Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Episode 33

Rainbow Dash takes the focus and finally gets a pet of her own, managing to be both awesome and kind of a jerk in the process.
May the Best Pet Win!
Rainbow Dash zooms through the sky, as she is wont to do, performing many aerial tricks before being joined by Owloysius (last seen in episode 24).  To her surprise, the owl is able to keep up with her, and to her even bigger surprise, he suddenly sprouts Winona's head and barks at her.  To her further surprise, Owloysius adds Angel and Gummy to the mix, and Opalescense pops out, xenomorph-like, fully freaking Rainbow Dash out and causing her to fall from the sky and back into waking life.  That's right, she was just dreaming, with her dream influenced by the noises of the other ponies' pets, who are all hanging around the tree she was napping in.  Speaking of, the others are not far behind, and Rarity apologizes for the pets.
It seems that the rest of the mane casts have a weekly playdate for the pets, which Rainbow Dash wasn't privy to seeing as 1. she doesn't have a pet and 2. she usually takes a nap around that time anyway.  Which Rainbow totally understands.  So the others get back to playing with their pets and Dash gets back to her nap.  However, she then gets offended that they all assumed she would never have a pet, and tells them so.  This sends Fluttershy into a rhapsody, literally, as she drags Dash back to her treehouse and tells her, in song, all about the many potential pets she has.  And Dash replies, in song, that it has to be a pet that is cool, fast, and can fly.  After a few false starts, in song, Fluttershy finally brings in the animals that fit the bill, but there's too many choices, so Rainbow Dash decides, in song, to hold a contest to see which animal is worthy of being her pet.
Once everything is set up, Rainbow Dash gives the prospective pets a rousing speech about what is expected of them, causing to the other ponies to wonder if Dash really "gets" what having a pet is about.  But her contest, her rules.  Fluttershy, despite knowing Dash's prerequisites quite well, brings in one more competitor: a tortoise.  Dash flat out refuses to let him even try, but Fluttershy's continual wheedling gets her to give in.  But she lets the tortoise know that this isn't going to be a walk in the park.  With the line-up settled on, Dash describes the various tests: Speed, Agility, Guts, Style, Coolness, Awesomeness, and Radicalness.  Twilight objects that the last three are all the same thing, which just proves she would never make a good pet for Rainbow Dash.
The falcon is the clear winner of the Speed test, and the hummingbird takes the Agility test, though it loses points for being unable to high-five without falling.  As for Guts, only the monarch butterfly is brave enough to get Opal's toy away from her, with bonus points for essentially hypnotizing her to do it.  The Style test involves posing for photos, and Coolness is judged solely on their calls, with the Eagle winning for an inaccurate call.  Awesomeness is a test of natural talents, with the owl's head-turn trumping the rest, and the Radicalness test is all about performance, which the bat wins, though with points off for being awesome rather than radical.  And the tortoise is pathetic at each test, which Rainbow Dash is quick to point out.
When the points are tallied, it's the tie between the falcon, the owl, the eagle, and the bat.  Since there can only be one, Rainbow Dash declares the final test will be a race against herself through Ghastly Gorge.  She also declares that the winner will have to cross the finish line with her in order to win.  Despite not making the cut, the tortoise joins in anyway, but is left woefully in the dust.  Rainbow Dash takes off like a flash, flying through the many obstacles in the gorge, (including Quarray Eels) and the potential pets following behind the best they can.
Getting cocky, Rainbow Dash flies backwards and smacks right into the gorge wall, getting caught in a rockslide that leaves her wing pinned.  The potential pets, unaware of her plight, fly right on by.  Worrying that she'll be stuck in the gorge forever, Rainbow Dash starts to panic, and begins to succumb to despair, when she suddenly hears the sound of (hopefully) a rescuer.  She rejoices at her good fortune, until she sees her would-be savior: the tortoise.  Despite her lamentations, the tortoise manages to lift the rock.
At the finish line, the other ponies cheer as the challengers come into view, and the falcon crosses first. However, it soon becomes clear that all is not right, as the potential pets are all there, but there's no sign of Rainbow Dash.  Twilight pulls out her binoculars, which are commandeered first by Fluttershy and then Applejack, who spots the fallen rocks.  As the others discuss what to do, Pinkie Pie catches sight of Rainbow Dash riding on the tortoise's back.  Accommodating the tortoise's slow speed, the others bring the finish line to him and celebrate.  Rainbow Dash thanks to the tortoise for rescuing her, and Fluttershy introduces her new pet, the falcon.  Rainbow Dash, however, is not so sure any more.  The others point out that it's just what she wanted in a pet, and Rarity commemorates the event with a photo.  The camera's flash sends the tortoise back into his shell, and Rainbow Dash tries to coax him out.  She has a conundrum, as she has the pet she thought she wanted, but finds that she now wants a different one.  But she remembers that her exact words were that the pet who crossed the finish line with her would be the winner, and only the tortoise did that.  The falcon, though disappointed, takes his loss like a gentleman.
With things settled, Rainbow Dash calls for Spike to take a letter to the princess, and as she dictates what she's learned (there are more important traits in a pet or friend than just being cool), the tortoise manages to get Opal's toy away from the cat, passing the Guts test.  Dash praises the tortoise for his tenacity, which gives her the perfect name for him: Tank.  Fluttershy, however, points out that one of the reasons Rainbow Dash turned down the tortoise in the first place was that it couldn't fly, but in a magical land, anything is possible, even magic-powered tortoise-copters, which Tank debuts at his first pony-pet playdate.
There's a lot of fun stuff in this one, but it was pretty obvious that the tortoise was going to end up as Rainbow Dash's pet.  For me, it was when he put on the sunglasses during the song.  All the tests were interesting to watch, and it was great having Flight of the Valkyries as BGM (and Rainbow Dash whistling it?  Priceless!).  The Find a Pet song, while nice, doesn't feel worthy of being the first song of season two.  And see these faces:

I don't like them.  I know this puts me in the minority, but I really, really hope they don't show up again.  There's just something off-putting about them to me.

Misc. Screenshots
Headsucker Gummy
Applejack and Winona

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I know it's almost over (on the east coast, anyway), but I hope you all had a happy holiday.  And I also hope that you enjoy this video.  Seriously, I was dying watching it:

