• Member Since 22nd Jun, 2012
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Dragon Turtle

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"Folly of Celestia" on FOB Equestria · 4:44pm August 6th

The trailer dropped yesterday on FOB Equestria, and that's how I first learned about this project. But I did a search on EQD, and it turns out posted their first trailer in 2017. It's based on a story Josh Scorcher/Firebrand wrote back in 2015. I'm not linking that because I want you to spoil yourself; I'm just amazed and proud of him for being able to put that much devotion into something he created. As opposed to getting bored, or deciding it wasn't good enough. Crazy to think how long he's been plugging away at this, and I didn't even know, despite watching both his YouTube channels.

[Addendum: now I've actually watched it
I caught this with my roommate at 11 with my roommate, and spent three hours bouncing around, getting my feelings typed out. I admit I felt kind of let down when it turned out this video is 40% show clips, or unmoving drawings. The only 'animation' for those parts is the colored moving border. So when my roommate and threw this up on our flat screen with the YouTube app, it felt underwhelming. The tenor of itsannachloem's dialogue just feels way too level and straightforward. Not all that different from when Josh is doing his own analysis video. I know Twilight is overly academic, and too polite for her own good, but it doesn't sound like she's defending her friend from the insults of a kidnapper. It's more like she's giving a PowerPoint. She doesn't have to be angry, but she should be speaking faster, be using up more oxygen from the adrenaline of the situation. Comparing all those parts to some kind of presentation or Phoenix Wright cutscene is actually pretty apt. (Which I know Josh is a fan of).

But I think what most stopped me from connecting with it (initially) isn't a flaw with the production. It's that this a premise that I stopped caring much about years ago. "Is Celestia incompetent?" When it comes to the various world-saving tasks thrust upon a college student, I've just accepted that MLP functions like a fairy tale of myth from the ground up. Main characters solve problems, not armies and professional thinktanks. Harmony will prevail because in this show morales win battles, not maneuvering your opponent into an killbox. When it comes to her dumb move to trust Discord, that just seems like it's based on their former relationship that the show never bothered to explore; which just means any reasoning behind her decision is a Schrodinger's Cat we can't meaningfully dissect. So basically 'because the story needs to happen.' Perhaps I've grown to comfortable with the show's flaws and limits. But also because I'm at the point in my fandom experience where I'm sick of the people that cry "plot holes" and pick over the internal logic of these worlds. The story here doesn't feel like one of those inane spiels... but it does feel like a RESPONSE to it. That's not to say it's without merit; the points that Twilight raises are pretty logical, and the conclusions she draws feel very specific to her character. My point is that this wasn't a story that I needed.

But where this really soars is at the final third. This doesn't take the show's route, where by fulfilling a certain morale requirement, some spell or laser solves everything; in MLP, that's the universe's way of saying that the protagonists are in the right. (Some spoilers now!) That never happens here. Twilight and her friends are eventually able to get back home under their own power. Nothing happens that serves as definitive proof of quantifiable love or happiness. Who's right or wrong is more realistically left unclear. The only proof serving against Vesper's accusations is Twilight's proclamation that she's happy, and then Celestia's assurance that she loves Twilight. While Celestia does indeed love Twilight, and this story firmly strikes down the notion that she's secretly lazy or cruel, that doesn't mean she's been IN the right with any of her actions. Twilight is in the arms of someone who loves her, but that doesn't mean she hasn't been given absurd amounts of power and responsibility, or that she's always been safe.

Yes, Twilight says she's happy. There are things in her life she can be happy for. But people aren't inclined to admit there's something fundamentally wrong with their lives. Even less so when it could involve undermining their sense of accomplishment, or re-evaluating an idol. Is it also any wonder Twilight wouldn't believe Vesper? Vesper has wronged Twilight at the outset of their meeting, so that would already push her away. Plus, it can't be denied that Vesper is miserable, paranoid, and kind of deranged, all of which further disincentivizes Twilight. But realistically, if you're someone who views Twilight as having lived her whole life in a veil, isn't this a rather realistic reaction to seeing through it? Is Vesper a tragedy because she misunderstood Celestia? Or is it a tragedy because she stepped outside the cave?

Was Celestia's folly the wedge the occurred between Vesper? Or was the folly the paths she lovingly sets people on?

Even if that isn't really how I view Twilight and Celestia, it's kind of amazing that this story can mean starkly different things at the same time. I thought this might just be an animated version of a banal listicle ("The 6 reasons why Celestia was actually right.") But we really are presented with a god's folly. It really raised my opinion of the entire production's concept.

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