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IDW's Equestria Girls Holiday Special 2014 Review


Dark Qiviut

8,765 views

If you wanna read the comic online, watch the video. Be careful, the RR music that plays in the background can get loud, so mind the volume in your earphones.

Like what I wrote here, FIM's IDW comics are an innate source of controversy. One of the latest to the pile — The Good, the Bad, and the Ponies — competes with Reflections as the worst of the worst. Ted Anderson is no stranger himself, yet if just reading his proverbial résumé, he's usually one of the best writers for the series. The CMC Micro, Manehattan Mysteries, and the Pinkie Micro are among the best of the best. One of his weakest is the 2013 Annual (the Equestria Girls prequel), which retreads some of the characterization of other casts, including Babs Seed. Now, he's back as the writer, with Tony Fleecs the artist and Heather Breckel the colorist, the sterile world of Equestria Girls demonstrates its lack of magic and imagination once again.


Strengths

Sunset Shimmer.

I wasn't a fan of Sunset Shimmer in the first movie: As a villain, she was flat, generic, and stereotypical. In Rainbow Rocks, her snarky side was absent, but to give credit where credit's due, she was definitely likeable, and McCarthy took advantage of the chance for her to really improve herself (even though the rest of her friends were big asses just to make her appear better, unfortunately). Her character was forcibly reset thanks to the permanently soiled Elements of Harmony, which is completely different from Luna (her anger controlled her, and the EoH healed her) and Discord (he changed willingly).

Here, I legitimately rooted for her as a character to a degree. You can tell she's really grown since the first movie and has evolved into her own. She was very sensitive to others, had a really caring heart, yet was also very determined. When the details surrounding the slumber party she had with her friends were revealed, you can tell her confusion and even her hurt when her "friends" immediately accused her of slandering the school despite very clear evidence to the contrary. It only gets more painful when the rest of the school turns on her, putting her into despair till she saw Twilight's final lines in their last exchange:

Quote

Sometimes, all you can do is stay strong.

Stay yourself.

And find your family.

Simultaneously, she's still reminded of the terrible things she did. Here's what she said to Applejack in the beginning of the special:

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One of Rainbow Rocks's biggest problems was how much the movie took on a very obnoxious role by hammering in her evil deeds from EQG. This is the only time it was stated whatsoever.

The rest of the special shows you the rest of the event, which helps her continue to atone for her actions. It doesn't tell you specifically, and it's a very nice touch, as it's very obvious they still haunt her. Sometimes the road to redemption never ends. For someone like Sunset, this comic shows that her redemption in RR is merely the beginning.

Improved artwork.

When it comes to comics, accurate drawings that are organic and don't look like something from the uncanny valley is important. The art from last season's annual had some really off poses, faces, and proportions, and it creates a severe discomfort when reading the source material. (If you want a few other good examples, look at the two Micros with him as the illustrator: Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy.) Considering how good he is, it's unfortunate.

Fortunately, Fleecs has shown a direct improvement in his craft. It was very noticeable in Friends Forever, and you see that, too, in this special. The lines are crisp, minimal of mistakes, and decently proportioned. The only exception to this case are the mouths, faces, and necks, each of them changing intermittently. But the critique doesn't hinder the high quality of the art in any way.

Also, credit to Heather Breckel for doing a fantastic job on the coloring. It's incredibly clean, and the soft blend of highlights and shadows creates a rounding effect, which is really pleasing to the eye.

Comic composition.

One of the biggest lessons in good composition at its core is known as the Rule of Thirds.

Rivertree_thirds_md.gif

By diving the picture into specific points, it makes the image look very organic and comfortable to the eye. It no longer feels like you're slapping something right in the center. You're paying attention to the detail and making the negative space just as impactful as the subject.

This is exactly the case with Tony Fleecs's art in this issue. His compositioning is excellent. With very few exceptions, nothing is aligned in the dead sections. Each point that attracts the reader's eyes gets captured as a result of putting them there.

