The S4 Diary: “Trade Ya!”

Text version and links:

My OC is designed by Hanna:
The original design was by Mizuki Takashima:

Background music:
1. Gangsta (Instrumental) – Schoolboy Q
2. Man of the Year (Instrumental) – Schoolboy Q
3. Luc (sic) (Instrumental) – Nujabes

I wonder if The Hub was aware of this episode’s release coinciding with this year’s Record Store Day–upon which a few hundred old and rare albums are reissued and distributed to record stores around the country, inspiring vinyl enthusiasts to flock en masse and expand their collections. I was excited for record store day, since I started collecting vinyl back in January; however, I didn’t realize how competitive it would be and since I decided to watch the new pony before heading out, the one album I really wanted was already sold out by the time I got there.

This episode has a lot going on between its three storylines, and ultimately has two different morals, one of which I found rather baffling. That is, Twilight’s lesson that there is a sentimental value in the books that she was planning to get rid of, and so she should hold onto them.

Now, I’ve always been a big-time collector. To give you a sense of how big of one, let’s take a look around my room. Bear in mind that a chunk of this stuff if my brother’s collection that he didn’t want in his room anymore, but still. The majority of this was collected throughout my teen years and is where literally all of the money that passed through my hands in those years went.

Nowadays, I mostly collect things for the sake of supporting the creators that make them, which is why I started my vinyl collection. However, I am hesitant to actually endorse the mentality of collecting things other than to support artists, because there’s a very thin line between being a collector, and being a hoarder, and I’ve seen this line all too well.

The reason I was such a collector growing up is that my mom was a collector. She approached everything from the mindset of, you need the whole set for it to be valuable, or you need to have the mint condition copy, etc. As you can see in these clips of my mom’s office, she’s got a formidable collection herself. But as much as I dig having a huge collection, you can run into problems as well if you’re not willing to get rid of anything.

My mom was always against throwing things out, which is understandable considering that in her early 20s she lost most what she owned in a house fire. For instance, she collected all of mine and my brothers’ school papers by keeping them all in whichever backpack we had for that year. She would also hold on to shoeboxes on the off chance they’d be useful, since as kids we’d used them a lot in school projects, but she still had them after all three of us were already out of elementary school, and they were just taking up space. These are just some quick examples.

When the TV series Hoarders came out, my mom took it as a wake-up call. Not only for herself, but for the realization that the reason SHE was such a hoarder, is because HER mom was a far more extreme one, who would buy useless things constantly, and never get rid of any of it. She still does that, incidentally.

Maybe I’m biased from seeing the hoarding tendencies of my mom and grandma and trying to keep a distance from those tendencies myself, but I am not a fan of holding onto things just because they happen to be a part of my past. I will routinely sell old manga, DVDs, and video games that I don’t like anymore to make room in my collection for new things, and I generally don’t value looking into the past as much as I do looking at the present and future.

The problem I have here is that Twilight was fully ready to get rid of those books. She was approaching the matter from an angle of practicality. Her library was too full, and she needed room for new things, her old books largely being irrelevant. Throughout the episode, I was expecting a scene where Twilight would explain to Pinkie how the value of her trade wasn’t in the items that she would receive, but in knowing that she was passing on the gift of knowledge to a new generation of bright young faces who want to learn and grow. Instead, Pinkie causes Twilight to have a nostalgia trip and hold onto the books.

But isn’t that backwards? The books are mementos that remind Twilight of her past, but the memories are not of the books themselves, which she no longer needs. I can tell you the house I lived in, the people I was friends with, and the kinds of things I was doing when I read Rave Master, which was the first manga I ever got into, and I sold that series like 7 years ago because I didn’t enjoy reading it anymore. Maybe my memory is better than Twilight’s, but I just can’t get behind the logic Twi uses to hold onto her books. If I rewrote this episode, Twilight would’ve given all the books to the kid with the broken pen, and the kid would’ve loved them.

Moving along, the Rainbowshy storyline reminded me of the Japanese folk tale of the Straw Millionaire, which you probably know better as the questline to get the Biggoron Sword in Ocarina of Time. The story is about a poor man who starts off with a piece of straw and, through a series of lucky trades, ends up a millionaire in the end. This concept has been used in a number of RPG games, and is kind of a staple of the Legend of Zelda franchise. The difference here is that Rainbow Dash already has an end goal in mind and plots out all the trades before she manages to start making them, sort of like playing Zelda with a strategy guide.

The shop full of Discord lamps had to have been inspired by an MLP convention. I realize that the writer for this episode is new and probably hasn’t been to any cons yet, but the way it’s presented just seems too perfect. My friend Cider, with whom I co-host the Pub Crawl on Celestia Radio, made a few thousand dollars at Ponycon AU selling 3D-printed Twilicanes, so I can easily see Discord lamps being a hot item for collectors.

And of course, I’ll probably get yelled at if I don’t mention how apparently in Equestria, you can totally sell your friends into servitude. Now, I can easily see people getting needlessly mad at Rainbow Dash over this, because I’ve come to realize that when a character acts like a dick for a bit and then learns their lesson, the viewers NEVER, EVER FORGIVE THEM; but leaving that aside, if any pony here is truly evil, it’s the woman selling the book, who actually offered to trade it for the indentured servitude of Fluttershy. Like seriously, what the fuck? I don’t really have anything else to say about this though, other than that it was hilarious.

Meanwhile, the rest of this episode was a fantastic Rarijack shipfic. These two never stop being adorable together, and this kind of argument was just SO them.

Wrapping up with some other notes, I love how there are crystal ponies just walking around at this trade fair, but I don’t love how a lot of the background ponies in this episode look like mediocre OCs. Also, most of the guest voices were terrible, and even the mane six had a lot of weirdly bad takes throughout the episode, almost like they had to rush the recording sessions or something. It was really weird.

It sucks that I couldn’t pick up the album I wanted on Record Store Day. But hey! I did buy Obsidian by Baths! Which is even better, because I can listen to it with my friends! …which I could’ve done with Watershed. Which I’ll probably never find again. And I could’ve picked this up any time… god damn it.

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