Happy All Your Base Day, everyone. February 15 is the 11th anniversary of the release of the famous “All Your Base” Flash video, a which spread like wildfire through the Internets way back in 2001. While it wasn’t the first meme to come along, it was probably the first one related to Japan (the video mocks the particularly bad English translation in a classic Sega game), and it more or less marked the point where images of ceiling cat watching us ruminate about viral videos became a daily thing. Being a hyper-connected society, Japan has their share of ridiculous memes, and it’s interesting to see which of them make the transition from Japan to the wider world or vice-versa. Bizarre videos with music like the Bleach “Loituma girl” spinning leek song or those terrifying videos remixing the Lucky Star opening credits with Japanese Ronald McDonald (“Ran…ran…ROO!”) will usually find a broad audience, while memes that require linguistic comprehension are more difficult. For example, LOLcats is virtually unknown here, despite the Japanese love of looking at cats on the Internet, as the jokes usually require understanding of English, or at least LOLspeak. It’s fun to see what visual memes artists on Pixiv think up for us, like the recent explosion in “yandere trance” faces or art exploring the, ah, special relationship of Homura and Madoka from Madoka Magika.
Japan loves Internet memes, though sometimes they don’t translate well.