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Editor’s note: Work in Progress
OS-tan (Japanese: OSたん) is a popular series of Gijinka characters drawn by Japanese amateur artists, with their personality traits based on various computer operating systems. The OS-tan mascots are typically depicted as women, with the OS-tan representative of Microsoft Windows operating systems usually depicted as sisters of varying ages. While they’re fan-created artworks, most of the character designs for each OS-tan stay consistent among artists.
The concept of OS-tan originates from a discussion about Windows ME, notorious for its instability and frequent system crashes in /b/ (Nijiura) boards in Futaba Channel (2chan). Reflecting such deficiencies of the operating system, ME-tan’s character can be summarized as a fickle, clumsy, troublesome girl. The first illustration of ME-tan was uploaded on August 6th, 2003.
Left: The first rough sketch | Right: The finished version
In OS-tan comics, the Windows girls sometimes are shown holding negi, or green onions. This is a Japanese pun on the popular Japanese firewall NEGiES, which is pronounced like negi. In the comics, they are used as a weapon or shield.
In Japanese, -tan (たん) is a childlike mispronunciation of -chan, an informal honorific suffix used to title friends and family. This is sometimes used to create a cute or charming effect with its association with young children.
Recently, -tan suffix is used to title personified mascot characters, usually female. When speaking to the character, sometimes normal suffixes (-san, -chan, or -kun) are used to the speaker’s preference.
Inspired by ME-tan, Nijiura users began creating Gijinka characters featuring the characteristics of the whole Windows family, Macs, Linux, and the other minor operating systems. Then along with the increasing of the creations, OS-tans became to be set up as characters in an imaginary manga titled Trouble Windows (とらぶるうぃんどうず) written by a non-existing mangaka Toshiaki Futaba (双葉利秋), which name, Toshiaki, stands for a default username in the Nijiura boards.
This broad plot was widely shared among Nijiura users. OS-tans were drawn as maids for the young protagonist guy in this manga, who is called Toshiaki, and the world of OS-tan had been expanded in the form of (re)producing this fictional media-mix franchise from 2003 to 2005. For example, these famous flash videos below were made as the OP/ED theme movie for fictional Troubled Windows TV anime series. These were posted to Nijiura in the first half of 2004.
Left: Opening movie | Right: Ending movie
Troubles with Commercial Media.
Character designs for the OS-tans are selected by popular opinion, but sometimes an OS has no universal standard design as artists push for their own character design.
Vista-tan, or “Vis-tan”, unlike its predecessors, does not have a universally accepted character design. The most popular designs are from the rivaling Futaba Channel and imageboards, both supporting their own designs and disregarding the others.
Futaba Channel’s Vistake:
Windows 98 and 98SE
Mac OS X
A popular concept with the OS-tans is the size of their breasts are proportionate to the operating system’s minimum RAM requirements and resource usage. Before Vista, XP-tan is shown having the largest breasts, while MSDOS-tan is at the other extreme end of the spectrum.
An alternative concept for showing resource usage was a character’s appetite. Because XP uses the most resources, she is usually depicted as eating an excessive amount of food.
Official Gijinka OS Characters
In a similar vein to OS-tan, Microsoft affiliates in the Southeast Asia have created its own Gijinka Characters for new operating system’s launch campaigns since late 2000. Though these officially approved promoting mascots are made in the essentially different concepts from that of the original OS-tan, both of them are known as the same OS anthropomorphism characters, and it have been reported as OS-tan in the outside of Japan.
Nanami Madobe (窓辺ななみ) is a mascot for a promotional campaign for Windows 7 DSP packages. She is designed by Wakaba and the first OS-tan to have official support from Microsoft. She is part of the Windows 7 Ultimate DSP edition that includes Nanami Madobe wallpapers, and an event sound set voiced by Nana Mizuki.
Hikaru Aizawa (2010)
Claudia Madobe (2011)
Yū Madobe & Ai Madobe
Yū Madobe & Ai Madobe (2012)
Inori Aizawa (2013)
Parallel with the release of Internet Explorer 11 in November 2013. Microsoft Singapore’s division with collaboration of Collateral Damage Studios unveiled the browser anthropomorphization known as Inori Aizawa. According the words of Microsoft Singapore, she was conceived as a browser mascot catering to the Asian region audience knowing the popularity of the OS-tan characters in the region. A facebook page of the character was created showing some backstory about her and also providing a link were users can download a customized version of Internet Explorer 11.
Anime Festival Asia 2013 presentation
During the AFA 2013 held at the Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre. Inori officially debuted in a Ad who features her transformation from a clumsy ragged girl to a smart and stylish heroine in a Magical Girl fashion.