Of munks, ponies and spaceships

(image credit flutterguy317)

It’s not escaped my notice that a number of old CDRR-fans moved over to My Little Pony:Friendship is Magic, and I’ve been wondering what it is about the shows that attract similar people, cus as far as cartoons go, they are pretty different in terms of style.

I think there’s a clue in how a lot of CDRR-fans are also old trekkies and there’s a very noticable crossover between the MLP fandom and the star trek fandom (and not just because Q is in both shows).

I think the common thread is “a group of quirky, colorful but ultimately pretty competent characters who are all pretty good friends with each other and solves problems in scenarios that have elements of both adventure and comedy”.

There absolutely seems like there’s a loose fandom for that thing, but there’s not really a named genre for that, so people just sort of tends to float through related fandoms looking for that fix.

Anyone got any thoughts on this? What do you think the similarities in appeal are between CDRR and MLP, or CDRR and Star Trek? I’m also curious if anyone has any overlapping fandom that seem to be on a similar theme, like I recently got into the show Leverage and I think it has a very similar sort of appeal.

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I don’t really know.
I have to be honest here: I kinda hate Star Trek.
The prime directive doesn’t feel enlightened, it feels like a concession to any desire for genuine empathy and good intent being defeated by a legacy of colonialism and inequality that, even in the far future, proves eternally inescapable. it feels like admitting to being trapped in a mindset where legitimate friendship is impossible; race and species relations are always going to be political and about power dynamics, while fostering goodwill is simply performative means to those pursuits.

I’m a fan of My Little Pony because it presents the pursuit of a culture and a world where the opposite is true. Friendship is not something Twilight Sparkle measures in terms of its performative usefulness for affecting Equestrian policy or pony hegemony; instead, she measures policies and the use of power by how those things serve to increase and improve friendships.

My Little Pony is a future I want.
Star Trek isn’t.

Maybe that’s why it was consistently or conveniently ignored most of the time. From what I’ve been lead to believe star trek didn’t assume the original vision roddenberry had for it, ToS being a product of its time, being fired from the movies and having little to no control of TNG. He envisioned much less conflict. But everyone around him agreed that doesn’t make good TV. And that’s why we have stuff like discovery and picard running these days.

William Shatner also played a role. Grandfather of the apple children.

Apart from Gadget being a prolific technophile I don’t really see the similarity in appeal between cdrr and star trek despite myself being a fan of both.

Exactly. And they’re cute. I like cute. When it isn’t overdone anyway. Another thing they all have as a common thread is my favourite kind of story which is the bonds of friendship overcoming adversity.

For an overlapping theme? Maybe Adventure Time. And Avatar: The Last Airbender.

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I may be overplaying the Star Trek connection, it is such a big franchise that you’d be hard-pressed to find a fandom that doesn’t have at least a little overlap with the star trek fandom.

It was mainly on my mind because I distinctly remember some VERY enthusiastic starship fans at the cafe, to the point where you’d be forgiven for thinking based on lurking in the forum that CnDRR was a space show with talking chipmunks and mice in it. (and considering that I used to watch Out to Launch as many times as my VHS copy could take as a kid, I might not have minded that).

Another aspect of both MLP and CDRR that I enjoy is the enviromental design. They both take place in what seems to be pretty nice places to live without necesserily being a sleek utopia. CDRR just takes place in the shadow of a modern (for its time) city and Equestria is an alternative universe where disasters seem to happen fairly regularly, but I get the sense that outside of the adventures, you can have a pretty pleasant existance just doing your thing and if you ever have any trouble, there are people around you willing to help.

You aren’t wrong. I also used to use a star trek based character as my persona when I first joined but in my case it was just a convenient mashup of two of my fandoms.

I too am skeptical of the Star Trek connection being significant to this, but your hypothesis about the connection between CDRR and MLP seems plausible, at least.

It also seems like it might be significant that both franchises were designated as being for children; adults who were at least reasonably active fans of CDRR, therefore, would be adults willing to ignore that designation, and that could in turn lead them to being more likely than the general population to become fans of Friendship is Magic.

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I have to add my doubts about the Star Trek Connection, since I never watched it until recently, since it’s on Netflix anyway. And I have to say, season 1 and 2 of the Next Generation are painfully slow archive binging. Q and Data are the only redeeming qualities. And yes, I too hate Wesley.

