Merry Christmas everybody. Let’s talk about reviewing and analyzing.
It looks like almost everybody has grabbed their cameras and editing programs, and decided to do reviews with this new Season. I have always followed a couple of these reviewers, and I was more than happy to see new people joining the group, but lately I have had to unfollow all of them because of the tone the scene is taking. It’s not only violent but also kind of awkward and very dull. It’s good to see people having different opinions, interesting discussions and varied ways to wording things out, but I am disgusted by how monotone, uninteresting and boring these reviews are turning out to be. I’m not saying my reviews are better, but after watching six videos from six different people saying how much they hated “Daring Don’t” and then another six videos from other six different people saying how much they loved “Flight to the Finish” my brain switches off and it starts playing Van Halen. I could excuse all of these problems if it wasn’t for how passively-aggressive they say these things. These people sound so angry and outraged, like the show stole their wallets and killed their pets in the way out. Something tells me they forgot why we are here. We are not discussing the newest Lars von Trier film, we are not trying to figure out if Harrison Ford is a Replicant or what the fuck happened at the end of 2001. We are here to watch a show about magical flying talking pastel colored tiny horses. If you can see past the setting, what problem do you have with the stories that take place within it? Why are you getting so hung up on the Pony of shadows or Daring Do being real? I can’t defend nor understand someone who rants for ten minutes, and all they say amounts to nothing but “Harble, garble, gurgle, my head canon is ruined, the house is wrong, I don’t like change!”. There is being analytical and then there is being an over-critical single-minded asshole.
The review of this episode…IS UNDER ATTACK! By a TL; DR who aims to make you skip to the bottom of the page! If you were to listen to this treacherous thing, it will tell you that this is one of the most awesome episodes in this show! But, if you want to find out why, faithful reader, you may need to read…THE WHOLE REVIEW!!!
So the episode starts off with Spike waking up Twilight because he is reading a new comic book he’s got. Unable to withhold his enthusiasm he tells Twilight about this comic, the heroes that keep the city of Maretropolis safe, and its villain, the nefarious Mane-Iac, and how an accident at her shampoo factory gave her super-mane-powers and turned her completely insane. He also shares his despise towards the useless sidekick who does nothing right and who’s only there just for comedic relief. After his brief explanation is over Twi sends Spike to sleep, but he is so hyped he just can’t fall asleep. Twilight sympathizes with him and allows him stay up a couple more minutes to continue reading.
|Second Spoiler Warning: Expect this review to have many photos of this girl.|
The scene moves to the next day where the Mane Six are all restoring Celestia’s and Luna’s old Castle and, while Spike offers his help to fix things and clean up, the six friends seem to be doing a good enough job to not need his help in the slightest, so he moves to a quieter place where he can finish reading his comic. It’s when he is reading it that he reaches the end, right in the middle of a thrilling conclusion only to find out something written in the last page in a font small enough to force him to use a magnifying glass. Upon reading these words Spike activates some sort of spell within the comic and so gets himself and the Mane six sucked into the comic “Mary Poppins” style. After a very flashy fade in they all find themselves inside the comic book world in a new city, wearing new costumes, and fighting the evil Mane-Iac, who just burst out of a building carrying the convenient plot McGuffin.
|Shinny plot McGuffin.|
Spike explains to them that they all got sucked inside his comic and the only way out is to defeat the psychopathic Mane-Iac, but since none of them are used to their new super powers they make quite a mess of things in their first encounter. After the Mane-Iac escapes they all follow her to her secret headquarters, the shampoo factory where she acquired her super powers and, thanks to Dash’s boisterous personality, they are confronted by her minions in a second fight scene where things go a little better, since now the Mane Six are starting to get used to their powers. Sadly the fun is cut short thanks to the Mane-Iac’s “Evil Hairspray Ray of Doom” and they all get captured except for Spike.
