share of nods to it. It had the obligatory red-herring suspect in the form of Chestnut Magnifico and the actual culprit who was introduced only briefly for Juniper Montage. It had the culprit capable of at least one unexplained feat, like how she was able to outrun Rainbow Dash long enough to start making use of knowing her way around the studio, especially since in many scenes she was being chased in a straight line. Pinkie Pie and Spike may have not had Shaggy and Scooby’s signature cowardice, but they definitely had their continuous stuffing of their faces downpat. Even Sci-Twi channeled Velma for the big villain reveal. (At least Juniper didn’t say she would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids.)

Aside from that, this special has some bits that seem to be building to something and never go anywhere. The seemingly unlimited supply of fresh candy, pudding, and cupcakes the film studio provides almost seems to make it look like a variation on Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but no…all that stuff is just there to give Pinkie odd lines. The girls inexplicably end up dressed as the Power Ponies because…reasons, I guess. It seems it’s all there just for a random joke that wasn’t that funny.

But the biggest, and smallest, thing in this episode is Juniper Montage. It’s hard to talk about her in this special without making reference to “Mirror Magic”, but I’ll try. The fact is she’s really not all that sympathetic of a character. She might not have been over-the-top or dark as some villains are, but all of her misdeeds boil down to nothing but petty jealousy. She already got a rather lucky break being able to assist with a film production and had a considerable amount of privilege given to her, and she tried to sabotage all that simply for a childish fit. Simply “really wanting to do something” isn’t always sufficient reason for actions, especially when it comes to a professional role. An old professor of mine once said that acting is the only profession that people think they can just “start doing” one day. It actually does take quite a bit of work and commitment to get good enough for even small roles. And the fact that at the end she clearly blames the Rainbooms for ruining her plan indicated she really wasn’t that sorry…or else she would have realized she got what her actions deserved. (The fact that it turns out her uncle helped get her another job means she got less than she deserved, and while working vending for a movie theater is pretty low on the totem pole she should be happy she ended up with anything.) While she became worse in “Mirror Magic”, she wasn’t that great here either.

This episode had the feeling that it could have been something more fun and entertaining if it was in Equestria, but “grounded in the human world” it just didn’t appeal to me all that much. Did I like it more than “Dance Magic”? Mmm…well, I like that it seemed to shift back to the dynamic of featuring all the Humane Seven and not highlighting one, but overall it seems like so little of the movie set experience was utilized. It has the feel more of what an Equestria Girls regular series would be like, but…still not a very good episode. There’s nothing overtly “bad” about it, so again this is going to have to be stuck in the middle for me.

Fun Facts:

The movie in this special is a film (and humanized) version of “Daring Do and the Marked Thief of Marapore”, which was never released in the series but was released as a junior novel written by series writer G. M. Berrow.  Locations and characters from this book would also appear in Season Seven’s “Daring Done?”, also written by Berrow. The odd thing about it is that it uses the names from the pony version of the book…when it doesn’t seem to make sense that a human would call himself “Stalwart Stallion”.

Canter Zoom first appeared at the end of “Legend of Everfree” briefly as one of the fund raiser attendees. Apparently, the fact he resembles a humanized Stephen Spielberg (who directed the Indiana Jones films) is no coincidence.

Although the human version of A.K. Yearling exists in this universe, an original character, Chestnut Magnifico, is the actor playing Daring Do. The funny part is that Zoom mentions that A.K. Yearling is “a very difficult woman to track down”, indicating that Daring Do is also real in the human universe and she’s normally being her. I’d be interested to see if humanized A.K. Yearling looks more like Chestnut or more like human Rainbow Dash. 😛

The gold clasp that Juniper Montage wears, along with the black cloak, oddly resembles Tirek’s getup from Season Four’s “Twilight’s Kingdom”.

Am I the only one who felt it a bit odd that Rainbow Dash still couldn’t catch up to Juniper Montage? Knowing your way around may be good but considering how fast she can move…

I have no idea how a cupcake fountain is logically possible…but I want one.

Keeping with the odd name transitions, the “Power Ponies” have the same name in both the human world as well as Equestria. Interestingly enough, Sunset Shimmer ends up dressed as the Mane-Iac. Not sure if she was supposed to be fighting them in that scene or if, in the comics, the Mane-Iac eventually does a Heel Turn Face. 😛

“Stormy with a Side of Pudding” is a knockoff of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”, although this version isn’t a cartoon and apparently used real pudding instead of CGI…and then left the set abandoned with all the pudding still on it…and it hasn’t gotten moldy…for some reason. :/

The human version of Pad Lock escorts Juniper off the set.

In the last filmed scene shown, it opens with two men carrying the Ark of the Covenant from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” across the shot. As another nod, Rainbow Dash tosses “Daring Do” a whip.

Rating:

2.5 Stars out of 5

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Equestria Girls: Dance Magic

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Synopsis:

The Rainbooms have been working a series of fund raisers to help pay for repairs to Camp Everfree (apparently the fund raiser in the previous film was just to keep the park from closing), yet in spite of all of their efforts have only come up with half of the needed amount. Rarity gets the idea that they can possibly win more than twice the amount necessary by winning the local Canterlot Mall Chance-to-Prance competition by submitting the best dancing music video to an original song. While she’s sure the concept she has will win (everyone dressed and dancing to different genres), she’ll have to use all of the money they have currently saved to make the costumes and design. The girls reluctantly consent to the plan, which soon turns into disaster. Not only are none of the girls good dancers, but Rarity inadvertently tells four of the Crystal Prep Academy students (Sour Sweet, Sunny Flare, Sugarcoat, and Lemon Zest) her idea for the music video, and they steal it for their own. When Rarity tries to confront them, they boast that they already submitted the idea and that if the Rainbooms try to do the same they’ll look like they stole the idea. After failing to brainstorm a new idea, a miserable Rarity tries to drown her sorrows in ice cream at the local cafe only to overhear the Crystal Prep students nearby–they too are in fact stuck and haven’t submitted their video since they can’t write an original song, and are fearful they’ll let their own class down after promising they’d win the competition so they could hold the Spring Dance on a yacht. Realizing the two sides both have good intentions, Rarity approaches the Crystal Prep students and, after some discussion, they decide if they work together (with the Rainbooms helping the Crystal Prep students with the song and the Crystal Prep students helping them with the dance steps) they can both come out ahead. The girls agree and put out a video called: “Dance Magic”, which wins. The two sides split the winnings and the Rainboom and Crystal Prep students form a new friendship, with Rarity and Sour Sweet talking about plans for future collaboration.

Review:

Close to the middle of Season Seven, the mid-season hiatus was replaced by a great deal of Equestria Girls content. While the month of August 2017 was devoted to airings of the latest shorts, rather than release a new movie three standard-episode-length Equestria Girls specials ran one week after another during July.

After watching the specials, I have a few theories as to why that happened. While the Equestria Girls movies were originally released to compete with Ever After High and Monster High, since then I believe enough of the older bronies have latched onto it and its numerous knockoffs of magical girl series to give the show makers the dilemma of whether or not it should follow the vibe of something like the Miraculous Ladybug or other magical girl series, which traditionally are more toward the Y7 crowd or older. While I get the sense that Equestria Girls “wants” to become something of the latter, with the demographic that there would be a new Villain-of-the-Week corrupted by Equestrian magic who needs to be stopped and taught the “power of friendship” by the Humane Seven in every episode, it still seems reluctant to give up its roots of more friendship problem-like episodes. Hence, we got an odd three specials rather than a movie with a continuous narrative. And of the three, “Dance Magic”, to me, is the oddest of the bunch.

I’m not sure how to best characterize this special. It has the feel of either being a short that was too long to be a short, or a “regular” episode that ended up feeling too much like early episodes to merit being done again. On the second viewing, I lean more toward the latter. The bulk of this special feels a lot like “Rarity Takes Manehattan” all over again, and note that Sunset Shimmer has so little to do in it that she seems almost inserted into the background in about half of the episode as a last minute animator’s addition.