When he wanted to create something more dynamic, he uses a variety of angles. Three that stick out the most are when Applejack hands Sunset the smartphone to show the Anon-a-miss post mocking the ReMane Five on MyStable; the fighting in the cafeteria; and the angry, iris-less classmates yelling on top of a crying Sunset. But it's the last one that I'll dissect here.

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This drawing uses an unconventional two-point perspective to create extremely sharp angles. The rows and bodies each meet right where sunset is crouching crying. Just a few pages prior, Twilight and Sunset discuss the legend of Windigoes, and there's an image showing evil spirits (whether it's real or a conjecture of Sunset's imagination, it's unknown; this is for you to imagine) and every human looking down at her with no irises, similar to her vision. This makes the mood more dramatic and enhances everyone's anger towards her and, in a way, backs up her vision from the night before.

The concept of HWE between the pony and human worlds.

In the very beginning on the volume, Applejack relishes over the winter holidays, reminiscing how it reminds her of drinking the hot coca, smelling the fresh snow, and (above all else) spending time with her family. This monologue triggered Sunset Shimmer's disconnect with her family back in Equestria and how she spent her time alone since she relocated (the first time all of us heard anything about her backstory beyond being Celestia's student).

During the time where her friends abandoned her, Sunset and Twilight wrote to each other once more, and Twilight reminded her the legend of the Windigoes:

Quote

Twilight: They were evil spirits that fed on fighting and hatred, causing the cold of winter.

Sunset: Do you think there are Windigoes in this world?

Twilight: I don't know. I don't think there need to be. I think anypony—anybody—can spread hatred and chaos. It doesn't have to be caused by windigoes, or magic spells, or curses. It can be spread as easily as pushing a button.

Ever since the hamfisted DEM in EQG's climax, Equestrian magic is being introduced more and more into the alternate canon and is connecting the concept that innate magic in the alternate dimension somehow exists. Unlike Equestria, it isn't so obvious, but it's there somewhere.

But one point that drives home the concept of cyberbullying well is the sentence I bolded. Cyberbullying/trolling is a massive problem on the Internet. As a result of anonymity, the worst of the people gets exposed, and unless you contact a federal police bureau, you don't know where it's coming from. Sure, you can answer the IP address, but they can always be switched to cover tracks. Proxies are one way to a point. Over the past few years, media has really focused on how cyberbullying/trolling on social media has driven people to suicide like Amanda Todd. (MyStable is a clear reference to MySpace, once one of the most common social media sites before Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram overtook it.) As such, it's incredibly important to recognize how terrible cyberbullying is.

"Pushing a button" is easily seen as a double entendre. Of course, Twilight uses "pushing a button" as the trigger that sends the victim of the Windigoes over the limit. All of us have a limit before we can't take it anymore, but these limits are so individual, you don't know what will make you snap. Not even the person him, her, or themselves. Plus, cyberbullying is a record that you can go back to, because it's on the Internet. The second you click "submit," it's exposed. So think before you submit.

But there's more I want to talk about, and I'll get to in the "weaknesses" half, which begins now.


Weaknesses

Sloppy Pacing, Part 1: Rushed Flow!

If there's one thing I learned while reading the comics, it's how inconsistent the quality of the pacing truly is. Sometimes it's so slow, sometimes it's really rushed. Here, it's really rushed. All of the high-school drama seen here starts one page and then ends just a few pages later. Anderson spent almost no time developing the conflict.

This is especially the case where Sunset was immediately framed. One day, she helped save Canterlot High. The next, she's treated as the she-demon she once was. Everyone simply saw an image and immediately assumed she did it without gathering up the evidence.

I mean, review her image on MyStable through Fluttershy's smartphone:

blogentry-2227-0-30474400-1420234172_thumb.png

The one in the middle is Sunset Shimmer's avatar. Just by that (as well as recent history), do you honestly believe that anyone with a God-given brain would think Sunset Shimmer is responsible, especially when she constantly denies the story and sticks to it?

