Saturday, 4 January 2014

Top 10 non-PMV Pony Videos of 2013

After a brief delay, it's finally here. My top 10 favourite pony videos of the year. Catch the list below the break.

This is a harder list to make, because the non-PMV videos have far less consistency. They could range from under a minute to three hours. As a result, it's kinda hard to list them. That said, I think I've picked out 10 that really represent the cream of the crop in pony fan videos this year. That said, for the reasons mentioned, they won't be ranked. Instead, here they are in alphabetical order.

by Argodaemon

I had to get some Argodaemon in here somewhere. He's my favourite animator, SFM or otherwise. This is possibly his longest video to date, and that means that it's five entire minutes of Argodaemon's detailed, gorgeously lit animation. Every time I watch one of his videos, I'm blown away by how much detail is put into each little bit of motion. His animations are extremely complex, and this gives you five minutes to let that sink in. The lighting is also unreservedly fantastic, to the point that it makes the questionable pony models look fantastic. It's all just so lush and gorgeous, not to mention the sheer fluidity of his high-framerate animations. Given how many animators use as few frames as possible, animation this complex and fluid needs to be appreciated. As for these bloopers? They're genuinely funny. It's slapsticky, but it's really good slapstick. Really, it's five minutes of one of the fandom's best animators. That alone justifies its position on this list.

Children of the Night
by Duo Cartoonist

Yes, it's not entirely to my tastes. But so what? Taken purely as a piece of animation, Children of the Night is unbelievably impressive. Were it anything less than what it is, it'd be a runner-up to the PMV list. However, Children of the Night combines music and visuals to create a pseudo-narrative of sorts-one that, again, isn't to my tastes, but isn't at all bad. It's the ambition here that really elevates this above mere PMV status-this is a project that had been announced months in advance, and which just oozes with effort. It is possibly the prettiest thing that the fandom produced this year, and this year has had some absolutely gorgeous pony videos. There's also the scale, which also soars above other videos-and, to some extent, even goes above some episodes of the show. It's grandiose and beautiful, and that's why it's a towering example of fan animation.

Japonies React to Season 1 Premier Japanese
by SakuraCheetahArts

I'll be honest, I enjoyed this more than any of the Bronies React videos this year, even if it's just barely ahead of the Equestria Girls Trailer one. Somehow, this group of people seems a bit more real and sincere than the Bronies React group. Sure, I will forever want to be on that show, but it's gotten a bit too silly. Here, the jokes are still funny, but the new group of personalities and the more sincere tone are incredibly refreshing. In addition, it's fascinating from a point of view outside of the Japanese culture to look at the thoughts of these people from a different country talking about a show from my own country. But really, what I love about this is indeed the sincerity. It doesn't feel scripted-the jokes and opinions all feel impromptu. That makes it hard to discuss what makes this video so enjoyable-but it really, really is.

My Little Portal: Episode 4
by ChristiansCartoons

Speaking of ambition, here's something that I can't believe I missed when it came out. I just now watched the newest episode of My Little Portal, and it shows huge amounts of potential. Episode 4 is the best one yet, dare I say, as it throws around compelling ideas and introduces ideas that make you ask questions about the narrative. I hope to learn more of the backstory in coming episodes-at least, if it wasn't something I forgot in earlier episodes. The animation is slick and gorgeous, having a unique personality and shining through in brilliant high definition. The voice acting is absolutely amazing. Show-quality, dare I say. The characters are fully realized and keep their personalities from the show, which is particularly impressive and really speaks to the talents of ChristiansCartoons and his team. But really, it's the story that elevates this. I want to see more of this world. This world has a lot of potential, and I get the feeling that we haven't seen anything yet. The dark tone promises to just get darker, and the crossover is the single best I've seen, no exceptions. I wish I'd been able to give this a proper review earlier, but hopefully this is enough to summarize my thoughts on it.

Superman Meets My Little Pony
by ToucanLDM

Of the videos on the list, this is the one I've dedicated the least words to. However, of the "X Meets My Little Pony" videos, this is the best one released this year. The Iron Man one was shorter and mostly an extended fight scene, but this video takes that element and adds big laughs. There's a lot of creativity in the jokes-and that's really what elevates this so far above other videos. It takes a lot of creative talent to have this many good ideas thrown together like this. There's nothing quite like these videos, unless there are some ripoffs I'm not aware of. It's just one of the funniest videos of the year.

