Ah, now for something different; a grown, married man putting aside time to write about My Little Pony Friendship is magic, preferably the two MLP Equestria Girls movies that came out in back to back years. I really do like the show, though I mostly ignored its existence throughout the first two seasons, not for any particular reason. After seeing Rainbow Dash in one of those Death Battles done by Screw Attack, I had to check it out. It’s one of those reboots that outclasses the original in the sense of being more than a one-dimensional vehicle to sell merchandise. I found it to be pretty funny and heartwarming, with the theme of friendship being well utilized throughout the show’s run. There are some episodes in season’s 3 and 4 thatleave a little to be desired, and I haven’t been too keen with Rainbow Dash’s personality as of late. She started out as a tough, tomboyish thrill seeker and she has flat-out become Tigger, not going more than two sentences without saying the word “awesome”.
That being said, I approached the first Equestria Girls movie with caution. I was initially worried that this would give the corner of this fan base the humanized representations of the ponies and reducing them to objects. Simple Google Images searches (with some safety settings) show that artists love to draw what they think the ponies of Equestria would look like as people. And some of the art is very impressive. It really goes to show how much the creativity of various DeviantArt users and various other artists have familiarized themselves with their favorite characters to make a version of them that reflects their personality 100%. Which is why I kind of sputtered a little when I actually got a look at Hasbro’s official designs.
I don’t think they look terrible, but they still have their mane colors as skin tones. I couldn’t help but find that to be a distracting choice. It worked in Doug, with the creator, Jim Jinkins siting that there was no need to bracket his characters into ethnicities because we are all just people and that’s what is important. In Equestria Girl’s case, it just looks weird. Like all you had to do was stretch and pull on the pony models until they looked like crude people, as they retain the same eye shape, but now have funny puppet mouths that ALL MOVE EXACTLY THE SAME, regardless of the character. Then again that holds true to their muzzles, so I think I overanalyzed that.
The other issue, and this is even more apparent when I was finished with the first film, is this goes back to the simple marketing aspect of the 80’s cartoon; Equestria Girls was designed to expand a new line of toys and merch during the season finale break. Suffice to say, the story is nothing special. Once the novelty of seeing Twilight and her friends as teens (by the way, and this is probably an obvious answer, why teenagers? I was always under the impression that the main cast were the human equivalent of ages 22 to 26. Marketing) wears, the plot is barely on par with the multipart stories of the TV show, if not a little less than that. I did get a kick out of Sunset Shimmer, the antagonist of the movie.
She’s petty, vindictive, and carries herself with a bit of flair that I thought Queen Chrysalis would do before she was soundly defeated with any effort. Shimmer’s snobby attitude fits the bill for a MLP antagonist, but not a lot is really done with her as more focus was put on Twilight’s fish-out-of-water jokes with her new human body, and she is pretty much defeated in the same manner as any other villain (at least until Twilight’s Dragonball Z-ish fight with Lord Tirek, which was great), her fate left unknown, and everything is right with the world. The magic used was barely questioned by classmates, laws as to how certain things applied to this version of…dare I say Canterlot… to Canterlot of Twilight’s time. Or why there isn’t a teenage equivalent of Twilight already existing if everyone else is there. Perhaps this is a universe before Twilight moved to Ponyville to work under Celestia? This was a pretty paltry offering with so much hype around it, but enjoyable enough so as long as you are used to the series’ format.
So then Rainbow Rocks comes out close to a year later and addresses the story and characterization issues that held the first movie back. Three sirens, Adagio Dazzle, Aria Blaze, and Sonata Dusk (I love those names) show up at Canter…school, and pretty much instigate fights, driving wedges between people through song and feeding off the negative energy. These three are so cool, I would’ve been honored at the opportunity for them to turn me down if I asked to sit at their lunch table. Sure, their designs are heavily influenced by Monster High, but they certainly carry themselves like rock stars. Their musical numbers are amazing, the best this series has produced and that’s another thing that has improved over the first film is the music. Throughout the first two seasons, Friendship is Magic’s strong point has never been its musical numbers. Seasons 2 and 3 showed drastic improvement with songs from the Flim Flam Brothers in The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 episode and Bad Seed performed by the Cutey Mark Crusaders in One Bad Apple. Rainbow Rocks nails the music perfectly and all the tunes are pretty toe-tapping. Let’s Have a Battle should win some kind of award for how fantastic it is. So until that award is announced, I’ll just take the Stanley Cup and crop my head on to it until a suitable replacement is present.
The other bright star in Rainbow Rocks is Sunset Shimmer (My new favorite character), who in a short span of time became a person I wanted to see more. Since we last saw her, Shimmer was a fiery She Demon that tried to take over the school. Principal Celestia and Luna apparently let bygones be bygones and Shimmer is now a normal student. Humiliated and humbled by her defeat, she now has to wander the halls ostracized by her classmates, unable to fit in. The leads kind of take her in, but remain weary as to whether or not she should be accepted with open arms so soon. The others are cool, doing their own thing as their pony entities would, but Shimmer, being one of the few original characters in the Equestria movies, is entertaining to watch her progress as a personality.
There’s a recurring gag where someone mentions how Shimmer almost took over the school right in front of her and she looks awkward and embarrassed. I found it a tad bit mean-spirited as time went on because it kept happening, mostly from our so-called heroines, whom are bonded by friendship, yet prodded so much, I half expected her to transform into a demon again. Seriously, when did the writing staff decide to make the leads so callous at times? The episode Pinkie Pride, Cheese Sandwich (played amazingly by Weird Al Yankovic) shows up and offers to plan Rainbow Dash’s birthday party, ignoring the fact that she promised Pinkie Pie she could, and she gives the nod, insinuating that Pinkie’s parties are getting boring!!
Anyways, Shimmer is tempted by Adagio at one point when they are causing rifts among The Rainbooms, and Adagio’s logic is pretty sound. They were acting flighty around her, weren’t particularly warm towards her efforts to mend fences, and never did offer her a spot in the band. Showing how much she’s grown, Shimmer decides for the better and realizes that nobody is perfect, even nice people can make mistakes. In the end, she is welcomed to the fold with a signature pony group hug after saving the day! In the end, I really do enjoy both of these movies, though Rainbow Rocks is easily the better, which leaves me feeling pretty good about the future writing of the show, and maybe for future installations in the Equestria Girls series. These have become a nice summer treat to tide fans over until the new season kicks off and if it becomes an annual event, I’m all for it. Rainbow Rocks shows that this can be more than a cash-in and is still Discovery Family’s strongest original show with Transformers Prime done.