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Found 212 results

  1. In light of the show's oft-shifting writing roster, I considered creating this thread to discuss which writer had the best 'track' record in each individual season. Note that it's perfectly acceptable to list a single writer for multiple seasons. My preferences would encompass: Season 1: M.A Larson. Penned only three episodes, albeit said three are essentially a triad of majorly formative installments - Swarm of the Century solidified the charmingly witty and self-referential comedy of the Faust seasons, Sonic Rainboom pioneered the show's ability to handle spectacle and tension (the climax remains one of the best to this day) within standalone episodes and The Cutie Mark Chronicles stands as an emotionally affecting finale to the character arcs of S1. All three are fundamentally significant to constructing the foundation of the series both throughout S1's progression and to the show in subsequent seasons. Season 2: Cindy Morrow. All of the four episodes penned by her here are highly effective in their ability to combine the show's Faust-era charm and humour with solid emotional storytelling, thus solidifying the early seasons' ability to convey cliched stories far more effectively than contemporary shows of its category - Sisterhooves Social is both adorable in a low-key manner and serves as Sweetie Belle's breakout moment, Family Appreciation Day is a textbook example of utilizing the third act to recontextualize a decent-yet-shopworn preceding two acts into an altogether more poignant narrative, Read It and Weep is one of the show's best portrayals of Rainbow Dash and features some amazing comedic sequences (despite its dissonant moral for a show focusing on the social interactions between the main cast) and Hurricane Fluttershy is a rock-solid masterpiece. How is this the same writer who would go on to botch up a simple bullying moral a single year later? Season 3: A bizarrely difficult decision, considering the season's shorter duration, but I'll go with Corey Powell, given the phenomenal solidity of Sleepless in Ponyville (otherwise the episode which placed Scootaloo fully onto the map) and the decency of Just for Sidekicks. Season 4: Dave Polsky. The myriad of different style (particularly the larger-scale McCarthy-esque aesthetic of Equestria Games and the more somber and introspectively driven tones of Rarity Takes Manehattan and For Whom the Sweetie Belle Tolls) he tackles throughout the season is successful as a majority, which definitely counts for something considering his distinct comedy-based tone in his S1 and S3 work (thus marking a shift to a more experimental and varied creative palette in a way which the show's other recurring writers have generally not displayed in a comparable way). The only episode out of the five I would consider to be subpar is Daring Don't, although I believe that 'uninspired' is a more accurate term for its qualities as a whole than outright bad. Season 5: M.A Larson again. The Cutie Map is among the show's best and most tonally intriguing two-parters, Slice of Life is one of S5's more successful forays into experimentation (due to its high comic energy) and Amending Fences is touching in an odd, intangible way to me, which stands out amidst the season's bizarre combination of the lighter, more Faustian work of AKR and the more sardonic material of the newer writing team. Season 6: Surprising coming from me, but the Lady Writers (Lewis and Songco). As much as I find their general style and comic leanings polarizing (their best material can be hilarious, but their worst is lame and dissonant with the show's tone as a whole), their two episodes were some of the most memorable of the season - I find Gauntlet of Fire overrated, but its treatment of Spike is a considerable improvement over previous seasons, and Top Bolt is easily my favorite of the episodes catalyzed by the dreaded Cutie Map (due to possessing the strongest plot and character chemistry of the episodes in that particular category). I nonetheless maintain that Mike Vogel has a better grasp on the show's McCarthy-era tone, but the Lady Writer's individual episodes were conspicuously stronger in this otherwise relatively banal season. Season 7: I'll go for Wetta and Crowley - I'm not a huge fan of A Flurry of Emotions , but it was generally cute fun and featured Twilight in a solidly characterized role for the first time in multiple seasons, whilst A Health of Information surprised me in its handling of Fluttershy's character (her episodes are typically better when she actively chooses to leave her comfort zone, which this episode utilizes wisely to push her character forward and set her into a less cliched role than, say, her S4 and S5 episodes tended to). Season 8: Mike Vogel. As I've noted earlier, his style seems to be the most versatile of the current writing team in that he can lean into both the relative charm of School Daze and the looser comedy of The Mean Six. Anyone else willing to share their thoughts here?
  2. From Gail Simone penning "Between Dark and Dawn" for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, for the first time. Some fans had somewhat mixed reactions, (mostly good), they question is asked, "Is it a good idea to bring in an outside write to pen a script for something they've never part of?" Well here I try to answer that. Comments are Welcomed #MLPSeason9 #GailSimone #BetweenDarkandDawn #DCComics
  3. Bronies and Pegasisters gather round, and hear my news that shall astound… Get off the stage, Zecora. Okay, lets get down to business. I’m here to prove to you, without a doubt, that Spike is a main character, and only those too stubborn to ignore facts won’t agree with this. Now let me clarify what I mean by main character. No, Spike is not a part of the mane 6, otherwise it would be called the mane 7, wouldn’t it? I’m looking at the show as what it is: a TV show, not what the fandom has made it out to be, and who the lead role’s would be. Before we jump in, we need to ask ourselves, what makes a main character? A member of the main cast is measured by two things, importance and screentime. For example, you can have minimum importance to the series, but a large amount of screen time and be considered a main character. Now that that’s out of the ways, lets get things started. First off, let’s start with Spike’s importance to the series as a whole. Spike has multiple episodes that feature him as playing the main role. Let’s compare that to some other main characters of other shows. Here’s a good one: Doctor Who. When you look at the amount of episodes that feature Rose Tyler as THE main role, as in the episode surrounds her and is about her, it adds up to the astounding number of one. Rose Tyler plays an extremely important role to the series, and even when she leaves the Doctor, she is still referred to constantly, more so than any other main character. Spike, a supposed “supporting” character, has more episodes about him than she does. Now, let’s look at Spike’s actually importance in the show. Could the show exist without the number one assistant? The answer is a definite no. While he doesn’t have an Element of Harmony, thats just what the show needed. A main character without an Element. This provides the show to do more with the story, such as when Spike becomes the new Rainbow Dash in the Season 2 premiere. And although Spike doesn’t have as many episodes surrounding him as the other characters, he is constantly on screen during these episodes. Why is that? Well, it’s because Spike is very, VERY good at one thing. Being the character that the others personalities bounce off of. In this way, yes, he is a support, but not a supporting character. He supports the personalities of the other ponies, and is remarkably better at doing so than others. He can laugh or be creeped out by Pinkie Pie, he can give Twilight solid advice or be the comic relief for when its just him and her, he can swoon over Rarity, adding more to Rarity’s personality while doing so, he can tease others with Rainbow Dash, he can be adored by or act protective towards Fluttershy, and he can be told-off by Apple Jack. Unlike the other ponies, who all have more shaped personalities, Spike’s personality can mold to be that perfect fit for the people surrounding him. If the show didn’t have him, the script would have a lot less to go off of. The script would even lose a lot of dialogue with Twilight. Often times, Twilight is alone with Spike, with no cause for other ponies to come talk to her. To provide dialogue, Spike is there. Without Spike, who would Twilight talk to? Owlowiscious? That would get boring VERY fast. You could say they could just replace him with another character to provide dialogue, but if thats true, then I could say they can replace Applejack and give the Element of Honesty to somepony else (Just imagine if Applejack wasn’t a character… Ew). And let’s not forget, Spike was the one who told Twilight she needs to make some friends. He’s also saved Equestria before. Losing him would lead to some drastic changes to the series. Now for Spike’s screentime. Let’s begin with Season 1. While Spike’s screentime is less than the rest of the cast, he is actually a part of the gradual climb downward of screentime for each member of the mane 6. Excluding Twilight (who has godly amounts of screentime in Season 1), the order for most screentime to least goes as this- Rarity, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and then Spike. If you look at the amount of screentime they have compared to each other, you may notice something. Its a little hard to explain, but basically, the amount time Rarity has more of on screen than Applejack is nearly equal to the time Applejack has more than Pinkie Pie, which is equal to the time Pinkie Pie has more than Fluttershy, and so on. The distance of time between each of them is virtually equal. Its a slow, gradual descent. So, if one was to claim Spike wasn’t a main character, I could claim Rainbow Dash wasn’t. After all, she does have much less screentime than Rarity and everypony else. When we look at Season 2, it’s a bit different. This time, Spike’s screentime is still the least, but compare it to Fluttershy’s, who is the second least. Spike’s screentime is relatively close to hers, while when you compare Fluttershy’s screentime to Pinkie Pie, Pinkie Pie has much, MUCH more screentime than Fluttershy. This seems perfectly good reason to claim Fluttershy isn’t a main character, considering her screentime is closer to a “supporting” character than a main character. Both Rainbow Dash and Rarity have much more than her as well. In fact, even Applejack’s screentime is more comparable to Spike than Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, or Rarity. I know there are some right now that are saying just because they have less screentime than others for a season doesn’t make them not a main character. And get this: You’re right. You’re absolutely right. But if that’s true, if you honestly believe that Fluttershy and Applejack are still main characters DESPITE having much less screentime than the 4 other members of the mane 6, then you have to believe that Spike is a main character as well. Want to know why? Take a look at Season 3. In this season, Spike has more screentime than Rarity, Fluttershy, AND Pinkie Pie. Why would a supporting character have more screentime than THREE main characters? And if Applejack and Fluttershy are still main characters, why wouldn’t Spike be? They all have been interchanged for different spots on the screentime list, and in Season 3, Spike has the 4th most screentime. In fact, when comparing Spike and Fluttershy’s overall screentime, they has barely any time seperating them, Fluttershy just barely, by mere INCHES, being above Spike. So if Spike isn’t a main character, clearly you must also believe Fluttershy, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie aren’t main characters either. Oh, but I’m not done with screentime yet. Just think for a second about Celestia and Luna’s screentime, who to some people are in the same category as Spike. How can that be possible? Both of the princess’s screentime combined don’t even come near to Spike’s screentime. Even taking two of the members in the CMC and adding them doesn’t reach Spike’s. After looking at all these facts, can you honestly still claim Spike isn’t a main character? Only people refusing to accept that they were wrong could believe that. I’ve shown you the facts, I’ve given you solid evidence, I’ve downright PROVED Spike is a main character. Anyone that says otherwise is just a little to stubborn.
