If it's crap ... We'll tell you
So here we are, at the end of what has been a fun and entertaining season with a lot more twists and turns than anyone expected. And to round it all off, we have a double-feature episode to look at. Hasbro and The Hub have been excitedly advertising this for the past two weeks, from adverts and sneak-peaks, to live events and even a piece in the New York Times. This was their most ambitious episode yet, but has all that work paid off? Only one way to find out, let's dive right into it.
So, the story here is as you can see from the title, centralised around a Royal Wedding, between the Captain of the Royal Guard (Twilight's older brother) Shining Armour, and Princess Cadence. Twilight and the rest of her friends are formally invited to help oversee the preparations, but Twilight is angry that her brother never mentioned the whole wedding to her himself. They arrive in Canterlot with the prep-work in full swing, but she grows suspicious at the actions of Cadence. Despite Shining Armour explaining he was busy keeping a force field around the grounds due to a threat of attack placed upon Canterlot, Cadence appears to be less than enthusiastic about the whole wedding. Twilight eventually eavesdrops upon them in discussion, and sees Cadence place a spell upon him, and Twilight fears the worst.
But, when she stops the wedding rehearsal to bring this up in front of everyone, no one believes her, and is told that the spell was to help Shining Armour against migraines that the force field spell was causing him. She begins to have doubts about how she feels towards the Princess, until Cadence arrives and suddenly traps her in a series of caves underneath the castle.
Here, she discovers the real Cadence, who explains that the one attempting to marry Shining Armour is an imposter. They escape just as the ceremony is taking place, which leads to the fake Princess revealing her true form, a Changeling by the name Chrysalis that uses love to gain control over people. Her minions attack the force field and Canterlot is put under siege. Twilight and her friends need to find some way to stop her from destroying the Royal City.
Living up to its hype then, for being quite an ambitious double-episode. Although there are a few elements here that makes it much more recognisable. The episode relies strongly on songs throughout, each with a unique and I must say, interesting art style. The animators brought out their heavy guns for this and it definitely shows. It also gives the feature a very "Disney movie" feel, in the sense that it's very close to the musical genre, but never feels over-bearing with it. Secondly, if you are familiar with the show, you will know the trend these "enemy" episodes take. Once again, they bring in a pretty cool character in the form of the Changeling Cadence; you may think you have guessed the storyline until it gets thrown in another direction. Her character in the second episode loses a little of its personality and become rather more cliché, but it's still good fun to watch.
The songs themselves are relatively shorter and more frequent, but do help in trimming down the exposition and keeping things moving along. The first song is by far the best for me; it feels the most honest and set-in-place of them all. Shining Armour is a good male character too, which is rare for this show since we see them so little. You could argue that he fell for the Changeling a little too easily, but he does exhibit strength and courage, so he's not a weakling. It's an interesting change of relationship he and Twilight take through the two episodes, from community to confusion, anger to forgiveness. The episodes illustrate their family bond the most, and at times it feels like it's the most important factor, which in some ways can be considered to be true.
The attack by the Changelings near the end is pretty exciting, it's a scenario we've seen done several times before but there's enough here to make feel its own. The camera angles and effects are very good, and the humour keeps you invested. I really liked their design aswell, very contrasting to everything else in Canterlot, so it grabs your attention immediately. I think they could have pushed the battle scene a little further, it seemed to end a bit prematurely, but it did do well with the time it was given.
As for the little Easter Eggs for the fans, there are probably loads here. Lots of little nods to previous characters that the fans have taken to heart, but never too much to where it would feel like pandering. This remains at heard a big episode for the kids, and it doesn't disappoint at all on that front. A whole array of emotions and conflicts are covered, especially with twilight, and it all leads to the ending they were expecting. There's plenty of funny moments to enjoy, great animation, a huge cast of characters, and a very qualitive feel to everything within these episodes.
I had a few doubts while watching them, a few moments where it felt like the story would run a very predictable arc. But, the more I think of it as a whole, the better it all clicks together. Some may find the comparisons to Disney movies a little too apparent, but it does enough to be unique and in terms of modern cartoons, quite a fun time on the whole. In terms of a season finale, it was an excellent way to bow out, Hasbro and The Hub threw everything they had at it, and it really shows. It looks like Friendship Is Magic has only higher levels to go from here, but we shall have to wait until Season 3 to find out. For now, I feel very content; it's very much worth a look at and a fine way to end this season's run. Happy times to be watching this show.
Thanks for reading! ^__^