Animation Break: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Season 2 Review (Spoilers!)

The first season of “My Little Pony: Friendship of Magic” not only set up the main cast and secondary cast of characters, but also built a whole new world for us, while still allowing for the possibility of it being a standalone season, just in case it wasn’t renewed. However, and fortunately for us, the show has continued on for seven seasons, going on an eighth come next year. So, for the second season, instead of giving us a loose theme or recurring storyline, viewers were treated to a season which helped further define our main characters with stories that entertained, had more effort in appealing to the older demographic, and taught lessons in friendship.

With the first season of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” being a resounding success, it was no wonder that Hasbro decided to renew the show for a second season.

Here, Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong), is still studying magic and learning more about friendship; but this time around, her mentor, Princess Celestia (Nicole Oliver), also asks the rest of the Mane Six to also send her reports on friendship lessons that they have learned as well. This was the next logical step for the show to do, as it would allow for more stories that would be able to explore the strengths and weaknesses of each pony more, which, in turn, would also allow the viewers and the audience to get to learn more about them.

Also, it seems as if this season spent more time with individual characters or the Mane 6 broken up into smaller groups to explore character and character dynamics, as compared to the first season in which there were more episodes which involved all of them.

Unlike the rest of the seasons, this season didn’t have a loose story arc or recurring theme running through it.

Aside from this, the season was book ended by two memorable two-parters-  “The Return of Harmony Pts. I & II” and “A Canterlot Wedding Pts. I & II”.

“The Return of Harmony Pts. I & II” showcased great animation, top notch voice talent with the addition of John de Lancie as Discord (a very Q like entity), and did a better job than the pilot episode in showcasing the weaknesses and strengths of each Element of Harmony or the Mane Six. “A Canterlot Wedding Pts. I & II”, although there are plot holes in it, and it seems like some of the things here just came out of no where, it surprised me at how good it was, and was an interesting homage to Disney movies as well.

To be honest, I found that most of the stories in the second season had stronger writing than the stories in the first season. There was also a very obvious effort to appeal to an older demographic, without losing its appeal to its younger demographic, by adding in even more pop culture references that only the older ones would get. However, as much as I liked almost all of the episodes in this season, there were also some that missed the mark, either story-wise, or with the fact that the lesson featured and what the pony in question should have learned didn’t really match up in the end. Despite this though, we did have some character development for the Mane Six, and it featured several great episodes as well. Also, interestingly enough, there were quite a lot of Rarity (Tabitha St. Germain) and Rainbow Dash (Ashleigh Ball) episodes in this season. It also featured “Luna Eclipsed”, a Princess Luna (St. Germain) centered episode, which is a rare treat indeed.

Daniel Ingram’s songs were a mixed bag in this season, but the ones that most people would remember are Rarity’s “Becoming Popular”, “A Canterlot Wedding’s” “This Day Aria”, and no one will ever, ever forget Pinkie Pie’s “Smile Song”, which still puts a smile on my face everyday.

All in all, the show’s second season built on the foundations of the first season, had iconic episodes, songs and moments, and also featured some character development along the way. For me, I still maintain that this is a stronger season as compared to the first one.

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As I have already mentioned earlier, I really enjoyed re watching Season 2, especially as this was a season that I remember being a pretty strong and solid one, despite the fact that there was no story arc or a recurring theme that built up to the season finale of “A Canterlot Wedding Pts. I & II”.

As noted above, I felt that having the Mane Six and not just Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) write friendship lesson reports to Princess Celestia was definitely the logical step, and allowed the characters to have stories which explore their characters even more. It also allowed them to have interesting dynamics with each other, especially as it seems like a conscious effort was give to exploring the dynamics of two or three of the Mane Six at a time with each other as compared to all of them in one episode.

It also quite interesting that this season included a Princess Luna focused episode, and that Rainbow Dash and Rarity had a lot of episodes as well as featured more prominently in other episodes that don’t have them as a focus.

With regards to the Cutie Mark Crusader (CMC)  episodes, the main focus is still Apple Bloom (Michelle Creber) as compared to Sweetie Belle (Claire Corlett) or Scootaloo (Madeleine Peters), but at least Sweetie Belle is able to have at least one episode that focuses on her, albeit that it also does focus on her relationship with her older sister. The only CMC episode that truly stood out for me in this season was “Ponyville Confidential”, whose lesson can also be applied to today’s culture of fake news, clickbait, and sensationalized headlines. As a writer and social media manager, I related a lot to this episode as I have been put into situations before in which my superiors wanted “juicy” news and misleading headlines, just to get clicks and views. This episode is also an episode in which the CMC really take the lesson to heart as it sticks. For me, I think, this was also the start of CMC episodes getting better, especially with their character development.

The whole lesson of quality versus quantity is also something that I relate to, and was presented in “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000”, a very different episode in the fact that Applejack (Ashleigh Ball) didn’t really learn anything, but showed continuity in how she actually allowed her friends to help the Apple family out. (Also, the visual gags of Rainbow Dash never getting any cider was hilarious).

Spike also had two episodes to himself that were way better than his first season episodes. Both episodes explore Spike’s dragon nature, and gives us a lesson on giving into greed, and how nurture influences an individual other their nature. In Spike’s case, it’s how his upbringing so far has made him who he is, even though it is very different from his nature as a dragon.

The Princess Luna episode was an interesting bit of continuity, and it makes many relate to her more, as we see her struggle in social situations due to the fact that she has been away for a thousand years. And even then, since her return, I doubt that she gets a lot of opportunities to socialize like everypony, as she is a princess and that most of her duties occur during the night.

Now, let’s talk about how each of the Mane Six were presented in this season.

