Saturday, 22 March 2014

Bronies The Extremely Unexpected Review: Part 1

For some reason I had never previously seen the documentary, aptly named Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony. I remember back before the first BUCK in 2012 hearing about John De Lancie's fondness of our community. It was pretty uplifting that such a notable actor had really expressed his interest in something as seemly obscure as male fans of My Little Pony. This was when he went on to quickly announce that he was working with a brony owned film company to create a Documentary all about our 'little' subculture. The response was ecstatic in the US,  but interest didn't really come to the UK until De Lancie announced he was intending to come to our first ever Brony Convention, BUCK. The Kickstarter donation drive shot through the roof with UK bronies eager to get the Draconequus' VA to make an appearance. Sadly he couldn't make it but he did nicely leave us a lovely video message and of course, the film crew still managed to come and get some cracking footage of BUCK.

I am so happy that i've finally been given chance to watch this documentary, despite it's intended audience being that of non-bronies, to give them a look into our fandom, the entire documentary is full of references and just general awesome stuff that only us bronies would get. This really is an epic watch, has a feel good factor, nostalgia as well as being very highly detailed and generally just well made. This is true professional quality, I knew it was going to be good in this regard, but it still blew all my expectations out of the water. I'd like to say thank you to Wienerworld who were kind enough to send me a copy to review. They are going to be distributing the documentary officially in the UK on the 14th April. You can preorder it over on their website now.

Admittedly I haven't watched a DVD in a heck of a long time since I'm quite the fan of going to the cinema, thank you Cineworld unlimited card! It was pretty funny seeing a DVD menu screen after all these years. I sort of last remember seeing one whilst watching some odd anime a friend lent me in Highschool. Sadly there wasn't any music on the menu screen, but I did notice something quite fun, the disk contains bonus segments. Secretly I am hoping there is a blooper reel, something I'll be bound to review in the near future. 

The second you hit play you're quickly introduced to close ups of some bronies, just talking about different things relating to the fandom. They took a great focus on explaining how they got into it, like many bronies most of them were introduced either by a friend or they randomly came across it somewhere on the Internet. Their initial response, like many of ours, was that of dismissal. Sort of "really? MLP, narr! Is this serious?". But then they gave it a shot, being pretty open minded they wanted to give it a go and boy, they got hooked. It was nice hearing this from other bronies, especially those who live in another Country, it showed really how similar we all are. Though what was also great it also showed how diverse our community is, people from all sorts of backgrounds all coming together thanks to their love of one TV show. 

Out of nowhere things flipped to the nasty, we were presented with video clips from various TV shows that have aired previously discussing the phenomenon that is Bronies. I was a lil' off put initially, mainly because I have never really seen any of these sort of shows before, extremely American, Fox News sort of stuff. In fact I have done, back in 2006 when I was in Florida. It was pretty sad really because one thing I noticed with the American people, not only from such documentaries as the one here, but me actually visiting the Country, most of the people there are extremely friendly. Probably some of the nicest people i've met. Okay, I was at Disney World and they probably do pump happy gas into the hotels, but it did seem pretty legitimate. Americans are nice people, so it's pretty upsetting to see that much of their content on Television can be so bigoted and cruel. Luckily however this segment lasted probably less than 30 seconds. I am glad they didn't focus on such negative and manufactured content. I guess it's something they had to get out of way, and frankly they did it in the most perfect way possible, by dismissing it as nothing important and keeping it short and simple.

Then suddenly, the opening title! Which I am surprised has taken me this long to realise the logo for this doc is a parody of Pixar's logo animation with the desk lamp. Here we see a pony underneath a studio lamp, sort of fitting I say. We then go into the first part of the animation by Jan Animations that has a great performance from De Lancie, where he is, in pony form, explaining the past of My Little Pony, well in fact he is singing about it. This is really where the brony humour comes through with mention of "plots" and the response the ponies in the audience give to Generation 3.

The first set of stories begin, with us being introduced to a Brony that lives in an area of the US that's heavily populated with Red Necks. This brings us into the main format of the documentary, which is ultimately a collection of interviews, a look into the lives of bronies and a look into the convention scene. Best part of this section was when the guy mentioned that the Red Necks go on dates at Walmart, which is pretty bizarre but also makes a ton of sense. He was a little bit off put by this since the only place he could pick Pony Merch up was Walmart, especially since he was waiting for White Celestia to finally come out. Also, something that happens a few times in throughout the documentary, when a brony term is mentioned the definition appears on the screen, this was a nice touch.

We then have a segment where bronies explain the show, giving a nice insight to those who might not have seen it yet. They talk of how it's got kind morals and then Lauren Faust talks of how she wanted to have little life lessons with Twilight's letters to the Princess though she was a little worried they'd be seen as cheesy. But thankfully they went down wonderfully to not only the main demographic but bronies alike. I think the lack of letters in Season 3 had always been seen as a shame by many bronies, probably why we were so pleased to see them return as diary inputs in Season 4.

