Cartoons & Characters Blog

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How the Opening of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Reminds Me of Zootopia

An article I published on my video game blog, Player One Start.

Player One: Start

zoo1Spoiler Warning: Please keep in mind this article openly discusses the opening moments of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE and Zootopia. 

I was able to try Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE for the first time this morning, and while I could not play much, I really enjoyed the opening moments. However, I started randomly making correlations with the start of the game and the early moments of the Disney animated film Zootopia. It may sound silly and a huge stretch on my part, but here are the similarities I found.

For starters, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE starts with a flashback from the perspective of Tsubasa, one of the main characters of the game. She appears to be watching her family perform in a play when suddenly everyone in the theater disappears. She appears traumatized by the whole situation and the scene ends with a flash forward to the present day.


Now, coincidentally, 

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My Favorite Animated Series of the Last 28 Years

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

It’s my 28th birthday today, and I could let it go by without talking about my favorite form of entertainment: animation. While not as extensive as my top 5 favorite games list I posted on my game blog, it’s no less important to me. For the longest time, the Simpsons has been my favorite animated series. I’ve watched it for as long as I can remember, and while I don’t watch it nearly as often as I should, I still think it’s a great series. There are few shows, that have been around as long as the Simpsons, and it still manages to be emotional impactful and funny for me in its recent seasons, and that’s a feet I believe is noteworthy in and of itself.

The show I want to talk a little about though, is My Little Pony:Friendship is Magic. I’ve written a lot about it here and my comic book blog, but it’s just a show I love watching. Great characters (the vast majority of which are female) a world that continues to grow, and a show that really challenges the weekly cartoon norm, at least for me. When I was younger, very few shows had traces of continuity. Events of previous episodes happened, but they were rarely called back to. Maybe it was meant not to alienate potential new fans, or it was easier for newer writers to not focus so much on previous writers episodes. Whatever the case, there are plenty of shows today, animated and otherwise, that strive for viewers to keep up to date with the latest happenings to not get lost.

Seeing characters grow and learn from experience is always fun in MLP. It’s cool to see events from previous season be revisited and expanded upon. The creator’s likely have an idea of things people want to see or maybe revisit something some fans weren’t happy with. Whatever the case, seeing this series seamlessly push forward while still respecting everything that has come before is a joy to behold.

Sunset Shimmer

Don’t even get me started with Equestria Girls. This could have been a one and done adventure, but it’s grown into its own awesome sub-series. It helps that it’s anchored by one of the show’s best recent characters, Sunset Shimmer, whose journey from villain to friend to hero is one of the best I’ve seen. She’s an amazing character who has grown into somepony incredible.

Whether it’s seeing the Cutie Mark Crusaders finally making their mark after over one hundred episode or watching Twilight Sparkle evolve from student to princess to teacher of recent addition Starlight Glimmer, this is just a delightful series to watch. If an animated series can put a smile on my face for whatever reason, it definitely hit its (cutie) mark.

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A New Kind of Magic: Another Look at My Little Pony: Equestria Girls

Twilight, Spike and her new/old friends take on High School!

Twilight, Spike and her new/old friends take on High School!

As of June 16, 2013, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls will be in theaters across the country in a limited theatrical release.  To help build anticipation for the ponies’ turned humans newest adventure, Hasbro released a new trailer for the film that shows off more of the story, characters, and events that will help make up this new chapter of Equestrian lore.

While this second trailer doesn’t divulge too much more information than the first, it does provide some more incite into the story and circumstances of the adventure.  The crown stolen from the Crystal Empire just so happens to be Twilight Sparkles’, which is also one of the Elements of Harmony.  The thief seems to be a yellow unicorn with a red mane, who even performs a teleportation spell very similar to the one Twilight uses.  After a short tussle, the crown is thrust into a portal, which the thief promptly chases after.  Without Twilight’s element, the other Elements of Harmony are made inert, so Twilight journeys into the mysterious portal, along with Spike who apparently follows, to get her crown back.

As you may know by now, the portal leads into a human world, Spike becomes a dog, and Twilight attends a high school in the hopes of finding her crown and going home.  Unfortunately, she can longer use her magic (humans don’t have horns after all), putting her at a bit of a disadvantage.  luckily, this new world seems to have some very familiar faces.  Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Rarity and more all seem to have alternate versions of themselves in this human world, and with their help, Twilight might just have a shot at getting her crown back.