Cranberry Christmas

Working in a library, I am well acquainted with the Cranberryport series written by Wende and Harry Devlin.  Yet I was surprised, but pleased, to find out that the appropriate book had been turned into an animated Christmas special, and that it was available online.  Unfortunately, I couldn't seem to get it to load except on random occasions, but I did eventually get to see it.
The special is all right, but it is quite obviously animated in Flash, which I found distracting at times.  The voice acting is pretty good, but Rob Paulsen is just too high pitched for Mr. Whiskers.  Reading the books, I always imagined him with a much deeper voice.  Scott McNeil using his Chief Thunder Hooves voice would have been a better match, in my opinion, but ah well.  But there is just one major thing about it that bugs me, and that is the expanded role of Cyrus Grape.  In the book, Mr. Grape only shows up at the beginning and end of the book, claiming ownership of a skating pond and forbidding anyone to use it.  Mr. Whiskers disagrees with this, but has no way to prove Mr. Grape doesn't own the pond, until, in the course of cleaning up for his sister's visit, he comes across a deed which proves the pond is actually on his property.  In the special, Mr. Whiskers and Cyrus both claim ownership of the pond, which leads to Cyrus examining his deed and finding no mention of the pond.  Which in turn leads to him sneaking around outside Mr. Whisker's house and talking to the camera a lot, plus sabotaging Mr. Whisker's house cleaning to the tune of a "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"-like song  (Barry Manilow is no Thurl Ravenscroft, but the song is kind of catchy), all to keep Mr. Whiskers from finding his deed.
I should mention that there is precedent for this expansion.  Cranberry Christmas is the fourth book in the series, and the second appearance of Cyrus Grape.  While in this book, he's mostly just a curmudgeon, in his first appearance (Cranberry Halloween) and later appearances, he doesn't hesitate to try something shady.  So it makes sense to use him being up to no good as a way to expand the book into a 24-minute television special.  Knowing this, I still find it annoying.  Probably because all the Cyrus sneaking around stuff means that Mr. Whiskers freaking out about Maggie and her grandmother cleaning out his house is pretty much eliminated, and that actually would have been pretty funny to hear in Rob Paulsen's voice.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's about time!

At long last, Cherry Jam is part of Strawberry Shortcake's section of AGKidzone.  I'm assuming that they put off adding her until this week because in this past episode, she decided to make Berry Bitty City her home for good.  It's not like they had a lot of extra work to do that kept them from adding her.  Clicking on her just brings up a profile blurb, aim icon, a non-existent coloring page (I assume it'll surface eventually) and her music video. For all I know, the video might have been on the site earlier, since every time I checked, I only bothered looking at the front page, assuming that, as the newest video, would be the very first one.  But no, now that it's on the site, it's the last video, on page two.  Why?  Who knows?  At any rate, the music video has been up on The Hub for a couple of weeks now (in better quality), and even SSC's youtube had it before AGP put it up (assuming they only put it up this week).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Episode 32

The first Cutie Mark Crusader episode of Season Two, though it mostly focuses on Apple Bloom.
The Cutie Pox
Today the CMC plan to get cutie marks in bowling.  In fact, Apple Bloom is so certain that all three of them will get bowling marks, she starts brainstorming a new name for their group before they even set hoof inside the bowling alley.  Her hopes may have been set too high, as Sweetie Belle gets a gutterball, and Scootaloo's attempt sends her ball careening around the alley like a pinball.  Apple Bloom's turn is immediately followed by cries of "A bowling cutie mark!" but not for her, as her ball didn't even manage to knock over one pin.  The other two are able to shrug off this failure pretty easily, but Apple Bloom is more bummed out than usual.  The other two crusaders attempt to cheer up their friend, but nothing works.  Not a cupcake, a party, or even a new hat.  All Apple Bloom wants to do is wander around in a desolate haze, and she wanders right into the Everfree Forest, despite her friends' warnings.
It doesn't take long for Apple Bloom to run into trouble, though thankfully all that happened was tripping on a rock and chipping her tooth.  And fortunately, Zecora was nearby and just happens to have a remedy for chipped teeth.  As the potion brews, Apple Bloom vents her frustration at not being able to get a cutie mark, and Zecora prescribes patience.  That's something Apple Bloom's heard before, and she doesn't take too kindly to hearing it again.  But Zecora's potion does the trick, which gets Apple Bloom to thinking.  If Zecora has a potion to heal almost anything, surely she can mix up something to make cutie marks appear.  But Zecora just tells her there's no such thing, and goes on to work on her next brew, to bring back a rooster's crow.  She adds a few petals from a flower called Heart's Desire, explaining that it will bring forth the rooster's talent.  As this fact runs through Apple Bloom's mind, Zecora steps out to pick up another flower she needs for the potion, leaving the young filly alone.
The next morning, as the young ponies play before school, Apple Bloom proudly flaunts her no-longer-blank flank, which now sports the image of a round ring.  According to Apple Bloom, the ring is a loopty hoop, a toy that Applejack made for her a while ago.  Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon scoff, as hula hooping is hardly a "special" talent, but Apple Bloom shows off a couple of tricks using the hoop, garnering praise from all the other ponies.  So amazing are her tricks, in fact, that everyone ignores the school bell.  Even Cheerilee insists she continue, though by turning it into a lesson.  And so Apple Bloom instructs them all in loopty hooping, before getting sucked into showing off her tricks again.
In the middle of using the hoop to hover, another cutie mark appears on Apple Bloom's flank: spinning plates.  Diamond Tiara accuses Apple Bloom of faking the cutie marks, but she's able to spin the plates and the hoop without any trouble.  Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo enthuse at their luck of being friends with such a special pony, and Apple Bloom takes her act into town, class in tow.  She involves the nearby ponies in her tricks (including most of the mane six), and is cheered by all.
After a full day of hooping and plate spinning, Apple Bloom is ready for bed.  However, as Applejack discovers, a third cutie mark appears, a pair of shoes, compelling her to tap dance (while still spinning plates and hooping) against her will.  Applejack attempts to stop her, but brute force doesn't work.  So, it's off to Twilight's, to see if she can help.  Luckily for them, she happened to read about strange pony illnesses the other day, and as usual, Spike knows just what book it was in.  A few flips, and Twilight has the answer: Apple Bloom's contracted the Cutie Pox, a mysterious illness that caused the ponies afflicted to act out the talents displayed all over their bodies.  Unfortunately, there's no known cure but time, as the cutie marks will eventually vanish.  But there's no telling how long that will take, and Apple Bloom gains another cutie mark: speaking French.  Seeing that the pox is progressing, Twilight realizes they need to see if Zecora can mix up a cure.
The two ponies race off, but Apple Bloom can only go as fast as she can tap.  Her progress is further hindered when a mark for sculpting appears, quickly followed by chimney sweeping, accordion playing, lion taming, playing chess, fencing, and more.  Watching this crazy display, the other ponies in town start to think Apple Bloom has been cursed, but Spike sets them straight about the cutie pox.  Which is worse, as the very mention of the disease's name sends all the ponies back to their homes, bolting the doors.  Zecora happens to show up then, and assumes that the ponies have gone back to their zebra-fearing ways.  Since they were just about to go see her, Applejack wonders if she has a "zebra sense."  But no, Zecora is in town because her supply of Heart's Desire has gone missing.  She asks Apple Bloom, but the pony is mum on the subject (too busy window washing).
Zecora does have a cure for the cutie pox: the seeds of truth.  When planted and fed true words, they'll grow the cure, she says, giving Apple Bloom the stink eye.  This is missed by Applejack, who simply plants the seeds and calls for somepony to tell the truth.  No one will speak up, even as Apple Bloom suddenly develops a whirling dervish talent.  As the silence grows, Pinkie Pie cracks and confesses to eating three corncakes when she said she only ate two.  When nothing sprouts, she confesses it was really six.  Still nothing. Finally Apple Bloom, sick of spinning, admits that she didn't really earn her cutie mark.  This not only stops her spinning, but the mound with the seeds begins to move.  Apple Bloom further admits that she used the Heart's Desire to mix up a potion, and the seeds grow into a plant with a beautiful flower.
Apple Bloom bolts down the flower, and one by one the false cutie marks disappear.  The other members of the CMC venture forth to make sure Apple Bloom's okay, and Apple Bloom apologizes for lying to them about her cutie mark.  She also apologizes to Zecora for stealing the Heart's Desire, but Zecora forgives her, reminding her that making mistakes is how one grows, after all.  And just like that, she's gone.
Twilight asks Apple Bloom to write this week's friendship report, and she accepts.  Through her misadventure, she learned that taking a shortcut for what you really want doesn't lead to true satisfaction, since you know that you didn't get it fairly.  Being honest (and patient) is the way to go.  However, just because she's learned to wait doesn't mean she has to just sit around, and she and the rest of the CMC are off again, this time to see if, based on her little escapade, Apple Bloom might have an aptitude for potion making.
My favorite part of this episode, really, is the opening scene, introducing, as it does, a few new background ponies, and pony versions of characters from The Big Lewbowski.  Plus I just love the concept of a bowling alley in Ponyville.  But this episode was a lot of fun in and of itself, even if I don't think I'd rewatch it all that often.  It's always nice to see Zecora again.  Weird how Apple Bloom was able to mix up a potion that perfectly matched an ancient disease on the first try.  Then again, it was probably mostly the effects of the Heart's Desire.  Which is probably also why everyone, even the teacher, was so enamored of Apple Bloom's hooping talent.  Not only did it make cutie marks (and matching talents) appear, but it compelled everyone to watch, reflecting (perhaps) a desire in Apple Bloom not just to have a cutie mark, but an amazing one at that.