Now we're introduced to Lyle. A younger teen who loves the show an awful lot. Lyle was pretty awesome, he seemed so open about his interests and it was really nice seeing his parents as well. Even though they were somewhat unsure of his new found hobby, they were extremely proud and supportive of him in a general sense. They mention how accepting the fans are, which generally speaking is a very true thing with us bronies, I think it's what gave many of us that first push to give the show a chance. One notable thing I saw with Lyle was how sincere he was about the show and fandom, it really did make him happy and mean a great deal to him. He was pretty nervous about explaining it to his parents, specifically his Dad who was quite conservative.

Best transition ever as we head to Israel to have a look into the life of the fandom's biggest musician, The Living Tombstone. He shows us his room and workstation then he shows off part of a project he was working on at the time, which happened to be Lost On The Moon. He talked about how Alex S had said to him "DUDE you should make a remix of a song from MLP" and so he did and was amazed when all the views on the YouTube video went up and up. One of the most shocking things he mentioned at this stage of the Documentary, so before Bronycon, despite him being one of the most famous Bronies, he had never met a Brony in the real world before.

Back over to California Tara Strong talks of how she worked with Faust on Cartoon Network and how she has always admired her. Faust rang her up one day to ask if she had ever been a fan of My Little Pony, which of course, Tara was a massive fan when she was young. She then goes on about how Faust got her to try out a few of the characters and they went into depth of Twilight's character. Have to say it was pretty nostalgic seeing clips from Season 1 again.

Over to the UK we head, which was nice to see our home Country being represented. They were following a guy from Rugeley who had a love of horses and animals. He explained how he enjoyed their company because they don't judge people and other such things. His mother talked of how when he was young he was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. Something many bronies do as i've noticed is compare themselves to characters in the show, and this guy talked about how he related to Twilight and how they found it difficult to cope with certain situations. His mum said she had noticed how some of the characters in the show might have been influenced by the writers having known someone with Aspergers or something similar. It was a interesting insight into the another persons view on the show. Generally speaking, Bronies though we have many diverse opinions, we tend to agree on many aspects, especially when it comes to the show. So seeing someone's genuine thoughts on the show really got me thinking.

Then over to Munich to visit some German love birds. It was nice that they were speaking in German and that there were English subtitles, though they also did that to the Living Tomb Stone even though he speaks perfect English. I guess Americans can't understand any accent that isn't their own or British. The guy talked of how he got into the show thanks to 4chan. I know it's not a massive deal, but I always have respect for people that mention where our fandom started. Too many people glaze over the subject as if 4chan is truly the epitome of evil and that we should be ashamed to admit that it was where Bronies came from originally. He then moves on to how he met with his partner and they both talk of how they met for the first time in person at a meet. You see these two later at the first Galacon Gala slow dancing, which was extremely touching. One of the best things i've heard ever is German people singing in English, as they both sang the opening theme tune before the end of that segment.

I wasn't expecting to see Amsterdam, I miss that place, their comic book shop was wicked. The documentary heads here to chat with Lazerpon3, the guy that does the epic laser shows at conventions. He explained what he does and how his equipment works. It was nice seeing him talk so much, from the time I saw him at BUCK 2012 he didn't seem too talkative, but then again he was almost asleep at the after party in Fab Cafe.

Back to the states we go to see the guy from earlier who was having some problems with Red Necks. This is a pretty sad part of the documentary as he retells of the time Red Necks ganged up on him at a gas station, simply for having a Celestia and Luna decals on the back window of his car. They said some awful things and things really turned ugly when one of them pulled out a rifle. Now only Red Necks could manage to "playfully" point a gun at someone. After they broke his back window he drove off as quickly as possible. It clearly was upsetting for the fellow, it is awful to hear of how the there are such people in this world. He had to hide it from his parents by telling them he had came off the road. Doing such a thing to someone, over some stickers on a car window is mind-boggling, but sadly a very true factor of the world we live in.

Onto something nicer, though still quite chaotic. Lauren's now talking about Discord and how she pitched him to Hasbro executives. They were unsure at first after her telling them he was a trickster. However when she suddenly shouted out "He's like Q!" the execs got really excited at the idea of having John De Lancie, which even though Lauren based the character on Q she had never expected to actually get De Lancie. This brings us onto the man we've all been waiting for, De Lancie himself. His story goes on about how he had done the show, left and forgot about it all, just a normal piece of work for him. But then three months later he woke up one day to find hundreds of emails from fans, who to his surprise were not little girls. Lauren says how it was really thanks to how much of an epic Season 2's opener was, but also it was a big thanks to the Internet as well.

Over all, so far I am loving this documentary. It's just a great watch for bronies and people interested in subcultures. I would highly recommend showing this to parents and friends who might be a little unsure about our fandom.The second part of the review will focus on the second part of the documentary which takes a great look into the convention scene. I hope I'm getting enough reviewiness in here rather than just retelling the documentary, something i might have to work on for the second part and future reviews! Feedback is appreciated in the comment section below.

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