My top ten My Little Pony songs

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Alongside anime I’ve always been a huge fan of Western animation, including My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. There are so many things I love about this show but for this post I thought I’d focus on one thing – music. I’m always impressed with the variety of music MLP offers, from soulful ballads, to upbeat numbers, to dramatic duets. Read on to find out my top ten favourites and why I think they’re some of the best…and a great reason to watch this fantastic show.

10. At the Gala

This was the offering for the finale of the first season of My Little Pony. It was the first time we saw MLP doing some really fun things with each pony’s personality in relation to music, and I love the way the mane six’s themes join at the end.

9. Hearts Strong as Horses

“We’re kinda short, but so what? We don’t get defeated/We could take a little break but, we don’t need it”. This song really sums up the Cutie Mark Crusaders perfectly and it’s my favourite of their songs with so much boundless optimism!

8. B.B.B.F.F.

This is a short but sweet introduction to Twilight’s older brother, Shining Armour, with a really nice emotional key change.

7. Battle – Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks

Kazumi Evans adds a feisty edge to Rarity’s vocal style to transform into the captivating villain Adagio Dazzle in this rocky number. It’s a really fun song designed to seduce us into embracing our darker, more selfish side with a strong hook.

6. This Day Aria

Not only is this song a magnificent duet of good versus evil, it makes a meta joke, as it musically uses a “deceptive cadence”, which is a clever reference to the evil Princess Cadence. The theme of a female villain and a wedding feels similar to Disney’s Little Mermaid, in a good way.

5. The Spectacle

My Little Pony proves they can do techno-pop with an effortless Lady Gaga-esque song that I think could easily been a chart-topper if it were released mainstream.

4. The Magic Inside (I Am Just A Pony)

Another musical turn from Lena Hall who casts off her “razzle dazzle” from my favourite song in fifth place, and offers a raw soulful piano ballad with some moving vocals. Just don’t ask how she’s managing to play piano with hooves…

3. What More is Out There – Equestria Girls: The Friendship Games

The entirety of The Friendship Games is one brilliant song after another in my opinion, so it’s tough to pick a winner, but the song that stood out for me is Twilight’s hopeful ode to a new beginning. It starts humbly and builds into something to rival any Disney number of a heroine eager to start their journey. Unlike some of the cutesier MLP numbers it asks bigger questions that anyone could relate to – “Will I find what I’m looking for if I just do it on my own?”

2. The Midnight in Me – Equestria Girls: Legend of Everfree

I could sing this ballad all day. It’s a shame that Daniel Ingram’s full length version didn’t make it to the film, but this one minute and thirty seconds packs a punch, and is a pretty powerful metaphor for depression at that…

1. Pinkie Pie’s Smile Song (Come on Everypony Smile, Smile, Smile)

My number one has to be Pinkie Pie’s Smile Song! This is the first song I heard that I felt sounded like it could be a full song in its own right outside the context of the show, and it really cemented Pinkie Pie as my favourite character by so brilliantly encapsulating what a huge heart she has. I challenge you to watch it and not, well, smile!

There are so many other My Little Pony songs I love that I couldn’t fit on here. Which ones do you love? Leave a comment below and let me know!

 

March Comes in Like a Lion

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As a young boy, Rei’s world is torn apart when his family are killed in a car accident. There’s hope for a new family when a kindly man takes him in and the two bond over shogi, much to his own children’s jealousy. Flash forward and Rei is on the cusp of adulthood, living alone in an apartment funded by his shogi game wins. Still lost in loneliness and grief, he is surrounded by new friends who gently support him.

For me, one of anime’s outstanding qualities is its ability to capture the subtle but important nuances of emotion and March Comes in Like a Lion does this wonderfully. An example – when Rei meets three sisters, Akari, Hinata and Momo Kawamoto who frequently invite him over to their home for dinner, Rei’s own inner monologue reflects the home he finds there. At one point he describes holding some warm leftovers as he walks home as being like a small animal that warms his heart and it’s painfully clear how starved of love and kindness he has felt up to that point. This anime is full of poetic monologues in that vein that really show how mature and sensitive Rei is in spite of his reserved outward personality.

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Rei’s inner monologues are poetic and often heartrending

Visually, the anime is much less subtle. Rei lives in hues of black and grey, and many of his flashbacks and monologues are cast in a strong monochromatic style. In contrast, the Kawamoto house is filled with warm orange tones and the love and affection the girls show to Rei shines off the screen as he appreciatively sits down to delicious homemade meals with them. Rei himself can be a quiet and introspective young man for a lot of the time so the intense visuals work really well to communicate his thoughts and feelings about the world around him.

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Rei’s apartment is stark and bare
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The Kawamoto house is filled with life and love

Rei himself is a fascinating character, and I was pleased that March Comes in Like a Lion also extends this complexity to other characters. For example, Harunobu, Rei’s longtime shogi rival, is shown to be a chronically ill man who finds it frustrating to continuously lose to Rei. All the same we see him supporting Rei in his shogi games. He could have been reduced to a plot device or one dimensional character, but he never blames his losses on his illness, and is never shown as someone to be pitied but rather as a kind and good person with a positive outlook on life and a drive to better himself.

I was impressed with the realism the show devotes to shogi as well. As well as describing moves and strategies, we see Rei playing in real time, sometimes at least five minutes of an episode patiently displaying the silent, paced methodology of a real match as if it were being filmed. The show also accounts for viewers who aren’t familiar with shogi, and an episode early on explains the how to play the game with a cute and silly cat animation which reappears later on during the occasional match.

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The pacing and detail shown in shogi matches offers a nice realism

I’d forgive you for getting impatient with this anime. It starts off promising, then gets a bit wacky with a very disjointed mood change, and overall takes a while to provide some of the emotional backstory you might want to feel invested. Do stick with it, you’ll find some very rewarding scenes that tackle depression, loss and the contrasting rigidities of honour in competition versus honour in Japanese family. If you’re a seasoned anime viewer and looking for something to invest in that will reward you over time, this is a great choice.

March Comes In Like a Lion is now available on Crunchyroll. The original manga by Chica Umino can be read online here.