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Reboots: Why They Happen and the Results

Updated on December 21, 2014
Started from the bottom...
Started from the bottom...
... Now we're here.
... Now we're here.

The concept of reboots

When certain forms of entertainment become old or enough people become disinterested, they get cancelled. In this case My Little Pony was an old franchise that made its first animated movie in 1984 and its first cartoon series in 1992. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a new cartoon that began in 2010 and is still going on today. As a cartoon the My Little Pony franchise got rebooted because the values back then have changed compared to today's values and to reflect that change certain aspects of the show had to change as well. Visually this could mean the art style or how the cartoon is animated. Morally a reboot also gets to change character's personalities and how they interact with other characters.

Changing Art Styles

The thing about animated reboots is that inevitably there will be changes in the art style. It's not that the original art style was bad, it's just that when a significant amount of time has passed, inevitably new ideas will pop-out and people will use those ideas if they were better than the first version. In the case of the My Little Pony franchise the idea that changed how the new art style involved vast improvements towards digital animation. In the first incarnation to My Little Pony's animated incarnation the art style involved hand-drawn effects. Basically everything in the original cartoon was created by hand and because televisions back then did not have the capabilities of today's high-definition televisions the quality looks different.

Original Opening

With advancement is digital animation not only does animation quality improve, animators now have the opportunity to do things that their predecessors were incapable of doing. With the advancement of digital animation characters can now move more vibrantly compared to older cartoons. Granted the My Little Pony franchise saw this improvement in their animation due to an increased budget after an extended period of time and the higher-ups at Hasbro attempting to make this product appeal highly to their target demographic, but it is still amazing to compare what improved graphics and an increased budget can affect a cartoon.

Current Opening

Here we see that the 2010 incarnation of My Little Pony is a lot more vibrant in animation compare to the 1984 incarnation. In one case the 1984's opening came from the pilot episode, which was a movie. Yes that already meant that a significant amount of money was used, but compared to the 2010 cartoon, there is an increased amount of movement and special effects. As a result the opening goes from being barely animated with only a few characters with an underwhelming quality into an opening where the content is filled with action and the viewer gets the sense that the show will be filled with characters, all animated in high-definition.

Original villain.
Original villain.

Changing Plot

Even if a show is meant to be a reboot, it still has to make a plot that makes people want to see its characters beyond just the pilot movie/episode. For this franchise making the pilot about defeating a villain is the main goal. In the pilot movie of My Little Pony we had Tirek. In the pilot movie Tirek terrorizes the ponies in their home in an attempt to create a world of eternal night. Due to differing perspectives in writing compared to modern points of view Tirek is portrayed as a pure villain who has to be destroyed. In the end he gets destroyed and everything is turned back to normal.

Reboot villain
Reboot villain
Redeemed villain
Redeemed villain
Redeemed villain's reappearance
Redeemed villain's reappearance

In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic the villain has a slightly different story. Here an equine princess named Nightmare Moon tried to cause eternal night. That difference here was that Nightmare Moon has a more sympathetic reason compared to Tirek. In Friendship is Magic's canon Nightmare Moon has a Sister named Celestia, who controlled the cycle of the Sun while she controlled the cycle of the Moon.Unfortunately most ponies were asleep when Nightmare Moon did her duties so she was not as revered as Celestia's when she did hers so this caused some jealousy in her. This eventually lead to a fight and Nightmare Moon's banishment and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic's pilot episode begins with Nightmare Moon attempting to get her revenge by causing eternal night. Of course Nightmare Moon gets defeated, but rather than get destroyed, she gets reverted to a more docile Princess Luna.

One of the more interesting aspects about reboots is that new material does not have to follow the exact same plots as original material. With the recent trend of portraying antagonists as somewhat sympathetic, rather than destroy Princess Luna and labeling her a complete villain, Hasbro introduces a more tragic villain to their new cast of characters with an arguably more interesting background. This also allows Princess Luna to seek redemption, which she does.

Alternate Interpretation

A lot can happen in a few decades. Morals change, what is considered right and wrong can change, and showing whether or not a negative act was justified can change. For television shows this can mean introducing different ideas or interpretations towards characters that were not present in previous material. One character from the previous series that underwent a change due to the reboot is Applejack. Originally characterized as a "silly pony", Applejack goes from comic relief to a more responsible character. One major aspect that changed between My Little Pony and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is the stance on some morals. In one Friendship is Magic episode Leaf of Faith Applejack confronts the idea that lying can be good because if people are actually happier because of the lie, why tell the truth? While the original My Little Pony would have taken the black-and-white moral and said that all lying is bad, Friendship is Magic takes a more unbiased perspective and shows that while lying to help someone is not completely bad, ultimately the lie will still negative consequences. Not many shows from the 80's-90's would point this out so fairly.

Conclusion

Reboots are interesting because they allow the creative ability to show and do things that previous material was incapable of doing. Whether that reason was different resources, different morals, or different portrayals of characters just means that a new shows can either change or adjust its canon to fit ideas the creators want to create. The My Little Pony franchise succeeds in making its reboot popular because not only does it acknowledge its source material, it finds new and creative ways to adapt its characters to suit whatever changes define good programming. This includes ideas like using new animation techniques, redeeming seemingly obvious villains, or using looking at problems from different perspectives.

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