MLP, on the other hand, was very easy to get into and it’s a shame Gen4 had to come to its inevitable end. I guess the nostalgia for 80’s fantasy adventure is what made the show feel more familiar and trusted, and this board and fandom is all about a show from the same era.

I am unsure. Maybe part of the moving from one fandom to the other would be that, well, it’s nice to be a fan of sonething you like, but belonging TO a fandom where people are at least sonewhat active is nice, too.

The CDRR fandom was even tiny well before MLP got big. And then, when MLP got big? Well, being part of that, of something where others dont think you are weird for liking a “kid’s show” ( even if the world does). - That has its own appeal, doesnt it?

If its simply just about the connections between the shows and why people may find appeal in both? (Leabing out the possibke Star Trtk connsction fif now).

I think you are onto something sbout the characters and dynamics between them. Shows where the main charactres are friends (and nothing else) also seem to be weirdly uncommon, even for cartoons. So, that’s another thing the shows have in common (and, come to think of it, Star Trek ALSO is comperatively low on love drana stuff…)

To be fair, the fandons of course STILL create love drana stuff, but, for whatever reason, that’s fandoms for you. - People want to ship. (And maybe not having established ships makes that easier? Who knows? Definitly not me. I don’t understand shipping…)

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MLP is the Game of Thrones of cartoons. It was extremely popular seemingly overnight and contined to grow rapidly. Really, it’s no wonder it attracted the attention of CDRR fans stuck in a old, small, and mostly dead community by that point. I wasn’t a fan myself, but the show’s quality was undeniable.

As for Star Trek, I can’t even venture a guess how it relates to CDRR. Maybe everyone had the Out to Launch VHS?

I can see some merit in a connection between the three shows. All three focus on an eclectic group of heroes who are, ultimately, also friends and they all have settings that take us out of our real (and often depressing) world.


I think this is what drew me into both of the shows. I’ve spent most of my life feeling like an outcast, so I’m drawn to shows that are about friends working together, and the whole “the real ____ are the friends we made along the way!” trope.

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For me, Star Trek was a big part of my childhood, I was a huge Star Trek fan as a kid and I still am today, although not so much the newer series. When I first dove into RR fandom way back in the early 2000’s, it was purely nostalgia driven, RR was one of those shows I loved as a kid but hadn’t thought about in years until I saw the DVD set of the first season and was instantly excited for it. Rescue Rangers, Duck Tales, Darkening Duck, Talespin we’re all shows that I loved when I was 6 or 7, along with Star Trek. I was fortunate enough to be able to experience all these shows in real time and revisit them as an adult through the lens of nostalgia but also being able to absorb the messages and the content better than I was able to as a child.

I never got into the new MLP, but again, MLP was something I remembered from my childhood, my sister used to collect them and I thought they were cute. As an adult though, I learned of the “brony” aspect of the fandom and didn’t want to associate with that. I consider myself a huge nerd about a lot of things, but I grew up in a time when being a nerd or a dork or a geek got you bullied. Liking Star Trek and Star Wars and comic books was for losers who would in no way ever be considered cool. Now, you’re a loser for not liking those things, it’s this weird shift. So for me, I hide my nerdiness because I’ve been conditioned to be ashamed of it, especially being a fan of things like MLP, where there is a lot of hate towards that community.

Here’s another thing, MLP is generally seen as being heavily associated with the furry community, and there is still a lot of hate towards furries. I got into certain aspects of furry culture long before furries we’re widely known about and could only be found in the farthest reaches of the primitive internet of the 90’s (anyone remember Furcadia? It’s still around!). There is a lot of crossover amongst furries, Star Trek, MLP, and Disney Afternoon fandoms, mostly because of the anthro characters (in the case of DA shows and MLP), but also because of the inclusive nature of these shows, Star Trek in particular. Like, theres an entire episode of TNG where Riker falls in love with a member of a nonbinary species who is forced to undergo conversion therapy, this episode was decades ahead of it’s time. Jonathan Frakes even wanted the character to be male presenting but the homophobic producers wouldnt allow it.

So in summary of my rambling, MLP, RR, and Trek fans are furries and dorks.

