Sunday, October 15, 2017

MLP:FIM Review - Secrets and Pies (S7, E23, P156, OE166)

Overtime with episodes like Parental Glideance and Campfire Tales, Rainbow Dash has improved herself as well developed character after Season 6 disasters like 28 Pranks Later had terribly derailed her for the worst. The same great development can also be said for Pinkie Pie what with anything from Season 6, minus P.P.O.V. (Pony Point of View), and in this season as well with installments like Rock Solid Friendship and Daring Done?. But now that Secrets and Pies has aired, based on it's plot description before I watched it, it's exactly how I thought it turned out to be; a recipe for disaster.

Pinkie Pie has been giving homemade pies to Rainbow Dash for years, but is shocked to find that Rainbow has apparently thrown her latest one away. After investigating around Ponyville and Wonderbolt headquarters, Pinkie realizes that Rainbow has never actually eaten any of the pies she has made and has been lying about enjoying them. After several attempts to get Rainbow to eat a pie, Pinkie finally catches her in the act of getting rid of one and publicly accuses her of the deception. Rainbow admits to Twilight Sparkle and Applejack that she dislikes all pies, not just Pinkie's, and realizes that saying so to Pinkie's face would have been devastating to her. Rainbow bakes a huge, disgusting pie and prepares to eat it in front of Pinkie as an apology for lying to her, but Pinkie stops her, having understood that each has been trying to make the other happy. The two agree to be more honest with each other in the future.

Secrets and Pies was an episode that was already DOA just from its plot synopsis before it aired on TV (or leaked out online) - so DOA that I'm just flabbergasted by how writer Josh Hamilton went from a fairly average writer what with Parental Glideance and Triple Threat, to an absolutely terrible one now that he's aired this atrocity of an episode. I mean I had high suspicion that this episode would end up failing and I felt I had highly psychic predictions as I just kept on watching it. So for the two main characters themselves; how the heck could Pinkie come with all those ridiculous excuses to give Rainbow Dash all those pies?! And WHY THE HECK is Rainbow Dash a loathesome liar towards everyone besides Pinkie?!?!

There is no redeeming value you have for such a disaster as Secrets and Pies when you have our two main characters of the plot flawed in so many senses. Pinkie's suspicious stalking on Rainbow Dash? Totally weird. Rainbow Dash disposing of Pinkie's pies behind her back when she clearly often notices? Yeah, like that's totally reasonable (when it's actually NOT)! The episode's moral telling you it's okay to dislike something for (absolutely) no reason? Not a lesson for even kids to learn since SaP delivers it in the worst way possible. And Pinkie's fantasy of an EVIL Rainbow Dash destroying all of her pies? Far more disturbing than Flutterbat and Bloom & Gloom combined - and it's guaranteed to give your children more nightmares than even King Sombra!

Even with fairly remarkable portrayals from Twilight and Applejack, Secrets and Pies is undeniably a huge step in the wrong direction for both Pinkie and Rainbow Dash. After all the solid portrayals Rainbow Dash has had starting with Top Bolt after her worst portrayal ever that is 28 Pranks Later, it's just no real wonder that she could suddenly just go down south just when the season was about to end with her reaching great levels of characterization on a good note. And Pinkie may have done slightly better, but unfortunately, this is where she also went downhill, if not quite as badly as Dashie just now did. While both still remain good characters by the end of the season what with the redeeming finale, when it comes down to it, I really felt far sorrier for Pinkie by the end of SaP's plot than I ever felt for Rainbow Dash since you end up rooting for Pinkie more based on the plot revolving around her mainly.

While the graphics and sound departments haven't been touched to any bad extent and still remain solid for the eyes and ears, everything else about it just makes for one of Friendship Is Magic's biggest stinkers. A horrendous humilation as both an episode, and a reflection on Rainbow Dash and Pinkie's characterization in Season 7, Hamilton should be absolutely ashamed of himself for putting out this travesty.

