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This meme originated from forums in Futaba Channel (2chan). It was brought onto the 4chan boards from a 2chan user deciding to show the meme to 4chan around 2004. The user has mistranslated the sentence using a automated translator. The after-math of the translation was “a master is out.” The correct translation is some thing around the words “My Master is out.”
There is little evidence of how far the meme had spread in 2004, or even how big of a reaction in made on 4Chan at the time.
When In Use
“A Master is Out” functions like a “2chan version” of 4chan’s roll call. When the Original Poster begins the thread with the mistranslation or original Japanese sentence (on 2chan) a user will post a picture of a desired character, or image eluding to something that has escaped.
Controversy on spread
The majority of 4Chan’s user-base is made up of what are lovingly known as “newfags”; /b/tarded chanspeak for noobs.
When “A Master is Out” resurfaced in 2009, the vast majority of users were unaware of the meme’s origin, as it hadn’t had any real traction since 2004.
In June of 2009, 4Chan was receiving close to 500,000 unique visitors each day. This was not the case in 2003 when the number of unique hits was closer to 9,000 per day, as is evident on moot’s early 4chan news logs.
In fact, 4Chan died for extended periods of time due to hosting issues and lack of funding on multiple occasions between the years of 2003-2005.
There is very little evidence that “A master is out” was used much at all prior to December of 2007, aside from common lore from places like ED. As a meme, it didn’t become popular until June 2009.
The Google Insights search trend shows that the meme didn’t reach widespread attention until June 2009 when users began spamming “A Master Is Out” on 4Chan’s /b/.
Because of this, it is a safe bet that the majority of users on 4Chan in 2009 were completely unaware of the meme and assumed it to be forced. Because of the immense growth of the site in recent years, it’s likely that very few Anons witnessed “A Master is Out” the first time around. Because of this, many Anons were under the misconception that this was a “Forced Meme” when it was actually an extreme case of 4chan “oldfag” obscurity.