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To build on this, if you liked MLP, try Centaurworld. It’s pretty much an MLP for adults, only ten times better. And actual Broadway actors.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that there has to be such a close connection between CDRR and MLP:FiM. I mean, the bronydom siphoned fans out of all sorts of fandoms. I can see the parallels, though: Both shows are basically about a ragtag bunch of vigilantes. Okay, one difference is that CDRR is 100% action/adventure without slice-of-life episodes because it was made before slice-of-life was introduced to western animation.

The main connection between the fandoms, I guess, is that both Rangerphiles and bronies are amongst the more deviant of fans of western animation. While not as dead as the TaleSpin fandom, the Rangerdom has always been tiny, and it has always done many things differently from other, more mainstream fandoms.

So has the bronydom in a sense. It may have grown to gigantic proportions on the other hand, but it has always largely remained under the radar because it’s difficult to admit you’re a fan of something that’s not only generally perceived but actually originally conceived as a show for little girls. If you openly admit you’re a brony, you’re easily labeled potentially gay or, worse yet, pedophile; at the very least you have to be mentally retarded and somewhere on a pre-school stage of development or something.

CDRR is more gender-neutral, but also seen as a “kids’ cartoon”, plus it’s old, and it has faded into obscurity to such degrees that most people don’t remember anything beyond the theme tune. I don’t think its fandom (or the general perception of its fandom) has tainted its reputation as much as in the case of Steven Universe.

At the end, I guess we’re having to deal with a general knack for not-too-ironic western animation. Look at the Rangerdom of the 2000s. Many Rangerphiles were also fans of other animated shows which, I guess, influenced and inspired them even as Rangerphiles, be it TaleSpin, be it Codename: Kids Next Door which must have directly or indirectly influenced quite a number of fanfics.

There’s one more thing, and that’s MLP:FiM’s sincerity. The 2000s had so many wacky and/or ironic cartoons that it’s now considered a dork age. It says a lot that [adult swim] counted as a sort of benchmark in animation back then. Homestar Runner could have run at prime time if it had 20-minute episodes.

But all of a sudden, Disney came back with Gravity Falls, Adventure Time grew a beard and got interesting, and Lauren Faust hijacked My Little Pony, ripped it from the hands of Hasbro’s execs and turned it into what she had wanted it to be ever since she was seven. Something that takes its audience seriously. So did the early Disney cartoons. CDRR was well before that dork age, the first time that Disney made quality animated shows with well-made characters. And today they both have in common that they preceded Netflix’ rampant wokeness.

CDRR and MLP:FiM have another thing in common: They both inspire creativity a lot. They provide inspiring settings and inspiring characters, something that you just want to take and develop further. There was a time when what seems like every third Rangerphile was a fanfic writer, and another third of the fandom made fan art. Now look at how creative the bronydom is.

This leads me to an interesting question: What if the Rangerdom was bigger? What if it had the critical mass, for example, for actual conventions instead of slapping this label on three-day meet-ups? Or for its own charity drives? Or at least for greater chances for other forms of fan creativity to emerge?

The reason CDRR doesn’t have as big of a following is because like you said it’s too obscure. It was a three season show that was overshadowed by more successful shows about ducks and bears. It didn’t have the same overall pop culture exposure as MLP. MLP was primarily a toy line, with cartoon tie-ins, CDRR never had that mass market promotion happening. Most things that have massive and rabid fandoms span multiple generations and media types. TMNT is a good example spanning comic books, toys, cartoons, movies, and video games. CDRR had those things but it just wasn’t marketed the same way the other franchises were. The Disney Afternoon block of shows was a way for Disney to try to dig itself out a hole it had dug from a long string of unsuccessful films in the 70’s in early 80’s, generally regarded as Disney’s “dark period”. The new CEO Michael Eisner decided to dust off some long forgotten characters from the old Disney Comic books from the 40’s and 50’s, which is where Duck Tales came from. He wanted to bring these aging characters who hadn’t seen action for 30 or 40 years into the modern era. He also tasked his animators to come up with a show with only a name to go on, Eisner told his team about a candy his kids liked called Gummy Bears so he said “make me a show called Gummy Bears.” His efforts paid off and success of The Disney Afternoon along with films like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast are credited with turning Disney’s luck back around and making them popular again. Michael Eisner helped save Disney.

