Friday, September 16, 2011
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (season 1)
These days, cartoons are now becoming suited for people who are quote mature. Those of age 13 and over will going to watch a show more likely to have the words Seth Macfarlane on them: those will relate to the I-don't-give-a-shit dad with a hot wife, while laughing and enjoying the poor execution of political satire. While The Simpsons currently declines in quality in terms of writing and story, South Park still coming up the top, I'm here to review My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, apparently the reboot of the toys of the same name that came in with the direct-to-dvd movies and the original TV series in the early 1990s
Why am I reviewing a show that is targeting a narrow niche of 5-8 year old girls? Well because it is not only a show that is based on the toys from Hasbro, but because it is an Internet phenomena. MLP:FiM unexpectedly attracted teenage boys and adult men. And they call themselves 'bronies' (insert uncomfortable laugh). If you thought society has already gone way over its head, then think again. These guys have got good reasons why they enjoyed it so much which is what I'm gonna take note on here.
Before I get into this review, let me explain how this show grabbed the attention of masculinity and the Web. The show was a huge hit on the 4chan with a lot of fans sharing MLP-related artwork on the site on the /co/ board. But when it was put under the dreaded /b/ board, a lot of fans conjured up trolling by saying they're gonna love and tolerate the shit out of you. So the heads of 4chan ban any topics relating to the show which gave the bronies an advantage to start up their own fansites of the show including Equestria Daily. And so you'll know that this meme is everywhere from comment sections of every websites to music videos and trailer mashups of the show.
So let's get over this review. The show starts with a two parter (all titled Friendship is Magic). We see our heroine Twilight Sparkle (insert a reference to the movies) and her baby dragon assistant Spike researching the Elements of Harmony that apparently locked up an evil unicorn named Nightmare Moon in the... you guessed it... the moon and she is the little sister of the leader of Equestria, Princess Celestia. Twilight realised that today is the day Nightmare Moon is set free and would likely to wreak ravoc, so she decided with best interest warn Celestia. But she let her off and sends Twilight to the town of Ponyville to make friends. And reluctantly she does. They are Apple Jack, the Southern accent speaking pony who makes apples (duh), Rainbow Dash who's more of the tomboy pony, Pinkie Pie the ADHD ridden pink pony, Rarity who's glamorous and European accented and Fluttershy, the sweet shy woodland-loving pony. All of these characters are the Elements of Harmony and defeat Nightmare Moon and after, the gang has their own adventures in every episode following the second.
OK, I would like to declare that MLP: FiM has to be the most suprisingly refreshing cartoon in ages for ages. But that's to say that I'm not really a brony. I'm not one of those hardcore fans who buy figurines of these and do fan fiction. (try to google Pinkie Pie cupcakes).
I'm a depressed teenager. I'm not really fond of socialising, I'm often anxious while being in a crowd and I'm really agitated on Facebook because it's really trivial (extra credit to the movie). But this show had lifted me up mainly because it has themes that promotes nasically friendship and meeting that almost all audiences not only can relate to but also learn to, despite how corny the representation is.
The animation looks bright and colourful yet it isn't quite nostalgic as everybody's favourite cartoons, you've got to hand it to Lauren Faust whom the bronies are treating as a god and her direction which is really nice as well. Faust had done some storyboarding and animation for Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends and The Powerpuff Girls and if you don't know what her style is in terms of characters and story, she incorporates many approaches on identity and girl power. A Cutie Mark is a tattoo on every pony's ass to represent what they are good at in life. It's a positive message for the intended audience telling them to be out there and find themselves rather than telling them to have a tattoo on their backs.
Almost all of the characters are well-written but not to the point where it's styled like Aaron Sorkin or Dan Harmon, but the screenplay for each episode really balance. At best it's average, but at worst... it's average. Often the best episodes are the ones that shows something different about the ponies and the very best Faust had given us was the season finale in where the ponies attend a gala and everything goes horribly wrong. It gives a lot of continuity of the first season and most of the situations portrayed are often hilarious. But the worst episodes are often the ones that felt irrational. E.g. - in one episode Pinkie Pie organises a second party where the reason why nobody wants to come was because she did a party the day before.
Twilight Sparkle is the most written character given that she's a major player in the series. Where we see her in the first two episodes is an incredibly frustrated pony too busy to do something because she's researching pony mythology. But then further she becomes more open minded getting along with the gang despite having something against them. Fluttershy also seems to be the best character as there is something interesting about her which involves her love for animals, allowing a chance to have her character develop into someone that is totally sane.
However these characters are being close to becoming stock characters girls would more likely to accept and older audiences would hate. The character Rarity is a fashionista and I totally get why she would appeal to girls, but she sounds a snobby bitch throughout the whole show except for some episodes. And that's where it leads to almost every character to be pathetic and it made some episodes redundant. In one episode named Boast Busters, we get a pony named Trixie with the same powers as Twilight who gets to boast that she's the "great and powerful magician ever". We know she's a bitch, but you're wondering where the hell did she came from and the episode is all about who's more likely to bitch about how big they are as the ponies cannot hold back the reactions towards it. In this case the show would've been developed by a pretentious TV student just so Hasbro can sell the toys. You got Pinkie Pie to be the airheaded ass and when you're trying to put a male emphasis, you got Spke who is Twilight's assistant and a baby dragon. His character is not really that amusing, it tries so hard to make him feel vain and goofy and the more these characters are so unlikeable, the less neccessary they are. But there is something forgivable about Pinkie Pie is that at least she's trying to be meta and helpful making her somewhat hilarious and Rarity in one episode shows something likeable about her.
So to conclude this review, MLP: FiM is a cartoon that shows that you don't have to put moments of political satire and at the same time moments of in your face to be funny and refreshing. The show is also refreshing because it aims to bring up the message of "friendship is magic" to people of all ages, not to sell more toys and merchandise. It has a lot of flaws regarding some episodes and the ponies itself and the bronies seems to get really tired, but to me this show really cheered me up more than anything else whenever I'm lonely, whenever I can't deal with the crowd or whenever I go to the downside spiral. Most of the episodes are on Youtube, but some are taken down because of copyright infringement.
Bronies are the biggest geeks around the Internet, and they're bigger than those who watch Game of Thrones and who are waiting for the The Complete Star Wars saga on Blu-Ray. But here's a shoutout to the winners of the Web... just to shut them up.