This trailer, like the to the first one, shows off some great animation, cool musical numbers, and a shot but sweet look at all the various ponies in human form.  There are some nice little touches throughout the videos, including Fluttershy’s pet rabbit popping out her book bag, Pinkie Pie doing her patented skip and hop, and Rainbow Dash showing off her athletic skills.

While I won’t be able to catch this movie in theaters, I will be able to watch on DVD and Blu-ray when it comes out August 6, 2013.  I like the idea of this spin-off and I hope it gives a good first impression for this new, Equestia Girls thing.  Hopefully the ponies can pull this series off.  I look forward to seeing if they do.

Written by Andrew Mathieu

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Friendship, Magic, and a Human Element: A Look at My Little Pony: Equestria Girls

Twilight and Company on a Brand New Adventure!

Twilight and Company on a Brand New Adventure!

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic ended its previous season with the princess coronation of Twilight Sparkle.  This summer, another epic pony adventure awaits as the newly crowned alicorn finds herself in an all new world, and an all new body!  My Little Pony: Equestria Girls showcases the ponies of Equestria reborn as human beings, in a feature-length movie planned for theaters and DVD this summer.  A pony’s work is never done!

An early look at the human versions of Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle, Apple Jack, Rarity, and Fluttershy.

An early look at the human versions of Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle, Apple Jack, Rarity, and Fluttershy.

Equestria Girls was first unveiled as a spin-off of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  It was Hasbro’s way of expanding upon the popularity of the animated series by turning Twilight and her friends into humans and dropping into high school.  Not much was known about the series aside from a look at the Mane 6 human designs and a 2014 release for the series.  However, the curtain was finally lifted with an extended look at the series in action, as well as information the creative staff, story, and official series name:  My Little Pony: Equestria Girls.

Courtesy of a New York Times article, it is now known that My Little Pony: Equestria Girls will debut as a movie this summer.  The film will be released in over 200 theaters from June 16, 2013 and will receive a DVD release in August, before airing on the Hub Network this fall.  Best of all, a trailer for the movie has been released online and in theaters, showing the world of Equestria Girls in action for the first time:

The trailer features Twilight and her friends meeting up with the trio of princess ponies (Celestia, Luna, and Cadence).  Twilight is transported to another world, one in which she is becomes a (purple) human being, has a dog that looks a lot like Spike, and she even encounters human versions of her Ponyville friends.  The trailer provides a look at notable characters from the series, providing glimpses of several humanized ponies, including Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, DJ PON-3 and the Cutie Mark Crusaders!  Also interesting is the inclusion of brand new characters who are featured in the trailer, including a blue haired boy who may very well be a new friend to the formerly alicorn Twilight, and a devious red-head girl who may be the antagonist of the film.

I think this movie, as well as the following ensuing series, has a lot of potential.  It’s just funny and awesome to see Twilight so out of her element in our human world.  Seeing her be fascinated by her legs, or trying to eat an apple without using her hand is a gleeful delight.  I also like how all the character sport a multicolor design, similar to the characters of the Nicktoon Doug.

The idea of the characters has humans has always been interesting to me.  I like the idea of taking the characters of showing off what they would be like in the real world.  We even get to see some of the quirks of the characters in the trailer, like Fluttershy eating a vegetarian lunch and Rainbow Dash playing soccer.  Fans of the series have imagined what the characters would look like if they were in our shoes through fan art and custom animation.  It’s an idea that looks like the creators of the series will be addressing head-on.  Equestria Girls will share the same animation style and creative staff as it’s Friendship is Magic predecessor, and the higher-ups at Hasbro vow to keep the message of love and friendship intact.

One of my personal favorite pieces of fan art showing Twilight and her friends as human beings, well before the existence of Equestria Girls!

One of my personal favorite pieces of fan art showing Twilight and her friends as human beings, well before the existence of Equestria Girls!

Only time will tell if My Little Pony: Equestria Girls can live up to the expectation of the millions of fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  Based on the trailer, I can honestly say I’m looking forward to finding out.  It just so happens that this film will be showing in theaters in my home state, according to the official website.  I’ll definitely try to see it when is comes and give you my thoughts on how this spin-off measures up.  Until then, it’s good to know that, during the long wait for Season 4 of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, there’s some else to look forward to!

Edit:  I did not post where originally learned of this movie and have posted a link below.  Apologies to both readers and Toon Zone.


NY Times on Hub Network’s “My Little Pony: Equestria Girls”-Toon Zone

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My Little Alicorn Princess

A Review of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Magical Mystery Cure”

A Magical Moment for the Ponies of Equestria.