  4. These are two very good questions, espeically when it comes too, (with all due respect) #GoldenFox and #MisAnthroPony, and their thoughts on it. So here I discuss this topic and try to answer these two questions Comments are Welcomed #MLPSeason9 #Sparity #RarityxSpike #SpikexRarity #RaritySpike #SpikeRarity #MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic
  5. In light of the thread a while back on the 'earlier seasons vs. later seasons' debate, I noticed that a number of replies voting for the later seasons detailed specific differences in why they had voted for them - some cited seasons 4-5 their favorites, whilst others preferred 6-7 or 6-8 (or some mixture of the above), with some even expressing mild disappointment over the quality of specific later seasons (most noticeably S8) despite the nature of their voting preferences. Although the division in this case is understandable (the shift from S2 to S4 is one of the most noticeable in the show's duration when watching in chronological order), I suspect that the voting percentages for each option may be a result of the way the poll divided 'earlier' and 'later' seasons, with 'earlier' standing as S1-3 and 'later' as S4-8. Resultantly, this led me to suspect exactly which subdivision of 'later' seasons are generally considered the best (at least by the section of the community represented here). As subjective as it may seem, for the purposes of this thread the show's run will be divided into the following 'eras' based on tone, thematic focus and creative team: The 'early' seasons (1-3): Noted for a more lighthearted and comedic tone than their successors. Tend to focus on mining plots from simple themes and satirizing typical kids' TV conventions (I considered lumping S3 in with 4 and 5 due to lack of Faustian input before realizing that the tonal canyon between S3 and 4 is far wider than that of 2-3). The 'McCarthy' seasons (4-5): More outwardly ambitious, high density of fanservice. Tend to feature more grandiose direction and execution than their predecessors whilst retaining specific fragments of the early seasons' charm (most noticeable in AKR and Larson's output during this period). The 'Haber' seasons (6-7): Produced during/following work on the MLP movie. Noted for focus on non-M6 characters (Starlight Glimmer and the Student Six), their more experimental styles/sardonic comedy and Josh Haber's increased creative influence (I guess you could also call these the 'true later' or 'Big Jim' seasons, but I digress). Considering the differences between each era are fairly clear, it should be interesting to hear what you guys think, as overdone as topics like this have arguably been getting lately.
  6. #MLPSeason9 #MLPShipping #MyLIttlePonyFriendshipIsMagic #Romance #Love #Teased LIVE (Audio Only). With "She's All Yak" teasing, if not pushing a Sandbar x Yona ship, it's got the shipping discussion up and running again.
  7. Don't know if anyone pointed this out, but after you watch this character intro videos on DC Superhero Girls YouTube Channel, it just seems to obvious, especially when compare the character's personality's between the two shows. And here I discuss why these shows are the basically (almost) the same. Comments are Welcomed #DCSuperheroGirls #MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic #LaurenFaust #DCComics #Hasbro #MyLittlePony #EquestriaGirls #SunsetShimmer #WonderWoman #TwilightSparkle
  8. It too a while but its finally done! Tell me what you guys think!
  9. (IMO) Here I list the 5 Best season 8 EPISODES of 2018. Comments are welcomed #mlpseason8 #MYLITTLEPONY_THEBESTGIFTEVER #MLPFIM #MLPSEASON9 #BESTOF2018 #MYLITTLEPONY_FRIENDSHIPISMAGIC #TOP5
  10. I have a present for you this Christmas evening: A little glimpse on how MLP:FiM is promoted in China. Preface As its many knock-offs show, MLP:FiM is very popular in China, with small shops selling everything from off-color clay figurines of Princesses Celestia and Luna to almost official-looking play sets of tea parties with Rainbow Dash and Rarity. This fandom does not hesitate to share the knock-offs of the toy line, and to wonder why Hasbro does not crack down on the peddlers more. I have taken many photos of the merchandise on my trip, but very likely others have found these a hundred times over. Surprisingly, I have found that comparatively little of MLP:FiM merchandise other than toys from China gets shared, especially the books. (This seems to be true of other countries and languages too, but of course, this is an American/Canadian (and therefore English) production.) For a show that emphasizes values and therefore a concept of culture, the lack of analysis of books in other languages is rather surprising. Many of us love the show for both the morals and the way it presents the morals, and while the values it presents are very universal, it is still informed by a Western philosophical tradition (and perhaps even an Anglo-Saxon one, as language does shape thought). To see how the East (or China more specifically) treats the morals of the show and their presentations would be quite enlightening. I first bought the second book in the series “MLP: Presenting You 18 Good Habits” to help me learn Chinese using stories I was already familiar with, but soon became interested in the way it presented the stories in themselves. I eventually got the whole series. Introduction The covers are elegant and simple: A floral pattern dominated by one color, based off the member of the Mane Six that graces the center. The series is published by the Tongqu (lit. “childlike”) Publishing Company Ltd., a joint venture of the People’s Post and Telecommunications Publishing House and the Danish publisher Egmont, and apparently only has offices in Beijing. So far as I can tell, this company only has a Chinese distribution. It specializes in children’s books, with IP licenses not only for MLP:FiM but Thomas and Friends, Astro Boy, and various Disney properties, as well as publishing their own original material. Each book is 120 pages long, containing adaptations of three episodes from the show with a common theme of a class of good habits. The first one, “Good Habits of Learning,” which appropriately shows Twilight Sparkle in thought, contains “Read It and Weep” (loving to read ardently), “Rarity Investigates!” (observing and reflecting), and “Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3” (having right study methods). Second has Pinkie Pie delivering “Good Habits of Living,” and features “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000” (eating a healthy diet), “Hurricane Fluttershy” (exercising), and “Flutter Brutter” (taking care of oneself). The third one, with Rainbow Dash reclining casually on a cloud, is (rather ironically) titled “Good Habits of Working,” and comprises “Somepony to Watch Over Me” (working independently), “Sonic Rainboom” (being earnest and down-to-earth), and “Newbie Dash” (developing team awareness). Fourth has the soft-spoken Fluttershy presenting “Good Habits of Speaking,” through the stories of “Luna Eclipsed” (speaking politely), “Putting Your Hoof Down” (learning to say no), and “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” (not taunting others). In the fifth, Rarity dresses three episodes as “Good Habits of Relationships”—“Amending Fences” (valuing friends), “Make New Friends But Keep Discord” (not monopolizing friendship), and “The Gift of the Maud Pie” (empathizing with others). Finally, Applejack brings us “Good Habits of Safety,” gathering “Appleloosa’s Most Wanted” (staying away from dangerous places), “Viva Las Pegasus” (not falling for sweet talk), and “A Friend in Deed” (not doing dangerous games). The books start with a preface, “Good Habits for Achieving a Good Future,” written by Xue Lei, a National Psychological Consultant, Learning Competency Instructor, and Early Childhood Education Instructor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Psychological Institute (among other things). (I have not been able to find her listed on the CAS website, perhaps because of her status as an instructor.) She is associated with the Faber and Mazlich series of parenting lectures and workshops based on “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk,” which both explains quite a few features about these books and gives it somewhat less of a Chinese slant than I hoped. In the preface, Xue notes that the key to good behavior for “the long prop-up” is not changing bad habits but developing good habits, and that stern lectures tend to backfire. She then goes on to explain the set-up of the book, and concludes with two quotes about cultivating good habits, one from the American psychologist William James, and the other from the Chinese journalist and author of children’s books Ye Shengtao. Curiously, though she describes the stories that follow as “vivid and interesting,” she doesn’t give any explanation of why she chose the stories from MLP:FiM in particular as her vehicle of cultivating good habits. So far as I can tell, however, she has not drawn from other franchises for similar series of books. The Stories Each story, after a title page, begins with an introduction of the major characters in the story. Remarkably, the series often varies the description for the same character, highlighting facts about the character that are relevant for the story that follows. For example, in “Read it and Weep,” Twilight Sparkle is noted as often encouraging other ponies to read more books, because “she knows most ponies do not know the historical legends.” For “Amending Fences,” however, her introduction focuses on her not caring much about friendship before coming to Ponyville, and even “Hurricane Fluttershy” describes her as “able to make all sorts of precision instruments.” At times, especially if it involves one-shot characters like Zephyr Breeze or Gladmane, the introductions end up giving away the story that follows, but not enough to completely spoil it. The stories are written in a colloquial, brisk style, using plenty of common Chinese idioms to add spice and informality. (They editors are particularly fond of using the phrase “bugan-shiruo,” meaning “not to be outdone.”) As one might expect, the stories follow the events in the episodes, but there are some exceptions. These likely are to keep each book at their 120-page limits, but perhaps also is a matter of style. Notably, the cold open from “Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3” is mostly omitted, despite its great characterization of Twilight and RD, instead going straight into reading the Wonderbolts history book. The reader does not really understand the significance of the test until RD