Misc. Screenshots
Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are aghast
Blushing Snips
Twilight with Rarity's 'do

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Episode 31

After the craziness of the past few episodes, this one takes things down a few notches, focusing on the sisterly duos of Rarity & Sweetie Belle and Applejack & Apple Bloom.
Sisterhooves Social
Rarity awakens one morning to the smell of a delicious breakfast and...smoke?  It can only mean one thing: Sweetie Belle's cooking.  Sure enough, Rarity finds her sister in the kitchen, annoyed that her surprise breakfast-in-bed plan has been found out.  Rarity also finds her parents, pleased as punch at the charred work of their youngest daughter.  They're dropping off Sweetie Belle, since Rarity promised to watch her while they're on vacation, which Rarity had completely forgotten about.
As soon as their parents pull away, Rarity heads back into the kitchen to cook them both a proper breakfast.  Though she promises Sweetie Belle can help, she ends up doing most of the work herself, until Sweetie Belle complains.  So Rarity lets her place the garnish on the plates.  However, she micromanages the whole process, which causes Sweetie Belle to slip and knock everything off the table.  The garnish does land perfectly, though.
By the time the kitchen is cleaned up, it's time for Rarity to get to work, so she has Sweetie Belle take the used towels to the laundry room.  Her little sister, wanting to be useful, takes it upon herself to do the laundry, which wouldn't have been a problem, except that she included Rarity's incredibly expensive, one-of-a-kind designer crocheted wool sweater.  Which promptly shrinks.  With great effort, Rarity manages to control her anger, and heads back inside, warning her sister to stay out of trouble.
But Rarity's boutique is not that kid-friendly, and Sweetie Belle soon finds herself bored out of her skull.  Remembering her sister's warning, she spots some crayons and paper, and since she's never been yelled at for drawing, gets to work.  She feels her artwork needs a little something extra, and she proves she is most definitely Rarity's sister when she decides that something is pretty light blue gems, and Rarity just happens to have a whole trunkful.  But when she shows Rarity the finished product, it creates screams of horror rather than delight.  It seems that these were no ordinary gems, but extremely rare baby blue sapphires, which Rarity procured for a very important client's outfit.  And Sweetie Belle used every single one.  Going off to get more, if she even can, Rarity instructs Sweetie Belle to clean up the art supplies, and to try and find something to do that doesn't end in a big mess.
Fortunately for Rarity, she was able to find more (they can't be that rare, then), which has her in high spirits once more.  But not for long, once she sees what Sweetie Belle did to her workshop.  The entire room is tidied up and organized, much to Rarity's dismay.  Sweetie Belle is confused by Rarity's reaction, since normally the unicorn is all about cleaning and being organized.  But her workshop is the one place Rarity needs a mess for inspiration, and now she has to start all over.  With even greater effort, Rarity keeps her temper in check, telling Sweetie Belle she just needs some alone time.
So Sweetie Belle, feeling low, heads into town, where she runs into Apple Bloom, who is promoting the heck out of the Sisterhooves Social.  She plugs it as the sisterly bonding activity Sweetie Belle and Rarity need, and Sweetie Belle immediately agrees.  However, when she brings it up to Rarity, her sister disagrees, mostly because it's being held at Sweet Apple Acres.  Sweetie Belle insists that any sisters who care about each other go to the social, but Rarity counter-insists that playing around in the dirt is just too uncouth for her to deal with, sisterly or not.  This is the last straw for young Sweetie Belle, who renounces Rarity as her sister.  Rarity is shocked and annoyed at this, feeling that if anyone should be renouncing sisterhood around here, it should be her, based on all the trauma Sweetie Belle has put her through.  Tempers flare, and Sweetie Belle storms out, which suits Rarity perfectly fine.
Sweetie Belle airs her woes at Sweet Apple Acres, where Applejack, Apple Bloom, and Big Macintosh are getting things ready for the Sisterhooves Social.  Applejack advises her to just give Rarity a little time to cool down, and asks her to help them get ready.  Sweetie Belle is hesitant, considering her earlier forays into "helping," and is mystified when she sees how Applejack and Apple Bloom have turned collecting bruised apples into a game.  Her try doesn't go as well, and seeing how well Applejack and Apple Bloom work together just reminds her of how Rarity wouldn't let her help out.  Speaking of Rarity, she's still fuming over Sweetie Belle neatening up her workshop, until she notices how her fabrics are now lined up in rainbow order.  This inspires her for a new line, which she dubs Full Spectrum Fashions.  Despite this, she's still miffed over Sweetie Belle's unsolicited help.
Back at Sweet Apple Acres, Apple Bloom gets a turn at stomping on grapes for grape juice, but gets a little overenthusiastic and splashes Applejack.  To Sweetie Belle's surprise, Applejack doesn't get mad, but just joins her in the tub to get her covered in grape juice, too.  Meanwhile, Rarity prepares to wash her latest creations, but spots her shrunken sweater and fumes again.  Until she realizes it's the perfect size for Opal now.  Still, she isn't quite ready to forgive her little sister.  Applejack and Apple Bloom corral some sheep, amazing Sweetie Belle with their oneness of purpose.  And Rarity finishes up her commissioned outfit, but needs just one more sapphire.  Again raging at the Sweetie Belle-emptied trunk, she goes to see if she can't pry one off of her sister's art project.  And is rendered speechless, as this time she actually sees the image: her and Sweetie Belle, surrounded by a heart of sapphires.  Seeing this, she dramatically agonizes over the way she treated her one and only sister, and with a speech inspired by Gone With The Wind, she vows to get Sweetie Belle back and make it up to her!
Night falls, and Applejack, Apple Bloom, and Sweetie Belle gather around a campfire, which is where Rarity finds them.  Sweetie Belle is still miffed, but when Rarity apologizes, she tells her that spending the day with Applejack and Apple Bloom has shown her she needs a sister.  Just not Rarity.  So instead, she's decided to make Applejack her new sister, which is a shock to everyone.  Applejack tries to get her to reconsider, and Apple Bloom refuses to share her sister.  So Sweetie Belle suggests that Rarity take on Applejack as her new big sister, to show her what a sister should be.  Rarity insists she doesn't need lessons on sistering, and to prove it, offers to teach Sweetie Belle all manner of things that she (but not necessarily Sweetie Belle) enjoys.  Sweetie Belle is having none of it, and huffs off.  Rarity complains to Applejack for making her look bad, but Applejack just explains to her that being sisters is like apple pie: it's only together that they become something special.  Once this sinks in, Rarity realizes what she has to do!
On the day of the Sisterhooves Social, Sweetie Belle checks out the various competitions with Applejack and Apple Bloom, and considers what her sister would think of it.  As the starting time for the big obstacle course race arrives, Applejack gives her their surprise: she gets to be Applejack's honorary sister for a day and run the race with her.  Sweetie Belle is overjoyed, but Apple Bloom is quick to emphasize the "for a day" part.  Repeatedly.  Granny Smith announces the beginning of the race, and the five sister teams get started.  Sweetie Belle skips across the mud, but Applejack falls in, covering herself head to toe.  But she continues on, and the two of them move on to the next obstacles, passing each one with ease.  Though they seem to have the lead, another team comes up from behind, giving them a challenge.  In the end, it was close, but the other team made it across the finish line first.
Sweetie Belle doesn't care, though, as she just had such a good time.  She leaps up to give Applejack a hug, knocking off her hat and revealing a horn?  Sweetie Belle pushes more of the mud off, revealing it was Rarity all along!  Applejack explains that they switched places at the mudhole so that the two sisters could compete together.  Even Apple Bloom was in on it.  With their sisterly bond repaired, Rarity suggests celebrating at the spa, but no one takes her suggestion seriously.
After a week's worth of sisterly activities, Rarity and Sweetie Belle have Spike take a letter for the princess detailing what they've learned about being sisters: it isn't easy, it takes teamwork, compromise, and accepting each others differences, but mostly it's about having fun together.  The two fail to agree on how much dirt that should entail, so Spike intervenes, and all ends happily.
This one was really sweet, and it was great to see the sister relationships between Rarity, Sweetie Belle, Applejack, and Apple Bloom.  And Rarity's parents!  And of course, I loved that the sweater that got shrunk was crocheted.  Even if you can't really tell from the art style.
I'll admit, the first time through, I totally did not pick up on the whole Rarity and Applejack switching until the reveal, but if you go back and watch, sure enough, "Applejack" has Rarity's blue eyes.

