My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

Who remembers the toy line “My Little Pony” from the 1980s? This toy line was originally conceived by Bonnie Zacherle in 1981 under the name “My Pretty Pony.” It was renamed My Little Pony and has been produced as plastic pony figurines by Hasbro since 1983. In 1984, the pilot episode for a television series was aired, featuring the voices of Tony Randal and Sandra Duncan. This franchise has gone through four generations of different toy designs and media adaptations. But in 2010, a new series of My Little Pony premiered that would ignite an unexpected phenomenon of fans.

vlcsnap-00381The fourth generation of this franchise launched with the premiere of the television program My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic on October 10, 2010. This is currently an on-going series, going on 5 seasons totaling 117 episodes. This series, co-produced by Hasbro Studios in Burbank and DHX Media in Vancouver, premiered on the cable network The Hub (now Discovery Family). This series was developed by Lauren Faust, who also did writing work on other cartoons such as The Powerpuff Girls (Faust is married to PPG creator Craig McCracken, btw), and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. Faust wanted to change the established stereotypes of My Little Pony by creating more in-depth characters and adventurous settings. Her visions of a transformed perception of My Little Pony have since attracted an unexpected group of fans. This fan base has since been dubbed as “bronies.” The name has been perceived by many as a mashup of the words “bro” as in brother and pony. The truth is that news about this series, early on, was spread on the website “4Chan” under the /b message boards. That’s where the letter “b” in “brony” came from. However, I kind of like the “bro” and “pony” combination because it makes more sense.

Bronies at a panel at BronyCon 2015

A Brony is a fan of My Little Pony. The reason why this fan base was such a strange phenomenon is because My Little Pony was originally targeted toward little girls between the ages of 5 and 10. Many bronies are male with an average age ranging between 13 and 35. Bronies were attracted to the show because of the show’s characters, stories, style of animation, and the use of pop culture references such as Sleeping Beauty, The Big Lobowski, or Gone with the Wind. This program has a lot of character-driven stories, where the characters have to find the solution to a problem that has been presented. This is where each of the characters learn something and they develop even further, which is one of many attractions to the show. This show has inspired the establishment of many brony conventions worldwide. One convention worth noting is BronyCon, which began in New York in 2011. Today, BronyCon is held annually at the Baltimore Convention Center in the Baltimore Inner Harbor since 2013. I am also a brony, and I have been one since the spring of 2012. I have also been to three BronyCon’s since 2013. This fandom is the reason why my online name is “Red Card.” It’s also the name of my OC, or Original Character; bronies can make their own OC’s.

Twilight Sparkle (c. Season 2)
Twilight Sparkle (c. Season 2)

This show mainly follows the lives and adventures of six female ponies, who all live in a town called Ponyville in the kingdom of Equestria. The stories begin with a purple unicorn named Twilight Sparkle. She is initially very asocial, but becomes more social after the pilot episode. She’s also very smart. She was the protégé of Equestria’s ruler, Princess Celestia. At the start of the show, the Princess sends Twilight and her assistant, Spike, a

Spike
Spike

baby dragon, to Ponyville to administer preparations for the annual Summer Sun Celebration, a millennium-old event. Celestia was mainly concerned that Twilight was focusing too much on studying and not making friends. Twilight said that “the fate of Equestria does not rest on me making friends.” But when an evil force returns after 1,000 years, it turns out that Equestria’s fate did rely on Twilight making friends. Twilight would meet 5 other ponies who would all team up to defeat this evil by using the magical objects

Twilight as a Princess
Twilight as a Princess

called the “Elements of Harmony” and the rest is history. Twilight represents the element of magic. At the end of Season 3, Twilight becomes an Alicorn princess after fixing an old sorcerer’s spell gone horribly wrong. An Alicorn is a basically unicorn with wings, and the only Alicorns in Equestria are princesses; as of today, there are only four Alicorn princesses. Twilight usually tries to approach unfamiliar scenarios rationally. However, when things don’t go according to plan and there are no more options, she will lose her composure under stress as if it’s the end of the world for her. But in many cases, she strategizes on how to approach situations, which pretty much makes her a shoe-in for being a leader.

