Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Trig Rant #7: Gravity Shifts

Character growth is the definitive backbone of Friendship is Magic. Even the action-oriented two-parters at the tail ends of a season sport massive growth in Twilight, the mane six, and their relationships that binds the show together, Canterlot Wedding not really withstanding (Seriously, “trust your instincts”? We all know the whole point of the season two finale was to unlock Twilight’s true form of Pinkie’s magic-mini gun).

Anyway, what the hay is this rant going to be about anyway? With MLP’s incredibly tight focus on slice-of-life character building and a healthy fifty-nine episodes under its belt, I fear one thing: a dead end to characters. How do the writers plan to backtrack and can they do it effectively? I guess we’ll see…

Head past the break for pony talk.

I believe that all characters ever in existence have a finite amount of development available to them before their stories become redundant and tired. It’s only a matter of time before readers/watchers/players become jaded with a character’s tales. Now, hopefully the original writers have some half-decent foresight and create plenty of three-dimensional puppets for their universe. And I’m not talking about those cheap CG movie tie-ins Nickelodeon pumps out with 3D models, I mean real, rich characters. But wait, this is MLP we’re talking about, of course with Lauren at the helm that was a non-issue.

…or is it?

Insane by *Werewolf883
Three ponies share a common trait that challenge the idea that FiM characters have legitimate depth: Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Twilight. Confused? Think back to when Pinkie Pie went insane at her friend’s misinterpreted disloyalty, Twilight’s decent into a chilling state of mental psychosis and Fluttershy’s transformation into Ponyville’s resident bully. These events in the show were somewhat polarizing; many loved the show’s newfound direction, slightly dark and comically insane (while still being pretty darn insane). On the other hand, some absolutely loathed it, and after a lot of thinking I believe I understand why.

These events, at their core, are personality shifts. Pinkie Pie turning from a happy-go-lucky party pony to a dark and pessimistic party pooper, Twilight loving books and knowledge to loving to absolute control over the town so she could be on time. All in all, these moments are a little strange and possibly non-sequitor. I mean, I guess they make sense, but it all begs the question: is this the true style of the show or do the writers feel like their characters are backed into a corner sometimes?

If you look at it from a different perspective, implemented insanity and personality shifts are really useful tools for pumping out a story for a character. If the character in its previous state is at the pinnacle of its development, why not shoe-horn some foreign interpretation of the character in order to extend their life and relevance to the media. On the surface, the story can look exciting and new, but upon taking an in-depth look it often appears to be a bit of back tracking and non-sensical story telling.

Probably the most iconic moments of the show...and awesome.
Insane Pinkie Pie by ~strabArybrick
Not to sound absurdly round about and non-productive, but I’d personally say all of the shifts and interpretations of the FiM characters I listed make sense. Twilight has proved that she’s often OCD and has incredible dedication to her studies, insanity sounds like an appropriate bi-product. Fluttershy is incredibly protective of her animals, so it was interesting to see how she suddenly became protective of herself for the first time. I wish that those concepts were a little less implied, but it still makes sense for her character when you really think about.

All in all, this is something to think about for the future of ponies, not really something that I’m actively commenting on. I often think Fluttershy is limited as a character, but then take a look at how many situations her timidness is applied to and realize how many situations are still left up to be explored. Equestria is a big place, and having such talent with pen and paper I don’t exactly fear the writers will run out of room for their characters to grow…not that it could never happen. Here’s hoping to that never happening.