Last year’s My Little Pony: Equestria Girls often felt like a rewrite of the flawed pilot episode of the Pony series Friendship Is Magic, but it was merely setting the stage for Jayson Thiessen and Ishi Rudell’s far superior My Little Pony: Equestria Girls — Rainbow Rocks.
In the mirror universe populated by the ponies’ human counterparts, three evil girls arrive at Canterlot High, spreading dark magic and discontent leading up to the school’s musical showcase. Lacking in appreciable magic themselves, the Mane Five (Ashleigh Ball, Andrea Libman, and Tabitha St. Germain) and reformed villain Sunset Shimmer (Rebecca Shoichet) summon Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) to cross back from the pony realm of Equestria and save the biped world.
Friendship Is Magic‘s strength has always been the writing, particularly its examination and frequent deconstruction of the characters and even the core concept, and Rainbow Rocks is up there with the show at its most thoughtful: Twilight is overwhelmed by the expectations placed upon her, Sunset desperately seeks redemption but finds it difficult when nobody will let her forget her past sins, and friendship itself may not be empirically magic.
Like much of the anime that influences its source series, the picture is continuity-heavy and not particularly accessible to newcomers, but for the faithful, Rainbow Rocks does, in fact, rock.