Now before you go on reading this…Yes, I am a brony. I watch/follow the show on a weekly basis and I visit many sites dedicated to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fandom. The controversy with liking the show is that…I am an 21 year old male and this show is meant to target a much MUCH younger demographic. And now here I am, at Anime Conji attending a My Little Pony fan panel. The panel is in a big spacious room with at least 20 people ranging between the ages of 16- 23. So luckily, I don’t feel isolated. Take THAT girls ages 5-15!
The demographics bending series all started in 2010 when Lauren Faust (famous for Powerpuff Girls, Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends, The Iron Giant, Quest of Camelot, and Codename: Kids Next Door) was hired by The Hub channel (HUB) to revamp the My Little Pony series. At first she was reluctant since she had other shows to work on (Milky Way and the Galaxy Girls) but in the end, she was able to successfully recreate My Little Pony and made it relevant to the new generation. So much in fact that the Internet exploded with memes and surprising reviews which brought the attention of many people. Her dedication with setting up the design, artwork, assigning voice actors, and direction made this series very popular. As a fan, I admire how she is able to create strong and independent female roles without purposely stereotyping them like other current shows. In the end, 4chan exploding with pony posts, many male fans have come from out of nowhere, and the “Brony” community came into being.
The panel was scheduled to start 11am. I check my phone and 30 minutes have gone by without the panel hosts. We are all uneasy and some people have left the panel. It turns out that whoever is in charge of the panel does not arrive at all. Out of nowhere, Stephen Weese (famous voice actor known in Hellsing, Sengoku Basara, Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual, and director of Broken Spirits) bursts into the panel and starts talking. He asks questions about the fandom and what it is all about. Impressed by the answers and the amount of males in the room, he then asks the obvious question: why do so many males like the show? An exceptional answer comes from one male audience member: “The detail in the animation was perfect even with the advancement in flash, also the voice acting with each character in the show gives more of a real personality feel as opposed to the previous generation versions”. As he leaves to join his Voice Acting panel, the fans decide to get on stage and start the panel themselves. One individual hooks their personal laptop into the projector and speakers, while the other 6 individuals sit down in the panel chairs and start introductions. In case you are wondering, I caught up with Stephen Weese later on in the day. His favorite pony: “the darker gothic-looking one: Rarity”
The impromptu panel leads, 5 girls and 2 guys, talk about their different experiences with watching MLP. They all seem to have the same common theme: the idea of watching the show is at first, ridiculous, but after watching a couple of episodes they inevitably become hooked. As for me, I have the very same experience. All things considered, saying that you like the show doesn’t exactly warrant serious responses and a lot of the time end in being ridiculed. But as fans, like those from another franchise we too talk about our love for the show and are open to it.
With the show come songs, fan clubs and merchandice, like any other franchise. Many of the fans start off their panel participation by singing the songs and reenacting voices (an amazing recreation of Fluttershy’s voice is heard). Other guests sell keychains and modified toys (accessory-friendly versions of the McDonalds toy). Some express their participation in the So-Cal Brony group that meets up on a monthly basis.
With the laptop set up we enjoyed the video, “Epic Cupcake time” by nomorethan9. And even debut the newest episode from this morning: Dragon Quest.
In the end, despite the convention lacking the proper panelist and moderators, it was great to see that fans of the franchise were able to band together and make the panel work. It reminds me that it doesn’t matter how ridiculous a concept may be, if it is well developed, fans will come in and show their utmost support.
Thanks to Stephen Weese, Cristina Vee, and all you awesome bronies that made this panel awesome. *Brohoof*
Stay tuned this week for our interview with Cristina Vee and Stephen Weese, here is the preview:
And for those curious about the fandom here is a well-made video that could explain it best: