Thursday, 30 June 2016

Text Review Roundup: "Spice Up Your Life"

Yeah, I know, I know. I completely forgot about this, to be honest. Still, here we go with the final TRR of this half-season. We have a slight changing of the guard as far as text-based reviewers are concerned this time, with a little more churn than usual. On the whole, "Spice Up Your Life" was considered a good episode but not a great one.

Articles of Destroyer – positive (rated 8/10)

Cartoon Amino – positive ("a good way to start off the hiatus")

Derpy News – very positive (graded A-)

Louder Yay – mildly positive ("It's... nice")

MLP Fanatic – broadly positive ("a good episode")

Super Mario Brony Blog – positive (rated four stars)

TheDragonWarlock – fairly positive (rated 8/10)

Thrond Media Pony Corner – positive ("another solid episode")

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 113: Brexit for Breakfast

Given that I'm interested in politics, and that there's been a teensy, weensy, eensy bit of that going on in the UK this week, it probably won't surprise you to know that my reading time has been very limited. Still, I'd hate to deprive my wonderful readers of ponyfic just because nobody currently knows who'll be running the country by breakfast time each day, so here we go. Again, a smaller edition than usual with just four stories, but there's interest to be found.

The Visiting Hour by Horse Voice
The Flower's Dream by FanOfMostEverything
Swine Flew by Blue Print
Of Forecast and Flames by ANearPerfectStudent

★: 0 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Pony Music Library 15: "Princess Twilight Orchestral Suite"

This was already in the queue, but with the terrible news that MelodicPony has died at the absurdly early age of 27, it seems only right and proper to bring its feature forward.

What? "Princess Twilight Orchestral Suite"

Who? MelodicPony

Which? Original song

When? April 2013

Why? Orchestral isn't the most popular musical genre in the fandom, but there's some truly wonderful work around even so. MelodicPony was one of the foremost exponents of the arc. He wrote several pieces that I really like, and this may well not be the last MelodicPony track I feature here. This one seems to me to perfectly capture the emotion behind the events leading up to Twilight's ascension, and wonderfully judges the use of just enough segments from several of the canon songs; "Celestia's Ballad" is especially well integrated. Even without the recent tragic news, this is a deeply touching piece.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Comic review: Friends Forever #29: Rarity and Maud Pie

MLP Friends Forever #29, cover A
Tony Fleecs's art really does look good these days
Okay, while I wait for my country to disintegrate around me (or not), here's a belated review of the most recent FF comic. I'm pleased to say that the team of Ted Anderson, Brenda Hickey and Heather Breckel have produced a very entertaining adventure story here, a little reminiscent of a tamer Daring Do story in places. Having Rarity and Maud meet at a rock convention is a brilliant idea, one that instantly makes perfect sense. I also like the gimmick of having snippets from Rarity's diary to fill in the gaps around the speech bubbles. The villain isn't one of the greatest and the ending is a little abrupt, but this is plenty of fun, the artwork is pleasant to look at and the whole thing is easy to recommend. ★★★★

Friday, 24 June 2016

UK of Equestria's overall S6A ranking list

Over on the UK of Equestria forums, we asked people to rank the pre-hiatus Season Six episodes from 1-11 (counting the premiere as one). We had 14 responses, not bad for a half-season, and below you can see the mean ranking table. Any episode with an average rating of second or above gets five stars. Then down to fourth, four; down to sixth, three; down to eighth, two; and any episode which scored an overall ranking below eighth is lumbered with a one-star rating.

1. The Saddle Row Review

2. A Hearth's Warming Tail

3. Newbie Dash
4. The Gift of the Maud Pie
5. Gauntlet of Fire

6. On Your Marks
7. Flutter Brutter
8. Spice Up Your Life
9. No Second Prances
10. The Crystalling

11. Applejack's "Day" Off

It was noticeable this time how many episodes were considered meh-to-good, with few attracting widespread praise or condemnation. "The Saddle Row Review" was an exception, featuring in all 14 voters' top three; the last episode to be universally liked was "Amending Fences" in S5. The most controversial ep (in terms of having the highest standard deviation of scores) was, a little surprisingly, "A Hearth's Warming Tail". 12 voters put it in their top four... but the other two placed it dead last!

