One of the most polarizing topics of 2016 has been the introduction of Starlight Glimmer joining the mane cast. Usually when a villain is redeemed, they get booted to the side and called upon when they need a plot involving whatever their special talents are. That's not the case this time around.
Starlight has had a massive impact on season six, absorbing more episodes than even some of the mane cast are getting. She has completely replaced Twilight in magic specific stories, and for those that aren't worried about spoilers, this.
Is this good or bad? Is she a valuable asset to improve the show, or something taking it down? The fandom is at odds on this one. We dive in to both sides below!
Season 6 Has Replaced The "Arc" With Starlight
We've had three seasons with major overarching storylines now.. It started subtle with Twilight's growth in the third, followed by a huge push via the Tree of Harmony in the fourth, and finally introducing the Cutie Map from the fifth. It's something we've grown pretty used to over the past few years, and something radically changed with the sixth. Instead, we got a new main character in Starlight Glimmer with a chunk of episodes dedicated to growing her.
While major situations of change have happened for the rest of the ponies, the "arc" if you can call it that has largely been focused on Twilight training Glim. Whether the idea was to grow Twilight more or shift her old burden over to a new target, a rift has formed in Bronyland because of it. If you don't like her, you probably aren't going to be thrilled with the many episodes dedicated to that storyline. Lets dive into those two sides of the fandom! Luckily we have that rift right here on EQD staff!
The Argument FOR Starlight Glimmer!
I absolutely love Starlight as I explained in my episode followup of "Every Little thing She Does". I think she's the perfect replacement for the void Twilight left when she shifted over to princess duties. I missed the experimental, anti-social magic lover. Ms, Friendship has a completely different form of character progression now, and us oldschool Twilight fans felt like something left the show in a rush when it happened.
I don't know if it was intentional and something discussed over at DHX, but Starlight fills Twilight's original role perfectly. She's clueless when it comes to friendship, absolutely loves magic and experimenting with it, has a snarky and excitable personality, and even takes it a bit further with some chaotic carelessness thrown in; all features of oldschool Twilight that a lot of us fell in love with. Her progression is almost anime-like, and as someone who watches way too much of those "ever increasing POWER" shows, it's exciting to think of where she might go.
For a weird, quirky bonus, Starlight appears to have an element of sociopathy that really doesn't happen much in "good" characters for kids TV. The way she reacted after Twilight cleaned up her mess in "Every Little thing" was kind of the final straw to labeling her with at least some form of the trait. Until both Spike and Twilight yelled at her about it, Starlight was seemingly oblivious to the fact that mind controlling her friends was terrible, and only showed interested in improving the spell. It took a kick in the flank to get her out there apologizing. That's such a different character dynamic than we are used to in pony, where everyone usually learns a lesson immediately. Starry is a lot more complex, and while not a total sociopath, she has the type of tendencies that make her unique.
Overall, she's just refreshing. After six years of the mane six, I am more than alright to open up the cast to somepony new, and this chaotic, slightly more extreme version of pre-alicorn Twilight is something I and many others are more than welcome to. I absolutely love high powered, magic oriented characters, and seeing bookhorse flying around solving ridiculous friendship problems instead pushing the boundaries of the arcane was always something that bothered me. In some ways it's probably just me wanting to see the show evolve past simple plots to teach morals at kids. We've seen them stretch the writing muscle before, but it rarely happens.
This is why Starlight has so much potential. She has the skill and go-getter personality to take the original path Twilight was on. I loved the idea of our book focused nerdy pony becoming the new Starswirl as Castle Archmage; eventually becoming an alicorn through her incredible magical prowess, grand adventures, and supportive friendships earned across Equestria. It was something hinted at heavily in leaked show bible and Lauren Faust's distaste of Twilacorn and back during season 3. She was rushed to princesshood in a time frame and situation that didn't feel like it did justice to the character. It was disappointing seeing her pop wings out so early without all of that potentially awesome buildup.
Glim can bring it back. The idea of episodes revolving around traveling Equestria seeking powerful ancient relics as opposed to solving family feuds and rebuilding theaters sounds exciting to me. Slice of Life is great, and we of course need plenty of those, but a dedicated adventure and proguress pony would be a boon. An episode or two dedicated to Starlight the Unbearded delving into ancient Unicorn cities and ruins to further Equestria's understanding of magic would be far-fetched with the current trends, but incredibly cool if it did happen. Think of the world building!
The Argument AGAINST Starlight Glimmer!
