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My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic “The Cutie Map” Review

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Breaks between seasons are never  easy. In the case of My Little Pony, fans had to wait almost an entire year for Season 5. It comes to no surprise by now that the show is one of the most successful cartoons in the modern century, with already Season 6 being confirmed! Last time Twilight and friends had their most grand battle yet, against the powerful Tirek. At the end of that fantastic two-parter a new status quo for this season was unveiled: Twilight got her own castle. (It’s still going to take awhile to getting use to the fact that the tree-house library is no more.) ‘Cutie Map’ is the premiere two-parter here, successfully bringing back the ponies with a good story and great new antagonist. They’re back folks.

Here’s the official description from The Hub Discovery Family:

The Mane 6 are summoned to solve a friendship problem only to find a utopian village where everyone has given up their Cutie Marks.

The Mane 6 have had their Cutie Marks taken and must find a way to get them back. When a deep dark secret is revealed about the pony who took them, they think they may have the answer.

Arguably the most distinctive part about My Little Pony as a whole is the Cutie Mark. These little symbols represent each character: who they are and their special talents. That’s why the concept of ‘Cutie Map’ is so intriguing. Why would anypony willingly choose to give up their Mark? It might be a tough concept to grasp on paper, but it’s nicely executed on screen. The resident ponies in the mysterious village are chasing a fabricated dream that if everyone’s the same, happiness and friendships will follow. After all, if we all have different talents and different opinions, how can we get along without growing bitter with one another? That’s pretty much the thought process the antagonist, Starlight Glimmer, instills on the ponies. For the young viewer, it’s a solid message because it can be easy to think like that. Everyone has different talents, and there’s nothing wrong people having a disagreement, because a true friendship can prevail over that.

How are the Mane 6 here? By now the characters are 100% best of friends. If you go back and watch a Season 1 episode and then this, you can see the fantastic development. Rarely you see that in cartoons these days. Perhaps Fluttershy has the most notable role, being the one Twilight sends out to trick Starlight. It’s rare when we see her in this type of role, so that was definitely fun. While this isn’t Pinkie Pie’s worst episode, she didn’t really bring anything to the table aside from noticing a fake smile when she sees one. (Which was ingenious.) It may seem like I have a bit of a negative tone here, and that’s because I’m still getting over the fact that she literally gave up the reason why they wanted to see the Cutie Mark Vault, when minutes ago Twilight reminded them that they weren’t supposed to do that.

Starlight_Glimmer_speaking_S5E1Now, let’s talk about the villain: Starlight Glimmer. This two-parter proves that an antagonist doesn’t have to be divine, all powerful, a queen, or a demon to be engaging. Here we have basically a normal unicorn, nothing fancy, just manipulative. While she may not go down a a fan favorite when compared to the other villains, there’s no denying she was a great antagonist. Thankfully, her ending doesn’t have her turn good and leaves room for something in the future. She’s basically “Big Brother,” and in fact the premise is much like 1984. “Conformity will set you free. To excel is to fail. Accept your limitations and happiness will follow.” This was some really great writing, making this basically a totalistic part of Equestria thanks to Starlight. When looked at deeply it gives this story a whole new dimension, but that’s an analysis for another day.

Scott Sonneborn and M.A. Larson both share writing credits for this two-parter. As a whole, it’s hard to find any complaints. Aside from that Pinkie Pie mishap, quality writing is throughout. There are some moments that will give the longtime viewer a good laugh, such as when Twilight says, “Then I guess we’ll take six muffins!” after Sugar Bell says she can make muffins, and then nothing else after that. Speaking of Twilight, it’s truly amazing how much development she’s had over the course of four seasons. In fact, I’d say this is the first time when she’s fully realized her princess role. It’ll be great watching her progress even further in the coming episodes. The song ‘In Our Town,’ was solid in context, though definitely not one of the more notable themes from the series.

Overall, a solid way to start off Season 5 of My Little Pony. While it probably won’t go down as a fan favorite due to it having not too much excitement when compared to the previous two-parters,  ‘Cutie Map’ delivers a quality story and great antagonist. It reminds the viewers that friendships can’t be forced or made because “they’re the same,” rather a friendship is built on a special bond where they can share their different talents. Meghan McCarthy and the team look to deliver another great season to an already, as Rarity would say, “fabulous” show.

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Fabulous!

OUR RATING
9
  • +Starlight Glimmer is a great antagonist
  • +Good message
  • +Twilight fully in her princess role rocks
  • -Pinkie Pie, how could you?

S#!T Talking Central

  • William Shen

    I personally found this episode a little disappointing. Not bad, just not as good as I thought it would be. My main issue with the episode is the exclusion of spike. While the solution to the problem would have been a lot easier as spike does not have a cutie mark so spike had to not have been present, you have to come up with a better reason than “hoofball”. While some jokes are funny, some are just bad. Like, painfully bad. A good example would be the “country-isms” joke. While I found it mildly funny, I had to roll my eyes the second time I heard it. I also REALLY don’t like the “in our town” song. There are moments were the ponies are all that in harmony with each other, and the melody sounds… generic. Same with the lyrics. The song for me was bland at best and jarring at worst. Also, DOUBLE DIAMONDS VOICE IS CRINGEWORTHY. Their are good moments, like the ones you pointed out, I find this to be the weakest of the season two-parters.

