Animation Meme

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See also: anon meme, kink meme, image macro, Multiple Animation Project
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Animation Meme is short animation of a character – usually Original Character (OC) – dancing or sometimes singing along to music, created to be easily adopted by other animators with their own characters. The original animation is made for the express purposes of being mimicked and spread, as a regular meme would. One might participate in the Animation Meme by creating their own animation using their OC, or another character of choice, with the same song clip as the original, and giving the animation a similar theme.

Several people would agree that Animation Meme first originated from Japanese fannish space circa 2000s, with its popularity gradually spreaded amongst fandom circles, especially after fans reposted their memes from Nico Nico Douga to YouTube. Other animation memes- particularly memes before 2009- were also shared through gif format on image sharing websites such as DeviantArt and Sheezyart. After more than a decades since it first started, Animation Meme has gone through various stages of transition, particularly due to development of technology and software used for creating animations over time, as well as the established demographics of creators and audiences.


The earliest animation memes came from the Japanese hosting site Nico Nico Douga in the mid 2000s, while one of the very first animation memes, the Caramelldansen, came from several sources and changed over time, until it's most well-known form emerged in 2006. The Sheezyart artist Funzo would be the first artist to make a custom animation meme by drawing their own original art over the flash animation of Popotan intro's frames, though to the song Dare by Gorillaz. Other artists soon followed suit in early to mid 2006, overlaying their own art and characters and eventually settling on speedycake Caramelldansen as the song the meme became known by in 2007.[1]

Several anime animation loops set to music began popping up on Nico Nico Douga between 2007-2008, which slowly bled over to YouTube as videos were re-uploaded there. These then became very early animation memes, in which YouTube artists began to draw their own characters or fandom characters (usually furries or Warrior Cats) on top of the loop's frames. Some of these early memes include: Get Down (2008), inspired by a glitch from the video game GoldenEye 007, Konata de Gozaimasu (2008),[2] clipped from a Japanese parody video (called a MAD) of Lucky Star, and Paffendorf Dance (2007), clipped from Sumomomo Momomo.[3]

These very early animation memes likely spread further (especially to Western and English-speaking audiences) by popular YouTube animators replicating their formats. For example, DarkKoKiri, a popular Warrior Cats animator at the time, made animation memes replicating both Get Down[4] and Konata de Gozaimasu[5] in 2009.

webkinzlid/Void Queen later began creating animation memes in summer 2009 and is often recognized as one of the early popular animation meme makers. webkinzlid may be one of the first animation meme makers to create original animation memes for YouTube that were not always based on pre-existing clips of anime. These videos, while not called "animation memes" at the time, used the animation meme format. One of the first created by webkinzlid is the Nya Nya Dance, uploaded to YouTube on Jun 24, 2009. It consisted of a character swinging their hips to the left and right with their eyes closed, while the colors shift through all the colors of the rainbow, to the song New Day Extended by DJ Diskant.[6]

Subsequential animation memes of the 2010s continued to use the easy to replicate "dancing loop" format, and while they have become more complex over time, many 2020s animation memes still contain dancing loops. Certain animation tropes have appeared over time, likely popularized by well-known animators who've used the tropes. Head bobs increase in prevalence between 2014-2016, becoming a staple by 2016. Then, in 2016 walk cycle animation memes show a sharp increase.

Additionally, the easy availability of animation software has increased significantly between 2006-2023, making free animation software simpler to obtain and thus animation memes more accessible. The software used has also changed, from MS Paint and Windows Movie Maker, to the free mobile program Flipaclip, to more advanced programs like FireAlpaca, Paint Tool SAI, and Clip Studio Paint. However, with the discontinuation of Flash in 2020 animation memes originally shared as Flash animations (such as the original Paffendorf Dance) may have been lost unless they have been re-uploaded to YouTube. Some animation memes will also see the loss of their original animation due to deletion, leaving only derivatives.

Fannish Reactions

Animation memes are a great way to get introduced to animation, a lot of times animation that takes a ton of time to make, and a lot of commitment that a lot of people,especially kids have a hard time getting the time/will power. Also it’s a lot harder then it looks, making a good looking loop is harder then people seem to think. Saying animation memes are unoriginal is kinda stupid since that’s kinda of the whole purpose of Animation MEMES. There pretty much the same thing but with their own unique spark. Even if it just their own animation and art, everyone’s personality will shine through their art. Also a lot of animation memes are more then just head bobbing, even if a lot of them have it. even head bobbing is hard to make look clean and go to the beat of the music, trust me. And the whole tweening[7] thing is stupid. Tweening is a actually a very good skill to learn If you wanna get a job doing animation since a lot of studios use puppets for movies and tv shows. Puppets and tweening are basically the same idea.[8]


Holy SHIT animation memes are the worst thing to happen to animation. The horrible excuses to not trying like "animation is hard" or "I'm just a kid" is the most infuriating thing. A huge point of art is constructive criticism, or just criticism in general. If you can't take it, maybe you shouldn't be an "artist". It upsets me at how popular and how looked up to five frames of looped garbage is. This bland, boring loop of pictures that's a carbon copy of another bland boring loop is stupid. This isn't art. This is a glorified slideshow with music.[9]


Animation Memes as a Brand

Some artists use animation memes to advertise and promote merchandise of their original characters, usually plushies. For example animation meme artist UnknownSpy offering a limited time plushie of their alien character featured in their animation memes.[10] Animator wingedwolf94 is another example, offering plushies of their popular skull-head character from animation memes.[11]

Outside of merch, many animation meme artists use Patreon as a way to support their animations, due to copyrighted music disallowing or limiting monetization on their YouTube videos. During the end credits of many animation memes from popular artists, a list of their patreon supporters can be seen.