As a result, one well-known, signature flaw from FIM continues:

Mean-spirited idiots.

With the exception of Sunset Shimmer, everyone in this comic is unlikeable, an idiot, and/or a complete jerk. One day prior, Sunset Shimmer was being accepted by the ReMane Five as part of her surrogate family. Why? Because when Sunset admitted to spending plenty of winter holidays alone, Applejack and the rest of her friends planned a slumber party so she could be a part of that family. With the winter holidays approaching, the concept of family is a very fitting theme.

Think about it. What is one of the most anecdotal things people look for during Christmas? Spending quality time with family. When you have no family to be with, then Christmas is no longer about feeling warm, happy, and joyful with the people you love and care for. Instead, "Christmas" becomes associated with loneliness and (if living in the Northern hemisphere like myself) a colder feeling than the actual weather.

But by abandoning Sunset two days later, the ReMane Five suddenly turn into the very people that nearly caused their defeat in Rainbow Rocks. None of them retain any trust or faith in Sunset Shimmer, her pleas, and her tears. Instead of discussing the situation like actual human beings with brains, they still think of her as the cold, generic bitch who once terrorized CHS.

Firstly, Sunset Shimmer singlehandedly saved Canterlot High. Back when her friends were bickering and causing tension, she was the only one genuinely aware of the chaos and didn't fall for any of the Sirens' tricks. She noticed the problems and tried to address it when the climax arrived. When none of her friends were capable of defeating Adagio, Sonata, and Aria, Sunset Shimmer confronted them personally, embraced their friendship, and became Twilight's protégé from across the mirror.

Even though Sunset still had plenty to learn, Rainbow Rocks's events helped her grow into a standout character. She learned her lessons and capitalized on the opportunities. The mind games the Dazzlings played on her in the conveniently flickering hallway in Canterlot High weren't enough for her to break her down, hence the song in the climax.

Secondly, it's a complete disregard of continuity.

  1. In Equestria Girls, the ReMane Five are complete idiots when it came to solving Sunset Shimmer's bait. Sunset Shimmer was able to disrupt all of their lives, resulting in misunderstandings that wrecked supposedly important events. Rather than conversing like people, they inexplicably stopped talking to each other as a cohesive group for a long time. This is very out of character of them all, as each of them are mature enough to understand each other. Plus, they all had the technology their Equestrian counterparts don't have. A simple group conversation would've outed Sunset Shimmer a long time ago.
     
    Because the misunderstanding is what caused their friction, they should've learned not to make assumptions so quickly when they realized it. If they legitimately grew from the event, instead of being irrational, their in-character beings would investigate the matter.
  2. This takes place after Rainbow Rocks. Remember, Sunset Shimmer was the hero, and she gained their full trust. By the way her friends treated her at the slumber party, you can tell her friends care for her, believe her, and put as much faith into her as everyone else. When Sunset was justifiably outcast by the rest of Canterlot High School, the HuMane Six were the only ones to actively support her despite their grandiose immaturity injuring their likeability meters.
     
    When they abandoned her, the lessons they learned from the past two movies — mainly the misunderstanding and petty arguing when forming the Rainbooms — were handwaved for the sake of hammering in the cyberbullying drama. By being so quick to judgment and forcing Sunset to live alone in CHS (I'll get to this, too), they act as if their word means nothing. Instead of supporting Sunset's alibis and investigating the source of the drama, they perpetuate the problem by being extremely mean-spirited and treating her like crap until the CMCs admitted to being the perpetrators.
     
    If this took place before RR, then their assumptions would've had some merit. By making RR the sequel, it'd make plenty of sense for the HuMane Five to not completely trust her. They'd try to make her a part of the gang, but remain reserved, only for Anon-a-miss to verify their initial impressions. Once the comic concludes, they believe Sunset and ebb their unease to the point of making her surrogate family. Instead, RR is the prequel, so there's no sense for them to lose trust so easily.

