My Little Pony: Frienship Is Magic may be based on a line of toys, but this cartoon is anything but plastic. I confess I never watched the original cartoon, nor am I a fan of cartoons based on toys, but My Little Pony: Frienship Is Magic rises above other toy-based cartoons with thoughtful dialogue, intriguing storylines, fleshed-out and funny characters, and a strong message.
In the magical land of Equestria, a kingdom populated only by colorful ponies, Twilight Sparkle, a studious and slightly reclusive young unicorn intent only on enhancing her magical abilities, has been assigned by her mentor, Princess Celestia, a very important task: get your muzzle out of those books and make some friends! In the quaint, fairytale village of Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle meets five new ponies. Each episode follows Twilight and her friends Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie as they embark on wondrous adventures in the magical world of Equestria, guided by the nurturing advice of the magnificent Princess Celestia, as they learn what it means to be true friends.
Twilight Sparkle is dutiful and intelligent, but obsessed with one thing: studying magic. She once studied so much, she made no time for anypony else. That is until her mentor, Princess Celestia, charged her with the study of a special kind of magic: friendship. Newly converted to the joys of having friends, she uses her knowledge and unusually powerful gift for magical spells to help her new companions in Ponyville. When the going gets tough, her love for her friends transform her into a natural born leader. (Voiced by Tara Strong, The Powerpuff Girls and The Fairly OddParents.)
Rainbow Dash is capable and athletic and lives for adventure. When any problem should arise that involves traveling to distant lands or dealing with a magical, mysterious beast, Rainbow Dash is the first to volunteer. Brave and bold, she’s quite positive she’s the fastest Pegasus pony alive. She’s a bit proud, and a bit mischievous, but when the chips are down, Rainbow Dash always comes through. (Voiced by Ashleigh Ball, Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Bitty Adventures.)
Pinkie Pie marches to the beat of her own drum. Giggly, playful and brimming over with energy, it’s not unusual to find this pink pony prancing and skipping joyfully through the streets looking for fun, doing cartwheels, singing a song in a silly voice and making up her own ridiculous lyrics. By far the silliest pony around, she is the freest of free spirits, talking your ear off and getting a laugh or two along the way. (Voiced by Andrea Libman, Monster Buster Club.)
Applejack grew up working hard to keep her family’s famous apple business growing. She has come to be known as the most down-to-earth, resourceful and dependable pony. A proud farm pony to the core, she’s not afraid to get her hooves dirty. Applejack has an impeccable ability to break a situation down to its core and fix it fast and usually topped off with a wacky country anecdote told with a charming dose of country twang. (Also voiced by Ashleigh Ball.)
Rarity could possibly be the most beautiful unicorn you’ve ever seen. A talented fashion designer, her biggest dream is to one day design for Princess Celestia herself. At first glance she may seem a typical debutant, vain and entitled, but she’s generous to a fault. She believes so badly that the world should be beautiful she’s all too eager to simply give away the designs she works so hard on and to offer anypony a custom makeover. But Rarity’s greatest beauty is her heart. (Voiced by Tabitha St. Germain, Martha Speaks.)
Fluttershy is a graceful, fawn-like filly. Her gentle, serene ways make her unusually attractive to all types of forest animals, whose care and well-being are her highest priority. She’d like nothing more than to spend every waking moment caring for her animal friends in her secluded meadow cottage, and that’s because Fluttershy is, well, shy. Sweet, soft-spoken and often fearful, her pony friends treasure her kindness, but have to work hard to help come out of her shell. (Also voiced by Andrea Libman.)
Spike is the little dragon assigned to assist Twilight Sparkle in her mission to Ponyville. He serves her by taking dictation for the letters to Princess Celestia, as well as burping up return letters from said Princess. He is loyal to his pony friends, but has special feelings for Rarity. (Voiced by Cathy Weseluck, InuYasha.)
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is not unusual for inspiring a group of people to join together as rabid fans. What is unusual is that most of these fans are adult males, known as “Bronies.” Though adult women are also included in this group, most of the attention is focused on the adult males who loyally watch MLP (as it is abbreviated), then discuss episodes online or in person, in organized groups across the country.
The power of the Bronies was proven when they seized on a background pony and named her Derpy in online forums. The character was picked up and given lines, though whether the characterization was successful was the subject of heated debate among Bronies.
Bronies even host and attend conventions to celebrate MLP, with creator Lauren Faust, famous guest star John de Lancie (he played evil Discord, as well as Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation), and several cast members.
“Cutie Mark Chronicles”
Air Date: April 15, 2011
A pony’s “Cutie Mark” is both important and symbolic to each pony’s individuality and serves as a personal symbol that defines their unique character, passions and ambitions. The episode follows three young ponies known as “The Cutie Mark Crusaders” on a quest to seek out Twilight Sparkle and the rest of the ponies to learn the untold stories of the iconic ponies and their famous “Cutie Marks.”
Air Date: October 29, 2011
The Halloween-themed episode centers on the Ponyville celebration of Nightmare Night. The celebrations are in full swing when Princess Luna comes to Ponyville determined to change her frightening public image.
“A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1 & 2”
Air Date: April 21, 2012
When it’s announced that Twilight Sparkle’s older brother, Shining Armor, is set to marry Princess Celestia’s niece, Cadence, all the ponies in Equestria should be celebrating. But there’s one pony in Ponyville who’s not so thrilled with the news – Twilight Sparkle.
My Two Cents
It would be easy to dismiss My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic as a silly cartoon for little girls, simply because of the bright pastels and related merchandise. But MLP: FIM is highly entertaining. The dialogue is naturally funny, growing organically from the action and relationships of the characters. (It’s refreshing to watch a cartoon that doesn’t rely on pop culture commentary for jokes.) Plus, the storylines are engaging, tackling issues of not only friendship, but also overcoming fear and selfishness.