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“I Hope Senpai Will Notice Me” is a catchphrase commonly associated with anime shows and manga books that can often be found on the microblogging site Tumblr to express a quest to resolve unrequited admiration. Images utilizing this catchphrase will sometimes feature superimposed cherry blossoms, meant to represent romance, and anime-style facial expressions.
Senpai, sometimes spelled “sempai”, is a Japanese honorific term used when speaking to someone of an elevated social status in schools, dojos or sports clubs. The term is usually reserved for mentors, and does not apply to authority figures such as teachers or bosses. Romantic anime and manga often feature stories involving infatuations with senpai. While the senpai concept had already been mentioned on Tumblr, the specific catchphrase did not appear until August 8th, 2012, when the single serving site “Has Senpai Noticed Me Yet?” was created.
Following the launch of the “Has Senpai Noticed Me Yet?” blog, Tumblr users began utilizing the tags senpai, sempai and “I hope senpai will notice me” to share text posts and image macros with the phrase. On August 12th, an ask blog from the point of view of Senpai was created. Over the next three days, blogs titled “I Am Senpai And I Just”, “Your Senpai Noticed You And” and “Senpai Noticed You Then” were created with the intention of utilizing Tumblr’s notification feature to make joke sentences when liking and reblogging posts found on the senpai tag.
In September 2012, the Facebook fan page “I hope Senpai will notice me” was created, gaining more than 200 fans as of September 2013. The phrase has continued to be popular on Tumblr, where the tags “I hope senpai notices me” and the positive “senpai noticed me” are all active. It can also be found mentioned on deviantART, where there are more than 1,100 search results for “senpai notice me.”
Though “senpai” is a common word that has seen an increase in search query volume since 2005, the keyword reached an all-time high in August of 2012, when the phrase began appearing on Tumblr.