Smallest Animal Supply Boutique

So, just last week, we saw the season finale of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. A show that has had more ups and downs than a possessed elevator.

The show shocked me to no end when I first saw it. It’s a program about magical technicolour horses, and is directed and marketed toward eight year old girls. Yet, even a grown man as cynical as myself can enjoy it. The well-developed characters and compelling plot lines had me coming back every week.

Of course people can argue why the show has such a following. But in the end it’s very difficult to come up with a singular reason. I just love the show, I can’t really explain why. There are times I love it because of the visual gags that remind me of the classic Looney Tunes I used to watch as a kid. There are times I love it because a character manages to prove exactly how awesome she is, sometimes at the eleventh hour, when it matters the most. There are the intense and dramatic plot lines. There are the compelling characters. There is the clean visual style. To pick just one reason would be next to impossible, and in the end it doesn’t matter. The show’s entertaining, and that’s all there is to it.

I got into the series in spite of my preconceived notions, and I’m glad I did. But of course the question remains: Can I bypass my preconceived notions again? Can I allow myself the opportunity to enjoy another show that I otherwise would not have given the time of day? Can I enjoy another thinly veiled toy-marketing program directed at eight-year-old girls? Or is this something that I’ll only allow from My Little Pony?

Well, the answer to that is, ‘yes,’ ‘yes,’ ‘yes,’ and ‘no.’ I can bypass my preconceived notions, and earlier this week, I did. For you see there’s another Hasbro property that’s been recently rebooted in cartoon form. Not about magical ponies, but a random assortment of animals. Allow me to tell you about the new series of Littlest Pet Shop.

Littlest Pet Shop

Oh, and just a quick preview: It’s good.

I guess I can’t be too surprised. Most of the credit on My Little Pony goes to the writing staff, and it just so happens a few of them happened to cross over. It’s also animated by DHX Vancouver, the same guys who do MLP.

Yes, once again, it’s directed toward little girls, and the toys it markets actually happen to be right next to the ponies in the toy isle. But why would I let that stop me!?

Our main character is Blythe Baxter. A young teenage girl who is plucked from suburbia to live in Downtown City, because apparently only so many shows are allowed to take place in New York.

She’s raised solely by her father, Roger, a recently promoted and highly eccentric airline pilot. His promotion necessitated their move to Downtown City; which makes little sense, since I’m pretty sure there are no airports in any densely packed metropolis. You see, in those cities, airports tend to be a very bad idea since there tend to be large buildings that planes can crash into. I remember that screwed me over quite a bit once when I was playing SimCity 2000. Turns out you shouldn’t put a dense commercial district in front of an airport runway.

Anyway, Blythe’s new home is at the top floor of a building which has a simple store front on ground level. And oddly enough, the store can be accessed quite easily through the dumbwaiter in her bedroom.

This is the titular ‘Littlest Pet Shop’ owned by Mrs. Twombly, a sweet grey-haired old lady with enough optimism to put Pinkie Pie to shame. She’s also highly eccentric.

Making up the rest of our supporting cast, we have Blythe’s trio of best friends: Jasper, Sue and Youngmee; and the stereotypical mean girls of her school: Whittany and Brittany Biskit.

And rounding out the main cast, we have Zoe, Vinnie, Penny, Pepper, Sunil, Minka, and Russell, the shop’s semi-permanent residents who Blythe converses with on a daily basis.

ZoeVinniePennyPepperSunilMinkaRussell

Oh, and Blythe can talk to animals… Did I not mention that!?

That’s right, thanks to superhero logic, after being hit in the head by a radioactive Frisbee, Blythe Baxter can understand the language of domesticated animals.

Well, at least it’s a step up from getting struck by lighting and suddenly being able to read the minds of human females. Wow, that was a shit movie.

Among Blythe’s other powers: Superior mechanical genius, severe inner-ear problems that manifest every time she tries to do anything physical, and the uncanny ability to fail at everything except fashion.

