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"[FoME] manages the impossible combination of being an actual legitimate nerd while staying unabashedly pleasant." —Aragón

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  • Today
    Friendship is Card Games: Pinkie Pie and the Rockin' Ponypalooza Party!

    This week, we return to the Berrow catalogue. While the previous entry offers the closest thing we have to Cadence’s canonical backstory, this one has actually been referenced in the show. Ponypalooza’s mentioned in “The Mane Attraction,” among other details. Let’s begin.

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    7 comments · 64 views
  • Thursday
    Deca Sanctuary

    Ten days remain for Imposing Sovereigns III, and while a few entries have come in, I suspect the bulk has yet to arrive. In order to help that suspicion, now's the point where I ask if people need more time. So, how goes it?

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  • 1 week
    Friendship is Card Games: The Knights of Harmony

    And so the unsung underbelly of G4 draws to a close… more or less. There’s that intergenerational crossover coming up. But this is certainly the finale to Season 10, and to the FiM line. 102 issues isn’t a bad run, and that’s not counting alll the spinoffs. Let’s see how it wraps up.

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    10 comments · 265 views
  • 1 week
    Expansion // Explosion

    "The series premiere, but different" is a timeworn genre in most fandoms, and pony is no different. A good chunk of the authors here have put their own spin on Twilight arriving in Ponyville and that first journey into the Everfree, including me. But this one is special.

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    6 comments · 340 views
  • 2 weeks
    Friendship is Card Games: d20 Pony, Ch. 2

    This week, we return to d20 Pony, the ongoing adventures and explorations of Trailblazer. (It’s also my birthday, but that has little bearing on the cards. :derpytongue2:)

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    9 comments · 169 views

Maids of Shadow · 11:33am Sep 4th, 2019

Hey, who wants to read an analysis of human characters from 2015?

Given that work continues on Such Sweet Lunacy, among other projects, I thought it might be fun to consider the Shadow Five from an angle few seem to consider. Namely, their cutie marks. It's especially interesting given that there's a bit of an issue there: The toy and character designs don't quite sync up for them, more so than usual for MLP characters. And the cutie marks given to the toys, that I've seen implemented in ponifications of the characters in question? They don't show up on them in Friendship Games. Others do.

Now, one could see this as emblematic of how Crystal Prep twisted people away from their truest selves, whereas Canterlot High encouraged certain girls to so embody their greatest virtues that it helped them activate their alien horse magic, but I'd like to think that personal iconography isn't so easily warped in that world. Certainly not when it's been Oversaturated. So, let's assume the movie marks are the right ones and take a look at what they might represent. Some will have deeper symbolism than others, but that's true for all marks. Sweetie Belle's represents destiny itself and the bond between her and the other Crusaders, with a focus on the magic of her tribe and on artistic talents, as opposed to scientific or athletic ones. Applejack's represents apples.

(Yes, and her family. That's still Apples.)

Let's begin:

Indigo Zap: Indigo's doll mark is pretty darn on point, very similar to Dash's with the addition of a star in the cloud. Her lightning bolt earrings tell the same tale: Her talent, like Rainbow's, lies in speed, competition, athletic prowess, and so forth. Given that she's Fast Horse 3: Horse Fast With a Human, (as opposed to Lightning Dust, who is Fast Horse 2: Horse Faster,) this should come as little surprise.

Lemon Zest: According to her doll, Lemon's cutie mark is several stylized lemon slices, bringing clockwork or speakers to mind. But on her actual person, the closest thing we get to a personal icon is the slice of pie on her headphones. And given her name, it seems safe to assume we're looking at lemon meringue. Taking something inedible on its own and turning into something sweet, yet still acidic beneath that light, fluffy surface. Furthermore, a slice rather than an entire pie, a piece of the greater whole. Lemon's talent, as I see it, is community building, working with even the most intractable ingredients to make something greater than the sum of its parts. (Or it could just be baking, especially given who I've made her mother, but every mark has layers to it.) Of course, she's not a miracle worker, and in canon, the nature of Crystal Prep was enough to make her retreat into music rather than try to counteract Cinch's toxic culture. But even then, she tried to draw others in... just not necessarily in the best way.

