Analyzing “Sonic Rainboom”

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It’s been quite a while since the last time I saw Sonic Rainboom, and as soon as I watched it, I wished I’d done so before making my Pony Ages video. This episode strongly supports my theory that the ponies are teenagers.

You see, I’ve always been a little bit confused about Rainbow Dash’s status as an exceptional flyer. Rainbow has said on several occasions, somewhat jokingly, that the Wonderbolts should just go ahead and ask her to join, and it got me thinking… yeah. They probably should. What’s up with that?

After all, there’s no way Rainbow Dash is flying under their radar. She’s the ONLY pony who’s EVER performed a Sonic Rainboom, which means that one way or another, she’s the fastest flyer in the history of her race. This ought to be enough to make the Wonderbolts interested in having a conversation with her, and the number one conversation topic on Rainbow’s mind at all times is her desire to join the Wonderbolts.
There’s no way the Wonderbolts wouldn’t be interested in Rainbow’s potential. Given that she was just a filly the first time she did the Rainboom, it’s understandable that she wouldn’t have been on the Wonderbolts radar up until this episode… but now that she’s on their radar, what gives?

I think the answer is quite simple: age restriction. There’s just no better reason that Rainbow should have to follow such a slow progression on her course to becoming a Wonderbolt, between catching the eye of the Wonderbolts at this competition, reminding them who she is at the Grand Gallopping Gala, showing off her ability to lead in the production of a Hurricane in Hurricane Fluttershy, and joining the Wonderbolt Academy in season three.

Remember that in this episode, Rainbow Dash competes in the YOUNG flyers competition. This implies the equivalent of similar contests that exist in the real world, which usually focus on middle and high-school aged talents. The other ponies in the competition who have dialog sound really young, even though they don’t look any younger than Rainbow Dash, which goes to support my idea about the standard pony designs being a catch-all for ages fifteen to thirty. Boys have a tendency to grow up physically before their voice is done maturing, right around this age, after all. And if all that’s not enough, Spittfire calls Rainbow the “little pony” who saved their lives.

There’s no way that after this episode, Rainbow wouldn’t be recognized as at least one of the best flyers in Equestria. The Best Young Flyers competition is probably a pretty big deal, if both Celestia and the Wonderbolts are spectating. There had to be a reason that she was given the responsibility of leading the Hurricane team after all. But if she knew that there was a Wonderbolt Academy, then why wouldn’t she have applied for it a long time ago? Oh, maybe because you need to be sixteen to apply?! Maybe you need to be a certain age to become a Wonderbolt?! It’s worth thinking about.

So anyways, Rainbow Dash isn’t the only important character in this episode, nor even the one who gives a friendship lesson at the end. This time it’s Rarity, and I think this episode perfectly captures all the highs and the lows of her character in one pretty package.
At the start of the episode, Rarity is impressively attuned to Rainbow Dash’s emotional state. Her attention to detail, as spoken of in Look Before You Sleep, comes in handy here. She clearly cares about Rainbow Dash, so much that she offers generously to undergo an untested spell in order to help her.

Then… things go wrong. Rarity, as usual, gets a bit to wrapped up in herself. Her wings keep dazzling her more and more, and all the attention she’s getting isn’t helping. But we have to be fair, here. How would you react if you set out one morning to go cheer for your friend in some kind of fashion competition, and then suddenly your body transformed into Brad Pitt, and everywhere you went that day, everyone was telling you how insanely hot you are. It doesn’t even matter if you were a girl beforehand, I think you’d get pretty sidetracked.

That said, if I was in that position, I think I’d still have the self-control not to enter myself as a model in the same competition as my buddy, but then again I’m not Rarity who’s life revolves around attention, and I’m also not fifteen. And this metaphor is getting kind of weird.

Point is, it’s kind of understandable for Rarity to get distracted, and while Twilight kind of nudges her that she’s being a wee bit of a doucher, she doesn’t get the message, and no one really makes it clear to her that she should stop. She ends up realizing it when all is said and done, and Rainbow’s quick to forgive, so who am I to judge?