Compared to other Equestria Girls content until now, this one felt highly awkward for one specific reason: it highlighted humanized Rarity. That would be no big deal if it was a regular series, if it was one of the regular episodes, or even if it was a short. Yet to suddenly have a “special” that was focusing on a normal friendship problem with humanized Rarity, I definitely felt a sense of disconnect.

Aside from that, I wasn’t too big on the plotline. Like I said, it seemed like “Rarity Takes Manehattan” all over again, and I suspect another last-minute edit avoided that. Most of the episode is Flanderization of the Crystal Prep students. I know some people like them and some people hate them, but they never seemed as outright mean and smug in “Friendship Games” as they seemed here. Lemon Zest, for example, seemed to be nothing more than an alternate version of DJ-Pon-3. It seems awkward to see her “maniacally snickering” in the background during Rarity’s confrontation. Sour Sweet is probably the most “like her or hate her” out of the Crystal Prep students, but she seemed both more subdued in her normal sarcasm as well more overtly devious.

What broke this off from “Rarity Takes Manehattan” was the last section of the episode, naturally. The “spirit” of it actually intrigued me. A lot of competitions in TV and movies get you to want to “root for your team” while portraying the other side as something more cold or smug. In reality, in any competition, the other team wants to win just as badly for much the same reason your team does. And I thought it was an interesting moment of empathy when Rarity has pity on the Crystal Prep students in spite of them stealing her idea.

Still, even that seemed a little out of left field. Sour Sweet’s personality did a 180. Where before she was Flanderized toward the “sour” half, now she’s Flanderized toward the “sweet” half; showing she actually acts encouraging, determined, and devoted to her classmates. She outright says she stole the idea from Rarity believing Rarity had enough creativity to come up with one just as good. Even her signature sarcasm disappears, making it look as if this is almost an “act” she puts on for people who aren’t in her confidence. Yet even the others suddenly become much nicer to a point of OOCness (even Lemon Zest ends up stating the brutal consequences of what will happen if Crystal Prep loses rather than Sugarcoat). Normally I might say this is a good move, as it shows that even the “bad guys” have more sympathetic and kind sides when it comes to their own. But the problem is “Friendship Games” emphasized that Crystal Prep students were only concerned with their own success and only cared about what others could do to bring them that. These versions of the Crystal Prep students I can see back in the Friendship Games clapping and encouraging Sci-Twi to hit the target. Granted, they did change at the end of the Friendship Games…but if that’s the case, then how can we swallow them tricking Rarity and stealing their idea? Fluttershy even directly says you can’t have expected them to change that much after one incident (which, interestingly, is a nod to Season Seven’s “Fame and Misfortune”).

So do I hate it? No…but it is a mess. Just a little mess, granted. Not nearly as bad as other ones. I didn’t care much for “Dance Magic” the first time I heard it, and my favorite song from the Equestria Girls this season is “Monday Blues”, but it was nice on rehearing it. And I appreciate they didn’t go for the obvious at the end, even if it was forced, and ended up having the two teams work together rather than have the Rainbooms pull out a last-minute victory.  As a result, this special…just manages to break even to me.

Fun Facts:

What might be the most unrealistic part of the specials is that teenagers still spend so much time in malls. 😛

At one point, Sci-Twi shakes her head, and the animation has her eyes in her glasses lenses remain flat as they would if someone really wearing glasses was to do that. It’s a nice little detail I appreciate.

Indigo Zap is conspicuously missing from the Crystal Prep girls, which is a little surprising as she’s voiced by Kelly Sheridan, the same voice actor who does Starlight Glimmer.

Mention is made that former Dean Cadance has taken over for former Principal Abacus Cinch at Crystal Prep Academy, making Cadance the “ruler” of the “Crystal Empire” in the human world as well.

Rarity has a customized director’s chair.

Opalescence is also unchanged in the human world, just like Angel Bunny. Also, Rarity doesn’t have any magic to pull a “fainting couch” toward her. She has to get the girls to come to her room to throw herself on one. 😛

In Applejack’s “concept”, Sunset Shimmer is the only one who dresses in black.

The shadow that appears in Rainbow Dash’s idea is of Ahuizotl. The mention of Daring Do is one of the few details that connects this special to the next two.

I thought it’s kind of odd that Rarity actually audibly says “nom-nom-nom” when stuffing her face with ice cream.

The girls “pony-up” for the music video.

Pinkie Pie puts on the same rap getup she wore in Season Four’s “Testing, Testing, 1 2 3”.

Rating:

2.5 Stars out of 5

My Little Devotional #145: “I Know It When I See It”

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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “A Royal Problem”

This episode was a fan favorite for a multitude of reasons, but what I think stuck out the most to me was it served as an opportunity to get into the characters of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna by having them in a conflict with one another. Both of them felt the the other wasn’t appreciating them enough for what they did every day although both had important, and demanding, jobs. Yet a key part of why they failed to appreciate each other was that either one felt the other had the “easy” job. That, as it turned out, was a rather bold claim for either one to make as they rarely were awake and alert for the other one’s job and really didn’t understand just how much the other one’s tasks entailed. That was fixed when Starlight Glimmer switched their Cutie Marks, letting them both “walk a mile in the other’s horseshoes”, and both realized just how much they carried out and appreciated each other much better for it.

One of the greatest criticisms that secular individuals have of Christianity is that they are very judgmental–that they feel they’re “better” than everyone else. I don’t think many Christians realize it’s not that hard for them to give that perception. We have the Bible, which we believe holds the answers to life’s greatest questions and the secrets to eternal life and knowing the nature and will of God, our Heavenly Father. And that can lead some Christians to get the sensation of already “knowing people” and circumstances without ever experiencing and interacting with them, and as a result they are in a secure spot to condemn and judge others without knowing them. The bad part about coming to the point where you feel confident to definitely declare all things good or evil is it leads to the sin of pride; placing yourself as the ultimate moral authority rather than God. It’s very easy to forget that we are still in the flesh and flawed by our own weaknesses and our own perceptions. Even if we feel we know enough to declare someone we see good or evil, we forget that we ourselves don’t see the world as it is to begin with but rather as we are. While there are definitely many issues I feel Christians can safely declare good or evil, and should, there are also some that they feel entitled to condemn simply from their own standpoint.

Case in point: I know a few people, and I suspect there are many more, who proudly profess their Christianity and boldly speak the Word. The problem is many of these people also profess other things; like how people on one side of a political discourse are always liars, lazy, fools, etc., or how in an issue of whether a crime was motivated by external factors such as race, gender, or religion they tend to always favor one race, gender, or religion over another. These, of course, are things of a more global or societal view. Yet judging people in their everyday lives comes even easier for others. They talk about how that one co-worker never does their job, or how that family member they won’t talk to thinks she’s so much better than everyone, or that this person’s child will grow up to be a delinquent because he doesn’t act like everyone else, or second guess that person’s motives all the time because he voted for one candidate and not another.

It may seem unfair to pick on Christians alone for doing this as everyone it guilty of it, but seeing as to be Christian is to realistically be held to a greater standard than the rest of the world, and we profess once a week that we will follow Jesus and be the light of the world (if not more than that), I feel it’s a fair critique.

The truth of the matter is who we truly are is between us and God. We might not be able to overlook sin regardless of motive behind it, but we should never assume we “know” a person just because of a circumstance we find them in…especially if we know little to nothing about that person to begin with. People don’t often choose where they want to be in life and never choose their background. (Just as an example, I’ve met a person before who seemed perfectly “normal” on the outside to the rest of the world, and confessed in their testimony that their birth mother attempted to murder them when they were a teen.) And even if they are in a situation by choice, it doesn’t mean they’re not working to get out of it; as many people who are recovering from addiction or have gotten out of prison try to do. Likewise, rarely does someone do something to be “mean” or because they know what they’re doing is wrong. There’s reasons behind things everyone does. Some of them might be good, some of them might be bad, and some might be ones we’d find ourselves making in the same situation.

