Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Thank You, Princess Luna...

So, many of you will probably remember back when I reviewed the controversial My Little Pony-Season 5 episode 'Do Princesses Dream Of Magic Sheep?' last year...but for the longest time, I have been torn between loving the episode like I did originally or just finding it okay or bad like in Lily Peet's 'In 5 Minutes' video or Silver Quill's 'After The Fact' collab with VoiceOfReason. It wasn't until GoldenFox's recent and rather emotional review of the episode with Keyframe that I realized why I loved this episode as well as Princess Luna as a character so much...and what I'm about to say on why I think this way may actually surprise you.

For those of you who know me well ever since childhood, I have been judged and pushed around as well as harassed and bullied by other people who thought that I would never be able to accomplish anything in my life because of my disabilities whether it was being able to hold a pencil or to read; and thus I feel like I have to repeat those very words that people used to harm me/take the beatings that I did in the past in order to push myself to do better that I was originally....but at the same time just like what happened in this very episode with Princess Luna, I feel like I have created my own Tantabus that has completely taken over and turned me into my Nightmare Moon that I call False Cobalt and changed me forever from the happy-go-lucky person I used to be into being extremely anxious and depressed who fears what others will think of him as well as what my future will be like because of past actions to the point where I question the meaning of myself/what my purpose in life really is.

So to see an episode where I'm basically in the role of Princess Luna with learning to forgive yourself from your past actions that actually managed to bring me to tears by the end of it really made me realize why I love 'Do Princesses Dream Of Magic Sheep?' so much as an episode that left quite an impact on me and why I love My Little Pony as a show as well as Princess Luna so much as a character that I can look up to; hence why I wrote the letter that I did back at the 'Dear Princess Letter Reading' panel from this year's BronyCon and why I made sure that I got a photo with my friend Sarahndipity Cosplay as Princess Luna afterwards-I knew it was just someone cosplaying as her, but much like Twilight Sparkle...Princess Luna really has left that emotional of an impact on me as a character to the point where I felt like she was really there. Without her to look up to as a symbol of redemption, without this franchise or its fandom...I wouldn't be as socially active as I am now.

As Keyframe said in GoldenFox's review of the episode...we all have our own Tantabus in the form of anxiety/depression-it can never be destroyed and we have to carry it around with us every day, but we need to be able to learn from our past actions and take the first step in forgiving ourselves and realizing that we're not who we were before to save ourselves from letting the Tantabus overtake us and make us become our own Nightmare Moons all over again despite there still being those moments where we regret what we did. The fact that we regret our past actions and try to get better shows that we're not who we used to be...and when you have an awesome group of friends like the ones that I have now because of such a wonderful franchise and fandom, I know that I'll never truly be alone as I have all the help that I need to help get through each day knowing that I can make a difference in this world.

Thank you, Princess Luna...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Cautious Connor

Season 20, Episode 20: Cautious Connor
Written By Andrew Brenner
Ah, Connor-you haven't had an episode to yourself ever since Season 18's 'Last Train For Christmas'...but that all changes in our next Season 20 episode-Cautious Connor!
While going at high speeds, Connor breaks his coupling rod and fears going fast will break it again. I'll be honest, I thought this episode was gonna suck when I first heard about it considering the fact that it was written by Andrew Brenner and some of his recent episodes proving less than stellar...but when I finally saw it, like Stephen said-you need a good story just to get things back on track again...and that's exactly what happened here.

When it comes to the story, it may be predictable since I knew that Connor was gonna be his high-speed self again by the end of the episode...but the execution and moral of how not letting one incident stand in the way of who you really are via a pep talk from Stephen were presented perfectly since it was like watching any athlete in the world of sports acting cowardly after an injury only to pick themselves back up again.

As for the fact, this was one of the five incomplete episodes that Jam Filled Entertainment helped finish for Arc when they bought the studio after Arc went bankrupt and it still looks awesome regardless of what happened with highlights being the damage detail on Connor's coupling rod and the different angles/shots during Stephen's pep talk to Connor.

