Analyzing “Dragonshy” and “Dragone Baby Gone”

Dragonshy is an excellent episode, and the turning point wherein the series hits a stride that would bring it the renown it now knows. It prominently features all of the mane six ponies and almost no one else, gives them a lot of fun dialog and animation moments, and has an adventurous feel with a big payoff. The pacing is air-tight, there’s a tiny musical number, and it expands on the lore in what were big ways at the time.

In terms of analysis, there’s not much to say. It’s a super-straightforward episode, and most of the dialog is more humorous or expositional than character-building. What I can analyze, though, is why I would say this when the episode is actually the first of only a few big Fluttershy episodes, and the most important for establishing her character.

I’ve always felt that Fluttershy is the least interesting of the mane six ponies. It’s not that I don’t like her, but there’s not much to her character, and what’s there doesn’t catch my attention. It’s not that she isn’t deep or doesn’t develop—those aren’t the kind of things that I look for in characters. I think that Fluttershy and Applejack are the two ponies who are the easiest to understand without any kind of analysis—but Applejack is a ton of fun to me, whereas Fluttershy isn’t.

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Analyzing “Applebuck Season”

Dear Princess Celestia, where do I begin? Applebuck Season remains one of my favorite episodes of My Little Pony. As a person who really appreciates this show for the high density of things it has to offer, it would be correct to assume that the more I like an episode, the more things there are to say about it.

However, what makes this episode amazing is very straightforward. Whereas my enjoyment of Pinkie Pie episodes comes from analyzing her down to the core and finding the deeper meanings that the show can’t reach, my enjoyment of Applejack is as straightforward as her character. Applejack is my second-favorite pony after Twilight Sparkle, and both of them are the most straightforward, easily-understood characters in the show. The reason I love them is that their personalities are so enjoyable on a basic level. Probably because they both fail in such intense ways while being smart enough to realize it themselves.

All of the ponies fail in big ways: Pinkie Pie doesn’t understand other ponies’ way of thinking very well and has trouble empathizing with them (i.e. she can be a pest); also she’s probably got some kind of depression or anxiety disorder. Rarity and Fluttershy are both paranoid—Fluttershy reclusive and shy, Rarity bombastic and dramatic—and both of them tend to get pretty lost in their own heads. Rainbow Dash is full of herself and doesn’t think things through at all.

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Analyzing “The Ticket Master”

Before I start with this post, another shout-out to the excellent analysis of The Ticket Master by Misfortune-Dogged over on his own blog. In it, he compares the episode against a similar episode of My Little Pony Tales, and uses it to dissect what’s so interesting about the presentation of themes in Friendship is Magic. I won’t be restating much of what he said, so I recommend you read that post as well.

The Ticket Master begins innocuously with a conversation between Twilight and Applejack. Notice that when Spike reads the letter they get from Princess Celestia, he says that the Grand Galloping Gala takes place, “on the 21st of, yada yada yada.” A sneaky way of not making Equestria have the same months as the real world, as well as keeping the show from having a definitive timeline.

The presentation of the conflict between Applejack’s and Rainbow Dash’s reasons for going to the Gala is quite interesting. When I watched it the first time, I thought that the show was making Applejack out to have the better reasons, but in reality, the show doesn’t suggest anything like that. It presents both of their arguments on equal grounds—I was the one making the value judgement at the time, based on what little knowledge I had of the ponies and what they were suggesting about their ambitions.

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My Little Pony Friendship is Magic S3 Ep3: Too Many Pinkie Pies

This week’s MLP is among the funniest episodes of the show, and one of the tightest in terms of pacing and presentation, which makes it top tier for me. As much as I enjoyed the premiere, this episode is the more brilliant kick-off of the new season.

What makes it so tight? The concept is nothing new to cartoons—Pinkie Pie clones herself a bunch of times, quickly realizes why this was a bad idea, and then it’s up to her friends to figure out which one is the real Pinkie and destroy the fakes. It’s been done many times, including on Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends, which was another Lauren Faust show (though I realize she’s no longer involved in MLP).

This episode succeeds because Pinkie Pie is the perfect character to have this happen to. It’s hardly surprising that she’d come up with the plan to clone herself, and it’s hard to doubt that she could do it. The idea even works as a character exploration, because Pinkie initiates this whole plan out of her inability to make choices. The result is exactly what the viewer expects from having too many Pinkie Pies, and rather than dwell on the chaos of the situation, the fun comes more from Pinkie’s one-of-a-kind reaction (doubting if she even is the real Pinkie Pie), and the reaction of her friends.

Over-arching statements out of the way, I feel the need to run through this episode chronologically and point out all the totally neat stuff in it.

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Random Notes On Nisemonogatari 3

I promise I’m not going to blog this whole show (nor, apparently, anything at all), but here’s some thoughts that might’ve been tweets if I felt like typing that many tweets.

1. I see people bringing up the lack of Karen for the most part, despite this being the Karen Bee book adaptation. I think the titles beyond the original Bakemonogatari arc titles are largely meaningless. Kabukimonogatari, for instance, is the “Mayoi Jiang Shi” arc, and Mayoi never appears in it at all.