Misc. Screenshots:
Applejack and Apple Bloom
Sweetie Belle is touched

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Hub's Naughty or Nice

Just as they did last year, The Hub is giving viewers the chance to vote for who's the nicest and naughtiest characters from their shows.  This year, however, it's set up like a tournament, with the pool of candidates dwindling the closer we get to Christmas.  They're also starting way earlier this year than last.

I feel bad for Chris, since the way things are set up, he's vs. Pinkie Pie, and there's just no way he can win that. At least Dan is vs. McLeish, which makes him a shoo-in to move on to the next round.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dan Vs. This Game

Dan Vs. finally has a game on The Hub, aptly titled Dan Vs. This Game.  It's a side-scroller with just three levels, each based on a different episode of the show.  While it isn't too difficult in theory, I had a hard time beating it simply because of all the enemies making my computer lag.  That, and jumping is not as easy as it should be.  Just trying to get from one platform to another slowed me down considerably.  But even so, it took less than an hour to play the whole thing.
Still, I enjoyed playing it, even if level three's super-lagging got on my nerves.  The level transitions are fun, and level themes work well with the show's style.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thoughts on Cherry Jam's debut episode

  • Not sure how I feel about her southern accent
  • I love all the highlights in her hair
  • I'll need to see a few more episodes to really feel her as a character, but overall, I like her
  • I loved the fangirl outfits the girls wore:
  • Special mention goes to Plum's Lady Gaga-esque hair bow:
  • I find it a little bit odd that Cherry Jam is voiced by Shannon Chan-Kent, the singing voice of Pinkie Pie on MLP:FiM, yet her singing here is done by Victoria Duffield.  Which is probably why I preferred her singing when she was working on the song to her actual performance.  Seriously, Duffield, what is up with the squeaking?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hoops and Yoyo Christmas Special?

Don't know if anyone else is interested in this, but I figured I'd spread the word.  In the grand tradition of greeting card characters getting animated specials, CBS is going to be airing a Christmas special starring Hoops and Yoyo, aptly titled "Hoops and Yoyo Ruin Christmas," on November 25th.  You can read more about it and watch a trailer on the official page.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

How my mind works sometimes

Checking out the images from the MLP blind bags over at Equestria Daily, I spot this:
And instantly think:
Meadow Song is so musical!  How musical is he?  He's so musical, he can make an instrument out of blanks.
*doot doot doo doo doot de doo doot* <---Match Game music
Feel free to fill in the blank, btw.

ETA on Cherry Jam!

As I suspected, this morning's episode ("Berry Bitty Harvest") did not feature the debut of Cherry Jam, instead acting as the gateway for the Berry Bitty Market Playset, which will actually be built in next week's episode, "Room at the Top."  But, if Zap2It is to be believed, then the episode airing on the 19th, "Starlight, Star Bright," will finally bring Cherry Jam to Berry Bitty City.  Now if we could just get her over to the AGKidzone....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake - Bright Lights, Big Dreams

