on September 8, 2012
Any child of the 80s or even the 90s, could tell you that My Little Pony was a cartoon show originally created to sell pony toys to little girls, much in the same way Transformers was a show created to sell toy robots to little boys. Typically you would not think much of either series, you'd look down you nose at them, and assume they were just shallow 22 minute toy commercials. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, defies all expectation. It provides surprisingly well developed characters, each of whom have flaws they have to deal with, and plots that teach genuine and worthwhile life lessons, that has been sorely lacking from most children's television since Hey Arnold ended. The best part is that never once does the show look down upon its intended audience of young girls, it assumes they are intelligent, and alert enough to digest and understand the more meaningful things going on, and the show is all the better off for it.
Now for its unintended of audience of young adults around the ages of 18 and above (my self included). The reason this show connects with so many older people (inaddition to the children), is again, because of the intelligently written and surprisingly deep characters. Each of the main 6 characters that the show centers around, are based on one, or a small number of archetypal character types. You have the dutiful, perfection seeking student, the tough hardworking farmer, the sometimes arrogant, but loyal athlete, the fame seeking fashion diva with a generous heart, the shy but infinitely kind, lover of nature, and the always hyper, fun loving party thrower. The broad range of characters, allows almost anyone to connect and empathize with the characters, as they can see them a bit of themselves in one or more of the characters. But what really takes this show over the edge, and makes it way more then just "girly" cartoon, is that it takes that the foundation of fantastic characters, and throws in some of the best humor seen in animation, since Disney classics like The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladin. A character will do something you never saw coming, and then you laugh your head off because you say to yourself "Well of course they did that hilarious thing, its totally what that character would do."
As a great man playing a terrifying character in a film once said "You've changed things, forever, there is no going back"
My Litte Pony: Friendships is Magic has forever changed the rules of "children's" cartoons, and regardless of how long the show itself continues on, the fact that it effortlessly entranced both its target audience, and its unintended audience of young and older adults, means that it will forever change the way the big companies think about they way they make entertainment, and undoubtedly improve the quality of "children's" animation.
on September 7, 2012
It doesn't matter if you'd rather have Blu-ray. Good sales of this will lead to Blu-ray. It doesn't matter if you have access to Netflix streaming or iTunes or YouTube for the episodes. They don't have audio commentary. Find the money for this and support the official release!
Update (11/27/12): According to Seth's review of this DVD on Equestria Daily, the commentaries on this disc are amazing. I share his sentiment even now, and I can confirm my agreement with him after I receive the DVD.
Update (12/13/12): I received my DVD days ago, but I just wanted to confirm that this is a great 4-disc DVD set. The commentaries are especially interesting, although the only new voice credit information that we learned that wasn't already known was that Tabitha St. Germain voiced the stallion who screams in "The Best Night Ever" after Rainbow Dash knocks and catches him.
on December 5, 2012
I'm not going to waste time talking about the show. If you want to know what it's about, read any of the other 80+ reviews lavishing praise on the series, or, better yet, record a few episodes from the Hub on your DVR or Tivo. I'm going to discuss the stuff people reading these reviews actually care about: picture/sound quality, packaging, and extras.
Picture/Sound Quality = This set looks as good as any of the other MLP:FiM DVDs released by Shout! Factory. Really, this show can only look so good on DVD. The picture quality is great for a Flash-animated show on DVD, but it won't look great if you're used to the 1080p iTunes releases of the episodes.
Packaging = This set contains four DVDs in one case. Each disc is well-protected and easy to access. The art on the front and back of the case is pretty good. I'm less thrilled with the illustrations on the third and fourth discs (third disc has an illustration of Princess Cadance, a character not introduced until the Season Two finale! while the fourth disc has a questionably illustrated Princess Celestia). This is all nit-picking, though. Everything is bright and colorful. The case comes with a slip-cover illustrated the same as the case. The case itself is see-through, and the opposite side of the paper with the cover art displays a very pretty layout of various characters walking around Ponyville while also listing the various episodes in the set.
Extras = I counted six episodes with full commentary tracks (Friendship is Magic parts 1 and 2, Winter Wrap-Up, Suited for Success, The Show Stoppers, and The Best Night Ever). Commentators for these episodes include a couple of Hasbro execs, Jayson Thiessen, James Wootton, Nicole Oliver, Cathy Weseluck, Andrea Libman, Tabitha St. Germain, and Daniel Ingram. The commentators have a lot of fun talking about these episodes, although, far and away, my favorite commentary so far is the one for "Suited for Success," in which Daniel Ingram talks quite a bit about the difficulties in finalizing the songs in that episode. There's nothing mind-blowing in these commentaries, but it is fun to hear Ingram talk about the music and the voice actors talk about the various characters.
