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8 years ago @ Equestria Daily - Test Post - Comment if... · 0 replies · +1 points

I see it way too well.

8 years ago @ Equestria Daily - The Cutie Re-Mark Part... · 0 replies · +8 points

(Part 3!)

Back to the point, however, the new revelations finally make Starlight make better sense, and also further help her multi-dimensionalness and nuance, though it also raises some questions. Now that it turns out she’s actually believed in her ideas, it makes her a bit less hypocritical, but in this, also more interesting thanks to her distant origins and complete removal from what we’ve known of Equestria so far. Her newfound backstory, with the cutie mark of her friend separating them, while simplistic, does make sense, and also set her up for Twilight’s disarming doesn’t-have-to-be-this-way riposte – we already saw Starlight hit with it in the openers, but it took time to break through her conviction, and ultimately, without the time-travel to a bad future, Starlight wouldn’t have seen it at all. It seems she was so rash in her plan as to not check how her idea pans out in the long run – in her emotional conviction, however, it is understandable, and Twilight helped fix that anyway (and I really liked to see so much of Twilight in the episodes for once - she's spent enough time on the back benches this season, with the same going for Spike).

The better question now is what’s going to happen to Starlight now that she’s essentially surrendered and came over to the friendship side. The now-well-known book-summary “leak” indicates that she’s going to be Twilight’s “student”, like Twilight was to Celestia. It appears that celestial-name unicorn mares have something important in common after all, aside from prodigious magical power. Sunset was already a bit of Twilight’s apprentice, but I suppose she’s a pen-pal-apprentice at that, plus, there’s her success in Friendship Games that could mean her graduation to a more princessy level. And well, Starlight is in Equestria already, so it kinda helps. And while I don’t know about you, I’m personally fine with her as she is now – her zeal is gone and, convinced to stand down and just look at the whole cutie-marks-don’t-matter business from a healthier angle, she looks like she is genuinely sorry and will make a full recovery in due time (though I didn't expect her to be so touched as to actually get a song number, though I don't mind either). And while she’s been the most psychologically “heavy” villain FiM has seen so far, she hasn’t done much worse than Sunset Shimmer did, and certainly less than Discord, who have both been received well in their “lightside” roles. Plus, in a twist of fortune, Starlight has been high-octane-friendshipped by the Mane 6 of Equestria, roughly at the same time as, over in the human world, SciTwi underwent the same process courtesy of the Mane 6 of CHS. Coincidence? With Haber having written both, I think not – and I actually like this mirroring thing, myself.

And as the only joke I can possibly spare post space to mention, the colours of the tree castle map in each of the bad futures formed one - red, green, and blue, just like Mass Effect 3 endings that gamers raged about so much. Though the other four "endings" were different, of course. And the wasteland look in the Starlight-visited one is definitely going to please the FoE crowd.

Overall, it’s been a remarkable doozy of an episode, with both the rides through alternate bad futures that are there largely to address interesting what-if scenario possibilities for the pony crew’s own kicks (what, you thought only fanfics could go there? Too bad for you!) and the additional backstory for Starlight providing her with foundations for beginning her redemption, as well as the psychological brakes put on her, matching her villainy’s psychological nature. It’s all too big for me to stop and point out small moments, of which there was plenty, else I’ll spend the next five hours writing this post and none will read it whatsoever. All in all, I know hypists will be disappointed as usual, because that’s what hype does to people and their expectations, but I, myself, have enjoyed the episode and definitely love the fact that they managed a “Friendships don’t always work out and get broken, but that shouldn’t stop you” and “It’s never too late to try and make friends” moral in the plot of such a big episode. And I’m supremely happy that they did not try to rehash the hamhooved take on the ideas of “equality” and “difference” used in the openers and relied on interpersonal psychology instead. All in all, while it wasn’t the most complex of two-parters, it was certainly memorable and impressive and quite daring, in ways I never expected of FiM to use. And for that, as well as for a wonderful Season Five, I thank the pony crew and Hasbro who paid them to do it from the bottom of my heart. It’s some of the best, and in many cases just the best, pony there is.

And now… now we play the hiatus game.

8 years ago @ Equestria Daily - The Cutie Re-Mark Part... · 1 reply · +9 points

(Part 2!)