Despite the success of the Disney Afternoon as a whole, certain shows were more popular than others, Gummi Bears and Duck Tales being the two stand out titles. So why isn’t there a huge fan base for either of those titles? I think it’s because the fandom of these shows are largely nostalgia based. MLP fandom does have a large nostalgia factor, but it’s more than that, the new shows are much different than the old 80’s ones, it’s that new style of children’s media that’s also accessible to adults, so not only can your 7 year old enjoy it, so can the parent, so now there’s something to bond over.

You touched on this a little bit, but bronies are very cringe, but some Ranger fans are even more so. I tend to get embarrassed by fandoms. Im a huge nerd about a lot of things, but seeing other fans of the things I’m into and the types of people certain fandoms attract makes me uncomfortable with my interests sometimes. I don’t want my hobbies and interests to become my entire identity like it does for some people. I look at some of the absolute dorkiest, most cringe inducing people in fandoms I’m a part of and think “oh God, am I like that? Do people see me like that? What if they think I’m cringe?”

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That’s when you spread your nerdy interests out so far and wide that no one could ever really see the cringe because you’re moving too fast between hobbies and interests and fandoms; there’s no way they can focus on one hobby long enough to see if there’s anything to cringe about because it’s too blurry. But really, you sound like me in that you just don’t make any one thing your entire identity.

I’m obviously a big enough fan of Chip ‘n’ Dale and Rescue Rangers to make and maintain a website about them, but none of my friends or family identify me as part of the fandom because I’m into SO many other things as well. They know I like Chip ‘n’ Dale, but they also see how much I like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Legend of Zelda. They know that I like Nintendo and Disney, they know that I’m also a big enough Warner Bros fan to have Looney Tunes artwork displayed in the entryway, and that I like MLP enough to have a Rainbow Dash cap and a Derpy Hooves Funko Pop on my bookshelf. They know that I’m interested in electronics and technology, in doing things like making and maintaining websites, and learning how things work and how they can be fixed just because I find it interesting. They know that I play video games, that I adore cats, and that I’m a band nerd who still enjoys listening to instrumental music.

There are so many things I totally nerd out about, but I don’t make any single one of those things my entire identity. They’re all just things I’m really passionate about.

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but bronies are very cringe

I mean okay but

I kid, I kid.

Seriously, though, if we could not reductively assume that people having an interest means that it’s their entire identity and then declare them “cringe” for it, that’d be great. Even more importantly, you should really try not to internalize that kind of thinking and let it make you uncomfortable with yourself. Other people’s judgments over single facets of you as a complex whole, especially when those facets don’t even affect them, shouldn’t get that kind of power to set you against yourself.

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To be fair, quite a few things changed with the fourth generation of MLP, Friendship is Magic. For one, Lauren Faust turned it from a toyline with advertising cartoons into an animated show with toys as merch. Most people don’t know and still see the show and the movie as advertising, but I guess it works in certain countries (it didn’t in Germany where Filly had shown up just when MLP was in the sucky G3.5, so especially younger mothers believe that MLP is a Filly knock-off). The bronies do know and love the show for it, although they dislike most of the official Hasbro toys for not being “show-accurate” enough.

The MLP fandom itself is split in two. For one, there’s the traditional MLP fandom, the collectors, mostly Gen-X-ers, a few Millennials, almost exclusively female. They’re only in it for the official toys and collecting them, largely regardless of generation (although there’s a preference for G1 and the general dislike for G3.5). They have their own conventions called PonyCons which are nothing like your typical pop culture convention; they’re mostly about displaying collections.

The bronies are fully separate from that and basically a second fandom. They’re only interested in G4 and there only in the animated material, i.e. the show Friendship is Magic, the 2017 movie, more or less also the Equestria Girls films and animated specials. Toy-wise, only few things that Hasbro made caught their interest. They’d rather buy more show-accurate licensed products like the Funko vinyls or the 4DE plushies, and they’re even more likely to spend their money on hand-crafted fanmerch, shelling out hundreds of dollars for one single commissioned one-off plushie.