Beyond the commentaries, there are short "Pony Profiles" in which the Mane Six are briefly introduced, downloadable coloring sheets, and two sing-a-longs (for the extended version of the title theme and At the Gala, respectively). These are mainly for children, but the sing-a-longs are definitely cute.
All-in-all, this is a solid set, and well worth investing in if you want to support the show's official release. Let's buy enough of these that Shout! Factory releases high quality Blu-Rays of these eps.
on September 7, 2012
Putting aside the whole "brony" phenomenon, this show is still well worth the price, for a number of reasons:
- The characters: This is where the show really shines. The characters are all very well-rounded and surprisingly complex for a show aimed at this age group; it avoids lumping the characters into stereotypical roles. For example, in just about any other show, Rarity would be a stereotypical girly-girl, obsessed with boys, shopping, and hair. Here, she's certainly a fashionista, but she's also a competent businesswoman, something of an artist, and knows how to handle herself in dangerous situations. All the cast members have a similar level of development, which lends itself really well to the slice-of-life nature of the show.
- The character designs and animation are great. It's cute and endearing, but not to the tooth-rot degree of previous generations, and it's still good for the occasional action sequence. As a bonus it's very expressive and surprisingly detailed for a flash-based cartoon.
- Ditto for the music; it doesn't necessarily stick out, but it definitely enhances the show as a whole.
- Good writing: On the whole, the show avoids most of the pitfalls of kid shows by using lots of character-based humor and self-awareness that can appeal to viewers of any age and rarely feels patronizing towards the adult audience. You don't need to be a kid to find it funny. At the same time, the plots are generally executed well enough that they don't feel like rehashes of common plotlines, and even when the plots are quite simple they're still entertaining due to the charm that the characters bring to everything.
- Good Acting: There's some serious voice talent here; Tara Strong (Twilight Sparkle) is basically the patron saint of voice acting, Andrea Libman displays some impressive range (voicing both Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie, two characters who have almost opposite personalities), Ashleigh Ball gives Rainbow Dash and Applejack very distinct voices, and Tabitha St. Germain does a great of job making Rarity into an entertaining and balanced character.
This isn't to say that Season 1 is totally without fault; like all things, it has a few rough spots (In particular, the Cutie Mark Crusader based episodes can seem a bit same-y due to the characters having the same motivation in each), but overall it's consistently high quality and well worth checking out, even if you aren't a kid. I've found that it has a degree of quality and subtlety that sets it apart from a lot of other children's programming.
EDIT: Now that I have the DVD, I'm just going to throw in a few comments about the physical media aspects. I haven't had time to watch everything yet, but I've watched a few episodes worth on the various discs and they look good so far.
1. The commentaries are very entertaining and interesting. They aren't particularly ground-breaking, but it's fun to hear about some of the behind-the-scenes stuff from the show's staff. There's a good selection of people from actors, to writers, to producers, and they definitely offer some interesting insights into the show.
2. The audio and video quality are great. It's not hi-def, but it's still perfectly good quality that really demonstrates the skill of animators and composers.
3. The physical DVD box itself is sturdy, if without frills.
The only things I can really complain about are rather insubstantial, but in the interest of fairness I'll include them anyway:
1. The box artwork. They use some of the same stock vectors that they use for 90% of the merchandise, which isn't bad in and of itself, but having seen it everywhere else it feels a bit lazy when it would have been fairly easy to use something new. Also, one of the DVD's has an image of Princess Cadance, who doesn't actually appear in the series until the end of the second season. It doesn't bug me, but I guess a kid could get confused wondering who the pink pony on the DVD is.
2. The menu music. It's a loop of the "My Little Pony" line from the show's theme song, and if you listen to it for more than about 20 seconds it starts to get a bit annoying. Again, an extremely minor issue, but one that could have been really easily solved by just sticking in some of the show's (excellent) BGM instead of a 10-second loop.
So basically, the show itself is awesome, the DVDs maintain the quality, and the only issues are so insubstantial that they're barely worth mentioning. They certainly aren't important enough to knock any stars off the rating. If you were on the fence about buying the DVD, do it, it's completely worth it.
