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So, Equestria Girls has come quite a ways since it's debut in the movie of the same name. Since them we've had four movies, three specials, one longer special, and various shorts. Movies Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks Friendship Games Legend of Everfree Specials Dance Magic Movie Magic Mirror Magic Forgotten Friendship Shorts Summertime Shorts Better Together Rainbow Rocks/Friendship Games/etc Music Videos Choose Your Own Ending Minis As you can see, even though not everything has been long, we've got a decent amount of material in regards to animation. So; which is your favorite? Do your prefer one of the movies? Do one of the shorts do better? Or is it one of the specials that appeal to you? For me, it's a close contest between Friendship Games and Forgotten Friendship; with the strongest possibly being the latter. While Friendship Games does a great job acting as the closing chapter in Sunset's redemption arc, Forgotten Friendship really puts her in much more stressful environment, while having likable secondary characters (Trixie!!!) and having stronger ties to the pony world. How about you?
Compared to the previous 4 movies, the three specials we got feel like a complete failure of an iteration of the series. SPECIFICALLY, they failed to move the series forward in any way: the last 4 movies all progressed the series in some way or another, allowing for a build up of some sort to the next installment. These specials though feel like they were spinning their wheels, and do not progress the "narrative" of the equestria girls universe. EQG 1: Introduces the human world and its existence. RR redeems sunset and sets up her being a part of the group, FG does the same with twilight, and then LOE introduces the concept of all of them having magical abilities and being magical girls of some sort. However, these three specials feel very slice of life-ish for the first 2 and fail to establish any real impetuous or push in the third one behind the importance of them possessing magic or there being a present magical threat to their world. Now, I found the Specials to be more enjoyable than I was expecting (about 6-7/10), so don't think I'm saying "THE QUALITY OF THESE WAS S***". Rather, the issue is that they stagnated the series rather than progressed it, and didn't even have the decency to knock it out of the park with a 10/10 slice of life for the first 2. Examine Sunset's doubts at the start of Mirror magic: She SPECIFICALLY notes that what's weighing on her mind is them having magic and wonders if there's a PURPOSE behind them having magic. This SHOULD have built up to their magic being shown to be a neccessary component to their world and that there's a real and pressing threat that them having magic is NEEDED to combat. The climax then should have had a Magical threat that they had to use all of their super powers to defeat in a magical girl manner, affirming the importance of them as a group and them as a group having magic: But the OPPOSITE happened: 1. The magical threat had no Importance or focus put on it. it was just a "Oh, hey, that happened", not a "This is a harbinger of further troubles" or "we've got a job to do in the future". Juniper having a magic mirror was just treated in a "well, that was weird, haha" kind of way rather than forboding of possible trouble to come. This fails to advance the subplot of the magical whisps seen at the end of LOE in a meaningful manner. 2. Their having magic was COMPLETELY Pointless, and if anything MADE THINGS WORSE. the answer that sunset was Posing of "Why do we have these powers and is their a purpose behind it"? Is NEVER ANSWERED. The villain is defeated by Talking, and if anything their magic made the problem WORSE due to them inadvertantly turning Juniper into a giant that threw crap around. This is the absolute OPPOSITE of what the series should have done to answer sunset's Question. The mane seven could have never had magic in the first place and the solution would have turned out the same: just have a non-magical talk from starlight, magic or no magic. If they are going to make them magical girls with magical powers, which the series has dove in on the idea of, they have to actually *ACCOMPLISH* things with their magic. The specials sadly did not tease anything for the future or set up future arcs or questions: This is a big problem, as to make the series continue to feel fresh and grow, each iteration MUST build up something new and lay a groundwork for the future: if you fail to Evolve the series with each iteration, you run the risk of spinning your wheels in stagnation. Unless Starlight and Juniper are joining the group (Which I highly doubt), there was nothing Laid down or set up for the future of the series. I honestly want to see this series succeed, but they need to do better and realize that they got to keep building the series as a whole to turn it into its own property.