In honor of Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventure's second season (finally) starting this Saturday, I'm tackling the latest DVD release in a much more timely manner than I did the last one.  Of course, it helps that this one opens with my favorite episode of season one, as it shows Strawberry actually getting annoyed with someone, plus, it has the largest Jadeybug role to date.
Strawberry's House Pest
In fact, it even starts off with Jadeybug interrupting Strawberry practicing "Home Sweet Home" (from the first DVD) for the upcoming Cafe Caberet night.  She's looking for some warm, comforting tea, making chamomile the obvious choice.  Seeing how jumpy the ladybug is, Strawberry asks her what's up.  It seems that Katiebug and Sadiebug are in fact, not Jadeybug's daughters (as I'd assumed), but her cousins, and they have invited themselves over a for week.  I'm guessing this is supposed to be their first apearance in the series, though even when the episodes aired on The Hub, this one came after they'd already shown up.  Jadeybug does not relish telling them they can't visit, since her guest room is being quote-unquote painted.  Strawberry offers to let them stay with her at the cafe, and doesn't suspect anything when Jadeybug does not leap at this chance, and instead tries to head Strawberry off.  But Strawberry won't take no for an answer, and so Jadeybug has no choice but to acquiesce.
Over at Blueberry's bookshop, Strawberry borrows a book about being the perfect hostess. The other berry girls brainstorm ideas to welcome the bugs, and decide to put together little giftbags and throw a tea party in their honor.  On the day of Katie and Sadie's arrival, Jadeybug can't believe all the trouble the girls have gone to to welcome her cousins, but not in a good way.  She accidentally lets slip that her cousins may not even be staying that long, but tries to cover it up with "You never know what may happen."
Katie and Sadie arrive by bus and are met by all the girls and a few berrykins.  Jadeybug goes up to greet them, but has no words when their first sentence is "What's to eat?"  Strawberry doesn't seem to notice, though, and introduces the bugs to the other girls. She explains that she'll be hosting them and offers to help with their bags.  Katie and Sadie not only leave the bags they were holding for her, but a huge pile behind them.  Good thing all the girls came along.  As they make their way from the bus stop to the cafe, Strawberry explains that they'll be staying in the cafe's upper room, when they're not visiting with Jadeybug.  But the twins comment that they have no intention of hanging out with Jadeybug if they can be near the food.  The other girls take this as a joke, but Strawberry sees the look on Jadeybug's face and suspects that they weren't kidding.  But she gives them the benefit of the doubt.
As the party gets under way, Katie and Sadie unceremoniously dump out the contents of their gift bags and fight over who has better stuff.  Mr. Longface pours their tea, Sadie demands a straw, and Katie steals one from a berrykin when she doesn't get one.  While the twins fight over the straw, Strawberry tries to tell them that straws and tea don't go together, only for Plum to remind her that the hostess book specifically mentioned tolerating your guests' quirks.  Eventually the straw breaks, which leads to peace for a moment, until the twins decide to have a tea fight.  At last the truth comes out, as Jadeybug admits that her cousins are totally uncouth.  And bad examples, to boot, as the berrykins join in, creating an all-out food fight in the cafe.  Strawberry tries to put a positive spin on it, and tells Jadeybug that since she volunteer to host the twins, she'll stick with it.
The next day, Strawberry visits Orange Blossom's store to deliver some muffins, with the twins in tow, who immediately begin running around and pulling stuff off the shelves.  She has an easier time delivering the rest of the muffins, as all the other girls are practicing at Plum's dance studio.  Sadie and Katie, of course, want to show off their dance skills, and leap into action.  Watching their crazy moves, Plum comments that they should start a comedy routine, to which Strawberry replies, "Please don't encourage them."  As the twins continue to dance, the other girls talk to Strawberry about how being a hostess is going, and are shocked to learn that Katie and Sadie took her bedroom over the newly-fixed up guest room.  This encounter ends with the twins knocking over a curtain.  Most of the berry girls just laugh it off, but Blueberry is starting to have her misgivings about the twins.
Though getting used to the twins' self-centeredness by now, Strawberry is still shocked, shocked! to discover the bugs using her kitchen tools to build a mud castle.  And again when she finds them rooting through the fridge, helping themselves.  Each time, she tries to steer them toward the right behavior, but their selfishness knows no bounds.  It's all that Strawberry can do just to get a little practice time for herself, waiting until the girls are firmly situated outside, ready to get a little sun.  But though she tries to be quieter than their boombox, the twins are soon back inside, fighting over the microphone.  Strawberry hopes that explaining about the upcoming caberet night will get them to let her practice in peace, but that just makes them want to help her out.  And by "help out" they mean screech and squawk into the microphone, upsetting life all over Berry Bitty City.  Finally, Strawberry pulls the power, and very nearly snaps at the twins.  But she pulls herself together and manages to get them to keep the power off, though can't stop them from caterwauling.
During all this, Mr. Longface shows up to see how Strawberry is doing.  In an uncharacteristically generous move, Mr. Longface offers to keep an eye on the cafe and the twins while Strawberry takes a little time for herself.  Strawberry tries not to inflict them on him, but Mr. Longface knows exactly what he's getting into, and won't let her say no. Strawberry gratefully takes him up on his offer, but she can't stay away for long, knowing that even with supervision, the twins are bound to get into trouble of one kind or another.  And indeed, the moment she walks up, she finds Mr. Longface making a break for it.  Before he goes, though, he warns her that the twins buttered the floor.  Strawberry wonders what purpose that could serve.
To slide across it, of course.  Katie and Sadie have not only covered the floor in butter, but let the juice machine overflow, creating a kind of water park for the berrykins.  Seeing the chaos in her cafe, Strawberry puts on her maddest face and kicks all the berrykins out.  The berrykins apologize, promising to help clean up later, but Katie and Sadie are not contrite, even as they are washed out the cafe by the mix of juice and melted butter.  The twins apparently make themselves scarce when it's time to clean up, as only berrykins are seen helping Strawberry out.  Blueberry shows up to help, too, and tells Strawberry to send the twins back home.  Though this should be the last straw, even for Strawberry, she just can't send them off, since she invited them.  Blueberry tells her it might help to talk about it with a friend, but Strawberry has another idea.
She sits the twins down and explains to them why their behavior is unacceptable, but in a gentle way, and tells them that she's willing to give them another chance, if they're willing to listen.  However, Sadie and Katie accuse her of being rude to them, and march out in a huff.  Their attempts to find room and board with the other girls, however, is met with excuse after excuse for why they can't stay.  The twins, having gotten this treatment every other place they've visited, are not surprised.  Only Blueberry tells them the real reason she won't put them up, and the other girls show up for some reason to confess to just giving excuses.  They also confront the girls about being inconsiderate, and it seems that this time, the message sinks in.
Meanwhile, Jadeybug comforts Strawberry in the cafe, pointing out that she held out longer than anyone else who hosted the twins.  Which is when Katie and Sadie come back, ready to apologize, but finding old habits die hard.  But they manage to get through it without too much rudeness, much to Jadey's delighted surprise.  Strawberry promises to let them stay and teach them actual manners if she can also give them singing lessons.  The twins agree, but are skeptical on whether she can actually teach them, being fully aware of how bad they are.  But, lo and behold, by the next Cafe Caberet, they are good enough to back her up.

There is something so refreshing about seeing the perpetually upbeat characters getting mad.  I don't know what it is, but I like it.

