• Editorial: Is "My Little Pony: Tell Your Tale" Just Another Wacky "Pony Life" Series?

    As of this morning, we finally have a grand reveal for 2D side series that will join our 3D specials and show later in the year. This one has had mixed reactions from the fandom compared to the actual movie which was largely loved. How do you think it will be received?

    Many are comparing My Little Pony: Tell Your Tale to Pony Life. As someone who did watch the entirety of that hyper little bridge series, it definitely wasn't as awful as a lot of people made it out to be, but it also didn't have a whole lot of substance. Here in EQD land, we saw very little interest for it once it started airing, and weekly episode posts were basically ignored. Overall it was pretty obvious that at least from our side of the fandom, Pony Life was kind of a dud.

    Will "Tell Your Tale" follow a similar trend? From what little we know about it and based on the 30 second teaser, it seems to be running on the same super-speedy slapstick humor style that Pony Life did, with a less chibi but still close art style. They both share the shorts format too, with Pony Life typically packing 2-3 little stories in each episode, while "Tell Your Tale" will be weekly 5ish minute bits for the next year. Can that keep people's interest is the question!

    Anyway, this turned into an editorial rather than just a discussion, so continue below!

    Personally I think the art style alone is a huge missed opportunity. If they really wanted to WOW us, they could have adopted G4's 2D style and brought on a whole boatload of nostalgia while simultaneously marketing us some new characters. There is a reason why Friendship is Magic did so ridiculously well, and in my opinion that super aesthetically pleasing design was one of it's biggest draws. This means it needs to shine with the writing, which seems like a huge challenge when they are running off the shorts format. I know this will be controversial, but I didn't watch cartoons like Gravity Falls or Rick and Morty for the appealing look of the characters (though the backgrounds were top notch in GF), I watched it for the story. G4 for me was the opposite. I was glued to the character art, including their expressions and interactions with one another first, with overall narrative being much less important. You can only make friendship lessons so interesting in an era where every TV series in media has a super complex multi-layered story-line, but pony delivered an adorable style with cute characters doing cute things and this satisfied the side of my brain that didn't need anything complex.

    That's the big problem I had with Pony Life. Its style really wasn't something we'd ever see the internet adopt as a format to create from. While G4 spawned an entire OC pony craze and thousands of artists all taking that base model and spinning it off into their own unique styles, Pony Life's design just felt like your usual late-2010's early 2020's cartoon with it's hyper-over-the-top faces and overall lack of any kind of boundaries when it comes to animating the characters.

    Compound that with the internet and it's love of the meme. This is something that absolutely skyrocketed Friendship is Magic's popularity. Having an aesthetically pleasing style made it one of the most screen-cappable cartoons out there for a while. You couldn't go three clicks on the nerdy side of the internet without seeing someone rocking a pony avatar or dropping an image macro off. This really came down to the way the characters looked. Friendship is Magic is a cartoon, and cartoons as a whole exaggerate the features of their characters, but G4 still somehow managed to make them look normal despite their giant anime eyes and cartoon physics. This isn't the feel I'm getting out of Tell Your Tale. While FiM ponies had their super exaggerated expressions and Pinkie in particular brought on some absolutely ridiculous poses and movements, that wasn't the default state. Most of the time, ponies were very down-to-earth and not wacky looking. In most cases, they portrayed their emotions while not looking cartoony ridiculous.

    Things got a little crazy as G4 got older

    This is even something people complained about quite a bit in later seasons of Friendship is Magic. As the show got older, we saw more and more ridiculously over-the-top expressions creep in and become the norm. They were always there of course, and a lot of times we even enjoyed them just because they were so rare and memey, but once the show started slamming us with entire episodes of Rarity or Twilight making crazy faces it does get a little overwhelming. And for Pony Life at least, this seemed almost the default. If a Pony Life pony was going to express something, it was a jaw-breaking cartoon maximum rather than just a simple response that got the point across.

    At the end of the day, it will always be personal preference so don't take my wording as any kind of law. I just personally think having a more down-to-earth style is much more relatable than these super hyper ones we see now in animation, which is what we appear to be getting in Tell Your Tale. Fortunately we still have a ton of regular G5 content in the pipeline, and I know I'm already addicted to the adorable expressions Sunny and Izzy make with their wonderful 3D Models! Compare the Sunny up above to the Sunny in Tell Your Tale's clip, and you get what I mean. She's adorable, her expression is believable, and you completely understand how excited she is. It's something FiM did amazing well early on, and something I think cartoons should consider adopting more of. It doesn't always need to look wacky just because it's "animated" and "for kids".  G4 proved that.