Ah, yes, fashion. Blythe is an amateur fashion designer. As a result, she is a very unique cartoon character since her outfit changes from episode to episode. Sometimes she’ll even wear multiple outfits in the same episode. I bring this up because typically cartoon characters have, at most, one or two outfits to simplify animation. Having multiple outfits means each one has to be individually designed and animated. With a single outfit, the animators can reuse a lot of assets, which makes their jobs a hell of a lot easier. But with Blythe, they don’t do that, and it’s likely because such a decision would actually be counter to the established character.

Even her hairstyle changes, sometimes quite drastically. I don’t know how this girl manages to go from having bangs, to no bangs, to bangs again. I’m pretty sure hair doesn’t work like that. Unless she also gained hair growth powers.

Anyway, fashion. Blythe makes and designs clothes for both humans and animals, using her four-legged friends as both impromptu models and muses. Said clothes are sold at the Littlest Pet Shop, and during the premiere episode, we find it’s her designs that turn the store from ‘going out of business,’ to ‘booming so much they need to hire extra people.’ So she starts working there immediately as a clerk and all-around animal caretaker.

Blythe BaxterBlythe is a really cool character. She has high intelligence, a strong moral compass, and an ambitious outlook. She’s someone little kids can definitely look up to. But she’s also in her early teens, which comes with its own problems.

I’m one of those guys who hated high school, so it sorta comes as a surprise to me that I enjoy seeing a show that takes place during the same time in a character’s life. It might have something to do with the fact that these characters, for the most part, don’t have a high school life that’s ideal. Things don’t always go Blythe’s way. Especially when the Biskits are involved. Even her friends have a tendency to pester her, like in episode seven, when Sue begins to stalk Blythe in a very creepy fashion. I’m glad she found a way to resolve the situation, before Sue decided to murder Blythe and make a suit out of her skin.

I’ll compare it to the shows I watched as a kid. Where things often went exactly as the characters wanted. At the end of the day, Zack Morris (Saved by the Bell) rarely got in trouble despite his frequent delinquency. He was best friends with the principal. Mr. Belding was practically begging for Zack’s approval. Once, when I said I considered my math teacher a friend, since we got along so well, I was told that was ‘inappropriate.’ So yeah, seeing things not always go their way, is what saves the show from being poisoned by the high school setting. It’s also probably the same reason I like My Life as a Teenage Robot so much. I still need to do a write-up on that show.

So Blythe appears to be perfect in every way. Yes, she’s super smart, as was proven in the third episode when she appeared to have constructed a holographic projector from a bunch of scrap metal. She also built a skateboard in a matter of seconds from some pieces of trash. But she keeps on wiping out in every episode. Things often don’t go her way. However, that’s not really a character flaw, is it? It’s just the situation. But Blythe has no physical abilities. She’s the designated intelligence. And that’s all she is. Much like Twilight Sparkle, from My Little Pony. Except Twilight has god-like powers, and Blythe can just talk to animals.

The most athletic she’s ever been was in the most recent episode, when she caught up with a runaway truck on a child’s bike. Impressive, but we can credit that to the efforts of the pets trying to slow it down, dumb luck, and pure adrenaline.

Then we also have the regular teenage angst, like having to deal with boys, grades, and mean girls. But that’s actually a rare thing in this show, so I kinda like it. I know this may sound weird, but the ridiculous teenage angst is, in my mind, a good thing… as long as it’s done in moderation. If every episode featured teenage angst, I’d quickly grow tired of it. However if no episode even brought it up, it’d feel like they were avoiding it. But when you’re a teenager, this kinda thing happens. It comes up. So if you have a teenage character, this has to come up. They have to deal with their own sexual frustrations, and social anxiety. If they didn’t, they’d just be cardboard cut-outs or boring caricatures.

