I do enjoy the summer tradition that the Equestria Girls sister universe has become, I consider it the Earth 2 on Friendship is Magic. They’ve greatly improved since the first, and being an annual event helps retain its presence. I’m not ready to say I’m tired of them yet, but Rollercoaster of Friendship pulls some smoke and mirrors to make what’s easily the weakest of the Equestria Girls specials still enjoyable with some self-aware entertainment.
So what separates this Equestria Girls special from previous ones is rather than have an overarching, world building main conflict about an all-powerful entity, this one opted to follow a route that feels more like a laid back story from the television series that’s centered around Rarity and Applejack. A new theme park has opened called Equestria Land (using the ole’ brain machine for that one) and they both applied for a job, Rarity as a costume designer and Applejack sought to be a caramel apple vendor. Rarity lands the job while Applejack is declined. As Applejack/Rarity centric conflicts go, one is envious of the other or feels that they’re taking up said occupation or passion project for the wrong reasons.
Applejack is jealous, naturally, but still tries so support Rarity. It’s at this point where we are introduced to Rollercoaster of Friendships’ simultaneously lamest and [second] most amazing antagonist, the trend-seeking internet sensation, Vignette Valencia. This character is like being sprayed with a very light mist of vinegar: you aren’t 100% certain, but something unpleasant just happened. I’m not going to chew this character out because I’m remarkably uncool and the opposite of hip and trendy, but rather she’s perfect villain archetype. She has a penchant for hashtagging everything, constantly using abbreviated speak for terms that sometimes takes me several minutes to decipher what was just told to me (On a side note, the idea behind abbreviating a sentence or a phrase is to be concise. But since some people will explain what it stands for, it rather defeats the purpose), and is incredibly self serving. Her weakness is unlike the amazing Sunset Shimmer’s villainous run or Gloriosa in Legend of Everfree, she has little purpose or drive. Vignette’s penchant for being an internet sensation and pop culture personality, while vaguely topical, isn’t really explored or challenged creatively. I actually had to double check to find out how or why her phone was cursed with Equestrian magic; it just sort of HAPPENED. In the end, she comes off as a significantly less compelling Mark Beaks from Ducktales
Even Applejack’s jealousy for Rarity’s position isn’t particularly harped on, despite it being the catalyst for this special.
Rather Rarity’s frustration with the magnitude of her job causes a greater rift, as she soon becomes rather curt and negligent of the events around her, which a similar plot to when she opened her boutique in Manehattan during season 6. So this is really a RARITY story (I don’t mind, Rarity’s one of my favorites), rather than a shared conflict between her and Applejack, and the latter is kind of left with very little to do after the second act blow-off. She’s upset and all, but plays a bit of an Equestrian Hank Hill role as an out-of-touch country girl that can’t wrap her head around the fads.
So the main plot isn’t particularly strong, and the there isn’t really a plot B or C, other than an amusing, but short-lived side story of Rainbow Dash ironically being terrified of a gigantic roller coaster. That lead to a cute cameo from Megan Williams, gen wun’s human protagonist! I miss her.
Sunset Shimmer and Twilight Sparkle spent a few scenes trying to best the Flim-Flam Brothers in a ring toss carny game that I found pretty funny, as it lead to some great facials from Sunset. Pretty funny, but ultimately felt it was there to pad out the run time.
Poor Fluttershy had so little to do, she was designated with being the first victim of Vignette’s cursed camera phone that teleported them to purgatory.
It did lead to a very funny non-sequitur joke about Vignette’s salad that was just there from the very beginning. I thought that was the funniest callback in the entire special.
And that bit with Rainbow Dash is actually what makes this fairly enjoyable. The stakes aren’t high at all, the dialog indicates that the girls seem to be completely aware of the campy nature of this plot that it’s self-referential, right up to the point that it’s discovered Vignette has been sending them to an abandoned room!
In most instances, I’d go, “Aww, c’mon! What was that!!?” But the anticlimactic resolutions to these not very dire situations just put my mind at ease that we’re watching a serene time summer special. There’s no need to take things all too seriously. Why try to contend with the summer blockbusters like Avengers Infinity War and The Incredibles 2? Equestria Girls is just having some fun goofing around with a hipster villain that uses phone apps to send people to a broom closet.
There was roughly seven minutes left and I was curious to see how this would come to a head. The girls activated their powers, Rarity sent an enerbeam from Sonic Boom Rise of Lyric to break Vignette’s phone…and that was it!!! She learned the error of her ways and sought to make real friends instead or Twitter followers.
In conclusion, this may have been overall lackluster, but it certainly came with its amusement. As Equestria Girls is a rather cheeky entity mostly used to sell a doll line, in ways, it reminds me of the shallow vehicle for commercials my cartoons use to be as a kid and can afford to not have to tell a heavy narrative every time. As long as they continue to be a but of a party, I’ll welcome more.
- Light-hearted and easy to watch
- Rarity freak-outs are always a delight to watch
- Maria Williams showing up in this art style
- Sunset Shimmer kinda takes a back seat this time from being completely amazing
- Poor utilization of the rest of Friendship is Magic’s supporting cast
- May not be interesting if you aren’t into Applejack/Rarity stories