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“Bad Apple!!” is a Japanese dance pop song originally featured in one of the arcade games from the Touhou series. Since its rise to popularity on Nico Nico Douga (NND) in 2009, the song has inspired an extensive list of remixes, dances and musical tributes primarily on the Japanese web. In October 2010, the original upload became the first NND video to reach 10 million views.
The Touhou series is a Japanese indie scrolling manic shooter game created by Team Shanghai Alice’s sole member, ZUN. Touhou games have a strong following in Japan and it is far from uncommon to see most Touhou soundtracks being remixed by various doujin circles, some of them giving birth to other phenomena such as U.N Owen Was Her? and Night of Knights.
On May 20th, 2007, Masayoshi Minoshima, the founder of well-known, Touhou-affiliated doujin club Alstroemeria Records released a remix of “Bad Apple!!” featuring the voice of Japanese pop singer Nomico in an album called Lovelight.
Early MAD Videos
Viral instance: Stylized Shadow Art
On June 8th 2008, a Nico Nico user made a video featuring a storyboard with precise details of what he considered would be the best video clip for the “Bad Apple!!” song. His video has accumulated more than 900,000 views on Nico Nico Douga alone. Here is a translated version available on YouTube:
As the idea began to spark interest, the first draft video was uploaded on October 26th, 2008:
“Bad Apple!!” exploded on October 27, 2009 when Nico Nico Douga user Anira (あにら) released the last draft of his work on the video, inspired by the 2008 fan version. This video, made with 3D moving models and silhouette shadow art featuring a great amount of the female cast from the Touhou series hit YouTube the same day. In addition, the original NND video became the first to reach 10 million views , making it one of the most watched videos in the Japanese video-sharing community (English subtitled version).
As a result of the video’s success, many Touhou articles were published, mostly praising it as an art form.
Derivatives: Stylized Shadow Videos
While that video clip was far from being the first one in history to employ shadow and light in an artistic manner, this silhouette art instance launched its own trend of parodies. This was first translated by videos featuring other Japanese CGI models, mostly Miku Miku Dance related clips:
There were also video comparisons/compilations between the original clip and previous fan-made animations:
But overall, many users tried to recreate the initial clip using alternative artistic tools, like Laser Show (October 2009) :
Sand Art Effect (November 2009) :
Apple Peeling (February 2010) :
CNN News: Bad Apple in Stop-Motion
One of the most popular MADs of “Bad Apple!!” uses stop-motion animation where the director printed out every individual frame of the shadow video and uses contextual frame placement, published January 2010:
While most of the parodies, remixes, and MADs were made by people knowing at least a little bit about what Touhou is, the rest of the world was bound to discover the stop-motion animation clip when CNN made a report about it on January 30th 2010 :
However, in it, the reporters mistakenly credited the stop-motion alteration as being the initial video describing how the Stylized Shadow one has been made, which unleashed many fans to leave raging comments about it.
Before the 3D shadow MAD, “Bad Apple!!” was already popular on Nico Nico Douga as a dance fad from people inventing a dance fitting the song. In a manner similar to the Fukkireta meme, the Odotte Mita (踊ってみた) or “I tried dancing it” fad on NND took hold.
It first began on June 27th 2009 when two Japanese boys uploaded themselves dancing to the song on Nico Nico Douga(Registration Required).
The duet performance gave birth to more than 100 videos of people following the dance, featuring either human beings or 3D characters.
Performances / Tributes
While others, pertaining to a Japanese fad called Hiite Mita (弾いてみた) or “I tried playing it” can be considered as covers and can feature nearly every kind of instrument :
Another peculiar fad on Nico Nico Douga involving a song meme, Utatte Mita (歌ってみた) or “I’ve tried singing it” involves people singing the tune, recording and posting it to Nico Nico Douga or other video streaming sites. This fad isn’t restricted to the Japanese web and fandubs exist as well :