MY LITTLE PONY – EQUESTRIA GIRLS (…as I used to wonder what friendship could be, until you all shared its magic with me…)
Plot? Standard (insert main characters) go to high school fanfic plot.
Recommend it? Ummmmmm… if you’re a fan of the show, then yes. If you have a young daughter (or son, let’s not stereotype here) then I’d also recommend it, though they’d enjoy and understand it more if they followed the cartoon series. Although I will say that it’s not as creative or entertaining as your average episode. The villain is fairly generic while some of the plot’s twists and turns are fairly cliché. But hey, it’s a kid’s show aimed for a particularly young audience, so you can’t be too picky. After all, they’re probably so young that the clichés will seem like radical ideas to them.
Hmmm, you’re not satisfied, are you? You’re reading this not because you’re curious about Equestria Girls per se, but as to why I’d recommend My Little Pony at all. There’s not much more to say for the moment without going into the show, which I’ll leave for lower down. Just remember that Equestria Girls isn’t technically a movie – it’s not advertised as such, and falls under the alternative content classification at the cinemas. With a runtime in the 70 minute mark, Equestria Girls is set fairly close to the events that occurred in the last episode of season 3, and plays like a 3 episode arc. As a result, all tickets are $7 as it’s not a traditional movie. It doesn’t properly introduce all the ponies, or the whole history surrounding the Elements of Harmony, so Equestria Girls really is just for fans (or for bored kids that are curious and really wanna see something in the cinemas). If you do follow the show, then I do recommend it on the big screen, as after all, how often do you get to watch one of your TV shows for cheap on a cinema-sized screen? It’s only going to be showing next weekend, and there’s two sessions per day. Go to the later one if you want to avoid more kids.
(WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!)
Further Discussion? Well, I have some explaining to do, don’t I?
Yes, I like My Little Pony. Go on, laugh. I was first introduced to My Little Pony when I was a little girl, although admittedly I don’t remember much of the TV show at all, rather I was more of a fan of Hasbro’s toys. But there’s some nostalgia there regardless.
From what I do remember about it, the show was one of those cartoons that are full of saccharine, where characters are overly nice and happy to the point of being unbelievable, in a similar vein to the Care Bears. Due to being unrealistic and simplistic in its worldview, the older you get and the more jaded you become, the more you want to mock the show as it’s the epitome of child-like belief.
So when the new show came out – My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic – the people in my generation automatically placed it in the same basket as the original, mocking it as part of a knee-jerk reaction. It became the butt of some jokes, where, for instance, if someone had to post a picture of something scary, they’d post a picture of a my little pony. I’m not sure what happened next, but I think out of curiosity or nostalgia, people actually started to watch a few episodes.
And they liked it.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is notorious for being unexpectedly popular with young adult males – something that no one in the production company expected, considering that their target audience is six-year-old girls. Personally I find that hilarious, and due to the age group, the fanbase is really fun and unique. If you go on YouTube you’ll find numerous videos of these ponies being mashed up with trailers to action films, or remixed to Skrillex. That’s how I actually came to this show. I came across a dubstep version, and due to everything being out of context, I was wondering why on earth the animation was just so… stylish. Surely these were only the best snippets of animation the show had to offer… or was the animation that expressive all the time?
So I watched the first episode that is part of a multi-part ep. It didn’t really impress me, but out of curiosity I watched the rest of that beginning story arc and it got better. Then I watched a regular episode, then another… and then another. Before I knew it I was hooked! It is partially because of the animation – unlike a lot of other cartoons these days, Friendship is Magic uses Flash, not CGI, which is rare. Not only is it unusual but there’s a lot of attention to detail and the end result is a high quality show. One of the main founders is Lauren Faust, who some may recall had a hand in bringing us the Powerpuff Girls. She has a knack of making TV shows appeal not to just the target audience. Part of it is done through the animation – the character’s facial expressions are hilarious to both young and old. It’s not something I can really describe, just go and google image search the face of a little pony when they’re angry. It’s funny.
The characters have attitude. They’re not one dimensional, or even two dimensional, but fully fleshed out and relatable. Unlike the original series that regularly introduced multiple characters simply to increase the number of toys Hasbro could sell, Friendship is Magic is based around the adventures of six core ponies. There’s Twilight Sparkle (the nerd, bookworm) who is I suppose the ‘main’ (or mane… ok, no puns) character, Rainbow Dash (the sporty, tomboy), Rarity (the prissy fashion queen), Applejack (the hard-working, get-your-hands-dirty, country girl), Fluttershy (the shy, softly-spoken, introverted animal/nature lover) and then there’s Pinkie Pie (the random, don’t-take-too-seriously, party girl). They’re archetypes, but they’re more developed than that. Although they’re ever-so-slightly exaggerated in their stereotypical personalities, I find myself relating to each and every one of them, as I know there’s been moments in my life that I’ve acted like them at some point. Not only that, but oddly enough these ponies remind me of my own friends, the ones I have now and throughout my childhood.
