• Editorial: Princess Luna's Transformation (Season 1 to Now)

    Luna is without a doubt one of the most popular characters in the fandom. Our wonderful Princess of the Night graces the drawfriend pretty much every day, and two of our best fandom animations explored the ambiguity within her character. She was a mare of mystery for many seasons, but now that we have a few episodes devoted to her, I can’t help but wonder about her conveyance. Which character choice for her was the best? What is her character now? Why is she still so popular? Finally, what is in the future for Princess Luna? Let’s talk about Her Majesty after the break.

    “Luna Eclipsed” was the first episode of MLP that I saw, upon recommendation from a friend. I remember the episode being extremely silly, reminding me of a Monty Python sketch from Luna’s inability to grasp both fun and friends. To say that Luna is close to my heart is an understatement, considering “Luna Eclipsed” spawned the beginning of a new era for me, an era where I found self-esteem and my passion for creative fiction. Luna’s sad gaze as the children ran away from her was heart-breaking, while her laughs of success after tossing spiders brought a smile to my face. She was the first cartoon character in a while that felt deep. Her conflict, much like many of the other characters’ was relatable. Whether you were signing up to a new club or moving to a new school, you could empathize with her loneliness.

    Luna’s character has undergone a few changes since she was broken from the Nightmare Moon curse. Within the first few minutes of the pilot, there’s a lot to swallow. Her jealousy bred hate, and her hate was the path to the dark side of the moon. Yet when she was reformed, her jealousy turned more to fear that she would never be accepted because of the monster that she was previously, and this fear followed her all the way to the Tantabus episode.

    “Luna Eclipsed” was her next episode. Adding in everything that I said previously, I found this episode to be one of Luna’s most refreshing portrayals. Since we only had two lines of dialogue for Luna before this episode, having her characterized as a pony that had time frozen for her was interesting. The Royal Canterlock and Nightmare Night traditions, while silly, showed the culture of her time. However, the fridge logic within “Luna Eclipsed” is what slowly peels away more layers to her character.

    All of her friends are dead and Luna is back in a world that didn’t really need her. Celestia was purely fine with raising the moon by herself, although I’m sure her heart hurt every night that she took to the sky. Society had moved on without Princess Luna, and her name had become nothing more than a myth for a monster that wasn’t the real her. Without “Luna Eclipsed”, I’m sure that Luna would still be up within the highest tower, wondering why she came back to Equestria.

    However, it's fair to say that "Luna Eclipsed" is the odd one out when it comes to her character portrayal. Since Luna now understands the meaning of fun and enjoyed a night with her subjects, she should be taking part in more events. She should be at the party in "Make New Friends but Keep Discord" or be laughing it up with the Yaks. But she still remains in the background, so perhaps "Luna Eclipsed" was an isolated incident. She likes having fun with her subjects, but most likely prefers flying solo within other pony's dreams.

    Princess Luna is not pleased with your dreams. I already apologized. Your turn.

    One of Luna’s most interesting character moments to me was only for a second: her glare at Twilight during the Crystal Empire. While it seems to have fallen to the wayside, I always found Luna’s glare to be the spawn of millions of headcanons. Why was Twilight sent and not Luna? I’m sure that question popped into Luna’s head whenever she couldn’t distract herself with royal duties. Was there more jealousy involved? Was it a warning glare if Twilight were to fail? We don’t really have any confirmations regarding the glare, but it always feels that the subtle moments are the most interesting displays.

    Twilight’s flashback within “Princess Twilight Sparkle” provided more context towards Luna’s jealousy with her sister, but her characterization pretty much stayed the same. It was more the Nightmare Moon spirit talking than her, but the anguish within Luna’s soul and the hesitance with Celestia’s choice to banish Luna surely strengthened their relationship as sisters. For Celestia, it was her only choice. Interestingly enough, Luna doesn’t blame her at all. She blames herself.

    What I love about Princess Luna is that with her character, there’s so much material to work with. Whether it be a song, fanfic, animation, or anything else, Luna has gone through more change, emotional turmoil, and hesitance than anyone in the show. The only difference is that her problems are all within the background until they are too big to handle. Luna came back to Equestria in the pilot, but didn’t address her lack of friends until “Luna Eclipsed”. She held her own self-mutilating curse within her dreams, letting it tear away at her fears until it left her dreams and was addressed in "Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep". While all of this is happening, she enters the dreams of ponies that need her the most and helps provide wisdom that you know she learned from harsh, heart-breaking experience. She helps others while simultaneously destroying herself with guilt.

    While the Tantabus was addressed, in any other show, it wouldn’t be gone for long. Luna exemplifies the struggles of someone that hasn’t had any closure to her problems, or doesn’t accept the closure that she was given. Sure, the entire Ponyville Nightmare Night celebrated with her, but she no doubt went home to the Tantabus. Sure, she helps ponies achieve her dreams, but what about her own? Has she given up on her dreams ever since Nightmare Moon took away her friends and her home 1000 years ago?

    I believe that Princess Luna is popular because she is the underdog. She’s the Princess that doesn’t get her fair share of attention within the show, but the bronies fill in that attention for her. Whether it be 1000 years ago to now, there’s a fan work that could easily slide right into place alongside her characterization, and it would fit among the canon. There’s the fun of pairing her up with Celestia and having a classic prank-off, to having a serious discussion about her role in society, and whether or not she feels like she doesn’t belong. Her characterization is ambiguous, yet it feels ironclad. She’s a depressed and introverted mare who needs a little more time to come out of her shell, and prefers to hold in her problems until they are too big to handle.

    This ambiguity with her is what drove the fandom’s desire to have another Luna episode after “Luna Eclipsed”. Even with “Sleepless in Ponyville”, it didn’t feel enough. Neither did “Sweetie Belle Toils”. But with “Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep”, I find it safe to say that her characterization is finalized, albeit ambiguous. Our Princess of the Night aims to stay in the background and provide her wisdom while she struggles with her own demons. Is it stubborn to act as such? Probably. But acting otherwise would not be Princess Luna, and we accept her for that. After "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep", Luna will most likely open up to her subjects, and maybe send a letter or two to whoever would listen. Celestia's door is open, and Luna just needs the courage to confront and bring closure to her problems. It all starts with reaching out.

    It’s always possible that Luna’s character could change, either in the upcoming episodes or seasons. I surely hope not, since Luna is one of the most dense characters in the show. Luna carries the weight of someone with depression and perhaps an inferiority complex regarding her sister, and it’s up to the show staff to either embrace it or never bring it up again. Much like Applejack’s parents, the beauty of Luna’s character is within what isn’t said. While I would accept another Luna episode with open arms, I’m perfectly happy with where she is right now. Just give her time, and our Princess of the Night will be smiling and laughing along with us.

    That about sums it up for this editorial. I leave you all with a few questions. Which portrayal of Luna was your favorite? Do you feel that she has all the characterization that she needs? Or is there a part of Luna that needs more clarity, where ambiguity doesn’t cut it? Let me know in the comments. Thank you for reading this editorial, and I’ll see you guys next time.