    • FunnyPunch

      This is just an opinion.

      I think, that the song “genericness” is because they live in a village, which should have bland all over it. It’s a dystopian village, with a little wink to those who’ve read Orwell (You know, that they sometimes wink to bronies, and other adult audience). I don’t get your refference on “country-isms jokes” since though quite proficient in Englih language I am not a native english speaker. Perhaps you can explain it to me even though your comment was made 4 days ago. Double diamond’s voice is sub standard in MLP franchise, but not cringeworthy. It’s “eh….hhhh”. I agree with you on exclusion of spike, and though, Mane 6 couldn’t have predicted his lack of cuty mark, as a notable character in MLP (his got a seat on the “council” – even though it’s an assistant chair to Twillight, not to mention, that he almost always travel with Twilight, and is her best friend on equal terms of frienship as Mane 6) this goes against Twilight character to leave him behind. Even though once Mane 6 were stripped of their cutie marks. I believe that Starlight Glimmer, could have handled him. In means of Magical power she’s way more powerfull than Trixie, and probably one of the strongest unicorns in all of equestria, outmached only by Alicorns. One last thing. I completeley disagree with your opinion (though you’re entitled to it of course. Everyone, or should I say Everypony will have a little different opinion) that this is the weakest two-parters. It gives us an antagonist whome isn’t as super-duper, than any of the Main antagonists (of course, how they use it in future episodes, can either be disastrous or marvelous. I HOPE it is the latter). I find it one of the best. Also unlike you, I was afraid that season 5 will be a repeat of previous seasons (which were uneven sometimes), and would end up as the worst of all due to exhaustion of creativity. It still can be, but the this opening raised my hopes a little.
      I would like to point out, that I didn’t mean to offend you in any way. It’s just my opinion.
      Your’s sincerely Jan Negrey a.k.a. FunnyPunch

      • William Shen

        Yeah, I suppose that the genericness might have been intentional, but during the chorus, something really sounds off about it. It sounds.. grating. And the “countryism” joke isn’t a reference, it was just funny to hear her say it, it’s hard to explain.
        I still think double diamonds voice is terrible. There are times were it sounded meh, but in his conversation with starlight glimmer is when it sounded the absolute worst. It sounds like the voice actor was trying to imitate batman without the gravely voice. While I would agree that there have been other really bad voice actors (For example: The brown guard in “Princess Twilight”) but I stand by my opinion.
        I think the main thing that bothered me about Spike’s exclusion is that it seemed to prioritize humor over plot. They could easily have given a reason like the royal business thing in “Look before you sleep” But NOOOOOOOO. We got a funny JOKE INSTEAD- JoshScorcher -BTW: Both of them went funny
        I think you might have been right that it wasn’t the WEAKEST two parter, I was probably just exaggerating. But it was far from the two season 4 ones.
        Also, I don’t find starlight to be the best villian. It is never explained WHY she wanted to create the village. She never even got a backstory. Unless she is going to be a recurring villain, she needs a backstory.

    • eda

      Alright, so your criticisms are:
      The song was generic
      Spike could’ve had a better reason to not be there
      You didn’t like a new pony’s voice
      Some jokes were unfunny
      …Is that all? Maybe I’m being too nice, but those reasons sound a bit petty to consider an episode the weakest two parter. You don’t seem to really dislike anything about it. I mean, someone’s voice was annoying? Really? He didn’t even get many lines in the episode. And if those are really your only reasons, I think you’re grasping at straws. Were there any plot holes, OOC-ness, mean-spirited-ness or lackluster writing that really got to you? I just think you’re nipicking a little.

      • William Shen

        Looking back, I probably just didn’t like the episode and didn’t know why, so I just nitpicked.
        After a few months, I think I can see what I don’t like about this episode. It is the main villain, starlight glimmer
        She isn’t fleshed out at all. We never understand WHY she wanted to abolish special talent in the first place. She doesn’t get a backstory, and she is very bland personality wise. I’d say about as bland as sunset shimmer in the first movie.
        Since the villain is often the most memorable part of a two parter, I supposed this is why I don’t like this episode so much. Those reasons you listed still apply, but now I realize that’s not the main reason.

  • Jonny Pepperston

    I loved this episode. I’ve even had some of my friends watch this
    episode, who hardly ever watch cartoons, and they loved it. Its probably one of
    my favorite episodes of mlp fim so far.

  • eda

    Good review, except I don’t see the problem with Pinkie. you know who else didn’t bring anything new to the table? Literally all the rest of the mane 6, except Fluttershy. In fact, I think they had even less screen time than her. I guess it’s just because Pinkie is the most mishandled character of the mane 6 and for so long she’s been dismissed as some random comic relief, so fans are more upset when she doesn’t contribute to the plot.