Now, the more interesting thing, the one that is the “meat” of the episode – the conflict between Star- and Twi- lights. Of course, her appearance in the auditorium in the school was well-expected, not least of all because of the animatic, and the same goes for her appearance in Twilight’s castle (seems Twilight’s policy of not keeping any guards has its downsides too). What wasn’t fully expected, but fitting for Starlight, is her not sparing much time for monologuing or such and just pragmatically executing her plan right away. How she came by Star Swirl’s scroll is another question, but hey, Trixie did buy a superpower amulet in a backstreet shop. Then, Starlight’s motive for actually going through with it was interesting as well – first, she did not seek to “take over” Equestria but merely acted out of personal spite towards Twilight, out of revenge for ruining what she seems to have truly perceived as a better way, instead of being a hypocrite and not believing what she preached, which is how many read her in the season openers. And second, it seems that Equestria is bigger and less interconnected than we may think, as Starlight and her hometown, as well as her equalist town, seem to have completely missed the news about the Mane 6, the Elements of Harmony and all that jazz. She legitimately didn’t believe a single group of friends would be this instrumental to events unfolding in the world – she really hasn’t heard. While it’s a bit surprising to us, we have to remember we followed all those adventures onscreen, while Equestria itself doesn’t have things like the internet, television and seemingly even phones – it’s basically in mid-19th century when it comes to these things. And back then, things took a while to spread if plenty of effort wasn’t put into spreading them.

Now, as for her plan itself – it was interesting to see the many iterations her idea of breaking up the Sonic Rainboom event took, both those she attempted herself and those that were accidentally brought about by Twilight’s attempts to prevent her interference, as well as Starlight’s surprising magical power (almost like she was using the enemies-have-infinite-mana game problem). But more interesting was the coming-around of Starlight’s. Yes, this will definitely be the part some of you will rage about – mostly because “nuuuu villains redeemed is cheesybad!!!!onethousandonehundredeleven”. But the only thing I think could have been better is us getting to see how Starlight progressed since the “event horizon” of a cutie mark acquisition taking her friend away – perhaps her trying to make new friendships but being found “uninteresting” or not talented enough, or being teased as a “blank flank” like the CMC. But even as we are, this episode ended up delivering a fine dynamic – Twilight tried the simplest approach, then got angry and tried to solve things with attacking Starlight, but realized that their resetting location and time would constantly jeopardize the Rainboom if they took any visible action and finally tried to talk the matter out with Starlight. And as it turns out, talking can solve a lot more than fighting sometimes. As for villain redemption itself, let us bring up a list – oh wait, there’s only one and a half items on it, because the only villain who was truly “redeemed” is Discord, with Sunset Shimmer being an out-of-series example and only counting this way, and both of them have turned out spectacularly well. Trixie was only villainous to a point and was mostly a misguided mare who came in possession of an artifact that clouded her mind, Gilda was only a moderate antagonist and only needed to soften up a little, Iron Will is not even an antagonist and more of a neutral voice with misguided advice, Luna was not “redeemed” per se and more cured of magically intensified insanity, Sombra just got blown up and Tirek is literally in hell. The rest, both villains and lesser episode antagonists, are still out there, unrepentant. That said, while Gilda is not a villain nor a full-on antagonist, the Griffonstone episode almost feels like a bit of foreshadowing for what happened in this episode – a “jerk” character who only appeared in one instance before is revealed to have important backstory stuff in her fillyhood (or lil’ griffon-hood) that becomes important for them softening up and coming around in the present, as it provides attachment points previously unknown of. It’s not retcon – nothing said they couldn’t have those backstories, and only people who’re heavily attached to their headcanons of them being different than that would claim otherwise.

(Part 3 in reply to this one!)

8 years ago @ Equestria Daily - The Cutie Re-Mark Part... · 2 replies · +13 points

I’ll just repeat what I and my entire chat said about the episode: didn’t see that coming.

Sure, everyone who’s familiar with pony enough to remember The Cutie Mark Chronicles thought going back to the rainboom event and preventing it was going to be Starlight’s plan, just based on the title and the knowledge that Starlight was going to be in there. It’s just that I could bet good money on the fact that no-one could see what was going to happen afterwards. Yeah, we expected to see a “bad future”, all of us, but I’m quite sure that most everyone was sure it was going to be an exploration of a “Mane 6 without cutie marks” route that’d get them back together. Buuuuut… Again, what we got feels a lot better than what could have been, and the execution makes the episode stand out from among any other possibility.

