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Thursday, January 24, 2013

You Should Be Watching: My Little Pony

Here's a little something for you cosplayers, make-up artists and aspiring airbrush artists.  It's also something that was initially geared towards little girls, but unexpectedly acquired a vast male following.  I've been told that I'm very 'Imaginative and whimsical' (Sorta makes me feel like a unicorn or something).
I'm an ALICORN!! 
 So that means I can watch whatever I want. You already know where this is going don't you?  Don't judge me.  I like ponies and unicorns and all that business.  I'm allowed.

In case you haven’t heard about the phenomenon that My Little Pony has become, you need to get on board.  Really.


Origins:
The animation is a remake of an old show used by Hasbro as a marketing driver for Pony dolls.  I remember that cartoon.  It was a TERRIBLE show.  I'll pretend that I don’t know why Hasbro needed the show to market the dolls.  I never watched it with any real interest, but I had a ton of the merchandise.  And it was MAGICAL.  Why?  Because I was 6.  
This go-round Hasbro hasn't revived the show in order to revive an old toy line.  They revived it due to special interest of one Lauren Faust.  More on her later.  

Characters:
My Little Pony features 6 main characters, each of them representing one of the traits necessary for a successful friendship: Honesty, Kindness, Laughter, Generosity, Loyalty and MAGIC!  ...Because, why not?
Left to Right: Pinkie Pie (Party girl), Rainbow Dash (Daredevil), Rarity (Fashionista/Seamstress), Twilight Sparkle (Bookworm), Apple Jack (Farmer), and Flutter Shy (Animal Lover)
The cast of characters has a repertoire of quirks, personality flaws, and a lot of consistency.  Some people think that's a problem and have said that the characters are fairly simplistic.  But really, what makes any successful show successful?  A dynamic cast of characters with consistent habits, well-defined personalities, and quirks written together in a way that keeps you engaged.  My little pony has all of that and then some.  

What I like about it:
First of all, it was created by Lauren Faust.  That is, the woman responsible for essentially, all the good cartoons in the ninties... Whether she did the animation, the writing or helped her husband on the side, Faust was involved in tons of projects from Kids Next Door, to Power Puff Girls, and Dexter's Laboratory.  There's more, but I can't list them all.  The point is, that Lauren Faust remembered how crappy the little girl cartoons were when she was growing up.  Girl's cartoons have always been shallow, needlessly fluffy, and not at all engaging.  Even little girls fall asleep on them.  I know.  I was one.  
Faust fought for years to make My Little Pony happen.  She wanted to make a cartoon for girls.  The networks turned her down, claiming that there was no money in making little girl cartoons... until... this show.  Which has had remarkable success in all age groups and genders.  Think about that for a minute.  A show from a genre of shows normally written off as crap has bridged age and gender gaps.  Why?  Because it's actually GOOD.  
Aside from the well defined characters, slick flash animation and engaging stories, I love that My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, has an actual mythos.  It doesn't just have its own world mythos, but it incorporates mythology from a variety civilizations.   To name a few of them: Egyptian, African, Greek, Roman, and Medieval mythologies are all present.  And the show doesn't go half-steam by just tossing in a few critters, either.  
The mythology behind them is built into the episodes and the show's mythos themselves.  For example, the dragons eat jewels like traditional medieval dragons.  The phoenix and cockatrice legends each have an entire episode devoted to them- with continuity in following episodes.  The image of the zebra, traditionally used in African Lore to mark a great magician, priest, or witch doctor is presented in the form of Zecora, a zebra, who acts as those very things in the show.  
These displays of mind-boggling attention to detail along with the compelling stories and nods to fan interests posted on the net are part of what I love most about this show.  It shows that, yes, a cartoon for girls can be a cartoon for all ages and genders AND that you can give fans more of what they want by paying attention and intelligently incorporating their ideas into your storyline.  The bronies don't lie.
You can find My Little Pony, friendship is Magic on a number of platforms: on The Hub Channel on Cable and Sattelite, on Netflix, on Youtube, and on DVD.  Take your pick.  You should be watching My Little Pony.  And if you aren't...


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