MLP:FIM - Season 7 Episodes Revisited

Friendship Is Magic's 7th season has proven itself to be surprisingly good, even with a few small twists and turns along the lines of its library of episodes. As time progresses on however, opinions on episodes, besides my own, often change. So for this post, I've looked back on a few episodes that have had a few major changes along the path to the very end of Season 7. In case you're wondering, yes, I have watched the last three episodes of the season when the leaked out online shortly after Once Upon a Zeppelin, and I've locked in my final thoughts on them as well, but for now, let's look at those episodes that have bogged down ratings from the last time I reviewed them.

One last note I must make is that any episodes that have earned just half a star more than what I originally gave it upon first reviewing them will only be mentioned via my newly made rating photos of them - so don't expect me to be going into detail as to why any episodes that I've given just a smaller bit of extra credit to are better than upon my first viewing of them...

At the time Season 7 started, I had high hopes for the normal length premiere since it was supposed to give Celestia some spotlight in character development. But unlike Celestial Advice, its sequel All Bottled Up falls flat in many ways. I originally gave it three stars total, but looking at the things that have bogged it down badly, like the Mane Six's pointless act, and especially Trixie Lulamoon's brutally obnoxious personality - in that sense, you could basically label her as the one-dimensional Discord as much as you could consider Starlight to playing Sunset's main role of learning friendship in Equestria rather than in the human world - are what I can't look past for the sake of its reputation. The solid moral and Starlight's portrayal still remain untouched as there's literally no faults with them, but an atrociously forgettable song in the Mane Six's act and Trixie herself make Lewis' & Songco's 7th episode (they've chronologically written) just dislikable.

If you regularly observe me and Zack Wanzer the Railfan Brony overtime, you can obviously tell we have common ratings and opinions on any episodes of Friendship Is Magic mainly after the first four seasons of the series. Whilst we both have considered Fluttershy Leans In to be an episode worthy of five full stars, my opinion on it has changed overtime since Discordant Harmony. Most notably, fans have often panned (or just criticized) the episode for being far too boring and adding nothing new to the series. Now while I must admit most of the more entertaining episodes like Daring Done? and Shadow Play just fascinate me more, I kinda have to add that (much like movies) entertainment isn't EVERYTHING in an episode. But getting back to my new thoughts on FLI, it's not so much anything's change in my judgement on it what with its great character-developing plot for Fluttershy, it's more of the fact that newer episodes that aired onward just detract me so much from it, that they almost put it's interesting factor to shame. Still an excellent episode, but just not all that fascinating compared to a lot of others that just had more creative stories and ideas.

I've already claimed Fame and Misfortune to be terrible enough (at only a star and a half) since not only did it live up to the 2nd half of its title "Misfortune" that is, but also that it was a direct insult on the brony fandom. In fact, writer M.A. Larson stated during a convention that it wasn't meant to be an insult to us bronies in that sense and that he's not a fan of it, but whether or not that is the case as he stated it to be, that doesn't make it any less terrible. Because honestly, the more I think about how strongly offensive this stinker was to the fandom, the more hatred I'm throwing upon it. I may not have criticized anyone who wasn't a background character (or the Crusaders or Toola Roola & Coconut Cream to an extent) even slightly, but a cliched story with mean-spirited acts thrown upon the Mane Six and especially the worst song in Friendship Is Magic history in the very last few minutes make for one of the all time worst MLP episodes that deserves to stand amongst ANYPONY's Top 10 Overall Worst of the Series.

And before I sign off with this post, here are a few episodes that gained just slightly higher ratings (only an extra half a star from their original ratings that is) than I once gave them mostly for me wanting to rank them above other entries of the season:

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 13, 2017

MLP:FIM Review - Once Upon a Zeppelin (S7, E22, P155, OE165)

The Sparkle family outside of Twilight, Shining Armor, and Cadence of course haven't gotten much attention like the Apples' or Rainbow Dash's parents in the season most recently have. For Once Upon a Zeppelin, that's where we finally got some development out of them, if not technically on any levels of wonderful like Applejack, Apple Bloom, and Big Mac's deceased parents as told in The Perfect Pear. It was another potential episode that had some promise to it the way I think about it, but even if it's technically not favorable, there's at least something to love about it.

