Observations on MLP: Density

Text version:

Here’s one of my favorite moments in Friendship is Magic.

[Scene from Applebuck Season in which Pinkie says, “she seems fine to me. Woo! Woo!” and then the camera pans in on Twilight.]

It’s a pretty dense moment with a lot going on, so I’d like to go super in-depth about it for a bit.

First things first, we’ve got Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle. Both of these are awesome characters. Pinkie Pie has one of those brilliant designs that tells you what she’s all about just looking at her, though the Pinkie magic far more often comes through in her animation. Even as early as episode four, Pinkie had by FAR the greatest quantity of unique poses in the show, firmly establishing her as the most unique and out-there of the mane six.

Twilight is also very well-designed and realized even this early into the show. We know her to be studious, serious, and most importantly, attentive. She was the only one who noticed the return of Nightmare Moon, after all.

But another character is implicitly involved in this moment, and that character is Applejack. She’s the one Pinkie is talking about when she says that “she seems fine to me.” This episode had begun by first showing us that Applejack is stubbornly ambitious. It then showed us that Applejack is also incredibly dependable by having her save Ponyville from a stampede of cows. And if that weren’t enough, we also had most of the mane cast tell us that they think Applejack is super-great and dependable, and that they all will be relying on her for something over the course of the day.

However, everyone’s expectations have just been shattered by the arrival of a tired Applejack who doesn’t seem quite right in the head. This leads us up to the moment in question.

Now, having established the who of this scene, let’s take a look at the what. This moment consists of a line of dialog from Pinkie, followed by a facial expression and “hmm” sound from Twilight.

Andrea Libman’s delivery of Pinkie’s line is spot-on, as always. She sells the fact that Pinkie is completely oblivious to Applejack’s sleep-deprived state, and makes the “woo! woo!” sounds just as obnoxious as they need to be while still being funny. Her use of this sound is also calling back to a moment prior, in which she joined Applejack in making funny sounds while looking at her warped reflection in a giant trophy.

What really sells this moment, though, is the facial expression from Twilight. The implication is that Pinkie’s comment is what finally convinced Twilight that Applejack was acting suspiciously. Pinkie Pie’s spontaneous break into a “woo! woo!” sound makes her seem less than sensible, which puts her observational skills into question. If someone as backwards as Pinkie thinks that Applejack seems fine, then it stands to reason that Applejack might not be fine. This is the joke.

All of this is pretty obvious in the text, but if we wanted to, we could even step into some light headcanon territory here, by expanding on our own perceptions of the characters.

For instance, I don’t necessarily buy that Pinkie is blind to Applejack’s eccentricity in this scene. Rather, I think that Pinkie is enjoying Applejack’s attitude, without realizing that it’s harmful. Pinkie Pie seems to know her friends too well to not notice when one of them is acting bizarrely, but she might not realize how those bizarre actions would effect them in a social context. In other words, she thought, “this Applejack is fun!” without really considering that this Applejack might be dangerous. Of course, she learns this the hard way later in the episode.

By now, you must be wondering why I’ve chosen to break this scene down to such an extent. My objective here is to show you just how dense My Little Pony is with things to appreciate.

What’s great about animation as a medium is that it allows for so many things to be woven together in creating the experience. Narrative, sound, and video all converge and enhance one-another, to create a dense and satisfying whole. Just one moment of MLP can combine music, sound effects, voice acting, art, animation, and words, and wrap them all up in a context that gives them all an extra layer of meaning and togetherness.

It’s because of this density that I can never really “hate” an episode of MLP. There are episodes that I don’t like, especially when stacked up against other episodes of the series, but it’s very difficult for me to not find something to love in a show as dense as this one.

The artwork and animation alone are so great that they can be enjoyed even set to songs and sound clips that have nothing to do with the show whatsoever. The voice acting is so great that a ten-second sound bite from Tara Strong can become its own phenomenon. Each character is so interesting that they can drive me to read fanfictions and theories about them. The narrative is involving enough to drive me to analyze it at great lengths. The music is so good that I can listen to it on its own, and enjoy it even as it’s been transformed in a hundred remixes.

And this all comes together into one package when I’m watching the show. That, to me, is the real magic of MLP. It’s not about any one element, but about all of the elements working in harmony.

2 thoughts on “Observations on MLP: Density

  1. Do you think that is related to why this show seems to inspire so much creative works? I mean, I don’t think you can really point to another fandom where two ambitious projects such as Snowdrop and Double Rainboom would debute on the space of a month, not to mention the rest of the flood.

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