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My Element is Honesty. My Sin is Envy.

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Liveblogging MLP:FiM:EG:TFG · 8:29am Oct 2nd, 2015

Yep, we're doing this silt again.

Here's the story so far. It's been a year since Rainbow Rocks, once again emerging into the world just after my birthday, and I know even less about what's coming than usual. I haven't actually watched any of Season Five yet, and I haven't really been keeping up with the news at all. It's not that I haven't watched anything; I've seen a ton of other shows in the meantime, including Steven Universe, which may be my favourite anything ever. But MLP? I just haven't felt interested. I think it's the case that for a few years now I've been waiting for the show to grow or evolve in some way, and I just don't feel that it has. The whole princess arc felt like the show was fighting against its premise instead of embracing it, to the extent that a lot of the tension comes not from wondering how the characters are going to get out of the situation they're in, but how the writers are going to save the terrible premise they've been handed. That conflict has been hanging over my head since Magical Mystery Cure, and even though the show looks very pretty and the slice-of-life episodes and individual character arcs are entertaining as ever, as a whole I just don't know where it's going any more. Twilight Sparkle is Friendship Level 99 with nothing to learn, nowhere to go, and has the ability to summon magical pony collossi to nuke anything that stands in her way. Even after season 1, most of her villains revolve around depowering her in some way so that they have a chance to actually pose a threat. You'd think this would be a chance to slip back into more abstract, social villains like the Grand Galloping Gala in which there's no clear right answer and Twilight has a chance to actually make a choice, but instead, we got Tirek, who, though impressive, was ultimately defeated with the magic of game-breaking power creep. Because friendship is OP.

Look, I don't want to be negative. The reason I love MLP is because of its non-violent approach to conflict resolution, which is such an incredible rarity even for kids shows. The vast majority of the time, characters solve problems just by talking things out, or by being nicer or smarter than the people standing in their way, or even just accepting that a problem can't really be solved in the way that they want. Which is why having a character who's objectively stronger than everyone else feels like a betrayal of the premise, and why any victory achieved by shooting someone in the face with lasers cheapens the message. Because I know that the show is capable of being more than that, and it frustrates me when it isn't. And I guess I just don't want to deal with that frustration any more.

Yeah, yeah, I know, a brony complaining that a show that isn't even aimed at him isn't what he wants it to be. Laugh it up.

But Equestria Girls still interests me, simply because it's not mired inside of itself. Once you get past the premise, it seems like the show's only outlet to take a nice, solid step backward and try something new. Instead of being the most powerful little girl in the world, Twilight gains a prestige class and is reborn as a Level 1 young woman, cast into the strange new world of high school where the rules of friendship are different and the accomplishments of childhood mean nothing. Whether this was actually successful is another question, since Rainbow Rocks could have used another draft and the original needed at least two, but I've still been finding it more compelling than the main series simply because it feels like something's actually at stake. The characters are still growing, still learning how to get along with each other and deal with their own issues, and when they overcome an obstacle it can feel like they actually earned it.

Which leads us into The Friendship Games.

From what little I know, it sounds like this story is set entirely in the Equestria Girls universe, which is an opportunity for Sunset Shimmer to finally shine. Considering that Rainbow Rocks was really her story, she barely got to interact with anyone in it, so hopefully this will be her big break. It seems like we'll finally be seeing the human Twilight Sparkle, too, and I'm excited to see what direction they're going to take her in. We seem to have reached the point in this review when I'm just waffling about the thing I'm about to watch, so allow me a break to get some snacks and let's get into this.

*some noodly goodness later*
All right, let's do this.

TIME: 11:48 PM

Okay, so the movie opens with Sunset noting that they never actually explained what was going on in the last movie. I give them 60% odds of getting an actual explanation in this movie. Character introductions are characteristically efficient, if not totally natural, and Twilight doing science things kicks off the plot right away. My initial concern is that this film is going to have the same pacing as Rainbow Rocks, which, while still an improvement over EG1, felt like a long episode padded to movie length rather than using the whole of its runtime to tell the story. The efficient writing meant that the "plot" basically reached its end a little over halfway through, with nothing left to do but stall for time until the final confrontation. For now, I'm just happy to see things not getting needlessly dragged out at the start.

Okay, that's two minutes down.

TIME: 11:59 PM

That intro sequence was very pretty.