2. I haven’t read the novels, but I think it’s interesting to look at the times that they came out. The original two Bakemonogatari novels came out in 2006, and then Nisioisin took 2007 to write all twelve Katanagatari books. Once that was through, he came back to the other -monogatari and has been steadily releasing an asston of novels since. Unlike the original Bakemonogatari, all of the other books only contain one arc. Those arcs still always contain a character’s name, but I strongly get the feeling that this doesn’t necessarily mean the arc is all about them—though knowing Nisioisin, the arc will probably tie into their ultimate fate somehow. By the way, there are like twelve damn books in this series. Between all of the stuff being adapted right now, it only covers the first five. There’s still so much to learn!

3. God I loved this episode. It brought back the horror element of the show, the dark and strange feeling of not knowing what’s going on behind the scenes, feeling that the characters may be in genuine danger, and not knowing what to expect. I feel that Nisioisin’s specialty is setting up a feeling with his long sections of conversation and hijinks, then subverting that feeling with action and twists. What will come of all this? Right now, I feel the one who’s the most dangerous is Hanekawa and the one in most danger is Senjougahara. But it could be anything.

Predictions are meaningless, but the uneasiness is the point.

Fucking MADLAX Episode 3

While it was still a boring slog, at least the first episode of this show had a good ratio of screentime to bullets fired. Episodes two and three have been nothing but relentlessly boring shit. That’s why Madlax doesn’t qualify as “awesomely bad”—it’s not fun to watch. I only start getting worth out of it when I ruthlessly tear it to shreds on my repeat viewings (yes, I actually watch these fuckers twice for each post.)

First image of the ep, and fastest an ep of anime has ever made me rage.

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Astarotte no Omocha 3 – Another Keystone in the Kugimiya Arch

Episode 2 of C was a letdown for the most part, but that’s okay because Steins;Gate and Astarotte no Omocha are putting up strong showings as easily my favorite shows this season. I can’t contain my fanboydom for either!

Astarotte ep 3 was so good it hurt, and Asuha in animation is the cutest god damn thing this side of planet Earth. At this point—unlike with Ao no Exorcist—I’m so far beyond the changes from the manga (which have gotten pretty major) that they barely register now. This anime is much better than the manga, not just for the already true reason that Okama’s art design is spectacular, but also because it’s written by the pens of gods.

I like to refer to Toradora as a sort of keystone in the Kugimiya Rie loli arch. Everyone and their grandma has known since 2007 that Kugimiya is best known for playing “tsundere” lolis, especially in J.C. Staff shows, and it’s only grown more true over the years, with this season’s (fucking terrible) Hidan no Aria reaching almost so-terrible-it’s-like-a-meta-commentary-on-the-overuse-of-Kugimiya levels of Kugimiya overdose.

Why is Toradora the keystone? Because it takes the character type, all too known for it’s inability to grow and develop and for being perpetually misunderstood, and then the whole purpose of the show is allowing the character to do just that through 24 episodes of the best melodrama in anime. Now we’ve got Astarotte no Omocha, which accomplishes something similar in the span of three episodes.

Obviously it’s not a replacement for Toradora because that growing process is important the way Toradora does it, but it’s also a very cool new animal to see the character so easily understood, and seeing how she’ll grow in that environment. It’s like Naoya is the father to Astarotte that Ryuuji was the lover to Taiga.

Plus the show is so fucking god damn adorable, I want to hug Asuha TO DEATH. Cute girls haven’t done this many cute things since Ichigo Mashimaro.

Steins;Gate 3

It takes a brilliant script, director, and actors for a show to be this exciting while scarcely leaving the confines of a single room and spending a lot of time showing characters use the internet. Steins;Gate has me in high anticipation of each new episode and loving every minute of them.

Could this be a G Gundam reference?!

I love the way conversations play out—they flow with ease, yet the characters never leave their personalities behind. In a lot of stories, dialog is governed by the responses that play into the situation best. In this series, dialog is governed by the responses that make the most sense coming from each character. It makes them into living entities, which is why Hyououin actually feels like a realistic crazy person and not just a “crazy guy character type.”

I so hope there's art of Large Haldron Collider-tan

I especially love all the nerd lingo and references that get thrown around casually. This kind of inadvertent reference is something I find important to dialog because in real life, people make references to things. (In fact, some of us largely speak in patchworks of quotes from other sources *cough*.) Steins;Gate isn’t making references as an attempt at comedy, but just as a fact of life.

Can’t wait for episode 4!

FLCL Ep. 4 – CRAZY SUNSHINE!

A post in The Epic Journey. Contains FLCL spoilers. Continued from here.

Like episode 3, episode 4 is fairly straightforward, and this one in particular is very plot-focused so I won’t be saying quite as much about it, seeing as the plot questions raised in the episode are answered in the proceeding ones. This episode’s individual director was Masahiko Ohtsuka, who brings his own style to the table for the episode. The character designs look very different throughout, and the visual style is more dark, mysterious, and mindfuck than is usual for this show. According to Tsurumaki, Ohtsuka takes his style a lot from trippy 60s movies that have lots of strange imagery.

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