Thirdly, after the secrets were spilled onto MyStable, the students at Canterlot High thoroughly enjoyed it. When the HuMane Six got embarrassed, they laughed at them and eagerly looked for more. Only when their own secrets got spilled did the verbal war truly begin and everyone protested against each other.

Either Sunset Shimmer is too forgiving or too dumb, but this world is extremely cruelly behaved. The attitude of Canterlot High's students has an extreme edge of hypocrisy thanks to their glee for humiliating others until they got victimized. Maybe this is because of my moral limits, but as a result of how much they love how to treat each other and Sunset's lack of family there, why the hell would Sunset even want to be there? Considering how even after the drama ended, we still don't know much about her family.

Lastly, not once did they directly say "sorry"! Sweetie Belle said sorry on behalf of the CMCs to Sunset, but the only apologies from the HuMane Five came toward the CMCs. You embarrassed Sunset and made her feel worthless! Why didn't you apologize to her right there?! Before anyone says, "They might've apologized off-screen," that may be true given by how well Sunset's treated in the epilogue. But by not writing in an apology on screen, it makes the HuMane Five's relationship with Sunset extremely disingenuous, similar to how the ReMane Five (minus AJ), Shining Armor, and Celestia treated Twilight in A Canterlot Wedding. Instead of organically maturing, the HuMane Five remain unpleasant, unlikeable, and immature. By retreading the same recycled lessons they learned from EQG and RR, their personalities are reduced to less than one-dimensional flanderizations. You want to make the characters grow; Anderson regressed their character growth to a point even more immature than the 2013 Annual.

Speaking of character regression…

…What the hell happened to TRIXIE?!

She's boastful, proud, yet learned from her trials. Instead, her personality is similar to that of Magic Duel. But what makes her here worse than in MD is MD had her placed under a spell, so she had no idea what she was doing. Instead, she knows what Anon-a-miss is doing, admires her, and is jealous! Trixie may be a braggart, but for God's sake, the in-character Trixie has some damn morals!

One of the biggest pitfalls about the world of Equestria Girls is how much its continuity absolutely sucks! At every chance the writers could give it some solidity, they break it. The broken continuity becomes even more egregious for how this is the third time the HuMane Five have to learn not to rush to judgment, and the victim is a person whom they trusted from the beginning of Rainbow Rocks. At this point, the only two points where continuity's even solid are The Fall of Sunset Shimmer and Music to My Ears.

Seriously! Anytime EQG is the main subject, IDW or DHX don't even try to keep a solid continuity on this world.

Lack of subtlety.

If there's one way to kill the journey, it's when you figure out the villain really early. Anon-a-miss's identification is really easy to spot for a few reasons.

  1. Apple Bloom's teasing of Applejack over the phone had an edge. In one shot, AB was laying on her bed with a bit of an eye roll, as Applejack was at Pinkie's house and not Granny Smith's.
  2. "Piggly Wiggly." When AJ explained her nickname's backstory, she punctuated it with this line:
     
    Quote

    Well, that's family for you, I guess. Gotta take the good with the bad.
    The "good with the bad" implies to the audience of an approaching conflict. For those who read the synopsis, it leads up to the sinistry of Anon-a-miss later.
  3. The very next day, the first person to introduce Anon-a-miss was Apple Bloom. That afternoon, Apple Bloom framed Sunset during her one-on-one talk with Applejack, and the framing itself is obvious by how Sunset Shimmer went to sleep right after writing to Twilight. The fact that AB knew so much about Anon-a-miss made her actions incredibly suspicious.
  4. During the second sleepover, Sweetie Belle wanted to join, but Rarity escorted her out. Because Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle are usually side-by-side and Sunset fell asleep after her second conversation with Twilight, it was apparent that SB was going to get involved later.
  5. Scootaloo? All three are always shown to be together in this world, much more than the pony world. I'll get to her later.