Never forget Job. (There are a lot of lessons to be learned in that book simply besides why good people suffer.) If even the most righteous man alive could find himself continuously being accused of evil by his own friends, a man who not only prayed and fasted but had clear evidence of his own good works that everyone knew, then how much more will we be prone to judge people who don’t meet our own standards? (Likewise, don’t forget that God found those same friends guilty of sin who thought they were defending God all along.) (Job 42:7-9)

The point being–we can judge actions and make responses to those, and there is something to be said about how must trust to give someone; but, as the two sisters did, we are never in a position to evaluate someone as being “better” or “worse” than us. The Bible has many examples of people who judged too much by first appearances only to find they should have looked deeper. The Pharaoh of Egypt (Exodus 5:1-2), Goliath (1 Samuel 17:43-44), Samuel (1 Samuel 16:6-7), and, of course, the religious and political contemporaries of Jesus’ own day come to mind (John 1:10).

As David so eloquently put it in Psalm 139 (1-18), God alone knows the truth:

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

 

My advice for this devotional is next time you find yourself growing antagonistic toward someone, whether it be an individual or a group, and you find yourself starting to “put motives into their heads” without having much to back it up rather than your own fears and suspicions, try to pause and think a bit more about it first. You’ll find people are more like you than you realize.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, I praise you for, as your servant David said, you alone know who I am and see inside me at all times. You alone know and understand the hearts of everyone. Please forgive me for all the times I felt in a position to judge the worth of anyone as a person, especially when those times led me to withhold good or hand out evil to anyone unjustly. In all ways with all people, grant me eyes to see the world as you do, to feel for people as you do, and to respond as you would. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ IDW My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Equestria Girls Holiday Special 2014

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Synopsis:

The holidays have come to Canterlot High School, but it’s a melancholy time for Sunset Shimmer as she’s been alone ever since coming into the human world. To try and treat her to a nice holiday as well as to show how she’s been accepted as more than a friend but part of their “family”, the Humane Five decide to treat her to a series of slumber parties at each of their houses along with the other girls, culminating in a big holiday party at Sweet Apple Acres at the end. The first night is at Pinkie Pie’s, and during the night, after a call from Apple Bloom, Applejack finds herself forced to relate an embarrassing story of how she got the nickname “Piggly Wiggly” before they turn in. The next day at school, the girls find out that someone has created an online profile called “Anon-a-miss”, using Sunset Shimmer’s silhouette and color scheme, and has leaked the name to everyone, causing everyone to start making fun of Applejack. The next night is at Rarity’s house, where Sunset take some outrageous pictures of the girls playing dress up in Rarity’s failed wardrobe design. Yet the next day, Sunset comes to school and finds the girls enraged at her when they see Anon-a-miss posted the pictures taken from Sunset’s phone. They now believe her to be Anon-a-miss and that she just pretended to be nice to start backstabbing them again, and they break off their friendship from her.

Things get worse as days pass as Anon-a-miss continues to post everyone’s secrets, and the school starts turning on itself as it did before the events of “Equestria Girls”. Sunset is hated more every day as everyone blames her, and finally in despair she writes to Twilight Sparkle asking her if she thinks any Windegos might have gotten into the human world. Twilight answers that the human world doesn’t need Windegos to spread about distrust and discord, as demonstrated by the abuse of social media, and encourages her to stay strong and “find your family”. After the entire school joins in on taunting Sunset and reducing her to tears, she thinks on what Twilight says and meets the girls at the coffee shop, where she shows them what Twilight has been writing in the journal to get them to reluctantly give her a berth. Soon after, she manages to deduce who the real culprits are just as they finally have a crisis of conscience and walk in to confess of their own volition: the humanized Cutie Mark Crusaders. Jealous of the Humane Five spending time with Sunset Shimmer instead of them, they created Anon-a-miss to get the girls to break off their friendship with her, but ended up posting negative content about everyone as well when things got out of hand. Sunset and the girls end up forgiving the CMCs, who publicly confess to everything, take down the account, and receive six months suspension. The Humane Six decide to invite the CMCs along with them to the holiday party at Sweet Apple Acres so they don’t feel left out, noting that with family “there’s always room for more”.

Review:

If you’re a fan of “One Piece”, you may like the series…but you know the Skypeia arc was pretty bad. If you’re a fan of “Star Trek”, you may like most of the movies…but you know the fifth movie was trash. If you’re a fan of “Sonic the Hedgehog”, you may like the games in general…but you know the 2006 game was terrible.

And if you’re a fan of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, you may like most of it and the IDW comic…but you have…this.

Before I begin, I’ll start by acknowledging some people actually like this story. Some people even like it a lot. And that’s fine because all art is subjective and you might see things in it that I don’t. But if that’s you, you should probably leave right now. As for me and my personal opinion? (Starts the pilot light on a flamethrower)

Buckle yourselves in.

As with the Annual #1, this special is solidly grounded in “reality”. It could very easily be a perfectly realistic story if not for the few panels that show the pony Twilight Sparkle receiving Sunset Shimmer’s journal entries. No magic in this one, villains or otherwise. Similar to Annual #1, that kind of puts it in an odd camp to begin with. Because there’s only so many Equestria Girls movies, almost all of them have to be the more “drama-based” type of episode rather than the “friendship problem” ones in at least some way. It’s a bit interesting that the comic decided to go with that when the comic has more of a reputation for drama-based episodes. I personally thought they might have gone with a human-transformed Windego, especially as it was hinted at mid-story. Instead, well…we’ll get to that in a second.

What they went with was still ok, though, because they don’t have a chance to do many episodes like that in the series. And early on, it looked like it was going to be pretty heartwarming and cute. Sunset Shimmer had become the show’s newest ensemble darkhorse (pardon the pun) following “Rainbow Rocks”, and the chance for her to get to have a nice holiday with her friends looked like it would make a nice little tale.

Then, of course, things start going wrong…and they just keep going downhill from there.

Initially, I don’t mind the conflict that much. I realized someone was trying to frame Sunset pretty early, obviously. And I thought it would cause a bit of contention. Now if it had stayed mild, if it had caused the Humane Five to doubt Sunset, maybe even start mistrusting her a little or express some anger, that would have been one thing. Yet it quickly becomes worse than that. After only the second incident, the Humane Five outright reject Sunset completely and kick her out of their lives.

One can make the argument that the girls still have “a lot to forgive” Sunset for, although by the beginning of “Rainbow Rocks” it seemed as if the girls had already forgiven her and the one person who still needed to forgive someone was Sunset…needing to forgive herself. And unlike the situation with Starlight Glimmer, a lot of “Rainbow Rocks” was devoted to how much effort Sunset made to try the monumental task of remaking her image in the face of the very individuals she tormented…something that few people in this world would be willing to try.  And aside from that, the girls had gone the extra step in this story. They called Sunset more than their friend. They called her family. The very fact she was being welcomed into their homes in this series of slumber parties was to make her feel like she had a family in the human world. So…there is some validity to the complaint that the girls were too quick to outright shut Sunset out, and even that it was almost OOC of them to do so. That if they were serious about everything they said, they owed her the benefit of the doubt or a chance to prove herself. Instead…

“Maybe…even family can make mistakes.” “Maybe. I don’t know if you can forgive them though.”

Remember this in a second.

I didn’t think it was too bad at this point, though. Everything would be made right in the end, I knew, and the girls would apologize for having doubted Sunset, Sunset would say she understood based on her past, and the holidays would still be great. Yet things kept getting worse.

