Whenever something amazing or controversial or unprecedented happens in the world of anime, you can expect a barrage of social media posts and news articles to follow. Today, we’re taking a look at five of the most important anime moments that went viral on the internet (partially to distract you from a different viral topic), so let’s get started!
5. The First Trailer for Free! (Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club)
In April of 2012, Kyoto Animation and Animation Do dropped a trailer for a new untitled anime about a boys’ high school swim team. Concept art had been floating around for a while, but this trailer was the watershed moment that solidified its popularity. Most of us heard of it when the trailer was posted on American social media in March 2013 and female anime fans collectively exploded with anticipation - there was a petition to make the trailer into a full show (even though the studios were planning that already), nicknames for each of the characters, a cosplay contest held by Crunchyroll, and even an unofficial dating sim in the works. Needless to say, once Free finally splashed onto the small screen later that year, it was a smash hit!
4. The Kiss from Yuri!!! on Ice
Free’s unparalleled success popularized the “sexy boys play sports” subgenre, which quickly became known for queerbaiting - that is, hinting towards homosexual relationships between characters for the sake of fanservice, but never actually making them canon. That’s why the (implied) kiss between Yuri and Victor in episode 7 of Yuri on Ice was such a big deal. A mainstream anime - and a manservice sports anime at that - canonized a gay male relationship between the two main characters! Of course, some fans weren’t pleased that the kiss was censored behind Victor’s arm and that the rings they exchanged later weren’t confirmed to be engagement rings, but honestly... we’ll take what we can get. Gay marriage had only recently been legalized in the US and still isn’t legal to this day in Japan, so the fandom’s massive rejoicing all over the internet was perfectly justified.
3. The Basement Reveal from Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3 Part 2 (Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2)
Although a long hiatus between seasons ate away at its fame somewhat, Attack on Titan has still been a staple of the anime landscape since its first episode in 2013. And, ever since that episode, a lingering question has hung in the air - what’s hiding in Eren’s basement? Finally, six years later, in episode 7 of Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2, the Survey Corps undergoes a dangerous mission to return to Eren’s demolished house and they uncover the documents that his father left for him so long ago. We won’t spoil the details, but after this moment, Attack on Titan’s world opens up significantly and it switches from what was essentially a zombie apocalypse story to a political thriller with unique supernatural elements. Countless editorials and tweets singing the anime’s praises later, Attack on Titan had won back its faltering fanbase and was on the fast track back to relevancy.
2. Kadokawa’s Firing Scandal following Kemono Friends
This multimedia franchise starring anthropomorphic animal girls had been wallowing in obscurity for years, but the wild success of its charming anime adaptation – made possible by writer-director Tatsuki – turned it into a household name pretty much overnight. All was well until September 2017, when Kadokawa abruptly fired Tatsuki for violation of distribution rights because he posted an unofficial Kemono Friends short to Nico Nico Douga and YouTube. Japanese social media exploded with outrage over this petty decision and the entire anime staff resigned in protest, but Kadokawa still didn’t reinstate Tatsuki. It’s no wonder why season 2 didn’t get much love...
1. Tanjiro and Nezuko vs Rui from Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba)
Demon Slayer was already a popular series in its own right – the manga was sitting pretty as the new golden child of Weekly Shounen Jump and the anime had garnered praise for its writing and eyegasm inducing animation – but it hadn’t quite achieved the same superstar status as shows like My Hero Academia. That is... until episode 19 hit. The climactic clash between unstoppable spider demon Rui and sibling protagonists Tanjiro and Nezuko was so powerful that it took over the internet. Ufotable pulled out all the stops to deliver sakuga shots that rival (or even surpass) their work on Fate, the voice actors poured their hearts into their performances, and the insert song by Go Shiina and Nami Nakagawa engulfed the scene in the triumphant majesty of two siblings showing a sadistic demon what a real family looks like. Instantly, Demon Slayer secured its place as a classic and one of the best anime of the decade.
Other viral anime moments include the total party kill from episode 1 of Goblin Slayer, the initial announcement for the 2019 remake of Fruits Basket, and Code Geass’ famous/infamous ending. But what are your favorites? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!