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Geek Mashup: My Little Mononoke Hime

posted on by Gia Manry
An expert pony customizer talks to ANN about a recent anime-themed project

DeviantArt user Mana-Maiden, a United States-based artist, is a member of a proud and flourishing Internet community devoted to taking toys from Hasbro's classic My Little Pony franchise and customizing them to look like— well, anything. The above photo displays one of her most recent projects: a pony version of San, the female protagonist of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki's 1997 anime film Princess Mononoke, and her mother Moro (pictured below). In the film, San is a human girl raised by a wolf god and her clan; she works with the human Prince Ashitaka to save a nearby village from boar gods.

Mana-Maiden answered a few questions for ANN, relating that she fell into the hobby by accident when a search for the Final Fantasy game franchise turned up a pony mimicking the look of a Cactuar, a cactus creature that appears throughout the games. She began sketching concepts for her own ponies and learned customization techniques online, eventually joining the MLPArena.com website to connect with other pony collectors and boost sales of her commissions. She also noted that anime-based custom ponies are a niche within a niche and that "most pony collectors out there don't like anime custom ponies," but most of her customers are anime fans, and often cosplayers.

When asked, Mana-Maiden explained that it can take several days to customize a pony if you include several phases of waiting for paint and doll hair to dry. In particular, the painting of the pony's body takes time because the process involves four to six layers of paint, each of which must dry fully before the next can be started. She also called making the clothing "a challenge" since the dolls— being, you know, horses —aren't really designed to wear clothes.

In addition to the Princess Mononoke customs, Mana-Maiden has posted a wide variety of restyled ponies from anime, videogames, and other media to her DeviantArt account, along with some tutorials with instructions on how to get started customizing ponies. She also informed ANN that one of her customers commissioned a pony based on the character Micah from the Children of the Corn II horror film, which the customer sent on to actor Ryan Bollman, who played the character.

Although Mana-Maiden is currently not available for new custom orders, she revealed that custom ponies range in price from US$25 to $45 for a small pony and as much as $150 for the original full-size ponies, depending on the complexity of the design.

Photos © Mana-Maiden; My Little Pony © Hasbro; Princess Mononoke © Studio Ghibli


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