I'm not sure there are really too many other surprises in the list. "Newbie Dash" may have been torn apart by some critics, but that opinion wasn't widely shared here: exactly half of the 14 voters placed the episode in their top four. On the other hand, "Applejack's 'Day' Off" was poorly received, with only one person putting it above seventh. "The Crystalling" only just scraped a two-star rating, too.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 112: 'Cause When we Vote Together, we get Imprisoned for Fraud

The EU referendum is tomorrow, and as anyone who knows me will already know, I'll be voting Remain. Whether that wins or loses, though, I'll have to put up with the result. The only certainty is that a lot of people will be upset. So here's a mixed bag of ponyfic to cheer everyone up. Possibly. Only four stories today, I'm afraid, as I'm still getting back up to speed after my little break.

My Little A.I. by teamidris
Proofreading Clopfics Sucks by Idiotcornball
Hypothesis of Collusion by Noble Cause
Crusading for Eternity by TooShyShy

★: 0 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Monday, 20 June 2016

Episode review: S6E12: "Spice Up Your Life"

Saffron Masala meets Pinkie and Rarity
"I know smiles – and Rarity's smile? It's just not right"
At last, I have the time to write a review of the final episode of My Little Pony to go out before the mid-season hiatus. This ep was written by Michael Vogel, the guy who absolutely nailed it with "A Hearth's Warming Tail" a few weeks ago, so I was pretty optimistic going in. As I'm a week late, it's probably a bit silly using a break to protect people from spoilers, but I'll do it anyway – so come along with me for a (short) review of the episode.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Pony Music Library 14: "All Ponies must be Perfect"

By now, most of you already know what Michael Vogel managed with "Spice Up Your Life". I, however, don't. In lieu of my usual Monday episode review, have a PML entry.

What? "All Ponies must be Perfect"

Who? Catfood McFly

Which? Original song

When? March 2012

Why? Remember when Derpygate was a thing? Me neither, actually; I joined the fandom at the end of Season Two. Still, people were still making a fuss about it even then. While I wasn't interested in participating in all the drama, we did at least get this amusing little song out of the whole mess. Unlike some of the oh-so-earnest pleas to "save Derpy", this one pokes fun at the whole business – and in my view, it's much the better for it.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 111: Spotlight on Ribbons and Lace

My being on holiday may mean a delay in getting the review of "Spice Up Your Life" out, but thanks to the wonders of scheduling the same doesn't have to be true for Ponyfic Roundup! This time on PR, I take a detailed look at a Mature-rated tale of RariShy. (The author calls it Flarity, but I don't like that term much.) Jot Jiggety Jog has only two published stories, both clopfics, of which this is much the longer.

Ribbons and Lace by Jot Jiggety Jog
Fluttershy and Rarity
Romance; 59k words; Apr–Oct 2012; Mature (Sex)
Rarity x Fluttershy in lingere [sic]. Dramatic Rarity is dramatic.
The short description for this fic is pretty terrible. Thankfully, the actual story is anything but. Calling this a clopfic really rather underestimates it: this is more a love story than anything else, and one that even this protective Fluttershy fan found himself appreciating. The characters are inevitably a little early-series, but within those bounds they work well. Yes, it's sexually explicit, but it knows how to work more than just the obvious emotions. The ending is a little drawn-out and it has a horrible case of Lavender Unicorn Syndrome, but it's probably the best clopfic I've read. ★★★★

A little bit more, which is spoilery, after the break.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Pony Music Library 13: "Call Upon the Sea Ponies"

By now, most of you already know what Michael Vogel managed with "Spice Up Your Life". I, however, don't. In lieu of my usual Monday episode review, have a PML entry.