Twilight learns that her parents have won a free zeppelin cruise for the whole family and, at Spike's suggestion, joins them to take a break from her royal duties. Shortly upon boarding, Twilight discovers the cruise to be a themed vacation experience hosted by Iron Will where the other passengers pay to spend time with her, invading her family's privacy. Not wanting to disappoint anybody, Twilight agrees to personally attend to the passengers so the rest of her family can enjoy their planned activities. In doing so, however, she misses a rare celestial event and is heartbroken. Cadance consoles Twilight, telling her the importance of setting aside time for herself. The passengers agree to respect Twilight's boundaries and turn against Iron Will for manipulating them, allowing Twilight to spend the rest of her family vacation in peace.

Obviously Twilight's better improving upon her character throughout the season after Season 6's disasters on her characterization that are No Second Prances and The Times They Are A Changeling. Once Upon a Zeppelin does have its fair share of good moments; ranging from Twilight's moments of standing up against Iron Will, to showing her desire of spending time with her family - even if all things don't go as according to plan by her. The plot might be well paced, but the episode itself sadly isn't without fault.

Some of my main concerns is about Twilight's parents; why did their voices change from their own children they had in the Season 6 premiere? And why are they a little weird also? Those questions I both have to ask, but that being said, at least they aren't on the same levels of weird as Rainbow Dash's parents. But I just wish they could've been done more interestingly in terms of personality. Any newer characters don't interest me throughout, but Star Tracker, while sometimes slipping up to feel reasonably awkward around Twilight, does get pretty annoying and is one such character I'd rather forget. That's not to say it makes the episode unwatchable, but it does make the plot an extremely bizarre one to sit through. 

Focusing back on the good things though, Zeppelin as always provides some impressive visuals via the shooting star Twilight misses (as seen in the photo above obviously), and the moral comes off as a good one, but that's sadly not to say it's absolutely superb as Iron Will may have made for some funny moments (along with Shining Armor acting airsick), and Cadence and Flurry Heart do make things seem adorable, but all the while characters like Star Tracker (as I said) don't make it one of the greatest of the main series, and Twilight's parents haven't become more interesting even with all the development they got throughout the episode (but that's just cause they've only gotten started on some real characterization). Even with my grudges put aside, a nicely paced plot, good humor, and another friendship lesson that's definitely worth learning make it reasonably good installment for Season 7, if not a *great* one.

MLP:FIM Review - Marks and Recreation (S7, E21, P154, OE164)

The Cutie Mark Crusaders have always had stellar roles even if not all of their episodes come out as favorable. And with writer May Chan, she was off to a terrible start in the season with Not Asking for Trouble. With the most recent (and final installment of Season 7) being Marks and Recreation, there's been a bit of mix up with its reception that it could be another divisive episode amongst the series (and the fandom) as a whole. And while it's far from the best of the Crusaders, not to mention the season, I'll say it's one of the best that deserves any bits of praise it gets.

The Cutie Mark Crusaders open a day camp where "blank flank" foals may try new activities and discover their special talents. Rumble, the younger brother of Wonderbolt Thunderlane, appears to do poorly in every activity he tries, concerning the Crusaders. When they attempt to console him, Rumble angrily tells them his desire to remain a blank flank, convinced that cutie marks limit ponies to only performing their talents. He quickly rallies the other campers to his side, splitting off into a new camp where they can avoid doing anything that would produce a cutie mark, which quickly bores the campers. The Crusaders speak to Thunderlane to reason with his seemingly irrational brother, only for Thunderlane to reveal Rumble's excellence in most of the activities they have tried at camp. Realizing that Rumble is trying to avoid finding a talent that would keep him from his passion for flying, the Crusaders invite Thunderlane to participate in the camp's activities with the campers and prove how he excels in other things besides flying, and helping Rumble overcome his fear of trying new things.

