Looking back on a decade of Faust's ponies, I find myself thinking about what originally drew me into the fandom. In my case, it was watching the video of "Winter Wrap Up" -- just the song, excised from the episode (S1E11). I was enchanted, and I walked into Equestria and never came out. But I rarely encountered anything in the show later on that had the magical force of that first video.
What was, and is, so special about it? What was there in this one number that drew me in to a franchise that I had previously classed with Rainbow Bright and the Care Bears as a farrago of meretricious and cynical cuteness mobilized in the service of corporate greed? Here are some answers that have occurred to me.
1. The "Winter Wrap Up" number is quiet, modest, and serious. Apart from Twilight and Spike's getting buried in a fall of snow at one point, there are no sight gags. Nothing funny happens, and there is no laughter. On the other hand, nothing epic happens -- nothing magical, explosive, or portentous. The subject of the song is the absence
of magic, which is forbidden to Twilight by local custom ("the earth pony way"). At first appearances, this is a work song.
2. And yet it is mythic and magical. It deals with the fundamental stuff of mythology: the cycle of years and lives, birth and death, the melting away of winter and the coming of spring -- Botticelli's "Primavera" redone with cartoon horses. It is both solemn and gay (in the original sense). It is also magical, because this is a world in which the sun and moon do not rise and set, and the seasons do not come and go, without the intervention of labor and intelligence. Unless the Houyhnhnms work together, the clouds will not part to let the sun's warmth and beauty in, the southern birds will not return, the snow will not go away, and winter will be eternal. Only laboring intelligence can shift the axis of the world. If Disney had animated this number, the birds, ferrets, and bunnies would have been running around chipping in, brushing away snow with their tails, and bringing ribbons to Rarity in their beaks. The MLP number presents us with a fantasy mode of interaction between culture and nature that is less obvious and harder to define.
3. The main (mane) characters are very delicately individualized. Pinkie does not bounce, shriek, and emit balloons and confetti; Rarity does not posture and preen; Rainbow Dash does not boast, compete, and wh