MLP Review: Friendship is Magic (Season 1, Episodes 1 and 2)

As a fairly recent brony, I decided to go back through the seasons (especially since season 3 has ended), and explore each episode of the earlier seasons. Were they really better at first, or is that nostalgia talking? Well, there is no better place to start than the first episode, so let us begin. Well, first two episodes, because this show took the rather ballsy step of starting with a two-parter, rather than waiting for the show to get established first.

The basic plot of this two-parter follows our main character, Twilight Sparkle (voiced by Tara Strong, an extremely accomplished voice actress). Convinced that the evil Nightmare Moon is about to awaken from her thousand-year slumber, bringing an endless night in the process, Twilight voices her concerns to her teacher, Princess Celestia (voiced by Nicole Oliver, who has done quite a few anime dubs, as well as voicing Betty Ross for "Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow). However, Princess Celestia (seriously, why is it always "Princess"? Don't queens ever do any ruling?) seems to brush off Twilight, sending her and her assistant young dragon Spike (voiced by Cathy Weseluck, who did the English dub of Near in "Death Note") to the town of Ponyville to make some friends.

Once there, she eventually comes across the down-home pony Applejack (voiced by Ashleigh Ball, lead singer for the band Hey Ocean), tompony Rainbow Dash (Ashleigh Ball again), fashionista Rarity (voiced by Tabitha St. Germain, who did the English dub for Naomi Misora in "Death Note") , hyperactive Pinkie Pie (voiced by Andrea Libman, who did the voice of Madeline for the TV series way back in the 90's), and shy, well, Fluttershy (Andrea Libman again). Needless to say, however, Twilight discovers her fears are true at the end of part one, when Nightmare Moon (Tabitha St. Germain again) reveals that she has kidnapped Princess Celestia, and plans to make the night last forever! Cue evil laugh, and our heroines rushing to save the day in part 2.

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Don't let the look of the show fool you into thinking this is one of those "so sweet, you'll get diabetes" shows.

It may seem like I've revealed a lot of the plot but, to be honest, it isn't exactly original. Villain reveals themselves after being locked away for [insert number here] years, group of heroes goes to save the day. That said, the second part is surprisingly well done. While part one was mostly spent on introducing the characters, part two returns to the quest, which honestly is depicted kind of epically. On top of that, each character gets a chance to shine, showing not only who they are, but proving there is no Ma-Ti in this group. You know, that one person who gets stuck with the sucky power and can't contribute? But hey, shows live and die off of their actors. If the acting sucks, even the most elaborate plot will fall apart.

Luckily, the voice acting is one of the strongest parts of the show. As you may have noticed from the voice actors, there are quite a few repeats. The thing is, they do a good job of sounding like different characters. For example, while Applejack has a fairly strong southern accent, and a higher-pitched voice, Rainbow Dash's voice is more scratchy and low-pitched. While Pinkie Pie, as befitting her hyperactive nature, has a very high pitched, quick talking type of voice, Fluttershy has a more mellow, softer voice (though still somewhat high-pitched). The biggest star, at least at this point, is Tara Strong as Twilight Sparkle, however. She conveys her various emotions throughout the show very effectively. Scared, annoyed, prideful, depressed, she covers all the bases. So, the voice acting is quite solid. But how are the characters? I mean, we have had all of 40 minutes. How much development could these characters get?

Well...not that much, to be honest. Don't get me wrong. You definitely get a sense of what every character's traits are, and when everypony is given their powers as befitting their main trait (Generosity, Laughter, Honesty, Loyalty, and Kindness), you really get the sense that the characters show that element, rather than just "Yeah, they totally deserve that. Not". However, there just isn't much time spent on developing the characters beyond those basic traits.

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Yes, that is basically Maleficent in pony form.

Overall, these episodes, when combined...aren't all that impressive. Don't get me wrong. Even at the beginning, it is better than many kid's shows today. The stakes are effectively set, the plot feels surprisingly epic, and the voice acting is amazingly good. However, the characters just aren't all that developed, and the villain doesn't really have much going for her outside of her scheme and being a reference to Maleficent. You do get some glimmers of what makes the show stand out, however. There are references to things kids will not get (Spike getting called "Casanova", a plot reference to Androcle's Lion), along with a few jokes that are a bit...adult (Twilight's reaction to Pinkie Pie's chattering being pouring herself a drink), with the show avoiding feeling like it pulled a solution from its rear at the last second.

Final Score: 6/10

Next: The Ticket Master

thebobmaster:

Overall, these episodes, when combined...aren't all that impressive. Don't get me wrong. Even at the beginning, it is better than many kid's shows today. The stakes are effectively set, the plot feels surprisingly epic, and the voice acting is amazingly good. However, the characters just aren't all that developed, and the villain doesn't really have much going for her outside of her scheme and being a reference to Maleficent. You do get some glimmers of what makes the show stand out, however. There are references to things kids will not get (Spike getting called "Casanova", a plot reference to Androcle's Lion), along with a few jokes that are a bit...adult (Twilight's reaction to Pinkie Pie's chattering being pouring herself a drink), with the show avoiding feeling like it pulled a solution from its rear at the last second.

Final Score: 6/10

Next: The Ticket Master

Good review. It covered everything you'd need to know of the episode whilst also giving some good insight into the important aspects of the show, like voice acting.

thejboy88:

thebobmaster:

Overall, these episodes, when combined...aren't all that impressive. Don't get me wrong. Even at the beginning, it is better than many kid's shows today. The stakes are effectively set, the plot feels surprisingly epic, and the voice acting is amazingly good. However, the characters just aren't all that developed, and the villain doesn't really have much going for her outside of her scheme and being a reference to Maleficent. You do get some glimmers of what makes the show stand out, however. There are references to things kids will not get (Spike getting called "Casanova", a plot reference to Androcle's Lion), along with a few jokes that are a bit...adult (Twilight's reaction to Pinkie Pie's chattering being pouring herself a drink), with the show avoiding feeling like it pulled a solution from its rear at the last second.

Final Score: 6/10

Next: The Ticket Master

Good review. It covered everything you'd need to know of the episode whilst also giving some good insight into the important aspects of the show, like voice acting.

Thanks for the compliment.

 

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