Archive for the ‘My Little Pony- Reviews’ Category

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So… there’s rap?

Rainbow Dash is in a pickle, for some reason her course to get into the ‘Wonderbolts reserves’ involves a written test. Why? I don’t know! Plot contrivances and nonsense like this really take you out of a lot of immersion. At first I thought “hey, well there’s a written exam for a drivers license too!” Except that’s to learn the rules of the road, we aren’t aware of any rules within Pegasus flying… it’s about… history? So they explain this by saying she needs to know the history to represent the wonderbolts, instead of some crazy interesting and unique flying test, she needs to know the history…

Again, this is an ongoing gripe I have with this episode, which makes the first act pretty incomprehensibly dull. However, thankfully it picks up within the second act to make for some entertaining scenes involving the rest of the cast trying to teach RD their ways to study. It’s pretty obvious that this will lead up to her finding her “way” to study and acing the test, but I suppose the path to success is what makes this episode fairly solid.

Each character has their own unique way of studying, for example, Rarity thinks that learning through the way they dress is the easiest, and Pinkie thinks… rapping is the best way? I don’t know, that scene was pretty out of the blue and out of place. But it was quite funny, so i can let it slide.

There’s an understandable balance within these scenes that makes for entertaining dialogue. I’ll say it again, RD is perhaps the one consistently well written character in this show now, as she has developed the most “natural” personality within the show. She is no longer OVERLY cocky, and her tone is more lackadaisical and relaxed most of the time. What i mean is that out of all the characters, she’s the most… human?

She no longer has this niche that makes her “oh look, that’s who SHE is,” and while many may not like this, I find it much better. She’s not extremely loud and mostly abrasive like Pinkie, she isn’t switching between princess and nerd like Twilight, and just like the other character that has been getting positive changes (Applejack), she has a more human tone to her actions.

While she still has her ego, it’s much more tame and realistic, rather than “80’s school bully” bullshit that we sometimes saw within the previous seasons. It’s really great seeing her interact and change as the episodes progress, since this show, although more continues than SOME other animated programs, still tends to hit the ‘reset’ button at the end of every episodes with only brief callbacks to previous adventures and lessons. What i’m trying to say is that RD is the one character that has remained constantly changing.

The episode itself was saved by RD, since if it surrounded one of the other characters, it’d (in my opinion) be much too static and predictable. For example, Fluttershy would be shy, Rarity would be over dramatic, and Twilight would be far too into books. If this episodes conflict surrounded anyone BUT Rainbow Dash, i’m afraid it would have made the other characters be even less three dimensional and instead riff on their most notable traits.

Overall, although not perfect, the third act wrapped it up well, showing RD’s own style of studying, and having her ace the exam (as predicted). We are rounding out this season with fairly solid episodes, here’s hoping the finale won’t disappoint.

Grade: B

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Ding Ding

Again, I don’t have too much to say about an episode like this. Just a standard run-of-the mill installment of the show. It plays around with a few interesting concepts, such as Luna’s love to enter children’s dreams (creepy?), but generally borders on the safe weekly installment that this season has been keen on ditching.

So what’s this episode got going for it? Firstly, the pacing is pretty much spot on. It has this three-act play-like theme to it which propels this episode forward. Also, there is a thoroughly long and entertaining dream sequence; and just like ever dream sequence in ever cartoon ever, it is filled with completely random (or seemingly so) things, floating about in space or water. I thought the fact that they tied in dolphins to be a neat aspect… but still somewhat out of the blue. Sweetie bell knows Sapphire shore’s favorite animal and good luck charm… yet ISN’T a fan of her? It’s somewhat illogical.

What’s also illogical and often un-immersive is the dialogue that get used in some crucial scenes within the episode. For example, the dialogue that gets used whilst Rarity is entertaining Sweetie Belle’s birthday guests. What also rubbed me the wrong way was the odd villianization of Sweetie Belle. The writers in this show seem to have this knack at villianizing characters with a flip of a switch. A character like Sweetie Belle, literally one that is morally just in A LOT of these things, would go so far as to sabotage her big sister’s big moment is just… it’s too hard to believe in my eyes.

However, the episode is generally on top of it’s game in most other aspects. It’s interesting, and has a solid sense of entertainment throughout. The comedy value is indeed quite low… but that doesn’t signify failure as much as it does lack of entertainment for the people such as myself, who value comedy over various other developments in the show. This is for the simple fact that a show like this simply cannot delve too in depth or become mature enough to sustain my interest if a less-than-abundant amount of comedy is present. That’s nothing against the show, but it’s just the honest truth.