Sour Sweet: Sour's mark is... weird. There's a partially hollow heart and a Rarity-like diamond outline, and I don't even begin to know how to interpret it. But her hair clip in the show definitely stands out. It's not clear what fruit it's meant to be, but given her name, I suspect it's cranberries. And the talent it symbolizes is a sobering one. Just as cranberries survive acidic bog soil and massive floods, so to does Sour endure conditions that would break lesser spirits. Between Crystal Prep and her own mental issues, her very purpose is simply living through what life has, does, and will throw at her.

Sugarcoat: Sugarcoat's "official" cutie mark is a firecracker, which makes sense. She's definitely skilled at attention-getting outbursts. But her movie design notably shows a barrette shaped like a pair of lips. (No one, not even Lemon Zest, has dared to comment on the implications of this icon appearing on Sugarcoat's hips in the Oversaturated World.) And she will give you lip. No force short of vacuum can stop Sugarcoat from expressing her opinion, and if that isn't her talent, I don't know what is.

Sunny Flare: Sunny's mark is a sun and a raincloud, which tells us about as much about her as Friendship Games did. (Namely, that she definitely exists, but has no discernible qualities beyond that.) But she has much more interesting iconography in her animated design, given the intricate filigree of her hair ornament. I see her talent as similar to both Lemon Zest's and Celestia's. There's definitely a solar element to the shape, but an almost steampunk one. This isn't a literal sun but the primary cog in an intricate system. Where Lemon builds communities, Sunny leads them, an important distinction. Gathering the party isn't the same as doing something constructive with it. Naturally, this makes their relationship in the Oversaturated World particularly momentous.

Comments ( 15 )

Solid Shadowbolts analysis. 10/10.

Let's see if your assessments hold up next time we see them oh wait

Sour Sweet is the best Shadowbolt, and you can't change my mind.

Fast Horse 3: Horse Fast With a Human

Have we run out of Die Hard movies for the Book Horses yet? I can't be arsed to count them.

The comparison between Sweetie and AJ's marks made me laugh.

Author Interviewer

The phrase "alien horse magic" needs to appear in more things.

Hmmm. These make quite a bit of sense. Neat.

As I understand it, originally the production staff were going to use Lightning Dust, but were told to create a new character instead. Hey presto! Indigo Zap. Come to think of it, that may explain why she isn’t in “Dance Magic”.


That was some fun analysis.

This is solid spot-on, for real :pinkiehappy: I love it when you think too much!

I've always liked Sugarcoat the best of the Shadow Five, for whatever reason.

But yeah, good analysis! I got to admit losing my composure at Fast Horse stuff; accurate but unexpected!

Such is the beauty of fan fiction, whether it's fleshing out a quintet who are barely more than background characters or providing the backstory for a certain underdeveloped pink princess. :raritywink:

With an avatar like that, I'd be surprised if I could. And Sour is fun to work with. I just have more fun writing Lemon's dialogue, since my approach there is somewhere between Pinkie and Discord with extra wordplay and casual vulgarity.

Hmm... Twilight, Sunset, Starlight, Moondancer, Sunburst...

That's exactly enough, so it really comes down to whether or not you consider Trixie a bookhorse.

Some cutie marks are downright aleithiometric in their symbolic depth (and kudos if you understood that reference.) Some are apples. And some are both.

Agreed. It's such a wonderful way to capture the fundamental absurdity involved.

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Glad you enjoyed it!

I've also heard that Spitfire was slated to be the sporty Shadowbolt before Lightning. Indigo went through a lot before she got to exist.

Sugarcoat can be fun to work with, yes. All of them are, really, but she got more canon development than pretty much any of the others, with the possible exception of Sour Sweet. It's nice to have some kind of foundation to work with.


You pointing out that Sunny's doll cutiemark is a sun behind raincloud, and how little we know of her, rings a bell in my head. It's like saying she has potential, but its hidden away or blocked, just how she was outshone by her crazier teammates. Nice take as well around how the disrespancies can be read as the girls hiding away their true selves.
Its good to see that you still be dropping good ideas as ever, FoME!

Good analysis. All sounds plausible to me. I may just borrow these interpretations if ever I decide to do anything with the Shadowbolts.

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