And when it comes to the characters, I originally thought Connor was out of character when I first saw it...but after a second viewing, I actually don't blame him for being paranoid since it makes sense that he'd feel worried about speeding and damaging himself after he came close to derailing like that.  On top of that, Stephen was great as well-his humor, his interactions and especially that pep talk were all awesome!  Bravo to Jonathan Forbes and Bob Golding for some truly awesome performances!

Overall, 'Cautious Connor' is an episode that goes full speed ahead to get a rating of a 9 out of 10.

MLEEP Reviews: Mucking About

Season 20, Episode 19: Mucking About
Written By Davey Moore
Ah, Jack And The Pack-our cracking construction crew haven't had much screentime in recent years especially since their spinoff series was cancelled halfway through...but that all changes in our next Season 20 episode-Mucking About!
Max and Monty are being extremely dangerous, but their reckless behavior could soon land them in trouble. I'll be honest, this was an episode I was extremely excited about since we haven't had an episode that focused on The Pack in thirteen years and...for their re-introductory episode, it was really good.
When it comes to the story, it does a great job in reintroducing Max and Monty to the younger audiences and in presenting the moral of how ignoring people who look to cause trouble like Internet trolls is easier said than done as stated by Edward...but the second half is where things start to get predictable because if you know your locations of Sodor well, you know exactly where the rest of the episode will go when Max and Monty start dumping off the bridge; thus making the second half feel boring to sit through.
As for the animation, the team at Arc have done a splendid job with the rendering of the characters from The Pack ever since their return in 'Sodor's Legend Of The Lost Treasure' and it really comes into play with things like how the vehicles move around as well as when Oliver's frontloader is disabled. Also, did anyone notice that Thomas got a black eye from his accident?
And when it comes to the characters, it's great to see that The Pack haven't changed a bit ever since the classic series and their 'Lost Treasure' return...and it appears that Max and Monty have become even more reckless than ever whether they're criss-crossing the tracks in front of Thomas or not disposing of building waste safely. Bravo to Kerry Shale and Rob Rackstraw for giving some devious performances as our favorite dump trucks!
Overall, 'Mucking About' is a great way to welcome back The Pack and gets a rating of a 9 out of 10.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Three Steam Engines Gruff

Season 20, Episode 18: Three Steam Engines Gruff
Written By Andrew Brenner

We've seen 'Thomas & Friends' tell some pretty famous stories from the world of literature through the years, haven't we...The Boy Who Cried Wolf (Not Now, Charlie!), A Christmas Carol (Diesel's Ghostly Christmas), etc...but let's see what they can do with a famous Norwegian fairy tale in our next Season 20 episode-Three Steam Engines Gruff!

When the Ffarquhar branch line trio-Thomas, Percy and Toby-hear a noise underneath the watermill bridge, they immediately think that a t...roll lives underneath it. Admit many of us thought this was gonna be our miniature engines episode in this season where got to see Mike, Rex and Bert again in what could've been a TV Series adaptation of the Railway Series story 'Useful Railway'? Well, that's what I thought before we knew what it was actually gonna be about and what we got just sucked.

While I will give the story credit for trying to adapt the famous Norwegian fairy tale 'Three Billy Goats Gruff', I sadly have to agree with many other fans that this was nothing more than a half-assed rehash of the special 'Tale Of The Brave'...with characters that are out of character and a scenario where I knew that this 'troll' the engines were scared of was going to be a cow by the end of the episode and this led to a very predictable and disappointing payoff...and this was written by the very same writer of that special! Really, Brenner...THIS is what you've resorted to?!?!?

While the story is complete shit, the animation looks great as always since Arc knows how to capture the fall season with the falling leaves blowing in the wind and...I will admit that it was nice to see what it's like on top of the watermill bridge and they do manage to make the suspenseful scenes actually look and feel threatening when needed with things like the cloudy rainy sky.

