Chapter 2, Part 1: What is My Little Pony all about?

Chapter 2:

Do the Pony Pokey: What is My Little Pony all about?

An introduction to the show that is MLP: FIM

SPOILER WARNING! THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS CONTENT THAT IS IN THE SERIES.
IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED, WATCH THE SERIES NOW! (11)

(Also note that the images used in this post are by the artists listed. They are placeholders and I hope to have art expressly drawn for this book to replace these images.  If you are interested in submitting something, please see this post.)

My Little Pony, My Little Pony…

I used to wonder what friendship could be
Until you all shared its magic with me

Big adventure
Tons of fun
A beautiful heart
Faithful and strong
Sharing kindness,
It’s an easy feat
And magic makes it all complete

You have My Little Ponies

Do you know you’re all my very best friends?

~ Theme song for MLP: FIM

[art requested of the main characters looking cute and welcoming]

Placeholder art by celestialess

Placeholder art by celestialess

Every episode of MLP: FIM has a distinct plot, where adventure, curiosity, and friendship come into play.  As Lauren Faust intended, this change from the peace-loving, tea-taking girlish cartoons of the past gives My Little Ponies a new life.  Yet it still plays host to pastel-colored ponies and their friends, some of which do subscribe to the girlish hobbies of dressing up, having childhood idols, and loving all the cute little animals they see. The ages of the main characters are theorized to be in in the young adult to college age range, though these ages have been debated by fans.  Additionally, there are younger ponies (meant to be ‘little sisters’) and they attend what could be considered pony Kindergarten and grade school.  Adult ponies, baby ponies and the elderly fill the rest of the pony population demographics.  Unlike other iterations, MLP: FIM also plays host to many male ponies who sport different facial features to distinguish them from the female ponies.  If anything, these boys lack character in this iteration of the cartoon.

Within the Ponies’ world of ‘Equestria’, there are three types of ponies (and one bonus type).    First, there are your typical ‘normal’ ponies.  These are called ‘earth ponies’.  They look like normal equines, live on the ground and have subtle magic that lends them affinity toward the land and animals.  Second are unicorns.  They have horns on their forehead, which glow when they use the magic that they are endowed with.  The magic of a unicorn pony varies depending on its favored skills as well as its magic potential.   Although they are more magical, unicorns are physically weaker than earth ponies.  Then there are the Pegasus ponies, which have wings and can fly.  Pegasi can walk on clouds and control the weather by moving and manipulating the clouds.

[art requested of something like shadowy outlines of the pony types]

The final type of pony is the alicorn, which is winged and horned.  There are only two alicorn in the show, and they are sister princesses that rule over the whole of  Equestria.  The eldest sister, Princess Celestia, is the predominant ruler and controls the sun.  Her younger sister, Princess Luna,  rules over the night and moon.  They are thousands of years old and possess extremely powerful magic.  Some believe that they are the last of a dying breed, but little factual information about the alicorns has been released to date. (11)

All the typical elements of a ‘girl’s cartoon’ are in MLP: FIM, but the series also contains many elements which appeal to adults’ sensibilities as well.  This chapter will address the common elements of a MLP: FIM episode and the following chapter will expand upon the lessons that this show illustrates  about growing up, being yourself, being a good student and so forth.  If you are interested in watching the episodes yourself, you don’t need to worry about having cable and the HUB network.  The episodes are for sale on iTunes in the United States, and also, Hasbro has passively allowed episodes to be hosted on YouTube in HD, which is yet another reason why fans love the show and Hasbro.

[art requested of a  map or drawing of the setting]

Placeholder art by BB-Kenobi

Placeholder art by BB-Kenobi

Pony Basics: Setting
All of the My Little Ponies from this series live in a land called ‘Equestria’.  This differs from the setting in prior series: Dream Valley (G1) and Friendship Gardens (G2).  The generation three (G3) location of Ponyville does exist in Friendship is Magic (G4), but instead of centering around Celebration Castle, G4 has a separate city with a castle, called Canterlot.  Canterlot is where the elite and royals live. A town called Ponyville is considered run-of-the mill: part suburb, part country.  There are also locations unique to the Pegasus ponies, called Cloudsdale.  It is high in the sky and made of clouds.  As such, only Pegasi can live there.  Other cities exist in Equestria, and will be introduced throughout the next few chapters.