In the earlier years, there has been some animosity between collectors and bronies. The collectors thought the bronies were G4 collectors and wondered why they started a new fandom instead of joining the collectors’ ranks. Many bronies, in turn, openly said that any and all MLP generation before G4 sucks, thereby dismissing FiM’s own legacy and insulting those many collectors who had grown up with G1.

Over the years, the bronydom has matured, the differences were put aside, and we’ve gotten to a point at which the older collector scene is partly piggybacking on the newer bronydom: PonyCons are now co-organized by bronies who have gathered more experience with fan conventions in less than ten years than the collectors have in decades. They’ve also got larger attendances than ever because they’re one half brony conventions now. Vice versa, some brony conventions have welcomed the collector scene, but except for a few merchants, nothing much had come out of this AFAIK.

Now let me go back to the early Disney Afternoon shows.

One reason why they’ve largely faded into obscurity is because they’ve never had such big fandoms. The reason for that, in turn, is because these shows were on air before the World Wide Web showed up, even before the Usenet was opened to the general public. By the time online fandoms became a thing, DuckTales and Gummy Bears fans had largely moved on (including to Don Rosa comics in the case of DuckTales fans).

Still, these two titles seem to be remembered more fondly. Especially DuckTales was lucky that its memory was somewhat kindled by on-going comic releases in the Disney Ducks Universe. The 30th anniversary reboot is basically fan animation with partly the same target audience as the original, DuckTales for grown-ups while still being sincere.

CDRR and TaleSpin were kind of on the edge. CDRR was taken off syndication and therefore North American free TV just when AOL opened the Usenet to everyone, so it didn’t have that much of a chance to fade away. As for the number of fans, I dare say that many Rangerphiles remained in the closet. And I can see the reason: If you say you love CDRR, and someone asks you why, would you speak out the truth, namely that you’ve got a crush on Gadget?

Also, CDRR was the first time Disney took legacy characters and retooled them whereas Gummi Bears was 100% original, and DuckTales stuck to Carl Barks’ proven recipe. I think many weren’t happy about that which cost the show a number of viewers.

That said, if I look at the early days of Disney Afternoon fandom, it’s interesting to see how it was actually driven by Rangerphiles. The editor of the W.T.F.B. zine? A Rangerphile. The founder of the DAFT mailing list? A Rangerphile. I think CDRR even accounted for most of the threads on alt.fan.disney.afternoon. The CDRR fanbase may have been smaller than those of DuckTales, Gummi Bears, Darkwing Duck and maybe even TaleSpin, but it was more active.

Still, a lot of time has passed since then, and these shows are nothing but a distant childhood or youth memory for everyone but the most dedicated fans. This, I guess, is why the Rangerdom hasn’t died out: We had quite a number of them. And we had the fan creativity to sustain the fandom in times when the show wasn’t available anymore except to those who paid for it. We’re lucky to have had that string of now-classic fanfics to keep the fandom alive, Rhyme & Reason, Chip Noir Dale’s Rescue Rangers, the Nowakverse, Of Mice and Mayhem etc., even though some say that those typical 90s’ and 2000s’ dark fics which were especially wide-spread in the Rangerdom didn’t age well.

And it also helps that the earlier days of the Rangerdom are well-preserved while they’ve gone completely forgotten in most other fandoms. How many cartoon fandoms can still cite a fic that was completed 27 years ago as one of their best? How many fandoms in general have a Rangerillion? This is why the Rangerdom still exists: We’ve got something to look back at, and we’ve got something good to still entertain us with, even if hardly any new fanfic is being written.

Now, the Disney cartoons fandoms that really got big right away were different ones. Gargoyles and Kim Possible were two of the first shows which hit the screens when bulletin boards had become a thing, thereby facilitating the creation of online fan communities. Unlike Fox, Disney didn’t have them bulldozed by their legal departments for the tiniest IP breach. The Gargoyles fandom died out quickly, but not due to fading away. It was because Disney let the fans down and ended the show with an unresolved cliffhanger. That’s fanfic fuel, but it was clear that Disney didn’t care for that franchise. Also, Kim Possible had appeared, and I guess many Gargoyles fans jumped bandwagons. Kim Possible was Disney’s first and only show to be un-canceled due to fan demands, and unlike Gargoyles, that was when the show had actually been concluded.