But the same can't be said about the characters because it feels like Andrew Brenner did a complete 180 with them-Toby's back to being a cowardly wimp after his awesome portrayal in Season 19 and the beginning of the season and Percy's pretty much forgotten everything he learned in 'Tale Of The Brave'! The only good thing I can say about the characters is that Trevor The Traction Engine finally got a speaking role after seven years in the CGI series and the voice that they picked suits him well.

Overall, I didn't think anything was gonna top 'The Way She Does It' for the worst episode of Season 20...but 'Three Steam Engines Gruff' took the cake as I give this a rating of a 5 out of 10.

MLEEP Reviews: The Missing Breakdown Train

Season 20, Episode 17: The Missing Breakdown Train
Written By Davey Moore
Ah, Judy and Jerome-our crazy and comedic breakdown train duo from 'The Adventure Begins' who we haven't seen much of ever since Rocky arrived on Sodor...or have we? Let's find out with our next Season 20 episode...The Missing Breakdown Train!
Judy and Jerome haven't dealt with any emergencies for quite some time ever since Rocky arrived on Sodor and set out on an adventure to prove themselves useful again. Much like the two Glynn episodes, I was excited to see that they were bringing back characters from my all-time favorite Thomas special 'The Adventure Begins' and what new adventures Judy and Jerome were going to have...and for their re-introductory episode, it was good...but maybe not as good as I thought it would be.
When it comes to the story, it does well in providing an explanation as to why we haven't seen or heard much of Judy and Jerome and why they're barely in use anymore...but when I heard about this episode, I thought we'd actually see them try to do whatever they can to prove themselves useful again at the different places that they visited because what we actually get in the episode can be summed up with one word-boring! A majority of the time, we're just watching Judy and Jerome sitting around doing nothing but looking around where they are and I never thought I'd see the day that 'Thomas & Friends' would resort to poop jokes to get a laugh.
As for the animation, there really isn't that much to talk about without repeating myself from previous review...but I will say that the animators did a great job in showing off Arlesburgh Harbor from Judy and Jerome's perspectives as well as the animation when Daisy has her first accident in the entire series.
And when it comes to the characters, it was great to see Judy and Jerome again after the events of 'The Adventure Begins' and I like how Davey Moore didn't shoehorn Rocky into the episode while also keeping the focus on the original breakdown train-bravo to Tim Whitnall and Teresa Gallagher for some comedic performances!
Overall, 'The Missing Breakdown Train' might not be the best way to welcome back Judy and Jerome...but it was still alright for what it was and I give this episode a 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Twilight Sparkle: What She Means To Me

