Because I'm bored with little means to make stuff, I guess I'll continue this again.
A lot has changed since then and now. Certainly, my understanding of the show has evolved to the point where my paradigm has shifted. Though, unlike most, my opinion of the show hasn't degraded, but gained even more profound
respect for the sheer artistry and dedication that is put into every single episode, which begins to show its finest where the show transits from the episode-based, randomness that was the first couple seasons, to a serious, story-arc driven series, wrapping up the prior seasons into the fold; appropriately, that all truly starts here. In the season 4 opener, "Princess Twilight."
Now. The format will change slightly, but the basic rules are the same; I break down the episode into it's more basic categories of animation style, music, characters, etc., (now with a noticeably greater understanding of cinematography and writing to aid my critique) and score them respectively. Then I make an average score for the whole episode, reflecting my impressions.
Lets start with the
ANIMATION ==== 9.5
Throughout Season 3, one thing I did notice even early on was the experimentation with transitioning from the simpler and dull camera angles and scenes of the earlier show to something more dynamic and active. Emphasis on proper cinematography becomes an important part of the show from here on out, and it can be clearly seen.
Let's look at, for example, the scene of the Mane 6 standing in the Palace, beneath Twilight's stained glass window. The bright lighting they add to the entire place makes the environment seem far more open, dimensional, and interactive than the standard background. Same goes for the flashback of Nightmare Moon's creation. You don't even need to be an expert to appreciate the awesome visuals and action shots prevailing there.
Almost again, as I've stated before, making the fact that it's Flash based animation even the more astonishing. I could
go farther and give individual scores on every single facet of the rather detailed animation, (also known by the phrase: "mise en scène")
but I'd rather not write a novel for each episode.
There were noticeable flaws, however, in certain movements and lighting cues, more than normal it seems. It detracts from the visuals slightly, but not by much. Soon those will be remedied as the "Renaissance" of MLP gains momentum in the future.
BACKGROUND MUSIC ==== 9.0
What struck me the hardest from this episode both back then and now, was not the music itself, (because for the most part it was fairly repetitive motifs that egged on the action, mostly using the same foreboding deep brass notes) but the LACK of it in the appropriate parts. Notice how dropping the music on the moments where Twilight stood over the fallen Celestia, and when her friends turned her away for her own protection dramatically increased the seriousness, and mimicked the "held breath" of those (including me) watching. Introducing the more serious atmosphere that the new MLP seasons from here on would adopt.
And what I would later learn to really, truly love...
Let's start with the main character of this episode, Twilight. This was of course, mostly through her point of view, and featured her own problems to solve over the rest. Now gifted with wings, we see her struggling with her new body and her new position. And I liked her so much throughout this episode because she shows how truly lost she is, swept up in the chaos of her situation. Even her response to the guards wasn't very commanding as it was her desperately attempting to keep the situation under control and to reiterate the obvious, since the guards or anypony for that matter were on the edge of hysterics. She really entered a whole new league here and she admits her inadequacy several times, despite everyone looking to her as a hero, including how she admits to being influenced by Discord and her friends since they were the only forms of advice she could gain with the princess' absence. Truly this episode was her learning that she needed to control her own impulsive actions and consider the consequences of her decisions, knowing that counseling her friends would prove to be the greatest resource at her disposal above everything else.
(and the other M6) 8.0
Being the main "voice" of Twilight's friends for this episode, she takes a dominant role here to speak the minds of what the others were thinking. Early on, I admired AJ's level-headed optimism and her consolations for a worried Twilight, reminding her of the connection they shared and how nothing would stand between them. However, she falters in her initial respect for Twilight's title over her reliance on her friendship. While she means well, and in most situations, she would be in the right, AJ failed to weigh the consequences of disrupting their unity in favor of protecting the last bastion of faith and security for Equestria from harm, regardless of that pony's superior abilities and understanding of the situation. While not specified, I'd like to imagine Applejack at least learned of seeing someone for their individual qualities before looking at their status and obligations.