A Magical Moment for the Ponies of Equestria.

It’s hard for me to put into word my anticipation for this episode of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.”  Not only does it star one of my favorite animated characters of all time in a character defining moment, but the episode is also a musical, which when combined with animation, for me, equals perfect harmony.  Try as I might, I can’t deny I really liked this episode and that I believe it’s a satisfying season finale, even if it makes the wait for the next season that much harder.

I was a little worried that this wasn’t a two-part special, a la “A Canterlot Wedding,” but the pacing was so well done that it almost makes up for it.  Twilight has inadvertently switch the Cutie Marks, and corresponding fates, of her friends.  Along with the likewise affected Elements of Harmony, and her faithful assistant Spike, Twilight sets off to make things right.

Like I said, this episode is mostly a musical, and the songs are all pretty good.  Seeing Rarity, Fluttershy, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash completely out of their element (pun intended) was fun and the corresponding song did a great job driving home their inability to live each others lives.  One good thing about the songs is that it allows the story to go by faster than normal, which was kind of necessary to have enough time for the whole “Princess Twilight” moment.  That’s not to say the story was rushed, and there was plenty of nice dialogue sprinkled throughout.  I particularly enjoyed Spike suggesting to Twilight spells that might help the other ponies, since they were all references to previous episodes.

Next up, I’ll be talking about the actual coronation.  While I’ll remain as spoiler free as possible, I advice anyone who doesn’t want the princess coronation spoiled to skip the next two paragraphs.

After Twilight is able to help her friends and complete a test from Princess Celestia, Twilight is transformed into a Alicorn (Pegasus plus Unicorn).  Princess Celestia’s declaration to Twilight and her friends, and Twilight’s ensuing coronation is played straight and is an awesome moment full of emotion, confession, and elation.  I really got caught up in the moment and loved all the different reactions of Twilight and her friends.  It’s played as a big moment, and that’s what is feels like.  It might come off as a little corny, but I liked that it felt like the creators wanted this to feel like a special moment, not with flash and flair, but with character and emotion.

While the coronation itself was great, the future of the series is not very clear.  We’re given a few hints of what comes next, like the reveal of Twilight’s wing of the castle, but only a few glimpses.  This unknown status quo was even reflected by Twilight in that even she did not know what to do next.  However, I think Princess Celestia said it best: “There will be time for that later.”

The wait for the next season feels so much longer now.

The wait for the next season feels so much longer now.

As much as I want to know what happens next in “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,” I assume that will be half of the fun of the next season.  The reign of Princess Twilight may be on hold, but this episode is great in its own right.  It’s a satisfying conclusion to a season that’s was shorter than most and had its ups and downs, but in the end delivers on the promises set at by “The Crystal Empire.”  I don’t know what to expect next from this pony princess, but I can’t to find out!

By Andrew Mathieu

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The Coronation of Twilight Sparkle in “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”

Twilight Sparkle claims her rightful throne, February 16, 2013.

Twilight Sparkle claims her rightful throne, February 16, 2013.

The third season of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” started off with a bang when Twilight Sparkle and her friends were tasked with saving the Crystal Empire.  Princess Celestia, along with her sister Princess Luna, were testing Twilight to see if she was ready for the next step in her studies; a test Twilight passed with flying colors!  After plenty of adventures in Ponyville, Canterlot, and many other places across Equestia, Twilight’s life changes forever in the Hub’s upcoming special, “Princess Coronation.”

“My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” is one of my favorite cartoons of the last few years, and Twilight is one of the reasons why.  She’s sweet, a bookworm, a perfectionist, stern, and a little obsessive compulsive and just a great overall character.  I love her interactions with Spike, who’s basically her younger brother, and how he perfectly balances out her nature.  I love how her character has grown over the course of this series, and it all seems to be leading up to her coronation.

The Hub has been teasing that Twilight would “achieve her true destiny” since the beginning of this season.  Fans have been speculating this to happen for quite some time, and while I wondered myself if “Princess Twilight” would become a reality, I’m happy to see the so many fans excited about this.  (This also explains why Twilight’s Element of Harmony is a crown and not a necklace like the other ponies!)

The special will apparently cap off this season, but so many questions will undoubtedly remain.  How will Twilight’s new-found royalty affect her relations with her friends, Spike, Ponyville, and even Princess Celesitia?   Will she have to return her to Canterlot?  Does she know how to use those snazzy new wings?!  Finally, if and when will this change be reflected in the recent “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic book?