Good evening everypony, and welcome back to yet another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! Tonight I'll be looking at the three recent EQG "shorts" (only in the sense that rather than feature length films they were simply episode-length affairs) "Dance Magic," "Movie Magic," and "Mirror Magic." These will all be included in one review since, unlike my normal fare, the reviews for all three of these should be considerably shorter. Without further ado, let's dive in, this is "Equestria Girls: 'Dance Magic,' 'Movie Magic,' and 'Mirror Magic'."!!! "Dance Magic" The first one of these was easily my least favorite, despite some WILDLY entertaining bits to it. "Dance Magic" was like if you took the first EQG movie and condensed all of its problems and positives into a 22 minute episode; wildly entertaining and fun in some moments, but mind numbingly stupid in others. The plus side is that Rarity actually got featured here, and as far as her performance goes, she was spot on. Tabitha could do this role in her sleep at this point and any "Rarity moments" were pretty much perfect; Human Rarity crying on a fainting couch in her room, eating ice cream when she was sad and making sad-nomming noises, just getting WONDERFULLY over-the-top whenever she got in a mood, I loved all of that start to finish. Rebecca Shoichet got to sing at one point as Sunset and, even though I couldn't have cared less about the song itself (and neither did Daniel Ingram from the way it sounded, seriously, sounded like he churned that thing out in an afternoon, if that), hearing Rebecca sing in her normal singing voice is ALWAYS a joy, I mean, just wowwwwwwww her voice is gorgeous. It was cool that they were continuing on from "Legend of the Everfree" by having the girls raise money for Camp Everfree to fix it up, I really did like that detail. Besides that and the fact that the voice cast in general is always a joy to listen to, I didn't really dig much else. For starters, for the first half, Rarity was... kind of stupid. Like, take her naivety in "Rarity Takes Manehattan" (a FAR superior showing compared to this, and behavior which is far more forgivable in the context of that episode) and amplify it times ten. I mean, she goes and straight up blurts what she plans on doing for this music video contest to girls who she not only knows WILL be competing against them, but have been... well, for lack of a better way of putting it, kind of bitchy in the past (while I'm on the subject of the Crystal Prep girls, WHERE THE BUCK WAS THE RAINBOW DASH/LIGHTNING DUST CANTERLOT PREP DOPPLEGANGER??? There were supposed to be five of them but there were only four, where the buck did she disappear off to, seriously???). I have no idea why she thought that was a good idea for one moment. To be fair she fesses up that it was her fault later on, so she at least realizes her error, but that doesn't excuse how stupid it was. In the second half, it was the rest of the girls who were kind of idiotic. They kept throwing out ridiculously stupid ideas for the music video, and I get that they were just trying to lighten the mood, EXCEPT this was not just money they were trying to win just for themselves, THIS was money they were trying to raise for bucking Camp Everfree, SO TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY GIRLS, especially after you blew all the money you'd already raised on costumes for the music video! Not to mention that the girls decided for some reason that they NEEDED to use their Equestria-horse anthro powers (whatever)... for the music video. I will never like those anthro designs, but I am at a point where I can accept the girls using those powers when they need to, but this???? This hardly seems like a situation that calls for those powers at all. The ending was also ridiculously telegraphed; it's not like MLP isn't oftentimes somewhat predictable in where episodes are going, but usually the execution of it isn't. You can often see where an episode will end up, but not usually how it will. Here, the second I heard stuff like that the prize was TWICE as much as they needed for Camp Everfree, and that the Crystal Prep girls were trying to raise money for their school dance (which, I'm sorry, I don't really care about that "plight," their gym can't be all that bad when Crystal Prep is a super exclusive private school, so I can't imagine it'd be an awful place to have a dance, even if it wasn't a yacht), I knew that the two groups were going to join forces to earn the prize and split it 50/50, and lo and behold whaddya know, THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED! So yeah, like I said, this was the first EQG movie condensed into a 22 minute episode in terms of quality. Entertaining in certain spots, but very mehhhhh overall because it didn't really feel like something that the DHX crew cared about making, it felt like something they might have assigned to new hires or even interns just to do or as a first time project. I'm not trying to be overly critical, it's just not particularly good, and if that's what an EQG show would ever look like... yeah, sorry, I'll pass on that. "Movie Magic" "Movie Magic" was better than "Dance Magic," but oddly more forgettable, probably because there was as little to love as there was to hate in it. The best way I can describe it is that it was essentially an MLP episode meets Scooby Doo, no joke, I'm not even kidding. The Humane 7 "gang" basically has to