vlcsnap-00385The first friend that Twilight meets is an orange earth pony named Applejack. She lives just outside of Ponyville at Sweet Apple Acres. Applejack is only one of two main characters that were originally from Generation 1 in the 1980s, the other one was Spike the Dragon. Applejack works as a farmer and the caretaker of Sweet Apple Acres, harvesting apples for Ponyville. She lives with her older brother, Big Macintosh, her grandmother, Granny Smith, her younger sister, Applebloom, and her dog, Winona. Applejack and the rest of the Apple family speak with a Southern American accent, and she has her own terminology she calls “countryisms.” as a sign of affection, she refers to friends and family as “sugarcube.” She’s very athletic, not afraid of getting down n’ dirty, brave, reliable, strong, mature, hard-working, and she’ll always be seen wearing a brown Stetson hat. Applejack, however, is sometimes very headstrong about accomplishing certain tasks, maybe it’s has to do with personal pride. Her main problem is the she can’t let her friends help her get things done. Applejack will tell things like they are, which is why she represents the Element of Honesty.

vlcsnap-00387The second friend the Twilight meets is a sky-blue, rainbow-maned pegasus named Rainbow Dash. She is a tomboy who is very athletic, agile, and competitive. She’s very enthusiastic about things that she love, sometimes a little too enthusiastic. Her design and personality was inspired by a pink Generation 1 peagsus pony named Firefly. Rainbow Dash was introduced in Generation 3 with the personality of a fashionista. Lauren Faust owned a Firefly figurine from her childhood and decided to mirror the traits of Firefly on to Rainbow Dash for Generation 4. Rainbow Dash is one of the fastest flyers in all of Equestria. She is so fast that she can perform a “sonic rainboom,” which is an ultimate, yet almost impossible feat in flying. This maneuver occurs when a Rainbow Dash, I think, breaks the sound barrier. It creates the effect of a rainbow colored shockwave expanding outward and it’s accompanied by a rainbow trail behind Rainbow Dash. Rainbow Dash also likes to play pranks on other ponies. One of Rainbow Dash’s problems is over-confidence. She tends to brag a lot about her own accomplishments, pride, and abilities. One of her life goals is to join the flying acrobatic team “The Wonderbolts.” However, this becomes a struggle for her because she’s not much of a team-player.The Wonderbolts perform as a team, go places as a team, practice as a team, and they work together as a team. But when any pony is in need of assistance, she’s one that you can count on giving you a helping hoof. This is the reason why Rainbow Dash represents the Element of Loyalty.

vlcsnap-00388The third friend that Twilight meets is a purple-maned, white unicorn named Rarity. She has such elegance and beauty that she takes much pride in. She lives with her younger sister, Sweetie Belle, at the Carousel Boutique where she works as a fashion designer. She is the main love interest of Spike. She cares not just about how she looks, but she sometimes gets carried away with her attention to detail. Rarity is frequently very headstrong about being the center of attention. Her dream is to become a world-renowned fashion designer. One of the commonly recurring issues with Rarity is that she becomes too hyper-focused on certain tasks in designing that she doesn’t make time for more important things like her sister or her friends. She also believes things need to look  the way she sees fit without consulting anyone first. But whenever a friend is in need of something, she’s willing to sacrifice something of her own to help that friend. This is the reason why Rarity represents the Element of Generosity.

vlcsnap-00390The fourth friend that Twilight meets is a pink-maned, yellow pegasus named Fluttershy. She is very shy and timid, yet very kind, caring, empathetic, and gentle. She is mostly shy and self-preserving toward newcomers, but when she is confronted by animals she comes out of her shell and embraces them with kindness and care. She is

"Yay!"
“Yay!”

usually unenthusiastic, and pretty much a polar-opposite to that of Rainbow Dash, except when it comes to animals. Fluttershy lives in her cottage on the outskirts of Ponyville near the edge of the Everfree Forest. There, she shelters and cares for a variety of animals and critters, even a fully grown grizzly bear. One of Fluttershy’s issues is that she is very conservative to the extent where she’s afraid of many things. However, when she sees any vlcsnap-00391creatures or her friends in danger, she will confront the problem head-on and reprimand them. She will come out of her shell in a ball of rage and lecture those endangering creatures until they get the idea that they need to back down. She represents the Element of Kindness because of her care and kindness toward other creatures and her friends.

"Hi! I'm Pinkie Pie, and I made this party just for you!"
“Hi! I’m Pinkie Pie, and I made this party just for you!”