It actually kinda bothers me that My Little Pony never had any sort of hint at romance with the main characters. Okay, there was Rarity and Blueblood. But that was one episode, and I keep getting the feeling that they’re avoiding the issue. Why is Rarity the only one who’s interested in stallions? Is she the only one who’s gone through puberty? Were the others fixed? I guess that could make sense. Some law in Equestria could require fillies to undergo surgical sterilization to stabilize their monogamous social order given the awkward gender ratio, but there’s some type of lottery where one-in-six get a reprieve.

Alright, enough ponies. I don’t want to compare this show to My Little Pony, but it’s just way too easy. I’m gonna move on.

One thing that keeps pulling me out of the show though, is Blythe’s voice. No criticism to the actor, but on occasion I can clearly hear the voice of Rainbow Dash sneak through. Not even slightly, but clearly and distinctly. This is actually because they share the save VA, Ashleigh Ball. One would think she’d vary her voice more frequently, but I guess there’s only so many ways one can do that, so you’re bound to recycle. Plus, I only noticed because I’m a fan of My Little Pony. If I wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

…I brought up ponies again, didn’t I? Moving on!!!

One thing that bugs me about Blythe is this odd verbal quirk of hers to occasionally speak in chat acronyms. It makes sense to do that in text messages because space can be a premium and simple acronyms can cut down on valuable milliseconds. But verbally, the individual letters can take longer to say than the word they represent. Plus, she often has to explain the meaning, making the whole thing redundant and confusing. A fact that Twombly eloquently points out in the fifth episode.

Blythe is also gainfully employed, and I have an intense jealousy of that. She works at the Littlest Pet Shop, designing clothes, stocking shelves, and taking care of the animals.

Ah, yes, the animals. This is the oddest part about the show. Our four-legged cast members spend most, if not all, of their time at the store. But they’re not product. That threw me off at first. You see, it appears that the Littlest Pet Shop actually doesn’t sell pets, but pet supplies, since we never see any pets for sale. If they do sell pets, they appear to be hidden. There was a fish and turtle, but they’re not part of the main cast, and we only see them once.

Every member of the main cast is already owned by someone, but they spend their days at the store in some type of day camp. I don’t see why. In my experience, pets tend to be fine staying at home alone all day. They don’t need to go to a day camp! However, I’ve only had cats, so it might be different for other animals. But still, why would anyone pay for that? I guess the price is so cheap, most pet owners can’t resist, and food is provided so… Why not!? If they enjoy it, and it gets them to socialize, it’s probably a good thing. Higgs knows it would have helped Gizmo, the anti-social prat I call my cat. But I still love him.

Now, I mentioned that Blythe is responsible for the current success of the Littlest Pet Shop. Well, it just so happens the reason she tried to save the place is because the pets begged her to. Why? Well, if it did close down, they would be sent to the day camp at Largest Ever Pet Shop, a big box pet supply retailer.

I have no problem with big box stores. After all, they wouldn’t be so big if they didn’t know what they were doing. Success isn’t a bad thing. However that being said, the pets have a very good reason to avoid the place. It’s a shit day camp! The animals are locked in plexiglass cages and are not allowed to socialize. Obviously they’re provided food, but that’s why they invented automated pet feeders.

I kinda find this a bit annoying, since in my hometown we do have a big box pet supply retailer called PetSmart. They actually do sell pets and I remember talking to one of the clerks once who said they let the animals run free in the store for a while after closing. Also, the cages (or at least the cat cages) are designed to let the pets roam around and visit their neighbours.

However, at Largest Ever Pet Shop, the pets are left in what are functionally storage lockers. I find it hard to believe either the employees or the pet owners would be okay with that. People working retail aren’t mindless drones you know. In fact, forget Largest Ever Pet Shop. It seems like they’d be better off at home.

But, even then, the pets wouldn’t be allowed to socialize from their homes. So regardless, even without the threat of Largest Ever Pet Shop they still have a reason to want Littlest Pet Shop to stay open. If it did close, it’s unlikely they’d ever see their friends again. That’s kinda sad when you think about it.

