The Niconico Meme Malaise

It’s commonly known and accepted that during the “golden age” of anime in the mid 2000s, and also a part of the reason behind the uptake of sites like Youtube and NicoNico Douga, is the fact that you can watch anime on those sites as a part of a shared experience. Specifically, people watched anime on Nico because of the comments as enabled by the floating comment system that overlays text over video. It was hilarious.

It’s interesting because 2005 was when sites like Youtube started to get real traction with the public. It was new; people uploaded all sorts of videos there and then passed links to their friends. How that fits into the social context that makes up the overall notion of social media on the internet was something to be figured out. But, as you see today, there is probably not much room left for something like Nico’s famous overlay text system. Youtube eventually opted for a similar overlay technology for annotation, and it’s used to serve ads as well, but it was just not the same.

Just to muse on it some more: since Nico is launching a US portal with simulcast anime content, will we ever “recreate” the same sort of thing? The whole “anime is more fun when watched with folks” kind of thing, for certain shows? I’m not sure, but I am leaning towards no. Maybe the moment has passed. Maybe westerners no longer care for anime in that kind of viewing factor, and maybe those who do are more concerned about repeating memes than to offer insightful, interesting and funny comment that goes with watching anime in that context. I mean, who wants to read youtube comments?

But you would think a Pachinko anime makes great content for people to trash. So I did it. And it kind of works; actively commenting on it made watching it a little more bearable, but it was a bit of a hassle to pause when typing. However, even the best seiyuu talent cannot save something like Twin Angel: Twinkle Paradise.

I just hope this does not stop them from rolling out t-shirts at cons to everyone. Or not bring over their trademarked animated gifs (I noticed they were adorning the blog section of the site…)

The other day I also managed to watch Blood-C on Nico. The results are partly what I feared but also partly promising. A few good caps made it a lot more amusing, while there were also a lot of dumb meme repetition that didn’t really belong. It’s notably different than my other viewings (R-15 and Twin Angel) because I waited for almost a week to catch Blood-C, and it’s probably the highest profile anime they’re streaming. Those two…well, it’s sparse. You can find those streams on Nico’s channel page.

Which, is to say, it’s a totally different beast even compared to their Atlantis launch live stream last week, which I watched for about 30 minutes. That one looked pretty okay… And it isn’t that memes are a problem; it’s how you use it.

PS. Is it me or the way text scrolls in English need to be adjusted? Or is my reading bandwidth taxed having to both read the subs and the scrolling comments? Maybe both? I find it much easier to read short comments since they stay on screen longer, where as long comments fly across the screen crazy fast. And like Twitter, it’s much more likely to need to write long comments in English than it is in Japanese. This requires some tweaking on Nico’s part.

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9 responses to “The Niconico Meme Malaise

  • ubiquitial

    Very thoughtful and interesting post. A few nitpicks, though.

    >“golden age” of anime in the mid 2000s

    I’d say, more mid 90s till that time. Post Eva themes, experimentation w/ CG, late night anime, etc.

    >The whole “anime is more fun when watched with folks” kind of thing, for certain shows? I’m not sure, but I am leaning towards no. Maybe the moment has passed. Maybe westerners no longer care for anime in that kind of viewing factor, and maybe those who do are more concerned about repeating memes than to offer insightful, interesting and funny comment that goes with watching anime in that context. I mean, who wants to read youtube comments?

    Oh, I think we always will. It’s human nature to seek out like-minded individuals. Part inquisitive curiosity, part self-affirming masturbation.

  • omo

    There’s a golden age every decade if that’s what you go by. Maybe I should’ve said “the height of the Akiba boom” rather than “golden age” of anime.

  • Cheshire_Ocelot

    >’Is it me or the way text scrolls in English need to be adjusted?’
    It’s not just you, and one of the weaknesses of Nico’s English streaming is that it is tough to follow both subtitles and comments.

    Anyway, I’ve watched a lot of videos and streams on Nico Nico since they launched a few months ago, and it’s such a mixed bag I’m still not sure what to make of it. The scrolling comments are fun, but not enough so to make me want to watch an otherwise mediocre show. It all comes down to whether they can attract and hold onto enough intelligent, witty fans to keep the comments worth reading; online, that’s a crapshoot, to say the least.

  • lvlln

    As you and others point out, the scrolling comments along with subtitles is just not comfortable for most viewers. Nico’s scrolling comments is definitely a neat feature and one of its strengths, but it will only catch on in the US with English language videos.

  • omo

    I think reading the subtitles is not a problem. It’s that in order to deal with it, the scroll speed on comments may have to be changed.

  • jpmeyer

    We watch plenty of awful shows every season on the various Nico Nico clones entirely for the comments. My guess as to why the English one isn’t as fun is because well, nerds are sooooooooooo not funny. I mean, how many times have we all been at a screening at a con or something and some joker thinks that they are the second coming of Mike and the bots and demonstrate this to the world by yelling “I JUST LOST THE GAME!” or “THE CAKE IS A LIE!” at random times? That’s what passes for humor for anime fans.

  • omo

    Good point too.

    I think during this launch phase there’s a lot of self-selection going on. When I watched Blood-C there was a lot of the dumb nerd stuff as you described. On the weirder stuff like Twin Angel, it was basically all just the really snarky people and some normal people, so it was actually much more tolerable. People do talk about the show and make fun of it accordingly.

  • dm00

    Gosh, even before the Nico video has finished loading I always turn off the comments, I wish I could set it to be my default. People actually find that stuff *interesting*?

    ————–WWWWWW—————
    —————kita!!!!————————-
    ———GJ——————
    ————kawaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii—————-

  • omo

    Well, you are not missing out on much.

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