Friday, May 11, 2018

Hi, I'm Kara, and I inadvertently helped make a meme.


So this is my life. I've interviewed award-winning actors and writers. I have been published worldwide. I have a major book release in two months. And right now the most talked-about thing I have ever worked on is that danged "Is this a pigeon?" meme.

I'm starting to vaguely understand how Nicholas Gurewitch must feel about inadvertently creating the word "weeaboo."

Now, for starters, I did not create it -- it comes from an anime. I'm also not the only person involved in its creation; there are a handful of us watching in stunned silence as this explodes everywhere. I'm also not salty about it, because this is the most of this particular anime I think the world at large will ever see.

I'm impressed that everyone from Know Your Meme to the frickin' Independent has covered this. But I was there, God help me. Time for the full full context.


Back in the Before Times, when I still had a desk job, I was a fansubber. (Any non-anime fans rolling through: "fansubbing" is subtitling unlicensed, unavailable anime gratis and putting it out for release to fellow fans -- at least it's supposed to be the unlicensed stuff.) This was still just a bit before Crunchyroll and other sites changed the face of anime consumption. There would come a point in the very near future when lots of fansubbers, including myself, would be snapped up by streaming sites and DVD companies to work for them.

At the time, I was bouncing around amongst three different groups doing editing and QC. One, Onmitsu, delivered subtitled oldies with English and Portuguese language tracks. We did a lot of shows from Sunrise's Brave series (follow this link to read more about that -- tl;dr Japan wanted to try doing Transformers).

One was Brave of the Sun FighBird, the second in the franchise and a serviceable little show. I enjoyed it but generally if it has a robot I'll enjoy it. The protagonist, Katori, was a space alien thing who possessed an android in order to interact with humans. He loved the Earth and wanted to protect it, but didn't really comprehend it very well. So it fell to the young audience association characters to keep him in line.


The infamous scene takes place when Katori is trying to act human in front of a detective, while wearing his very science-y human disguise. He also goes on to ask if a row of tulips are violets.



We all had a laugh at the time because, well, Katori. This is pretty standard for him, and it's part of his shtick that he's a noble and true-hearted space cop soldier thing but initially dumb as a box of rocks about Earth.

I then proceeded to forget all about this show because I subtitled about 56 dozen things during my fansubbing years, and then about 56 more during my pro-subbing years before I moved on to news and features. Also literally no one cares about brave shows except me and five of my friends.

And then suddenly. A couple years ago. Fighbird screencap on Tumblr.

It was originally pegged as a bad translation, and I can completely understand that. Fortunately somewhere along the line it was established that nah, Katori is just that dumb. From there, it came and went, mostly with friends popping any new iterations of it to me just to see my reaction.

Then the other day happened and this bitch is everywhere?


So that's it? Yeah, that's it. I'm not gonna go all Makoto Shinkai on you and tell you not to enjoy it. I'm not gonna tell you to go watch the whole show it's from (because how), and that's pretty much the entire story. The group that put the Fighbird fansub together is still friends but has gone its separate ways business-wise, though the majority of us are in the anime industry now unsurprisingly. It's a little bizarre to see this snippet of our lives flooding our timeline, but it's a nice trip down memory lane in a way.

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Hey! If this is the first time you've read anything of mine (highly likely) why not have a look around? When I'm not working with Crunchyroll, VRV, or one of many other spots around the web, I'm writing fiction and critical essays on geek topics. I also co-author a light novel series, do a webcomic, and have some Doctor Who-related books coming out in the very near future!


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