In the end, the other Mane Characters didn't provide much context, other than reiterating Applejack's statements, or simply adding their own unique character influence to their group decisions through their complaints and/or commentary. Under Applejack, the rest were rather weak in emphasis, but emphasis was not quite necessary in this instance.
While her appearance was short, and her dialogue not very extensive, what I DID notice was the prevalence of emotion for even those short moments. Including and starting with how Celestia described her feelings about the Summer Sun Celebration, and how it pained her each time. You notice the drop in her voice, betraying the regret that even broke through her standard regalia. This comes full circle when Twilight witnesses Luna's banishment herself, noting the refusal of Celestia to fight with her sister, up and until the point where NM almost took her out and forcing her to tearfully use the Elements. Not to destroy her, but to banish her until other bearers could use the Elements to their full extent to restore Luna to her former self.
However, while one may again point out her weakness from being taken by the vines, one could argue of what Discord mentioned with the vines being designed to capture her and Luna with ease. As well, with what Celestia said about her knowing Twilight would come to save them, makes me think that in the long run, (HEADCANON ALERT) that Celestia even up to this point, allows herself to be taken out of the picture to strengthen Twilight and her friends even more. This makes a tad more sense when you compare her sorts of actions against Discord, who also plays the long game. Celestia more than anyone would know the extent of the Tree of Harmony's power, and could have expected a cunning comeback from Discord regardless of him being imprisoned or not, but he would never expect the sort such as Twilight and her friends to be the one's to defeat him. Also, where DID Zecora get that potion? Why was she talking about giving up the elements to the Tree of Harmony unless that was her intentions? The true extent of her knowledge and plans never are clear, but certainly, she seems so content with her bystanding position and reliance on Twilight that it's a cause for suspicion.
Although reformed, Discord certainly has not lost his manipulative spirit. Nor his mischievous desires. This episode was a relief to me at the time, as it reassured him as being a liability for as long as he's not imprisoned. Even with an angry Fluttershy to boss him around, his cunning far exceeds the best of the M6, to the point of being proven innocent while at the same time, be guilty of the crime. He even made things worse by willingly placing Twilight back in danger by pointing out what she did wrong and moving her to hastily overcorrect. Yet in the end he was willing to concede defeat for the moment as the vines were removed, showing that this isn't his final act and his plans, both past and future, extend far beyond the comprehension of the little ponies around him, but yet he shows weakness in his immediate perception and relationships that will be emphasized later on in this and other seasons. Interesting for sure.
STORY ==== 7.5
While character development was brilliant
in this episode, I found the formatting to be... a bit convoluted. It's hard to pinpoint why, but the transition between scenes felt awkward and chaotic at some points, and overall lacking in build up and suspense, which arguably would have added much to this kind of episode, but the time constraints couldn't allow it.
MORAL ==== 9.5
As emphasized with Twilight's character review, this moral was focused on her and how her role as a Princess should be dealt with. She learned that she definitely wasn't fully ready for her role and it will be something to grow into, but while it wasn't stated directly, the first thing she needed to realize that she, as a leader, needed to be able to form her own judgments and not be bounced between the opinions of others so freely, as that led to her making many of the mistakes she made here. Same goes for Applejack and the rest of the M6 who had to realize that their trust and friendship in each other should trump any sort of political or situational barriers that suggest the contrary, knowing that unified, they're strong, and divided, they're weak.
OVERALL ==== 8.8
A strong season opener, and a strong introduction to the new "Princess Twilight" story arc that would continue on for at least the next two seasons. I recall my impressions when I first watched this long ago about my anxiety, knowing that from here on, the show had truly gone a new direction. And it would. Whether or not that change was a positive one is up to you, but hopefully, my next reviews as they come will reveal my own position on the matter. (As long as they don't take three hours to write like this one did... Ugh.)
That's all for tonight. And if you're asking, yes, the tablet is still freaking broken, and I'm starting to loose hope... Almost don't know what to do at this point... (I may start up limited commissions for ink pen drawings. Respond if you'd like something like that, at least.)
Want to donate? Feel free to drop tips via Paypal at StormEyeBris@Gmail.com