How bad is it that my favorite comic thus far is the one that the fewest people are likely to get? Big props to Jet on this one; his art was nothing short of fantastic. If you want fantastic art too, you should totally commission him. You can check out a big version of the image below:
To get this out of the way, it’s a scene from the 1986 Transformers movie, in which they kill off Optimus Prime, who passes the matrix of leadership onto Ultra Magnus, and then to Hot Rod. It was a weird movie, where Hasbro corporate dictated who lived and who died, but otherwise gave pretty free reign. As nice as the latter is, it certainly doesn't make up for the former.
Let’s address the biggest issue first:
Yes, I know that Equestria Girls has been confirmed to not have influence over the next season of MLP. I’m still dubious of that since, at the very least, it demands the further sharing of studio resources. It certainly makes me question how legitimate the rerun-based excuse was for Season 3’s half-size really is.
While I have several issues with Equestria Girls, I don’t feel comfortable addressing most of them in any official manner without having seen the thing (although the frustration I have over Spike as a dog is staggering). I have every bit of faith that the personalities of the characters will make it through intact, plus we already know it’s the same writers and voice actors. The art isn’t blatantly offensive, though having a standardized body type for humans has a lot less charm than it does for ponies.
So we’ve at least got the characters and the writing, what’s the problem?
It’s in the name.
This is Equestria Girls, but they’ve shown no Equestria.
For as much love as the characters get, the world is just as key a component of the show, and the show would be far lesser without it. It’s a fantasy world with heavy mythological influences and pre-industrialized technology (mostly). It’s a world tied to nature, where magic is an everyday occurrence. Although the characters face a fairly standard set of themes, they’re approached in supernatural ways, with time travel, potions, spells, mystical flora and fauna, large cities in the clouds, powerful relics, and extremely memorable antagonists.
Equestria Girls, as Hasbro Studios decided to present in the trailer, is high school. Not any specific magic high school, but high school. Lockers, school lunches, dances, the snooty popular girl; high school. And the cliché is topped off with the chance meeting between main girl and blandly-handsome-implied-love-interest. In the face of the source material, it’s as conceptually conservative as you can get. Too much Disney Channel, not enough Harry Potter.
While, again, there’s limits to how much I can legitimately speak to it beyond evidence-based-hunch, the closest analogue I can grasp from the dregs of my memory is the Rugrats spinoff All Grown Up. Rugrats was a show about the warped perspectives of hyper-imaginative babies and the “adventures” they faced. The characters were solid with a lot of charm, but they worked primarily because they fit the context they were placed in, and their roles made sense. When All Grown Up hit, the show’s tone had some humor, but the conflict moved away from imaginary adventures to the day-to-day drama of tweenish school life. The previously solid character archetypes were never designed for this shift, and it just couldn’t come close to the charm of the original.
I don’t expect Equestria Girls to be bad; I expect it to be mediocre and forgettable. On its own terms, mediocrity shouldn’t merit ire, but it can never and will never live on its own terms. Friendship is Magic changed the attitudes of many towards traditionally female-centric media and children’s media in general. For me, it’s a shining example of how you can make programming for young demographics that doesn’t suck. It’s an astoundingly tough act to follow, and the final product needs to take more creative risk than the trailer suggests.
In essence, we just want the people who control the franchise to show the same care we give to it, that DHX generally gives to Friendship is Magic, that Faust clearly gave to it in spite of the property’s less-than-stellar heritage. We want it to be more than average, and we love it because it strives to be more than average. June will tell if the pomp of a theatrical release is justified (myself later depending on their iTunes turnaround), but every external force thus far suggests that the movie has a long way to go.
Jet tried to explain this joke to me. I'm still not sure I get it.