Cartoon Reviews: My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Episodes 53 – 54 – The Crystal Empire

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The Story
When the Crystal Empire returns after vanishing for a thousand years, Princess Celestia sends Twilight and her friends to help Shining Armor and Cadence protect the crystal ponies from King Sombra, an evil unicorn who once ruled the Crystal Empire.

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Once they arrive there they find that the crystal ponies have lost their lustre as well as their memories. Cadence, who is protecting the empire with her magic, is unable to sustain the shield that keeps the nebulous Sombra at bay. Twilight and her friends find a book that tells them they can restore the Crystal Empire by restoring the crystal ponies to their former selves. To do this they organize a crystal fair, only to forget the most important part, the Crystal Heart, the magic item that the good feelings generated by the fair are meant to generate.

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As Cadence’s strength wanes, Twilight has to race to find where Sombra hid the true Crystal Heart. All while Sombra is breaking through the barrier and rapidly approaching.

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The Review
Well, it’s certainly been a long wait. I have to confess that the longer the wait became, the less interested in the show I grew. Sure I still liked the old episodes, but the fire of my fandom was waning. Fortunately the new season is upon us, and the fires can burn brightly once again.

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Shame we didn’t get better episodes for the fire starter.

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Don’t get me wrong, I liked these episodes. They just won’t rank among my favorite MLP:FIM episodes of all time. The main reason is that what I really like about the show is the regular episodes. The writing in MLP:FIM has been solid, but the two part episodes tend not to come across that well for me. It’s episodes like these that help remind me I am watching a kid’s show. Granted, it’s a very well done kid’s show, but if I wanted stories that were longer than twenty five minutes I have a large variety of shows to choose from. MLP:FIM excels at normal episode stories, not necessarily at the longer stories.

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By no means was this a poorly written season opener. In fact it was very well written, I just prefer regular episodes myself.

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From a pure fanboy, non-analytical perspective, this was amazing. The animation had a significant bump in quality. Compare these episodes to season one or two and you can clearly see the animators have refined their process to a point where they can produce some wonderful animation.

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There were a few great moments, most of them background gags. Such as when Pinkie Pie sheds her Fluttershy costume, and then Fluttershy finds it. I loved Twilight’s part towards the end of the second episode, where she shows off some of her new magic.

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Unfortunately, I have to come back to the negative. King Sombra, as I’m sure we’re all aware, was a complete waste. I didn’t have high hopes for him, seeing as how he seems to have come out of a custom pony creator. But I thought they’d do something interesting with him. Sadly he did little else than be a generic villain. That alone made this season opener weak, considering how good and imaginative past major villains have been.

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The songs were good, though I felt Twilight’s first song was a bit forced. The fact that it came back later helped tie it together thematically, but I can’t say it’s the catchiest tune to come from the show.

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The Grade
Overall, I liked these episodes, but I won’t be considering them among my favorites. I’ve had a bit of time to think about them, and while I won’t complain, after all we’ve got more episodes, I won’t be touting these episodes as the greatest thing ever to happen in the show.

3/5

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