A little disappointed that we're not getting Principal Chrysalis as many speculated. Was a little worried when Spike showed up on the roster, but it appears that Cathy Weseluck is just here for Spike the dog, not Spike the dragon, so odds are still good for no ponies showing up. The question, then: Is Spike the dog going to talk, or did they bring his voice actress in just for her to make barking noises the entire runtime? Some magic shennanigans are probably going to make it the former, but I think I'll just bask in the hilarity of the latter for a little while.

TIME: 12:06 AM


...okay, but why every four years? Seems arbitrary. And if no one in the school (except potentially some long-runners) has actually experienced a Friendship Game before, this whole rivalry thing doesn't really make sense, since this will be the first time this particular set of students has ever competed. Even a long history of defeats wouldn't beat in this defeatist attitude if no one has ever been beaten personally. Maybe it's just a device so that Sunset, who's a non-native to this world, doesn't know about the rivalry and has to have things explained to her, but at the same time, this is her fourth year at this school (she's been princess of the Fall Formal three out of four times she's attended) and is canonically older than Twilight, so she's probably been in high school longer than anyone else. Why is she the straight woman in this situation? I'm just saying, unless we're operating within a very specific timeline that the writers haven't informed us about, there's no reason why this couldn't have been a yearly event.

TIME: 12:18 AM

First musical number! It was okay.

Waiting for someone at the back of the room to raise their hand, though: "Um, excuse me Rainbow Dash, I know this song is about how as a school we've come together to face bigger threats than Crystal Prep before, but... wasn't it Twilight Sparkle who actually solved both of those problems you mentioned? It wasn't an organized effort on the part of the school that defeated the villains, but a very specific magic created by the tight personal bonds someone who doesn't even go here shared with a small group of her close friends. Unless you want to summon her over here to play basketball for us, we're kind of in the same boat as we were last year. In fact, on both occasions when we were in danger, when the school did come together and act as one it was entirely to the benefit of the villain, with the actions of the group becoming meaningless next to the actions of the exceptional individual who saved the day. I mean, school spirit and a sense of community are good things, but it's hard not to feel like we, the crowds, are just a backdrop to the small number of people who've been arbitrarily chosen to represent us, you know?"

Admittedly, I may be reading some of my personal feelings into this, since that's basically how I feel about sports in general. I was in writing groups, D&D club and the local bible study group; sure, I had friends on the school wrestling team, but I never felt like they represented me in any way. Much as I love the line that something doesn't have to be magical to be important, the idea that sports, an inherently physical and conflict-driven form of expression, should be the defining measure of the social value of a school never sat right with me. School rallies always weirded me out; regardless of intentions, it's very easy for them to turn into this very kind of us-vs-them mentality, the same petty human tribalism that's been responsible for every atrocity in the history of civilization. I guess the sentiment in the song isn't totally without merit, since thanks to Twilight Sparkle defeating those villains on behalf of everyone else the school has learned how to be friends and be a generally happier place, but it's still incorrect to say that that was the deciding factor in the school being saved at any point in the past. Is this nitpicking? It feels a little like nitpicking. And, I must admit with a sigh, it's not fair for me to pick on this movie because of underdeveloped themes in previous movies. All right; let's see what school spirit can do in this one.

It's not going to matter, though, since we already know that the whole games are going to revolve around Sunset Shimmer and co. vs Twilight Sparkle and co.. Six people per side. Go team.

TIME: 12:42 AM

Okay but why are all the girls in heels? Rainbow Dash looks like she's wearing flats but those shoes are the same angle as everyone else's. I can understand the basis for putting everyone in skirts, even if it doesn't make sense from a character perspective (it's easier to make the toys that way), but why heels? Is it just the style in this world? In a universe where everyone is 60% leg, why is everyone trying to be even taller? At least Sunset's look good. Still, if everyone goes into the actual sports events in combat heels then I'm going to flip.

Also, does it seem to anyone else like the writing is getting a little formulaic? Pinkie Pie lists three things, Rarity says something about clothing, Applejack rolls her eyes and asks the obvious question, Sunset doesn't know anything. End scene. I'll be keeping an eye on this.

TIME: 12:51 AM

Today's lesson: Independent Study Programs are the devil.