Another character who’s somewhat important to this episode is Fluttershy, though she’s mostly there to make silly jokes. This is an M.A. Larson episode after all, and for all that I love the guy, he never really seems to know what to do with Fluttershy except poke fun at her.

Beyond that, here’s some minor notes about the episode:

– Rainbow for some reason thinks that she’s going to fail so terribly, Celestia will send her to the Everfree forest. Why would she do that? I imagine it’s something like when little kids think that they’re going to go to hell over every little bad thing they do. What did Celestia do to be so feared?

(Nightmare Moon banishing) …oh yeah.

Speaking of Celestia, way to be useless at saving Rarity.

– How spicy is a Rainbow? Pinkie Pie likes pouring tabletop hotsauce on her cupcakes. Now, tabletop hotsauce is usually fairly mild, but I wouldn’t put it past Pinkie to have a high spice resilience. I’m betting Rainbow spice is way up there.

– Lastly, I don’t have much to say about it, but there’s a weird extended Grecian metaphor going on here. Rarity’s wings are made of the same stuff as Icarus’, and they burn when she gets close to the sun. Not to mention Cloudsdale is slammed with Greek architecture. There’s a lot of Greek mythological creatures in MLP actually, which is kind of strange.

Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for this ep for now. Here’s a toast to recently reaching two thousand subscribers! I love you guys, and I hope you’ll continue to support me by spreading my videos around and leaving all those lovely comments. I’m gonna be attending Bronycon this year in August: let’s see if I can reach ten thousand subs by then!

2 thoughts on “Analyzing “Sonic Rainboom”

  1. Think I’m with you on the age thing, a few things aside: (1) that, as one option, the competitors are all worthy—something which seems to be determined unilaterally. It isn’t like Olympiad or Young ___s competitions that have different levels (so that a 10-year-old’s less-complex project doesn’t beat out a 17-year-old’s on some technicality). And (2), as another option, that the age range of competition is relatively narrow, and high.

    After all, we have to suppose that this really is a great show, not just a this-is-what-friends-and-relatives-have-to-go-through show. Which is evidenced by the tricks and the enjoyment of the audience. And in the real world, some of these competitions go up to fellowship age, which is like a smidge under 25. 22 or 23, maybe.

    Occam’s Razor, though, I guess. Occam’s Razor.

    Age restriction is probably the legit answer, though bothersome—since I can’t think of a logical reason why it would be so rigid in her case. That’s some awesome skill she showed in the ep, though as you’ve suggested, Rainbow’s role in “Hurricane” might have been the provisional step up. Hell, maybe she got some sort of prodigious or early acceptance.

    The ending is probably what didn’t work for me, though the premise was potentially awesome. I don’t really have beef with it, since viewers saw the ending coming from a long way off (I could tell as soon as Rarity got in front of the sun and everyone oohed and ahhed). And SONIC RAINBOOM. Almost as epic as the old-ass eps wherin Charizard used Seismic Toss (“Oh, my God!” I screamed as a kid, leaping off the sofa. “Is he flying SO FAST THAT HE’S CIRCLING THE EARTH IN MINUTES?!”) Obviously, yeah, it’s stupid that everybody blew off the behavior after everything was over. Or rather, there’s little to no exploration of what was going on in their heads when they reacted that way.

    Maybe it sits a little weirdly with you because the plot mechanisms are actually unbelievable. The mechanisms showing what would keep someone pushing forward so callously aren’t well-depicted. The thing is, Twilight did make the douchiness clear, but Rarity went all Fuck dat—WIIINNNGSS in response. So what changed? A dance with death? Dunno. Rarity leaps out of being sensible, and back into it. And if you think about the story, nothing would have changed (we assume) unless Rainbow became desperate. That’s how it happened the first time, anyway. I don’t dislike the story as written (I said “story,” not “plot”), but there needed to be more subtlety or delicacy here. It just didn’t feel precise enough.

