'My Little Pony': Up to Speed?
Giddyup! My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic — yes, technically there's no colon — follows the adventure of Twilight Sparkle and her five best pals, a group of ponies who live in the mystical land of Equestria. Each member of the Mane Six has a special place in pony society, as well as a unique ''cutie mark'' on her flank that gives a hint about her personality. All six also represent different aspects of friendship, which manifest in the Elements of Harmony — a half-dozen artifacts that can be used to destroy fearsome foes.
Studious Twilight is MLP's protagonist, a unicorn pony with a thirst for knowledge and a quest to discover the power of friendship. She's learning magic from the powerful, wise Princess Celestia — and will discover in this season's finale that her studies have progressed so far that she's earned a pair of wings and the title of Princess. Twilight represents the Element of Magic, a crown with a star-shaped gem.
Athletic, bold Rainbow Dash is a Pegasus pony, which means she has wings and the ability to manipulate the weather. She loves to race and aspires to join the Wonderbolts, an aerial acrobatic squad. Rainbow Dash represents the Element of Loyalty, a red thunderbolt gem.
Beautiful, stylish Rarity is a unicorn and a talented fashion designer. (Yes, ponies sometimes wear clothes.) While she may seem vain or entitled at first, her friends know her to be truly giving and gracious. Rarity represents the Element of Generosity, a purple diamond.
Sensible, down-home, southern-accented Applejack is an Earth Pony, the only type of pony who can grow food. Naturally, she's also a gifted farmer who's totally devoted to her family's bustling business, Sweet Apple Acres. Applejack represents the Element of Honesty, an orange fruit-shaped gem.
As her name implies, Fluttershy is the most bashful pony around — but also the most gentle, graceful, and compassionate. She has a special connection with the forest animals who flock to her secluded cottage in a meadow. Fluttershy represents the Element of Kindness, a pink butterfly gem.
Playful, impulsive Pinkie Pie is the class clown of the group, a pony bursting with optimism who loves goofy jokes and general silliness more than anything. Her full name is Pinkamena Diane Pie. She represents the Element of Laughter, a blue balloon-shaped gem.
Twilight's sidekick — and first friend — is a lovable baby dragon named Spike who serves as the aspiring magician's assistant. He's got the ability to deliver letters to and from Princess Celestia using his magical fire-breath, and has a big crush on Rarity.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders
Applejack's little sister Apple Bloom and two of her best friends, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, form a club called the Cutie Mark Crusaders. These fillies are eager to receive their cutie marks, which will reveal their destinies.
Princess Celestia and Princess Luna
Princesses Luna and Celestia are in charge of raising the moon and the sun, respectively, in Equestria. Both are alicorns, or unicorns with wings, as are all princesses. Celestia is Twilight's mentor, the pony who originally tasked her pupil with learning about friendship; Luna used to be a villain known as Nightmare Moon, but was saved by Twilight, her friends, and the Elements of Harmony in MLP's series premiere.
Of course, there are other villains that occasionally threaten Ponyville — like Trixie (on the right), a traveling magician unicorn whose boastfulness stands in sharp contrast to Twilight's own behavior. She has twice been defeated by her magical rival. (Also pictured here: Zecora, a friendly zebra who speaks in rhyme and knows the secret to curing magical ailments.)
Discord is the spirit of disharmony personified — if you can say that about a beast who's a mish-mash of deer, goat, snake, lion, bird, bat, and dragon. (Technically, he's a creature known as a Draconequus). Adults may be tickled to learn that he's voiced by John de Lancie, best known for playing Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Finally, there's Queen Chrysalis, ruler of the Changelings — and the primary antagonist of last season's Royal Wedding episodes. Twilight and her friends managed to defeat the queen once... but who knows how long their victory will last?