|You are so useless you're not even worth capturing.|
Relying on the little guy without any powers it may seem like the day is lost, but after overhearing his friends saying how they all can count on him to save them all he finds the strength necessary to come up with a plan and release the Power Ponies from their captivity. After a third and last thrilling action sequence full of twists and turns, the Mane-Iac is defeated, the day is saved, and the seven friends return home after learning that one doesn’t need super powers to be a good and reliable friend. They also learn that there is a store in Canterlot that sells comic books with magic spells and that zap-out of existence once you’re done reading them.
|Gotta admit, it saves you from having to keep them in those acid-free bags!|
So that is “Power Ponies”, definitely one of the most distinctive, original and downright fun episodes that this show has ever put together. I have to admit I was hyped for this episode, and I psyched myself so much about loving it that I genuinely didn’t care if it was going to suck or not, because I was going to have fun with it. Well, not only I had a lot of fun with it but I also think it’s genuinely good and thus far one of my favorite episodes out there. I am not sure if I should call it my favorite episode of Season 4, I have the feeling that one is yet to come, but this one gets as close as you can imagine. There are so many good elements in it that it’s really difficult for me to pick one and run with it, so I guess I will start with what I think are the absolute best elements and see where I can go from there.
|Is that Spidermare on the bottom?|
First of all I think the production design of this episode is downright legendary. They were going with a comic book feel to it and they succeeded in spades. As soon as the episode steps into the comic world everything changes and acquires this genuine comic strip feel. The backgrounds have thick black lines on their elements, everything has a very heavy cell-shaded look to it, and the colors and surfaces have the texture of old rugged paper like that of classic comic books. The atmosphere is heavy with darkly lit skies in a constant state of night and pronounced camera angles. You can easily build a comic book out of this episode, and the way the camera moves gives a very “panel-by-panel” feel that no other episode has. The lines are precise and carry a lot of movement, especially during the action sequences.
These action sequences were fun, engaging, never repetitive and never boring. The first one was an organized cluttered mess that shows how the new heroes are getting used to their powers. The second one was a lot of fun, especially because Rarity absolutely dominated. And the third one was awesome showing the unity in the team, and the smashing debut of Fluttershy hulking up and turning into a rampaging beast of testosterone and muscles. The picture never seems cluttered or busy. It just feels right. Also, the second time I watched this episode I realized that the cartoony sound effects and the energy of the animation are so good and so well used that I had no problem imagining the onomatopoeias floating over the characters’ heads.
The look of the episode is aimed to make you feel like you are watching a comic in motion.
But looks don’t just stop with how the backgrounds and the action go together like bread and butter. These are nothing without a good set of characters to bring them to life, and the Power Ponies sure are the perfect match! I also like how each one of them has a set of powers that fits their personalities.
Applejack is very straight forward, using a psychic lasso and golden horseshoes like batarangs. I also like how she is the first one to get used to her new set of powers, and how cool and collected she is when attacking the enemy. She might be inspired by Wonder Woman (down to the alliteration of her name, Mistress Marevelous) but there are quite a lot of Batman vibes in the way she fights.
Pinkie Pie feels right at home with her super speed powers as Filly-Second, and her ability to be everywhere suddenly acquires a full new meaning. I also love how she leaves Tron Bike-esche lines all over the city.
Rainbow Dash does match up her personality with the superhero she is paired with, but I am slightly confused as to which comic book character they are referencing to. Big Jim Miller, co-director of Season 4,says they based her on Thor, though I have a stronger vibe on Storm, especially for her ability to create tornadoes. I guess it is more Thor, since Dash uses that lightning necklace like Thor uses Mjölnir, but that’s pointless confusion on my part. It’s still pretty cool.
Rarity is, by far, my favorite. Yes, yes, I know, she’s my favorite, I am biased towards her, oh my God James can you just like some other pony besides fashion horse? No, I can’t, it’s impossible, she had the absolute coolest power of the entire group. It fits her to a Tee as well! Rarity is Radiance, and her power is being able to create anything she could imagine to solve the situation. Her power is the power of creativity and imagination, and good God does she go places with it. Despite the initial flunk with the tea set, she is able to summon from cake cages to bird cages, to a set of stairs to prance down like a boss, or a giant umbrella to protect herself from falling debris. Her power is clearly inspired by the Green Lantern, and the fact that this show made me like something related to Green Lantern speaks volumes of its quality.