(Calpain Note - This isn't my commentary, I did not write this. It was compiled from a list of common complaints in comments and some of my own feels. As Seth mentions after this section there is an article coming where I got my thoughts and feelings on this. Before this article was published I had notes expanding on these topics but they were moved to another article because Seth believed it would make it too long. Some points I might agree with in the basic form Seth has here but not all of them, they don't represent all of my thoughts or how I came to my own conclusions )
There is something to say about how quickly she was redeemed after almost destroying not only the world, but space and time. The level of blind hatred one needs to do something like that isn't easily forgotten. Immediately joining the mane 6 after that is weird, even if her foalhood story was depressing. Maybe if there was a hinted element of Twilight needing to keep an eye on her based on how powerful she is, but that trope isn't really explored if it actually is happening.
Speaking of power, the other argument is just that; Glimmer's crazy progression curve and little explanation for it. Back during the season five opener, Twilight completely outclassed her in every possible magical way. Her primary explosive barrier spell was something she noted practicing for a huge amount of time, only to see it mimicked by bookhorse almost immediately. She was obviously far below on the power scale, yet over the course of a season she climbed right up to rival her, and if the last episode is any indication, possibly surpassed her.
(If you are a shonen anime nerd like me, this barrier progress was AWESOME)
It would have been nice to see some kind of "bridge" that showed how she went from relatively weak, to almost surpassing her Celestia-trained mentor. Incredible talent is one thing, but the barrier spells mentioned above have gone from a small shield and explosion to an impenetrable block followed by a castle-shaking explosion, and her "new" spells are surprising everypony. People like me can't get enough of this, but if someone isn't a fan of her, seeing a random unicorn become an equal to Twilight after such a vast original gap in power rubs them the wrong way.
She's also scooping up episodes from the other main characters. We only get 26 a season, and a lot of Twilight's effort has gone from dedicated princessy stories, to revolving around Glimmer. She has completely absorbed the role as the main magic pony. We often see people complain that there are "too many Rarity episodes!" or "not enough Applejack episodes!". Starlight has played a major role in four, with three completely focused on her growth, and more coming up. That's a lot of episodes not starring the mane 6, CMC, or Spike in a show most people expect them to dominate.
Another good point is that Starlight was just a really good villain. This show loves redeeming everyone, but having Evil Glim play the role of an antisocial magical arch-rival to Twilight had a lot of potential in itself. Shifting her from wrecking timelines to being buddies with the mane 6 is something that can't really be explored very well in the limited amount of time we get each season. So far this has largely been done with short montages of her getting along with everypony, but that isn't nearly enough to convince a lot of people that she is a valuable character.
On my end, I still am not sure how she is even friends with some of the mane 6 with how she seems to clash with everything a few believe in. Applejack for example makes zero sense. Anti-magic and traditional vs. 100% magic and "fastest method possible" don't really work well together. We've seen Glim force Big Mac to Talk, and show off an obviously bored expression at listening to Applejack's stories. Applejack found common ground with Twilight through a shared interest in tradition, but Starlight is completely different there. It's almost a forced aspect of her character to be besties with all the mane 6, and again, only really shown in montages.
Feel free to add your 2 cents on why you dislike her if you do! I know I didn't hit everything.
My counterpart here on EQD, Calpain, really isn't a fan of her, and he has some great reasons for it. Expect a followup on this from him tomorrow.
So Which Is It? Good or Bad?
Being completely objective from statistics and comment drama here on EQD, you could probably argue that she is a bad addition simply by looking at the ratio of how many like her vs. how many minutes of the season she took up. Every news post involving Starlight turns into a war when when, be it an announcement for her upcoming episode or a followup talking about one. While it's obviously skewed due to a lot of us getting used to Twilight's transformation over the years, More people wanted her gone than Twilacorn in the poll we ran a few weeks ago.
That being said, I personally think if she continues past season 6 that she will grow on people just like Twilight did. The huge amount of potential she has for something greas, and the need for something new to break up the monotony of the same ponies we have had for over a hundred episodes can't really be ignored. Not a lot of shows last as long as pony has without at least some major shift in the main cast. It's great to have the familiar, but sometimes new blood makes things fun again.
Glimmy is against one of the most critical and vocal fan bases on the internet. Everything about this show is analyzed to death. Her initial redemption probably could have been done better, but I think we still just need to give her a chance. Back during the start of the season, I ran a poll asking if people liked the fact that she was playing such a prominent role this time, and quite a few people weren't too thrilled with her yet. It will be interesting to do this poll again at the end and find out how perception of her has evolved. It took people a long time to get used to Twilacorn. If Starlight is sticking around for future seasons, I'm sure, or at least hoping it will be the same process with her.
tl;dr Starlight Glimmer looks good in socks.