If you were to ask me over three years ago that one of my all-time favorite cartoon characters was a purple pony who thought that studying and reading books were the greatest thing in the world until she discovered the magic of friendship and I said yes, you would’ve probably laughed at me…and I know that there are people out there who still do, but little did I realize that this pony would actually end up shaping my life for the better and help me in the future…that pony is Twilight Sparkle.
Now, today marks the day in the show of the episode “Sweet & Elite” where we found out that it was Twilight Sparkle’s birthday.  So, a few people in the Brony community decided to take this up and talk about Twilight Sparkle.  Now, you’re looking at easily the biggest Twilight Sparkle fan in my family.  So, without further ado...let’s get cracking.
When I first started watching Friendship Is Magic, Twilight Sparkle was the first character that I immediately took an interest in.  For a lot of Bronies including myself, the very first episode I saw was the pilot-“Friendship Is Magic” and that episode immediately drew me in to Twilight Sparkle as a character.  I’ve always liked the brainy beauties in terms of characters; prime example being Belle from the Disney version of “Beauty and the Beast”…and it’s hard for characters like that to be written not as a Mary Sue like Princess Cadence.  With Twilight Sparkle, I never saw that as she’s much more of a role model as the person we want to be as opposed to the people we encounter and it’s great to see that she’s developed as the seasons have gone by.  If it weren’t for Twilight Sparkle, I wouldn’t have given Friendship Is Magic a chance and it feels great to be invested in her and what she goes through.
Why do I like Twilight Sparkle?  Well, the main reason why is because I feel like I’m looking in a mirror whenever she’s on screen because…like Twilight, I was an anti-social bookworm during my elementary through high school years due to the fact that I was heavily teased pretty much on a daily basis as a kid.  But during all that, I didn’t care what they said or did to me as I felt safe and comfortable in my own little world with the things that I loved doing.  So when I discovered Friendship Is Magic shortly after Season 3 had ended by re-watching the show starting with Season 1, I was watching the way that Twilight Sparkle acted and was like “wow, is this really how I was back then?”.  And as the seasons have gone by and as Twilight has developed, I feel like I’ve developed in the same way that she has and it feels weird to say that I haven’t really grown up with a character as well-written as her aside from Thomas The Tank Engine since Thomas was a big influence on my life and I can definitely say that Twilight Sparkle is my influence during my late teenage to adult years.
Now, many of you will probably be saying that cartoon characters aren’t that important since they’re not real…but if you look at these characters as well as Twilight Sparkle, you can see how much she’s developed from being an anti-social bookworm to becoming the Princess of Friendship…and that sometimes means going back to face your past head-on and no episode did that better than in Season 5’s “Amending Fences” where Twilight went back to Canterlot to rekindle her old friendships-heck, we even got to see what would’ve happened if Twilight remained in the state she was originally in through her friend Moon Dancer.  In fact, Twilight Sparkle is actually who I want to be in terms of my personality: I want to have friends like the ones that she has, I want to feel like I belong somewhere, I want to feel like I actually should exist.
Now, like every character in MLP, Twilight Sparkle does have her flaws and that’s understandable if you look at episodes like Season 2’s “Lesson Zero” where she creates a friendship problem in order for her to write a friendship report letter to Princess Celestia or Season 5’s “The Hooffields And McColts” where she thinks that the friendship problem can be solved with a book.  But if you ask me, having flaws isn’t a bad thing as you can then realize what does and doesn’t work as well as what you like and dislike about yourself because…if you were a character with no flaws at all, you’d end up losing people’s interest in your development and it’s so important that Twilight has developed with episodes like the “Friendship Is Magic” pilot or in the “Equestria Girls: Friendship Games” movie when she realizes that the fate of Equestria actually did depend on her making friends and realizing that there was more to life than books or entering an independent study program.  If you’re flawed, that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world for you…and with Twilight Sparkle, it made her better because she can develop further off of that and that she has more to work with as this is made prominent in her future episodes.
If you ask me, the episode that made fully accept Twilight Sparkle as a character was Season 3’s “Magical Mystery Cure” as it took what she had been striving to do ever since the beginning and put it to the ultimate test where she realized that her friends meant more to her than anything else in all of Equestria-that’s the main reason why I love Twilight Sparkle in this episode as it made her think about what she wanted to do and I know from the bottom of my heart that she would make a great ruler of Equestria if Princess Celestia needed an heir to the throne.
Twilight Sparkle has pretty much become my biggest inspiration-my inspiration to be a friend to all and to be the best that I can be because I look at Twilight and I can see myself in how I’ve grown up and changed with her.  She’s made me look at things about myself, embrace my flaws, and see that it’s not the end of the world if you’re flawed…and with it being her birthday, I can’t thank her enough as a character.  Getting to meet Tara Strong at BronyCon 2016 was truly an experience that I’ll never forget, especially when I got to thank her for all that she’s done with Twilight Sparkle because not many characters have made an important impact in my life like Twilight has…and with it being a day to celebrate how far she’s come, I think it’s something truly amazing that she’s still developing and that she can only go higher from here…just like me.