Animation Break: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic S5 (Spoilers!)

Usually, when a show, and especially a children’s animated show, gets more than four seasons, viewers start to begin to wonder as to what will be happening next to our favorite characters, and if the quality of the episodes will still be great. Thankfully, “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’s” fifth season managed to surprise by adding interesting elements, having a return to form for some of the show’s elements and characters, while pushing the boundaries of the show staff’s creativity. This season definitely had a minefield of gems, which quite honestly, for me, made this season one of the best in its seven season run.

One of the things that was noticeable in this season is the fact that the writers made more of an effort to showcase that sense of community that Ponyville is noted for, which was more evident in the first few seasons. I also felt that the characters were more consistently written, and this was most especially seen with Pinkie Pie (Andrea Libman). Pinkie has always been random and the comic relief, but in this season, we see a return to form with the writing of her character. It was more consistent and her humor and visual gags weren’t as random as they were before (that is, for Pinkie Pie).

This season also had three Rarity (Tabitha St. Germain) episodes in a row, a solo Rainbow Dash (Ashleigh Ball) that didn’t have to do with the Wonderbolts, showcased Twilight Sparkle’s (Tara Strong) Canterlot past, and had great Princess Luna (St. Germain) and Big Mac (Peter New) episodes.

Unfortunately, I feel that this season’s stand alone Spike (Cathy Weseluck) didn’t do much for the character, especially after “Inspiration Manifestation” and “Equestria Games”.

This also saw the return of more slice of life type episodes, and I do appreciate the fact that there was only one main villain for the season, and it was somepony that you knew would return to exact revenge.

The addition of the Cutie Map is a natural progression for the Mane Six, as they are sent by pair to solve a friendship problem wherever in Equestria the Map tells them to go. This makes for excellent world building, and a chance for the staff to experiment with different character pairings and dynamics.

Also, I realized that there was definitely a lot of focus on Cutie Mark magic in this season,  something that I’d love to learn more of, and still, even in a season more focused on it, I feel that we’ve only scratched the surface.

This season also had the best emotional pay-offs, and a strong season opener and closer to boot.

The songs were really great, with the exception of the very last song of the season.

With regards to favorite episodes, I have a hard time picking my Top Ten for this season as it was a treasure trove of great episodes.

All in all, Season 5 is a strong and solid season, with consistent writing, and almost a return to form, from the characters to the slice of life episodes which the show always exceeds in.

Now, you know the drill. Beyond this point, there will be spoilers!

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The season premiere, “The Cutie Map I & II” is, for me, the second strongest opening since “The Return of Harmony I & II”. However, this time around, I loved the fact that it really involved the Mane Six, and it also allowed other ponies to save the day. Aside from this, this was an opener that shook up the MLP:FIM season opener formula, as there were no bad guys intent on destroying the entire world. This was more isolated, more personal, and had interesting concepts.

First off, the Cutie Map itself allowed the writers to create stories for different Mane Six pairings, while allowing them to continue to build the world of Equestria. This seems like a natural progression because this time around, they are the ones who are helping others. And in this season, the Cutie Map episodes seemed to revolve around friendship problems that affected and changed particular areas for the better.

Going back to the season premiere, Starlight Glimmer (Kelly Sheridan) was an interesting villain, and I was amazed at how dark and far the MLP writers could push this. Brainwashing, a village with no individualism, and it being almost cult-like with Starlight as their leader.

The Mane Six were truly able to shine in this episode, even more than Twilight, and in particular, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy truly shone here.

Starlight’s redemption in the season finale was a bit rushed to me, but I love the fact that they truly used time travel in a great “What if Rainbow never did the Sonic Rainboom?” episode, and it showed us different variations of their world, and how different things would have been for each of the Mane Six. In the end, Starlight becomes Twilight’s student, which is also a natural progression for Twilight.

Let’s talk about each of the Cutie Map episodes. Now, for these, each pair were called to different locations across Equestria, and the Map sent the two ponies who were the best to solve that particular problem.

My favorite has to be “Made in Manehattan” as I do love seeing Applejack (Ball) and Rarity episodes, and as it revolved around a subject close to my heart- community theater. Plus, we got to see Coco Pommell again, a pony whom I instantly loved in “Rarity Takes Manehattan”. I love seeing Applejack out of her comfort zone, and I loved how things did work out here. Rarity was needed to help Coco, and as Coco is her friend; and Applejack was needed not just for manual labor, but because it allowed the ponies in the neighborhood to see that even doing just a little helps in making the community a better place.