Thanks to great story that paces together Rumble's role and the Crusaders, Marks and Recreation has one the most well paced stories of the titular trio. Followed by some of its best moments are those that come from Rumble's brother Thunderlane, who does great in his role when he plays one in changing Rumble's thoughts on wanting a cutie mark. The Crusaders all remain their excellent selves as they've always been in every season (in spite of maybe one slip up or two in Seasons 1 and 3 - I'm looking at you two, Stare Master and Just for Sidekicks), and even though he was only a minor cameo role in Season 2's Hurricane Fluttershy who only spoke slightly, Rumble was well done here, even if his persona does come off as a little too mean-spirited to watch, but it at least makes sense considering cutie marks almost mean like you do one thing above anything else.

One of the things the episode lacks however is a memorable song. Rumble's on wanting to avoid a cutie mark isn't that interesting to listen to more than once even if it suits the situation it plays makes sense also. The concept does come out as an interesting one however even if it needs another episode to come out as one of my favorites; the Cutie Mark Day Camp which is another thing that makes sense for the Crusaders to run in order to live up to their names to help other ponies discover their true calling in life.

Adding yet another good moral of learning to try new things without worrying, a well constructed plot that a lot of young kids can relate to (at least for those that went to camps at wanting try some cool and interesting things), and more great moments from the Crusaders add up to a strong, if imperfect start for CMC episodes to come. Rumble still has a ways to go to build up to his cutie mark, which is kind of a let down that he didn't really get his in this chapter, but it also makes sense that rushing something like this so soon bogs a good episode down badly. All things put aside, it's worth at least a watch even if it doesn't appeal to you (since we're all obviously different).

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

MLP:FIM - After the Fact ~ WatchMojo's Top 10 Episodes (7th Anniversary Special)

If you've observed any of my introductions to this blog's countdowns, it indicates that I'm clearly a sucker for a lot of WatchMojo videos. That being said, it's time to take a look at my thoughts on THEIR Top Ten Best Episodes of the Series so far. I'll be doing a retrospect on these episodes to see how my view on any of them have changed and if you are to ask me on what I think of their opinion, I can honestly say it's respectable, but sometimes I feel they could've picked worse. 

Along with Crusaders of the Lost Mark, Slice of Life has to be MLP's most overrated episode because of how too many fans adore it only because it shines some spotlight on the background ponies. And really, I can sometimes understand why many die hard fans just love it that much, but you know what? Nowadays, I can no longer look past the lack of development that *shines a spotlight* on nearly every character throughout part of the so-called *100th special*. So all I gotta ask is; did anypony actually love the *main characters* (and no, the ones I'm referring to AREN'T the Mane Six) to greater lengths after this episode? Actually, here's a better question: "Did anyone actually learn a REAL GOOD amount of characterization (and backstory) out of these *main characters* after this episode?" I mean it may have tried to look promising for us bronies in the fandom (above other fans who are younger), but if I were writer M.A. Larson with the same thoughts I have here, then alongside Ponyville Confidential and (most recently) Fame and Misfortune, this piece of trash would be one of my biggest regrets writing for the show.

I mean I could go on about this for days and days, but all bad things considered, the episode that should've replaced it completely should've been M.A. Larson's OTHER installment in Season 5 (that he wrote on his own after writing the premiere with Scott Sonneborn); Amending Fences.

Writer Nick Confalone can never seem to make an episode I considerable adore (if not favor), other than maybe Rock Solid Friendship and (mostly) Dungeons & Discords. Whilst The Saddle Row Review once again is nothing special at all, there have been unbearable aspects like the Stripe family and some rather weird dialogue from one scene to another. The fact that this episode has been done before with Canterlot Boutique and Rarity Takes Manehattan makes it another overrated installment that is best suited as fairly average, but rather dull. If WatchMojo should've included something from Season 6, then they really should've gone with the brony convention-themed Stranger Than Fan Fiction instead.

Wait, hold on! Didn't I once consider this the best episode of Season 5 like most others still do? Yeah... but now that even newer episodes just keep on airing - like The Perfect Pear and Daring Done?, that's where my interest for Lost Mark just went... well, lost. (No pun intended) This basically means other episodes have caught my attention more to where A LOT of them really just overshadow Lost Mark. And don't get me wrong when I say the songs are all bad as I actually think maybe We'll Make Our Mark is still beautifully catchy. But Diamond Tiara's song The Pony I Want to Be seems like another way to force you to feel sorry for her immediately after seeing just how terrible her mother was towards her. Not to mention the fact that it basically reminds you that terrible parents make terrible children - but there was no real logic throughout the previous seasons as to explain how it all lead down to her theory. I mean, why couldn't Spoiled Rich (or Spoiled Milk as she was once known) have been introduced much earlier to help us build up some true sympathy for her brat child?