So let’s look at this group of inter-species friends, and see what exactly their deal is.

ZoeZoe Trent is our designated Twilight Sparkle, the de facto main character. Yes, Blythe is the main character, but Zoe a close second since, out of all the animal characters, she has the most screen presence.

For starters, she’s a dog. I don’t like dogs. But I do like Zoe. She’s a self-confessed diva, with a passion for singing. Unfortunately, every human character minus one only hears barking whenever she busts out her vocal chops. They never get to appreciate her talent. So sad.

She’s also vain as hell, which to me is a personality trait that would fit better on a cat. She’s what many might describe as a fashion victim, but she does know what she likes, and doesn’t appear to follow trends. She has her beret and she’s sticking with it.

Her ego is also immense, revealed when she crosses paths with Madame Pom, her primary rival in modelling. Even… years (?) later, she still holds a grudge against the dog for winning a competition.

Zoe’s also a bit of a romantic, revealed when she joins Blythe on her quest to return some keys to a cute boy, who they chase all over town because he’s apparently oblivious to the fact that he lost his keys. Find someone else Blythe, preferably someone with a brain.

Zoe’s also enthusiastic and panicky, and once confused her sister, Gail, with a similarly coloured male dog. So she’s a bit dense too.

(Also, regarding Gail. She sounds exactly like Rarity, and yes this is mostly because they also have the same voice actor, and everything else I said about Blythe and Rainbow Dash.)

I can’t tell if Zoe’s among my favourite characters, but she certainly has a presence, and is very hard to forget.

Vinnie TerrioNext we have Vinnie Terrio, the dancing gecko. You know geckos, they’re the lizards that can climb exactly anything. They can climb pane glass.

Anyway, Vinnie has a passion for dancing. We’re told in the first episode that he’s not very bright, but I’ve never seen him act especially stupid. This might be because he’s well aware of his own intellectual inadequacies, and never lets it get the better of him. No one will notice you’re stupid, if you don’t try to be smart.

As for the guy’s dancing skills… I don’t really know if he’s any good. I’m hardly an expert, but I did spend a year with a professional dancing troupe, and I did learn quite a bit. He seems to have the dancing chops. Especially in the premiere when he gives his salute to the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson, dressed in a white suit, fedora and a single rhinestone glove. But it’s possible he tends to bite off more than he can chew, since he also wipes out quite a bit. I guess when you have a passion for dancing, you’re going to try to push your limits, and occasionally crash and burn.

He also has a bit of an ego. After a parrot insults his dancing skills, he suddenly develops a grudge against the bird, and becomes obsessed with proving the parrot to be a fraud. Which he does, so I kinda respect that.

If nothing else, Vinnie’s a really cool guy, and a fun character. However his nadir is when, after getting rejected by the judges of a dancing contest on reality TV, he falls into a state of depression, and abandons Blythe at the moment she needs him the most. But it’s quickly followed up by one of his finest moments, as the lizard meets up with a group of reptilian hip-hop street dancers. He gets a shot of liquid self-esteem (metaphorically! I want to be clear: He didn’t take drugs!), and rushes back to help his best human friend.

I really like Vinnie.

Penny LingPenny Ling is essentially Fluttershy, but less timid. A small giant panda (seriously?), she’s elegant and graceful. A natural gymnast.

She’s hyper-sensitive, and caring. She also seems to be the most dependable of the group, never letting anyone down. Like the time Blythe and the three other females ended up getting trapped in the dumbwaiter connecting her room to the shop, leaving Penny alone to find help. Which she got by crossing treacherous paths to recruit her male companions, before returning to enact her master plan.

She’s very sweet and kind, and possibly well read, since she knew who Cyrano de Bergerac was. And she seems to have some major problems with anger, since a minor misunderstanding with Blythe causes her to create some real damage in the shop, even tearing a large easy chair in half.

