Well, I guess that title’s decently relevant.
Dunno why, but I’v been spamming Pain by Three Days Grace on my iTunes recently. I don’t feel particularly down (albeit extremely reflective), but it’s been helping my thought processes in recent times for whatever reason.
Now, as for topics of discussion for today, I haven’t got too many, and by “I haven’t got too many”, I mean it’s been so long that I’m going to bury you guys under a deluge of text—I guess I’ll include tl;dr at the bottom.
First up is my personal impressions of season 3 of ponies thus far:
When I first saw The Crystal Empire (or whatever the opener special was actually called), I really, really didn’t like it. I can explain why, however, and it stems back to a problem I’ve had since season 2, when I started paying attention to writing staff and how their styles diverged/melded together. And it turned out that every episode I personally considered weak was written by Meghan McCarthy. Now of course, this is just personal preference, but I can explain why, exactly, I feel the way I do.
I’ll lead by saying I don’t get paid like Meghan. I’m not working for a company that genuinely loves its consumer base and seems to do whatever it can to pander to them/keep them happy. I’m not part of something that has literally changed lives across the globe and brought back from the proverbial grave a toy series that everyone probably considered finished. I’m not part of the herald of great cartoons on the Hub. What I am is an amateur writer with an opinion, one who could easily be considered jaded and biased. And who doesn’t have many followers to begin with. This alone can disqualify my opinion, but I’ll state it all the same.
I don’t really feel that Meghan McCarthy has, necessarily, a great grasp on the characters or an idea of how to march characterization forward in the grand scheme of things. Don’t get me wrong—she does good world-building type stuff. But world-building, if I haven’t stated it before, is not my thing. I greatly prefer seeing characters interact and develop instead of exploring the mysteries of a world—ever wondered why I hate Skyrim, Lord of the Rings, and just haven’t been able to finish A Song of Ice and Fire? You have part of your answer.
But back to my original point—Meghan always, in my eyes (and the eyes of several of my friends, not that that qualifies my statements any more), paints the characters as wacky caricatures of themselves, aside maybe from Twilight, who has been grating more on my nerves lately. Dash ends up brutish and lazy, Pinkie’s so wacko she’s practically just comic-relief bot #57, Rarity’s more than willing to lose sight of her goals (and friends) for shinies and fame, Fluttershy is kawaii-desu-moe (redundant, yes, and I know she wrote Dragonshy, where that stereotype was proven wrong), and Applejack…pretty much might as well not be there.
If there’s one thing I just haven’t been able to stomach, it’s forgetting lessons. Dash had to learn not be praise-mongering twice and Rarity had to learn to keep her eye on her friends twice (In Sonic Rainboom and again in my least favorite episode ever, Sweet and Elite, though one might argue that lesson was different, something about not worrying whether your old friends will fit in with your new friends, but to me it’s mechanically similar and she seemed to have forgotten to appreciate her friends). Those, to me, are the most egregious offenders, but I see it as a general pattern.
Now, as for episode, no, I’m not really in the line of thinking with Phoe that Sombra represented some form of failure for Twilight, and that the mere threat of him scaring everyone made him a good villain. I still think he was not that great of a villain—the theme in that light is something I can totally respect and I appreciate Phoe’s ability to break it down like that, see past the scope of just what’s in front of her. I simply don’t agree. Now I could try to offer up reasons beyond “He only said rawr and slaves” and “He was just a cloud of smoke that took shape at the end”, but many people have already explained it better than I could, being that I don’t typically look too far past surface value. For example, to me, The Old Man and the Sea is just a story about an old man on a boat. It’s exciting and tense to see his struggle for survival, and I love that book, but that’s all it is to me. Or The Lion King—it’s just a story about a lion growing up and taking back what’s rightfully his, sticking it to the villain, not some stuff about Jesus.
Call it a carryover from my days of watching anime and whatnot (and yes, I’m aware that not all anime is meant to be taken at face value), but I like my villains to actually do something, like Discord and Chrysalis. Now, there are some “villains”, like Chernabog, that are just so terrifying that they don’t necessarily have to do much to be frightening and even disheartening. It’s a matter of what they might do at that point rather than what we see them do—I think I might have discussed this before with survival horror games.
But that’s the problem—whatever Sombra represents, I don’t feel he represents it well enough. Call me dense or plebeian, but that’s just how I feel. He wasn’t scary, threatening, or even disheartening. Maybe to children, and that’s who the show is made for, but not to me. But hey, I’m a survival horror vet—it takes a lot to genuinely frighten and intimidate me. Hell, Sombra looked like he was flying through the air to eat Spike and the Crystal Heart in one bite or something. I don’t know what he would’ve done—nobody does. But I do know he just didn’t do it for me.
Now, for today’s episode, it was pretty light-hearted, at least to me, even when it got a little sad. It was fun, something I can’t say I’ve had with an episode of FiM in a little while. And no musical numbers nets it bonus points. Sorry, that’s just my bias. I had no real problems with it.
Now, I could go deeper with this stuff, talk about how I’ve been feeling lately and how my writing is, and whatever and whatever, but I think I’m just going to leave it as-is and talk about all that later.
Now for a question—am I being dense? Do I need to scrutinize and look at themes and whatnot, especially in the stuff I produce? I probably won’t get an answer, but it’s worth a shot. I feel like I’m in the right, but the greatest works of literature weren’t thrown together.