Kim Possible lost a lot of fans, too, sure. Some moved on from cartoons, some jumped bandwagons again, probably especially when Codename: KND was hit by the Cerebus Syndrome. But even the one who ended up a horse-famous pegasister on YouTube never lost touch with her past. And Kim Possible managed to stay relevant. It had a long enough run, it aged well, and now we’ve got a live-action movie.

CDRR has always had its problems here. As active as the Rangerdom used to be, it was never big enough to really be recognized from outside, especially when the other Disney Afternoon fandoms didn’t have to piggyback on it anymore because they either faded away or managed to stand on their own feet with the arrival of the Web 2.0. As the Acorn Café hides from Google, the Rangerdom is hard to find, so many believe that the CDRR fandom equals Gaykoslavie, that Russian Gadget cult. Ain’t worth making a sincere CDRR reboot for them.

Those who do dig deeper and manage to find the Café are convinced that the Rangerphiles are a tiny bunch of ultra-conservative, ultra-religious homophobes because that’s the impression the Café gives. Ain’t worth making a sincere CDRR reboot for these either, right? I mean, if there were people who aren’t like this, they’d rebel against the Café’s rules, now, wouldn’t they? Nope. No, they wouldn’t. Not only do they have friends at the Café, including supporters of the Café’s strict rules, but for as long as CnD Online wasn’t around, the inevitable ban from the Café would have meant bye-bye to the Rangerdom as a whole because there was nowhere else to go. You could either speak out for homosexuals or be an active member of the CDRR fandom. Pick one.

For one, many aspiring Rangerphiles are repelled from the Café’s outward appearance as ultra-religious and openly homophobic. Others who manage to see that not everyone there is like that are repelled by the rules. This is also why the Rangerdom is so tiny and insignificant: It didn’t have much of a chance to grow since 2005 because it drove away so many new potential members. The lack of fresh blood is also why the Rangerdom’s fansite infrastructure is crumbling.

And again, the Rangerdom as it looks like now isn’t worth making a sincere CDRR reboot for, and that’s not because the Rangerphiles expect something at the scale of Rhyme & Reason. It’s a wonder we got the Boom! comics with all their fan-pandering. And I’m not sure if I’d be surprised if the movie flipped a proverbial bird at the fandom, although I rather expect it to ignore it altogether.

Lastly, it’s sad to say that, but the most cringeworthy members of a fandom are always those whom the general public sees first and foremost, no matter which fandom it may be. And it’s them whom the general public takes for what all fans are like. This is nothing new. Those unkempt übernerds commonly known as “Trekkies” are generally seen as representative for all Trekkers. The Böhse Onkelz fanbase is still 100% neo-Nazis (truth be told, most of them are neo-Nazis because hardly anyone else would admit being an Onkelz fan for fear of being lumped together with the Nazis). If you like any kind of anime or even manga, you’re a weeaboo. And As We All Know™, all Rolling Stones fans are one-percenters who regularly demolish concert venues.


It’s ok to like things. It’s ok to geek out about the things you like. If you’re having a pride march about the things you like or someone just happens to stroll past your room and see all the things you collect you’re going to have people find it strange. Unless you’re going to add them to your severed head collection there isn’t much to do about it.

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I like plenty of things, but like them in private. I mentioned this before, but I grew up in a time when liking the things I liked got people severely bullied. I played Magic the Gathering heavily in school, my friends and I ended up playing in the library at lunch because all the jocks would torment us when we played in the lunch room.

I have lots of weird obscure interests and hobbies that like Ducky said, I spread out, I dont make one my whole identity. I have friends in communities of each of my interests, and I see some of them where that’s their whole thing. I problem is when I find something new I really like, I dive deep into and become obsessed with only that thing. Then after awhile I get bored and move back to a previous interest and still keep the shiny new thing in my back pocket for when the old stuff gets boring again or a new shiny thing comes along. I did that with CDRR, when I first rediscovered it, I dove headfirst into the fandom. Eventually I got bored, especially as the online community dwindled, but now that Ducky revived this place, it’s reignited my interest. I’m now nostalgic for my nostalgia of a show from my childhood, and nostalgic for a forum I frequented 15 years ago. My level of obsession is not as high this time around, but I’m enjoying some of the new content that is coming out of the fandom, like Arcane’s comic.