If someone else told her about Anon-a-miss instead, then the surprise would've been much more convincing, and the antagonists wouldn't destroy the narrative's quality to a minute extent.

Overemphasis.

When writing a story, one method to display emphasis in a character's voice is to italicize a word. When used sparingly, it impacts the mood of the character. But in nearly every single word balloon, words are italicized. That's way too much. Instead of directing the tone organically, the tone in the emotion becomes really contrived, nullifying the impact.

The library's security sucks.

In Equestria Girls, there were several gigantic WTF moments. One of the biggest is the fact that Twilight Sparkle slept in Canterlot High's library. A gigantic subtext of Equestria Girls is the characters' ability to live in a world similar to ours. Unlike Golden Oaks Library, the school library would not tolerate anyone sleeping in. Typically, security would check the library to see if anyone was staying there for too long. Once spotted, they're escorted out. In Equestria Girls, Twilight sleeps openly in the library; not only wasn't she caught, the script tolerated this breech. Any sensible school library would not let that happen. In Rainbow Rocks, this plot hole was resolved by having Pinkie et al. sleep over at her house.

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But the plot hole reopens thanks to the fact that Sunset Shimmer openly sleeps over at the school library. Sure, you can guess it's because Sunset Shimmer was Twilight's precursor and now protégé, her living in the library would make some sense.

But it doesn't.

  1. Sunset Shimmer has literally no family other than her friends, and her friends suddenly abandoned her. Where did Sunset Shimmer live this whole time? Just by this shot, Anderson's implying her home has been somewhere on the streets. That she's homeless. That she might've lived in the library the whole time while at Canterlot High.
     
    One question you could've asked while watching both movies is where Sunset lived since leaving Equestria. The question wasn't answered until this comic. The suspension of disbelief is now broken, for homelessness is something to never take for granted.
  2. Unfortunately, her home in the library is written in as a gag. Twilight (unnecessarily) lived in the library to tell the viewers to connect to her home in Equestria, a context that makes no sense given the difference in environments and laws. Here, the repetition reminds the viewer how Sunset's homelessness isn't supposed to be taken seriously. Homelessness isn't a joke, and it shouldn't be written as a gag. Too many people have to live through this harsh reality, especially children. Review how many LGBT teens are forced to live on the streets because their bigoted families disowned them.
  3. By extension, the HuMane Five knew Sunset was homeless. By dumping her and forcing her to relive her life on the streets, they're saying they didn't care if she died tomorrow. No sane, compassionate friend would ever dump their friend off live that. It's cold, sick, bigoted, and reveals how little they value her as not just a friend…but a human being herself. What's even sicker is, to repeat myself, when this whole thing takes place: after the movie (a movie where they supported her through thick and thin) and during one of the coldest times of the year.

The Cutie Mark Crusaders.

One of FIM's biggest surprises is the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Three characters who started very roughly thanks to their obnoxious S1 episodes grew into really well-liked, independent individuals. Their pony counterparts underwent really serious conflicts, grew so much since Stare Master, and aren't so fixated on getting their cutie marks as much as they used to.

But no other character was bastardized more in this comic than them.

Let's think about it.

Because Sunset Shimmer never spent any time with anyone during Christmas, Applejack and her friends prepared a slumber party. Apple Bloom was missing Applejack because she spent more time trying with her friends. But she also felt jealous of Sunset Shimmer for having Applejack be with her and the rest of the group and not with her, so she created a troll account to cyberbully Sunset. Then, because Sweetie Belle was not invited to the slumber party at the pretense of having to go to bed, she decided to get involved and helped cyberbully Sunset. As a result of everyone at Canterlot High sickly enjoying the secrets and wishing for more, they soon suffered Anon-a-miss's wrath. Scootaloo got involved for reasons never explained.

I think everyone knows the "inspiration."