I’ll be sure to bring you my thoughts and opinions on this highly anticipated soon.  Until then, enjoy this teaser for the special episode, titled “Magical Mystery Cure,” set to debut February 16, 2013!

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2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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From TV Series to Ongoing Comic: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1 Review

Check out my review of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1 comic book; based on the animated series!

Andrew Mathieu

From TV Series to Ongoing Comic: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1 Review.

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My Top 5 Favorite Episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

For two years now, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has become one of the most popular animated series in recent memory.  Courtesy of Lauren Faust and an excellent creative staff of writers, artists, voice actors, and more, MLP has garnered love from viewers of all ages, from bronies to pegasistas!  November marks the debut of the third season for the third season, as well as an all new ongoing comic book from IDW.  In commemoration, I’d like to give you my top favorite episode from this beloved series.

5.  Feeling Pinkie Keen

One of the funniest episodes of the series, Twilight tries to find out if there is any rhyme of reason to Pinkie’s psychic abilities.  The Looney Tunes esque physical comedy is surprising and hilarious, with a scene featuring a falling piano and Derpy Pony taking the cake.  This is also one of the first what I like to call “Obsessive Twilight” episodes, a concept that would be well utilized in the second season.  A well rounded, fun episode.

4.  The Best Night Ever

Early in the first season, “The Ticket Master” involved Twilight and Friends receive invitations to the “Grand Galloping Gala,” an upper-pony party to be held in Canterlot; the Gala is brought up again when Rarity makes dresses for all her pony friends.  Those threads are both paid off in the season closer, where the ponies finally visit the event.  All the ponies have a goal for the party, (all of which were brought up in “Ticket Master”) and the ponies soon realize that the Gala is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Aside from showcasing a nice sense of continuity for this series, “Best Night Ever” had many stand out moments.  The scene where Spike attempts to hang out with his friends with Rarity declaring they were in a state of undress, only to have Applejack state “We don’t normally wear clothes,” was priceless.  The “At the Gala” song was my personal favorite of the entire season, with each of the six main ponies getting their own verse, with the style of the song changing accordingly, (Raindow Dash’s transition was my favorite).  This episode could have been so cliche’ and bland, but decide to go against the grain, to fantastic results.

3. Bridle Gossip

As I’ve already stated in a previous review of this episode, this is one of my favorite episodes.  Twilight and friends, with Applejack’s sister Applebloom, are confronted by the Zebra Zecora, and believe Applebloom is in danger after they believe they’ve been cursed by the Ever Free Forest resident.  While Applebloom has plenty of screen time courtesy of the Cutie Mark Crusades, this is her standout episode, in my opinion.  Seeing her butt heads with her older sister and try to get behind the truth of Zecora is enduring; she is the heart of this episode.

What is really driven home in this episode is the fact that Zecora is so mysterious to the ponies, and that leads them to fear and not trust her.  The audience is kept in the dark as well, so the element of mystery is persisent to the end.  It humanizes (for lack of a better word) the cast, and puts a real world element (prejudice) in a fantastical setting.  Very few shows would have done this well of a job in putting so many elements in a single episode, making “Bridle Gossip” my number three favorite episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

3.  A Canterlot Wedding Part 1 and 2

As the highest rated episode of the Hubs short history, this epic two-part episode sees the introduction of several new characters, returning favorites, and an adventure to rival that of the previous season openers.  Twilight is one of the last to know that her brother, Shining Armor, is getting married to her old babysitter, Princess Cadence.  With all her friends and the rest of Canterlot wrapped in wedding fever, Twilight notices Princess Cadence’s strange behavior, and the truth revealed is more horrifying than she ever imagined.

Similar to “Best Night Ever,” what could have been a familiar wedding episode turns into an emotional rollercoater.  Twilight is left nearly friendless after her behavior toward Candance, the reveal of Cadence’s real motives turns the entire episode on it’s head, and the battle for Canterlot gets epic, with some truly hilarious moments in between.  Not only that, but the animation is top notch.  The emotion and expressions on the several ponies, from Twilight’s sadness, to Princess Candence’s fear, to Shining Armor’s exhaustion are so of the best I’ve seen in any cartoon with human characters.

“A Canterlot Wedding” from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

This episode had so many twists and turns, not to mention memorable moments.  Princess Celestia lying on the ground, defeated and Twilight reuniting with the real Princess Candence were only a couple highlights.  It also feature a spectacular duet between the real and evil Princess Candence.  My one complaint is that the story may have wrapped up a little too nicely.  With such a major twist from one episode to the other, I felt an extra episode would have helped make the conclusion more seamless.  Regardless, “A Canterlot Wedding” is by far the best animated wedding I’ve ever seen.  There is only one episode that could beat this two-part juggernaut.