Indeed, the “Mane 6 without cutie marks” and “getting Mane 6’s cutie marks back” was essentially explored in Magical Mystery Cure – though it didn’t involve lengthy alternate backstories, it was basically the same thing in execution and effect. Instead, getting a whole slew of “bad futures”, each with their own bad thing to happen – now that is new. And while all the different futures were not, by themselves, directly contributing to the resolution of the main conflict, they were sure a ride I’m grateful they gave us. I mean, seriously now. Right off the bat, we get into a highly Fallout Equestria-esque bad future with a literal World War Sombra, complete with war sequences and Sombra being all Darth Vader with his stormtroopers. Ponies fighting to the death, ponies using war tactics, Celestia fighting in a land battle, Sombra doing the same, Rainbow Dash with a prosthetic wing, the entirety of Equestria industrialized and on a war footing, with the other Mane 6 all working in the war effort, WW2-in-Europe style. I don’t know about you, but of all things, I never expected this to happen in FiM – and it’s not a bad thing that it did; it’s highly impressive that they went there, seriously and without downplaying anything. With all the unusualness and yes-they’re-really-going-there traits of FiM, these episodes are a whole new level for them, so hats off, pony crew, hats off indeed.
The other futures were likewise impressive, though the first impressed me the most. The Chrysalis future, with Amazonshy, Amazonpie, Zecora as the rebel leader with a badass mohawk and the entirety of the rebel “tribe” basically sacrificing themselves in a last stand to buy Twilight time to return to the map… together with the implication of RD, AJ and Rarity having never made it to the rebellion or having been lost since, well, that one was probably even more dark than the first, and Chrysalis actually spoke in this one, for bonus kicks. It was great to see Zecora actually figure things out near-instantly upon Twilight telling her about things, however. The NMM future is almost mild in comparison to that one, and it’s interesting to see that NMM both doesn’t destroy the planet with her celestial manipulation and actually has ponies working as a society, no matter how single-mindedly power-hungry she is. Twilight essentially flipping her off and time-warping away was a nice touch, however. And to be honest, I’m fine with just these futures being explored at any length – I’m glad that they didn’t spend time dawdling in Discord’s future, given that it would be rather same-note weird ordered-chaos, of which we saw enough in the bit we did see, while Tirek’s future was just as singlemindedly wreck-stuff-licious as one would expect from knowing Tirek (bonus points for picking up from the forest-destroying shot from the S4 finale) and the Flim and Flam industry-destroying-all future was basically a bonus “what, they get in on this too?” almost-joke.

(Obviously, this is going to be long, so see Part 2 and 3 in replies to this one below!)

8 years ago @ Equestria Daily - The Cutie Re-Mark Part... · 2 replies · +6 points

The time has come already. It feels like the season openers only happened a month ago or so. Hay, it feels like the S4 finale happened no more than a couple months ago too. Time with ponies tends to take on very interesting qualities.
Though the hiatus is right ahead beyond today's episodes, I'm fine with it. Even though I haven't been active here on this site beyond my post-episode commentary, ponies have not become any less important nor fun for me. And even during the hiatus times, ponies continue being that way - all thanks to everypony out there in the fandom, bringing in more and more fan content for me to enjoy and get my pony fixes. And indeed, S5 has been one of the most exciting and impressive times to be a brony, all of it. I'm looking forward to seeing what things we'll produce during the coming times until S6 arrives.
But until then, we still have the finale to face. So strap in, 'cause we're almost there.

8 years ago @ Equestria Daily - Season 5 Finale Promo ... · 1 reply · +3 points

It seems to be going in a somewhat different direction than I thought it would. That is not to say it's any worse for that, however. Get hype indeed. And get ready for amazon Fluttershy (and Pinkie!).

8 years ago @ Equestria Daily - The Mane Attraction - ... · 1 reply · +4 points

(Part 2!)

I need not speak on the songs much – only say that the “spectacle” song and the big and famous number teased in the animatic were engineered nicely to contrast with one another, the second essentially dismissing the first’s stage persona, using it as a foil for boosting the power of Coloratura’s rebellion against her manager and its success. Lena Hall’s talents are indisputable and showed all through her performance as Coloratura, every single line she spoke, and of course, it showed the brightest in the songs. The instrumentals for them also bear mention, however – the ‘QUESTRIA song done by none other than Applejack herself, revealing that her pony self also has musical instrument skills, the true pop style of the “spectacle” song and the amazing orchestral performance in the big number of the episode (and, ‘course, the same orchestra covering the reprise of the first), all of them were impressive in their ways, and it was great to see the three different styles present all in the same episode, by the same singer.

The show-stopper aside, I can’t find fault with anyone else’s performances myself. While somewhat overblown, the agent pony was played well, and the Mane girls appearing in the episode all performed well. Special thanks goes to the CMC voices, in that short but beautifully done reprise of the ‘QUESTRIA song. I also have to highly praise the animators and the teams behind visuals in general – the use of visuals in this episode was great all across the board, from things like designing the ponies’ appearance (most visibly, the veil that was part of Coloratura’s costume and which was used for dramatic underlining of her casting off her manager’s abuse and being herself in full) to the great work with the first pop number, to the interesting idea with Coloratura’s cutie mark shining like it does, kinda-sorta resembling what happened in Rainbow Rocks and Friendship Games, except now in the pony world. And, of course, all the other bloody good visuals, too numerous to mention.