She’s also highly empathetic, being the first to notice when Pepper’s new Rickles-esque comedy routine is likely to offend some animals. Then, eventually, it does start to offend every animal. I guess the real trick to insult comedy is to know what the line is.

Speaking of which…

Pepper ClarkPepper Clark, a skunk. Her specialty: comedy! Which is very appropriate on this show.

At first glance she reminded me of Ellen DeGeneres. Though on second glance, I’m not sure exactly why. It might have to do with their voices and general demeanor, and the fact that their both comedians. But that’s it.

She actually acts a bit like Pinkie Pie, only much calmer, stopping at nothing to get a laugh out of her friends. She’s also very stubborn, and headstrong. Which can create conflict with the other animals.

This actually comes to a head when she notices her prop gags aren’t having the same effect they once did, so she turns to insult comedy, as I mentioned earlier, but when the others stop laughing at her jokes, she refuses to acknowledge that she’s gone too far until she makes Penny cry. Yeah, that’s the perfect time to stop, when it’s too late.

She’s also a skunk, and we know what that means right? Well thankfully, her odour isn’t perpetual but based on her emotions. When she gets nervous or scared, she releases the traditional skunk odour, which makes sense since that odour is actually a defence mechanism. However when she’s happy, she releases a pleasant smell: Peppermint. I don’t think skunks work like that, but it would be nice if they did. And obviously she can release a burst of weaponized stink from the tip of her tail, since if it was anatomically accurate the censors would have a conniption. But she also has terrible aim, and limited ammunition, which sorta kills the threat.

Unfortunately, I can’t really find anything interesting about this character. But she has a lot of potential. I just think she hasn’t been given an appropriate opportunity to truly shine.

Sunil NevlaNext we have Indian stereotype, Sunil Nevla, the Mongoose. For those not in the know, mongooses are well-known for their ability to combat venomous snakes. Apparently they are natural enemies. This is partially due to the mongoose’s natural immunity to most snake venoms. It makes me worry for the episode when Twombly introduces a new day camper: a friendly snake named Chester.

Yes, Sunil hates snakes, specifically Cobras. Which… worries me.

Yes, it makes sense since they are natural enemies. But in the context of the show, I worry a bit. Since these characters are fully fleshed out and sentient, the fact that we have a character who simply hates a particular group of sentient creatures because of how they were born… well… I shouldn’t have to explain why this is bad.

But like I said, it could lead to an episode where Sunil has to repress his baser instincts and learn to get along with a snake. Tolerance!

Sunil is a magician, and damn is he a good one. Though I’m not sure exactly what the original plans were for Sunil’s skills. In the first episode we see him use an umbrella in an impromptu disappearing act. Which obviously takes some skills, but we all know that’s not real magic. Like all magicians, he’s faking.

However, in episodes eight and thirteen, we see Sunil actually use real magic, and not trickery. He makes psychic predictions, and does a disappearing act, teleporting Penny down the street, and later on he magically switches places with another mongoose across town. But I get the feeling that this wasn’t the original intention.

The show is grounded in reality quite a bit. There is a slight sci-fi feel, what with the holographic projector and Blythe’s superpowers. But otherwise, we never really see any magic or fantasy elements at all… except for Sunil’s magic powers.

I just wish I’d get to see one animated comedy show that didn’t feel the need to bring in magic.

Oh, and there was also the fourth episode when we see his powers of hypnotism, but I can’t tell if that’s magic, or just something mongooses do. Probably the former.

So superpowers aside, Sunil is a very funny character. He’s more timid than Fluttershy; a natural coward, unless you mention cobras; and he’s incredibly honest and a bit self-effacing. Which doesn’t mesh well with his performing talents.

I mentioned earlier that he has psychic powers. Well in the episode that reveals just that, he keeps insisting that he doesn’t have powers, even though his visions and predictions turn out pretty damn accurate, even if they don’t know it. While trying to track down Blythe, he has a vision of a lion, which leads them to the zoo. But what he really saw was a lion statue, like the one in front of the public library that Blythe was at. So yes, his predictions were solid, but he refuses to believe it, even though everyone else does. Think of Feeling Pinkie Keen inside out.