Berry Bitty World Record
Orange Blossom stocks her highest shelves, thanks to her pogostick, a gift from Berrykin Bloom.  Speaking of, the elderly berrykin shows up to check for a package.  Unfortunately, Jadeybug has all the day's packages in hand, and doesn't see the still-unstacked cans, which means she inevitably slips and drops everything.  But she manages to catch all of them except for Berrykin Bloom's, which he catches, and one that Orange Blossom catches.  She assumes Bloom's package is the vacation brochure he's been waiting for, but he breaks the news that he's not taking a vacation this year, opting instead to use the money for seeds.  This isn't the first year he's done this, either, and he says's he's okay, but he can't bring himself to look at the latest issue of Berry Bitty World Traveler.
His ennui is evident even to Strawberry, but Orange has the solution!  It seems Berry Bitty World Traveler is holding a contest where anyone who breaks a world record wins a vacation.  Must be a ploy to sell more copies of Berry Bitty World Records.  So Orange calls a clandestine meeting of the berry girls to suggest they all work on breaking a world record, upping the chances that at least one of them will do it.  They all agree that Berrykin Bloom deserves a vacation, but do they have record-breaking abilities?  Strawberry declares Orange is in charge, which she wasn't expecting, but seeing as it was her plan, she goes along with it.
The next day, Strawberry tries her hand at baking the highest souffle, but is interrupted by the arrival of Mr. Longface and Berrykin Bloom.  Since winning Berrykin Bloom a vacation is meant to be secret, she quickly covers her souffles, though she does offer them up as the daily special.  While Strawberry slices up one of her previous efforts, Longface tells Bloom all about this book he's been reading, a history of contagious diseases, including one that makes people do strange things for no apparent reason.
Blueberry, meanwhile, sends her assistant, a bookworm named Bosley (has he shown up before?  I forget), off to lunch so Orange can call up the magazine and have them send down a representative to judge their record-breaking feats.  The magazine agrees to send a judge on Friday, to Orange's delight and Strawberry's (she came in during the call) trepidation.  Going by her own efforts, she doesn't think the girls are ready, but Orange is certain that her can-stacking prowess will win the vacation for sure!  Strawberry reminds Orange that she's in charge, and should be more involved, so Orange goes forth to see what records the other girls are planning to break.  In the meantime, Strawberry hopes to find a record easier to break than Highest Souffle by helping Blueberry come up with a record to break.  Highest Stack of Books is a bust, since Blueberry refuses to stack outside (it would make her inventory dirty).
Orange's first stop is Raspberry's dress shop, where she approves of World's Biggest Dress, but doesn't do Raspberry any favors by telling her that the judge is coming on Friday.  Lemon, however, is having trouble figuring out a record to break that uses her talents, as most of her attempts have been less than optimal.  Orange just tells her to keep at it, since she's only got two days.  Back with Blueberry, the record for reading while standing on your head is a no-go.  Plum is having similar problems, as she tries to dance while standing on her hands.  Orange gets in on the "fun" which is observed by a passing Berrykin Bloom.  After falling over, Plum comments that she feels sick, which Bloom overhears.  You can see where this is going, can't you?
Berrykin Bloom's suspicions are only confirmed when he overhears Blueberry trying to break the record for reading backwards and spots Plum cartwheeling down the street.  He goes to check on Lemon, and is startled by her tie-dyed 'do, but more concerned by Plum now skipping backwards.  He tries to get Lemon to share his concern, but as Lemon is sworn to secrecy, she tries to convince him that Plum's just exercising.  This seems to satisfy Berrykin Bloom, so she offers him a mineral foot soak, but he'd rather get back to what he was doing in the first place, transplanting a berry plant.
Due to Berrykin Bloom's suspicions, the girls hold another clandestine meeting, and since Bloom is checking on his night-blooming jasmines, they have to hold it in the dark.  Most of them lament their inability to find a record they can break, and even Raspberry is losing faith in her biggest dress.
Strawberry: Where's our can-do spirit?
Blueberry: Orange is the only one who has can-do spirit
Plum: Stacking can-do spirit, that is.
Orange: *dryly* Ha ha ha.
Strawberry points out that, all jokes aside, it's important for the one in charge to have can-do spirit, so Orange charges the girls to keep thinking, and to remember that they're doing it for Berrykin Bloom.  Things then devolve into a flashlight fight, just as Berrykin Bloom wanders by, which just worries him all the more.
Once the girls compose themselves, Strawberry comes up with an idea based on Orange's stacking cans: she can stack fruit!  She proposes they share ideas rather than come up with them on their own, so Lemon takes her cue from Strawberry's former record: highest hairdo!  The rest of the girls brainstorm together, coming up with Dress with Most Stitches for Raspberry, Fastest Reader for Blueberry, and The Most Pirouettes in a Row for Plum.
Friday arrives, and Berrykin Bloom shares his worries with Mr. Longface, who insists they call in a doctor for the girls.  Orange, meanwhile, dons her pogostick to go check on everyone before the judge gets there.  She only has time to check on Raspberry and Lemon before she spots a squirrel entering the town and assume she's the judge.  Despite her hurry to tell the others, she pauses (though never stops pogo-ing) to share a few words with Bosley.  The squirrel, however, is not the judge, but the doctor.  Berrykin Bloom and Mr. Longface inform her of the girl's strange behavior, and after observing Orange's stack of cans, she asks to see the other patients.
Lemon, already informed of the judge's arrival, panics when her hairdo loses it's poof.  Plum gets too dizzy to continue her pirouettes, and Raspberry takes the doctor's warning not to exert herself as evidence that her record has already been surpassed.  The truth finally comes out when Strawberry's stack of strawberries collapses, and the squirrel tries to take her temperature.  When questioned on their strange behavior, the girls confess to trying to break a world record to win a vacation for Berrykin Bloom.  But it seems their bid has failed.  Strawberry, however, points out that Orange (eventually) took charge and inspired them all to do better than their best, even if their best wasn't record breaking.
But one of them did break a world record, points out Bosley, now wearing a nifty hat.  It turns out that he's the judge (shouldn't he be disqualified since he works for one of the contestants?), and was keeping track of Orange's pogostick bounces, which happened to be ten over the previous record.  Berrykin Bloom, though pleased about finally getting a vacation, is just relieved that the girls don't have the disease from the book, which Mr. Longface happens to have with him.  Seeing the book, the doctor reveals that it's a book of fake diseases, a gag gift for doctors.  Strawberry holds no ill will, though, and invites everyone into the cafe to celebrate with the rest of her souffles.