fails Twilight’s pop quiz. In the adaptation of “Sonic Rainboom,” Twilight does not warn Rarity about the fragility of her wings, and their melting in the sun comes as a genuine surprise to the reader. Foreshadowing and other hints at possible futures thus do not appear to be favored devices. The hyperbole gets toned down too: A few of AJ’s protective measures from “Somepony to Watch Over Me” are skipped, as is Fluttershy’s encounter with the tourist in “Putting Your Hoof Down.” At times, the stories assume the reader is familiar with the show, despite the character descriptions at the beginnings of each—“Viva Las Pegasus” begins with “The Map once again called out…” even though it is the only Map episode to be featured in this series. The changes are not just limited to omissions. In “Read it and Weep,” Rainbow Dash actually invites Fluttershy and Twilight in when they come to visit her at the hospital, instead of the two knocking and entering themselves. This of course softens the interruption, so the reader is not as attached to RD’s annoyance at being stopped from reading the Daring Do book. The changes and additions are particularly common when necessary to fit the intended good habit. Sometimes these additions and changes are fairly creative and fitting: When, in “Crusaders of the Lost Mark,” Diamond Tiara announces her about-face and gets her father to pay for the playground, she explains that her cutie mark talent is not only about getting other ponies to do what she wants, but even makes a point of the fact that it is a tiara, that she thought it meant she could “dictate to everyone without regard to [their] feelings, even speaking meanly.” This rendition thus emphasizes the flaw of arrogance because of social status more than the actual episode does. (I almost suspect, because it is published by People’s Post and Telecommunications, that it’s Communist Party meddling.) Others are completely shoehorned: For “A Friend in Deed,” the lesson that Pinkie Pie takes from her antics with Cranky is not that everyone has their own way of expressing friendship, but “[to] never do a dangerous game again!” which she even swears on a Pinkie Promise. Earlier, the editors even interpret the Smile Song at the beginning of the episode as not just that she likes seeing everypony smile, but that as long as she can make everypony smile, her friends will let her do whatever she wants, framing her as more careless than the episode would suggest. One shoehorned, but still fun, addition is in “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000,” where, to make the episode better fit the “healthy eating” theme, the editors add a pony getting a stomachache from drinking the Flim-Flam Brothers’ cider. The Pictures The pictures, as expected, come from screenshots of the show, one (sometimes two) per page. More than occasionally, the pictures do not perfectly correspond with the actual text per page, sometimes even omitting key information. Again in “Read it and Weep,” the page where RD starts reading Daring Do in fact has a picture of RD trying to resist reading the book. A picture of RD wearily starting to read does appear on the next page, although the text describes RD’s reactions to be far more exciting. For “Putting Your Hoof Down,” the text mentions Angel Bunny several times, but only one screenshot with him appears, and there the corresponding text doesn’t mention him. Even more puzzling is the omission of Applejack from any screenshot from “Flutter Brutter,” even though she is listed as one of the described characters at the beginning. It seems as though the editors were less concerned about matching the text with the picture and more content to just remind the reader of what she (or he) had seen in the show. The pictures are largely unedited, but there is at least once instance where something is added: Princess Luna in front of the spider target game in “Luna Eclipsed," using an obvious vector to make clear that she was the one making the spiders real. With the exception of “Rarity Investigates,” each story has at least one line that summarizes the moral of the story, highlighted in colored text, a direct commentary to the reader put in a heart-shaped blurb in a screenshot, or both. The blurb commentaries do not always serve the same functions. Some summarize the moral, others make a tangential point, and yet others give direct advice. Some are self-aware that the ponies are not perfect role models: For “Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3,” in the scene where RD blows spitballs at Twilight during her flashcard lesson, the editors give this warning: “Throwing spitballs [lit. marbles] at other people is very dangerous, kids, you cannot imitate it!” One unusual case, from “The Gift of the Maud Pie,” describes the characters’ own thoughts when Maud retrieves the party cannon. A few are even addressed to the parents rather than the children, such as in “Somepony to Watch Over Me," where, as a caption to Apple Bloom taking care of the chores before Applejack returns, the editors say “Kids are more capable than we imagine. Give kids a free hand to do what they can for the housework.” The Follow-Ups From the stories themselves we turn to the more unique aspects of the books. One of the most interesting is a section called “Pony Voices from the Heart" which summarizes in four frames the story from the perspective of one of the characters, often, but not always, from the one who had to learn something from the events. For a show that emphasizes character development, this approach is quite fitting, to further help the reader empathize with the characters and therefore better internalize the message. Next is the section called “Pony Classroom," which further explains the good habit that the story is supposed to inspire, with three “tricks” each providing a way to develop the habit, and some lines for the child to write down any additional tricks that she can think of. Here the editors are freer to use screenshots out of context, which is usually not a problem but can result in some awkward deliveries. One of the stranger ones, shown to the left, is in the healthy eating tricks after “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000,” where the second one takes a screenshot from “Spice Up Your Life,” where Rarity and Pinkie are trying the Zesty Gourmand-approved cuisine. The caption that follows reads “Don’t be a picky eater, focus on matching meat and vegetables, and eat vegetables, meat, and fruit of all sorts.” Given that “Spice Up Your Life” was an episode about not eating the same things over and over again, it’s a surprise that it wasn’t used as the story. At the same time, it seems very odd for our vegetarian friends to tell us to eat meat. (It is also interesting in itself that Chinese children also are picky about eating meat, when Western parents would just expect their children to eat their fruits and vegetables. Having tried a lot of authentic Chinese cuisine while in China, I suspect it is because in many meat dishes the bones are chopped up and cooked with the meat.) After that is a section called “Magic Practice Camp,” which presents the kids with a series of hypothetical situations that they are to judge either right or wrong, based on what they have learned. For the ones that are wrong, it further instructs the kids to discuss with their parents what should be done instead. What is particularly notable about this section is that the editors appear to have made a real effort to make the hypotheticals gender neutral—that is, both male and female characters are presented as virtuous and not-so-virtuous about equally. (I qualify this tally, though, because, especially as a non-native speaker, it is difficult to tell which names are male and female, and many Chinese names can be both.) This is interesting because in previous pony storybook publications from Tongqu, the audience was blatantly gendered—one series from 2015 was called “My Little Pony Teaches You to be a Perfect Girl.” Even more interesting is that there is no answer key in the back to accompany the questions. Though nearly all of the hypotheticals are not morally ambiguous, it still shows that the editors are more concerned with getting the children to think and interact with their parents in a dialogue, rather than to come up with the right answer. (Either that or there wasn’t room in the 120-page limit.) What Xue considers the most important part of the books is the “Good Habit Cultivation Chart,” to encourage children to “progress a little every day.” In this four-week chart, she instructs the reader to make a small goal for oneself to develop the habit just taught, and to color in the cutie mark each day that the goal is met. Interestingly, these pages never vary per habit, always using RD’s cutie mark. I find it cute, though that Applejack always heads the chart, as a sort of watchful eye over the reader to ensure that she (or he) is honest in filling in the marks. But what is most puzzling to me is the application of such a chart to the negative injunctions in the safety book, as not playing dangerous games, avoiding dangerous places, and not believing sweet talk always require someone or something else to provide the temptation to do otherwise. There is no reason to believe that a child will encounter such situations every day, unless the goal is not to put a fork in every electrical socket one sees. Each book ends on three notes: First is a reflective send-off of sorts, headed by these sentences: “The cultivation of good habits requires unremitting persistence. The ponies will always be there for you to cheer you on.” These are followed by a blank space next to one of the Mane Six, so the children can draw or paste a picture of themselves next to them. Next is a gallery called “Pony Fan Artwork Exhibition,” which celebrates the artistry and creativity of those who love the show (and the books). I am not sure if these children send these pieces of artwork to Hasbro’s China offices or to Tongqu, as the book doesn’t invite them to send their own artwork to any particular place. In any case, some of the artwork is quite impressive for those from three to eleven. One six-year old (not pictured here) created a traditional Chinese shadow puppet of Fluttershy with the help of her teacher. She must have had her stage fright in mind, for she comments “Although Fluttershy is timid and shy, I hope that she can be as happy as I am every day.” Many of these young fans also like writing letters to Princess Celestia of the moral lessons they have learned in real life. Unlike the hypothetical characters, all the fans featured are girls, but it’s hard to find a young boy who is