• Why the Kirin Caught Fire

    You get it? Because they burst into fla- anyway. 

    Everyone loves the Kirin right? They're cute, they're fun, the super energetic one is played by the girl from Crazy Ex Girlfriend, they hold a mirror to the flaws in our society's emotional growth. What's not to love? 

    But today I want to go a bit deeper on why this late series addition to the world of Equestria ignited the fandom's love and spread like wild fire. (I'll stop I promise) Let's look at some factor's that I think contributed to the Kirin's popularity.

    F.W.T.O - Fascination With The Other

    It's no secret that the many different kinds of creatures in Equestria have been a topic of intrigue for the fandom as a whole. Spike may not have been that big a deal because he had been in previous generations of My Little Pony, but then in Season 1 you have the likes of Zecora and Gilda. 

    In just the first few episodes of the series, it was shown that there was life and culture outside of the world of pastel color ponies. That there was more to explore in this world beyond the borders of Equestria. And that fueled the imagination of an already growing and creative fandom. Before we went to those lands outside of the likes of Ponyville and Canterlot, there was no shortage of stories and headcanons for "The Griffon Empire" or "Zebrica" or "The Dragon Lands".

    By the time the Kirin were introduced in Season 8, the show ran with the desire to see more of the world around the ponies full force. Between traveling to new lands in the movie and having a new group of characters mostly comprised of non pony creatures with the Student Six, MLP was satisfying a curiosity fans had had from the beginning. But if there's one thing fans love more then getting to see more of creatures we already seen before, it's getting introduced to all new creatures! Which is where the Kirin came in.

    Now like most creatures in MLP, the kirin are inspired by real world mythology. So they could have been the topic of curiosity with fans on how they would be presented in MLP if they were ever introduced.

    And I think it's kind of amazing that design wise, the Kirin as a species use a lot of old tricks the ponies did in early seasons. Like palette swaps of the same base model with the only difference appearing to be variations in the horn. But the base design is so creative and eye catching in it's detail that it became incredibly popular. A lot of people were creating Kirin versions of their OCs to see how they'd look. On a visual level, especially since they share so many similarities to the already winning design choices of the ponies, it's easy to see why so many find the Kirin so appealing.

    But after seeing so many amazing creatures over the years, there'd have to be more there for this species to stand out. Which brings me to...

    Autumn Blaze Burning Bright

    The Kirin may have been fascinating additions on their own, but what really grabbed people's attention and admiration, was Autumn Blaze (isn't that right Seth?). Which makes sense since if you follow news around MLP, Autumn was our first look at the Kirin. With Autumn Blaze's song being the star reveal at SDCC back in 2018. Here voice actor, Rachel Bloom, even made a special appearance at the panel.

    I'll come back to the song in a minute, but among other things, it highlights what makes Autumn Blaze so endearing. She's eccentric but an outcast. Enthusiastic with elaborate outlets for expressing herself. Spouts pop culture references almost as proudly as Discord and loves musical theater! Come to think of it, she might be my spirit animal....

    Despite being the most sensible of her species, she's not traditionally wise or benevolent. She's actually, kind of out there and eccentric. But she really just wanted to express herself, even if it came at the cost of not being accepted by her village. And I'm sure a lot of people can relate to choosing to be yourself over being accepted by those around you. Which leads me to possibly the most important reason the Kirin became so popular.

    Silence Isn't Golden

    Seeing new creatures is always a treat, and Autumn Blaze on her own probably would have made this episode memorable, but this Kirin Tale goes a bit deeper then that. Friendship is Magic is no stranger to taking on more powerful lessons that an audience member of any age can take something from. How to be honest without being hurtful. The balance between creativity and success. That even the smallest successes are worth being proud of. And that it's possible to overcome past abandonment and start again with friends or family. The Kirin's episode, The Sound of Silence, is one of these episodes.

    I think all of us have had an experience where anger or frustration has gotten the better of us. Where we say things we shouldn't and wish we could take back. Or have been on the receiving end of such an outburst. Whether it's by someone we know or even online. And in the Kirin's case, those emotions are physically destructive. When your entire body literally bursts into flames, you might want to evaluate your behavior.

    MLP takes place in a fantasy world, and fantasy can often be a vehicle for giving more abstract things a more immediate and easier to digest presence. Such as emotions. The Kirin's solution to just silence themselves to solve the problem is the extreme route, but you can understand how they got there. We cause destruction when we get very emotional? Okay, let's shut off all emotion and means of speech! It means they won't argue anymore sure, but it also means they lose any way of expressing themselves. And nothing, is worth giving that up for.

    My favorite line from Autumn Blaze's song is "You can't give up your laughter 'cause you're scared of a little pain". It's a universal truth, but one of the toughest ones to come to terms with. Especially if you've been on the receiving end. You can't control how others behave, you can only control your own feelings. And I know it's easy to just shut down from ever expressing yourself, even in a positive way, out of fear of backlash or contempt.

    But as Autumn Blaze points out to her fellow Kirin, they were only denying themselves the chance to be happy and expressive. If they just weren't able to speak, that'd be one thing, but they also keep a neutral expression on their faces until Autumn displays being able to be angry, while controlling her temper. The Kirin represent the importance of controlling your emotions, without inhibiting them. Which may be one of the most important lessons the show's ever presented. Doing so with guidance and brilliant demonstration.

    You can only live your best life with all of your feelings. Even the bad ones. It's vital to have the ability to share those feelings with others. Whether it's just talking or transferring it through creativity. And it's okay to get sad or angry, as long as you take the time to work through those feelings, rather then lashing out and hurting others. A lesson that I feel is sorely needed these days. And to me, it makes Sounds of Silence the best episode of Season 8. I think this episode and the Kirin themselves can help a lot of people put their own feelings and actions into perspective. And any media that can change people for the better, gets a ton of extra bonus points.

    Really the only bad thing about the Kirin is that they came so late in the show's run. While it was really nice to see new creatures in Season 8, with only one season left after their debut, they never really got the chance to return or be expanded on. I personally would have loved to see Autumn Blaze visit Ponyville and how she would deal with such a new environment after being alone for so long. And I know I'm not alone on that. Well who knows? Between a Kirin being part of Luster Dawn's group of friends, and the comics continuing, maybe the Kirin will have a future in some form.

    Even if they don't, the Kirin were such a fascinating, adorable, endearing, and beautifully complex yet simple species, that I am so glad they appeared at all for all the reasons I mentioned, and I'm sure there are other things people find appealing about the Kirin that I missed, so feel free to say what you like about the Kirin. And remember. Rainbows don't light up the sky unless you let it rain.

    Has someone put that on a shirt? Someone has to have done that by now....