Not only do the Humane Five fail to think maybe they mistreated Sunset as time goes on, but the situation becomes worse than ever as everyone gets turned against each other by the gossip and newsmongering of “Anon-a-miss”. Now, everyone turns against Sunset. This is dark. In fact, it’s possibly the darkest the series has ever been because it’s something completely real. It’s cyberbullying at its worst, and yet Sunset Shimmer is ironically the worst victim of it all as everything is being pinned on her. The worst part about cyberbullying is it’s an infectious cancer of poison impossible to remove. Once a secret is out on the Internet, it is out there forever. It can’t be reined in. And it spreads like a plague. Yet Sunset gets the worst of it. Someone has stolen her identity to make all of these posts, so she can’t get away by staying offline. She has no family (or home, really) to run to in the world. Her friends were the first to be poisoned against her, so she has no one to go to or talk to except Twilight Sparkle.

It’s terrible because it’s a nightmare from real life. Now, of course, Sunset Shimmer was guilty of three years of cyberbullying. I suppose some individuals would make the argument that this was “karma” for her.  But most of us, myself included, had seen the other side of Sunset Shimmer and saw this as simply cruel.

By this point in the story, I was beginning to think like Sunset. I figured this had to be a humanized Windego. There was no other explanation, after all. Who else would have had access to her phone? Who would have known their secrets? No one…at least no one who I knew would be cruel enough for that. Even if they wanted to hurt Sunset Shimmer, there was NO character around who would want to see the whole school tearing itself up to do it. So the only logical conclusion was there was a monster somewhere the girls would have to fight, and I waited for that.

And then, at long last, came the big moment. I noticed in the exchange with the Humane Five at the coffee shop, all of them are still giving Sunset the cold shoulder. Even with Twilight’s comments vouching for her innocence, they seem to only be willing to listen to her because of Twilight…not because they’ve softened to her in the least. Applejack outright states she doesn’t trust Sunset anymore when they’re trying to figure out the culprit. And who does it end up being?

The moment the villains (note no quotation marks…because they were the worst villains in possibly the entire series at that point) are revealed, this entire story becomes bad fanfiction: the type with “Ron the Death Eater”. I don’t know what the writers were thinking or how they could be so naive to make light of everything that happened in this story. The fact that the humanized Cutie Mark Crusaders would do such a thing makes them the most despicable characters in the comic franchise. It was bad enough that they were trying to drive a wedge between her and the girls. It’s worse when they wanted her destroyed.

The CMCs were turning everyone against Sunset Shimmer. They tried to make her the most hated individual in the school. And even when they saw the school starting to eat itself alive, they kept going. Why? Pure sadistic glee. No, I’m serious. That’s the only explanation. This wasn’t like “Ponyville Confidential” where they were attracted by fame and later coerced by their unscrupulous editor. They felt making the lives of their own sisters and friends hell and making the school eat itself alive like in the days before Twilight Sparkle was all acceptable so long as they could make Sunset suffer and drive her away. All motivated by pure jealousy. That’s…despicable. Monstrous.

And, of course, it gets worse from there. Everyone immediately forgives the CMCs completely. Right. Why?

“‘Course I forgive you, Apple Bloom. You’re family.”

Yeah, remember this earlier?

“Maybe…even family can make mistakes.” “Maybe. I don’t know if you can forgive them though.”

Sunset had the biggest right to carry a grudge. About the one virtue of this story is that it shows her Element probably really is Forgiveness/Empathy because she does immediately forgive the CMCs. But the Humane Five…what a bunch of two-faced creeps. They treated Sunset like she was a leper no matter how much she pleaded and begged them to believe her because they felt so backstabbed and betrayed. Yet they instantly just smile, shake their heads, and say “what are we going to do with you?” to the CMCs?

I already said it. Cyberbullying is a cancer. So is gossip. Everything they put out there isn’t going to “go away” because they said sorry. And it won’t go away from taking down the account, publicly confessing, or getting suspensions either. That’s why cyberbullying is so hideously evil–it can’t be fully undone. Part of it will linger forever. Can you forgive a cyberbully if they’ve done absolutely everything they could to try and undo it, like the CMCs did? Yes…it might take some strength of character that’s not common, but yes. Will you trust them as easily from now on? Probably not for some time.

The school literally formed a mob to bully Sunset Shimmer because they thought she was the culprit. Do you think that sort of anger is going to subside just like that for the CMCs now that they admitted to the truth?

The message the story was giving there was that cyberbullying is evil but can be undone, which is not only inaccurate it’s irresponsible. The real message should have been cyberbullying is horrible…so never do it. Period. Kids have refused to go to school, had plastic surgery, and even committed suicide over cyberbullying. There’s nothing “light” about it.

And it gets worse. A story that centered so much on the torment Sunset had to go through and emphasizing the evils of cyberbullying and the need to be responsible with social media…suddenly shifts it all to a lesson about Sunset and the Humane Five being in the wrong for not including the CMCs all along.

The one problem the writers of the IDW Comic seem to share along with those of the show is that there is such thing as a Moral Event Horizon. It is possible to do something so despicable and depraved that extenuating circumstances can no longer be used not only as an excuse but even as a reason for pity. Bit of a background story…when Marvel published the end of the infamous “Dark Phoenix Saga” of the X-Men, there was considerable debate among the writers as to whether or not Jean Grey should live at the end; enough to where two separate cover arts of the next issue were done, one with a happy ending and one with a sad one. Ultimately, they decided on death. Why? Because it didn’t matter if Jean fully regained control and maintained it for the rest of her life, never hurting another living thing again. She had murdered five billion people just for fun. That sort of thing couldn’t be overlooked.

It was bad the girls weren’t included, yes, but it was even worse how they responded. They created a hundred fold worse bad blood for it and they tried to drive the school to run Sunset out of town. And even when things were getting out of hand they wouldn’t stop. It almost looks as if they threw in the CMCs apologizing at the last minute as an aside rather than a confrontation, as it happens at the exact same time Sunset deduces it was them. And they had to do that, because otherwise the CMCs would have been totally irredeemable…as opposed to about 95% irredeemable. :/

And still it gets worse than that. The CMCs end up apologizing to the girls for the most part…not to Sunset. They seem to be more upset about what happened to their sisters and the school rather than her. Granted, there is a panel where Sweetie Belle explicitly apologizes to Sunset directly, but that gets negated a moment later by her saying: “We had no idea what would happen to you!”

No, writers. No. They knew exactly what would happen.

That was the whole point. Apple Bloom said this was all about jealousy. They wanted revenge not for anything Sunset did but for the mere fact that their sisters liked her. They were trying to drive her away by making her friends hate her so that they’d kick her out. Heck, on reread, you see Apple Bloom not only drew attention to Anon-a-miss to begin with and planted the idea in Applejack’s mind that Sunset had betrayed her, but she went even more Shakespearian by planting the idea of exposing Applejack’s bad nickname at the start. She purposely said that over the phone so that the girls would overhear, Applejack would be forced to explain, and that night she could write the story. And if they really hated it, again, like I said earlier, why not stop? They were under no compulsion to do so. They simply kept posting bad content and secrets people sent them…why? Because they were sadistic monsters, I guess.

Everything happened exactly the way the CMCs wanted it to. The only excuse you can plausibly make is they finally had a crisis of conscience on seeing Sunset in tears and realized they weren’t driving away some unfeeling creature but they were hurting someone extremely badly. That…might have been passable as a lesson. But that’s not what happened. Not only is that not emphasized, but, again, the Humane Six are made to look like the ones in the wrong for not including them.

Finally, the icing on the cake. After the way Sunset was treated so unjustly, after her friends disowned her for something that wasn’t even her fault, after she was left in tears because they wouldn’t give her even the benefit of the doubt, after they treated her like a outcast and yelled at her to get out of the coffee shop, not one…not ONE…member of the Humane Six says so much as “sorry” to Sunset. They owed her an apology for doubting her. A BIG one. The fact they didn’t give it, well…let’s just say it’s a good thing the CMCs are the hate sink in this one.