What? "Call Upon the Sea Ponies"

Who? Johnny Douglas

Which? G1 original song

When? April 1984

Why? Come on, did you really think I could resist this one forever? No, it's not a Friendship is Magic song, but it's most certainly a part of the brony experience. The original is from Rescue at Midnight Castle, the first My Little Pony cartoon of them all. It's absurdly catchy, it's absolutely ludicrous and it has some priceless Applejack. If we ever do get sea ponies in FiM itself, there'll undoubtedly be a new wave of people singing this at every conceivable opportunity. Actually, people will probably be singing this when the sun has become a red giant in five billion years' time.

Friday, 10 June 2016

A short hiatus of my own

I'm going to be on holiday in the Scottish Highlands all next week, and as I'm leaving first thing on Saturday morning I will be away for episode 12. That means there will be no episode review at the usual time. However, I will be writing a review for when I get back – expect that sometime in the first half of the following week. Thankfully, the hiatus means I won't have to catch up with two episodes!

I've also pre-written and scheduled a fic review for Wednesday, and there'll be a couple of Pony Music Library additions, so this place won't be entirely dead. But still no review of episode 12 for a while, I'm afraid.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Text Review Roundup "Flutter Brutter"

Zapped Zephyr and Annoyed Fluttershy
"Zephyr, you knew what would happen if I Stared at you"

It's Thursday, so it's time to take a look at some text-based reviews of "Flutter Brutter". The episode seemed fairly popular overall, with most reviewers appreciating Fluttershy's characterisation. The major sticking point for some was, unsurprisingly, the enormously annoying Zephyr Breeze. Disappointingly, Unleash the Fanboy don't seem to have produced a review this week.

Batbrony Reviews – very positive ("this was great")

Derpy News – positive (graded A-)

Louder Yay – positive (loved 'Shy, disliked Zeph)

MLEEP Reviews – wildly positive (rated 10/10)

MLP Fanatic – extremely positive ("not quite my all time favorite [but] really good")

Ponyland News – rather negative ("pretty meh")

Super Recaps – broadly positive ("I really do like this ... but it doesn’t quite stick the landing")

TheDragonWarlock – rather positive (rated 7.5/10; "pretty good ... unlikeable Zephyr")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – very positive ("a phenomenal character showcase for Fluttershy")

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 110: When you Lose Control and you got no Soul

The [Tragedy] tag is one I tend to avoid. Partly that's because I don't usually want ponyfic to make me feel miserable, and partly it's because a startling number of stories using it aren't actually tragedies in any meaningful way. This week, though, I'm changing all that. Here are reviews of five fics that use this most awkward of genre tags.

Pretty in Pink by DavidReinold
Time Waits for Nopony by Berry Delight
RUN by Stereo_Sub
World of Traitors by DannyJ
Einherjar by Municipal Engines

★: 0 | ★★: 1 | ★★★: 3 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Pony Music Library 12: "Pony Should Pony Pony"

PML time again! Another one now that brings back good memories of my earlier days in the fandom. I'm not someone who thinks the current fandom is uninteresting, but I can no longer call the experience new and exciting for me. Go back a few years, though...

What? "Pony Should Pony Pony"

Who? All Levels at Once

Which? Sampletastic

When? March 2012

Why? This was one of the first pony songs from outside my usual preferred genres that really got stuck in my head. What the genre actually is is tricky to define: someone in the YouTube comments called it "reverse-emo synthpopstep", so I'll go with that. Whatever the case, I found it so catchy that it's been on my MP3 player pretty much permanently for years now. It was also a song to which I recognised the intro to score a point for the pub quiz team I was part of at BUCK 2013 – another happy memory that adds to the warm feelings the track produces in me.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Episode review: S6E11: "Flutter Brutter"