(Note: I haven't checked out all the special features, like the coloring pages and whatnot on the fourth disc, but I doubt those will really factor much into the rating either)
on September 7, 2012
I have been waiting for a release of the full season for quite some time as I'm sure many others have. Definitely support this release,it is clearly targeted for Bronies being an exclusive like this and the alleged bonus content like audio commentary with the cast and crew. Supporting this will surely lead to more DVD releases, perhaps even Blu-ray!
on September 7, 2012
It's about time the greatest show to hit our TV hit DVD, so can't wait :D
I will be ordering this from the UK, and I recommend it to ANYONE!
Today I learned that we need to reevaluate what we think of when we say, "Girl's Cartoon." Too often that phrase conjures up a parade of doll commercials that embarrasses everyone. Using superb animation, intelligent writing, and a spectacular cast and crew crafting every episode, we can create worldwide phenomenon the likes of which no one ever imagined!
Your loyal subject,
P.S. I'm attaching a the complete first season of your faithful student's studies of friendship. It's all 26 episodes across four disks, and six episodes have audio commentary with the part of crew and the voice cast of the series: "Friendship is Magic" part 1 & part 2, "Winter Wrap Up," "Suited For Success," "Show Stoppers," and "The Best Night Ever." Unfortunately, Twilight, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack weren't able to sit in that day, as you would know. And, the DVDs are only in English without any subtitles.
But, still, totally worth it for anypony who likes ponies.
-Inky Quills (DC_Fan_52)
on February 13, 2013
I gave the show 5 stars because it is a good show. When I first started watching out of interest because I had seen some funny clips on the internet. I was amazed by the story writing and all the characters. It kept my attention from episode 1 all the way to this day still. I would say every single episode is good I don't dislike any episodes at all. Every episode seems to end with a lesson being learned which is pretty great because everyone ( everypony, lol ) needs to remember each of these lessons in life. The show is full of laughs from start to finish one episode after another. I'm a guy and I'm 32 years old and if I can enjoy this show so much and laugh at each and every episode a couple times then that means anyone can. I have no dislikes about the show, none. I would recommend this show to everyone ( everypony, lol ) any age. I'm just shocked , surprised how people can judge a book by its cover and when you admit to watching this show they think you have issues and say they would never watch this show based of its cover and mistaking it for a little girls show. It's okay, I use to feel this way all my life until I saw clips of the series Friendship Is Magic on sites like youtube and after watching I had even more respect for the show itself. People who judge a book by its cover will always be blind to the story inside which in this case is good and funny as can be.
The story of my love for this show is a complex one. I watched the original My Little Pony as a kid because I had two sisters and was the only boy. To me there was nothing strange about watching Lady Lovely Locks, Rainbow Brite (the movie rocked!), and Strawberry Shortcake. It was just what we were watching. It wasn't until much, MUCH later that I discovered Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the like (my mother didn't like all the violence). Fast forward to my 30's and a funny thing happened at work.
A co-worker of mine had a name that sounded a bit like "pony" so people so some teasing occurred based on his last name. Then another co-worked mentioned that there was indeed a growing phenomenon of "bronies" watching My Little Pony. Knowing only the original show from the 80's and it's immediate sequel shows (having completely missed the brain-dead recent ones) I assumes he was talking about the originals. I looked it up on search engines and started to read article after article on the phenomena. My reaction was immediate "I must watch this show and know what this is all about."
I couldn't believe how good this show was. Just watching the first two episodes, which were clearly heavily influenced by Sailor Moon, the circuits in my nerd brain were blown. It was so incredibly well done! I begged and pleaded with my wife (a big Sailor Moon fan) to watch JUST THE FIRST TWO EPISODES. She resisted, then relented. Eventually she ended up watching every season so far (four as of this writing) with me. While she enjoyed watching the show ONCE, she's no fan-girl or brony. And my friends and acquaintances are even worse.
I don't really understand why so many people have such a strong aversion to things that target a different demographic, other than perhaps that propaganda has thoroughly washed their brain. Rejecting something ONLY because it appears childish...is a mark of immaturity (Or as C.S. Lewis once said "Now that I am an adult I have put away childish things such as the need to appear very adult."). So ironically, many people appear to be too childish to give a kids' show a chance. Go figure.
I've been a fan of animation from all over the world my entire life. I grew up watching every Disney animated feature and every cartoon on the Disney Channel in the 80's. As an adult I discovered anime classics animated shows and films from the 80's that I missed as a kid. I'm here to tell you, this show is not good. It is a work of genius.