“The Lost Treasure of Griffinstone” allowed us to have a long overdue Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie episode, while adding some world building with us finally seeing the Griffin Kingdom. It also saw the return of Gilda, and allowed the three of them to finally become friends. Rainbow was needed as she knows Gilda, and the two did need to resolve their differences, while Pinkie’s baking expertise allowed her to help Gilda make the catalyst to bring friendship to the kingdom.

“The Hooffields & the McColts” saw Twilight and Fluttershy helping to stop a deadly feud between two clans. Interestingly, this is another instance in which the series shows us a little bit about the devastation war can bring, and how they escalate. Fluttershy was needed for her animal expertise, while Twilight was needed as the only way they would stop and listen was if she used magic.

“Made in Manehattan” affected a community, “The Lost Treasure of Griffinstone” changed an entire kingdom, and “The Hooffields & McColts” helped protect and preserve one of the most beautiful valleys in Equestria.

As I said earlier, this season did no favors for Spike, but it did wonders for the background ponies and for Big Mac.

The 100th episode of the show, “Slice of Life”, was a stroke of genius, as the writers created a love letter to the fandom by focusing on every background pony and on fan favorites, and didn’t focus on the Mane Six at all. “Brotherhooves Social”, the Big Mac episode, focused on the brother-sister dynamic between him an Apple Bloom (Michelle Creber), something that we hadn’t seen before.

This season’s Princess Luna episode, “Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?” was the most insightful one of hers so far, as it showed us in spectacular ways, how she hasn’t yet forgiven herself for becoming Nightmare Moon. Aside from that, it gave us a VERY interesting peek into the Mane Six’s subconscious.

Surprisingly, Discord (John de Lancie) episodes are hit or miss for me, and while I did enjoy “Make New Friends but Keep Discord”, I didn’t like how “What About Discord?” was presented.

I’m surprised that Rarity had a lot of episodes this season, and it was three in a row to boot. Her episodes had great stories,  great character progression in terms of her career, and the writers simply had a ball doing her stories this season.

My favorite Applejack episode here was “The Mane Attraction”. Aside from how AWESOME the episode was, we finally got an Applejack episode in which the main focus wasn’t her inflexibility and stubornness, and highlighted her honesty and integrity.

I loved how consistent Pinkie Pie was written this season, and I love the fact that we see that her Pinkie promises can backfire on her, and the fact that she really makes an effort in planning parties, as evidenced by her party planning cave.

Fluttershy’s episodes, had strong and great continuity, and the lessons that were showcased surprised me, in particular in “Scare Master”, which taught us that it’s okay if there is one thing that you don’t really enjoy doing that your friends do, and that you don’t need to force yourself to join them.

Twilight’s best episode this season, “Amending Fences”, gave us more insight into her Canterlot life, and showed us what Twilight could have become in Moon Dancer.

Rainbow Dash finally got a solo episode that didn’t have to do with Wonderbolts, and amazingly, the writers were also able to tell a story about how people cope with loss and death without having Tank die, but hibernate, in “Tanks for the Memories”.

“Hearthbreakers” was also an interesting episode, as we see the Apples and Pies getting together for the first time for Hearthswarming. What was so interesting about this episode was that I learned that Pinkie is one of the youngest in the family, and that Marble Pie is her fraternal twin. We also see how different these two farm pony families are, which are reflected in their traditions. The Apples have a farm full of bounty and produce, so it makes sense that their traditions are full of warmth and food; while the Pies are rock farmers, and live in a very Puritan-like fashion, so it makes sense that their traditions use what is on hand, and are very rock based.

However, the most valuable players of this season have to be the Cutie Mark Crusaders, who finally got their cutie marks after discovering that their true talent is helping others learn what their cutie marks mean, and helping others get their cutie marks. Aside from this, we also got more backstory on Diamond Tiara, and her road to redemption was just great.

“The Crusaders of the Lost Mark” was definitely one of the best episodes the series has given us, and for me, the emotional pay-off was more than “Magical Mystery Cure” because we have been with the Crusaders from the very beginning.

All in all, Season 5 was a great season chock full of great stories, music, character interactions, and new elements that will make the show even more interesting in the future.

Did you like the show’s fifth season? What did you like and not like about it?  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

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