Is...is the title a pun on a pun?
Do you think this is a bucking game?
What a terrible night to have a curse.
"Castle Mane-ia" By Josh Haber
Not a lot to say about this one, but it was actually pretty good. Great, maybe even. Takes what was sort of a weak premise for an episode and turns it into an entertaining romp with a decent amount of laughs. What's surprising about the humor is that a lot of it comes from timing, some well-placed silly sounds (Donald Duck is apparently trapped inside Applejack's head), and the VA's delivery.
Even more surprising is that the one who almost steals the show from Rarity (Tabitha St. Germain is the queen of line delivery around these parts) is Fluttershy. In the last review, I briefly mentioned that I greatly appreciated that she wasn't just some redundant coward like she tends to be in more problematic stories, and that trend continues here, fortunately. She's still tense and everything, but she isn't spending the entire time cowering at every single shadow and is allowed to partake in the same comedy endeavors as everyone else. And by jove, is Andrea Libman great here. She's actually allowed to act and deliver lines, and she ends up being quite funny.
I think in general, everybody really delivers here, from Tara Strong's delighted squeals in the opening scene to Ashleigh Ball's juggling characters who's frightened states sound different from each other. It helps that they're backed by a nice script penned by newcomer Josh Haber, who already seems to have a great handle on the personalities of the Mane Six, how they would reason going into the castle, and all the little nuances present in the character. I can't wait to see what he does with a more substantial story.
The animation is also effectively funny. Not as extravagant as the premiere, but you can tell they're still experimenting with more three-dimensional posing and placement, and again, the timing is perfect.
So many derp faces. I can't.
To be sure, the ending is a bit predictable, if not actually really funny, and it's a little disappointing that the Journal of the Two Sisters isn't so much a tool for worldbuilidng so much as a new framing device for the show. I think the episode is enjoyable enough that I can forgive those two quibbles, though I'm sure others might not feel the same.
Overall, an inconsequential but enjoyable episode. Nothing more, nothing less.
- Why does the idea of a Pony of Shadows or even a ghost seem unrealistic to everyone? The ruling princesses have been alive for a thousand years and Fluttershy's flatmate is the Lord of Chaos. It's like how Indiana Jones never believes the object he's going after is supernatural right up until it starts melting people, despite the fact that the same thing happens literally every time. At this point, nothing should be out of the ballpark of plausibility for these people.
- So, is the Pony of Shadows going to end up being real and part of a future plot? That final moment seemed to linger on those glowing eyes a wee bit too long for it to just be a random ending. I'm going to go ahead and assume the Pony of Shadows leads a Nightmare Moon cult or is Voldemort hiding out in the castle while he regains his strength via unicorn blood.
- The episode does raise an interesting question about what, exactly, Celestia and Luna's childhood was like. Were they there by themselves for a few hundred years before getting bored and installing the trapdoors for the heck of it, or is the guy who designed the castle an ass?
- This is the funniest I've found Pinkie since "Too Many Pinkie Pies". The imagination line at the end is my new favorite Pinkism. Your move, Amy Keating Rogers.