Or if should I be more precise, the "inspiration" for what is a ripoff of one of season two's most controversial episodes.

mlp___ponyville_confidential___movie_poster_by_pims1978-d52jlpf.png

(Link to poster.)

And all I got to say is this…

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!

First off, neither of these issues are anywhere close to being the same.

In Ponyville Confidential, the Cutie Mark Crusaders wanted to get their cutie marks in tabloid reporting. When the Cutie Mark Crusaders realized that their usual gossip columns were becoming hurtful, they willingly wanted to stop it. Unfortunately, succumbed to the pressures, they continued because the public loved them and wanted to eat them up. When they finally had enough, Diamond Tiara threatened to release the images unless they finally submitted a really hurtful report. Their letter of apology was a way to finally end the column.

In the Holiday Special, the Cutie Mark Crusaders were willingly evil. In a jealous rage, they decided to frame Sunset Shimmer, willingly humiliate her and their family, and continue publishing them until they got exactly what they wanted: infighting and a very distraught Sunset. They had no idea the cyberbullying was going to spread, but the Cutie Mark Crusaders had no interest in stopping. If it wasn't going to affect their friendship, the CMCs were going to behave worse and worse until their friendship completely broke apart, even if it meant betraying their own kin.

Moreover, unlike the Holiday Special, the Cutie Mark Crusaders weren't jealous of anyone. They were in pursuit of their cutie marks and felt this was the way to do it. They decided to get into reporting because they believed they could succeed in the field.

They didn't want anyone getting hurt, either, but like I said, when they realized it, they wanted to end it, but continued because they were pressured to continue. The ability to feel the weight of the pressure is individual; sometimes the pressure doesn't bother you until long after, sometimes you feel it immediately. It depends on whom and what.

For fillies like the CMCs, this pressure was insurmountable. Everypony wanted Gabby Gums to publish juicy secrets. Not just Diamond Tiara, but their friends and family, too. But they also showed a conscience throughout, and what helped make their alibi more justifiable was by how you saw the whole conflict in their perspective. You saw how much it was hurting, so they wanted to make things right.

But if anyone here honestly believes the CMCs from the Holiday Special were justified, I got a bridge to sell you. The Cutie Mark Crusaders have absolutely ZERO justification for their actions. Throughout Rainbow Rocks, the HuMane Six trusted her. Because Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo know the HuMane Five to a certain degree, it's certain they'd trust Sunset Shimmer and treat them as much an equal as the rest of their friends.

Hell, this trust is verified in the CREDITS! When Sunset's spellbook fell out, Apple Bloom caught it and gave it back. Afterwards, all four walked off-screen together.

But let's say we didn't see the credits. The Dazzlings put them under a spell, and Sunset led her friends to their defeat. Because of AJ et al's immense trust for her and Sunset's determination, none of the kids have any leg to stand on when doubting Sunset.

Even more importantly, despite the fact that the CMCs were involved, no one knew why. When they explained their logic, it falls completely on their faces. In PC, we saw the CMCs' complete thought process during their mission to get their cutie marks. In the special, they weren't the focus, and we didn't see their thought processes.

  1. Why they got jealous?
  2. Did they miss them?
  3. Did Sunset say anything that might've offended them and give them an alibi to slander her and her friends?
  4. Was there any friction between the CMCs and the HuMane Six prior to Anon-a-miss?
  5. Did anyone warn them that what they put out there is permanent?
  6. Did they think of any potential consequence simply for the idea?
  7. Why would SCOOTALOO get involved when she had nothing to do with the comic until the climax?

Speaking of Scootaloo, there's no reason for her to be in the comic. There's no precursor whatsoever for her to get involved in Anon-a-miss. The only reason she's in on the action is because Anderson wrote so, which is extremely contrived. It's like forcing the Mane Six on an adventure when the whole story would've been much better if almost all of them were absent (e.g., Rainbow Falls; The Good, the Bad, and the Ponies; Filli Vanilli; Trade Ya!). She could've been cut out entirely, and nothing would change.