Overall it was a solid installment of the show that has enough good to outweigh the bad any day. I’m not sure how much it does in the realm of character development… but I really don’t care. As long as it keeps staying solid, and hopefully somewhat refreshing like the previous weeks episode, i’ll be completely content.

Grade: B

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The angst is above 9000

Well that certainly is an improvement! Wow! I think this really is one of the best installments this show has done thus far, not only this season. I say that for a few reasons, the lesson was more valuable, all the characters were fantastic, and Maud (Pinkie’s sister) was brilliant. It truly is a statement to just how fantastic the animated medium can be when the effort is put into it.

The fact that this is a NEW writer doing this episode makes it all the more impressive. Noelle Benvenuti, you did an absolutely fantastic job making an incredibly convincing and sweet story between Pinkie and her sister. Because truly, that’s what this episode was surrounded around. Pinkie’s (at first) hard to understand relationship with her sister, Maud. The fact that Maud is so emotionless plays a big factor in this. She juxtaposes Pinkie’s personality to a truly incredible amount, a true polar opposite.

I say this because Maud isn’t just a downright grump, not at all. Unlike the donkey from A Friend in Deed, Maud isn’t a grumpy pony, she doesn’t hate the world, and she ISN’T down on her luck. She simply doesn’t express herself, which makes her different from the rest of the ponies, and that makes the entire concept of this episode to be somewhat more poignant, intentional or not.

Pinkie has always been someone who can overlook a fault that someone may have, and it’s very present here. She loves her sister, and the tradition they have is incredibly heart warming. The main issue is that her sister doesn’t seem to be getting along with Pinkie’s friends all to well, and instead of her friends pretending, they instead, are honest. They can’t make the friendship necklaces because they aren’t best friends, and it’s only natural for Pinkie to have a rough time accepting that, since she’s so used to getting along with everyone.

The way this is handled, to my surprise, is very mature. Maud comes right out and says that they don’t get along, and she shouldn’t be around… and the fact that this isn’t danced around and undercut with some joke makes it all the more shocking to hear from a show like this. It’s definitely one of the strongest third acts this show has ever done, mainly because it revolves around a sisterly relationship, one you distinctly have with your family members and ONLY your family members.

Now of course it ended with the others coming to terms and bonding over their friendship with Pinkie, and if this happened any other way with almost any other story I would have been somewhat angered that they cheaped out of a very poignant message. But the fact is, this WORKS here. Bonding over a friendship with someone else DOES work, and I speak from a place where I’ve seen it work. They took a shot, and it payed off.

It just makes me happy that this episode didn’t end with all of them laughing at some less-than-smart joke and hugging each other, like an episode of this show usually ends. It ends on yet ANOTHER fantastic note. The fact that Maud DOESN’T like candy. She found a rock (that happens to taste like candy) and it made Pinkie really happy. She found something for her sister, they bonded over it, and it’s been a tradition ever since. Pinkie loves eating candy, so she does, while Maud appreciates the message behind it, the sisterly love that goes behind creating these necklaces. She collects all of them, as a token.

Which is just… well it’s something you’d admire from a show that doesn’t generally go for something like this. Looking back, it’s a writer trying her own method of writing, and it worked incredibly well. Here’s hoping she doesn’t slouch into “filler” habits in seasons to come (if she gets hired again). Because what i got out of this episode is some development for Pinkie (who was at her best), her back story, and her family.

Maud Pie didn’t need some over-the-top goofiness to make it a standout, like Pinkie Pride, it needed some good ol’ fashion script writing, and a very heartwarming story that was told in a brief twenty minutes. It’s only a bonus that this episode has some of the best joke delivery I’ve ever seen from this show. Maud is just brilliant.

Grade: A

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…And it loops around

I find that I can write the most when an episode is generally pretty memorable… but that’s a double edged sword. Something can be terrible, yet memorable (last weeks episode), but it can also be memorable and be absolutely fantastic (see Pinkie Pride). So when the show comes with an installment like this, I feel as though my mouth is dry. I don’t, and can’t have much to say.

I don’t see any deeper meaning, as this episodes entire structure was based around sisterly bonding. I suppose I can go out of my way to criticize it for characterizing Applejack and Applebloom as obviously really close and trustworthy of each other (as seen in season two), and in this episode they are a little… less so, I suppose. But I can also bring out the fact that these familial bonding sessions go on in the public, while in private a family can be all sorts of chaos (as seen in Pinkie Apple Pie)

So… i guess I looped around. All this episodes visible issues (except one) are very easily explained, so they aren’t really issues after all, are they? The one error I mentioned is that Applejack felt as though she was noticeable dumbed down to fit the plot. And although you may argue that it’s because she loves her sister… it still doesn’t explain the way she acted, as she’s shown before to still be level headed even in really difficult situations to handle.

