In the spirit of being just a little behind the times I've spent the last few days getting through series one of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I never watched the series as a child due to a life threatening allergy to anything remotely girly or pink and as such stayed away from this reboot of the franchise. But then something happened, a good friend of mine told me it was amazing. A male friend. A male 19 year old friend. This confused me enough to investigate the first couple of episodes. And my God, was I hooked.
A lot of criticism, deservedly so can be passed to the original. There was no conflict, any songs were terrible, there was no real characterisation. As mentioned I hated anything that was girly, and there wasn't much that was more girly then 'My Little Pony', so I never saw the original series. For a better idea of it, you may want to check out the nostalgia Chick's review. The Nostalgia Chick - My Little Pony
Friendship is Magic fixes a lot of these problems, not fully though. The conflict started off really promisingly in the first two episodes, there is a lot of build up to the release of Nightmare Moon, and our main character Twilight Sparkle is forced to find a way to defeat her. The ending is a little sweet but this is a kids show so I'm prepared to let that slide, but the villain is made good in the second episode and then no one else replaces her. There is an individual conflict in each episode that genuinely relates to some sort of Sunday school message about racism or being a good sport; but I really feel it's lacking for not having a real villain. The idea that girls don't dig conflict is one I don't get, I don't think that you will loose your audience of little princess just because there is a bit of magic flung at an enemy.
The songs... oh the songs. What can I say about the music. A friend of mine who refuses to let me show him the episodes can't get one of the songs I showed him out of his head to my immense amusement. A real effort has been made to make them enjoyable and catchy, a few fans have in fact remixed several of the songs into techno beats. Bellow is an example of one of the bests.
Aside from the theme song this is the first musical number we get, and my lord what a good way to link into the characterisation. This is where we see the main difference between the old and new. The characterisation is unmistakable and there is no possible way of confusing say Fluttershy for Rainbow dash or Pinky Pie. Pinky Pie is incidentally the character singing, and to quote my friend Adrian's favorite line from the show, 'Pinky Pie you so random'. I don't really know how to describe her, I think most of the images in the video clip speak for itself so I will not focus on the other characters.
Rainbow Dash is a fast tomboyish, and rather proud, but never seriously, sports fiend. Fluttershy is the opposite the animal lover and soft spoken shy one in the group... you may have noticed that the names reflect the personalities slightly, and by slightly I mean simply restating it in condensed form. From this we look at AppleJack, a country hard working girl with a strong accent. A friend of mine watched the episode on racism and made the point that the most racist pony seemed to be Applejack the 'redneck pony', whilst I did giggle at this I don't think it holds up too much weight. As for the plot to work they needed one of the ponies with a younger sibling, and the only one at that time with an established younger sibling was Applejack. Latter on however we would be introduced to the little sis of Rarity, a prim and proper designer. Finally we have our main character, the only one whose name doesn't seem to represent her character at all Twilight Sparkle. Our main character and a serious and studious book worm. There is even a large variety of side characters with personalities on which I won't go in to.
As the characterisation is so strong it should come as no surpise that I had viewed the writing as the real difference between this show and the original My Little Pony. There have been a number of writers who worked on the first season and all seem very talented, but the cohesion of the whole show had made me believe there was a single writer, so I instead checked out the wikepedia entry and found the driving force behind it appears to have been the animator Lauren Faust. Who had previously worked on Fosters Home for imaginary Friends and Powerpuff Girls. Both shows that have had popularity with demographics older than their intended audience as such it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that this has been more popular with 19-24 year old males than the 9-12 female demographic it was aimed at. With things such as references to Benny Hill. Yet, as with many things that develop unexpected success, it really lies in controversy.
Originally coming under fire for negative undertones of racism... because in the first episode the bad pony is black and the white one good (I really don't think this person watched more then five minutes of it) fourchan's creator saw the controversy and started to investigate. This led to the flooding of meme's of the ponies on fourchan which then continued to spread through the adult audiences. Proving yet again that if you hate something and find it offensive, the best thing you can do is to ignore it rather than publicly crucify it.
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