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Dowlphin

I thought the black spots weren't part of Luna's cutie mark. Last time, when it was taken away, only the moon vanished. I assumed it's just her natural coat (and that it's naturally symmetrical). Hm, maybe that was just draining the power from the cutie mark.

Interesting dreams ponies have. Pinkie surfing on the gummyboard, wearing shades, I like that a lot, heh. And Derpy as queen, on her side another ... background character. ;-)

Starlight's dragon toothbrush was funny.

Twilight her frequent freakout self, but totally understandable why she couldn't calm herself. Still so much admiration for the regal sisters and projection of crucial importance to Equestria. (She underestimates the importance of everypony else's contribution.)

The episode was full with playfulness, action and lovely little details and a new insight into ponies' daily life.

I will close with one of my favorite pictures from olden times that immediately came to mind when realizing the theme of this episode. I call it "Maneheart"...

 

593de858a60a5_RegalSistersManeheart.thumb.jpg.e2ce02bd8c99bf54848aacb84b99ba23.jpg

Dowlphin
I recently made a referral code bonus webpage
 
 
that gives a good introduction to the game. I played with the idea of entering the whole advertising game since my altruism focus doesn't seem to get me anywhere, but the more I read up on it, the more off-putting it became. So I'm always trying to get a little caress for my soul without playing in the hands of an ugly system, thus doing open, sincere, more personal advertising.
 
Star Citizen is gonna be an amazing game, unlike anything before, and I am very excited about being a part of the unfolding project. Now is a good time to join, because soon there will be a major update, and more generally early adopters are being rewarded.
Check it out and share it and you'd do me a tremendous heartwarming favor if you used my referral code as mentioned on that sweet little webpage I made. :-)
 
(Oh and in case it tells you somewhere on signup that you need a quadcore-CPU and don't have one (yet): People have confirmed it can run on dualcores if they're performing well (e.g. somewhat overclocked and/or of newer generation). And it generally only affects the performance I think, not the ability to run it at all.)
Dowlphin

Remember Dashie's fear of failure and sometimes overbearing self-glorification? I think the real meat of this episode was written between the lines.
I'd say timing is important and that managing to better get along with her parents could only happen right now, in this episode, not sooner.
I think this only makes sense if we assume that indeed Dashie enjoyed her parents' praise, despite the embarassment. That would make her an odd personality though, because I haven't heard something like this happening. Could be almost schizophrenic. Again - Would explain some of the other troubles she had to deal with and her current personality.

I would say the overall lesson of the episode was that if your parents are like that... be cool.

(Dashie tends to pretend to be cool, but underneath it might look different, which underlines this.)
Remember that this is not primarily a show to teach parents (although it hopefully does teach anybody), but to teach kids, so it doesn't matter whether her parents were a bad example or not. This was about how to deal with it. B)

 

As for the details: The door was a hilarious idea. (Subverting viewer's expectations is always fun.) Scootaloo's reaction to Dashie's outburst seemed overly dramatically extreme. The nap joke was the lowest point of the episode; horribly forced.

Dowlphin
It's a bit annoying when they do a kind of character development reset to get a message across. Although sometimes I wonder whether Twilight has changed at all. She still seems like being all the student.
It's like the Discord situation again where the lack of sincere acceptance and good will towards his reformation, the unwillingness to let the past be the past, drove him into Tirek's influence, and it required Fluttershy to be herself in practicing sincere kindness and forgiveness, which is her immense inner strength. It's a beautiful irony: As easily scared as Fluttershy seems, as much has she overcome some powerful deep fears. Because she carries her friendship in the heart and doesn't need to have it whacked over her head in a crisis.
 
Friendship is great, but it needs to come from within, and Twilight acted like someone who has no clue about friendship if it isn't sent to her from the outside. Awarding her the title "Princess of Friendship" might have been a bad idea; might get a bit to her head. (Then again, we know from all the ponies how their destination's fulfillment (the elements) often doesn't come easily.)
 
She should have learned from Pinkie by now that a desire to control can become unhealthy if not kept well in check. Learning that lesson is maybe one of the most valuable for cultivation of good character, of a healthy mind. The experience of "Woah, this is not what I intended!" is important to have and learn from.
 
Starlight Glimmer was the sane one in this episode. She was the teacher to Twilight and Trixie, who were two poles of the same mental issue.
 
