• Let's Review: Little Fillies #1

    It's time to talk about the classics as the Mane Six return to take on new roles. How true is this stories to the classical piece of American literature?

    Check out the full review with some spoilers after the break!


    Written between 1868 and 1869 by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women is a coming-of-age tale; somewhat like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Thus we witness characters we know acting out roles that may be unfamiliar. In this way, it becomes a question of how well the ponies fit the role and how well this adaptation holds to its original.


    Morals conveyed in a story?

    The art is going to be one of the most questioned aspects. Jenna Ayoub has a 7-year career in comics as both a cover and full comic illustrator with one writting role in Forever Home. This appears to be her first foray into the Pony fandom and she is leaning very heavily into the two-dimensional aspect. Much of this perception comes from the ponies' muzzles. They're much larger than in the show and tend to connect to the neck line with no jaw line indication. I woudl chalk this up to inexperience with the pony model and an attempt to match Flash Animation's style, if not for Discord.


    I can't even imagine the family dinners.
    Or the grandparents.

    Discord appears as several roles: the March's rich aunt, a waiter, and a background appearance as a party socialite in a dress. Ayoub draws him with a greater freedom, giving the impression of a more 3D character. Given that Discord has many pony-like elements in his face, I couldn't dismiss this as simply being another species. It's more like he's not cooperating with the story. To that end, I searched online for examples of early illustrations that accompanied this story and found this:


    Hard to know if this art style is an homage or not.

    Though lack of familarity with a new story is always a factor with artists, I think Ayoub is trying to emulate the illustrator style of when this story first published. That might also explain why the characters do not feature the standard pupil look, which I find adds an oddness to their expressions. At the same time, I don't have a problem understanding their moods just by the visuals and the story is not lacking for action.

    Fan fiction. Older than the internet!

    This issue coves the first five chapters, with a prominent feature on Rainbow Dash/Jo March. Also like My Little Pony Louisa May Alcott featured a story with four distinct female leads to show the variety of ways a young women might express herself. Dash/Jo is a tomboy character who also holds a passion for writing. She is outspoken, quick to anger, and rejects 19th century standards of femininity; even by wearing a burnt dress to a social. Yet Jo is also devoted to keeping the family together, displaying the loyalty that Rainbow Dash embodies.


    I do wish we had a character who loved writing.
    Think of all the "what if" episodes one could create!

    The eldest sister, Meg March, is portrayed by Twilight Sparkle. Meg is more traditional in her approach, strguggle with a weakness for luxury and money. She is well educated but tends to alter herself to please other people. She's big on etiquette will even go so far as to provide her sisters with visual cues at parties to coach them through events.


    Hi Starswirl! Nice to see you're not screwing things up here too!

    Fluttershy plays Beth March. The third youngest, she is very shy an quiet while being a people-pleaser. She's resentful of housework but emulates Jo in her efforts to keep the family together. Beth is often compared to the classical heroines of 19th Century novels such as Dickens. She is borderline angelic, and much too frail for the demanding world Alcott envisions.


    Sonic the Hedgehog could break the fourth wall on the first page.

    Being the youngest of the sisters would likely please Rarity to no end. As Amy March, she is an artistic beauty who is also very artistic and skilled at manipulation. She embraces the standards of femininity and acts as a continual foil to Jo. Much like Rarity, she expresses her love for others in the form of gifts and her flaws are just apparent enough to be relatable to the audience without villainizing her.


    No matter the universe, Rarity's got the bling!

    A friend of mine describes the March parents as the hippies of their time. Formally rich, they put a great deal of effort into caring for the poor and encouraging their children to grow up being present in the moment and appreciating the simple things. If you find it a bit jarring that these parents are represented by Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich, don't worry. The comic will point this out for you. There's a tremendous level of 4th wall humor throughout this story.


    A story within story.
    4th wall within 4th wall!

    Mr. March spends this part of the story serving as a Union chaplain in the Civil War. Given that we can't have such violence in a children's comic, the situation is modified to a war between Caninia and Abyssinia, with frisbees and laser pointers being the weapons of choice. It's absurdist yet it helps set the stage for Christmas as the girls must figure out what to do with no presents and wanting to express their love for Pinkie Pie/Marmee. A very big part of this introduction is to show us that none of these girls can be truly satisfied with the era's standards and want to break the mold.


    A few ear tickles might pacify both sides!

    It's in this season that Meg manages to get invited to a social and drags Jo along. We can empathize with Meg as Jo damages her hair, forcing her to wear a wig and provide cover during the party. We might not agree with Meg's rigidity, but it's clear this is something important to her and Jo's not helping. Yet we also empathize with Jo, forced into a situation that demands the very sort of behavior she rejects.

    I could see sisters having this argument.

    It's in this setting that we meet the last of the recast Mane Six. It's also the one time I think the casting doesn't work.

    That's his/her name.
    Don't wear it out!

    Laurie Laurence is Jo's counterpart in many ways. Like Jo, he has chosen an androgynous nickname and rejects much of the current era's standards. He prefers music; an interest reserved for women back then. Casting Jo as Applejack muddies the waters as she's shown being adventurous, strong, and daring. In this way, she is defying feminine standards but is also playing right into masculine values, thus undermining the original character. Given that Laurie will serve as a romantic interest for Jo, it seems like Applejack took on this role based on their implied relationship in the series finale.


    Quarry Eels got a downgrade.

    I think Sunburst would have made a better Laurie as he could display the character's rejection of societal norms much better. Yet then I would not know how to cast Applejack and she is one pony who should not be ignored.

    You're never ready to be shipped.

    The core aspect here is that Jo is uncertain about how to define her future. In time she will have romantic feelings for Laurie, but doesnt' want to become the classic housewife. Her goal is to become a writer and leave the confines of their home. Laurie is simultaneously a welcome relation and an obstacle. I'll be curious to see how these events (plus some of the darker plot points) are handled.


    One of these four is supposed to die in the book.
    How will they handle that?

    If there's anything that this first issue drives home, it's how much of My Little Pony walks in step with the idea of Little Women. A diverse female cast with strengths and flaws that make them relatable. Each character has certain goals for the series. The world itself provides opportunities and obstacles and we enjoy seeing how the heroines might overcome each. I have only a limited understanding of Little Women but my curiosity is piqued. I think that's the comic's true goal.


    Here's hoping the future is more detailed than that landscape.

    Now what do you all think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

    Yep, that fits for a Pinkie Pie household.

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