Different Waltz for Different Faults
It's dance class time, but before things get started, Strawberry offers everyone a muffin.  Might as well, since Plum hasn't let them into her studio yet.  Attempts to get her out are hampered by the loud music and thumps coming from inside, but Strawberry manages to cut through all that with a piercing whistle.  Plum comes to the door, unaware that it's already time for rehearsal, as she's been hard at work choreographing their routine for the annual Dance-Off.  It seems that the top prize has been taken by the Big Bitty City Dancers year after year, and Plum is sick of it.  And since the BBCD always do a complicated routine, Plum has put together a dance that out-complicates them all.  The other girls do not share her determination, and are rather unsure of their ability to learn such a complicated dance in just one week.
To stoke their competitive flames, Plum shows a video of the BBCD's performance from the previous year, but it fails to inspire the girls in the way she wants.  A rousing speech, edited by Blueberry, also falls flat, as the girls simply don't have the ability to dance as well as Plum wants.  But Plum is certain they'll change their tune once she shows them the dance, which wears even her out.  The girls, however, are more inclined to remember the good things about their dance last year, which, even though it didn't win, was fun for all of them and garnered plenty of applause.  But Plum. Must. Have. That. Trophy. so her friends offer to help her simplify the dance into something, still award-winning, that they can do.  However, Plum has a vision for this dance, and refuses to see it compromised.  Seeing the levels of devotion Plum has reached, the others agree to at least give the dance a chance, and get to practicing.
They work all day and into the night before they finally get Plum to agree to let them go home and rest.  Just one week, then they can relax, at least.  But what a week!  For one thing, Plum forces everyone to practice while they're working, with mixed results.  And before she knows it, it's the day before the Dance-Off, and not only are they barely close to ready, but the BBCD are set to arrive!  These Jadeybug clones are so in synch that they even shake hands in unison.  Seeing the precise movements of the BBCD, Plum calls an emergency dance rehearsal, and prescribes special techniques to help them all.  She gives Lemon a sketch of a "team hairdo" to unify them, orders Raspberry to balance a vase on her head until the Dance-Off, and gives Blueberry a book on dancing to read.  She tasks Orange with picking tons of Glimmerberries for their nutritious properties, and tells Strawberry to just keep practicing, no matter what.
While Lemon works on turning Plum's sketch into reality, Raspberry accidentally drops the vase and steps in it, getting stuck, and Blueberry despairs of reading the whole book in one night.  Orange, meanwhile, grapples with the fact that the only Glimmerberries left at this point are the ones too high for the
Berrykins to reach.  Springs manage to solve that problem, but how many qualify for a ton, anyway?  Strawberry doesn't seem to be having a problem, managing to cook, serve, and dance, and so Plum feels confident that come the morning, her dancers will be the best.
But when the next day dawns and no one shows up for the last rehearsal, Plum goes to investigate.  Lemon, it turns out, couldn't turn Plum's sketch into an actual hairdo, and refuses to leave the salon.  Raspberry couldn't get the vase off her foot, and not even help from Plum will get it off.  Disguising it doesn't work, either.  Blueberry read the whole book, and now her eyes won't focus.  Orange mashed all the Glimmerberries herself, and now she can't get the juice to wash off.  And Strawberry danced so hard she gave herself horrible blisters.  So Plum is down five dancers with no time to replace them.
Strawberry suggests calling in some of the berrykins, since they were on the team last year.  Plum isn't as confident, but she's got no other options.  So she tries to teach a modified version of her dance to the berrykins, but they just do what they want to do, not taking it seriously at all.  And there's no time left!
The Dance-Off begins, as it always does, with a performance by the BBCD, which takes advantage of the fact that they can fly.  Despite there being only two teams, there's an intermission in between performances, and Plum decides that she just can't go on and be humiliated.  Strawberry points out that Plum's only been thinking of her own status this whole time, when there's a lot of people who put work into the dance in one way or another.  Even the dancers from Big Bitty City have to be considered, since they came not just to dance, but to see what the Berry Bitty folks have planned.  With nothing left to lose, Plum agrees that the dance should at least be fun, and gives the berrykins free rein.
The berrykins' joyous bouncing around is infectious, and even Plum forgets her misgivings and joins in the dance.  For no apparent reason, the ending leaves the audience stunned for just a moment, long enough for Plum's misgivings to return, but they all start applauding after a moment.  The BBCD even commend the dance for its diversity, and when the judges put in their votes, the prize goes to Plum and the berrykins.  Plum readily admits that it was due to everyone's ideas showing up in the dance, and is ready to plan her dance for next year's Dance-Off.

Not a bad collection of episodes.  These are some of the few that don't feel like they would have done better as 11 minute episodes, but then again, they're all ones that emphasis working towards a goal rather than trying to solve a specific problem.  And they all had Jadeybug in a speaking role, if you count her Big Bitty City clones.
EDIT: I forgot to mention the special features.  As usual, there's printable coloring pages, but there's also a music video.  Being so close to the debut of season two, I was hoping it would be something Cherry Jam related, but it was actually an island-themed tune called "Sunshine Girls."  Which would have been fine if there had been new animation to go with it, but it was all just clips from season one.  And even that wouldn't have been so bad if the song wasn't all tropical.  It comes off more like a bad AMV on youtube than an official video.

Misc. Screenshots
Welcome Banner
Dance-Off Judges

Monday, October 31, 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Episode 30