The only explanation I can think for this is that the concept started going into play before “Rainbow Rocks” came out, and it seems supported by the ending message being given by Rarity and Sunset only appearing in the background after focusing the rest of the entire story on her…which is yet another problem. It probably was originally supposed to center on the CMCs and the Humane Five. But when the writers saw that Sunset Shimmer would have to be worked in, it turned into this abomination.

I can’t even articulate how much I dislike this. I spent days thinking of the best way to sum it up. To paraphrase another reviewer’s thoughts, this is a holiday special that has little to do with the holidays and almost nothing to do with “good will toward men and women”. On my part, this is like “Ponyville Confidential”, which was already a heavily disliked episode, only taking everything bad in that one and making it worse. Everything is off on it. The characters are OOC. The motivations are weak. The actions are unjustified. The theme is portrayed too mature while it’s handled too lightly. It’s unfocused at the end. The villains are made too heavy and get off too light. The conflict isn’t properly resolved. The message is muddled and misleading. Rather than leaving this story feeling encouraged or happy about the holidays, I left feeling sore, uncertain, and disliking the Humane Five. The sad part is this is probably the only real comic treatment Sunset Shimmer will ever get as, along with Fiendship is Magic #3 and Annual #1, this is the only time anything from the Equestria Girls movies ever appeared in the comic.

I’m sure if you like this comic you’re not even reading this anymore, but if you are I can see that there are some parts in this that can be fixated on to like, but to me only if I blot a lot of things from my conscious memory. I was able to overlook quite a bit in “The Cutie Re-Mark” by the time Season Seven rolled around but I still had to “overlook” it. This storyline has too much going bad for that. And, for me personally, it only deserves one rating.

Congratulations, Holiday Special 2014. When it comes to “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, you are, at least to me, the worst of the worst.

Fun Facts:

Tony Fleecs did art for both Annual #1 as well as this issue, and for this issue he basically took the same art for Annual #1, replaced Twilight Sparkle with Sunset Shimmer, and made the rest winter-themed.

Although the Equestria Girls franchise is set in a world of humans…MySpace is still MyStable… O_o

At the time that this issue came out, Season Six’s “Flutter Brutter” was still almost a year and a half away. Fluttershy’s family gets incidentally omitted from any description or inclusion.

Although this comic came out almost four months after “Rainbow Rocks”, it’s likely production on it had to begin before the film came out. That’s the only excuse I can find for some of it…and one of the indicators is that Sunset doesn’t know what slumber parties are like although she attended the one in “Rainbow Rocks”.

Fluttershy, when playing the game, says for her character to use its “limit break”. “Limit breaks” are moves specific to the Final Fantasy series of video games.

The humanized gremlins appear…again…

It wouldn’t be all the way until Season Seven’s Equestria Girls short “Monday Blues” that we would finally see that Sunset Shimmer does indeed have a place to live in the human world. In this story, interestingly enough, Sunset Shimmer is depicted as sleeping in the library like Twilight Sparkle had to.

Although they aren’t real, this issue features a depiction of humanized Windegos.

One of the text boxes reads “this sucks”…a slip-up on the part of censors.

Rating:

0 Stars out of 5

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ IDW My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Annual #1

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Synopsis:

An unseen reporter for the school newspaper is interviewing the Humane Five about how they got to be such good friends, and pieces the story together from interviewing them all separately:

Freshman year of Canterlot High School, all five members of the Humane Five come to school. They initially meet with one another at the Freshman Fair but are soon swept up in their own concerns. Applejack wants to just fit in with the more urban student body although she comes from a rural background. Pinkie Pie is wanting to find the perfect extracurricular activity that’s fun. Rarity is wanting to make her mark on the school. Rainbow Dash is wanting to make the soccer team and become the school star. Fluttershy is just looking for where she wants to be in life right now but is afraid of everyone. Applejack ends up trying to pair with her two cousins, Sunflower and Babs Seed, but they tell her that her rural mannerisms won’t fit in and she needs to change. Meanwhile, they gravitate toward Rarity who’s self-confident, attractive, and catches the eyes of everyone; introducing her to the “elite” members of the school. Rainbow Dash focuses almost all of her attention on the soccer team and being the best, and Fluttershy, while able to hit it off with Rarity and being friends already with Rainbow Dash, is trying to support the latter but still feels “something is missing”. As the weeks go on, circumstances drive the group apart from each other. Applejack continuously tries to make herself more of a high class urban girl but is only shunned more by Sunflower and Babs Seed. As for Rarity, Sunflower, Babs Seed, and the rest of the school elites demand all of her time and discourage her from interacting with anyone else not at the top of the pecking order. Rainbow Dash makes the soccer team but soon gets a swollen ego and devotes herself only to being the star, getting the ire of the rest of her teammates. Pinkie Pie finds lots of activities that are fun for her, but she dislikes them all because they don’t let her make fun for anyone else. Finally, Fluttershy is continuously “lost in the crowd” and not able to find any place she fits in.

Finally, Canterlot High plays its first game against the “Shadowbolts”. Rainbow Dash’s grandstanding ends up costing the team the ball numerous times. There, Pinkie Pie finally gets an idea to help everyone else have fun by distributing Wondercolts horse ears and tails to whip up people for a pep rally, and “drafts” Fluttershy to help. While passing them out, Fluttershy notices that Sunflower has a sick dog and tries to offer her help, but when Sunflower responds by mocking and teasing her, Applejack and Rarity both erupt at her; the former for ever wanting to “be like a bully” and the latter for being stunned at their lack of gratitude. They end up helping her and Pinkie Pie distribute the favors and whip up the crowd, which in turn motivates Rainbow Dash to think more like a team player and pass the ball to Spitfire for the winning goal. Following the event, the girls realize both their respective virtues and become friends from the same event (paralleling how the Mane Six gained the Cutie Marks that led to their destined friendship by the same event).

The interview over, each of the girls thanks the reporter–revealing it to be Sunset Shimmer, who says she’s learned everything she needs to know about them.

Review:

At the time that the first annual for the IDW Comic series came out, the only entry in the “Equestria Girls” franchise was the original movie, and that wasn’t a good leg to start out on. The original movie is not the most beloved of the franchise. In fact, according to IDW, it’s the least liked of the franchise…and, if you’ve seen my review, for pretty good reason. It was viewed as unnecessary, bizarre, and simplistic. It wouldn’t be until “Rainbow Rocks” and the subfranchise finding a new deteuroagonist in who was regarded as a bland and uninspired villain that the series took off.

On one hand, that put a pretty tall burden on the writers for this issue. On the other hand, with a universe that only had so much canon, it left a lot of possibilities.

The fact of the matter is the Equestria Girls movies are mostly all the domain of Twilight Sparkle, Sunset Shimmer, and Sci-Twi. Any other character is there almost obligatory just for funny scenes and to round out the set. Most of the character development and individuality we’ve gotten from the Human Five came from the shorts, and none of those were meant to be poignant. The comic gave an opportunity to flesh that out, especially since, in this prequel, neither Twilight Sparkle or (technically) Sunset Shimmer are around to steal any spotlights.

How did it do? Well, at first I didn’t think much of this arc because I focused on the wrong things. Now? I appreciate it more.

The story works pretty hard to both maintain the identity of the Humane Five as well as make them more relateable to the real world as they’re human high school students. For the most part, it works out in that way. Each one features a realistic problem that would apply to high school students. Applejack comes from a different background and is pressured to change herself to fit in. Rarity immediately gets absorbed into the upper cliques because of her high manners and attractiveness. Rainbow Dash is out to forge her identity through athletic excellence, not only for school notoriety but for herself. And Fluttershy has the problem a lot of students face…they don’t know what to try for in forging their own identity and they end up just kind of wandering around aimlessly.