Become aware of how the teacher in life is often not who you think it is.
Dowlphin
Three little things caught my attention in the beginning:
 
First I was surprised that pony hooves can sense the coolness of spit evaporating on a hoof.
 
Second I was wondering how AJ could kick an apple so hard that it smashes through a wooden target without smashing the apple with her hoof.
 
Third I grieved over the missed very first latin lesson for young watchers when AJ used "pegasus" as a plural instead of "pegasi".
 
The general message of the episode I can relate to a lot. Like Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy, I don't thrive on pressure, but excellence comes out when enjoying something.
In our world that needs a lot of cultivation, because so often results are believed to come from pressure, force. It's no surprise considering what kind of people have great influence over society and the means for success. It seems easier to be troubled than to be healthy.
 
Snails gave a good contrast metaphor for how not overthinking stuff can remove obstacles. This was even hinted at with his floating-buckets meditation-like pose in one scene.
Dowlphin
http://cryptic-enigma.deviantart.com/art/Princess-Fluffle-Puff-452263018
 
inspired me to make a tongue-twister. Try to say this fast:
 
"Fluffle Puff Plus Princess Plush Fluffle Puff Plus Princess Plush Fluffle Puff Plus Princess Plush Fluffle Puff Plus Princess Plush Fluffle Puff Plus Princess Plush"
Dowlphin
I wrote a comment on deviantART and realized it's worth blogging here. It is based on a picture I have in my wallpaper slideshow for a long time because it impressed me so much on a deep level:
 
http://moderatelydeviant.deviantart.com/art/Against-All-Odds-285429361
 

 
Twilight shows maybe the clearest example of the power of the controlling mind trying to force its way, fueled by negative emotion. Her energy shoots at Discord, but you see it strike her friends, too, mostly from Discord's head. True friendship empowers love and comes from the heart, while in this picture Discord is like an inner demon of Twilight, and her mental struggle with it gives it power and causes discord in her friendship, turning her friends against her and her against her friends.
The solution to this problem was eventually portrayed beautifully in her battle against Tirek when she allowed herself defeat and let her heart lead the way, against all conceptual fears.
 
Also, Pinkie has a duck in her hair.
 
UPDATE 2015-12-02:
While watching the season 5 finale, my desktop wallpaper switched to this. The finale is another reminder of this recurring message that more or less is in all MLP episodes and I appreciate it greatly. It is something worth moving towards, regardless of how little success we might experience at first.
Friendship brings together, because true friendship is fueled by love. And love is magic. Friendship comes from the heart and is empowered by it.
Dowlphin
Did you notice how deep the imagery goes? Those ponies are like avatars of their elements.
 
Pinkie's hair is round and swirly, any deviation from the norm won't even make a difference. Any child could draw those endless bends beautifully. Totally Pinkie.
 
Rarity's hair is exquisite - a real challenge, and artists can get frustrated trying to draw it properly. Totally a Rarity, requiring high skill.
 
Rainbow Dash wouldn't be satisfied with just some color. She wants the whole color spectrum in there, to stand out, to make people gaze in awe like watching a rainbow.
 
Applejack's hair is practical and simple, like a bundle of hay, and even colored in that style. Condensed so that it doesn't get in the way during work, yet allowing people to see its fullness.
 
Twilight Sparkle's hair signals a special snowflake with those streaks, haha. They're a pony's rallye stripes.
 
Fluttershy's hair flows like water, not resisting things, finding its way passively, just like her personality. The color is rose, basically pastel pink, and pink is often associated with the heart, which is what she'll melt when she looks at you. Her mane even forms a heart!
Dowlphin
Wanted to say this. To maybe make you pause and meditate.
 
It's based on my own experiences.
 
There is a staunch brony hater who calls me his friend and says he respects me.
He never hurt me. ... Maybe because I don't expect much from him.
 
But is it wrong to expect at least a minimum amount of decency from a fan of a show like MLP that conveys certain values and is so full of inspiring beauty?
 
There are self-proclaimed bronies who I, without trying to exaggerate, can only describe as vile scum, fervently perverting everything the show stands for. Sometimes their amount of denial and lack of self-awareness is borderline comical.
 
Dan Vs. might be another show on The Hub, but when you think "brony", an image of Dan would be among the last things popping into your head, no?
 
I know, I should expect these things. But it's still saddening.
 