solve a mystery of some sort (not a particularly good one, again, like "Dance Magic" the ending was terribly telegraphed), which mostly Sci-Twi and Rainbow tackle. I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of "movie-studio" episodes in kids show, or when cartoons depict movie productions, they just feel a little... too close to the showmakers' actual culture, like, you know they're a part of this culture so they're going to be super tongue in cheek about a lot of stuff. That kind of happened here, with the usual cliches like a drama queen actress being bitchy for a lot of the episode, a jealous assistant/relative of the director, and all types of "whacky" sights on set. Seen it before, never been a big fan of it before, and not really a fan of it here. I will admit that I kind of liked the director since he didn't come off as a jerk, just a nice guy who genuinely was really stressed out and had a lot on his hands to juggle (his tearing apart his niece at the end after she got caught was pretty satisfying too). Same with when it first got brought up in "Dance Magic," I am REALLY not a fan of Daring Do and A.K. Yearling pretty much existing in the exact same way in the human MLP world as they do in Equestria, that just seems... forced. Like, I can accept a lot of the parallels between the two worlds, but that is REALLY starting to stretch it, as is the idea that Rainbow Dash is the super fan of her here as well. Having there be human counterparts is one thing, but making them virtually identical in how they behave AND what has happened to them in critical ways, that's another. Granted, even that didn't bother me as much as the Power Ponies bit. In a bid just to put them in some superhero costumes (a very lazy excuse for doing so if you ask me) the girls stumble onto a superhero movie set and it turns out to be for... Power Ponies. Like, no joke, the director says POWER PONIES!!! WHY??? Why are they called that in this world??? There's absolutely nothing about them that looks or screams ponies in this world! I know that a lot of the pony puns have carried over from Equestria to this world, but the Power Ponies one makes no bucking sense. So ya wanna know why it exists? Because the writers didn't want to come up with a new name because they cared more about just getting the girls into the costumes to begin with to make them look more interesting. The final scene where the girls got to be in the film was pretty entertaining, but overall, while this was technically better than "Dance Magic," it was, like I said, something I'll barely be able to remember going forward. "Mirror Magic" OK... wow. Just... wow. In all the right ways, I am VERY happy to say! The bad news is that "Mirror Magic" is clearly the only one of these three that DHX gave a shit about or that any bronies should give a shit about. The good news is that DHX gave a shit about it in ALL the right ways! If "Dance Magic" is the episode equivalent of the first EQG film, then "Mirror Magic" is the episode equivalent of "Rainbow Rocks." It's the only one REALLY worthy your time and has anything any of us have ever actually loved about the EQG movies. Let's list them, shall we? 1. Sunset Shimmer is the focus of "Mirror Magic," not any of the other Humane 7. The Humane 7 (including Sci-Twi) may be human versions of our beloved Equestrian characters, but they are NOT the same characters as them and never have been. The worst consequence of this is that we've never had the same connection to them as we do the pony versions, so they've never really served well as THE main characters of any EQG property. Every time they're in the spotlight in a major way they feel like cardboard cutouts of their Equestrian counterparts, caricatures of them. The less focus on that, the better. Sunset Shimmer, on the other hand, has always been the most interesting character in any EQG property, bar none, and I am always happy to see anything EQG focused on her first and foremost. It's a big reason that "Rainbow Rocks" is the best EQG movie to date, and as big of a reason that "Mirror Magic" is far and away the best of these episodes. As a result of Sunset Shimmer being the focus, the rest of the Humane 7 fill the roles they're best suited for in EQG; supplemental supporting roles, and they're GREAT when they're like that! They're not distracting, they still have some fun lines (Pinkie Pie was particularly good here), and they do just enough to help out overall without it feeling forced. This is EQG in its wheelhouse and I have no idea why this is still hard for them to do. I know they probably don't want to ALWAYS be focused on Sunset, but I'm sorry, she still remains the only actually interesting original character to this property with the only really interesting ideas to explore, ESPECIALLY because of her Equestrian origins. Without the Equestrian ties (which none of the other girls have), all you're left with is a bunch of human knockoffs of our ponies, and that's no fun! If this were an actual "Ed, Edd, n' Eddy" reference, that'd be pretty bucking awesome Me every time Sunset Shimmer is the focus of EQG 2. Sunset Shimmer meets Starlight Glimmer. I REPEAT, SUNSET SHIMMER MEETS STARLIGHT GLIMMER AND IT IS PURE