Don't worry friends and neighbors, One F isn't going all brony on you. Though I have long-since buried the hatchet with that community once I discovered some neo-Nazi had made a chart showing how MLP conflicted with proper fascist values, I remain baffled by the herd. I wouldn't watch this show if I wasn't forced to.
But forced I am, by the tiny dictator that lives in my house. I don't see what about the series would speak to a grown person, but as far as things my daughter insists on viewing over and over again it's not bad.
Not only is it not bad, it's objectively better than any cartoon I grew up with. Keep in mind I'm 32, which means I'm talking about He-Man, Transformers, and Thundercats. Yes, I just said My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is better than Transformers. Here's why.
5. It's Not a Giant Toy Commercial: That's not to say that the toy aisle isn't awash with MLP swag. If you wanted to blow a paycheck on pony stuff, that's certainly possible. But back in the '80s cartoons existed solely as a way to sell toys. That was their entire purpose.
Hell, in the Transformers movie they straight up murdered something like ten original characters just to make room for new ones that they could sell as toys. That is some heavy stuff to lay on a kid. Sorry, Timmy, you bought Hot Rod instead of Wheeljack, so Wheeljack had to die.
4. The Show Actually Remembers Previous Episodes: Another aspect of the "MUST SELL TOYS!" mentality was the constant introduction of guest characters. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was really big on that. Who's this? Mondo Gecko, the skateboarding mutant lizard! He's going to turn from a life of crime and become the Turtles' sewer neighbor!
Then nothing. Mondo Gecko shows up exactly one more time in basically a quick cameo, then he's gone. That happened all the time in TMNT and He-Man. In MLP, at least when Rainbow Dash gets a pet turtle with a helicopter attached to his back you see him consistently later on. Not only that, but the show constantly adds little bits of character development for such incidental folks. It's long-term storytelling, and that wasn't a real thing when I was growing up. You just reset every week while they sold you plastic and cereal.
More ponies on next page.
3. The Art is Clearly Better: Look, I understand that drawing things is hard. I can't do it, and when you're churning out a series you cut labor wherever you can. Hire another animator? That would cost like a month's cocaine! Balderdash.
I remember staring at He-Man every week and wondering why he always seemed to do that little move where he would run in from the upper left corner, stop, toss his sword from one hand to the other, then run off screen. He literally did it every week, and the reason was you could switch out the background and add four seconds to the running length for zero dollars.
That's the sort of thing that happens when you're not really making a product because you believe in it, and it never happens on MLP. Sure, they occasionally reuse character models, but they'll at least given them different names, voices, cutie marks, etc. If Mortal Kombat can get away with palette-swapping it behooves us (I kill me) to offer the same courtesy to the ponies.
2. Doctor Whooves: This requires no further explanation, I trust.
1. It Teaches Forgiveness: If there is one consistent thing that I have against most kids' cartoons these days it's that there are no bad guys. Most of the time everyone is bumbling around on the same side with no sort of real conflict at all. I understand that this is more indicative of real life, but I do yearn occasionally for a modern day Cobra Commander.
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MLP has bad guys. Nightmare Moon, Discord, Trixie, and they are all very much maniacal villains... when they're first introduced, that is. All three of those characters get a second chance, eventually finding friendship, understanding, and forgiveness. You got the good-guy-teams-with-bad-guy episodes back when I was a lad, but it always resolved itself back to the basic paradigm by the end of the episode.
Here, villains actually learn something about themselves sometimes, and that's a really important lesson for a kid growing up. You can't teach them that the world is divided into to camps, good and evil. You have to show them that every side usually is trying to do what they consider right, and maybe if we reach them the right way they'll come around. I'm willing to bet that thanks to MLP there will be a lot fewer bigots in the world when the show's youngest fans eventually inherit it.
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