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The Bookend Diaries - Part 1: The Start and the Heart of it All

Sunny Fox

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Hey everybody, and welcome to my blog, Running the Gamut. I have finally resolved to quit procrastinating and to actually post something here. I had originally intended to start with a review of each Season so far, episode by episode, and give my thoughts on them. With further consideration, that seemed impractical, so I have now decided to restrict my reviews to the bookends, by which I mean the opening and closing episodes of each Season. So join me, dear friends, enemies, frenemies, and people who happened upon this page by accident, as we delve into the distant past of 2011 with The Elements of Harmony.

It must be said: the pilot is not all that good. In fact, it seems a little odd in retrospect that this launched such a phenomenon as it did. I will admit that most of the problems stem from the second half of the pilot, but the first half also has its fair share.

The first half of the pilot introduces us to the Mane cast. After the beautifully animated prologue, which can best be described as a storybook brought to life, we are introduced to our heroine and her beleaguered assistant.

There are a few question marks here with regard to their characters. In Twilight’s case, for a pony that likes everything to be orderly and organised, she’s quite happy to have the books just fall on the floor. Spike is another example, since this is the first and last time that he seems unable to spell simple words like “brink”; and thank goodness for that. This is understandable, since the writers are still trying to define the characters, so not a big problem.

This scene establishes the plot for the rest of the pilot, and also has the famous early glance at Nightmare Moon through the hour glass, which is a great touch. Sadly, it’s the last time we’ll see any such subtlety in foreshadowing for a while. I’ll comment more about that at a later time.

Having her attempt at warning her teacher about the upcoming Apocalypse apparently rebuffed, Twilight is sent to Ponyville to set up a celebration and to make some friends. Here the rest of the cast is introduced.

After a brief encounter with Pinkie, Twilight’s first real stop is at Sweet Apple Acres, and leads to the introduction of Applejack and kin. Good old fashioned Southern hospitality! Special mention must be made of Apple Bloom. She’s just adorable with her big eyes, pout and “Aren’tcha gonna stay for brunch?”

Next in line is Rainbow Dash. Just watch Twilight when Rainbow happens to her.

Fat stomach + Rainbow Crash = thin stomach. Did Twilight just throw up all the food she ate earlier, when Rainbow Dash ploughed into her? We also have the first of many overused RD memes with the ten seconds flat scene.

Then there is Rarity, the total knockout, as Spike later puts it. Even those who aren’t her fans tend to admit that she has the best design, with that intricately shaded mane, apart from those who favour Rainbow Dash's multicoloured magnificence. Although, that horn... later episodes blended it into her forehead, but the distinct outline makes it look pretty terrible here. This scene is an early hint to her generosity... she instantly realises that Twilight's hairdo does not suit her, and goes to great lengths to fix it, before even knowing she is from Canterlot.

Next up is Fluttershy and her bird choir. She is the only one to comment on Spike, hinting at her kindness right there. Just one thing bothers me. I know Spike is a baby dragon and therefore cute, but there is not a single sliver of hesitance from dragon-phobic Fluttershy. I don’t know many arachnophobes who still love baby spiders.

After getting away from Fluttershy, Twilight finds herself in the middle of PARTY TIME! All of Ponyville is here, courtesy of Pinkamena GAAASP! Pie, including soon-to-be phenomenon Derpy Hooves. Then we have Pinkie’s propensity for hot sauce, which is referenced once in Sonic Rainboom and then never again.

Now that the cast is introduced, the climax can begin. Just when they thought they would get to see their Princess raise the sun, Nightmare Moon returns and announces eternal night! The reveal of NNM is the best part of this episode. Her design, her voice (regal and threatening at the same time), her laugh, it’s terrific. As is appropriate, (for what could follow?) this scene ends the first episode on a cliffhanger.

Pluses – Introduced the characters and launched the brony fandom. Nightmare Moon’s reappearance is wonderful to behold.

Minuses – Some character traits seems contradicted by later episodes, and there are a few animation errors, such as Twilight being fed a green apple and spitting out a red one. Unless AJ just rammed it so hard into her mouth that it cuts her gums or something.

So that concludes Part 1 of the pilot and Part 1 of this series of blog entries. Being my first one, I’m sure there is plenty of room to improve so you’re welcome to comment below and tell me how, or just comment on the review in general. Part 2 is going to deal with the second half of the pilot, which is where most the problems I have will be discussed. Until then... <<insert catchy sign-off phrase here>>



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