Several months back I found myself down on my luck and living out of a suitcase. Lucky for me a very good friend of mine took me in, all she asked in return is that I gave her latest obsession, My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, a chance, having previously put off watching it simply because, eurgh, did I really want to count myself a ‘brony’ on top of a die-hard fujoshi!? However, since having watched the first series, I have come to see the light- the show definitely has its charms, and now that I’ve been consistently negative for almost a month now in my reviews and editorials, now seems a good time to share what those charms in question are with the rest of you guys!
One of the main reasons I originally looked down on the show was because I believed it would be much too childish for me given its intended demographic is young girls, and I’m used to watching and enjoying shows for the more mature female, *ahem* However, it was foolish to base my argument against watching the show on such a thing- for the same reason it is still possible to enjoy Disney movies at my age, it is possible to enjoy Friendship Is Magic. At points the show’s humour can be quite adult, as in the kind of sardonic humour that would go above the heads of most kids (-OK, slightly more tame than Disney’s sly innuendos, but still…), which is no doubt a by-product of Lauren Faust’s (Faust being the initial executive producer of the show) desire for Friendship Is Magic to appeal not just to girls, but to their parents, so they may watch the show together. The best ‘adult joke’ in Friendship Is Magic, in my opinion, being Pinky Pie’s “The punch has been spiked!” in reference to character Spike sleeping in a punch bowl… Heh, heh… Oh, I think you had to be there!
Another reason I found the show’s humour positively charming is that, being used to anime where humour is a lot more slapstick-based and straightforward, wordplay rare, it was nice to be re-introduced to a more Western style of humour. Now this is something only those more routinely exposed to Eastern styles of humour such as I and you, the large majority of my readers, can really savour.
The moral of the story each episode presents the audience with can also be enjoyed by those belonging to a more mature age group- I mean, when does learning to appreciate one’s differences (as explored during episode 9 “Bridle Gossip”), or dealing with tricky emotions such as disappointment, jealousy and loneliness ever stop being relevant? And the fact that the characters are completely relatable despite being cartoon ponies (which I’ll go into in more detail momentarily) means you can be taught about such things without feeling patronised, as one might expect, but understood, which really helps you get into the show. But if, like some, you still can’t bring yourself to take some of these ‘cheesy’ messages seriously, I’ve found it can also make for fun viewing to try to second-guess what they could be by the episode’s conclusion! Go on, watch with a friend and see who can guess the most! Loser has to treat the winner to a pint!!
A second reason I dreaded picking the show up is that I hadn’t much experience with cartoons for girls before, therefore, didn’t know what to expect. In each of the cartoons I used to watch back when I was a kid female characters played relatively minor roles and/or conformed to dumb stereotypes- anyone remember Muriel, the homely housewife/elderly damsel-in-distress from Courage the Cowardly Dog? Or Dee Dee, Dexter’s ‘dumb blonde’ sister? Would the ponies also conform to dumb stereotypes? Well, kind of… There’s the bookworm, the excitable one who loves tea parties, the wallflower, etc. But rather than feeling sexist and condescending, each character in Friendship Is Magic is portrayed with such energy and enthusiasm that allows them to completely dominate the screen, unlike the female characters mentioned previously (except in the case of Fluttershy who, despite being a wallflower, is a delight to watch!) And as their personalities range so widely between them, it’s impossible not to find one to identify with on some level! So once again my expectations formed by previous experience with kids’ shows were absolutely not to be trusted!!
And whilst I’ve never had a problem with the production quality of children’s shows- seriously, what kind of kid is going to be sat watching Pokemon thinking “Ooh, the animation in the battle sequence was a bit shoddy”?- it is worth noting that the animation of Friendship Is Magic is particularly top-notch, despite simply being a product of Adobe Flash, as is the voice acting. I was especially impressed by the talent of Andrea Libman (voice of both Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie) and Shannon Chan-Kent (Pinkie Pie’s singing voice) who managed to bring a lot of energy/moe kawaii uguu to their respective characters.
To sum up, Friendship Is Magic almost seems to transcend its intended demographic with its roll-your-eyes-at humour, energetic characters and impressive (when you take into consideration the basic level of the program used) visuals. So many of the reasons those not watching the show use to put it down are just not valid. And perhaps if some ‘bronies’ did a better job at pointing this out, putting forward legitimate, legible arguments (like I hope I have) they might persuade those people to give this show a chance.