But my inner skeptic feels obliged to mention that, from an outside perspective, he’d have to do better than that to prove he has psychic powers. Most of his predictions, as he explained them, didn’t pan out, and those that did could be written off as coincidence. But considering his powers are real, he wouldn’t have to try hard to prove it.

He also has a bit of a self-esteem problem, and a need to be validated. As we learn when the pets appear disinterested in his magical skills, even after he masters teleportation. He then falls into a state of bitter resentment and pulls off a Prince and Pauper scam with a famous Bollywood star, who’s also a Mongoose (don’t know how that works).

Of course they learn to appreciate him once they learn the movie star is an idiot who claims he wants to get away from all the fame and attention, yet insists they wait on him paw and foot. Though, I’m not sure it works that way. Just because another Mongoose is a pain in the ass, they decide Sunil’s magical skills are amazing!? Or was it just because he teleported a second time!? That’s ridiculous! His skills were always amazing you dolts! Ugh…

Though it’s possible they just learned to appreciate his talents once he diva’d out and left them alone with the moron. Though that doesn’t send a good message either.

So I like Sunil. He’s fun.

Minka MarkSpeaking of fun. Next we have Minka Mark. Spider monkey, and painter. She’s the only non-performing artist in the group, and true to her species, she’s always running around like a maniac. So Minka’s a bit like Pinkie Pie; hyper, unfocused, and eccentric.

There isn’t really much to say about her. Like Pepper, she hasn’t really gotten a good opportunity to shine yet. Give it time though.

I can’t say Minka’s on my favourites list, but she does have some interesting quirks. She’s claustrophobic, likely because she’s a spider monkey. She’s quite grabby, again, it’s probably because she’s a spider monkey. And she is a very talented artist, at least according to one art critic.

We learn this during the third episode, and it causes Minka to fantasize about being a big-time artist with Andy Warhol’s hairstyle. She’s at an art show attended exclusively by pets, and Blythe, where everyone admires her work. But back in reality, it also causes the other pets to demand a cut. Anyway, we also discover she has a tendency to crack under pressure, as the pets demand more art and she suddenly has a mental break.

So she doesn’t handle stress well either. I can sympathize. I used to avoid it like the plague. Turns out it’s the wrong approach.

Minka’s also a very fast thinker. She saved the gang as they were trapped in the dumbwaiter hurtling toward the ground by using a simple comb as a makeshift emergency brake. She also saves Blythe’s reputation with her art skills by covering up a disastrous grooming attempt on Zoe.

She’s ditsy, she’s not stupid.

Russell FergusonAnd last but certainly not least, we have my personal favourite character: Russell Ferguson, hedgehog, all-around intellectual, and the only non-artist of the group.

He’s basically the group’s Twilight Sparkle, always coming up with the standard nerd solution.

He has the innate ability to come up with complex plans, but often overlooks simpler solutions and minute details, such as a store’s laser security grid only being active at night.

He’s highly organized and a bit uptight, which causes him much annoyance in the seventh episode when the other pets try to get him to lighten up. Of course he does, changing his name to Fun Russell and throwing on a green Hawaiian shirt.

Russell goes completely nuts, messing up the place and not giving a shit about cleaning it up, losing all inhibitions. He basically reaches new level of apathy. But all the other pets are fine with it, until they suddenly need the old Russell back so they can use his unique skill-set to find a missing pig.

I guess they learn not to make fun of him for being serious anymore.

Of course, despite his serious nature, he doesn’t have the best judgement skills, as we learn when his intellectualism gets the better of him, and he decides to stow away in Blythe’s backpack so he can join her in her quest for knowledge. However this also means he’s in big trouble from Twombly, since he’s not allowed to leave the store.