JOY AND OH MY GOSH HOW HAS THE WORLD NOT IMPLODED FROM THIS MUCH AWESOME?!?!?! Every brony when this happened Wow, let me tell you, everything with these two was bucking perfection. Sunset going back to Equestria was the true highlight of all of this, and I had not realized just how much I missed seeing her in pony form (especially since this is the first time we ever got to see her as a pony as a good character and not a villain). Dear Lord did they take advantage of giving her "cross-dimensional" jet lag after being in the human world for so long. Her standing on two pony legs (adorably), not remembering how to pick things up with her hooves and forgetting to use her magic until she remembered she had a horn, THAT was funny and kind of tragic on some levels. She is increasingly getting out of touch with her Equestrian roots, and it made me even fear where her story is going. I'm calling it right now, I think that the ultimate way they're going to ensure that magic doesn't keep leaking from Equestria into the human world is to cut off all ties to it (you just have to believe that Twilight's 24/7 portal is causing all kinds of magical imbalance shit leading to that), which will mean that at that point, Sunset has to decide between staying in the human world or going back to Equestria, and I have to believe she'd stay in the human world. It'd be a tragic but fulfilling way for her to discover and fulfill her destiny, and I'd love it as much as I'd hate it on a sad level (mostly because we wouldn't get more pony Sunset, but also because she'd never get to come back to her home, unless of course they went with the whole "this is her true home now" angle, though she still seems to often miss Equestria and want at times to go back, so who knows what'll happen). Anyways, besides that, her and Starlight hitting it off was adorable, Starlight coming back with her (behind Twilight's back no less) was even more adorable and hilarious, and the two essentially becoming "reformed-villains" besties was THE GREATEST!!! I could keep going on and on, but seriously, just watch it for yourself, if you need any more convincing that this was amazing then you probably haven't seen enough of either of these characters to begin with. 3. ACTUAL MAGIC SHIT GOING ON THAT I GAVE A SHIT ABOUT! OK, this magic mirror wasn't that interesting (although the idea of them being stuck in the mirror in that mirror limbo or disappearing into nothingness once it was destroyed was pretty creepy) but it was at LEAST some Equestrian stuff! I didn't give two shits about their "problems" in the first two episodes because they were ALL human-world problems, no Equestrian stuff whatsoever. This was at least an interesting issue at hoof with actual Equestrian roots. Sure the villain wasn't that good (although I will say that Juniper Montage was AT LEAST a better villain than bucking Principal Cinch from "Friendship Games," and her reform was handled pretty well), but the mirror itself was pretty creepy overall. I can take the villain only so seriously when shit like THIS happens! 4. A solid conclusion overall, with Starlight Glimmer doing a pretty bang up job convincing Juniper to give friendship and forgiveness a chance (with an especially fun and amusing joke from Pinkie Pie about just how many of their friends are reformed villains who've been forgiven). Pfffftttt, and this is why I bite my ice cream It's pretty easy to see that this was the only one of these three episodes TRULY worth anyone's time, though the other two are worth seeing if only to get some context for this one as well as to see how much better "Mirror Magic" is than the other two. I came away from this for the first time since "Rainbow Rocks" genuinely happy to actually accept EQG stuff as canon in the greater MLP universe. Playing around with how you could connect the two worlds, giving as much of the spotlight to Sunset Shimmer and her story as you can, getting characters like Starlight involved, THIS is everything I want to see and more in EQG! I wish they wouldn't run from stuff like this in other EQG stuff, but as long as there is even a promise of more spotlight being put on Sunset Shimmer, bring on more EQG, I say!!! Other than that, not too much else to say. That's all I've got for you, everypony, until next time this is Batbrony signing off! I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit*
Okay, so "Dance Magic" was a fluke. This second short, "Movie Magic," is still low-stakes and impersonal, but it's a lot funnier than the first short, and makes much better use of both the Rainbooms' character traits and some of their magical powers as well. While I may dream of nuanced character arcs and satisfying narrative payoff, all I really ask of My Little Pony in all forms is that it's entertaining. I always felt that "Movie Magic" had the most potential of these shorts, and although it would benefit from being a bit snappier story-wise, the pacing is still brisk enough, and there's enough fun jokes and neat character moments this time around to entertain. Nice! When Rainbow Dash & friends are invited to the set of the new Daring Do movie, some carefully-selected props approved by Daring Do author A.K. Yearling are