I find it fascinating because for all intents and purposes, these ponies shouldn’t be friends. They’re just all too different. I think I was fascinated to see what kept them together, how they discovered similarities and common grounds. Did the show teach me about friendship? Not really. I mean, as an adult you know it already, but what I found curious was how everyone related and interacted with each other. It’s amusing to see Rainbow Dash try and get Fluttershy involved with something extroverted, or Rarity not-so-secretly trying to get Applejack to care more about her appearance, only to discover that everything’s a bit of give and take. But they’re great little characters.
If I had a niece around the target audience age group, then I would totally buy the DVDs of this show for her. It’s a great show for kids. In fact, I’d consider it crucial. It’s one of those rare kids shows where problems aren’t resolved through violence, but through taking a mature approach and talking about the issue, or otherwise being a good example to the other person. The villains are more well-developed than those in most comic books; they’re not evil for the sake of being evil, rather there’s a reason behind it, and most of them aren’t defeated, rather they’re shown a better way to live or otherwise rehabilitated. So kudos for them for making a show like this in today’s times, one that still holds to innocence. It’s quite a feat to keep a show interesting when there’s no ultra-serious conflict, or love interests. Good on ‘em for not hooking up all the ponies with the colts yet, as most young teen movies/TV shows focus on.
So it is a bit of worry when Twlight Sparkle gets a crush on Flash Sentry during Equestria Girls. Although the production team have stated that Flash Sentry won’t be part of the regular line up in the TV show, it is a bit of a shame that the ‘movie’ went a bit in that direction, and its split the fans in two. Some say there’s a bit of a loss of innocence as soon as romance is involved, whilst others are confident that the writers can produce a romance that is a good role model for young girls to follow. Personally I thought it was cute – I’m not sure what age the main ponies are meant to represent. In the show there’s clearly ones older than them, but they aren’t kids either, like Applebloom. Twilight Sparkle has developed enormously since the show began, so there obviously is growth, maybe even aging apparent as the series continues. Maybe she’ll reach the age where dating is an option?
Unfortunately Equestria Girls does suffer from a few plot holes, maybe because this time the writers forced the plot to fit within their ‘turn the ponies into humans’ concept. The Elements of Harmony makes an appearance once again, but honestly I’m starting to find it a bit overused. It took me a while to figure out why on earth Twilight Sparkle couldn’t just take the crown back. For that matter, why was Sunset Shimmer unable to steal it either? It all just seemed like an excuse to draw out the action.
Anyway, the whole concept of the mega-episode didn’t bug me as much as I thought it would. It was a novelty to see all the ponies in human form, sure, but the film tackled an issue that couldn’t really have been done if it was kept within Equestria. When Sunset Shimmer started bitching behind Twilight’s back, blackmailing her with photos taken out of context, I naturally thought this was going to go down the same road as Mean Girls. To my surprise, Twilight Sparkle manages to defeat her rival through hard work, honesty, integrity and otherwise just being a nice person and leading by example. I mean, can you really complain too much about a film that has a message to young audiences like that? If anything, we need more things like this.
So don’t judge My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic based on its origins or its title. Keep an open mind and maybe even consider giving the show a try, particularly if you’re a parent. It’s a show that both you and your daughter will enjoy together. I know some people will still snort at the idea and ridicule those who like it, but the more I think about it, the more I’m disturbed that there’s people out there that are dictating to others what they can and cannot like. This isn’t something serious like pedophilia, where if someone likes it it’s just outright wrong. No, this is just a TV show. How does it impact you if someone else likes it? Why do you care? Sure, it’s a bit of a worry if the person starts going overboard, like a grown man tacking up pornographic pictures in his room of a humanoid Rainbow Dash, but if a person just likes the TV show just the same as you like one of the things that you follow, then who are you to say that they can’t watch or enjoy it? Stop trying to make people fit into little boxes, with an “only kids can enjoy it” and “adults must watch serious things” kind of attitude. It’s always made me sad whenever I came across a person who was too afraid to see a kid’s movie at a cinema because they felt that they weren’t allowed. In a country where we’re allowed freedom of speech, religion and sexuality, I find it absurd that people have to hide their TV show preferences. If you don’t like it, by all means, that’s your prerogative, just don’t be a tool towards people who do, and just accept each other’s differences… just as My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic would preach.