So yeah… a solid episode, with solid entertainment, perhaps slightly low on laughs, but that’s not an issue. I’m just happy it’s back from the slight funk we’ve seen in the past two episodes, especially with such a downer like Breezies. Lets hope that the next installment is a little more… spunky? Is that the right word? Spunky? I just want to be shocked and entertained, and while the chimera was a welcome sight for the mythological background of the show, it still was a more “Slice of life” installment that this show does so well. However, recently, i’ve been noticing that the entire idea of  a “slice of life” has been getting ignored. Or at least… MY own idea of a slice of life.

One that revolves around main characters being explored in a deep and meaningful way…but once again, this lack of exploration may be explained by the fact that these are cartoon characters, they can only be so deep in a show like this. I just need to shut up and be entertained.

Grade: B

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Even the name…

I tend to go into each episode with an open mind, because for someone who watches a show that is generally marketed for little girls I still get that silly voice at the back of my head saying “What the hell are you doing, man? Why are you watching this garbage?” And after this episode, it has a valid point, thanks Mr.Voice, how about you come over for a nice cup of tea and tell me how I should stop liking Finding Nemo, UP,The Incredibles, and Toy Story too!

In this episode we saw Fluttershy being shy, we saw her being strict, and then we saw her being  cute. So… we saw her be what she is in every single episode surrounded around her. The only thing that changed is the fact that she’s teaching someone else this, instead of waddling about and learning the same exact lesson she did in EVERY episode that has her staring as the main character. So yes, the most unique and interesting thing i can say about this episode is that “Someone else learned the lesson”. Which has been an ongoing theme within the “Rainbow vision” nonsense that this show has been forcing down our throats.

Collectively, this episode was incredibly sub-par, and on the second watch-through it was… just the same,actually. The same nonsense, the same “go here, do this, this happens, yay,”Schlock that can plague a show like this until the moment the producers go “Well maybe giving the writers a chance to be creative will garner better results because most of our merchandise is being bought by lonely middle aged men anyway?”

If you couldn’t tell, Breezy rubbed me the wrong way, in a way, it was like an awkward handjob in the back of the school, it’s fine while your watching, although you find yourself checking your wrist for an imaginary watch, but the more you think about the more you want to smash your head into a beehive. How the hell did these stupid Breezies get into Equestria if they need some magical portal to get out? Why the hell are they so dependent on the other ponies? Why can’t they do ANYTHING by themselves?

All of these questions were never answered, and worst of all, the lesson seemed slapped together, as if a half-literate baboon tried to edit it into the script using his shit-covered finger as a writing utensil. The character (Seabreeze, I think his name was) seemed to be the head Breezy, as he called all of them “losers” for being lazy fuck-wits that mooch off Fluttershy. Yes, he was right, they were being pathetic jerks and the fact that they were being treated like that? MADE SENSE! Thankfully this show isn’t so far up it’s ass that the lesson of “be kind to everything!” wasn’t used. At least tough love is applicable to the situation.

Let me put it this way, this slice of life episode was garbage. Why was it garbage? Because it did nothing, it explored nothing. Fluttershy is two dimensional and it seems like it will never change. So having the entire episode be surrounded around her and her doing cute stuff for not-so-cute small animals makes it just about as engaging as watching an anime about a group of underage girls sitting around a table drinking tea and chatting about their small hand-bags.

This episode did nothing unique, and worst of all, it hardly had any jokes! Apart from Pinkie jumping in every so often and saying something like “WOW!” in an incredibly annoying shrill voice, the only excuse for humor was the physical gags that this show did. And physical gags are almost never enough to sustain a cartoon, because yes, for a cartoon, physical jokes are often the easiest!

What i’m trying to say is that the more I re-watch this episode, the more it rubs me the wrong way. The Breezies are useless characters, they have no depth, no meaning, just some stupid contrivance that made an already boring episode even more facepalm-worthy. The fact that the way the main issue of the episode was solved was because Twilight had some Deus Ex machina revelation was even MORE upsetting. Did the writer seriously just give up and go “Hmm… what if we made the characters into Breezies so the corporate shit-stains can sell more toys? BINGO!”

Lets hope this show never goes this low again, because for a season that is in my opinion the best, this second half has been oddly underwhelming.

Grade: D+

My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic -- exclusive EW.com image

Stop! Twilight Time!

When I first started writing reviews on this website, I wanted to make them different than the ones I do on my Youtube channel. Different in the sense that i’d be valuing technical aspects, acting, general things that I miss on my first watch through and reaction. So when episodes that I generally find “meh” come along, I always want to rewatch them, because perhaps I judged too soon. I was definitely hoping this was one of those episodes.