PONIES The Anthology III
by ZephyrStar (various bronies)

I had to. No Top 10 list is complete without that year's Anthology. It's over an hour of the best skits the fandom's got. Sure, they're relatively simple, but there's so many of them and almost all of them are so great that the Anthology is hard to love. This year's doesn't disappoint, sporting one of the year's best PMVs-and much, much more. The quantity of content here is staggering, and each sketch is brief enough that it doesn't outstay its welcome. Some are recurring, with bits scattered throughout the video, and these just get funnier each time. It's just brilliantly edited and hilarious, not to mention immense. The pure joy of the Anthology is hard to describe, so I'll leave it at this: The Anthology is perhaps the greatest collaboration in the fandom. All of the content is just that good.

by Silly Filly Studios

Double Rainboom claimed to be the first "fan-made MLP episode", but Snowdrop, which came out of nowhere, fits the label far more. Sure, it might sound manipulative on paper-but somehow, this story about a blind pony that consists almost entirely of sentimentality works. I was moved by Snowdrop. The character herself exists almost entirely to evoke pity, yet... she succeeds. The animation and voice acting are very impressive for something that dropped out of nowhere. But the most important part is the sincerity of the writing. Although it may sound manipulative, somehow it doesn't feel like that's it's intent. Maybe it's the monologue near the end. That monologue is easily one of the most touching things I've seen in the fandom so far. It's also impressive that some guys we've never heard of could come together and make something that has this much effort put into it. Maybe I can't justify how it made me feel, but that's one thing I can say objectively about it-it feels like the team really cared about this project. There's nothing cynical about it, and that's become increasingly refreshing after some of the things I've seen in this fandom.

by hotdiggedydemon

This is it. The magnum opus of the .MOV series. After this, hotdiggedydemon moved on to making non-pony videos, and perhaps he's better for it-after all, otherwise he'd be living in SWAG.MOV's shadow, and that's quite the big shadow to live under. For me, the .MOV series has had its ups and downs, though generally remained entertaining. At its worst, it was a little uncomfortable. At its best, it was absolutely hilarious. SWAG.MOV is neither. Well, that's not true-it is hilarious, but it's much more than that. SWAG.MOV is still a goofy, stupid comedy about semi-reprehensible characters, but somehow it still manages to have some strong emotions. The sense of scale is also immense, with this being an epic send-off to the entire .MOV series. It takes the storyline that was slowly growing over the course of the .MOV series, and gives it a great big sendoff. The centerpiece is a gigantic fight scene-and quite a brilliant one, at that. Surprisingly, there's a lot of heart and emotion here too. Well, maybe "a lot" is a slight overstatement, but it still made me feel more than I would have expected. As a whole, it's positively epic. The animation is great, too. Oh, and it's also the funniest of the series-maybe I should have mentioned that.

Turnabout Storm Part 5/4
by PWaaMLPfim (various bronies)

I did not expect to like this so much. Sure, I'd been hooked for a long time now, but I didn't think that the final part of this series would be a feature film, and a really good one at that. If Turnabout Storm had previously suffered from shaky characterization, this nails what they were going for and fully realizes all of its characters. In previous episodes, Phoenix had the odds stacked against him. Here, that all pays off as Phoenix finally begins to unravel the plot. The writing is brilliant. The voice acting is great. The editing and animation is fantastic. And it's all just so satisfying. If you stuck through with the series since the beginning, you're in for a treat here. This is the best part, and that's a good thing-they saved the best for last. Everything comes together. There are laughs to be had and tears to be shed. It's the grand finale of one of the fandom's greatest projects, and it lives up to its name and then some.

Twas The Night Before Pinkie
by ShadesofEverfree

ShadesofEverfree is the maker of a bunch of -licious videos, as well as Epic Beignet Time, which I didn't like much. However, with this video, ShadesofEverfree finally won me over. Pinkie Pie's characterization here is essentially flawless. Well, as flawless as Pinkie's more nuisance-like tendancies can be. The animation is fantastic-that was always ShadesofEverfree's strong point. But, for once, this is actually something that feels fresh and original. It's really funny, not to mention cute. There's not much to say here. It's just incredibly charming, and there's not much else to say about it.

So, there's my 10 favourite brony videos of last year. Looking back at these, I think that 2013 was a pretty good year for videos in the fandom. Sure, there was a lot I didn't like, but what I did like was really, really good. Here's to another great year of ponies and pony fanworks!

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