Pinkie Pie is the only one who really doesn’t fit in to a section of reality, and it causes the story to suffer a bit for it. This particular arc was going for fairly solid realism. No magic or monsters or anything like that. Therefore, when the occasional antic of Pinkie comes out such as narrating her own story, having tea with a ferret, or random confetti happens, it’s a bit out of place. Yet what’s most off about her is that she already knows what she wants to do with her life, which makes her actually more “mature” than the rest of the girls. She just doesn’t know how best to do it, and she ends up being the lynch pin for the group instead of Rainbow Dash (with a Sonic Rainboom) at the end.

The other thing that’s jarring is Sunflower and Babs Seed. Sunflower not so much as we don’t know anything about her character prior to this, but not only is moving Babs Seed to an older age than Applejack kind of odd, but it seems odd after trying to make her a sympathetic character (though still a bully) on the show they decided to make the human version of her just a pure rotten bully more or less. It was rather distracting to me on the first readthrough.

Yet those two points aside, on the second readthrough everything clicked a lot better. What we ended up with was something that was a logical “re-telling” of “The Cutie Mark Chronicles” for the human version, and what they gave was something that was a bit unique but also had the feel of that same episode. It might not have been quite as fanciful or poignant, but I’d saw the IDW writers still managed to put something together that expanded logically on the show in a new and intriguing way. Even the last page seems to be hinting at a way to draw Twilight Sparkle into it, indicating she too is part of their destiny.

At this point it’s been almost three years since IDW handled an Equestria Girls storyline (I can’t honestly blame them after the Christmas Special…but all in good time…), so it’s doubtful they’ll ever do one again. Yet for this storyline, I think it was definitely a winner.

Fun Facts:

This comic serves as the prequel to “My Little Pony: Equestria Girls”. When it was originally released, it contained an 8-page short originally published as an exclusive in the San Diego Comic Con version of Issue #9: “The Fall of Sunset Shimmer”, which also, naturally, served as a prequel.

The entire story is presented in the form of a single narrative being gleaned from interviews with the Humane Five. A similar motif would be used in Season Six’s “The Saddle Row Review”.

Human Rainbow Dash and Human Fluttershy are already friends from “Cloudsdale Junior High”, which serves as a parallel for how Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy became friends originally in Cloudsdale long before both relocated to Ponyville and met the others.

Although Babs Seed’s older sister was never named on the show, she was named Sunflower in the comic. Interestingly enough, she is the only character whose humanized appearance came before her pony appearance, as she would go on to appear in Friends Forever #9 and the main series Issue #32. In an even more bizarre twist, Babs Seed is older than Applejack in the human world.

The humanized gremlins are at Canterlot High School. :/ I guess the gremlins are the IDW signature or something…

The team that Canterlot High plays against is the “Shadowbolts”. This was two full years before “Legend of Everfree” would create the Crystal Prep Shadowcolts, but one can overlook one letter and assume they’re the same team, making the Shadowcolts the first thing from the IDW Comic that became show canon.

Foreshadowing is made to “Equestria Girls” on the very last page, when the girls mentioned they felt they were destined to be friends before they even met: “And all it took was…a spark.”

Rating:

3.5 Stars out of 5

My Little Devotional #144: “Tact-Tical Choices”

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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Honest Apple”

Out of all the “virtues” the Mane Six display, the one who has a virtue that ends up being a double-edged sword more than anyone else is Applejack with her honesty. On one hand, it means she’s always trustworthy and you can take what she says as face value, which is a rare benefit for anyone. Yet the flip side of that is that she shows little care about giving her honest opinion about anything, such as in this episode when she was invited to judge a fashion show and didn’t bother hiding in the least her thoughts that fashion was a silly pursuit to begin with. In doing so, she ended up being rude, insulting, and callous to the various participants, and all while defending that she was just giving her honest opinion. It wasn’t until Rarity confronted her with someone who also had no qualms about being honest with her personal opinions about apples that Applejack got a dose of her own medicine and realized her mistake.

One of Winston Churchill’s many  noteworthy quotes was: “Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” Tact is indeed a great virtue and one of the better talents to possess. It can make a lot of difference in how you talk to someone or, far more importantly, how you offer constructive criticism or call them out on something. And the effects, as shown in this episode, of not having tact are clear. It’s all part of the vital process of communication which, unlike what some may believe, is not simply spewing out words for people to hear and then, once done, you wait for them to stop talking to begin again. And it can make a major difference in what you’re trying to say.

On a personal note, I’ve seen people blow up and lose their temper before and be out of line for doing so. They’ve overreacted, gotten too mean, and at times it’s over something that was their own fault or negligence to begin with and now they’re taking it out on those around them. I’ve seen these same people be angrily confronted and called out on this same behavior just as loudly and fiercely. What do you think was the result? They got angrier in turn and everything escalated. By comparison, I’ve also seen someone far calmer, more rational, and who went ahead and deferred to them a bit confront them in a far gentler way that de-escalated the situation. While they stayed irritable for a time, they were able to calm down in that instance, and once they were calm they apologized for their behavior of their own accord. In both cases they were being confronted about their outrageous behavior, but one made the situation worse and one made it better. And it all came down to tact and presentation.

The problem is that tact is not only a lost art nowadays, it seems to be one that people are actively trying to kill. As I’ve mentioned before, one of the drawbacks to humanity reaching the point where we can communicate with each other about everything worldwide in an instant is that we’ve gotten the false sense that our opinions are worth more than simple opinions. As a result, people have gotten louder about pushing their viewpoints across as well as shouting down those who are in opposition to them. Likewise, they’ve gotten more critical and less accepting of any divergent views, and more hostile about promoting their own. In short, people care less about swaying others to their point of view so much as making a point or putting something out so strong (even outlandish) that it garners a lot of attention…not necessarily support.

The worst part is that people excuse themselves more and more for this sort of behavior. Sometimes they defend themselves like Applejack; insisting they’re just stating their honest opinion. Yet like her, often this is a thinly veined way of saying (or at least giving the impression) that their opinion is the “right opinion”, and that everyone else who disagrees is silly, stupid, and/or morally in the wrong.

And when it comes to Christians, they might end up turning to Lord Jesus Himself as defense for the way they say things. They make a point that Jesus and the original Christians never worried about being “politically correct”, but often spoke out boldly and defiantly in the face of those that persecuted them. They also make a point that preaching the Gospel often enraged people in the past (and does even in the present) to the point of violence and oppression breaking out, so any negative attention they receive is not only viewed as acceptable but, in some cases, a sign of virtue. I’ve encountered a few Christians before who seemed to think they should have been getting people mad, or they weren’t preaching the Gospel correctly.

I think it’s certainly true that the Gospel has the power to create conflict between believers and non-believers, and inevitably will just as Jesus foretold. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) And it’s true that many of the actions that Jesus and the early Christians did called out people on their sin and, as a result, led to anger and hostility. “When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this (Stephen’s witness), they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.” (Acts 7:54-58) And it’s also true that some people will not only not accept Jesus’ Offer of Salvation but will try to violently suppress those who preach it. (There’s no need of a Bible verse for this; it happens around the world.)