For a an episode penned by David Polsky, it was oddly lacking on the humor side of things. Less slapstick, just less jokes in general. It was going for a very standard sitcom trope episode, using someone to gain something. In this case, it was the CMC using Princess Twilight to gain popularity, and the execution of this aspect was generally good. I say generally, because the entire episode is generally good… but i’m not looking to watch a show about technicolored horses for just “generally good” episodes, i’m looking for standout and memorable things.

This is where I start to contradict myself. An episode can be standout for either it’s flaws, or it’s successes, this episode is neither. It’s pretty much just “there”, it stands as the definition of a filler episode. Now if I go into my own personal definition of a filler episode, it’s not something that doesn’t progress the plot, it’s actually something that feels generally slapped together, not thought fully through, and very ‘regular’. Something without an ongoing theme or proper purpose, something that is just there to fill up the required twenty two minutes, that will never be brought up again, ever.

In a sense, some of the shows best episodes are considered “filler” episodes, one that do not contribute to an ongoing theme. However, in this sense I disagree. There’s a different between being episodic and being filler. For example, a generally acclaimed episode such as Party of One should be considered filler, however, instead it’s just a great episode that is a part of the show. For me… it’s hard to describe what a filler episode properly is, perhaps it’s just one of those feelings you get while watching an episode to just check the time. To see when it’s over. The general feeling of dullness and being bored that overcomes you in an episode like this, where so little is happening on screen that you don’t feel the need to laugh, frown, smile, or even comment.

Even on the second watch-through, the episode is like this. Not fully boring… just… there. I can’t really address many negatives this episode has character or plot wise, as it’s generally solid. But then again I can’t even praise some of the things I found to be exhilarating, or hilarious, or even well shot. Because there aren’t any.

I will say that Twilight was well-characterized within this episode, showing her true “Princess of Friendship nature”, while the CMC played off her quite well. Diamond Tiara and her companion Silver Spoon were less cringe-worthy than usual, however, still so underdeveloped and boring they hardly add anything to being on screen. We saw Pinkie in this episode, for a split moment, and every other character was generally sidelined for a very CMC-centric installment.

What I find odd is that this show is usually so good at making the CMC be so entertaining and unique, while this season they have been somewhat boring. Episodes like Flight to the Finish, which was inherently plagued with a major fault, is still more entertaining than this. However i’m adding as much as I can to this review, yet even with Flight’s faults, this episode still struggles to maintain an edge to that CMC episode, perhaps just because that one managed to atleast address an adult and mature story.

In the end, this episode was filler. I guess that’s what I was trying to say… it was just a big fat filler episode filled with scarce material that i’m half sure will never be addressed again. For the better or worse, I expected something a little more shocking from you Dave Polsky. Here’s hoping the next episode is more surprising, for the good or bad.

Grade: B-

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The song… its… just… so… CATCHY!

Well… this is definitely a better episode than the previous one! In fact, it was much better than the previous one! Although it missteps in one important area, the overall episode is solid on it’s own. Here Fluttershy has yet another conflict involving her courage. In this case, it’s stage fright. I suppose i’ll let this one slide because I honestly can’t seem to figure out another way to utilize Fluttershy without completely flanderizing her character.

The entire premise of this was very structural, almost like a procedural “character goes here for X result”, but unlike the previous episode, this one didn’t just use the setting of a magical world as it’s only shtick. It had plenty of hilarious physical humor, as well as some fantastic voice work by the entire cast. The song prominently featured within the episode was also incredibly catchy, I could see myself listening to THAT  a lot!

The cause for my issue with the episode is Pinkie, and how she acted. Instead of supporting her BEST friend Fluttershy, she instead came off as an oblivious bully rather than a friend… and I get that this was supposed to be played for comedic effect, but making a main character freken CRY is pretty NOT-best friend material. This was disappointing to see cause i could have totally sprung for a higher grade within this procedural.

I also enjoyed the fact that they didn’t try to shoe in every single character into the episode… this was one of the only times they were all there for a believable reason, and I loved that. As well as the fantastic interaction between Big Mac and his sister Applejack was splendid to see. We got a few nice callbacks and a small, yet entertaining, cameo by Zecora, the rhyming zebra.

However, I fear this is about as deep as this episode fairs… it’s a strictly “normal” episode for the show. Which is most definitely not a bad thing, especially when they constantly deliver such solid episodes. If it didn’t have such a blatant mis-characterization of Pinkie, this episode would have been much more prominent!

Grade: B+