 
Feel free to comment. For more extensive discussion, you can also talk here: http://mlpforums.com/topic/101832-some-brony-haters-are-more-decent-people-than-some-bronies
Dowlphin
A few thoughts that I had while watching the awesome finale:
 
 
1) Tabitha St. Germain does a pretty good job giving Rarity and Luna different voices, but during the singing part, I realized that maybe they should have looked for a different singing VA for Luna (= not Kazumi Evans), because I think no one did not notice how Luna's singing sounded identical to Rarity's singing.
Hell, if nothing else worked, maybe they could just have done some careful pitch-lowering in post-processing. It just felt way too weird to hear Rarity sing from Luna's mouth.
 
 
2) Did you notice that Luna was uncredited for a long time? I'm not sure right now, but the first time her VA appeared in the credits in connection to Luna might have been in the beginning of season 3.
 
 
3) It took Twilight a while to think about Discord's bookmarks (it was obvious to me right away), and it makes sense considering she didn't really accept him as a friend, and then she said that she hates to admit that Discord might have been trying to be a good friend after all. ... What the hay? Now how is that meant?! Why do you hate being wrong about your belief that Discord hasn't changed? Shouldn't you be happy that you might have been wrong, hm?
Just as you should be happy when you were wrong a moment later when you told Pinkie regarding the key and the box "I don't think that's gonna work." and it did work.
Twilight Sparkle didn't believe in Discord's change because she had trouble with changing herself.
 
But she is/was also delusional, because while sometimes she is open about her resentment for Discord, at one point in the finale she said:
 
"How can he do this? I thought our friendship meant something to him."
 
This sounds quite arrogant. She merely tolerated Discord, like an inconvenient necessity to keep in check, and then she says something like that.
All I can say is that I have witnessed this degree of trouble comprehending basics of friendship and sincerity in people, so I'm not saying this is unrealistic. It's just that I'd have expected better from Twilight Sparkle. ... Hm, then again... I sometimes say the same about real life people.
 
So Twilight said: "I thought he had changed". But her attitude towards him didn't change that much.
Someone once told me something I'd call remarkable spiritual wisdom that's worth exploring:
 
People change once you change your perception of them.
 
This ties into the next point...
 
 
4) Some people say they expected Discord to be playing Tirek for a fool, but not me. I think he did the betrayal because he didn't experience much friendship from the mane 6 except from Fluttershy, so his old life was still enough of a temptation. He felt like Fluttershy was merely providing him an anchor of friendship in an otherwise unaccepting social environment.
If anyone deserves the title "Princess of Friendship", it should be Fluttershy. I empathize a lot with her regarding this matter, and had I been around in Equestria, I'd be the best of friends with Discord, especially in tandem with Fluttershy. (But maybe this is also because of my Pinkie nature.)
 
 
5) Then there was that huge plot issue that was like the absolute low point of the finale writing:
Virtually everypony in Equestria knows about Alicorn Princess Twilight, yet Celestia thinks she can 'hide' the fact that there is a fourth princess and have their magic safely tucked away in Twilight.
The huge blunder with the stained glass window was just the icing on the cake that further underlined how she totally didn't think this through.
 
 
6) There was a remarkable scene where Discord was robbed of his magic. He mixed his old ambition with his new virtues and thus put trust in a villain, as Fluttershy would have done.
 
It is then very nothworthy and surely fully intended by the writers how just like Fluttershy a moment before regarding Discord's betrayal, Discord, once betrayed by Tirek, weepily said the same thing, that he didn't see it coming. Identical dialogue. This underlines how much influence Fluttershy as a true friend had on him, while he was lacking the strength and virtue of the friendship from the other five ponies, thus he probably sought it from Tirek.
 
 
7) The end credits state Tabitha St. Germain as the VA for Photo Finish. Where did Photo Finish speak? I didn't notice that.
 
 
8) It would have been cool if the alicorn-depowerment left them looking somewhat different, Luna for example in her season 1 look, and Celestia maybe without her mane multicoloring. Also, while it was probably impossible due to lack of the necessary writer foresight, it would have been neat if Luna's flank speckles turned out to be something she got due to her Nightmare Moon phase. (But we already saw a kind of 1000 year flashback where she had them, so this would have been a contradiction.)
Oh well, speckles aren't anything uncommon for horses, so I guess it's fine.
 
