TL;DR: Hits the spot for show fans.
Score: 1 chrome-plated toaster
Lewis Carroll remarked that, “When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly.” And so it came to pass that I read The Elements of Harmony, the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic official guidebook, on the train one day.
My daughter loves the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (MLP: FIM) series, and reads all the books that have come out for it. Now, I don’t consider myself a full-on Brony, but I do enjoy watching the show with her. This particular guidebook does a great job of appealing to both the older fans and younger ones.
The book works as a standard TV show guide book, listing out the major and minor characters, which episodes the minor ones appear in, beautiful color prints, concept art, and an episode guide (seasons 1-3, the only ones released so far).
It’s the small touches that I really appreciate. For instance, the book is named after the book in the show in episode 101. It’s cover is the same as the one in the show, and the first pages (even before the colophon) have the same story and pictures as the book in the show.
For myself, the better parts of the book were the quotes and thoughts by the staff of the show. These come across as really honest, and not made with the target demographic in mind (young girls). For instance, Mitch Larson, a writer for the show, said, “Playing against type is always fun.” I don’t know many adults who would understand this bit of shop lingo.
I also really enjoyed that the only real-world place discussed in the book was Austin, Texas: “Someone was dressed head to toe in this fuzzy costume in 110-degree heat!” Keepin’ Austin Weird.
The worst part of the whole book comes from the quote by Donna Tobin, the senior director of global brand strategy and marketing at Hasbro. She brings home the idea that, in the end, it’s all still a brand, and a successful way to get an old property lots of money for Hasbro.