into MLP:FiM anyway, so that’s not a huge problem. Finally each book provides a paper cutout craft of one of the Mane Six, somewhat boxy but still cute. Miscellaneous Thoughts Although the editors designed each story to be read on their own, there are some indications that the stories also flow from each other. Most obvious is the order of the books: Learning how to learn is of course fundamental to developing good habits, so that is taught first. The basic needs of living are explored in the second book, followed by the habits of good working, which support the basic needs of living. The higher-level ideas of communication with others and forming relationships come next. The only book that completely bucks the Maslow hierarchy of needs is the last book on safety, which should have come in either between the habits of living and the habits of working, or before the habits of speaking. (To its credit, there is a blurb in “Somepony to Watch Over Me” where the editor advises the reader, as Apple Bloom encounters the swamp chimera, that “safety is most important.”) It is also interesting that “Somepony to Watch Over Me,” the story about working independently, directly follows from “Flutter Brutter,” the story about self-care, as a natural expansion of the idea. I have already hinted my puzzlement at why “Spice Up Your Life” wasn’t used as the “healthy eating” story. I suspect two things: First, the Flim-Flam Brothers, as symbols of capitalist dishonesty, are easier, safer targets than the voice of authority that Zesty Gourmand brings. Further, Saffron Masala and her father are clearly inspired by Indian culture, and because of the border disputes between China and India, the Chinese are more likely to see India unfavorably than favorably, so having a story featuring them might get some backlash. (I did not see a single Indian restaurant when I was in China. At the same time, I do not know how "Spice Up Your Life" was received there.) What puzzles me even more is why “Wonderbolts Academy” wasn’t used for the “don’t play dangerous games” lesson instead of “A Friend in Deed.” As I have already said, the editors had to really shoehorn that lesson in. Meanwhile in “Wonderbolts Academy,” not only does Lightning Dust purposely take extreme risks, but RD feels overshadowed by Lightning Dust because of all the risks she takes. It’s hard to interpret the fire in “A Friend in Deed” as anything more than an unhappy accident, and certainly that accident wasn’t morally significant the way that the tornado in “Wonderbolts Academy” was. Perhaps, in light of using “Newbie Dash” for the “teamwork awareness” lesson, the editors found themselves debating whether it was a good idea to show RD retrogressing on her implied awareness in “Wonderbolts Academy” on how the Wonderbolts really should operate. Maybe they thought that RD had too many episodes centered around her at that point. Maybe they just saw “A Friend in Deed” as more fun for the kids. Maybe they also thought that the scenes where Pinkie Pie keeps on waiting for mail from RD to be too distracting from the main story. It puzzles me in any case. (I should further note, however, that this series is not the only set of pony-themed moral development books that Tongqu has recently published; there is one that focuses on making children feel proud of themselves as unique, and another that seeks to impart a more general “wisdom.”) Conclusion While far from perfect, “Presenting You 18 Good Habits” manages to capture a lot of what makes MLP:FiM so appealing to many bronies: the engaging stories, the impact of the morals, the empathy we feel with the characters, and the creativity it inspires. And probably because it was made with the parents in mind, it is no wonder it attracts fans like me, more than many English-language pony publications. (Or, at least, those who know at least a little Chinese.) Happy Hearth's Warming Everypony!
  11. So, recently, I have been entering the world of Romance fanfics. I never thought I would enjoy that kind of thing, but I guess I really have a soft spot for sweet love stories. In fact, one fanfic I read, called "Unexpected Confessions," is now my favourite story of all time. I just felt the need to drop it a line. It's an excellent story, and you will have trouble dropping it to do other things. Now that my plug is over, let's move on. ~Introduction: A Conflict~ As I was on FIMfiction, browsing fanfics, I picked up on the traditional argument among shippers. AppleDash, or FlutterDash? What motivates this conflict? They are both adorable couples in their own right. So why do fans of these shippings come to heads so often, unable to enjoy the idea of their opposing ship? ~Dashie is the issue. Right?~ At face value, the answer may seem quite obvious. Obviously, these shippings come into conflict because both feature the same pony, Rainbow Dash. Right? I would argue that no, is the answer. Rainbow Dash is the most shipped of all the ponies. This is a widely known fact. There just seems to be something about Dashie that makes her popular with fanfic writers. Chances are, if you can name a pony (Aside from the universal ships of LyraBon, Derpy Whooves, and Octav3) she has been paired with them, whether male or female. Yet, all of the other shipping groups don't come to grips with the fact that Dashie is in other shippings. Why then is there such a conflict between AppleDash and FlutterDash? If all other Dashie ships accept every other ship, why do these two in particular argue so often? Obviously, the answer is deeper than simply Dashie. ~Wrong! It's deeper than Dashie.~ So, then, if the issue is not Dashie, than what is the problem? Well, to me, it is apparent that the problem lies in an ideological difference. The two shipping groups have different philosophies about love. Fans of FlutterDash believe that opposites attract. They think that ideal relationships should have the ponies involved complement each other. Dashie's strength helps Flutters' weakness. Dashie's confidence is tempered by Flutters' humility. Dashie's impetuousness is held back by Flutters' calmness. Flutters' fear is lessened by Dashie's courage. They think that FlutterDash is magical because their different strengths and weaknesses mean that, as one whole, they can handle any situation thrown at them by drawing on each other. No external conflict can penetrate their bastion of love. Fans of AppleDash are of the mind that Applejack and Rainbow Dash, as very similar individuals, can be much stronger in the face of conflict. As two birds of a feather, AJ and RD know how the other ticks. They know what to expect from each other, and the fact that their strengths are the same means, when facing certain conflicts, they will have the strength of two ponies instead of one. They also have an incredible understanding of each other, able to read each other like a book, sidestepping almost all possibilities of misunderstanding. They know precisely how to comfort one another in rough times. Now, these paragraphs show why the two schools of thought each have merit. But they also have their faults. In the opposites attract relationship, the two ponies share all of their traits. Given their diversity of strengths, they can add to each others' weaknesses. But internal conflict can be a major issue, as their different natures make it difficult to understand each other, and therefore resolve their problems. It can also lead to misunderstanding when a pony simply doesn't get how their special somepony ticks. Within the relationship, they will be at odds with each other, and will not always be stable. This kind of relationship will be an emotional rollercoaster internally. It is strong when an external force threatens it, but does not have structural integrity in its own right. Regarding the birds of a feather philosophy, the issue is that, while the similarity between ponies means that internally, they will have a stable relationship, rarely coming to odds, it also means that where they fall short, they fall really short. If an external conflict strikes which hits the pressure points of the relationship, it can crumble like a sand castle in the rain. Having the same spectrum of strengths and weaknesses means that they can only handle the same problems. If something comes around which attacks a weakness, they are unable to draw on each other, resulting in feelings of inadequacy, causing tension in the relationship, and a longing for that thing which is missing, or lacking. ~So, what does this mean?~ Both relationship types, as we have seen, have their strengths and weaknesses. AppleDash works nicely internally, but similar strengths mean the ponies have similar weaknesses. And when those weaknesses need strength, they have nopony to draw from. At best, the two deficient ponies can hope that they just barely have enough strength to at least be worth half a pony against their opponent. FlutterDash is an emotional rollercoaster, but complementary traits mean that they can draw on each others' strengths when one of them is deficient, forming an unmovable wall against external conflcit. Where does that leave us? It leaves us with the knowledge that neither relationship is inherently functional or dysfunctional. But we also know that their is still plenty of ground to cover regarding where the relationship falls short. I would argue that, given what we've seen above, the ideal relationship will have the ponies not be polar opposites, nor birds of a feather. For a relationship to work the best, there needs to be some shared traits and some different traits. A delicate Balance, which does its best to draw on the two relationship types. And indeed, the best fanfics I've read have focused on finding this middle ground between the two philosophies, where different ponies found out how to accept their differences, and similar ponies learned how to overcome their weaknesses. And I think this middle ground is where the relationships become as functional as possible, and approaching this middle grounds is what makes both pairings attractive for me. Harmony and Balance applies to all things, love included, and seeing ponies approach the golden realm of Harmony in their relationship makes for great reading, whoever you ship. What do you guys think? Which relationship do you think would have its issues resolved easier? Do you think that they are about equal, or that one is superior? Have you noted characteristics about the two philosophies which I haven't covered? Who do you ship? And why? I look forward to reading your schtuff. And make sure to check out my other philosophical meanderings at http://balancebrony.tumblr.com. I can't wait to read your responses everypony!
