Back in early January 2012, I happened to stumble upon TheFineBro’s latest “Teens React” on YouTube. The video’s specific topic was on the fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, who are called “bronies.” I had heard of these people before and knew they loved this little girls’ show, so I paid no mind to them due to hearing peculiar news on the Internet at all times. However, this was a unique case. For this fandom to be so large that it attracts the attention of TheFineBros seemed like a phenomenon to me. I could no longer brush aside my curiosity and bewilderment with these bronies. I decided to watch the first episode of the TV show they love to uncover the mystery of why it has garnered such a substantial fanbase of passionate fans.

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And that’s the point where 2012 turned into something…well, indescribable.

If you had told me I would be a fan of MLP: FiM before I had watched it, I would’ve honestly laughed at you. The reasons being why are because My Little Pony is for girls, the toys are creepy, and the premise is seemingly stupid. Only the strangest of weirdos in my age demographic would enjoy it in some fashion. Yet, there’s something tremendously different about MLP: FiM. Disregarding the franchise’s past iterations of the commercialized toy line, this specific TV show has a charm to it. The episodes have creatively written storylines with useful moral lessons encased (most of the time) in surprisingly dark and/or realistic themes; the animation is absolutely beautiful, fluid, and filled to the brim with excellent environment and character design; the characters are a vastly diverse cast with entertaining and intentionally flawed personalities, which opens up for aboundingly meaningful and personal development for them; the voice actors are funny, talented, and put a stamp on their respective characters with emotion, attitude, and passion, and the list goes on. I could continuously explain why MLP: FiM is deserving of its popularity and praise, but I have already talked about this in a previous blog. My goal for this one is something motivated by personal and obligatory motives, and I wish to share my thoughts.

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I simply want to take the time to thank bronies. I want to thank Lauren Faust and the creative team behind the show for bringing this whole fandom to life, as well as for all the energy and time they pour into making one of the best TV shows I’ve seen in years. I want to thank the voice actors, who are entrenched within the community, care for all the fans, and put their heart and soul into their roles. I want to thank the fandom artists for making some of the most breathtaking, creative, and funny pieces of artwork. I want to thank the fandom musicians, who blow me away with their incredible talents of composition. I want to thank the fandom writers, who have spawned genuinely interesting fan-fiction on an unbelievable basis (and I’m not fond of fan-fiction). I want to thank those who put their money and time into organizing cons, interviews, and charity events, which I found incredible and entertaining to watch unfold. And once again, I want to generally thank all of the fans and staff of the show, who inspire me to begin things I never considered or thought of doing. Although there are certainly oddballs here and there (as there are in every fandom), The overwhelming amount of talent and creativity that flows out of most bronies I’ve seen has made 2012 a scintillating year, and here’s proof of this on my end…

1. Music: I’ve been seriously playing the piano for a year before I discovered MLP: FiM, but now that I have, listening to the music in the show and from the fandom has inspired me to practice even harder. I’ve even been moved to make my own song with Garageband, which I have had no experience with in the slightest, no less than six months ago.

Not only have I increased my time with the piano or my dabbling in music programs, but I’ve also started playing the guitar! A certain Youtuber who goes by the surname of “MandoPony” – a literal guitar/mandolin/music program genius – amazes me with his gift of music on a daily basis.

2. Art: Naturally, being an okay artist, I wanted to emulate the fandom’s exceptional art in my spare time. While I did succeed in some cases, most of my work has been bad. However, over the course of this year, I ended up drawing some decent stuff like this and that.

These drawings are certainly nothing compared to other works of art, but I’ve been seriously considering getting into an art program like Photoshop so I can develop this casual pastime of mine into a serious hobby.

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Look at this! It’s unbelievable…

3. Experience: This is more of a general category than any of the others above. My entire experience this year with bronies has been nothing short of amazing, and I’d like to point out a few of the highlights. Because of my becoming a brony, my two sisters and four friends are bronies as well. They were all skeptical at first by my urgings to them to watch the show (as all post-bronies are), but they’re big fans of it now and it has given all of us a lot to talk about together; making our conversations and time together all the more fun and memorable. I’ve also personally been honored to be part of this year just watching the fandom grow, listening to music, watching animation, and admiring art put out by bronies. Seeing the “bronycons” and all the people (and voice actors from the show!) come together to have fun was unbelievable, and most importantly, I was inspired by the overarching generosity, kindness, creativity, brilliance, and passion of bronies through their actions and demeanors. It’s absolutely mind-boggling to think this all happened because of a cartoon show about multi-colored ponies…but that’s just it. It did happen.

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This was for the Humble Indie Bundle V…there are no words.

All in all, I can’t define how I exactly feel about this whole year. I truly don’t want to use this word, but it has been, well, magical in some way. It’s a series of strange events. A rare occurrence, if you will. Which is why I certainly understand why there are those who can’t grasp why on earth MLP: FiM could do to be so impactful, but it’s something I believe only bronies can relate to. I simply look back on this year and think how it would have been significantly more boring if I had not watched that first episode. And not even that, but how I might’ve not picked up a guitar, made a song, dabbled in art again, or had more fun relationships with my friends and family. It’s still funny because I make out this show to be a life-changer even though it was meant to simply be for kids’ entertainment.

I want to believe that sounds crazy, but it’s not in the end. What matters not is what MLP: FiM is or what it’s about, but the meaning and creativity behind it. That’s what drives the show. Not the fact that it’s about ponies, but that it’s legitimately well done. And yes, I was timid to admit that at first, but I came to realize that something this good and impactful on people’s lives, routines, and creativity is something to boast about because this will hopefully be the case with me. 2013 will be a year I explore my potential for composing music, creating art, developing more friendships, and even increasing my skills in writing. I owe a massive part of these aspirations to bronies, and it’s why I profoundly thank them for inspiring me to do more than what is average or expected. Here’s hoping that this will come true, as well as for all my fellow bronies who have similar goals.

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The GIF speaks for itself.

This article was originally published as a user blog post on Game Informer.