I actually find that odd since the group collectively leaves the store quite often without a care, usually accompanied by Blythe.

Also, animals aren’t allowed at school. So when the little guy is spotted by the janitor, hilarity ensues. It’s also revealed that Russell’s cousins with Sonic.

Anywho, I really like Russell, because he’s also the sanest member of the group. A voice of true reason. Which is aptly demonstrated in the last episode when he tries to save Blythe’s reputation by filming a reenactment of an incident they caused, but she got blamed for.

The others start showing off, but Russell tries to get them to focus on the task at hand, which isn’t easy.

I guess I just have an appreciation for sanity.

Next, we have our supporting cast of humans, which I shall muscle through without a segue.

Sue Patterson is the jock, and Blythe’s creepy former stalker. I’m still not sure what to make of that episode.

Youngmee Song is the Asian stereotype and mathlete. She works for her aunt at Sweet Delights, the candy store beside Littlest Pet Shop, and I assume an upcoming product-line from Hasbro. She’s also very smart and has a promising future as a psychiatrist or espionage agent, given the events of episode six.

Then there’s Jasper Jones… the boy.

Moving on we have the Biskit twins who are egotistical, self-centred morons. We meet them in the first episode when they invite Blythe to go shopping, but her rejection causes them to develop a permanent and irrational grudge against her.

But oddly enough, we also learn in episode eleven that the one with white hair has prodigious math skills. But she can’t read standard mathematical notation unless it’s translated by her sister, the one with black hair, into shopping language.

It’s the oddest thing I’ve ever seen.

Then there’s their father, who runs Largest Ever Pet Shop. Yeah, that’s it. Moving on.

Next there’s Roger, the eccentric airline pilot. He’s also a terrible driver, as we learn in the premiere when he’s oblivious to the fact that he’s driving on the sidewalk. I’d love to know what airline he works for, so I can avoid it like the plague.

Next, we have Twombly, the owner of Littlest Pet Shop. She’s a bit of an eccentric, as I already mentioned. But I never explained how, did I? Well, for starters, she collects antique doorknobs. I honestly don’t get it.

She also has a tendency to, on occasion, completely lose her mind cleaning the shop. This is probably some weird form of OCD that turns on and off. It comes to a head when she runs out of her chosen brand of cleanser and runs amok throughout the city trying to find another bottle, terrorizing the citizens.

Then there’s Youngmee’s aunt Christie, the Bluetooth-wearing multi-tasking wonder who owns Sweet Delights. We first see her in the premiere, asking when the shop will finally close so she can replace it with a sweet shoppe. I find it odd she eventually finds a store front in the adjacent building. What are the odds!? Best guess, the character was never intended to make a second appearance, but someone liked her enough to bring her back as a recurring character.

It was also probably not intended for her to be related to Youngmee. But I like that she is.

And since we’re on the sweet shoppe. It’s introduction coincided with two new animal characters: Buttercream Sundae, a rabbit; and Sugar Sprinkles, a cat. Though I don’t know how frequently we’ll see them in future episodes.

I don’t know what to say about these characters. There’s something wrong with them. I mean more so than the other animal characters. Browsing the internet, I happened to find a fan theory that fits too well to not be true: They’re on drugs.

Buttercream is way too cheery and outgoing, it kinda disturbs me. She also has this weird quirk/running gag. She talks gibberish, than someone says, “What?” She responds with, “What?” Then her ears twist around each other, she rapidly stomps her left foot, and exhales deeply with a huge smile, as if she just came.

It’s the second oddest thing I’ve ever seen.

Anyway, my point is, that’s not sugar she’s eating.

Then there’s Sugar Sprinkles, who apparently stole Spitfire’s voice. (Again, same voice actor, blah blah blah.) Except Sugar talks a lot slower. She lives in the Sweet Delights delivery truck, in the candy sprinkles bin. Yeah, that’s not a heath code violation. Though given her demeanor, I’m more worried about the actual composition of those sprinkles.

