Analyzing “Family Appreciation Day”

Text version and links:

The ending song is The Timberwolf by Dr. Dycer:

My OC is designed by Mizuki Takashima:

I may have to keep this one short and sweet, but have no doubt that Family Appreciation Day is a damn fine episode of My Little Pony. It’s straightforward and entertaining, but a couple of key features help it to really stand out.

First of all, the zap apples themselves are perhaps the single coolest magical concept in the entire show in my opinion. There’s so much mystique surrounding them, between the unique color palette used on the farm to signify their arrival, to the lightning-shrouded trees and downright epic music that plays when the flowers first appear. There are just so many little details that make them stand out, like how they change in shape after full maturation.

It’s not just that the apples are so thoroughly magical and interesting, but also that they’re legitimately relevant to the world and characters that they exist in. Whereas creatures like the cockatrice or hydra just kinda show up and do their thing but have no real bearing on the world of the ponies, the zap apples are actually a part of Ponyville culture, and were even an important part of how the town was founded in the first place.

Granny Smith’s laundry list of strange practices for perfecting the zap apples reminded me of music production. Whenever I think about how sounds are created and recorded, I have to sit there and wonder how the hell people came up with the ideas to try things out and make those sounds happen. For a great example of what I mean, I recommend reading an article by the alternative hip-hop group Clipping, in which they were asked to break down everything that they did to create the song Bout.that. Some of the techniques they used to get certain sounds were so complicated that I couldn’t even imagine coming up with them.

This episode debuts yet another side character who lets on that they may secretly be fascinating, and in this case it’s Diamond Tiara’s father, Filthy Rich. It’s cool to see how Filthy Rich clearly understands the nature of innovation and isn’t concerned about appearances. He’s a businessman through and through, and the dark lines under his eyes immediately communicate how much he probably obsesses over his work. If his classroom presentation is any suggestion, it shows that he’s immensely passionate about his career.

Contrast him against his own daughter, who has no real understanding of her position and is only concerned with appearances. She has no business sense with regards to Granny Smith or Applebloom, and is more concerned with belittling them at every turn. Applebloom puts it perfectly into context when she rubs it in Diamond Tiara’s face that if it weren’t for Granny Smith, there would BE no Bargain Bucks. It’s fun to contrast the mutually respectful and utterly unashamed relationship between Filthy Rich and Granny Smith against the immature and socially charged relationship between Applebloom and Diamond Tiara.

Granny Smith’s backstory makes for some fascinating exposition and world-building, with a gratifying attention to detail in the backgrounds. I love how Canterlot looks more medieval with tents instead of buildings, and how Ponyville was pretty much a forest that the Smith family cleared a space in to build a town. Hell, even the fact that the town was built on economically viable terms is the kind of solid historical backbone that I’d never expect from a show with such little emphasis on realism.

That about wraps up my thoughts on Family Appreciation Day! If you enjoyed this video, consider supporting me on Patreon, though rest assured that I won’t charge for any videos this short. Tomorrow, probably more season 2! This train is never gonna stop!

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