...No, really! I've got an excellent analysis to share with you all that's so long I'm going to split it into two parts, which dissects the fandom's most famous story in stunning detail. If you enjoy deep dives into storywriting, you're in for a treat. But before that, I've got something a little... let's say, lighter, to share with you. Head down below the break for a quote-filled point-by-point rebuttal of my review, brought to you by the inimitable Richard!
Is My Little Dashie the Best Story in the MLP Fandom?
Chris: "the entire premise for the story comes across as a gigantic asspull."
Chris: "the sheer improbability of Dash performing a sonic rainboom in the middle of a city (no matter how sparsely populated) without anyone noticing, or making a fuss over everyone's windows being blown out"
Chris: "surely the FBI would be all over a mysterious explosion in an urban center"
Chris: "how utterly contrived the ending is, conspiring through vague proclamations rather than actual reasons to bring about a bittersweet denouement."
ROBCakeran53: Here is the link to the google docs version. I'm not sure how commenting works in that program
ROBCakeran53's virtues clearly extend beyond keen literary taste to honesty because he enabled universal commenting permissions. The result (mildly NSFW) can be found here. Happily (sadly?) for us, ROBCakeran53 also uploaded to Fimfiction, which is the version I reference.
Chris: Unfortunately, there are some major problems even if one accepts the premise. For myself, the biggest was that, for a story which is supposed to be about emotional growth, there's very little actual growth here.
OR IS IT?
At the beginning of Twilight, Bella Swan is bland and clumsy. At the end of Twilight, Bella Swan is bland and clumsy. In her infinite wisdom, Stephenie Meyer saw that giving Bella strong characterization would make her less relatable. ROBCakeran53 took a similar approach, which is why Stephenie Meyer is worth $125,000,000 and ROBCakeran53 has a 6-star story on Equestria Daily, whereas Lauren Faust's net worth isn't listed in her Wikipedia article and Chris only has a 4-star story on Equestria Daily. (Chris also has a 6-star story.)
Chris: He gets a better job, but there's no indication that that has anything to do with raising a pegasus.
OR IS THERE?
Before Dash, the narrator would watch MLP and get depressed by "it's [sic] warm colors and bright, smiling faces of the ponies." As a result, he would shut down his computer and take long walks—not conducive to professional development. When teaching Dash how to fly, he does research at the library. According to Will Hunting "You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library."
Chris: He doesn't go out and make some friends, start dating, or do anything else to expand his social circle beyond the pony he's caring for.
OR DOES HE?
Certainly, we don't hear about any such social developments in the narrative, but while absence of evidence is evidence of absence, it is not proof of absence. Indeed, a closer reading reveals further effects Dash had on the narrator:
"Those large black eyes, along with the rose-colored rim around them, drive my heart to, as the meme goes, explode... twice."
"My heart explodes for a third time."
"my heart exploded again."
"But damn it all, I'm gonna say it cause it's true! My heart exploded twice!"
By my count, the narrator's exploded no fewer than six times. I imagine that, parallel to the story, there's a rom-com where the narrator falls in love with a doctor with a terminal disease. In a manner reminiscent of East of the Sun and West of the Moon (or Dexter), he brings her home with the caveat that they don't look in the one bedroom at the end of the hall. Inevitably, the good doctor does, to discover Dashie, but is overwhelmed by his selflessness that she agrees to donate her heart to replace his exploded one.
Rinse, repeat for the next five times his heart explodes.
Chris: raising Dash got him to feel less depressed.
RAISING DASH GOT HIM TO FEEL LESS DEPRESSED!
Chris: Dash, meanwhile, seems to have a pretty horrifying life. Trapped in a world where she cannot interact with anyone except the narrator for fear of being carted away by Big Brother (or something), she's forced to live out the entirety of the story in strict isolation.
OR DOES SHE?
Google Docs has built-in wordcounting, so I'll be quoting from that version. From "'DashieDoofusDASHIE!' Pinkie shouted, jumping onto her cyan friend." to "The End." is 3432 words out of 30079 total. By the dread power of division, I conclude that Dash only spent 88.59% of the story living a pretty horrifying life, trapped in a world of strict isolation where she can only interact with the narrator.
Chris: As more and more time passes with each break in the narrative, the horror of being unable to interact with anyone, ever, save the lone person with whom you live, becomes impossible to ignore.
OR IS IT?
Dash's life being indistinguishable from Hell helps people sympathize with her, just like Bella Swan having divorced parents helped readers sympathize with her. And, really, who doesn't every now and again say "Boy, I can't seem to stop being cheerful today! I wish something would come along and darken my mood," or "I've been in a good mood all day; I really need to find something that'll leave me depressed and gloomy?"
Chris: And yet, this complete lack of social interaction seems to have no adverse effects on her whatsoever, and the narrator never seems particularly bothered by the idea that she is totally dependent on him for literally everything. Again, for a story which eschews all pretense of plausibility in favor of playing a cosmic game of "what if?," this is a glaring weakness.
OR IS IT?
Certainly, we want bad things to happen to our characters to make them sympathetic—but this should never result in characterization. Otherwise they might become less relatable!
Further, it is written: "People like being happy, and don't like being sad." Adverse effects don't sound very happy. Getting bothered for being totally independent doesn't sound very happy. ROBCakeran53 follows tradition of Stephenie Meyer in showing us how it's done: sympathetic characters unaffected by their trauma so we can relate to them.
Chris said: There were a few better moments, I admit. The idea that Dash would be a NASCAR fan is amusing, but makes perfect sense.
OR DOES IT?
Yes. It does, in fact, make perfect sense.
Chris said: Like Past Sins, a lot of people eventually consume this because it's so heavily debated.
OR WILL THEY?
In Soviet Russia, My Little Dashie consumes YOU!
At least it consumed several hours I took to write this. I'm not getting those back.
Betteridge's law. Also, the game.
An edifying reading experience if ever there was one. In all seriousness, I appreciated that this was able to be silly without being mean-spirited--the only person Richard's really making fun of here is himself (or rather, the character who authored this post), and I'm pretty sure he can take it. Thanks for the laughs!