Nevertheless, neither Jesus nor His disciples used the same “approach” for everyone; either individuals or groups. When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, He didn’t immediately call her out for being a harlot and tell her to repent for the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. He started things off by simply asking her to give Him a drink–to commit a basic violation of ethnic custom by associating with a Jew. (John 4:1-26) Nor did Jesus always point out sin and its consequences in others. Rather, he often spoke in parables, which served as a way for people to be able to see the wrong they were doing without them growing defensive as it wasn’t directly about them. (Matthew 13:34; 21:45) Paul didn’t immediately denounce all the numerous pagan temples and shrines the Athenians had erected when he met with them, even though he was outraged by them, but rather leveraged them into his own message by finding common ground with them. (Acts 17:16-34)

The same thing can be said about trying to make your point to anyone or to preach the Gospel to anyone. There are ways that will immediately make some people turn you off and shut you out; doing the opposite of what you intend and causing them to cling to their own viewpoint more. But there are also ways of finding common ground or recasting what you say to make it easier to accept or at least consider. While some pooh-pooh this sort of thing for not being “direct” enough, and in some cases they might be right, what one has to remember is the goal of persuasive speaking. It’s not about converting someone to your viewpoint on the spot, and it’s definitely not about making yourself feel good or clever. The point should be to get people to consider what you’re witnessing. If you can get someone to seriously think about what you’re telling them, whether it be your opinion on something or the Gospel of Jesus, you’ve already come a lot farther than you think.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for your saving Word and the message of the Gospel, which is nothing less than the salvation of all the world and hope for new and everlasting life. I ask again that I may always “speak the truth in love” when I am sharing this good news, and that while I acknowledge not everyone will always necessarily receive it, let me always proclaim it as you would have it proclaimed; and always out of genuine love, affection, and concern for all people–for indeed all people have been created by you and your pleasure, Christian and non-Christian alike. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Friends Forever #24 (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Friends Forever #24): “Rarity & Gilda”

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Synopsis:

While “spangling” an official boffyball (a game that’s only played outside of Equestria) jersey for a local fan, Rarity gets an unexpected visitor in the form of Gilda Griffon. Although the recently-more-friendly griffons have just recently started playing boffyball, their team now has a shot at making it to the Boffyball Cup Championship if they can beat Yakyakistan, and she asks Rarity if she can design the official team uniforms. Rarity agrees and returns to Griffonstone with Gilda to meet up with the ragtag team of rookies. She also meets up with Coach Klaus, who helped rewrite boffyball rules to allow Griffonstone to participate in the league and is a local legend, and the rest of the players, including the scrawny and weak Firegem (who was subbed in due to lack of griffons who came to tryouts and all other better players being sick or injured). During practice, Rarity notices that Klaus frequently singles out Firegem and constantly criticizes and punishes him for poor performance, and while Gilda admits all of the griffons see what’s going on and think it’s wrong they’re afraid to call Klaus out on it. At Rarity’s insistence, Gilda finally goes to do it, but relents and actually joins in on the coach bullying when Klaus ends up making her the assistant coach. The day before game day, another player ends up getting sick and Firegem gets the added pressure of being tasked with finding a replacement, but with no one else available Rarity herself, in spite of hating the game, ends up taking the last player’s spot. On game day, the griffons are doing terribly, and Klaus ends up telling the team to use Firegem as a tackle decoy while the others try and score. This finally ends up being too much for Gilda, saying that winning won’t matter if they don’t take care of their own teammates. While Klaus ends up relenting, he gets too enthusiastic and breaks one of the conduct rules, getting him ejected from the game and forcing Gilda to fill in as coach. Although they still end up getting creamed, the team manages to score a single point at the buzzer to prevent a perfect game; getting enough enthusiasm for greater interest and participation next year. Rarity presents them with their new uniforms to wear at that time, and begins to head home…mentioning that just because you admire someone you can’t be afraid to call them out on their wrong behavior.

Review:

In a rather interesting turn of events, this storyline. Gilda Griffon has only appeared in two episodes (three if you count her brief cameo in Season Six’s “The Fault in Our Cutie Marks”, which hadn’t aired when this comic came out), and her interactions both times have been almost exclusive to Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash. It seemed a rather odd turn to suddenly pair her with Rarity of all members of the Mane Six, especially since Rarity would be the most “stereotypical” of ponies. Yet in spite of that, it works out pretty well.

All around this was a fairly nice story. It didn’t quite focus on a friendship between Rarity and Gilda as much as other entries, but it did so enough. It created a situation where both of them contributed equally to solving the problem too. And it did touch on a lesson that would be good for the show but hadn’t been covered directly just yet: what to do when someone you respect and admire does something that you know is wrong. They’ve done storylines like that before, but the closest that it ever came was in the episodes that focused on the Wonderbolts: “Wonderbolt Academy” and “Rainbow Falls”. It hadn’t focused so much on an individual until now. So, it wasn’t quite unique, but unique enough. Most of the characters in this arc are one-shots, so it’s not quite as effective as it might be, but it’s still alright.

Jay Fosgitt did this one again, so it’s again a case of the unique art style kind of impacting the story. It almost looks like one of those old Tiny Toons episodes with them on a sports team rather than My Little Pony in this instance. The griffons in particular seem to be something more out of that cartoon rather than out of MLP, where, in spite of different appearances, they all have roughly the same physicality. It makes for an interesting story artistically, although it’s hard to tell you’re actually reading an MLP story in this instance as Rarity is the only pony for most of it. That’s neither here nor there, but I can see how it might distract some readers.

Overall, this is another average story to me. While it does what you would expect a “Friends Forever” plotline to get done, it’s again not too poignant or amusing. It’s just another nice little story.

Fun Facts:

Rarity has to hire sherpas to move all her luggage. 😛

When listing off everything she brought, Rarity includes: “industrial strength hair dryer I can’t live without”, an allusion to “Spaceballs”.

In what ended up being a goof thanks to DHX Media, this issue created a character named Greta Griffon. However, nine months later, Greta Griffon became a canon character for Season Six’s “The Fault in Our Cutie Marks”. It’s pretty clear at one glance they’re not the same character. There could always be more than one Greta, though. 😛

“Fancy Creatures and Where They Hang Out” might be a knockoff of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”.

Prince Rutherford cameos…doing what he did “best” back in “Party Pooped”. :/

When Rarity joins the team, she says: “I make this sport look good”, an allusion to “Men In Black”.

This is probably the first time Rarity has had to handle her own luggage.

It’s interesting to note that this came out in between Season Five and Season Six, and yet Rarity is still writing to Princess Celestia at the end of it.

Rating:

2.5 Stars out of 5

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Friends Forever #23 (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Friends Forever #23): “Fluttershy & Applejack”

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Synopsis:

Applejack and Fluttershy are on a camping trip to Splendor Woods for some R&R and nature appreciation, only to get shaken up when a flood of ponies come in and set up a massive camp nearby. They’re led by Nosy News, a reporter for Canterlot Daily, and are in search of a mythical creature known as the pigasus after Nosy published a grainy snapshot of a potential sighting recently. Applejack and Fluttershy soon have their trip ruined by the boisterous and loud ponies  running everywhere, but get another surprise the next day when the pigasus actually appears in their tent. They realize the creature is being disrupted by all of the ponies searching for it and they need to get the crowd of pigasus sighters to leave, but as they’ll refuse to depart until they’ve seen it, Fluttershy and Applejack realize the only way to get them to leave is to lie about it not being there. Applejack goes to the camp and tries to do it but, as she’s actually seen the pigasus with her own eyes, all she’s able to do is mutter some flimsy half-truths as she’s unable to directly lie. Not only that, but her evasive answers lead Nosy to believe she has seen the pigasus and she ends up leading the ponies back to her tent, where the pigasus is hiding. When cornered, Applejack nearly breaks down, when Fluttershy manages a hasty disguise using her sleeping bag and leads the ponies away on a “wild pigasus” chase. On cornering her, Nosy gets upset and ends up accidentally confessing that her photograph was a fake to begin with, causing the pigasus sighters to wheel on her for faking the whole thing and chasing her off; leaving Applejack, Fluttershy, and the pigasus to enjoy the rest of their vacation.

Review:

You wake up one morning to see the kitchen a mess and a plate of half-burnt toast and a glass of juice set out for you, along with your six-year-old saying: “Look mommy! I made you breakfast! Do you like it?” What do you tell them?

You go to visit a friend in the hospital undergoing cancer treatment. They’re a shell of a person, their hair is gone, and they’re both under emotional as well as physical anguish. They look at you and say: “I look hideous, don’t I?” What do you tell them?

You’re a family in Nazi Germany that’s hiding refugees who you know will just “disappear” if the local authorities get their hands on them and you’ll never see them again. You get a knock on the door and find a bunch of officers staring back at you. They ask you if you’re hiding anyone in your house. What do you tell them?

Now that we’ve established that lying is not only permissible in some situations but is occasionally the morally right thing to do, let’s continue.