I do have to draw the line on this one. Maybe it was just the case at my schools, but A) independent study programs require a close relationship with the supervising teacher, who knows you well enough and trusts you to be able to be able to do the work independently, B) independent study allows for a more flexible schedule that allows for more free time to socialize instead of being trapped in the inefficient teaching methods of larger class sizes, C) are they seriously telling a story about a young woman trying to get into a STEM field but being convinced not to because it'll affect her social life? Are you... I can't even... just... okay, I'll keep going.

Also, those are some way sloppy sine waves on that chalkboard.

(Listen to her. She's not being challenged academically. Whether or not she has friends is not the issue. Gaah!)

TIME: 1:08 AM

Okay what.

She's making the smart girl compete in an athletics tournament. Clumsy, socially anxious, noncompetitive Twilight Sparkle.

I just... not only is this an unspeakably cruel move, I don't even understand the reasoning. The Friendship Games are about sports, yes? Soccer, golf, whatever the third thing was that Rainbow Dash mentioned? Yes, you need to be clever as well as physically fit to be professionally good at those kinds of things, but brains will only get you so far. And we already know from the previews that this year's games are going to be about archery and rollerblading and riding motorcycles. What does Principal Meaniepants think is going to happen when Twilight tries to compete? Exactly what part of her reputation is she protecting here?

As an academically- and none-too-physically-inclined person myself, I can really emphasize with the nightmare situation Twilight's found herself in. She knows what she's good at, and all she wants to do is what she's good at, yet she's being forced to extremely publicly participate in something that doesn't play to any of her strengths, knowing that everyone is going to be judging her for that and that alone. I'm really hoping that this gets addressed later on in the film. But then, it's a sports movie. Not holding my breath.

TIME: 1:30 AM

One thing I'm noticing is that the Mane Six express their character mostly through their voices and their faces, while the Shadowbolts are a lot more physical. They all have unique postures and subtly different body types (which I'm only detecting because I've become so numb to staring at the same thin teenage girl model for two and a third movies) and they're a lot more expressive in general. A number of characters in the film so far never seem to know what to do with their arms, but the ones who originated in the EG universe always seem a lot more comfortable as humans than the ones who conceptually began as ponies. They're definitely bit characters, each one a little too unique to have much focus on them, but in a story that's starting to get overcrowded it's nice to have some breaths of fresh personality in there. (Sugarcoat is my fave.)

TIME: 1:40 AM

Sunset, the FRIENDship magic is popping up whenever your FRIENDS act like FRIENDS to each other. Why is the smart one always the last one to figure this out?

Okay, hypothetical solution: Maybe Rainbow and co. just sit this one out? Why is it just a given that they specifically will be competing? Don't they have an entire school full of talented people to choose from? We know they have a soccer team. Some of those big guys look tough. There's gotta be at least one smart cookie in there. Why put so much emphasis on school spirit if I'm just going to end up repeating myself?

TIME: 1:50 AM

Okay, some of my concerns being assuaged here. The Friendship Games ARE about more than just sports. There are TWELVE competitors on each side. Crystal Prep ALWAYS chooses its top students. These are all things that we really should have been told at least twenty minutes ago, but at least knowing them now makes me feel a lot better about the whole thing. It also means that TFG is continuing the long-running FiM tradition of somehow overexplaining things and yet somehow not actually informing the audience at all, though it's less pronounced here than it was in the past films.

I'm also interested in where this thing with Twilight is going. Obviously she's creating rifts in reality by gathering the anomalies (not totally sure why she's doing that, but maybe - maybe - they'll explain later) and thanks to basically unavoidable spoilers I'm aware that some villain called Midnight Sparkle is going to show up, but I don't know how any of it's going to manifest. Unlike the first two films, I genuinely have no idea how the plot's going to develop from here, which I am extremely happy about. For all my problems with the premise, now that all the setup's out of the way this film's turning out to be a lot of fun.

TIME: 2:01 AM

Did Flash Sentry and Bon Bon just bake a loaf of bread and put sprinkles on top?

I love this movie now.

TIME: 2:05 AM

Okay seriously, carrying animals around in a backpack is not okay, and it's kind of worrying me that's it's being presented as if it is.

TIME: 2:11 AM

I know I'm harping on about this, but I still don't understand the logic of the Friendship Games. You've got two events (I think? It still hasn't been explained?), one academic, one a physical challenge... and you take only the ones who succeeded at the academic event and move them on to the physical challenge? I mean, yeah, best of the best, and some people can be both brains and brawn, but (and I'm not letting this go) they're forcing Twilight to play sports. I can't be alone in thinking that this is going to skew the success of the second half, right? And is Rainbow Dash really one of the top six students that CHS has to offer? I mean, considering her active learning style, which runs contrary to the traditional teaching style of the high school classroom? (Which is why something like an independent study program can be extremely useful, for individuals who oh why am I bothering.)