The Shy family (and Rainbow)
"I have had it with the peeved ponies in this peeved house"
We saw the return of an old friend in the opening credits for "Flutter Brutter" – the story for this episode was by a certain Meghan McCarthy. It was written, however, by Dave Rapp of "Newbie Dash" fame/infamy (delete according to taste). All the buzz before the ep went out was about the fact that we were finally going to see that Fluttershy had actual, living family. Was it worth the wait? After the break, we'll see.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Pony Music Library 11: "Anthropology (Lyra's Song)"

If you're eligible to vote in the EU referendum, please do, whatever your stance. After all, you'll still have to live with the consequences! If you haven't yet registered, you have until Tuesday: see here for details.

Now back to pony, and I think it's time to add another song to the PML. This one is here partly for personal reasons, as I'll explain below...

What? "Anthropology (Lyra's Song)"

Who? AwkwardMarina

Which? Original song

When? September 2012

Why? This one is here largely because it brings back good memories. When I arrived at BUCK 2013 (my first pony convention), I didn't know a word of this song. By the end of a fun-filled – and karaoke-filled – weekend, I was just about word perfect. It's also absurdly catchy, it hits my weakness for piano music, AwkwardMarina has a very nice voice and it treats Lyra's fanon human obsession with a light, playful touch. This rough storyboard by isiahdjkim a couple of months later promised great things, but with no more than a brief update in the intervening three and a half years I doubt we'll ever see the finished version. No matter: the song itself is the important part.

And now you know where the title of Ponyfic Roundup 55 comes from!

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Video: Rainbow (Dash) (Ponyfied TV Openings) by Basic Rainbow

Unless you're a) British and b) of a certain (my) age, this may mean nothing to you. But for those of us who fall into this subset of pony fans, the nostalgia overload here is ridiculous. It's a PMV of a sort, but really it's more of an expression of affection for both Rainbow and FiM. It's lovely, it really is. If you're confused, there's a link shown at the start to a side-by-side with the original, though it's unlisted so I won't link to it directly from here. Props go to Idris on Twitter for pointing me at this piece of brilliance!

Text Review Roundup: "Applejack's 'Day' Off"

Rarity making a face
Caramel may have used a little too much tail conditioner
Welcome to this week's collection of reviewers who don't actually like making people slog through ten minutes of irrelevant chat to get to three sentences of actual episode assessment. A new reviewer in ArthurCrane; he liked the ep, but "Applejack's 'Day' Off" received far from universal praise, and quite stinging criticism from some:

ArthurCrane – positive ("a surprisingly enthusiastic thumbs up")

Batbrony Reviews – generally positive

Derpy News – fairly positive (graded B)

Louder Yay – slightly negative ("it's just... there")

MLEEP Reviews – negative ("our first bad episode of Season 6")

MLP Fanatic – broadly negative ("simply an average cartoon")

Ponyland News – broadly positive

Super Recaps – mixed ("kind of lost its way in the second half")

TheDragonWarlock – mixed (rated 7/10)

Thrond Media Pony Corner – negative ("an underwhelming, dull episode")

Unleash the Fanboy – fairly negative ("feels like it exists because no one at Hasbro could think of a compelling story")

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 109: My Heart has Joined the Thousand

A themed edition this week: every single story reviewed is exactly 1,000 words long – the current lower limit for a standalone Fimfiction piece. Before anyone says it: yes, I am very well aware of one highly specific class of M-rated fics that are this length. They were excluded on the grounds that I didn't want to read them. :P Eight stories were reviewed, though, as follows:

Meaningless in Their Dreams by Briarpelt
I Love You Princess Luna by Pablomen123
They're Coming by Alchemicgree
Still Life by SugarPesticide
Cognac and Cuddling by Fission
One thousand by TwiwnB
Dead Silent by plumander
Pinkie Pie learns morse code. by AlmostLonely

★: 2 | ★★: 4 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0