Sure. You gotta give major credit to writer Amy Keating Rogers for finally giving the Crusaders their marks, not to mention that I'm just having a neutral feeling towards Diamond Tiara (and not necessarily hating or disliking her anymore), but if redemptions like her's are really going to work, then they really need to be developed more throughout the series, and built up slowly to other characters accepting redeemed baddies like, you know, Discord and Sunset. So while there was good potential to it at first, looking back on it now, I feel it's really just aged badly - if not in the worst way possible.

A lot of Pinkie's episodes end up getting really good praise which just keeps on adding more and more personality to her true character. That being said an episode like Too Many Pinkie Pies easily comes out as one of her very best. This is in large part to all the humor Pinkie's clones provide since you can't do everything at once, as there are things you have to choose between no matter what other opportunities you're missing out on. Solid moral, great laughs, great story, great character development. If I didn't put this any higher on my ranking of every episode of the series, then that's because there are others that appeal to me more. Either way, ignoring much of my own opinion, Too Many Pinkie Pies still makes for an enjoyable experience that anypony can rewatch in Season 3.

Possibly the most divisive episode based on Twilight's new alicorn form that would come in every season onward, Cure is also the first MLP installment to be true musical - not to mention the 2nd normal-length finale after Season 1's The Best Night Ever. It may not exactly have been the best idea, and is less necessary than the Crusaders getting their cutie marks (but at least that's something we've been anticipating), but it does admittedly try to tell an excellent story while still adding a lot of heart to itself. So love it or hate it, Magical Mystery Cure will always have its own fair share of memorably great moments.

Only behind The Cutie Mark Chronicles as both the most rewatchable and overall best of Season 1, Sonic Rainboom is where Rainbow Dash gets strong characterization to boost her likability to great lengths. Rarity may have had a bit of a shining spotlight on her, but Rainbow Dash is the real star here. Thanks to a plot with spot on pacing, an endearing moral, and slick animation, Sonic Rainboom easily puts on Rainbow Dash in good characters standards (much like a lot of others I could name countlessly). Great choice WatchMojo made, but I'd take Chronicles over this just by a longshot anyday.

Yeah, I can see that this episode that reformed Discord is highly divisive based on some people wanting the old evil Discord back, while others could care less about that factor, but you know what? I can completely look past all of that. Why? Because besides the fact that it can feel heartwarming around the second and third acts, writer Dave Polsky in my eyes has made it possibly THE funniest episode in Friendship Is Magic history. Discord messes with Fluttershy's unlikable bunny Angel, his trolling towards our Mane characters, part of the teapot scene, him spinning Fluttershy's house around and around in the air, not to mention when he turned cute animals like a bunny and a squirrel into big beasts. While all those moments have never ceased to impress me for comedic effect, I also gotta add that isn't it heartwarming when Fluttershy stands up for him, and even calls him a real sweetheart in the very last few seconds of the entire plot?

Alongside Magical Mystery Cure, this has to be the most divisive finale of the show... but one that's a two-parter that is. A lot of people loved it for the epicness that went on throughout Part 2, others hated it only for Part 1 being a little too mean-spirited with what everypony rejecting Twilight mistaking a fake Cadence, including her own mentor Princess Celestia. While I feel other divisive two-parters like both finales in Seasons 5 & 6, deserve more hate, I can still understand why people wouldn't like Wedding that much anyway. Still, any of its negatives (like the third act in the unwatchable first part) make up for plenty of its positives, and I think WatchMojo had every right to include it in their Top 10.

