Let’s face it, it’s the spotlight where we want to be, the main star, the shinning beacon, the altogether admirable example of what all others should aspire to be. And for artist that sometimes is as much the case, that’s why we consider the work on minor and background characters a detriment to our, overflowing artistic potential ( imagine as much as pompous a voice as you can while reading that).
But therein lies a tragic flaw in our manner of thinking. It’s because we want the spotlight that we often misunderstand the true importance of background characters. And few places showcase this flaw than in one of the greatest animated series of all of animationdom, My Little Pony Friendship is magic.
True, as much as it is a children’s show “My little Pony” or rather “My little Pony Friendship is magic” created by Lauren Faust, is a rather good show and not just in my personal opinion as a future professional in the animation industry, but as per the opinion of renown critics.
The show is a prime example of how background characters are more than just cutouts to fill out negative space. Many of the characters have been so intricately developed within their fraction of a second per episode that they have captured the hearts of the fan base to such an extent that the milestone 100th episode “Slice of life”, has these background characters as the protagonists, while the main cast is shoved in the background.
One in particular stands out, Derpy or Muffins, a gray pony with yellow mane and a bubbles mark or cutie mark (as the lore goes) on her flank. She was initially mean to be just another background design of no consequence or of major influence to the franchise. It is said that the animator assigned to her drew her cross-eyed as manner of a joke since he face was not going to be visible anyway but when the final layout for background characters was set, her face became visible, her cross-eye and particular facial expression won the hearts of the fan base, who named her Derpy a name which the producers would make it her official one; since then this, few frames per episode, character has had a strong fanbase who are keen to look for her in the background of every episode eventually earning her a speaking role and even a been the protagonist of one known episode.
Derpy is significant to the reason why “My little Pony Friendship is magic” is such a popular show, this one non consequential pony who in all respects should have been dismissed without a second glance depicts a profound connection between the show and its audience. The fact that they would care so deeply about a character that might as well have been a coat rack confirms the writers succeeded in building a world with such a profound an interesting lore, that every character therein is noteworthy and intriguing, helped in large part by the care, diligence and love, that the animator took in what could have been considered to be an insult to her/his skills Instead, it is because of that animator that Derpy is considered by many fans of the franchise as “best pony” rather than fading into obscurity and who since and because of those initial few frames, has been developed to expand her lore and has since become multifaceted character, representative of single mothers and the mentally disabled ….. All because of those few special frames of animation.