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Dancing Otter refers to a cartoon otter dancing while holding a fish in a scene from the 1975 Japanese children’s animation series Manga Nihon Mukashi Banashi. Since emerging through YouTube in 2009, the scene has inspired quite a few remix videos and photoshopped images in which the dancing otter is placed into a variety of alternate premises and backdrops for humorous effect.
The animated GIF was taken from a scene in the Japanese anime series “Manga Nihon Mukashi Banashi” (shown below, left at 3:00), which ran from January 7th to March 25th in 1975. The earliest known posting of the looped otter animation was uploaded to YouTube by user w1nterw0lves on March 8th, 2009 (shown below, right), where it received over 390,000 views and 2,700 comments within the next four years.
On February 20th, 2010, the “Fuck Yeah Stupid GIFs” Tumblr blog highlighted a dancing otter GIF with actor Zac Efron’s head superimposed on to the image (shown below, left). On August 14th, Newgrounds user TickleMyPickle submitted the dancing otter GIF as a flash video. On August 5th, 2011, Tumblr user theoster posted a psychedlic-color version of the dancing otter GIF (shown below, right).
On September 6th, 2011, a thread was started in the /co/ (comics & cartoons) board on 4chan, requesting the origin of the dancing otter GIF. In the thread, an anonymous poster linked to a YouTube clip identifying the GIF’s origin in the Japanese children’s anime series “Manga Nihon Mukashi Banashi." On April 14th, 2012, Redditor Catnip_Tea submitted the otter GIF to the /r/gifs subreddit, where it received over 1,200 up votes and 35 comments prior to being archived. On November 11th, the GIF was reposted by Redditor n0sherlock to the /r/reactiongifs subreddit in a post titled “When you get that perfect amount of drunk”, which received over 1,000 up votes and 30 comments. On December 4th, the technology news blog Wired published an article about the otter GIF, reporting that technology team for Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign used the otter GIF as a way to shame staff who wrote bad code. In addition, numerous photoshopped iterations have surfaced on FunnyJunk.