But of course, the most awesome of them all is, without a hint of a doubt, Fluttershy. Rarity might be my favorite, but I think this one is the one that has more edge to her, more stuff going on. Fluttershy is escalating in my personal meter of the Mane six, and this is another episode where I just absolutely adore her. Her super power mirrors perfectly how she is. Shy and quiet, but don’t mess with the things she loves or else you are in deep shit. She doesn’t get angry if others attack her friends, she gets absolutely rabidly mad if someone attacks those who can’t defend themselves. The moment she finally loses it and hulks up to destroy the Mane-Iac’s doomsday weapon had me shouting “Oh shit, Oh shit! OH SHIT!” like no other moment of this show. That scene is one of the most AWESOME things I have ever seen. She takes a canon blast to the face, only to deflect it and then proceeds to smash the ever-loving shit out of it until it’s nothing but a pile of junk.
|I'm going to rip your head off, and shove it right up your ass!|
This pony is a machine and I loved it! She’s a rampant, unstoppable hulk of muscles and niceness and she’s going to smash you to the ground…I mean, if that’s okay with you.
|"Ugh, stop talking about them, what about me!?"|
You may have noticed that I have yet to mention Spike and how his character is being portrayed. Spike has been quite an issue for the entire series, and there is a similar amount of people who like him as there is people who hate him. I've always been in the appreciative side when it comes to this little guy. He can be brave and determine, but also clumsy and dumb. He acts like he is self-aware that he is in a girly cartoon, and so he rolls his eyes every now and then, pointing things out to the viewer and pretty much acting like a frame of reference to the audience who still has problems digesting that they are watching a cartoon for little girls. His role in this episode is that, and even more. Spike takes his awareness of being the sidekick that’s just there for comedic relief and then proceeds to shatter it into pieces. He is clumsy yes, he sticks his foot in a bucket and tries to help out when he’s not needed, but that doesn’t stop him! When the Mane Six arrive to the comic book world he is the one who introduces them to their powers, how to use them, and he takes them to the lair of the Mane-Iac. And even when they all get captured he develops a plan and succeeds! He knows he is just the sidekick, but he is making the best out of it and that’s awesome. I loved this guy in this episode, enough to say that this is one of the best Spike episodes out there, next to “Secret of my Excess” and “Just for Sidekicks”. If anything, I’d say this episode is even more memorable for the way it looks and how it plays out.
|Here I come, TO SAVE THE DAY!|
But the best thing is that, despite this being an Spike episode (for the most part) it feels more like an “Everypony Episode”. Every single character has a role, they get enough of the spotlight and leaves an impact in the development of the story. It never feels cluttered or spread too thin, it feels right. Every character fits in together within their roles and it goes smooth, like music.
If I have one criticism towards the characters it would be that Twilight Sparkle wasn’t really good in this episode. She was a good leader of course, and she showed her support towards Spike all the time, but her powers were very lame and not nearly explored. We are told she is all magic and all, but the first time she tried using magic she failed, and the second time she tried to use all she did was summon a snowball. The third and last time seemed to work fine, but all she did was freezing the floor. All she did were ice spells. I thought her character was all magical and powerful, why insisting in using just one type of spell? Couldn't she use other types of magic like fire, electric or maybe hair-bending? I guess they made it like this as to not make her too over-powered, but it feels like a wasted opportunity.
