Ok before I do more analysis of contents and meaning here some basic analysis on what exactly MLP is, meaning what type of text.
This is not as easy as it may seem because there are tons of ways to define a text, looking at the medium, genre, mechanics, flow etc. So I’ll do that fo a change ^^
Ok the easy stuff first:
It’s a cartoon, TV Show. (duh)
Genre: obviously it’s Fantasy since it is set in an imaginary world. Now it is arguable if its High Fantasy or not depending on your definition on Highfantasy. Many would surly say it is, since we not only have Unicorns and Pegasi but also Dragons on a frequent basis as well as other mythological creatures.
I would say it’s not because the story is not about the fantasy elements. It uses them, yes but in a totally different way then, let’s say „Lord of the Rings“. It’s a mechanic used to make the show entertaining, but the plot evolves around everyday, normal things. Which is why I would say its main genre is rather „Slice of life“ than fantasy. It just happens to play in a fantasy world is the feeling of the show.
Narrator: Now it gets tricky, since it is a TV show it’s not as easy to define a Narrator as in a book. But still, let’s give it a try ^^
First of all it’s rather and most of the time personal narrator. The story focuses on one or two characters, we get to see their emotions and actions and stuff, but we interact with other characters only when they meet the character we focus on.
We see that greatly in „A party of one“ where we only get to know what Pinkie sees, we did not hear the others talk about a party whatsoever before hand.
This is true for most episodes, rarely the narrator switches between several persons.
In the second Episode of Season one is was done a little, also in the Discord arch, when the Ponies are separated in the maze we learn what happened to all of them, unlike Twilight who seems to have no clue (how comes she isn’t surprised about them looking so grey?… oh what evaaaaar)
But although the narrative focuses in the actions of one character we hardly get to look into their heads, meaning we have not ‚thinking voice‘ as we know it from other movies and series. Usually the ponies will then talk to themselves (great example for that would be „Lesson Zero“ where Twilight speaks out basically all her thoughts) but still I would argue it’s far from auctorial since there is so much we’ll never learn (for example about Celestia… or Pinkie Pie XD)
Dynamics. Now we get to the really interesting stuff.
I’m not sure what to argue for so I’ll see where this takes me XD
So I have two Ideas how the story works and maybe both is true.
So first I say this is a story of initiation.
What is a story of initiation?
Initiation describes basically how one person grows up/learns and in the end of this process rises to a new level. For example starting as a novice you learn, do you initiation ritual and become ne nun. In many tribes you men would go through a task, like hunting a specific animal, when they accomplished this task they were considered real men of the tribe.
This is an often used scheme especially in modern literature we see it more and more often. great examples are „Star Wars“ (4-6 at least), „Harry Potter“, „Narnia“ etc.
Some aspects this type of story holds is: 1. Leaving your home to learn
2. Having a teacher/master guiding your way
3. Character development through learning about yourself in a deeper level…
4. … by solving certain tasks (often dangerous ones)
So let’s take a look at MLP.
1. Twilight leaves Caterlot to learn about friendship (check)
2. She has Celestia (who loved at least for 1000 years) as a teacher. Celestia gives her several „tests“ to guide her along the way (check)
3. She has a great character development, from not understanding or even being interested in Friends to understanding the foundation of friendship, so far as to create new magic (check)
4. She developed this understanding through the everyday troubles she had with her friends, as well as enormous and dangerous tasks given to her by Celestia (basically all the two episode archs)
Most seems rather obvious I guess so why do I write it down? Because sooooo many bronies where simply SHOCKED by Allicorn Princess Twilight sparkle. I don’t get it. This is clearly a story of initiation, and like the novice will become a nun, Twilight (being the apprentice of the Princess) would have to become a Princess reaching the next level! I totally expected that from her, maybe not the Alicornthing since it seemed until Cadence that you had to be born an Alicorn but since there were Princes like Blue Blood it seemed likely. And latest after it came out that Cadence was not born Allicorn it was to be expected really.
Thing is, how will the story progress? Was this but one stage of her initiation process. Does she now have to grow even more to become a ‚real‘ princess? Well see I guess.
Oh yeah I said I had two theories at hand right? Ok the next one is the „Heroes Circle“
You should open that link to follow me here (sadly it was not a picture so I can’t place in here)
I will work with an example to explain things, most prominent is Odysseus but I know „The Hobbit“ better and it works just perfect!
So we start in the „normal World“ in this case at The Hill. There the hero-to-be gets a call – Gandalf comes along telling Bilbo about the adventure. The Hero first declines this call – as Bilbo clearly did. He oft (not always) get (or already has) a mentor – in this case this would be Gandalf.
Then follows the crossing to the „special world“ – The dwarfs show up, sing their songs etc. this amkes the Hobbit in the end wanting to participate. Leaving his home means going into this ’special world‘. In this special world the hero has to overcome tests and makes enemies as well as friends – Bilbo fights the trolls, the orcs, makes Gollum as an enemy, wins the dwarves as real friends. This usually goes up untill a „supreme Ordeal“ – Smaug the dragon i this case, which he has to overcome to then be rewarded. Then there is the road back into the „normal world“ – Bilbo comes home with bags full of gold. Mind though that the ‚returning back‘ aspect is often not inherent especially in more modern usages of this story
Ok now let us take a look at MLP.
The „normal world“ would be the surrounding twilight is used to, so her life in Canterlot, studying in the library there, without caring for friends. She then gets the call by discovering about Nightmare Moon. Twilight answers this call though… well you can also argue she gets a call by Celestia to go to Ponyvill which she tries to refuse because Nightmare Moon is more important to her.
Anyway, Ponyville is the ’special World‘. We see how irritated she is saying „All Ponies here are CRAZY“ in the first episode. Oh and of course we still have Celestia as a mentor!
Anyway then she has to find friends, which she does, has to overcome tests and problems, which she as well as her friends do (they are heroes too after all 😉 the „supreme Ordeal“ is, I would say the last Episode of season 3, the true understanding of Friendship and using this knowledge and magic she acquired. The reward then is her becoming an Allicorn and a princess.
Here again we see that all pointed towards her becoming at least princess…
Any way both things work and often they are found together (like in ‚the Hobbit‘, ‚Harry Potter‘, ‚Star Wars‘,…) ^^
I hope you guys found this still interesting, I will probably come back to this article time and again, so keep it in mind ^^