Twilight’s episodes “Lesson Zero” and “It’s About Time”, are quite similar as they both explore Twilight’s need to stick to the rules, letting her fears get the most of her, and worrying too much to the point that she herself becomes a liability. Both episodes are presented in interesting ways, but “Lesson Zero” makes for a more iconic episode as Twilight’s mental break is even worse than in “It’s About Time”.

Fluttershy (Andrea Libman) saw some character progression with “Putting Your Hoof Down” and “Hurricane Fluttershy”. In the first episode, we see Fluttershy learning that standing your ground and being more confident and assertive doesn’t mean that you have to change yourself or be mean to other people. In the second episode, we see Fluttershy dealing with her deep rooted issues of social anxiety, and her shame of not being able to contribute as much as others despite doing her very best. In the end, she’s able to put that aside to help Rainbow Dash and the other pegasi.

“May the Best Pet Win!” and “The Mysterious Mare Do Well” show Rainbow Dash’s weaknesses, ego, and arrogance, while still learning important lessons in looking beyond physical characteristics and how to show humility and grace even when she’s being praised. However, “Hurricane Fluttershy” shows Rainbow Dash being more nurturing towards Fluttershy as she pauses and changes her approach in encouraging her as compared to the other ponies. “Read It and Weep” however, is interesting as it not only introduces us to Daring Do, but it explores Rainbow’s journey into having an interest in reading and books.

Rarity has a lot of growth in this season, and in particular, in “Sisterhooves Social” and “Sweet and Elite”. The first one explores her relationship with Sweetie Belle, and ends with her realizing that being a sister means having to compromise, and spending time with your loved ones, even if it means doing some things you are not fond of doing at times. “Sweet and Elite” sees Rarity learning that white lies never amount to anything, and that one should never forget where they came from, even after they become successful. However, out of everypony’s stories, “Sweet and Elite” also focuses on Rarity’s dreams and her business.

“The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy  6000” isn’t really an Applejack episode, so the only one here that does focus on her is “The Last Round Up”, which is one of my favorites. Here, Applejack doesn’t return from the rodeo competition as she can’t deal with the fact that she believes that she’s a failure and a disappointment for not winning first place and getting the prize money which will go to fixing Ponyville’s town hall. In the end, she discovers that she should face problems like this head on, and that her friends and family will always accept her, no matter what. She also learns to confide in her friends instead of going it out alone. These are all lessons that are different from “Applebuck Season”, and this episode shows Pinkie Pie’s (Andrea Libman) wrath if you break a Pinkie promise. Also, we sse Applejack also being wise and mature with her interactions with others, especially in “Sisterhooves Social”.

Speaking of Pinkie Pie, we see here that she still is very young here, as she prioritizes fun over being considerate of others. However, I loved her in “Baby Cakes”, because we see Pinkie actually realizing how much work being responsible entails, and how she’s willing to do all that work in order to spend time and to take care of the Cake twins. The “Smile Song” gave me more appreciation for Pinkie’s character as it shows that deep down in her heart, her gift is actually quite a selfless one, in it’s purest form.

Aside from featuring Discord, “The Return of Harmony” is a strong showcase of the Elements of Harmony, and the weaknesses and strengths of Mane Six, by allowing Discord to prey upon their biggest fears. Applejack turns into a compulsive liar after being convinced that telling the truth may sometimes hurt friendships; Pinkie Pie becomes convinced that her friends are laughing at her; Rainbow is given the impossible choice of choosing between her loyalty to her friends or her childhood home; Rarity’s need to spread beauty makes her become selfish and greedy; Fluttershy becomes mean and assertive; and Twilight gives into despair after giving up on her friends due to their behavior. However, it’s interesting how she only needs to be reminded of everything they have gone through together to bring her back to normal, which also shows that Twilight, among the Mane Six, is definitely leader material. It is also interesting to note how both Discord and Twilight both target Applejack first, which make me think that the writers are also trying to show how honesty and integrity are integral in being loyal, optimistic, kind, generous and in being a good leader. I also love how Twilight states that friendships are worth fighting for, and this makes me love and appreciate how this diverse group of friends are such good friends with each other.

Now, many take issue with “A Canterlot Wedding” as there wasn’t really a lot of build up towards this, and Twilight having a brother just came out of nowhere. I myself thought that the episode would be extremely cheesy, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was an interesting homage to Disney movies, and Queen Chrysalis as Fake Cadance and taunting Twlight when she was trapped underground did make her seem even more intimidating than Discord. Despite the plotholes, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, and it was interesting that it wasn’t the Mane Six who saved the day in the end, but Shining Armor’s (Andrew Francis) and Princess Cadance’s (Britt McKillip) love that saved the day.

In hindsight, I think that this was already a foreshadowing for “The Crystal Empire Pts. I & II”, and it is interesting that friendship was the thing that saved the day in the season premiere, while love, in a natural progression, saved the day in the season finale.

This season was definitely a strong one, and I loved how creative the animators were with the facial expressions, and how the writers peppered in pop-culture homages that the older viewers would enjoy.

Once again, the background music was great, and as I mentioned, the songs were a mixed bag. The stand- outs were definitely “Becoming Popular”, “This Day Aria”, and “Smile Song”.

Also, I loved how they also did some world building with introducing Discord, the Changelings, Star Swirl the Bearded references, and the history of Equestria and Ponyville.

In the end, the show’s second season is definitely a strong outing, and it reminded me that I should go back and rewatch some episodes here more often than I do with some episodes of Seasons 4, 5 and 6.

How did you like the second season of “My Little Pony:Friendship is Magic”? What did you think of the season premiere and finale? What did you think of the character development of our main and secondary cast? What episodes and moments did you like and didn’t you like? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

 

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