Finally, of course, much has been made of and discussed about this being the last episode Amy Keating Rogers wrote for the show before leaving for Disney (which, thanks to the font of its logo, I find it hard to read as anything but Gisnep). While her episodes have been memorable, and I have personally come into pony thanks to an episode of hers, I cannot say she’s “the one” or that her departure means something significant to pony – we’ve since acquired a whole host of wonderful writers who have demonstrated their ability to write episodes similar to the ones using her approach, and while she’s been very pleasantly prolific in her contacts with us fans, she’ll always be able to come mingle with us and visit our conventions, Big Brother Gisnep permitting. I like her and always did, but she didn’t truly go away, merely stopped working on the show scripts. And with no harm done to pony and us with this, we can rest easy and wish AKR all the best in her work and life.

As for the episode itself, it was as good as could be, really – and with the high mark of pony quality, it’s saying something. Well done, everypony.

And now we also have (Lady?) Rara to confuse with Rarara.

8 years ago @ Equestria Daily - The Mane Attraction - ... · 2 replies · +6 points


Well, that was a nice ride. While the episode essentially revealed all of its nuances right at Coloratura’s appearance, it was not the point of the episode to have twists and turns aplenty – instead, it was an episode that charged with its content straight at you and relied on the feels and overall performance and execution. And in that, it knew what it was doing. I think it was the best approach to an episode showcasing Lena Hall’s talents – going for the high-visibility, emotionally charged moments throughout the episode, not pulling any punches with songs and letting Lena work her vocal magic in both.

Once more, the structural simplicity yet high feels content helped sharpen the relief in which the story was shown. Coloratura being a truly nice and good pony, but taken over by her malicious agent that she feels indebted to and who rides her talent to success while abusing everypony else, and her reunion with Applejack and AJ’s look into the issue solving said friendship problem and her coming out with her true personality that contrasts with her stage persona that becomes an instant winner, proving the corrupt manager wrong – once again, it’s the old adage about pony using fairly expectable plots to great effect with execution and performance driving them. That isn’t to say there were no surprises in there – the CMC reprisal of the ‘QUESTRIA song, for example – but what I mean is that it needed them not to deliver its power.

Coloratura herself is no less a pleasant character than Cheese Sandwich was – a guest performer ponified and done pretty beautifully indeed, fitting in with the world. Also a pony directly connected to a Mane girl in their personality’s development or expression, another pony who’s also become a famous performer compared to their more simple foalhood selves – I suppose they deserve it, and I don’t see anything wrong with it; after all, the Mane 6’s friends deserve to be impressive in terms of performance, and having more moments with Mane 6 showing those sides of them. They provide for more backstory moments for the Mane girl in question, and this time, AJ setting up a proper “honesty” reveal to help Coloratura and have an excellent character moment through that – can’t protest that, no sir.

It was particularly pleasant to see Coloratura and AJ not go through an “I don’t remember you” routine – the old friendship remembered right away helped the episode feel smoother. And, of course, made it more feelsy as well. And it helped me not get enraged over the concentrated assholeness of the manager pony – that kind of abusive exploitation is both all too real and all too monstrous. All the more pleasant to see him brought down, and see Coloratura perform just fine without him, proving to him that all his glitz and glam worked for her stage persona, but that her true talent never depended on his framing work – things worked the other way around. Yet another non-superpowered antagonist who manages to be highly despicable, no less so than the empowered sort – and I like seeing that, too.

(Continued in the reply!)

8 years ago @ Equestria Daily - Large Box Office Site ... · 0 replies · +7 points

The wait continues, now with a point of reference in sight. That's better already.

8 years ago @ Equestria Daily - Season 5 Episode 23 - ... · 0 replies · +4 points

(Part 2!)

The visuals of the episode have to be mentioned in particular, as the team behind them has done an excellent job. From the lighting effects and animation to the storyboarding of the scenes, it basically sold the slapstick side of the episode and helped the overall well-known plot carry through the entirety of it well and its conclusion to be satisfying. The very nice use of wide shots, the humorous pans during the McColt introduction, and, of course, the great lot of work that was put in animating all the action and, particularly, the final field battle, deserves plenty of praise. Much of this episode hinged on this use of visual things, such as colours and landscape shots and detail-revealing scenes, and they were all pulled off very well. On the other sides of the job, I hear the music here referenced a show called “The Hatfields and the McCoys”, in accordance with the episode title, for which I once again commend the composers and technical staff making it all possible. And, of course, the VAs did great work here as usual – both in differentiating the many Hooffield and McColt voices and delivering Twilight’s beautiful, quintessential-Twi excitement and adorkableness and Fluttershy’s soft and demure but still now-assertive approach in the most pleasant way. Thank you, Tara and Andrea.

And as ever, thank all of you, pony crew! You’re giving us a wonderful ride here with S5, I really couldn’t have asked for anything more. Can’t wait for the next week’s episode! Even though we’re so close to the season’s end and the coming hiatus, I still don’t feel sad about it, for we got lots of wonderful material to watch, enjoy and work with over and over in the meantime!