The last friend that Twilight meets is a pink-maned, pink earth pony named Pinkie Pie. My goodness, does she have a lot of energy. She is the most sociable pony of the six main characters. She is very exuberant, excitable, outgoing, and hyperactive like she’s on a major sugar rush. Any or all of these traits are expressed all the time. She lives near the town-center of Ponyville in the sweet shop Sugar Cube Corner. She is often the source of comic-relief in the show, performing

Pinkie walking in mid-air
Pinkie walking in mid-air

cartoonish feats and defying any known laws of physics. She is the town’s main party planner. She can pretty much do (almost) anything that other ponies can’t do, like playing ten instruments at once, or use her tail as a helicopter rotor. She also seems to know everything about every pony in Ponyville, like when their birthday is. Pinkie Pie came from very gloomy beginnings as a filly when she lived with her family on a rock farm. When she saw a Sonic Rainboom one day, she vlcsnap-00397experienced a sense of joy and happiness that she had never experienced before, and hence threw a random party for her family. Pinkie, with her energetic and joyful personality, is some pony that I can compare to Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. Tigger is filled with so much energy that he bounces everywhere. There was even a reference in a Season 4 vlcsnap-00396episode to Tigger bouncing Pooh when Pinkie leaps onto Applejack in the same manner as Tigger would. Pinkie is also best known for breaking the fourth wall, showing awareness of cinematic components. When someone is down or sad, Pinkie is there to pick up and cheer up that pony. Because of all of these components, she represents the Element of Laughter.

vlcsnap-00398The show takes off when Twilight expresses concern about a 1,000 year old legend regarding the return of Nightmare Moon. Legend says that this “Mare in the Moon” was imprisoned in the moon by Princess Celestia. Nightmare Moon was originally Princess Luna, Celestia’s younger sister, who was responsible for raising the moon to bring

Nightmare Moon
Nightmare Moon

about the night. Luna grew bitter about ponies sleeping through the night that she brought while they relished and played in the daytime that her sister brought. Her bitterness got the best of her and transformed into Nightmare Moon, and she vowed that she would bring about everlasting night. The Season 4 premiere depicted the fight between Princess Celestia and Nightmare Moon. Princess Celestia was forced to use the Elements of vlcsnap-00400Harmony to defeat her sister and imprison her in the moon. This task was the hardest thing that Celestia ever had to do because she had to banish her own sister. Now, after 1,000 years, the legend said that the stars would align, aiding in Nightmare Moon’s escape. During the Summer Sun Celebration, she returned. It would be up to Twilight Sparkle and new 5 new friends to search for the Elements of Harmony and defeat this evil mare of darkness. During the hike through the Everfree Forest to retrieve the elements, Twilight discovers her friends’ traits that would earn them the titles of bearers of their respective elements.

Each of the main characters demonstrate certain actions against obstacles that would allow vlcsnap-00401them to advance through the forest. Applejack demonstrates her honesty when Twilight was holding on to a cliff for dear life, she told Twilight that if she let go that everything would be okay. Twilight didn’t know that Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash were hovering directly above, and she didn’t believe AJ at first. Fluttershy demonstrates her vlcsnap-00402kindness when they were confronted with a manticore (a creature with the body of a lion, the tail of a scorpion, and dragon wings). This manticore had a thorn stuck in his paw, thanks to Nightmare Moon, and Fluttershy removed it. Pinkie Pie demonstrated her laughter and fearlessness when confronted with scary looking trees in the Everfree Forest. This scene is one that resembles something from Snow White vlcsnap-00404and the Seven Dwarfs from 1937 when Snow White ran through the forest and was seeing scary looking natural objects. Pinkie expresses no fear in the form of a song titled “Giggle at the Ghostie.” This sequence is about facing your fears by laughing at the scary things instead of screaming at them, hence causing them to disappear. Rarity vlcsnap-00405demonstrates her generosity when confronted with a giant, flamboyant sea serpent whom the brony fandom has named “Steven Magnet.” He complains that half of his mustache has been sheared off, so Rarity uses one of the serpent’s scales to shear off her own tail. She uses her magic to morph her tail into his facial hair, and he offers his body as a bridge across the river, in return. Finally, Rainbow Dash vlcsnap-00406demonstrates her loyalty when confronted with the illusion of a group called the “Shadowbolts.” When she tries to mend a bridge to the location of the elements, she’s faced with the decision of either succumbing to her own interest in joining the Shadowbolts, or being loyal to her friends by fixing the bridge. She declines the Shadowbolts offer and refuses to turn her back on her friends. The final vlcsnap-00407ingredient in making the elements work was that Twilight needed to welcome friends into her life, which was how she demonstrated her Element of Magic. The show’s title say it all…Friendship is Magic. These six friends defeated Nightmare Moon vlcsnap-00408with the Elements of Harmony, and actually changed her back into Princess Luna. When Princess Celestia appeared, Luna showed full remorse for her ways. Celestia offered her a chance to start over, and Luna happily took her up on that opportunity. These friendships would set the stage for more incredible stories that have now spanned 5 years and counting.