The ponies live in an odd balance with the world of Equestria: seasons do not change on their own.  Instead, in this My Little Pony universe, the earth ponies have to manually change seasons and the Pegasus ponies are in charge of changing the weather.  The alicorn are in charge of raising the sun and moon, and the unicorn appear to just help where they can.

Beyond Ponyville there exists a wild wood called the Everfree Forest.  Although its origins are unknown, it is ‘unnatural’: the plants and animals grow on their own and seasons do their own thing without pony intervention.  There are ruins in the forest that are unexplained, and the forest is rampant with wild plants and creatures that can cause grave dangers to the ponies.  In fact, many of the creatures both in the forest and elsewhere in the show are based on various mythologies and fairy tales.  Some examples include the Phoenix, Griffin, and Dragons.  Many Bronies believe that this fantasy aspect is alluring.  Some creatures, though still monsters, are created just for the show, and that variety keeps older viewers on their toes.  Some parent Bronies also believe that having such creatures in a children’s show promotes learning about their origins and mythologies.  In Wired’s GeekDad column, Matt Morgan, commented that My Little Ponies had “rebooted the long-time Hasbro property while managing to lace it with geeky undertones”, and that MLP:FIM was one of the few “girl-focused shows that a geeky dad can appreciate with his daughter”(13).  If this proves true, then the existence of fantasy creatures in this cartoon may promote education as well as possibly bringing a new generation of fantasy and science fiction fans into being.

Humans in the pony world did exist in the original series, but they have never been mentioned in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  However, Ponies have been seen wearing shoes that fit human feet, and decorating one bedroom wall there was a picture of a human outline.  However, it seems highly unlikely that humans will be taking part in this show.  While in G1, Megan and her little brother and sister (Danny and Molly) were needed to save the day, G4 Ponies don’t need a human to help them out. This new set of ponies is brave, confident, and willing to work with their friends to overcome obstacles, just as Faust intended.

Pony Basics: Language
If you’ve spent any time talking to a Brony or have read their fan sites, you have probably noticed that some of the words that they use are not ‘normal’.  ‘Pony-isms’, or words that have been ‘pony-fied’, actually originated in the show.  Instead of using ‘human’ words such as ‘everyone’, the cartoon ponies instead say ‘everypony’.  And instead of locations like ‘Townsville’, they use locations such as ‘Ponyville’.  Below are a few more terms and locations for reference.

Terms:
Human                                 Pony
Man/boy                              Pony/Colt
Girl                                        Filly
Old Woman                         Mare (i.e. Old Mare’s Tale)
Man-up                                Pony-up
Hair                                      Mane
Hand/Foot                          Hoof
Handshake                         Bro-hoof
Nay-sayers                         Neigh-sayers
The herd                              Group of ponies, specifically group of Bronies

Locations:
Equestria                            Earth
Canterlot                             Camelot
Manehattan                        Manhattan
Phillydelphia                      Philadelphia
Trottingham                       Tottenham
Appleloosa                          Appaloosa
Hoofington                         Huffington

These phrases were some of the first memetic fodder that the show provided.  Sometimes these terms slide under the radar and blend seamlessly with the script.  Other times, it is an obvious pun.  It seems jarring at first, but I now find such phrases to be amusing to catch while I watch the show.

Coming tomorrow: Chapter 2 Part 2 – an introduction to the characters and its impact on different demographics!

Footnotes

(11) My Little Pony: Friendship is easily available in the United States via iTunes, and can also be found on YouTube.

(12) While not a topic to linger on, the nuances of pony genetics has intrigued biology and genetic minded bronies.  theaceofspadez did a scientific study on how modern genetics can be used to solve the traits shown in My Little Pony, such as horns, wings, color, gender, etc.

(13) Source: wired.com/GeekDad – Could My Little Pony Be Raising the Next Generation of Geeks?

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About isaunter

I'm 30 years old and I have been living in the District for six years now. I love all things geek: from tabletop to video gaming; from computers to manga. I am a brony. I wear glasses, have short hair and sport a dragon tattoo (gasp!). I enjoy wearing tall socks and short skirts, and tend to dress more goth and Lolita than chic. It's just a fun thing.

Posted on February 2, 2012, in Chapters and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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