My Little Pony: Winter Wishday (2022)

Here we are, back in Equestria for the holidays again, but not the same holiday we knew from Friendship Is Magic. This special is from a series of follow-ups to the 2021 movie that rebooted the My Little Pony continuity with a huge time jump (MLP: A New Generation). I saw that movie, and I remember it being enjoyable enough, if not amazing.

All you need to know about this new special is that it's not terrible, but it's so bland that it's just sort of a time waster for kids. 

Ok, all you need to know to follow the plot of the new special is that in the movie a group of young ponies met and became friends: earnest earth pony Sunny, ditzy artsy unicorn Izzy, neurotic rule-following earth pony Hitch, and the princess pegasus sisters Pipp (bubbly pop star) and Zipp (sardonic tomboy). They ended up working together to restore lost magic to Equestria. By the time of the special, people are still figuring out what that means. 

The ponies have been living together in Sunny's lighthouse and investigating the new magic effects. Sunny makes plans for them to all celebrate Winter Wishday together by watching the wishing star and opening gifts, but it turns out everyone has their own different traditions they want to observe. 

Disappointed but undaunted, Sunny plans out a schedule so they can all attend each holiday event together. Izzy and Zipp have conveniently been building a flying car, and, even more conveniently, it magically becomes an effective and high-tech flying van (that you can order now in shiny plastic form). 

So first thing in the morning they pile into the new van and take off through the snow for Hitch's grandmare's house. (Snow is unusual in the coastal town they live in... Note foreshadowing!) There's a weird song here while they travel; they say that they all know different verses/versions of the same song, but then what comes out doesn't reflect that idea at all. If done competently, it could have been a nice way to show different traditions fitting together unexpectedly, but it doesn't work. That kind of set up and lack of pay off characterizes the whole special, unfortunately. 

At Grandma's house, the ponies drink cocoa and make gingerbread houses. Hitch keeps telling his friends that his grandma wants everything to be just the way it's always been, but they quickly discover the only one obsessed with recreating his childhood Wishday is Hitch. But no time to address that or even mention it after one quick joke, we're off to the unicorn town, Bridlewood. 

It's unusually cold here, too, so Izzy grabs everyone some scarves and they say hi to other unicorns attending the Wishiehoof festival with their traditional seasonal greeting "frosty shivers". (One of these unicorns is a beat poet, which at least makes for a minute of amusement.) Izzy gets to place her special ornament on the wishing tree and see the crystal lighting, then they have to race off to the pegasus city. 

After a close call in the worsening weather, they land in Zephyr Heights. Pipp and Zipp shop and check out store window displays with their mom for a few minutes, then perform in a traditional (and lengthy) Wishentime concert. 

At this point, the snow is really bad, and they worry about getting home safely. Zipp suddenly realizes, based on her observations and a book of old stories she read earlier, that the unicorns, unused to having magic, may be unintentionally casting spells by saying "frosty shivers" and causing the blizzard.  They rush back to Bridlewood to warm the unicorns and convince them to adopt "Warm Wishiehoof" as a greeting instead. On cue, the weather returns to normal, and the pony friends have just enough time to return home to see the wishing star. 

They didn't have time to buy each other gifts, but spending time together is the best gift or something... the end. 

It's not terrible. The voice acting and animation is fine, but the writing is just... bland. There's no tension between the characters. No resentment that they're being dragged all over, some mild stress that they won't make it to the next thing, but nothing actually tense. The reason for the storm is silly and easily resolved. There's not even a moral here: it's just stuff that happens.

The different names for the holiday aren't remarked upon, and all the various traditions are all similar enough, and all Christmassy enough, that there doesn't seem to be any reason that they're different. There are a few cute jokes, but that's not enough to make this worth seeking out.

I was hoping for a good fantasy holiday special, but this was overall disappointing.