The main title theme for this show has the signature My Little Pony theme in it. But it’s a different kind of theme compared to previous MLP theme songs. The opening lyrics and instrumental are from the 1980s My Little Pony theme. This theme was written by songwriter Daniel Ingram with lyrics by Lauren Faust. This song is performed by Rebecca Shoichet, the singing voice for Twilight Sparkle. Other vocalists include Ashleigh Ball, Andrea Libman, Shannon Chan-Kent, and Kazumi Evans. This theme gives a general overview of what the show is about in the lyrics. Twilight sings “I used to wonder what friendship could be…” and when singing to her friends, “…until you all shared its magic with me.” This is why the title of the song is “Friendship is Magic.”

The cast of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is mainly voice acting veterans who have been in this business for decades. The majority of the voice cast is Canadian. Twilight Sparkle is voiced by Tara Strong, who does much of her recording from her own studio in Los Angeles. Strong has had many voice acting roles including Bubbles on The Powerpuff Girls¸ Raven on Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go!, and much more. Rebecca Shoichet is the singing voice for Twilight. Both Applejack and Rainbow Dash are voiced by Ashleigh Ball. With about a decade of voice acting experience under her belt, Ball was the voice of Blythe Baxter on the 2012 series Littlest Pet Shop. Ashleigh is currently the lead vocalist, flute player, and co-founder of the Canadian rock band Hey Ocean! Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy are both voiced by Andrea Libman, who has also voiced Madeline and Maya on Maya the Bee in 2010. Libman is the singing voice for Fluttershy, but Shannon Chan-Kent is the singing voice for Pinkie Pie. Rarity and Princess Luna are both voiced by Tabitha St. Germain. She also voiced Pepper Clark on Littlest Pet Shop and Martha the Dog on PBS’s Martha Speaks. Spike the Dragon is voiced by Cathy Weseluck, who has quite a bit of anime voice over dubbing experience as well. Weseluck, like Tara Strong voicing Timmy Turner on Fairly Odd Parents, is very good at voicing male characters. Princess Celestia is voiced by Nicole Oliver, who has more than three decades of acting and/or voice acting experience. Oliver also voiced Meilin Rae on the English Dub of Cardcaptors, and Zoe Trent on Littlest Pet Shop. Of these voice actresses, Cathy Weseluck, Tabitha St. Germain, and Andrea Libman have also had voice roles in several Generation 3 specials of My Little Pony.

Tara Strong Cathy Weseluck Ashleigh Ball
Twilight Sparkle Spike Applejack Rainbow Dash
     
Andrea Libman Tabitha St. Germain Nicole Oliver
Pinkie Pie Fluttershy Rarity Princess Luna Princess Celestia

I love this show because it has changed how the world perceives My Little Pony. Much of the world saw this brand as frequently demonstrating adolescent female stereotypes, but this show does much less of that. Also, many bronies have been the target of bullying because they like a girls show. I see this show as a program for all ages and all genders. I like this show for what it is, and we don’t need society to dictate what we can or cannot like. Being a brony doesn’t define who you are. I’ve seen some of my own personalities in many of the characters, such as Rainbow Dash’s competitiveness, Twilight Sparkle’s intellect and panicking under stress, Pinkie Pie’s hyperactivity, Fluttershy’s timidity, Rarity’s attention to detail, and Applejack’s hard-working. This show has helped me to make friends whom I can relate to, and to be more out-going. I have to give this show a perfect score of 10 out of 10. I hope that this show can continue to go on for as long as it can.

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