TIME: 2:25 AM

Okay, this is exactly what I was talking about. If Applejack hadn't stepped in, Twilight would still be firing arrows to this day. This is why precision-based events usually come toward the end of a multi-event race, I say as someone who has no idea how such things actually work.

TIME: 2:30 AM


Audience: "Oh no, if only there was some way we could have seen this coming"

TIME: 2:35 AM

What did I say about petty human tribalism? "It's not about winning, it's about making the other side lose." The War Prayer, anyone? It feels especially strange coming out of Sunset, who comes from a world that's much more cooperative. But then, I guess Equestria isn't a stranger to competition anyway, and Sunset's basically native by now. What lesson are we supposed to be taking from this? If it's meant to be a criticism of this us-vs-them attitude, it's playing the whole thing very straight. I'll see where this is going from here.

*thirty seconds later*

Okay that's just not fair. The home team has a clear advantage in Capture the Flag. Forget magic, my money's on the side that has the layout of the building memorized.

TIME: 2:43 AM

Principal: "Do the thing."

Twilight: "Do what thing?"

Principal: "You know, the thing. With the magic."

Twilight: "No, I'm seriously not getting this. What exactly are you expecting me to do?"

Principal: "You know... use it."

Twilight: "Use it how? This pendant only has exactly one button. Even if I let it out, how would that help us in any way?"

Principal: "We would use it."

Twilight: "Use it how? I'm sorry, but you're not making any sense here. This is a stored magical charge that appears to be connected to specific individuals. I've only ever seen it do two things, and 50% of those things nearly killed Sugarcoat half an hour ago. Do you really think that letting it out in a big burst in this crowded space is going to have the effect that you want?"

Principal: "I don't know. But that's the beauty of it! If you let it out, you'll know! You'll learn!"

Twilight: "That..." *deep sigh, adjusts glasses* "That is not how the scientific method works. At all. In order for something to be studied it has to be done in a controlled environment, with proper documentation and safety precautions with clear and replicable results. Unleashing an unknown force in an environment like this would do something, yes, but it wouldn't tell me anything scientifically viable, do you understand? Knowing what something does is not the same as knowing how it works, and scientific progress comes through understanding of the latter, not the former. Wasting this opportunity for the sake of a game would prevent me from being able to learn about it like I actually want to, do you understand that? Why would you ever think that that argument would work on me?"

Principal: "Open the damn necklace or I'll hold you back an extra year to make you retake Gym class."

Twilight: "Opening it!"

TIME: 3:03 AM

Sunset: "True magic comes from FLOATY HAIR!"

TIME: 3:10 AM

Aaaand fin. I've got some seriously mixed feelings about this, so I'll just chatter a bit while I digest.

This film... felt like it was missing something, somehow. And I think the reason for that has to do with the lack of a strong central focus. What there was was great, of course; the characters were a lot of fun, the visuals entertaining throughout, the writing with a smaller than usual number of pacing-related stumbling points. I had a good time with this movie, and I think a lot of other people will too. It feels a lot like a particularly good episode of the show. But then, that's it. That's all it feels like.

In all three movies it's felt like there's been a really strong idea for a theme that just isn't properly developed. In the first one, we have the central figures of Twilight and Sunset and their conflicting ideologies with the central question of friendship vs popularity in a high school setting. RR had the central figures of the Dazzlings tackling the same topic from a different angle, showing the conflict that arises from competition as opposed to teamwork. TFG seemed to be going for several things at once, and now that it's done, I'm not totally sure what exactly it was about. For the first half or so it looked like they were going for a theme of academia vs athleticism and how people with different skillsets should work together instead of forcing individuals to try to be good at everything by themselves, but that never really went anywhere. There was also Principal Cinch and her talk about reputation and the way people judge others for their accomplishments, but I don't know if that's the main theme of the movie. And of course there's the us-vs-them dynamic again with Canterlot and Crystal Prep, but that's more of a backdrop for the actual plot and it's pretty quickly brushed off. What they did end up going with was, well...