I can't count how many people I told to watch this show said they "can't stand the singing". It's hard for me to choke down my gut reaction, which is to call them all sorts of intelligence insulting names. This show has songs that rival the best Disney ever put in a show or on film. Its songs are better than ANY songs currently on the radio. The lyrics are downright brilliant. The melodies are infectious. The song structures are brilliantly executed and wildly inventive. Even songs that I wasn't crazy about at first slowly embedded themselves into my brain until I wanted to listen to them on repeat for hours. And yes, I have finally gotten to the point where I listen to "At the Gala" in French and "Winter Wrap-Up" in German. The songs are that good. The only music with lyrics I can think of recently that is that good would be the soundtrack from the Disney film Frozen (which I also have international versions of songs for).
If you strip away the iconic characters, gorgeous flash animation (yes, that is possible), catchy songs, adult and pop-culture references, etc, you still would have an exceedingly clever show, which is thoroughly self-aware, and tells an absolutely wonderful story. Our real world is filled with negativity, sex, violence, and hate. I can't watch shows on TV designed for adults that aren't based on cooking or some everyday activity, because modern TV drama for adults makes me sick. The explanation for this programming has always seemed to be that people are simply dark, evil, twisted creatures who crave nothing but these base things for their amusement. But then, out of nowhere something like Friendship is Magic emerges which exceedingly proves that no matter how dismal and dark things get in our modern world, good things come from within the hearts of good people, and simply cannot be suppressed. This is not mindless entertainment. It is a show about growing, and showing love for others on a very deep level. It encourages embracing your identity, cherishing the things that make us different, and true loyalty (to name only a few of the reoccurring themes). The world NEEDS shows like this desperately to teach children (and adults) the life lessons that are constantly being undermined by the screams of mainstream media to be selfish and self-centered.
Aside from that, the characters really are truly outstanding archetypes with amazing depth and goodness, even to the point of being profound. Through the course of the show into the later seasons, you'll see a tomboy who loves sports embrace reading a good book, a refined woman get dirty to make a child happy, a shy mousy animal-lover overcome her fears, an independent spirit learn to rely on others, and an extreme attention-deficit character learn to focus on what truly matters in life. There is something deeply moving about a protagonist who sacrifices for others, a person who gets their entire self-worth of seeing others become happy, and a character who creates art but is only joyous when the creation is for the benefit of others. This is great stuff people.
This is where it all starts. Watch this show and fall under the spell of something truly good that springs from a love of people and everything that makes friendship the wonderful thing it is.
If like me you are a shy nerd who struggles to make friends, this show may make you feel like more as a person. If you have no interest in such things and appreciate a good cartoon you will at the very least find it wildly entertaining. And if you think cartoons are for children, singing is stupid and only weirdos and perverts would want to watch a show for little girls when they are an adult male, I feel deeply DEEPLY sorry for you.
on September 9, 2012
Let's face it: if a cartoon is based on a line of toys, generally speaking that's not a good sign. A few such shows, like the original He-Man, acquire a certain ignominious cult following in the "so bad it's good" category. Seriously, that one had to be far and away the campest children's show ever made...
But, I digress.
This, the latest incarnation in the My Little Pony franchise, does not fall into the "so bad it's good" category. It's just good. Really good. Smart, too.
On a superficial level the tried and true formula remains unchanged. Candy-bright characters and sickly-sweet morality tales parade across our screens, preaching the same tired old lessons kids have rammed down their throats in so many other shows. Poor devils.
The good part comes in the delivery. The writing, the voice acting, and the artwork are all genuinely witty, and everything is handled with a certain deft panache. Without being in any way hard or cynical, much less descending into mere self-parody, beneath the surface the underlying sensibilities are actually rather grown-up. There's a definite feeling of adults at play here, of a show created by people who genuinely had a lot of fun in making it. Perhaps as a result there's a real lightness of touch, and both the show itself and the individual characters are all utterly charming. It's sweet, but not saccharine.
For us, the humble viewers, the funniest parts by far are when the ponies totally freak out and "lose it". I've put "lose it" in quotation marks because it actually is a quote. I first found my way to this show via a clip on YouTube entitled "Pinkie Pie Loses It". There's also a host of other similar clips from the show that have been uploaded to that site. So if you've not seen this cartoon before and would like to get a feeling for why it has the cult following it does, the best advice I can give you is to stop reading reviews here on Amazon and go look at some of those clips for yourself.