So it’s been what — four years since My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic hit airwaves, and it is surprisingly still galloping ahead as a much beloved show. Yesterday marked the start of its fourth season with a special two-episode premiere–but after four years of ponies, memes, and marketing campaigns, does it still have the horse power to charm audiences and finish strong?
Unsurprisingly: yes. Fandom and Brony-phenomena aside, MLP: FiM is one of those shows that is pretty decent for kids these days, especially for families familiar with the tried-and-true brand-name and toy-line, but who may stick in longer because the show is actually pretty darn good. FiM doesn’t mince its canon and the original, phenomenal world-building laid down by creator Lauren Faust–in fact, I think that these first two episodes, aptly named Princess Twilight Sparkle Parts 1/2, bring back the magic of that first pilot episode that charmed the Internet.
You know, the one that pretty much went viral and proved to be a game changer for FiM and its rise to Internet infamy. MP writer, Chesire, eloquently wrote about what made MLP’s first season a pretty stellar start–Internet shitstorms and all that jazz aside–and in perhaps an interesting sort of “full-circle” resolution, yesterday’s premiere riffed off of several key plot points of that all-important pilot that paved the way to FiM’s Internet infamy.
Princess Twilight Sparkle continues the saga of newly-crowned Twilight Sparkle, who is upgraded from a simply magically gifted unicorn into an alicorn princess, complete with a set of wings just like her mentor, Princess Celestia. Still getting used to the new duties that come with the fancy feathers, Twilight begins to realize that maybe all this princess business may compromise her all-important friendship with her five best friends, who are arguably her greatest pillar of strength and power. Their separation by royal title is exacerbated by the mysterious disappearance of both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna on the eve of the Summer Solstice festival, forcing Twilight to balance the burden of being a leader and being true to her friends as an ancient evil, long buried evil spreads throughout the land.
Now that, my friends, is pretty inventive story-telling for a kid’s show. It’s certainly no Gatsby masterpiece, for sure, but if there is one thing that FiM is strong with, it is in its strength in embracing the heroic ability of the mane cast (HAHA PUN), pitting this adorable sisterhood against some pretty epic challenges, and maybe sprinkling the occasional pop-culture reference or to.
Like any FiM episode, Princess Twilight Sparkle comes complete with an expected “lesson” of sorts, as Twilight sorts out her anxiety between “royal duty” and “friendship”. And, obviously, resolves it with the help of her companions, reaffirming the show’s title and all it entails about the power of love and friendship to overcome evil (Yay!) Which is, really, a wonderful, positive message–and all done in some pretty neat animation as well.
Because while we can all argue for (or against) the sophistication of the average FiM plot, I think we can all agree that the animation for this series is pretty top notch. Extra kudos for this premiere, which relied on some pretty neat animation sequences, including a cinematic fight scene. (Yes you heard me right there was a fight scene in this show haha)
Actually, one of the coolest plot points of these episodes (in my humble opinion) was the emphasis on bringing this show full-circle, drawing back on that fateful pilot episode and the history behind Nightmare Moon and the conflict between Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, and a few flashbacks that explain the origins of a certain special villain and his much-appreciated cameo bits. These sequences are a testament to FiM’s thoughtful worldbuilding, and commitment in a way of drafting a sort of “fantasy adventure” series moreso than MLP’s previous incarnations.
Honestly, I’m pretty proud of them. MLP is no Avatar/Legend of Korra/Young Justice/any of those “tween action adventure shows” by and far–however, it does approach its own canon with a lot of heart and the much-appreciated effort to craft a show that is fun to watch.
So yes, this is a strong start to yet another magical season of MLP if I do say so myself–a season that, unlike its previous incarnations–may also have a unique, overarching plot instead of the expected “moral of the week” mishmash progression. It may be four years or so since FiM captured the hearts of an unexpected audience, but as far as children’s shows are concerned–it’s got a pretty good run ahead of it, if these two episodes are any indication that there’s still plenty of magic to this Hasbro franchise.