Tropes and Attributes

Animation memes often contain similar motifs, however different eras of animation memes have different tropes, popular art styles, and animation software.


  • Styles: Anime and chibi styles are the most common, due to animation memes originating from anime and Nico Nico Douga. Because of this, animation also mimics anime animation, including low frame counts, minimal movements, and choppy animation. Fast electronic music and neon colors are common. In this period they aren't usually called "animation memes," instead as just "memes" or having the suffix dance (for example Nya Nya Dance or Step-Turn Dance).
  • Tropes Emerged: Hip swinging, tail swinging, simple limited dance loops.
  • Software: MS Paint, Gimp, Pencil 8D, and Windows Movie Maker. These programs did not allow for automatic tweening, a type of smooth computer-generated animation. Advanced animation software was not easily accessible, particularly for minors as good free software is rare.
  • Demographics: Potentially formed by inexperienced artists and minors, with a heavy focus on Warrior Cats characters and furries.


  • Styles: Sharp increase in original animation memes being created, rather than memes based on existing anime loops. Anime and chibi styles remain popular but many more varied styles are used by 2015. As animation software becomes more easily available and past animators gain more experience, so too do animation memes begin to become smoother. Fewer memes are made as only dance loops, more cuts and complex movements appear. Fast electronic music continues to be favorable, but by 2015 a wider range of music is being used in animation memes.
  • Tropes Emerged: Head bops appear, potentially popularized by Mystery Ben's fan animation for the Mystery Skulls song "Ghost" from 2014. Lip syncing with limited movement.
  • Software: Flipaclip, a free mobile animation software, is released in 2012. Paint Tool SAI, while having been around a since the 2000s, increases in popularity. Photoshop begins using a subscription model for new versions in 2013, potentially causing some artists to abandon it for Paint Tool SAI.
  • Demographics: Animation memes become a staple of the animation community on YouTube by the end of 2015, ushering in a wider demographic. Artists of various ages, fandoms, styles, and experience levels create animation memes.


  • Styles: The popularity and commonness of animation memes means a large swath of styles are used, there is no longer one cohesive style of animation meme. Slowed down music set to vague, "artsy" animation gains popularity by 2018, for example seeing a prevalence of Jack Stauber animation memes. 3D animation and multimedia animation memes become more common.
  • Tropes Emerged: Head bops increase as a staple trope, potentially due to how simple they are to animate. Walk cycle memes (where the major animation focus is just a walk cycle) increase in 2016. Happy-to-sad trope appears (where the meme begins energetic and happy, but suddenly the character is sad/injured/gored to slowed music). By 2019 many memes attempt to replicate the tropes of early 2000s animation memes, such as 00s' anime/chibi styles, flashing neon colors, and low resolution animation.
  • Software: FireAlpaca is released for free in 2016, as well as OpenToonz going open source and free. Clip Studio Paint gains popularity for having a one-time-payment model, and Photoshop stops offering one-time-payment models on older versions of Photoshop by 2021, going subscription only. Animations can be exported directly from many art softwares now, however video editing software like Premiere Pro and Sony Vegas Pro are also used to compile frames. Tweening is easily available, so many animation memes exhibit smooth, but limited, animation styles.
  • Demographics: All demographics are able to engage with animation memes thanks to the easy availability of free animation software, the Internet, and video editing/animation education (such as through YouTube tutorials). Some animation memes are more popular than others, and some animators begin making their entire YouTube career based on their creation of animation memes, including selling plushies of the characters they animate. Many animators begin using "animation meme" as a catch-all phrase for any short animation to music, and even full-length music videos are often referred to as an "animation meme" from which copying is encouraged and expected. TikTok is launched in 2016 and YouTube Shorts are launched in 2020, encouraging short-form content.

Notable Animation Meme Creators

For further information about these creators, please check the Animation Meme Wiki, or the Wikitubia

Notable Animation Memes

A non-exhaustive list of animation meme trends that were significantly popular or influential.


2005 - 2009

2010 - 2015

  • OBEY *remake* (2013) - Breaking the dance loop format common to past animation memes, flashing neon, cartoon furry
  • Stark Raving MAD (OLD) (2013) - Smooth, complex animation and video editing, flashing neon, chibi furry
  • [1] Chok Chok meme] (2015) - Smooth, complex animation with lip sync, cartoon furry

2016 - 2020

2021 - 2023

Resources & External Links


  1. ^ Caramelldansen History (Complete), blogspot. Jun 23, 2008 (Accessed 6/19/2023)
  2. ^ 【十六夜咲夜】咲夜でございま~す!【東方】 / 【Izayoi Sakuya】 Sakuya de Gozaimasu!, YouTube. Aug 20, 2008 (Accessed 6/19/2023)
  3. ^ Paffendorf, Apr 7, 2007 (Accessed 6/20/2023)
  4. ^ Darkeh Gets Down☆, YouTube. Feb 1, 2009 (Accessed 6/19/2023)
  5. ^ Darkeh de Gozaimasu!, YouTube. May 10, 2009 (Accessed 6/19/2023)
  6. ^ Nya Nya Dance [ORIGINAL] *old*, YouTube. Jun 24, 2009 (Accessed 6/19/2023)
  7. ^ See: Wikipedia:Inbetweening
  8. ^ "The hate on Animation memes needs to stop". 2020-05-20. Archived from the original on 2023-06-11.
  9. ^ "Stop with these obnoxiously terrible animation memes replies". 2018-06-12. Archived from the original on 2023-10-18.
  10. ^ Unicorn Swirl // Animation Meme, YouTube. April 23, 2021 (Accessed 7/15/2023)
  11. ^ LOVE ME // Animation Meme, YouTube. Feb 14, 2023 (Accessed 7/15/2023)