  12. So far this campaign is very interesting. The Tantibus has come back, somehow, and this time it is attacking every Princess in Equestria! You can pick any group you want to help deal with it, I personally chose, what I have termed, "The Night Force Ponies" they are made up of every Night Time Themed Pony and Dragon. You could think of them as the Military of the Children of the Night I suppose. Anyway, the biggest reward you can win in this campaign is the Tantibus itself. You must hurry though, the Group Campaign is only going to be around for 5 more days. I will update this topic as more things progress in the Group Campaign.
  13. I discuss why there are several fans out there that would rather ship Spike with either AppleJack or Starlight, and not Rarity. But the question I (along with other fans) have is, "What's the Difference?" Comments are Welcomed A Fellow Youtuber and MLP Fan had this to say in response: -Trent Osborne (Replied on 10-26-18)
  14. In other words, is this upcoming 44min special the first in many 1hr -90min MLP FIM G4 Stand-alone stories. Here I give my Thoughts on the matter Comments are Welcomed #TheBestGiftEver #MLPSeason8 #MyLittlePony_FriendshipIsMagic #Christmas #EquestriaGirls #Equestria_Girls
  15. Sweet Apple Acres is under attack by Killer Apples.... Tomatoes? Their is also a limited time Quest to get the Tantibus!
  16. Here I review the newest (as far as North America and the U.S. is concerned), "Sounds of Silence", which is one of the best episodes of the season, if no the series. Highly recommend you see it. Rachel Bloom Does a great job as Autumn Blaze ! Comments are Welcomed
  17. As We Head Into The Final Leg of Season 8 (here in North America, At Least), I Take The Time To Discuss Why For At Least 2 Of The 3 Princesses, So Long To Get (What Many Fans Consider) Decent To Great Character Development. Comments are Welcomed #PrincessCelestia #PrincessLuna #PrincessCadance #MyLIttlePony #MLPFIM #MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic #CharacterDevelopment
  18. Last year, I praised Once Upon a Zeppelin as Fame & Misfortune written correctly for three reasons: writing an actual story than a hodgepodge of "jokes" disguised, the princesses' fans not written disparagingly, and writing Twilight well while simultaneous treating the multi-sided conflict with respect. Princess Twilight is the most developed of the Mane Eight; initially focused on her studies over friends, now it's reverses: she loves to read and study, but emphasizes friendship first. Becoming a princess and then the Princess of Friendship meant an increase of both her duties and role as an international advisor. So how much involvement is too much? When does acting like a princess feel like a honor and more of a chore? A Flurry of Emotions hinted that question, but was mostly surrounded by tying in her schedule to sudden babysitting duties. Once Upon a Zeppelin tackles that question directly and becomes her most important episode since Twilight's Kingdom. No vacations allowed? The cold open shies away nothing from the downsides of Equestrian royal duty. Twilight's bored expression as she rests her muzzle on her hoof demonstrates how mundane princeesshood is sometimes. Given previous continuity, she loves being a princess, but also wants to show how being the Princess of Friendship allows her to spread her knowledge far and wide. But here, she signs because she feels like she has to instead of want. Accidentally snapping the head of her quill further adds to the frustration. Excellent visual storytelling initiates the conflict, further accentuated by this line: Pay attention to the line and action underlined. She wants to go, but believes she'll betray her princess duties if she stops or dillydallies. Royalty for her devolved into a bad habit, and sometimes interference is required to break it. Hence Spike's role, which is small but very, very important. His involvement and Twilight emphasizing how much she means to him as a family shows their bond, but that's still rather understated. Spike knows her better than anyone and comprehends when Twilight isn't feeling cheerful or excited. When it starts to become a chore, he doesn't want her to be swamped under it all and dread life as a princess permanently. His insistence of accepting the zeppelin vacation and promptly taking over her roles demonstrates the proper guidance she needs. Does it end things, though? Knowing this show, far from it. A return to duty. Iron Will announcing not just random bullshit about Twilight exploring Cloudesdale's Weather Factory caught her attention, but the BS that Iron Will made up just to excite the crowd, too. Knowing that Twilight, Cadance, and their family would set the zeppelin abuzz, he took advantage. But that's not why Twilight accepted the invitation in the first place. She accepted it to get away from royal duties for once, but Iron Will putting her at the center of attention forces her to return to them. While in the royal lounge, Twilight was stuck with a massive dilemma: cancel the cruise, make everyone miserable, and miss the Northern Stars (her most sought-out event of the cruise) or continue the cruise and hope she won't be driven crazy and miss the Northern Stars. When Night Light suggested to cancel it, Twilight stepped in: Why does she do this? Negotiating with others and sometimes compromising in order to get things done is crucial to anyone being part of a governing body. Twilight wants to do what she wants with her family, but also wants to disappoint no one. With this deal, she hops she can help create a satisfactory and memorable cruise. This means adjusting to her schedule, but hopes she can balance them. Secondly, pay attention to what she said after SA expressed concern (which I'll get to in a bit): Nowadays, her duty as Princess of Friendship is instinctual. If she feels canceling the cruise will disappoint everyone, she believes she's betraying her goals as princess. Everything she suggests in her deal offer to Iron Will is centered on selflessness. A will to sacrifice her own happiness for others' happiness. But that doesn't mean her family doesn't get concerned for her own well-being and her own happiness. After Twilight creates her deal on the fly, Shining said this: Recall why Spike jumped into her duties despite her objections. He wants her to be a happy pony rather than just a princess and let her hair run down. Spike's instincts foreshadowed SA's mild objection above, which in turn foreshadows future events. A break-free day. Despite making the deal, Twilight maintains hope she'll spend quality time with her family, but no matter where she goes, something always gets in the way, starting with the sudden raffle. Star Tracker becomes Twilight's honorary family member, and right away, there's friction between them. Star Tracker is very quick to go around, all to the point of her not noticing him unless by surprise. He's incredibly nervous around her, because she's a princess and doesn't want to do anything to harm or embarrass her. But his difficulty to communicate results in sometimes breaching simple etiquette, such as whispering into her ear without warning and standing too close to her. All this creates cringe comedy without crossing the line into secondhand embarrassment. So why doesn't Twilight tell him to give her some space? Two reasons: Unfamiliarity with this type and degree of discomfort. This is the first time we see anyone approach Twilight in this manner, and she doesn't know what to do. Despite the discomfort, he has no ulterior motive. She understands he doesn't do it to be creepy or uncomfortable, and she doesn't want to add to the embarrassment and discomfort he already feels. To her, swallowing her own pride and hoping he realizes what he's doing was her best solution. Unfortunately, it isn't the best solution. By saying nothing, she accidentally lets the bingo game last too long, nearly missing the boat race (and having to wave the checkered flag rather than race against her older bro). Then, she missed time to be with Cadance and Flurry Heart in Peewee Princess Playtime and had to hastily depart for a Q&A while the zeppelin is stationed at Neighagra Falls. Despite the cluttered and buy schedule, she hopes she accomplishes her objective of making others happy, fulfilling her end of the bargain, and anticipating watching the Northern Stars. Yet, making others happy results in missing even more valuable time with Velvet. Because she spent a long time answering the Q&A, she missed watching Velvet take part in the barrel ride over Neighagra Falls. There, despite having the time of her life, Velvet's motherly instincts kick in after seeing