Sloppy Pacing, Part 2: Confusion!

Pacing isn't exclusively about the speed of the flow. It also has to do with the direction. Here is where the foundation of the comic's problems lie.

The whole comic wants to tell one story, but tells another instead. In the beginning, the HuMane Five are anxious to celebrate the winter holidays. But because Sunset Shimmer always spent her time alone, two slumber parties were arranged to make her feel at home for once. Suddenly, Anon-a-miss shows up, and it becomes a story about cyberbullying. The subject of the winter holidays doesn't become a part of the story again till the epilogue.

By telling two narratives, the issue confuses itself. What is this story supposed to be? Is it a Christmas special or a PSA about cyberbullying? Since it's trying to tell both simultaneously, the subjects of celebrating Christmas and consequences of cyberbullying are butting heads, and you're injuring the message in both. Without a clear focus, the story becomes a waste of time, value, and money.

As for cyberbullying itself, it's a severe epidemic. Approximately all of us has been a victim at some point in our lives. More often than not, trolling doesn't end with a simple block or report. We speak out against it, but because it's difficult to track and end, no one knows how to combat it. Being bullied face to face is disgusting. Cyberbullying introduces a sick, dark edge, 'cause the anonymity of the Internet brings out the worst of people. Each time someone commits bullycide from cyberbullying, the statistic climbs, and cyberbullying worsens. You could argue that "don't feed the troll" doesn't work anymore, and that's true. Sometimes when you ignore the bully, he can't feed off the anger, so he finds someone else. Quite frankly, "don't feed the troll" has been a source of the problem, because that phrase implies a tolerance to bullying. Bullying should have zero tolerance under all levels, because the worse it becomes, the more desperate countries will try to curb it, therefore introducing bills with serious implications on privacy and simple rights violations. Today, thanks to DDoS attacks, hacking, and doxxing, trolling is more invasive, and it's going to get worse until more and more people decide to put their feet down and end it.

Unfortunately, because the issue tells two stories, flows sloppily, has poorly written characterization, and contains broken logic, the discussion of cyberbullying is damaged. Cyberbullying isn't treated as a serious ordeal, but a simple conflict. Bullying is not something you treat lightly at all, and the light treatment of cyberbullying is immensely disrespectful to the victims of bullying and the activists who speak out against it everyday. People get depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and many other illnesses because bullying crippled their view on life, and they can't escape it. As I wrote earlier, victims of bullying have been driven to suicide because they can't escape. Online, the record isn't temporary, so seeing their words becomes more and more painful each time you go back and see them. The epilogue addresses it in passing, but doesn't go into direct depth, and that's a hugely missed opportunity.

Plus, the CMCs' punishment is way too light! Having detention for the rest of the year doesn't cover the damage they caused. Their evil is very real because so many victims can relate to Sunset's crumbling opinion of the world around her. You can ask many cyberbullying victims what they went through; there's a good chance one answer will be someone decided to spill something personal, intimate online when they don't want it published, and everyone mocked them for it. But there's a huge difference between telling a subject and addressing/explaining a subject. The comic tells the subject, but doesn't thoroughly explain it.

What helps makes this shameful is twofold:

  1. The instant forgiveness from the HuMane Five.
     
    Sunset Shimmer got falsely accused despite saving your plots? You're thrown on the street!
     
    The Cutie Mark Crusaders admitting to their crimes, saying sorry, and presenting one of the worst excuses in FIM history? Why, you're forgiven!
     
    Just goes to show how little the HuMane Five truly appreciate Sunset Shimmer.
  2. The moral is excellent. "No matter how big your family is, there's always room for more" is a great method to imply how family doesn't end on the bloodlines. Family is also step-family, in-laws, and very dear friends. Christmas celebrates the family, per the visual explanation of the epilogue. But the whole conflict contradicts the concept and doesn't respect the mature moral. Another completely wasted opportunity.