    Headcanon forthcoming: at this point, I think of Celestia a lot like…y’know, those 2-D characters whose powers are linked to their existences. Characters like that chick who ended up dying in Darker than Black because her powers aged her, or Amber. I think she’s superficially immortal because of magical energy that confers or prolongs youth, but that she’s aging or “poisoned” in some deeper sense. I think she’s saving up her energy for one last war, or even one last battle. Other than her basic and diplomatic duties, she can’t afford the extra magical energy to even save people. If she saved everyone who needed saving, she’d be a caring ruler, but—let’s be honest in terms of philosophy—a foolish one. And Rarity’s situation was fucked from the get-go once she dropped.

    About Greece—this is obviously tricky, but if I were being really rough about it, I think the main thing is the Renaissance (more precisely, Medieval) era. A lot of hints support this, at least at the meta level if not the “authorial intent” level. Part of Equestria’s basis was Narnia (one of the more obvious and explicitly states literary inspirations). Not important, the specifics—but that world is explicitly Scholastic in structure. One brilliantly logical question Brony Nutcase asked in his Hearth’s Warming Eve had to do with how the world used to work before Celestia and Luna were tied to day and night: basically, do they move the night sky? Logically, yes, because otherwise they’d be rotating the Earth (assuming this to be the universe’s rules as we know them). The suggested model then, would be that of the celestial sphere(s), something with its most “well-known” (it was actually in various cultures worldwide) “roots” in Ancient Greece.

    Then again, “control over the Sun and Moon” could really just be circular and indirect language for the actual astronomical phenomena.

    Beyond that, the Pegasi (*sigh* it’s really a proper name, not a species of horse) have been associated with Ancient Greece, as we see in Hearth’s Warming Eve, though that follows this ep rather than precedes it. It reflects preoccupation was glory, camaraderie-honor, and tradition. It explains a little of why Rainbow Dash might be the way she is (I’ve always thought of the “no parents” thing as being lifted from the “just city” model in Plato’s Republic), and it explains the values espoused in the Christmas episode.

  2. I think the Greek influence may just have been an easy reach-out from using “Pegasus” in the My little pony.
    Pegasus is a well known Mythos, and it’s not to uncommon to make “Branches” the “Foundation” when you make your own story.
    As in, greek mytholigy is the “Foundation” that pegasus “branch/was born” from, but in the show it’s reversed – the Pegasus are the “Foundation”, and the greek influence the “branching” out from the Pegasus.
    I hope I made this “vice verse”-explonation not all to confusing. :P

    The reason for using this tough is hard to explain…
    This may be due to imprinting your own story on someone elses already writen/told story – I know I personaly does this frequently whenever I read or watch something, since I love writing and coming up with stories myself. So often I think of way’s I’d personaly rather write certain scenarios to play out.
    I’d love to explain further and give more examples, then back it up with actuall research – but it’s almsot 4 in the mornig here, so I’ll just cut this speculation of right here which is just based on personal experience, and poorly explained at that. >.<
    I apologize!

    As what this say about their "creativity"… Hmm, tough question. I mean, it's hevily influenced from the greek mythologi, as we already stated – and they havn't really done much to expand upon that. I mean, the Manticore is a Manticore, a Hydra is a Hydra.
    I'd say the only cleverly used inspiration of Greek Mythology is Rarit's wings burning up – it's in direct line with the plot and matches with the myth they are reffering to.
    So I'd actually say that the creativity here isn't all that great, apart from the fact that the Pegasus control the weather and we see the weather factories they have. :)

    But what about Cloudsdale you may ask?
    Compare Cloudsdale (
    With this picture of Olympus from Disney's – "Hercules"
    I'd love to hear DigitalBrony's take on this particular imigary, or maybe even make an analyzed video about the greek influence in the series as a whole.

    Again, I apologize if this post may apear all over the place and cut abruptly. I do hope thsoe taht read do makes sense of it, but like I said – It's 4 in the morning and I am now gonig to sleep! -.-

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