Maybe it's just me having an unfavourable gut reaction to this, but did anyone else feel like this movie was... unsubtly anti-intellectual? Twilight's motivation in this movie comes from the fact that she's not being challenged academically. She's the top student at the top school in the country, with a whole song about how she feels stifled by the high school environment and wishes that she could do something more with her life. And all that anyone says to her is "No, don't focus on your studies, what you need is to spend more time with your friends." Which isn't an altogether bad suggestion, but it's solving a completely different problem to the problem that Twilight has, and which I'm not totally sure she does have; she doesn't seem unhappy about the fact that she's a social shut-in, only that her school isn't letting her advance her career in the way she wants. Transferring to Canterlot High at the end might make her more social, and yes, potentially happier, but she's still resigning herself to two more years of already knowing the entire curriculum when she wants someone to teach her about theoretical physics.

And I guess what hits me about this in a really uncomfortable way is the idea that friendship and academia are incompatible. As if it's impossible for Twilight to be in an independent study program and also have friends. At the risk of getting political, trying to get more women into the male-dominated STEM fields is a really big deal right now, so for a movie aimed at young girls to tell them that if they go into an advanced field that they'll never see their friends again feels like a huge misstep. By comparison, the emphasis on physical education bugs me as well. I mean, yay girls in sports and all, but: you never hear the girls telling Rainbow Dash off for going to soccer practice without them, so why this double-standard for the brainy crowd? When someone fails one of the academic FG events, it's just a "whoopsie daisy, I guess some people just aren't good at that stuff" but when Twilight can't hit a bullseye on a moving target it's treated as a huge embarrassment and she's ruining the game for everyone.

This carries through to the climax, where Twilight really gets the short end of the stick. All throughout the film she repeats that she doesn't want this; she doesn't want to compete, she doesn't want to hurt anyone, she doesn't want to dive into things without taking the time to do it her way. And then suddenly, for the first time in her life, she feels strong. She doesn't have to do those things any more. No more games, no more wasted time, no more jumping through hoops for people she hates just to be allowed to do the only thing she's good at. She can learn, she can understand, she can travel and see things that she's never seen before, she can finally put her incredible intellect to use and actually do something with her life - she's a bit fuzzy about what the plan is after that, but she can work that out later. She's a caged genius who's been held back by the school system all her life and finally feels like she's been set free. And then Sunset steps in, somehow even stronger than her (thanks to her floatier hair), and tells her that the problem isn't the school; the problem is that she doesn't have any friends.

Which, I want to reiterate, is not the solution that matches the problem Twilight has.

And so the movie ends, with the conclusion that the Friendship Games are perfectly fine as is, the school system is perfectly fine as is, and if you're feeling unfulfilled at school, you need to get your nose out of a book and join a rock band. Class dismissed.

...I swear I had fun with this movie, though.

It's possible that I'm just taking this a bit personally. It's not like I've exactly been in Twilight's shoes - I was a B+ student, often behind on work, and more a "fountain of useless knowledge"-smart than book-smart - but I did know very early on in my life what I wanted to do with myself and how I prefer to do it, and I know the pain of having to go to ridiculous lengths just to get people to respect that. FiM, like many shows, often forgets that introverts exist or treats them like rare, backwards individuals who need to be shown the error of their ways. There's no reason why Twilight couldn't have been happy just doing her own thing by herself and only occasionally interacting with her mentor or others in her field, and while that lifestyle certainly isn't for everyone, it's frustrating to see a show that claims to explore all facets of friendship holding it up as inherently wrong. And maybe it's not a huge deal, but... if I'm taking this personally, then it stands to reason that there's someone out there a lot younger and a lot closer to Twilight Sparkle who's taking this very personally. And that's the one thing I really don't want.

I wanna listen to the Rainbow Rocks soundtrack again.

And that's how you extend a ninety-minute movie into four and a half hours of typing and speculation. Go me. Now, wasn't there something I was supposed to be doing...?

Comments ( 16 )

The whole princess arc felt like the show was fighting against its premise instead of embracing it, to the extent that a lot of the tension comes not from wondering how the characters are going to get out of the situation they're in, but how the writers are going to save the terrible premise they've been handed. That conflict has been hanging over my head since Magical Mystery Cure, and even though the show looks very pretty and the slice-of-life episodes and individual character arcs are entertaining as ever, as a whole I just don't know where it's going any more.

Word. I haven't watched anything since season THREE.

Also I gotta check out Steven Universe. Everyone keeps telling me to.