She rambles quite a bit and has a dangerous level of aloofness. She also doesn’t seem to care that she has sprinkles caught in her hair, and for some reason takes twelve full seconds to react when Vinnie steps on her tail. Given her demeanor, it’s as if she doesn’t even notice she’s located where the events are taking place, since she never reacts to anything except pain.

Anyway, my point is, the cupcakes aren’t the only things that are baked.

Nonetheless, I hope she sticks around, since the cast is in dire need of a feline element.

But of course, they’d probably only be allowed one cat at a time, for marketing purposes.

I’m not sure how odd I should find it that there’s only one of each animal in the main cast, but it does result in an interesting phenomenon. You see, like any quality program, Littlest Pet Shop has already developed a significant following. And as I’ve mentioned before, “One of the biggest activities among major fan communities is ‘shipping.’ That is, the pairing of two characters in a relationship.” Littlest Pet Shop is no exception.

The majority-female cast in My Little Pony resulted in primarily homosexual, or ‘slash’ pairings. And similarly, the structure of the cast in Littlest Pet Shop, has resulted almost exclusively in inter-species pairings. I hate to break it to you, but that’s actually not possible. There’s no way a hedgehog would hook up with a spider monkey. Hormones don’t work that way.

I’ll buy them remaining friends, but sexual attraction? Yeah, not possible.

I know someone will mention the fact that I continually ship Spike with every female pony on the show. But I’ll remind you that Spike’s a dragon, and in ancient mythology, dragons could breed with anything that had a hole.

Then again, in the context of the show, they are sentient creatures. So, perhaps it would work. Among sentient creatures, it’s not simply about hormones and breeding anymore, but love. At least, that’s what drove the idea of inter-species breeding in Star Trek. But imagine what the kids would look like.

One final note, the music. There have been a few fantasy musical numbers, which are cool. I know I’ve said I’ve never been a fan of musical numbers, but I can buy it in the realm of fantasy. Now, I have a few favourites. First, “If You’re a Guy” where Sunil’s impromptu lyrics fail to rhyme with the rest of the song. Which kinda makes sense if they never rehearsed it.

Next, there’s the first major musical number, “The Littlest Pet Shop Pets,” where Zoe discovers Blythe’s ability, and responds by introducing her to the others. Blythe reacts accordingly, by slowly backing out of the room.

Finally, and this might come as a surprise, the theme song. I don’t know why, but I really like the Littlest Pet Shop theme song. After a bit of research, I found that the song follows the same melody as the theme song from the last generation. But the lyrics of that version made me want to vomit. So we’ll give the credit to Daniel Ingram for this version’s amazing lyrics. You might recognize the name from My Little Pony as well. He’s quite prolific.

In contrast, I actually never liked the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic theme tune. It just never sounded good to me.

On that note. I think it’s time for a final verdict. How does Littlest Pet Shop compare to its elder half-sister, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic?

Do we have to do this? Do we have to compare these two series? Can’t they each be held up on their own merits?

Oh, yes, they can. Still, it’s fun to judge these kinds of things side-by-side. And the thing is, I honestly think Littlest Pet Shop is the better program.

I know! I was surprised too! Though it doesn’t help that the latest season of My Little Pony was pretty crap.

Why do I like Littlest Pet Shop more? I’m not sure. Could be because it feels more real. Feels more grounded. Yes, I know animals can’t talk, shut up. But it still takes place on Earth, with human characters, and not a magical fantasy world with dragons and unicorns. I have nothing against the fantasy world, I just like the real world much more.

And magical mongooses aside, Littlest Pet Shop feels realistic, or at least much more plausible. At least as plausible as the Flash, or Spider-Man.

But most importantly, Littlest Pet Shop is better than My Little Pony, because I can virtually guarantee we will never see an episode where Zoe grows wings for no logical reason, as awesome as that would be.

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