disappointment on her face: As any good mom would do, she sees how overwhelmed she is with the princess duties, but Twilight fibs to her and tells her it's all peachy. So why does she lie to Velvet and Night Light? Because she doesn't want to let them down. She wants them to celebrate and have a good time. Admitting to being unhappy and disappointed in not participating with her family is, to repeat from before, admitting to unfulfilling her royal duties. Once more, it's not like she doesn't want to take a break. She feels like she can't. Like being a princess is a part of her identity and must stick true to what she's assigned to do, whether she's on duty or not. This disappointment and crowded schedule culminated to one final thing: signing autographs. From a composition and storytelling standpoint. it mirrors almost everything she went through previously. Star Tracker with the quills: Spike with the quills. The stack of papers: The princess mail she had to sign away. Twilight's disappointment on the cruise: Twilight's boredom over signing the mail and forms. The fans and autographs: Twilight's fan mail from the castle. Iron Will: The offscreen person who delivered Twilight the mail prior to the open. Twilight's in the center; everything and everyone surrounding her is tightly enclosed around her, perfectly capturing the same claustrophobic atmosphere to debut the open. What happened in the open and what led her to escape the castle for a breather returned in full force, culminating to her boiling point in Act 3. Purple minus the blue. Her boiling point? Missing her most important event of the whole cruise. At this point, the toll she put up with filled up. The façade, that forced happy face, she kept in order to keep everyone else happy crumbled. For the first time in a long time, Twilight couldn't hide her vulnerability. Here, it's impossible not to feel bad for her. For several years, she maintained her duties as a princess while keeping her composure. Beneath the fun and smiles, stress slowly accumulated within, accentuating as OUaZ increased the tension. What makes her crying hurt to watch is threefold: Compared to the others, she doesn't cry often, both in the past and future, so for longtime bronies, when she starts to cry, they'll notice. The crying felt real. Twilight not only showed to be upset. She sounded upset, too. Her family, Iron Will, and almost every other cruise pony being able to watch it makes this scene sting even more. Flores's tender care for the scene. This event was incredibly important to her, and missing it by having to fulfill her duties as a princess while trying to temporarily escape her duties for a few days is a big problem. By playing this scene straight, we connect to her on a deeper level, extending our sympathies from within to her as we watch. After this, Twilight Sparkle turns into Rainbow Rage, yelling at her family — from her parents to Cadance to Flurry Heart — emphasized by the brilliant red-to-orange gradient background as her temper exploded, and then feigned an apology to Star Tracker after accidentally stepping on his hoof. Was she right to be upset? Absolutely. I she right to take her frustrations out on them and ST? Absolutely not. Like Glideance, Flores's careful writing and hard effort come into play. Despite sympathizing with her, Zeppelin knows what to tolerate, what not to simultaneously, and maintain that delicate balance. Immediately, Cadance's motherly wisdom comes into play. She, and the episode itself, comprehends how scolding her would be detrimental to her growth as a princess. FIM's at its best when it proactively resolves the conflict, and this is no exception. She understands what Twilight's feeling and retains that soothing voice throughout, while remaining firm in her morale. A princess she'll forever be, she has her own needs and wants, and must set up boundaries so they don't get crossed. When mothers hogged their babies around a nervous FH, she immediately stepped in, separated her from them, and used her experience as an example to help Twilight further understand how being happy and wanting to do the things she wants is as noble as helping others. Zeppelin earns a lot of credit for having the guts to teach that message. Is it noble to help make others happy? But you're also obligated to make yourself happy, too, and that obligation isn't selfish or entitled at all. Twilight's whole conflict fits the moral's frame, which is executed with excellent class. And how does she approach it? By apologizing to Star Tracker for lashing out on him and letting him, her family, and everyone else on the cruise eat ice cream on the deck. This… …isn't all that bad, either. <3 Conclusion. Once Upon a Zeppelin is one of the best episodes of the show for a variety of reasons. One of them is how Twilight experiences and resolves the conflict. The Princess of Friendship's turmoil was great, and little by little, the story chips away her self-confidence and the façade she self-painted on her face in order to maintain her reputation. Every time she tries to make others happy, she becomes more and more miserable, and it becomes more and more difficult to maintain that image she created. Missing out on the Northern Stars brought her to her breaking point, leading the way to a valuable lesson she needed to learn ever since she ascended. Through Flores's careful respect to continuity, it methodically recreates Twilight's image as not simply a princess, but an Equestrian being overall. Altogether, Zeppelin's an excellent study of growth and maturation within an evolving show.
  19. Mane 6 (and Spike!) Applejack This relationship has definitely seen the most development. From barely being able to stand each other for more than a few hours in “Look Before You Sleep”, they now seem to be quite firm friends. Of course, Rarity still tries to get Applejack to be more ladylike, and Applejack still thinks Rarity needs to be less fussy, but overall, they seem to have come to an understanding of each other. Applejack’s selflessness devotion to her family has helped Rarity strengthen her bond with Sweetie Belle, where before she was a little selfish. Applejack taught her the importance of compromising. Highlights: Episode 46. “It’s About Time”: Applejack fixes the crack in the dam, while Rarity fixes up the leaves in AJ’s mane. Episode 53-54. “The Crystal Empire”: Applejack cheers Rarity up with a kind word in “The Crystal Empire”. Episode 61. “Spike at Your Service”: Rarity teaches Applejack how to play the “damsel in distress”. Episode 73. “Rarity Takes Manehatten”: Applejack says bluntly, “Yep, you were pretty rotten…” Episode 78. “Simple Ways”: They each parody the other. Twilight Sparkle I don’t usually ship Mane Six members together, but when I do, it’s Rarilight. If I were one to let subtext reign supreme, I would believe these two are already in a relationship. Right from the first episode, Rarity has been very touchy-feely with Twilight. Just go watch the end of “The Crystal Empire”, and tell me she doesn’t act rather tenderly towards Twilight there. She was the first to start singing, went to Twilight to raise her head up with a gentle touch to the chin when Twilight blushed, and put her hoof over Twilight’s as the train left. Sorry, Spike, you’re losing out to your adopted big sister. Even if you ignore the subtext, it’s clear Rarity has a strong regard for Twilight. She noticed she was bothered in “Lesson Zero”, she worried about Twilight not having her crown in Equestria Girls, and most importantly, although she wanted to marry a prince and be a princess, she has never once expressed the slightest sense of jealousy that Twilight is now a Princess and not her. That’s pretty telling, because she was jealous of Fluttershy, and they’re probably the two who spend the most of their time together. Highlights Episode 16. “Sonic Rainboom”: Rarity rump bumps Twilight to encourage her to find a spell. Episode 29. “Lesson Zero”: Rarity calls Twilight a drama queen, after a day of non-stop drama. Episode 53-54. “The Crystal Empire”: Rarity starts the song to Twilight. Rainbow Dash Rarity’s relationship to Rainbow is similar to Applejack, only with a lot less butting of heads. They don’t usually interact, and when they do, it’s pretty low key. We mostly see Rarity doing nice things for Rainbow, like making her a pretty dress for Princess Celestia’s visit, or supporting her in competitions... at first. Not much else to say. Highlights Episode 14. “Suited for Success”: Rarity facedesks when Rainbow can’t be any clearer about her dress than it needs to be cooler. Episode 47. “Dragon Quest”: Rarity tells Rainbow she was surprised her plan worked, and gets a rump to the