While broadway actress Lena Hall isn't as iconic of a celebrity as the likes of Weird Al and William Shatner, any episode that has a guest star voicing a new (and potentially interesting) character is more than enough to make me give high hopes to that particular episode before it airs. It will forever be remembered as one of the greatest thanks in large part to Hall's character Countess Coloratura (or Rara, as Applejack likes to call her), Applejack's characterization, as well as couple of amazing songs (particular the tear-jerking The Magic Inside) make it an episode to treasure. Svengallop may be a character that absolutely grinds on you, but hey, at least he got his comeuppance by the end of the episode. And nothing's more satisfying than seeing some jerk get a taste of his/her own medicine, right?

It's such a shame though that it's only amongst WatchMojo's honorable mentions for their countdown...

You might ask me; why do you rank Discord's first episode ever where he's evil above even his best normal-lengther where he became redeemed into a good guy (although nowadays you could best label him as an anti-hero based on some of his cocky, and still chaotic persona) if you really like him as a good friend of the Mane Six and other ponies? Aside from introducing us to him for the first time, the way he start out to us as a baddie based on his name kinda suits him. And besides, even though he still could sometimes look like the villainous type who can go back to his old ways at any time, it was still a good start to his character; I mean, he could be good, and he can be bad... both at once. (It's basically what you can call an anti-hero's persona)

It's awesome enough to when we're first introduced to Discord that writer M.A. Larson does help him live up to his name as a villain, and yet it's suiting start to his character before Fluttershy redeems him in Flutter On. But considering his name means (as Cheerliee puts it in Part 1's opening sequence) "a lack of harmony between ponies" (or anything else in modern society), you really can't help but find this kind of theory completely understandable. (Whether or not you like it nonetheless) But even with all that said, I have no changed thoughts; still a masterpiece, and still Season 2's best episode ever.

No matter which of two guest stars is more memorable than the other, The Perfect Pear still makes for one of the greatest episodes of the series... and not just because of Shatner and Day, but also for its heartwarming Romeo & Juliet-style backstory via Pear Butter and Bright Mac's love story told through lots of flashbacks. It still stands tall as the very best of Season 7, and yes, I've even seen the three most recently leaked episodes (from Secrets and Pies to the finale), but none of them could top what could indeed be not only MLP's saddest episode of all time, but also one of the saddest episodes in all of TV cartoons in general.

I've heard somewhere on FaceBook that one fan came up with the theory that how the Apple parents died was from the same illness that almost would reached its final stage on Zecora known as Swamp Fever (as shown in A Health of Information) which apparently turns the victims it sickens into trees. I wouldn't be surprised if it was true, but I would admittedly be deeply touched. It would make no difference if the parents as trees produced pears and apples instead of the same thing a victim would get the illness from; the poisonous swamp flower, but it would make sense. (Heck, it'd make even more sense of those trees that formed those apple and pear trees combined together to show the shape of a combining their tree-transforming illnesses with those two seeds, wouldn't it?)

WatchMojo ranking it only at #8 though? That's pathetic.

For my obvious taste, this was the one episode that made me a brony, and it should come as no surprise that it still remains even in my Top Five Overall Best of the Series. I also consider Cheese Sandwich to be the best pony thanks to Weird Al's solid performance, interesting characterization, and just all the other great moments... including the scene that made me the brony I am today; the Goof Off between him and Pinkie. Even if all that was the only reason I'd include this as a high entry on my list of the best of the best MLP episodes, I'd take it over any other Season 4 installments minus the Number 1 entry on the countdown, along with maybe Stranger Than Fan Fiction at least in terms of episodes with guest star. Either way, it still holds up and has aged so greatly, that there's just NO reason for you to even dislike it.

Also no surprise that the show's greatest episode by a LOT of other people besides WatchMojo remains untouched by my standards, right? (And in case you're wondering, I have not watched the full-length movie that just now came out, so I have yet to go see it ASAP) Let's a lot I have to recap, so let's name them down: The intense and gripping storyline, every character's portrayal (besides Twilight's), Discord's full 360 turn towards friendship (even if his betrayal to his friends (and Fluttershy) feels a little too unwatchable), a strong threatening villain, two amazing morals of friendship, two great songs (one per part), Twilight's new castle at the very end, the stunning visuals, and let's not forget the most iconic part (in Part 2 specifically); the Dragon Ball Z-style duel between Twilight and the episode's antagonist Tirek, which brings me directly to it on this subject. It's easily the greatest moment in MLP history, and that it's just too stylized and downright epic to take your attention off it, it's extremely unforgettable (even though some good moment in the full-length movie (once I see it) could give it a run for it's money), and it could honestly draw any of your friends or family into the show (and the brony fandom (and those of pegasisters for your female family/friends) in general).

