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No convention magic in Japantown

A Brony in his natural habitat. (Jen Ramos)

As I walked through the crowded hotel convention floor, all I saw were men — maybe the kind you see at a frat house — lined up along the wall and dressed in “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” paraphernalia, including t-shirts with buttons of Fluttershy, a Pegasus pony, on their messenger bag straps.

I was at the Animation on Display convention in the heart of San Francisco’s Japantown, spending my President’s Day weekend with my little brother and a friend from Mills.

Hundreds of animation fans gathered at the hotel to revel in their shared interest. There were panels, ranging from learning why Rattata, a mouse from the intensely popular video game series Pokémon, is one of the best Pokémon ever (in their opinions), to hearing the creator of the surrealistic children’s show LazyTown discuss the origins of its hit song, “You Are A Pirate,” which was then followed by a karaoke contest for convention goers to sing along.

On Saturday Feb 18, a particularly popular event at the convention was The Hub channel’s “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,” which began airing on Oct 10, 2010.

Yes, the colorful toy horses known for having cute tattoos on their rears that children loved in the early ‘90s is back, except this time it’s mostly twenty-something-year-old males who love the show and call themselves “Bronies.”

You read that right, folks — Bronies.

Bronies, according to Know Your Meme, a website that chronicles Internet fads and phenomenons, are male fans of the TV show “My Little Pony.” Know Your Meme also described Bronies as male fans ranging from adolescents to adults. And female “My Little Pony” fans are called Pegasisters.

Being surrounded by these Bronies set the atmosphere for the convention. I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing a pony or a Brony talking about his favorite pony.

The dealer hall, where vendors sold animation memorabilia, was packed with cosplayers (fans who dress in anime costumes). From mangas to key chains, it was a haven for people to find all their anime-related needs and wants.

Regardless of their product, every vendor who set up shop had a bit of a Pony focus.

The average convention goer was fully aware that this was a full-blown Brony festival. All the buzz was about “My Little Pony” and few seemed to care about panels that weren’t related to the latest animated fad. I would say the majority of convention goers were there for their Brony meet and greet.

The three panels I attended — two Pokémon related and one animation fan world related — were dry and stale. The information I received from these panels were either common knowledge or incorrect. Especially at the Pokémon panels — I have played games from every generation Nintendo released and I’m quite sure some of the panelist’s information, such as where to catch specific Pokémon in the wild, was wrong.

The “My Little Pony” phenomenon has a cultish appeal on the Internet, sure, but to take over the whole convention made Animation on Display lose focus on all the other animes and cartoons. If I wanted to go to a “My Little Pony” convention, I would’ve done so.

The convention had a lot of potential, but fell short due to a lack of variety and one too many males in T-shirts that proclaimed their Brony-ness.