 
9) And now... I invite you to check out the 12 caption pictures I made to express various other brief thoughts that came up during watching the finale as well as hunting for good frame captures. I didn't link the pictures here directly because the descriptions are part of that style of my commentary.
http://dowlphin.deviantart.com/gallery/46824988
Dowlphin
It's weird how that Daring Do fan seems to have never heard of Rainbow Dash and her and her friends' deeds. The stuff they have done that should be common knowledge, and the guy still argues about details, like there aren't worldsaving heroes in Equestria and he's not talking to one of them.
 
And his name is Quibble Pants. Well, his parents surely recognized his tendencies early and didn't hold back, hah. ;-D
Dowlphin
I don't mind at all that this episode doesn't match our season. Who said Equestria needs to match our timeline?
 
Kinda funny how things started out though:
 
Starlight Glimmer was like: "Bah, it's just about telling the same old story with the windigos again and silly singing and giving presents."
And Twilight is like: "Let me tell you a different story. One you haven't heard yet."
And then tells the Scrooge story.
 
It's a story where the main character, Snowfall Frost, hates that day of song-singing ... and sings a song about it.
 
Sad part for me was that what Snowfall Frost imagined a good Equestria to be is not bad, just not the whole picture. In our world, that part tends to be neglected in favor of lots of pretending/makebelief that everything is fine because it seems easier. So the reaction of the other ponies left a bitter aftertaste with me for a moment, since I tend to create connections between what is and what could be. Equestria has their effort part well-covered. So well that they laugh about it. Their effortlessness and celebratory mood is affordable, authentic.
Would be nice if letting go of the past is all that's needed. But even if you think you're done with the past, the past might not be done with you.
This was the popculture version of problem-solving, where the social environment is great and the only problem is within and everybody helps you solve it.
Equestria isn't exactly hardcore. ... Well, except for the occasional explosive magic duel, heh.
The point is that out goal should be to create a world in which the problems portrayed are actually that simple/easy to solve.
 
Well, Pinkie looked absolutely lovely again. So that was a sweet highlight and the most memorable part of the episode, in part because the pun was hers again.
Dowlphin
Could be a minor/major school villain, teaching the lesson of how people dig their own grave, so to speak. ... Ah, there are so many other facets and potential subplots in this.
 
The thought was inspired by watching this little crossover again:
 

 
P.S.: Somewhat related crossover comic of mine: http://dowlphin.deviantart.com/art/How-Dan-managed-to-abduct-Rarity-412825674
Dowlphin
An excellent episode. I like it so much!
 
Discord being in his own unique way the teacher more than ever, taking care of the last remnants of problematic ideas from the past that unsurprisingly Twilight would cling to the most, since she is very intellect-focused, and the mind is the origin of all suffering.
 
It also showed how easily one can fall into self-delusion by making up a self-image designed to avoid being honest to oneself. That kind of honesty being the crucial first step in having a positive impact on the world by having a positive impact on yourself. Thus also hinted at how when we THINK we got stuff figured out, safe and secure, that might be the most dangerous time.
 
And I especially liked the somewhat unspoken message in the lesson:
That true friendship comes from the heart, not the mind.
The mind on its own would attempt to create a fake of the real thing, an imitation. Something you can observe every day; best example corporate marketing, but also in individuals.
 
I also grinned knowingly at one point and was wondering whether the writers intended the hint at the irony:
When Twilight was at Zecora's place and insisted that there must be some kind of magic involved in her friends' behavior, I thought:
Well, DUH! There's indeed that one special kind of magic that causes people to have a great time together. You claim to be the Princess of Friendship, educated and skilled in various forms of magic. I'm quite sure you've heard of it.
 
By the way, Zecora's potion bottle was definitely magical, too. I mean, did you see how much liquid came out of the thing?!
 
You know, with stories like this, I'm not worried that they might run out of ideas and the show takes a nosedive. As long as they keep having fun like this and don't change the formula, it gives me a warm feeling when thinking about the future. With so many things in our world eventually becoming corrupted, there needs to be at least one exemplary defiant champion in our life. As long as the makers of the show heed their own lessons, we're all safe.
Dowlphin
Sadly I don't have a perfect memory, so I don't actually know whether there are scenes supporting this theory, but I thought:
Seems like any time balloons are shown in MLP, they float up, i.e. they are helium balloons. ... Do you know of any scene where Pinkie Pie inflates a balloon with her lungs that ends up floating upwards? If not, then I guess the writers really thought it through. ... Or not, haha. We're talking about Pinkie here. I would find it quite natural if her lungs expelled helium. It would be like the physical manifestation of her overall lightness.
A partial helium content in her breath would also explain her cute voice. ^^
And yours. Admit it: If Pinkie was all in-your-face talking to you, your voice would get squeaky, too.
It could of course also be that she's simply breathing out magic.
Dowlphin
Remember Pinkie Pride with the real-world footage thrown in? It immediately changes the character. By creating such a harsh, sudden connection to a different 'realm', the integrity of the intended realm is compromised. This is what's called "breaking immersion".
Said artistic tools CAN be for a specific reason sometimes, when the context fits, but to me it didn't fit in that episode.
 