It’s kind of funny that six and a half seasons into the series, the only episode we’ve ever had that really centered on Applejack and Fluttershy was “Viva Las Pegasus” (possibly “Bats!”, as alluded to in this issue). I imagine that’s mostly because it would be a recipe for disaster, as we mildly hinted at in “Bats!”. Fluttershy is the meekest and most timid member of the Mane Six, while Applejack is the most pushy and aggressive. It wouldn’t take too many situations for Applejack to look like she was bullying or pushing Fluttershy around unless, as in “Viva Las Pegasus”, both of them were out of their element. Unfortunately, the way this “Friends Forever” is presented, it focuses less on the relationship between the two and more on Applejack in a situation such as in “Leap of Faith”, in where her virtue is put to the test. So in that regard, it’s another entry that kind of violates the spirit of the comic series.

But in regards to the conflict itself, it’s a little disappointing to me personally. I think this conflict is a bit better than the one in “Leap of Faith”, which was where Applejack was pressured to lie to keep up a delusion that seemed to be doing more good than harm. In this one, Applejack is forced to possibly compromise her principles to do the right thing. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, while you’ll never see a TV cartoon or kindergarten class say it, or anyone else, the fact is as humans we lie continuously and we need to lie in order to maintain our society. Obviously we should never do it to deceive people or get selfish gain, but, as was interestingly noted in the alternate universe comedy “The Invention of Lying”, lies actually do have their place. That’s what makes Applejack having the Element of Honesty be so problematic if you drill down to it. She’s the only one who has a virtue that can’t, and shouldn’t, always be followed to the letter.  If you really put Applejack’s honesty to the test, there will end up being a situation where she’ll find she has to “stretch the truth”. Season Seven actually hit on that with “Honest Apple”, which is probably the closest Applejack will ever come to “learning to lie”.

In this arc, however, the writers put themselves in a corner. Applejack needed to lie to get the pigasus sighters to leave, but she couldn’t do it without blatantly violating her virtue. Yet this wasn’t resolved by her being honest in a “clever” way or by her learning something about truth and untruths. Rather, it was resolved mostly be a deus ex machina. While Fluttershy’s actions kept Applejack from breaking down, in the end what saved the day was Nosy News slipping up about her fake photograph. If she hadn’t, they would have been back to Applejack needing to lie.

As a result, this one doesn’t really resonate with me that much. The art is nice and colorful, but the moral is both muddled and evaded, and Fluttershy mostly seems to be along for the ride to act as a foil for Applejack’s internal struggle.

Fun Facts:

Several residents of Ponyville join the Pigasus hunt in different panels, but Pinkie Pie and Sweetie Belle also appear.

Applejack and Fluttershy’s tent is apparently nearly sound-proof.

At one point, Applejack mutters: “Sheesh, it’s the bats all over again.”, an allusion to Season Four’s “Bats!”.

Indiana-Jones pony is in a couple panels of this story, giving a variant on a line from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”: “It belongs in a museum!”

A couple times in this issue, a character yells out a description of what they’re saying rather than says anything. One booing pony yells out “heckle”, while at one point Applejack, while nervous and hiding the pigasus, says: “causal hello”.

Rating:

1.5 Stars out of 5

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Friends Forever #22 (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Friends Forever #22): “Princess Celestia & Pinkie Pie”

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Synopsis:

Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie are summoned to Canterlot by Princess Celestia to help plan a major birthday party she’s throwing for Princess Luna. While Twilight is tasked with making a major speech highlighting all of Luna’s accomplishments, Pinkie is charged with making the cake. However, Celestia rejects all of Pinkie’s go-to ideas, instead requesting one that’s “fun, exciting, and grand, yet elegant and befitting royalty”. Yet although Pinkie is allowed to use the royal kitchen and receives the support of the royal chef Chase Palomino, no matter how much she tries she’s unable to think of anything meeting those standards. When Celestia visits her to see her progress, she covers up at first, but on her second visit admits she doesn’t know how to make a cake meeting her requests and laments that she’s failed. Yet this prompts Celestia to apologize for setting unrealistic standards to begin with, and, after some prodding from Pinkie, she admits that reason she wanted the birthday party to be perfect to begin with was so that although she can’t forget Luna’s turn to Nightmare Moon and, more importantly, she can’t forget she was the one who sealed her away for 1,000 years, she wanted to show that they were now closer than ever and moving forward together. That gives Pinkie an idea and, with Celestia’s help, the two end up making a “marble cake” (equal parts dark and light making one whole) for Luna’s birthday. Luna ends up touched by the significance of the cake and thanks Celestia (although admitting it was a bit odd to express her feelings “through cake”), and when Twilight congratulates Pinkie, she answers it was a “piece of cake”.

Review:

It’s a bit amazing that, seven years after the fact, the story of what took place between Princess Celestia and Princess Luna is still such a hot topic for plotlines. It could be because it did impact 1,000 years of Equestria history. It could be because it was so tidily handled in the original pilot, leading other authors to want to expand upon the original story. Or it could simply be because, in truth, Celestia and Luna haven’t really had anything else of significance happen in their personal lives since then. :/

This storyline doesn’t really break too much new ground in it, other than to make an attempt at showing the Celestia also “tortured herself for 1,000 years” by sealing Luna away, even if she had no choice at the time. The rest of it is pretty much light-hearted, with almost all of it devoted to Pinkie Pie’s attempts to make the perfect birthday cake for Luna.

In terms of other Pinkie Pie stories in the comic, this isn’t too extreme. It’s interesting how Jay Fosgitt’s mostly unique take on the denizens of Equestria, depicting them in interesting ways, seems oddly subdued when it comes to Pinkie Pie. I’m mostly stunned in how he depicts Celestia in the unusual physiology look he makes of ponies, with her almost looking like a new species with how lanky and extended she is. The fact that he has a lot of “flow” in his art style works interestingly with her, as she herself has an ever-flowing mane and large wings. Yet Pinkie herself seems either rather mundane compared to other comic appearances (especially Brenda Hickey’s almost hallucinogenic depiction). Nevertheless, there’s some cute scenes of them together in the “panel montages”.

But all in all, this particular story isn’t too exciting. It’s not the first time we’ve encountered a character trying to make everything perfect, after all. Since Pinkie Pie’s depictions are somewhat muted, the humor doesn’t hit as hard as I feel it should. And you get the sense that they’re going to come up with just the right cake at the end anyway…which is a nice gesture, but isn’t anything world-shaking. While this story does hit a bit on Celestia and Pinkie Pie doing something together, it doesn’t seem to be anything where they form new connections or highlight their friendship aside from the brief scenes baking together.

Like with many comic storylines, it’s not a bad story at all. Just…nothing really stands out. Another OK one.

Fun Facts:

The show often depicts Princess Celestia (and others) seated on their thrones sitting like dogs. However, in something that looks rather unusual, Celestia is depicted seated on her throne like a normal human, with her front hooves “in her lap”. It’s kind of weird…

In one panel, Pinkie Pie is impersonating Groucho Marx. One of his schiticks was that he would give a quip while holding up a cigar. Since they can’t depict those in comics now without increasing the rating, Pinkie is using an eclair.

Pinkie Pie’s “Cherpumple” cake (cherry, pumpkin, and apple pies baked into spice, yellow, and white cakes) is likely a knockoff of “Turducken”, which is a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a hen. It also sounds delicious. 😀

One of the interesting bits from the unique art style is how Pinkie Pie’s mane partially deflates. Whereas in the series it usually sags as a whole, in the comic strands of it begin to break free and loosen as well.

Pinkie’s cake idea that is “too psychadelic” is a knockoff of the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” animated film.

In a throwback to Season One’s infamous “Party of One”, Pinkie Pie degenerates to talking to inanimate objects again.

I, uh…don’t think the artist knows what marble cake is. :X

Rating:

2.5 Stars out of 5