|"I can see the future!" (that one is for you, DBZ Abridged fans)|
But no group is heroes is complete without their psychopathic villain, and the villain here is so bat-shit insane that I can totally imagine the fans shipping her with The Joker. There are two types of villains in fiction: The villains that you know the motivations of, or the villains that are in just for the ride and have a lot of fun with it. Sometimes both can combine to create a great villain, like Loki from “The Avengers”. But, where does the Mane-Iac falls into? Well, the Mane-Iac goes into the “insane and having fun with it” category, and then she cranks it up to seven hundred. This is my new favorite villain from this show, and I have no doubts about it. She takes the insanity, the hammy acting, the over-the-top expressions, the cackles, the madness and rises it and goes so crazy with them that it’s perfect. She’s perfect in how over the top she is. If they had tried to tone her down or gave her reasonable motivations, they would have ruined it, but they didn’t. They made her absolutely butt-fuck insane and clearly established that this bitch is crazy and she better be stopped! This was great, and it felt rewarding. Also she was designed an animated beautifully. The purple and green scheme was reminiscent of The Joker, and the way she moves was more like Doc Ock in Spiderman. Her evil weapons were ridiculous, from a paralyzing hairspray to a hair-drier laser of doom. The scene that kicks her out of the story is absolutely perfect. It’s hilarious how, even after getting captured in her own mane, she is still laughing her ass off. She clearly doesn’t give a shit because she’s absolutely mad, and I loved it. New! Favorite! Villain!
|Move over Chrysalis, this chick's got it going on.|
One thing that I've heard some people complain about is that the ending is quite a cop-out, and that it feels phoned in. It’s either the line about the enchanted comic book store in Canterlot, or the scene where the comics zaps out of existence. Yeah, I can see why people might consider this a weak point of the episode, and it might make some others scratch their heads in bewildering confusion, but why is this so hard to believe? Why wouldn't the ponies have a store where they can buy interactive entertainment? For them it would be like hyper-realistic videogames, or really hardcore 3D. In a world where magical beings exist I guess it can make sense that their ways of escapism would involve going into alternate worlds created from someone else’s imagination. And then people come and complain that this is unrealistic, and stupid, and fabricated, and that it makes absolutely no sense even for this world.
|"Rarr, rarr, Pinkie Pie's wall cleaning is mostly unorthodox!"|
But to them I ask this: What’s so bad about that? It’s a comic book that allows you to get sucked into its world. That’s awesome! I mean, yes, it will be kind of a problem if you could get potentially killed in it, but this idea is so cool! Think about the worlds you could visit and go to! You could hang out with your favorite superheroes, or even better, become one! Have super powers! Be a hero for a day! Walk up to the villain and punch it in the face! The world is saved thanks to you! I think it’s awesome, who hasn't ever imagined being sucked into the world of a comic and wondered how the situation would've developed had they been involved? I know I have! And I love this idea! I want to visit that comic book store and buy one issue of every comic that they have! And I love the idea of this store existing within this universe!
So, yeah, I think I really enjoyed this episode.
A lot, actually.
|I was going to push for a mane-pun. No.|
To me it fulfills so many wishes, it hits so many sensibilities, and it gets so many things just right. It knows where to go crazy with and how much. The villain is great. The heroes are great. The powers are great. The action scenes are great. The production design is great. The story is great. The ending is great. The music is great. The comedy is great. It’s just a great episode. It hits all the right notes at the right time and the end result is just great.
|Pose for the camera now, this scene will definitely go in the trailer.|
You may call my review biased, and that I psyched myself to liking it, but then I ask you, shouldn't we all do that? Shouldn't we just sit down and enjoy this show instead of trying to analyze it or make sense of it? It’s a show about magic horses being cute and awesome, and we all should see it like what it is. If you watch it just for the sake of criticizing it then you are not better than those who used to insult comic books because they considered them to be “childish”.
- Defining Moment: The Mane-Iac aims at Fluttershy with her hair-drier cannon, but then a firefly flies in between. She smacks it down, almost killing the poor little thing. Big mistake. You just made Fluttershy angry, and you won’t like her when she’s angry.
- Moral: Just because sometimes others don’t need your help, it doesn’t mean you are not helpful.