It doesn't have to be that extreme though.
 
One example of it not being a problem is scenes where they use lighting effects or camera zoom and pan techniques - the latter even has been talked about in praise in Youtube videos. (I don't remember the episode with the scene I'm thinking of, but it was done in an elegant, subtle way, and served a specific technical purpose. It was not a style break, but a style enhancement.)
 
But lately there was another thing that immediately got me 'off-track in my mind', in season 5 episode 3 (Castle Sweet Castle) right after the intro, there was a zoom-in of what very much looked like painted, with tons of details, some kind of heavy blur filter, gradients and stuff. Well, I'll just post it here, then you can see for yourself - in case you haven't seen the episode. (Don't worry, no spoilers here.)
 

 
When I saw that, I lost attention for the plot of the episode, had to check again, was wondering why they would decide to suddenly put that attention-catching style break in there, was wondering whether I didn't pay attention and this was supposed to be a painting on a wall somewhere. (thus: immersion break)
 
Is there discussion about this specific scene somewhere? Or about the topic in general?
Dowlphin
It was an odd dream though, and I wish I had the energy and skill to draw comics from my dreams sometimes.
 
From what I can tell, a villain was on the loose. There was a scene in a dark castle hallway or something, but I don't remember anything from there. Then there was an icy lake, I was running along the outer rim where there were sheets of ice, and I grabbed Applejack out of the water. A moment later I see Twilight Sparkle ahead, with her back to the lake, acting like she was being threatened by something, defensive and somewhat scared. But when I came closer, I noticed her colors were lighter, and somehow I immediately knew it's not the real Twilight. Without having to think, I swung my katana and somehow mananged to - in a frontal attack - cut off her tail. LOL WTF, why did I do that?! Well, in any case, when I did that, she assumed a slight white-glow and had a wicked-evil grin on her face and that's when I thrust my katana straight through her from top to bottom, leaving a white-glowing line through her still grinning (holographic?) body.
That's when the dream ended.
 
 
Dowlphin
There are many quizzes out there about which pony you are most like, but those might not present the full picture, with personalities being more or less multi-faceted. If someone asked me, I'd say I am Pinkie Pie first, then Fluttershy, then Twilight Sparkle.
Since I am somewhat versed in the theory of Eastern spiritual energy practices, I tend to view things from that perspective. The mane 6 are interesting anyway, since there are various polarities between them (TS vs. PP, R vs. AJ, RD vs FS).
The body has a lower energy center (the 'roots' if you will, where it's all about a source of very physical energy), a middle energy center (the 'heart', where it is all about emotion) and an upper energy center (the 'head', where it is all about thought).
 
Today I realized that there is a complementary setup based on that (which can of course be more or less extreme towards either side, but it seems to be a duality):
 
Some people draw their basic energy, their drive, from Pinkie's playfulness. Fun, unconventional, new, crazy, chaotic things provide a lot of motivation. For other people, this energy source is hard, honest labor, like Applejack, and being productive gives them meaning and driving purpose.
 
Then, some people's heart is filled with sensitivity and gentle kindness, like Fluttershy, and practicing this, seeing the effect of it in others, provides deep emotional satisfaction. For other people, that comes from boldness and very active interaction with people and the world in general, practicing courage and observing its effects, setting examples, pushing boundaries, like Rainbow Dash. The heart of a lion, so to speak.
 
Then, some people's mind is designed in a way to primarily appreciate facts and logic like Twilight Sparkle. Ratio-based behavior is what they consider 'valid'. Other people's minds are dominated more by the meaning we can give things - that for example beauty - something that can be quite subjective - is nevertheless very valid and that something of which you cannot evaluate its beauty or that is void of 'subjective charm' has little validity/relevance ... like Rarity sees the world.
 
This system also fits the three pony races quite well.
 
 
So... what would you say is your triforce? And what are your thoughts about this view?
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