I'll admit, I put off posting this one so I could post it on Halloween.  Fitting, since the subject of this episode is Equestria's equivalent, Night Mare Night.
Luna Eclipsed
Spike (paradoxically dressed as a dragon) paces as he waits for Twilight Sparkle to put the finishing touches on her costume for Night Mare Night, and what a costume it is!  Just not a very recognizable one, as Twilight learns throughout the evening.  She informs Spike that she's dressed as Starswirl the Bearded, but as Spike failed to read the book on unicorn history she gave him, he's completely lost.  Fortunately for him, their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of trick or treaters, including the tiny Pipsqueak, recently moved from Trottingham, celebrating his first ever Night Mare Night.  His exposition is interrupted by Pinkie Pie, dressed a chicken, clamoring for candy.  She also fails to recognize Twilight's costume, and quickly moves on to the next house.  Twilight fumes over this as she and Spike head into town for the annual festival.
So incensed is she, in fact, that she seems to completely miss all the fun going on around her, in the form of hayrides, dances, and of course, free candy, which isn't lost on Spike.  Or Pinkie Pie, who shows up again to show off her haul, only to get spooked by a Shadowbolt-dressed Rainbow Dash.  Twilight attempts to admonish Rainbow Dash, but the pegasus insists there's no better night for pranks, and races off to frighten another group.  Twilight grabs a comatose Spike (either Rainbow Dash or too much candy induced) and moves along to scarecrow Applejack's stall.  Her bob-for-apples game is put on hold after Derpy gets a scene to herself, but it's just as well, as it's time for the mayor's speech.
The mayor invites the young ponies in town to follow Zecora and hear the legend of Night Mare Moon.  Her attempts to be spooky, however, are hampered by her choice of costume, a clown.  Zecora, on the other hand,  has a suitably spooky costume (an evil enchantress?), and she leads a group of children (plus a few adults) to a statue of Night Mare Moon inside the Everfree Forest.  Using some type of smoke magic, she explains the background of Night Mare Night: apparently Night Mare Moon not only wanted to create eternal night, but also to eat ponies.  Thus, the ponies dress up in the hopes that she'll leave them be if she doesn't find any, plus they leave a tribute of candy, just in case.  Her storytelling royally freaks out the kids, plus Pinkie, and they dump their candy out in front of the statue.
No sooner do they do this than the wind kicks up and the clouds part, revealing a mysterious, batwinged pegasi-pulled carriage.  Pinkie Pie declares this must be Night Mare Moon, and she and the kids (and Zecora) make a break for it.  The carriage does not stop, however, until it reaches Ponyville town square.  With a generous dose of lightning for atmosphere, the carriage's occupant, Princess Luna, leaps down to address the villiagers.  The terrified ponyfolk immediately bow in supplication, but Twilight, feeling a familiarity with the princess, attempts to go and greet her, only to be pulled down by Spike.  Princess Luna addresses the crowd using the Royal We and a powerful, booming voice, beckoning the citizens to turn Night Mare Night into a night of joyous feasting, not terror.  Pinkie hears this as "feast on us all," and once again runs off with the kids.  This doesn't go unnoticed by Princess Luna, who drops the booming voice to call them back, and seeing this is no good, instead goes to the mayor for a formal welcome, as befits a princess.  However, all that booming, plus the lightning, didn't really help things, and neither the mayor, nor her aide, is brave enough to take her hoof.  Nor is anyone else in town, so Luna leaves them without even a Royal Farewell.
Twilight finally gets free from Spike and goes to talk to Princess Luna, recognizing her terror-inducing ways as "trouble fitting in."  She finds the princess moping in the shadow of the Night Mare Moon statue, and is pleased that Luna correctly identifies her costume.  Luna commends Twilight for using changing her back, but Twilight points out it sounds like she's upset about it.  Turns out the princess is just using the traditional Royal Voice for addressing those of a lower station.  Twilight recommends she change her methods in order to get a better reception from her subjects, but the princess, lacking in a thousand years of social graces, is unsure she can do that.  But if Twilight has learned anything over the past episodes, it's that anything is possible with the help of her friends.  So, it's off for some help.
First stop, Fluttershy's, for lessons on being demure.  Fluttershy, however, reacts to Night Mare Night much the same way Harmony did to Surprise Day, though when she hears that it's just Twilight, she opens the door.  Until she spots Princess Luna looking severe, and slams it shut again.  It takes some "coercion" by Twilight to get Fluttershy back out, which Luna ruins by using the Royal Voice again.  This time Twilight just magicks Fluttershy into place, and Luna asks for a lesson on speaking quietly.
Fluttershy: okay.
Fluttershy: okay.
Fluttershy: Perfect. Lesson over.
Twilight prevents Fluttershy from retreating yet again, and advises the princess to just tone down the volume a bit.  It takes a little practice, but Princess Luna gets down to a normal speaking voice, and uses her magic to thank Fluttershy against her will.  Which is when Pinkie Pie arrives, kids in tow, looking for a good hiding place from Night Mare Moon.  Of course, the sight of Princess Luna and a nearly-comatose Fluttershy draws all the wrong conclusions and they run away again.  Luna tries to call after them, but neither the Royal Voice or her new, normal voice works, so Twilight calls for Plan B.
Back in town, the festivities have continued on, with ponies partaking of Night Mare Night-themed games, such as Smashing Pumpkins and Spider Toss.  But the return of Princess Luna sends all activity to a halt, bringing back memories of the old days for the princess.  Twilight is optimistic that Applejack can help them up Luna's likability quotient, despite the farmpony falling to the ground the moment the princess shows up.  Twilight asks her to help out the princess, but it takes her own brand of stare to get Applejack to do it.  Applejack tells Princess Luna to have a positive attitude, relax and have some fun.  A foreign concept to the princess, so Twilight and Applejack introduce her to spider toss.  A successful toss makes Luna a convert, and she takes on Smashing Pumpkins.  As her gourds hits the target, she cries out, "The fun has been doubled!" and this new side of the princess seems to loosen up the citizens of Ponyville, too.
The princess declares that all may call her simply "Luna," and goes to bob for apples.  She spots Pipsqueak falling into the water, and fishes him out.  Pinkie Pie, spotting this, insists that Luna was going to gobble him up, and she and the kids, including Pipsqueak, make another break for it.  Luna's ire at this ungrattitude undoes everything she had just done in the villagers eyes, and when they begin to back away in fear, she tries to reclaim it by enchanting all the fake spiders for Spider Toss into real spiders and having them swarm the web (and some Ponyvillians, too).  This creates panic and hysteria in the streets which Luna tries to stop, but cannot until she busts out the ultimate Royal Voice.  When Twilight tries to remind her of Fluttershy's lessons, she tells her that she's using the Royal Voice for a Royal Proclamation.  Bringing forth clouds, Princess Luna decrees that this insulting holiday shall henceforth be cancelled permanently!
As the disappointed ponies take in this information, Twilight decides to go after the princess and do what she does best: lecture ponies!  She spots the dejected princess on a bridge, and though Luna asks to be left alone, Twilight simply tells her that Night Mare Night is one of the most popular holidays in Equestria.  This doesn't cheer her up in the slightest, and so Twilight must think of a new tactic.  She does this by luring Pinkie Pie to a secluded area using a trail of candy, and then forcing the pink pony to promise not to scream.  She introduces her to Princess Luna, and the two make amends, until Rainbow Dash does her cloud prank again, making Luna look scary.  Twilight teleports and tackles the fleeing Pinkie Pie, trying to make her see that Luna =/= Night Mare Moon.  Pinkie reveals that she's known that the whole time and was hamming it up for the kids.  Night Mare Night's supposed to be scary, after all.  This gives Twilight the idea she's needed all night, though Luna is not as enthusiastic this time around.  But she goes with Twilight all the same.
As the little ponies lament the end of Night Mare Night forever, Zecora reminds them that there's still this Night Mare Night, which doesn't end until the official Candy Offering.  So it's back to the Everfree forest to leave their candy by the statue.  But once the last pony, Pipsqueak, offers his candy, the wind picks up and the Royal Voice of Princess Luna addresses them all, expressing pleasure with the offering, and the statue of Night Mare Moon comes to life.  As before, the kids scream in terror and run off, and Night Mare Moon morphs back into Princess Luna, spitting out fake fangs.  She isn't sure Twilight's plan has worked, but Pipsqueak returns, asking if she'll come back and scare them next year, too.  Hearing that being scared can be fun, Princess Luna decrees the return of Night Mare Night, and Pipsqueak declares her his favorite princess.  With the true meaning of Night Mare Night ringing true, Luna rejoices and rejoins the festivities.  With the problem finally solved, Twilight writes her letter to Princess Celestia, all about how she was able to share what she's learned about friendship with Luna, and how Ponyville learned to give scary ponies a chance.  Rainbow Dash sneaks up on Twilight for one last prank, but is pranked by Luna instead.
A very good episode all around.  Not only did we finally get a canon version of Luna's personality, it was great to see all the attention paid to the costumes of the background characters.  While a lot of fun, this episode does raise a lot of questions.  How exactly did the legend of Night Mare Moon evolve that way?  Since it appears to have been at least a year since the first two episodes, how has Luna not acclimated even just a little by now?  Would Celestia have helped her?  And just where was Rarity, a pony known for wearing outrageous costumes any time of the year, during the whole celebration?
That question at least has an answer.  While it's easy to assume that she spent the whole celebration collapsed in exhaustion from making all the costumes for the ponies in town (and there were some really good costumes, to be sure), according to Lauren Faust, the original script had a scene with her, ever the perfectionist, still working on getting her costume just right.
Despite knowing Luna is voiced by Tabitha St. Germain, I swear she sounds just like Mona Marshall when she uses the Royal Voice.

Misc. Screenshots
Mr. and Mrs. Cake as Raggedy Ann and Andy
Luna cracks the ground
E.T. reference?
Another offering
Luna and apple