Even if one moment or two keeps it from being the most rewatchable installment in the franchise, there's still much fun to be had, that it's basically impossible for you to even dislike it. And I think all of that alone is more than enough to make Season 4 the best season of the series by far (yeah, I just don't feel Season 7 can stand above it since I've had no issues with Season 4 other than that "so bad, it's good" flop that is Somepony to Watch Over Me). If the movie can get any better than this, I won't be surprised, but I'll still be stunned, but until I see (sometime this month possibly), Twilight's Kingdom still remains Friendship Is Magic's best episode of time, and that's something of which I can fully agree with WatchMojo on.

Oh yeah, and to celebrate the show's 7th anniversary, I thought I might share a photo of a cake I recently bought at a local Safeway store today after ordering it last night:

Happy 7th Anniversary to My Little Pony's 4th gerenation of ponies since 10/10/10.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 25, 2017

MLP:FIM Review - A Health of Information (S7, E20, P153, OE163)

Above even Twilight Sparkle, Fluttershy has now become the most well developed character of Friendship Is Magic since Season 6. After may big hits onward, including some of Fluttershy's most underrated outings like Flutter Brutter and Fluttershy Leans In, and even the awesome Discordant Harmony, Fluttershy's characterization has been supercharged to more limits with A Health of Information. And after its predecessor It Isn't the Mane Thing About You, Zecora got another major role within Information considering she's undeniably one of MLP's most underdeveloped characters. And as the seasons go by, even with everything after Scare Master, Fluttershy's episodes just keep on developing her. And AHoI is no exception.

While helping Fluttershy gather supplies in a swamp, Zecora contracts a rare and terrible disease called Swamp Fever that threatens to eventually turn her into a tree, for which no cure is known. Holding herself responsible for Zecora's condition, Fluttershy vows to heal her as quickly as possible, no matter what it takes. After much sleepless searching, Fluttershy finds a special, remedial bee honey first discovered by her idol, the legendary healer Mage Meadowbrook. By this time, Fluttershy contracts Swamp Fever as well, but she continues to push herself for Zecora's sake until she ultimately passes out for three days due to extreme exhaustion during a confrontation with the territorial bees. A rested Fluttershy reflects that her careless determination has only endangered Zecora, so she enacts a careful plan to extract the honey using Meadowbrook's mask as a disguise, successfully treating Zecora and herself.

As the newer ideas for Season 7 episodes air on and on, the season itself gets stronger as these new episodes just keep on saving the series next to no extent. A Health of Information backs this up with spot on portrayals from Fluttershy and Zecora, with Twilight to leave a major highlight on the plot as well. A well paced story to give backstory of the Mage Meadowbrook, not to mention the recently introduced Cattail who may not seem as memorable as Meadowbrook herself, but he still adds good charm to the overall story. Fluttershy does so well on her part, even if she does seem a bit weird at points, but we all know that purpose is for her to keep working until she fulfills her promise to heal Zecora. Twilight does good too thanks to not going OOC or being really random in her development like in Season 6, and even the personas of Mage Meadowbrook and Cattail add great quality to A Health of Information's already strong reception via its plot and storytelling.

Speaking of storytelling, Information's pacing tells it out brilliantly and doesn't make it too blatant even if things like Fluttershy's failed stare attempt seemed a little too predictable. And as the story goes on, it just gets more gripping as we learn more about the cure for Swamp Fever, not to mention Fluttershy and Twilight's true development - even if Zecora didn't get quite enough (but hey, at least she played a major role even if it was for less than half the whole plot). Visuals and layout of the flash bees seem freaky and not something too new, but that's made up for by the village Twilight and Fluttershy come to. There are plenty of good humorous moments from the main characters here throughout, but none I can really discuss other than some good slapstick moments of Fluttershy's tiredness.