Twilight Sparkle is Friendship Level 99 with nothing to learn, nowhere to go, and has the ability to summon magical pony collossi to nuke anything that stands in her way. Even after season 1, most of her villains revolve around depowering her in some way so that they have a chance to actually pose a threat.

Basically also why Superman movies are always so formulaic and boring. Dawn of Justice? Just watch. Gonna be the EXACT SAME THING. I don't care what Mr. Snyder says about whatever. It's GONNA BE THE SAME THING.

I wish I could enjoy the rest of your blog, but I haven't even watched the damn show yet. I didn't watch any of them, really. (The original I saw only very passively).

Ech well.

I'll watch it one day and come back here. =)

3436398 Oh, believe me, I have a lot to say about Steven Universe as well. Maybe I should do some more blogs about the things I've been watching instead of FiM.

So SHOULD I watch it or not? You seem to like it, but your response carries a very negative vibe. Or am I misreading you?

Well, here's the short version:


I still feel a little weird recommending it because I can't let it go without the disclaimer that it does take a while to get good. It sort of does an Adventure Time thing (which makes sense, since the creator and several of the crew are Adventure Time alum) in which it just cold opens in the middle of the story and you're left on your own to figure out the rules of the world it's set in. Unlike Adventure Time, it has a lot more basics to cover before the story starts to make sense, and as someone who's constantly stringing people up over thematic and internal consistency in stories it was extremely frustrating at first for simple questions like "Who are these people?" to go unanswered. The early episodes are also where the animation and the writing are the weakest, and it's very easy to get the wrong impression of it. I tried it initially and then didn't watch it again for more than a year because it didn't seem like it was going anywhere. It's not that it's bad, it just didn't seem like it was for me.

Once you do get into it, though, it has some of the best writing and character development I've ever seen on television. Not just in cartoons, but ever. When you have enough clues, just trying to figure out the complete history of the main characters and how they got to be where they are is half the fun of the show. The animation and music both turn from inconsistent to beautiful throughout, and the conflicts are real in a way reminiscent of FiM but at times above and beyond it, even to very dark extremes for a kids show. (There's a whole plot arc about rape and consent.) I have fallen intensely in love with it. It touches my heart in a way that no other show ever has.

Also, it's full of lesbians. Like so many lesbians, you have no idea.

You do have to get over that initial hump, though. Don't skip any episodes, since they feed you a ton of information in sometimes very subtle ways, and early plot elements and locations frequently come back later on. Personally, I'd recommend starting with Giant Woman, which a lot of people consider the first really good episode. From there you can basically jump around as you like, up until Mirror Gem, where the plot takes a sharp turn and suddenly things aren't so clear any more.

Now here's the even shorter version:
Yeah, it's good. Try it.

Eh, I can wait. I sat through season one of Parks and Rec AND the first half of season one of SHIELD and if I made it that far, I can tolerate bad things before they become good.

I'm not even going to jump around. I really hate that. I'm gonna just dive in when I get the chance and watch it in the way the producers intended.

I'm a big fan of Adventure Time and Gravity Falls and other more adultish cartoons, so this seems good for me. I'll give it a shot. Thanks for the rec!

I expect a full analysis on my desk at 8:00 Monday morning. Chop chop.

I found it weaker than Rainbow Rocks, but mostly because it had to connect with Equestria Girls, which was much weaker, for the sake of intended symmetry.

Also, I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that Fluttershy has no idea how to handle non-cartoon animals.

But you didn't talk about the after credits scene :C

yeah pmuch my feelings summed up in a way i have no desire to also a lack of songs this time :/

also sugarcoat is the best mostly because her name is ironic

Dear Boss

Here is my report

well, okay.

I watched about 10 segments of Steven Universe, that's all I had the time for unfortunately, but I'm watching a couple a day. You're right about one thing. The show feels like it's DELIBERATELY leaving things out, rather than Adventure Time, which feels like the weirdness of the world is meant to be just something taken for granted. It's left me a TINY bit apprehensive at this point because I actually kinda wanna know what's going on, sort of like Gravity Falls. But with Gravity Falls there IS that explicit promise that the mystery IS what the show is about... with Steven Universe, no such promise is given.

That said, I don't really dislike it. It's funny, got good beats, good soundtrack, good voice acting. Nothing I can complain about. It's just, however, really by the numbers so far. I'm eagerly waiting for the story to finally kick into the point where things start to come together. Until then, I'll keep watching.

