Mid-season hiatuses are never fun. The last episode, “Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?,” aired back in July. Thankfully, we’ve had many quality comics to read in the meantime. “Canterlot Boutique” deserved pre-hype for a few reasons. Obviously the primary one is that it’s the mid-season premiere. Secondly, Rarity episodes are usually very good. No, very great. (If you get that reference, thumbs up!) The final reason is more subjective. Amy Keating Rodgers is one of my favorite writers, having written one of the finest episodes of the series, “The Best Night Ever.” Today’s adventure puts Rarity in a familiar, yet somewhat new scenario. It’s definitely a fun watch, though with some negatives stopping it from being one of the Rarity greats.
Here’s the official description from Discovery Family:
Rarity’s dream of owning a boutique in Canterlot has finally come true. Her new shop is an instant success, but it comes at a price Rarity isn’t sure she’s willing to pay.
As I’ve often said in previous reviews, Rarity is a truly special character. If this were another show, she would be the stereotypical fashion girl only concerned about the way she looks and gives no indication of care to the people around her. The final scene in this episode exemplified that, where she shows great mercy and forgiveness to somepony who just was overbearing. This new character, Sassy Saddles, was nicely established in the beginning. She used to showcase a person getting caught up in making sure the business is successful with conflicting emotions of living out her own dream. The overall message here was very good, and Kelly Sheridan did a nice job voicing the character.
So, at the end of the day the lesson here is pretty straightforward and well-known. Here we have Rarity opening a boutique in Canterlot and acquiring lots of customers. It’s not however all that she imagined it would be as she’s forced to sacrifice her creativity and love for her work. It’s a pretty solid message and Amy’s quality writing is present throughout. Almost all of the character interactions are perfect. Pinkie Pie unfortunately is reduced to being annoying comic relief most of the time. For Spike fans, his role is basically just there to fill his animation spot. This doesn’t personally bother me since there wasn’t much for him to do here. But some might be a little annoyed for his background character role.
Speaking of the animation, one of the greatest things about MLP is its excellent use of flash. Flash animation can have a bad reputation sometimes, but in this show it’s just amazing, especially in this episode. It’s subtle things such as Twilight looking uncomfortable in the spotlight walking down the steps. If this were Rarity instead for example, the animation would have showcased her enjoying the attention. It’s things like that which show how much passion is put into effect. My main problem with the story was a certain scene, and that’s when Rarity gives an ordered dress to the customer but adds an extra decoration to it. In this case, Rarity was definitely wrong because the customer ordered something very specific, not something to tampered with no natter how great the intentions. This scene isn’t really touched upon afterward. It can be argued this was used to fuel Rarity’s realization that all this wasn’t what she wanted to do in life. But she is wrong in this case. The way it’s handled makes the viewer want to believe she’s right.
Overall, “Canterlot Boutique” is an entertaining episode dealing with the themes of having everything one seemingly wants, yet realizing it isn’t and business throwing away the core individual’s creativity in favor of sales. Rarity is fantastic throughout. The other ponies, aside from Pinkie Pie, are nicely utilized. Also, finally a brand new song appeared. “Rules of Rarity” was a quality theme. This season has been severely lacking in songs, so it was great to hear. That one scene where Rarity is blatantly wrong and isn’t addressed puts the rating a point down. Still, this was definitely a very good mid-season premiere.