Backed up a wonderful, endearing story, another good friendship moral to take into consideration of taking care of yourself if you also want to take care of others, which was just superb, spot on character portrayals, a new neat concept, and plenty of great humorous moments, A Health of Information delivers more than enough powerful development for Fluttershy and Twilight, with lots of good moments to keep coming back to. It's definitely one of Fluttershy's best episodes, and hopefully there's more of Zecora and other underrated & underdeveloped characters for potential installments to come.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

MLP:FIM Review - It Isn't the Mane Thing About You (S7, E19, P152, OE162)

Rarity's episodes have often succeeded as with pretty much the rest of the Mane Six. Now that we have another Season 7 episode It Isn't the Mane Thing About You, it feels like writer Josh Haber has done wonders for himself after all the flops he had in Seasons 5 & 6. I mean he's made his flops that were either disturbingly unwatchable (Bloom & Gloom), or just downright boring (The Crystalling), but now that Season 7 happened, it seems he's done himself good justice... unlike M.A. Larson with the fandom-insulting Fame and Misfortune.

Rarity gets her mane ruined by Pinkie Pie's sticky party string before an important photo shoot. Zecora gives Rarity a specially made shampoo, but Rarity accidentally takes an identical remover potion intended for Pinkie's mess instead, and she loses most of her mane in the shower. While Zecora works on a remedy, Rarity is devastated when other ponies fail to notice her as she hides her mane out of shame. Zecora later tells Rarity that a magical fix for her mane is impossible, and her friends cannot make her a suitable wig in time, so she reluctantly cancels the shoot. Reminded by her friends that her mane does not define who she is, Rarity refashions her thinned mane into a punk-inspired look and confidently returns to her daily routine. Months later, after Rarity's mane has fully grown back, she is delighted to discover her friends had arranged a paparazzi shoot with her in her punk style, starting a new fashion trend.

Seriously, could Rarity's funny faces get anymore hilarious than this?

What sets It Isn't the Mane Thing About You is its fresher concept and storyline than Haber's episodes in the last two seasons. Rarity gives herself a solid performance for the plot and never feels too OOC during her development throughout the pacing. Speaking of which, the plot's pacing itself is well done with no plot points that leave much to be desired - other than Pinkie's idea for a "sneeze-aversary", but that's obviously beside the point. But that's also the one small problem with briefly leading up to her and Rarity's messed up manes. Then again though, we wouldn't have a complete plot that makes for some good fun and humor.

There have been lots of memorable moments that Rarity has provided, along with the rest of her friends, even if they aren't too big of a deal for the overall plot. Rarity's craziness in a strong desire to get a perfect mane back makes her more and more humorous without making IItMTAY too uncomfortable to watch. Even if the rest of the Mane Six - minus Pinkie - feel a little off at times where they aren't really characters of the story you'd tend to focus on, they still do excellent jobs at portraying themselves like they're meant to be.

When it comes to the moral of learning to not rely on appearances, delivering it is where It Isn't the Mane Thing About You does a solid job with delivering it across the plot. Rarity's new mane is also a rockin' edition to make her part more interesting as to also making the moral good. Other than the weird reasoning of Pinkie's method to accidentally messing up her and Rarity's manes, and how confusing everyone in Ponyville was to Rarity hiding her mane under a hood since, you know, anyone can easily tell by her skin color and voice (and even her eyes via her bottom and top eyelashes), but on the very brightside, that's not to say it bogs the positive things about the episode down completely. In fact, I feel Rarity and Zecora alone do it some much needed justice.

As a breath of fresh air from Haber's previous iffy installments after Season 4, and in a fortunate turn of events, It Isn't the Mane Thing About You goes in the right way of MLP potential and Haber's scripts, and with Fluttershy's character developing once more next week (not to mention bringing Zecora back surprisingly), Season 7 is sure get the rest of its episodes right in spite of May Chan and M.A. Larson's installments within the season cause this ultimately comes out as one you wouldn't mind rewatching.