face in response. Episode 61. “Spike at your Service”: Rarity gives Rainbow a very snarky response to her fanfiction plot, which goes right over Rainbow’s head. Episode 75. “Rainbow Falls”: Rarity takes the relay horseshoe to paint it, to Rainbow’s annoyance. Fluttershy Indications are that Rarity and Fluttershy have been firm friends for a very long time. They often have spa dates together, and Rarity frequently tries to bring Fluttershy out of her shell. Being the prettiest and second-most ladylike Mane Six, they seem to have a lot in common. Their Elements are also quite compatible, since Generosity is being giving with one’s possessions and Kindness is being giving with one’s time and emotion. Other indications of their closeness include Fluttershy helping Rarity with Opal, Rarity calling on her when she needs someone to fly up and help her borrow the Castle decorations. She also tried very hard to be happy for Fluttershy when she caught the eye of Photo Finish, and felt terrible when she was envious. She also very quickly forgave Fluttershy for the vicious tongue-lashing she got in “Putting your Hoof Down”. Highlights Episode 17. “Stare Master”: Rarity is speechless when a quiet word from Fluttershy pulls the CMC into line. Episode 45. “Putting Your Hoof Down”: Rarity pushes a slack-jawed Pinkie’s mouth closed after Fluttershy stands up to Iron Will. Episode 57. “Magic Duel”: Rarity creates a camouflage outfit for Fluttershy that includes bunny ears. Episode 79. “Filli Vanilli”: Rarity quickly picks up on Fluttershy’s eagerness to continue singing. Pinkie Pie Again, not really much to say here. Rarity is sometimes exasperated at Pinkie’s antics, and can even be quite stern with her, but they tend to get along very well most of the time. Pinkie also seems to put some trust in Rarity. In “Last Round-up”, she simply leaps off the stagecoach and tells Rarity to catch her. Highlights Episode 7. “Dragonshy”: Pinkie beats Rarity at Tic-Tac-Toe… 35 times in a row. Episode 45. “Putting Your Hoof Down”: Pinkie and Rarity team up to help Fluttershy be more assertive, but she does so badly that Pinkie buries her head in the ground. Rarity tries to comfort her with a gentle hoof on her mane. Episode 62. “Keep Calm and Flutter On”: Rarity checks her reflection in Pinkie’s newly polished hooves. Episode 73. “Rarity Takes Manehatten”: After Rarity delivers her “going down in flames, isn’t friendship magic?” line, Pinkie gives her a sheepish grin and nods agreement. Spike This is one of the most important and talked about relationships in the series. Ironically, given that FiM doesn’t have much by way of romance. A lot of people give Rarity grief over what they see as her taking advantage of him. In some ways, they’re right, but it’s actually much more of a give and take than is sometimes recognized. Yes, she gets him to do stuff for her, but most of the time, Spike’s perfectly okay with it. And she’s hardly the only Mane Six who does. She also frequently gives him rewards for his troubles, such as gems to eat, a carrot-dog, etc. She also sticks up for Spike frequently, and went to great lengths to keep him safe in “Dragon Quest”. It’s clear that she does care for him in her own way. I suspect that Rarity simply doesn’t know exactly how to handle Spike’s precocious crush on her. After all, by the standards of dragonhood, Spike is not even a teenager yet. She can’t view him as a romantic prospect, but she cares for him and certainly wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings. So, until she can find a way to let him down gently, she keeps their relationship at status quo. Perhaps in her mind, letting him do things for her is a way of showing that she does want him to be around. Not always, of course, but I think that’s a large part of it. Highlights Episode 19. “A Dog and Pony Show”: Spike valiantly defends Rarity from the Diamond Dogs. Episode 36. “Secret of My Excess”: The most touching Rarity-Spike moment, as he tries to confess while falling, only for her to shush him and show that she already knows. Episode 61. “Spike at your Service”: She takes a bite out of his terrible pie to make him happy. Episode 73. “Rarity Takes Manehatten”: Rarity gives Spike that carrot-dog, which is promptly stolen by a bird. He has it again later, so either he got it back or bought a replacement. Family: Parents, Sweetie Belle and Opal Rarity seems to be deliberately avoiding taking after her parents, who seems like very friendly, if unsophisticated types. Middle class is probably a good way to describe them. We don’t yet know if her dad is a unicorn or earth pony, due to his hat. (BREAKING NEWS - He actually is a unicorn, as shown in "Imagination Manifestation"!) She hasn’t really interacted with them enough to get much of an idea of how close she is to them. While Opal can be temperamental, she seems to have affection for Rarity in her own enigmatic cat way. Her moods follow Rarity’s, and she tries to remind her mistress of her priorities at times. Opal seems to stoically suffer some of Rarity’s more whimsical tendencies, such as her baby-talking and coddling. Rarity’s relationship with Sweetie Belle is the focus of a fair number of episodes. While their sisterly relationship has had its ups and downs, Sweetie Belle clearly looks up to Rarity, and Rarity clearly loves her and tries to do good things for her. While she took her a bit for granted in earlier seasons, Rarity has gotten much better at compromising, mainly due to the events of “Sisterhooves Social”. Where before she would put her own comfort and desires first, she’s now more willing to sacrifice them for Sweetie’s sake. The most recent episodes have shown that Sweetie has long been harbouring a grudge for Rarity overshadowing her, and they may become even closer now that Sweetie has realized that Rarity doesn’t want to keep her in her shadow. Highlights Episode 31. “Sisterhooves Social”: We get to meet Rarity’s parents. This episode also improves the sisters’ relationship. Episode 35. “Sweet and Elite”: Opal taps the design for Twilight’s dress, and is annoyed when Rarity doesn’t notice. Episode 58. “Sleepless in Ponyville”: Despite despising camping and “all that… ugh… nature”, Rarity is willing to brave the wilderness for her sister… as long as no heavy hauling for her is involved. Sweetie doesn’t seem to mind, just being glad that Rarity is there. Romantic Prospects Fancy Pants Catching the eye of this stallion is one of the best things ever to happen to Rarity. He’s also later appeared in Ponyville and Manehatten. Could he be following Rarity around? And is that supermodel pony who always hangs on him just eye candy, or a romantic partner? For Rarity’s sake, I hope not! Trenderhoof Creepy shrine? Check. Trying everything she can to win him over? Check. Learning that changing yourself for someone else is a bad thing? Check. Getting over him? Antagonists: Discord Along with most of the others, Rarity is skeptical of Discord’s change of heart. She blames him for the embarrassment of making her think a rock was a diamond, and so she has little patience or sympathy for him. Photo Finish Photo Finish was rather abrupt to her, made Fluttershy a star and caused Rarity to feel like she had betrayed her best friend by being so jealous. Photo Finish has yet to return in a speaking part, but she was present in a cameo during “Sweet and Elite”, so we could speculate that Rarity is over it. Prince Blueblood Apart from acting like a prat, he used her as a pony shield against flying cake. In the dress she was terrified somepony would spill something on in “A Bird in the Hoof”. A crime against fashion! After she told him just what she thought of him, she was forced to flee, and smashed her glass slipper so that he couldn’t find her. Despite this, he also had a cameo, so perhaps she has forgiven him too. Trixie Although Trixie has done some nasty things to her, Rarity seems to dislike Trixie mainly because of how she treated Twilight. Perhaps we can learn more if Trixie gets another episode (I’m counting the minutes ). Suri Polomane Suri represents what Rarity could become if she lost her sense of generosity. And morals in general. Although Rarity was deeply hurt by her betrayal, she didn’t try to excuse her own bad behaviour towards her friends. She also doesn’t seem to feel a need to get revenge on Suri for taking advantage of her generosity. Perhaps she considers Suri losing her talented assistant, Coco Pommel, to be punishment enough. And with that, I draw this three-part analysis of Rarity to a close. Do you think I was accurate? Do you disagree with my points or have something more to add? Any comments are welcomed. Until next time, stay Rarity-side up!