Nice review, though personally I think the show (My Little Pony that is, haven't watched Steven Universe yet) is better than it has ever been. At least check out "Amending Fences".

I suspect Onion so hard.


You have no idea.

We all do, dude. We all do.

In a parallel sequence of events, I have decided to start watching Gravity Falls after hearing that it is good and similar to things that I like, and am now ten episodes in. Am I also going to be waiting a while on this one? I mean, I know due to basically unavoidable spoilers that this is all going somewhere. It's got a great atmosphere, some fantastic humor, it's very pretty to look at, and while the characters are a bit hit and miss there's a lot to like in them. But like half the episodes so far are just about the male lead trying badly to hit on Wendy, and even more have unrequited love subplots and constant jokes about Dipper's masculinity. Shit like this is half the reason I stopped watching Adventure Time, and coming fresh out of the gender-positivity of Steven Universe, it's honestly making me kind of uncomfortable.

Even the central premise is starting to feel like a footnote; I recognize that at this stage we're still introducing characters, but the book's barely been in the series. It's frustrating because as early as the pilot it was clear that the show could be very inventive with its creatures and its mythology, but it's getting pushed aside for the sake of tired romantic drama that we all know is going to go the way of Spike the Dragon and never go anywhere. But is the show going anywhere? Steven Universe makes you wait 25 episodes for the main plot to start moving forward; how long until the mystery of Gravity Falls actually sees the light?

Well, I can't say about the masculine thing. That never really distracted me before. They kinda stop going there after a while, although Gruncle Stan is rude to EVERYONE (there's a reason, though).

Gravity Fall's Season 1 kinda does the MotD thing for quite a while up until near 3/4 through season 1 with a bunch of mytharc eps sprinkled in, and only halfway through season 2 are all the mysteries finally resolved completely after addressing the situation over the course of many eps throughout the end of season 1 and the start of season 2.

As for the dating thing, it's really a small percentage of eps, too.

Personally, I really liked Gravity Falls. I actually feel it's one of the best cartoons I've ever seen. I will admit that they stretched out the main story for too long, but they came in strong in season 2. What I like the most about it is the humour, mixed media methods (same reason why I loved gumball) and the incredible voice acting. Even the MOST IRRITATING CHARACTERS start to make sense as things are explained.

Also, at the risk of stepping on a land-mine, I'm just gonna go ahead and ask because I'm curious -- I never felt that Adventure Time was gender-negative. In what way do you feel that it is? (Although I agree about the love subplot. Not sure why they had to introduce the fire princess angle; Finn's childish innocent love for Princess Bubblegum was always good, although I guess they HAD to evolve it somehow, or else they'd live forever in a static bubble, and that's no good either).

Ah, I didn't mean to suggest that Adventure Time was necessarily gender-negative. Yes, Finn is bad at relationships and has some messed-up ideas of how the world works, but the show always follows through with them and Jake tells him to his face that he's wrong ("Those books are gonna mess you up, man."). After a few seasons, though, it did reach a tipping point where I found that it just wasn't enjoyable to watch any more. I found that I just stopped enjoying Finn as a character and, like Bubblegum, was tired of waiting for him to grow up.

Obviously this is entirely personal preference on my part; this character archetype became popular for a reason. Maybe it's because I am myself an emotionally sensitive male unlucky in love who pines for women more mature than himself, but whenever I see one of these characters it feels like it's reflecting back the parts of myself that I most strongly dislike. It's predictable, it's been done before, and it grates on me in a really unpleasant way. Masculinity's the same. Dipper gets made fun of constantly for not being tough; Spike feels like he's not a real dragon for liking "girly" things; Princess Cookie wants to be a princess and gets put in an asylum. I think Panda Bear has shades of this too (I don't know much about We Bare Bears). Even The Friendship Games has life-changing pressure put on Twilight for not being good at sports. Sure, the moral usually turns out that they're strong in the way that counts and it's okay for them to be themselves, but only after everyone's had a laugh at their expense, you know? It just leaves me wishing the show focused more on someone other than Dipper, or at least had more mystery episodes to develop him that way instead of putting him in the role of the weak little boy - you know, having a main character who I actually want to share the adventure with. More Mabel, less Wendy.

Though I will agree, Gravity Falls is gorgeous to look at. I've noted out loud that it has the best integration of 2D and 3D effects that I've ever seen.

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