At first look, you might wonder why My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is worthy of your attention. Yes, it is a little kids’ show, but that doesn’t mean it’s not awesome. In fact, the show has gained a cult following during its first season among (mostly male) teenagers and young adults who call themselves “bronies.” Yep, bro ponies. I highly recommend checking out the show’s Know Your Meme page if you want to dig a little deeper.
Part of the show’s popularity has to do with its creator, Lauren Faust, storyboard artist for both The Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. Faust’s writing and art direction goes above and beyond most of today’s cartoons, creating intricate story lines and lovable characters the likes of which we haven’t seen since Nickelodeon’s heyday.
Season 1 follows the adventures of Twilight Sparkle, a studious unicorn with an extraordinary talent for magic, and her journey to find true friendship. Yes, I know it sounds corny and ridiculous, but just bear with me. She finds these friends in Rainbow Dash, a spunky pegasus, Applejack, an apple farmer, Rarity, a slightly snobby unicorn, Fluttershy, an animal-loving pegasus, and the infamous Pinkie Pie, whose extreme weirdness is the stuff of legend.
In the season 2 premiere, The Return of Harmony Part 1, we join fillies Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom, and Scootaloo on a field trip to the Canterlot sculpture gardens, and the three soon get into an argument about a very strange statue. As they squabble, the statue seems to glow menacingly from within. A bit ominous for a show originally designed to sell toys to little girls, no?
The next day, Ponyville is in crisis. Cotton candy clouds are spewing chocolate milk everywhere (much to the delight of Pinkie Pie), the rabbits are growing hooves and the crops are turning into popcorn. Ringleader Twilight Sparkle tries to stop the madness with a spell, only to find that it has no effect. The girls are quickly summoned by Princess Celestia, the wise and benevolent ruler of Equestria.
Celestia explains that the strange statue from before represents Discord, an ancient evil which used to rule Equestria in complete chaos, until he was stopped by Celestia and her sister Luna when they discovered the elements of harmony (honesty, loyalty, generosity, laughter, kindness and magic – there will be a test later) and gained the power to end his reign. Now that Discord has escaped, he has stolen the six elements (which the six main ponies represent) and hidden them in the palace’s labyrinth, which the girls must enter alone.
Discord teases and tricks each pony until she loses her element, becoming a shell of herself. The episode ends with every pony but Twilight drained of her special ability, and with Discord about to begin his second reign of terror.
This show is just plain awesome. It’s basically Lord of the Rings, only with ponies. That may sound strange, but very few cartoons out there have such complex, lovable characters going on mystical, dangerous quests every other day. Most episodes are heartwarming and hilarious, and the season 2 premiere was no different. The already incredible art has also improved, with a wider variety of styles being used.
Now that the show is aware of its more mature audience, it isn’t afraid to cater to them. Pinkie Pie makes a “Chocolate Rain” joke and there are some moments in the episode that are just plain scary – even for adults. Psychotic laughing balloons and evil soul-sucking butterflies? That’s just not okay.
I am already on the edge of my seat waiting for next week’s episode!
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic airs new episodes Saturdays at 9 am on The Hub.