1.  Friendship is Magic Part 1 and 2

I first discovered My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic while channel surfing (something I rarely do).  I had not heard of the series and know nothing about its creative team or fanfare.  I caught the end of Part 1 of “Friendship is Magic” and after seeing the cliffhanger (in a My Little Pony cartoon?) I decided to see the next part.  While I missed the original introductions to these characters, their personalities were evidence after watching them interact.  Seeing Twilight tuck Spike into bed, Rainbow accusing Twilight of being a spy, Applejack holding her friend back so her new friend could explain, and Pinkie being able to find book for Twilight in seconds thinking nothing of it, it all felt natural.

These weren’t character archetypes, these were fully realized characters.  The ensuing adventure of finding the Elements of Harmony, stopping Night Mare Moon, and freeing Princess Celestia drew me in and blew me away.  This wasn’t like any animated series I had seen in while.  It certainly didn’t feel like a show for the Strawberry Shortcake crowd.  As I continued to watch the series, I learned more about it, and found out I wasn’t the only twenty-something male viewer, not by a long shot.  I still find it hard to believe how many people are able to look past the franchise, the demographic, the art style and see My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic for what it is a great animated series.  A show that was truly an all ages, not just a kids show.

I can still enjoy this series premiere, and even have it on DVD despite having Part 2 on my DVR for over two years, it’s just that special.  Few series have made me appreciate the greatness of animation like Friendship is Magic.  With season three comes all new adventures, and probably all new favorite episodes.  Until, these five hold a special place is my heart.  Thank you reading, and I hope you’ve enjoy my top five favorite episodes of  My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

 Written By

Andrew Mathieu

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K-ON! Where the Music Starts

K-ON! Episode 1 & 2 Impressions (Updated)

This year I’ve been trying new (for me) anime series I’ve never watched before.   With “Lucky Star” becoming my star selection so far (pun intended), along comes K-ON! on Blu-ray to inject some music into my anime collection.

K-ON! group photo (from left to right) Ritsu, Mio, Yui, and Tsumugi.

This tale stars newly-minted high school freshman Yui Hirasawa, a very shy, timid, and clusmy girl who is very indecisive about which school club she should join.  It just so happens Ritsu Tainaka and her friend Mio Akiyama, along with new aquitance Tsumugi Kotobuki are desperate to find one more member for their “Light Music Club” to keep it from shutting down.  Paths cross with the musically challenged Yui and the club tries their best to convince Yui that their club is the one for her.

The characters here are very likable with wonderful designs.  Yui herself is one of the most adorable characters I’ve seen in a long time, with her lost stares and visible buck teeth that just make her hard to resist.  Ritsu and Mio are most likely childhood friend, with Ritsu being outspoken and adventurous, while Mio is more stern and reserved.  They balance each other out pretty well and have great chemisty.  Finally Tsumugi is the rich girl who is pretty grounded.  She’s polite, to the point, and almost as cute as Yui.  She also has unique eyebrows which stand out to me for some reason.

The first two episode of K-ON! are funny with some sincere character moments and feel good scenes.  Watching Miu get along with her new friends and trying her best to fit into the club is good entertainment.  It may not be all that compelling, but it has a charm that makes it enjoyable nonetheless.

This is only my second anime on Blu-ray, and it looks gorgeous!  My relatively small screen is saturated in color with each frame; shadows look very natural, characters move fluidly, and it looks better than pretty much better than any cartoon I have on DVD.  The English voice dubbing is pretty darn good, with each voice befitting the character’s personality, though some of the dialogue comes out awkward on some occasions.

The star of the audio department, however, is the music.  The song the” Light Music Club” plays for Yui had a nice beat, but the ending theme is by far the show-stopper (literally)!  It played just like a music video, with the four main heroines (I assume) doing vocals (in Japanese).  The song was really good and the animation was perfectly in sync with the music.

After a couple of episodes, I’m ready to dig into the rest of this volume!  I’ve had a pretty consistent run on anime purchase this year, and K-ON! continues that run with a nice beat.  I’m happy to write about it, no matter how late I am in watching it (Season 2 is currently available on Blu-ray).  It is a show that may not be all that compelling, but is nice to watch, and really, what more could I ask for?

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