Conclusion

This past month, IDW published their second comic about the adventures of Equestria Girls. This time, it's about the merger of Christmas and cyberbullying. Individually, both ideas create an array of directions to tell a story. Since Christmas has become less and less personal, telling a winter holiday story about how important Christmas is to family is a great way to tell people that the spirit of Christmas should never be abandoned. Sunset Shimmer's personal story of being alone for the holidays helps connect homeless people to Christmas, for many kids don't have a Christmas to celebrate with their family; Sunset and her family rarely saw each other, and bringing her into the family helps tell her she's not alone. Likewise, cyberbullying continues to pile on more and more victims, and this epidemic will never go away unless a medium calls it out and doesn't tolerate it. With a franchise as personal as FIM, it makes sense to address it and critique it, particularly for a world as connected to real life as EQG.

But Ted Anderson's biggest mistake is how both are part of one story. A comic only has so much volume, and by being a one-shot, you're gonna cram in too much detail. Anderson split the stories into two and executes it in a way that divides the overall narrative. It wants to tell a Christmas story, but wants to tell a cyberbullying story, too. From this blatant division, the story is a directionless mess, but it only worsens. The HuMane Five have to repeat the same identical lesson they learned from both Equestria Girls and Rainbow Rocks — don't rush to judgment — and break continuity by abandoning a homeless Sunset Shimmer after she was framed without any investigation whatsoever. Then the Cutie Mark Crusaders present a horrid excuse, turning the cyberbullying story into a ripoff of Ponyville Confidential. The lost opportunities, vile conclusion, and broken narrative are extremely disrespectful to the victims and survivors of cyberbullies, the families of bullycide victims and survivors, and anti-trolling activists.

This is an issue even the Grinch would reject. If this was ever an episode, it would easily make my bottom-five at the very least. Overall, a sorry, sloppy, and horrible excuse of a "comic" and one of the worst professionally published FIM stories I ever read.

  • Brohoof 8

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Wow. It's amazing what a mess this turned out to be. I really think it's a terrible problem that almost any time MLP has done a Very Special Episode on a serious issue, it turns out to be a mess. I think that really is a blemish on the franchise's reputation to have gotten it wrong so many times.

 

Even disregarding the breaks of continuity, assuming the reader was not familiar with MLP, it still seems as if no good could have come out of the execution of this plot. If you screw that up, you've really screwed up.

 

Then the continuity break with the Crusaders had to be the worst. Like Sonneborn pretty much misinterpreting the character of the show, writing it as if it were a straight-up comedy when it really isn't, Anderson here writes the Crusaders not as the Crusaders, but as the archetypical mischievous kid characters who manipulate people against each other so they get their way. They were never guilty of that before because they knew their big sisters would be one step ahead of them if they tried anything. But really, their big sisters are breaking character here, too, so who can blame them? :P

 

Interesting how the whole real-life controversy involving Ted Anderson never comes up once in this review. For as much as you're against him, I admire your restraint in not giving a mention to it. However, through your review, I just could not stop thinking how this plot was written by a double-talker and a complete hypocrite, a fact which in itself may contribute to why this story was so broken. He probably has never had to deal with this in real life, and if he claims he does, he'd probably use the whole controversy as an excuse to say he did experience it. I don't think he has a family like some of the other writers do, so I don't think he would have been the most qualified to write the arc, controversy or not, after all.

 

Overall, an interesting read, especially to those of us who don't read the comics, and possibly all the more reason why I do not want to consider the comics canon, nor do I want to consider seriously reading them anytime in the future.

  • Brohoof 3
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They made the CMC evil here? WHAT THE FUCK???

 

I'm passing this one up. I wouldn't worry too much about the lessons from the two EQG being waved away as fortunately these comics actually are non-canon. Jim Miller said rest assured the show and comics would remain separate.

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