stolen, and the Canterlot High girls immediately set out to find the props and save the movie. That's about it, really, and the mystery is both too obvious and too easily resolved to excite. For the most part, the characters are simply running after shadows, and while there's a little bit of sleuthing, most of it is inconclusive, and when the Rainbooms actually find the culprit, it's largely by accident, and primarily based on a single piece of evidence. Narratively, that's not especially satisfying, and like "Dance Magic," the plot stops dead in its tracks for a comedic digression, this time featuring those old Power Ponies costumes. Still, in the context of Equestria Girls's increased focus on superpowers, that's a fairly apt reference, and at one point we even get to see Twilight using her power to pick a lock while in full costume. It's a pretty cute reference even if I'm not super impressed by such callbacks, and thankfully it's accompanied by some relatively fun use of the mane seven's powers. I'm not super excited about that permanent magical element to begin with, but if it's here to stay, I'm glad it's used in fun ways. Pinkie Pie gets more lines this time around, and that does a lot to make the special more entertaining. At one point, she reveals there's a cupcake mountain on-set, and in another scene, she chugs chocolate pudding straight from the bucket, which might have been less amusing were it anyone else but feels perfectly in-character for Pinkie. Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle also stand out, as their enthusiasm for Daring Do brings a lot of energy to the episode and allows for a few solid gags. Twilight in particular seems to be rapidly improving with each special, and while she doesn't quite take command yet, she's noticeably more confident here, which helps a lot with making her feel like her pony counterpart. While those three are the highlights, everyone gets their fair share of good lines, and even Sunset displays a little more personality than usual. All the new characters around the movie set are fun as well. The role of Daring is being played by Chestnut Magnifico, a stereotypically demanding movie star who is revealed to have environmentalist leanings, and whom both Rarity and Fluttershy want badly to meet. While Chestnut isn't a particularly deep or unique character, she has a commanding screen presence, and it's fun to watch her stomp around the set grumpily when things aren't going well. Film director Canter Zoom is even less distinctive, but he's amiable and has some solid lines, so it's fun to watch him dealing with all the chaos on-set. Both of these characters are used sparingly enough that they don't outstay their welcome, which is especially good because neither is especially well-developed. The most significant new character is Canter's niece Jupiter Montage, who is adorably enthusiastic in her few scenes, and who turns out to be the ultimate culpript. Her reasons for sabotaging the movie set are petty, but the special never suggests we're supposed to sympathize with her. The scene where she's caught seems to exist partially to set up the next episode, and the motivation dump doesn't add much to her character, but it serves its purpose well enough. In any case, she too is used sparingly here, and she's charming enough in her early roles even if it's pretty obvious that she's the villain. On top of all the solid lines, there's also some nice visual gags, and the episode does a lot more with its improved animation than "Dance Magic." I've already mentioned Pinkie's gluttonous pudding consumption, as well as the Power Ponies costumes, but there's also a lot of enjoyable facial expressions, and some fun moments of slapstick like Rarity getting hit by Chestnut's trailer door. Furthermore, the actual area of the Daring Do set is nicely designed, even if certain cuts make the geography unclear, and the scenes which represent the movie itself are energetic, filled with detail, and generally a lot of fun to watch. Finally, a couple brief scenes near the middle feature the Rainbooms chasing after Juniper, and while they maintain the pace, they're not really imaginative or tense enough to be satisfying. That mostly comes down to the mystery not being very compelling, however. With a better storyline to tie it all together, this could have been the epitome of what Equestria Girls could be, but even as is, it's a fun step in the right direction which checks most of the boxes for what I want from this show. It has hints of what the girls are interested in, it's frequently funny, and it demonstrates what familiar stuff from the show looks like in the human world. I still crave more personal stories and character development from this series, but for now this is a very entertaining addition which I hope leads to better things in the future, maybe even in series form. All I really ask of My Little Pony is to entertain me. "Movie Magic" delivers on that front, and for now that's enough. Score: Entertainment: 8/10 Characters: 9/10 Themes: 5/10 (honestly, I'm not sure if this even counts; Equestria Girls has never cared about moralizing.) Story: 6/10 Overall: 70/100 You can find more like this at my offsite blog.