  20. Consider this a little belated gift for the Summer Sun Celebration. Princess Celestia's best appearance was Horse Play. For the first time, FIM had a quasi-legit Celestia episode, and she was written very well. Despite being a country ruler, she had no acting experience and really showed how much she sucked at it. But when the play was on the verge of collapse in "celestial" proportions, Celestia leads the Mane 8 into saving it and becoming a nationwide success. This episode is a marvelous exercise in how to make a godlike presence feel human. So, what about her second-best appearance? That goes to The Return of Harmony! Why not Crystal Empire, A Royal Problem, or Twilight's Kingdom? If you don't know my history, I ratted on her appearances in each of them, so no Debbie Downers for this blog. Okay, so why is this her best role pre-HP? Three big reasons. Rightful pass of the baton. One common criticism I know of this series is her (lack of) inclusion or sometimes exclusion in the two-parters, usually for really stupid in-'verse reasons. Twilight's Kingdom, The Crystal Empire, To Where, and the film took the brunt of it, and justifiably so. This isn't the case here. Discord was an old foe of both Celestia and Luna eons ago, but turned him to stone after they discovered and bonded with the Elements of Harmony. Still, powerful the two princesses are, they don't possess them anymore. Only their rightful heirs can harness their true power and restore harmony to Equestria once again, them being the Mane Six. The confusion is very evident on the Mane Six's faces, especially Twilight, as you see here: Her interrupted line echoes her expression: But the camera's panning of the stained glass window — PNG from here — explains why, along with Celestia's explanation: Even though this scene is rather expository, Celestia sets the tone. The EoH trust the M6 into wielding the Elements and using them to defend and protect harmony throughout the land. Twilight promises her they'll reuse them to beat Discord. Therefore, Celestia trusts them, too. Controlled anger. Pay attention to how Celestia behaves when Discord confronts them. Previous appearances showed Celestia as calm, cool, collected, and not afraid to pull a trick or two on others to maintain a loose atmosphere. For the first time, Celestia is the opposite: demanding, hostile, and very angry. All for the right reasons. Thanks to her and Luna's broken link from the Elements, her old foe was released into the modern Equestrian world and can't do it by herself. Discord understands this and uses the priceless artifacts and Celestia's anger to taunt her. With the Elements lost, he can do whatever he wants at his own disposal while maintaining his own integrity. Scenes like this demonstrate how dynamic Celestia not only is as a character, but can be, too. Up to this point, she had a lot of potential, and this back and forth shows us what the writers — Larson here — can do with her if you write the right plot. Also, notice three things during this scene. Despite being angry, she never loses her control. Age carried a whole load of wisdom for her. She knows his mind games and gets tested, but crossing the line by herself is exactly what he wants. As long as she remains calm, he can't really do anything with her. Twice, she extends her wings, once when she yells enough and once when she warns Discord after he toyed with the EoH. Emphasized a degree of majesty and warns Discord to take her and the new Bearers seriously. Before the camera pans to her face, Celestia paws the ground forty-five seconds aggressively into the video above. This shot is no accident. Rarely, a horse will forcefully drag their hoof across the ground to indicate anger, threatening to charge. Here, she warns Discord to not cross the line or hurt the Mane Six, or else. But since they each know she's no threat to him, that's really all she can do. Help from afar. Discord's powers are so great that they influenced her friends and brainwashed them into their polar opposites. Even though she retained her optimism and hope they'll return to normal, their lack of cooperation over her the reference guide made her frustrated and angry, causing a nasty brawl and effectively ending their friendships between each other. Dash's lack of presence (foreshadowed by Celestia's backstory early in Part 1) caused the Elements to backfire and result in Twilight believing that perhaps the Magic of Friendship truly isn't enough. Finally, she couldn't take any more manipulation, discolored, and decided to leave everyone but Spike behind. But who didn't? Celestia. At Twilight's lowest moment, she knew it still wasn't too late to help her or her friends. By returning her friendship lessons to her, she reminds her of her growth since first moving to Ponyville. Every friendship lesson she learned was important, and Celestia won't let her forget it. As Twilight recited them, the Twilight of old recovered, and no longer was she Twilight Quitter anymore. This scene here reinforces RoH's main moral: The Return of Harmony was the most perilous situation the M6 ever experienced. But Elements or no Elements, Celestia knew how to help tell Twilight from afar how important her friendships with the RM5 are. All without telling her, too. But this moment also enforced a secondary moral, which is just as powerful: Almost seven years after RoH first aired, it still rings so true in the old library, don't you think? Conclusion. Despite writing Twilight as the lead, Larson maintains the importance of their whole friendship. All six matter, and he writes the episode as if they matter. Secondly, Princess Celestia had her best role of the series that wouldn't be usurped until Horse Play. Depending on how she's written, she can be a major force to be reckoned with in the story and have a tremendous impact on the conflict and resolution. Despite appearing in Part 1 and briefly to conclude Part 2, she maintains her presence at the most critical times and was there to help Twilight when she was about to quit. Both parts of The Return of Harmony respectively premiered on September 17 and 24, 2011, and Larson's strokes of genius age brilliantly.
  21. Cutie Marks are an important aspect of the show. They serve as a shorthand to help us immediately understand core aspects of a pony's personality or role, even if they are not given a speaking part in the story. They are often the most recognizable part of a character, to such an extent that when we see a familiar mark on an unfamiliar pony, we tend to take notice. Obviously this is a failing of the medium and not meant to be taken as significant but as a nerd and a Brony, I take it upon myself to be overly analytical of my perky pastel ponies and their society. While it's clear that very little thought was put into the overarching principals of Cutie Mark design by Lauren when she was Show Runner, I expect that some system can be established that can give a general overview of a pony simply by interpreting their cutie mark. I've been met with limited success in this venture so far in my post here but I feel like I'm missing some key aspects. So far, I have accounted for some basic elements of the Cutie Mark, namely the symbols and their position relative to one another but there is more I could use here. ultimately, I want to distribute this system to the four corners of the internet so that content creators can use it to create deep and complex characters with consistency, and to help stem the tides of the dreaded Mary Sues that plague our fan fiction. I intended to begin establishing meanings for Layouts, Color choice and contrast, Imagery and the circumstance in which the mark was earned. All of these things will help creators to home in on their Pony's personality. That said, I can't just make these things up willy nilly and expect them to work. I'll need to set up a database of cutie marks, both cannon an original to create datapoints which I can account for. Obviously some things will simply defy my attempts but I'm still game to try. I hope to conclude this project with an intuitive system that anyone can use. For your perusal, I offer an example of the kinds of things that this system could reveal about a character. I give you Shining Armor! His Cutie Mark is a Dark Blue Heraldic shield with a pink Six-Pointed Star nested inside. This star is Echoed from his sister, Twilight Sparkle. Above the Shield is a Triune of powder blue Five-Pointed Stars which are inherited from his mother, Twilight Velvet. A Shield is a clear indicator of protection and with the Six Pointed star Nested inside, this meaning is reinforced. The six-pointed star has a double meaning in this case as it is simultaneously a strong indicator of Magical talent and Mirrored by his younger sister which indicates her as very important to his talent in some way. The Triune of Five-Pointed stars would normally indicate some interest in astronomy, in this case, since they are Inherited from his mother, their Triune arrangement reinforces a strong affection for her. Taken as a whole, Shining armor appears to be a pony with a strong talent in magical protection who is very protective of his sister and loves his mother dearly. This system is still a work in progress and I hope to have more information to add to it soon! I'll keep you posted!
  22. This is an example of the thought process one can use to reach a conclusion with knowledge we already have, but did not think to consider. It just takes some time and patience. If the brain can store massive quantities of data, why do most people not consciously recall it all? Its because people do not try. All you need is spare time, and recognition of an almost order of operations of logic. In this example I start by asking a question that most would think has no definite objective answer. Then I keep going through a self-critical process of proposals based on reflections and the knowledge it brings to the foreground that I already had but did not know I had. So to simplify. 1. 'unknowable' question 2. reflection 2.a knowledge from reflection 2.b applying the knowledge into the equation 2.c rule it out if it doesn't objectively answer anything 3. repeat 2 til it does objectively answer something 4. add this into the equation permanently 5 repeat 2-5 as needed til the first question is answerable. 6. The answer and its objectively true within the assumptions that 'the world is real'.
  23. Hi! Sunset shimmer here~ today id like to talk about characters who go underused or are never used (ie moon dancer or characters who are used for a episode plot or never appear again except for cameos There are characters who go unused in the show and unlike Background ponies they get forgotten about:( some of the characters do get reused once or twice yet there's potential to keep them around for many episodes (ie daring do) in the case of moondancer there could of been a plot where moondancer sticks around with twi or help her in finding important books or being another student for twi too teach. Just a thought That's about it Thanks for reading! Sunset shimmer out~
  24. Feedback on how I could improve would really help!