Are you giving me a choice between characters or ponies? Well in that case the answer would have to be characters. I imagine most everyone here will pick that option
If you just love the ponies for the poni then you should be able to love G3, G2 and G1 because that’s all they had going for them. But most people don’t.
If we didn’t have such well constructed characters in G4, this fandom would never have gotten off the ground. The first fans may have still watched the first couple episodes and still made the first image macro’s just for the irony and troll potential, but with no deep characterization to latch onto…it would never have lasted.
A lot of what this fandom creates is built upon those characters. We create fanfictions and art not just to see ponies in different poses but to see those characters act and behave in new context and explore idea’s of those characters interacting with new environments
People who fap to pony porn are more likely to be fapping over those characters and their love for those characters, rather than just fapping over a horse in lingerie…I hope.
So yea, it’s mostly about the characters. It’s for this same reason that I don’t see the upset over Equestria Girls when we have not seen anything yet. Because if that show executes the characters just as well, it could still work. My only reason for not caring much for it now is that I probably won’t see too much appeal in the high-school context.
On the other hand, if we are talking reasons that go beyond just characters and ponies then I would say, as I have said before in earlier Pony Generals; that my draw to this fandom is mostly the fandom itself and not so much the show.
The show is cute and adorable with nice morals, which I like, but I see it as just a regular show. I don’t find it spectacular compared to shows like Batman of the Future. But to me, this fandom is quite unique. As far as I can tell MLP is special partly because the internet made it special using the power of fan creation and hype. I love the things the internet has created using MLP as a catalyst. That’s what fascinates me more than anything else.
MLP alone still has many merits going for it, I will admit. For instance it was the lovable morale of Luna Eclipsed that got me in the the fandom
But also we, the internet, made MLP what it is known for today: our chosen one to rise to unwarranted fame and troll everybody who’s insecure about girly things in their internet. I wouldn’t have even watched Luna Eclipsed in the first place if it wasn’t for that
We took an ordinary, simple cartoon that nobody thought would be exceptional and we gave it new characters in our image, new merchandise in our image, conventions, freaking convensions!, endless artworks from talented artists, epic crossover stories, whole entire product lines and populated half the internet with cartoon horses. This is the power of the internet, the power of fandom and my awe of it drew me in