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"Chinese Cartoons" is a term used to refer to anime, both ironically and un-ironically. The un-ironic usage is usually a mistake made by people unfamiliar with anime, while the ironic use is often to parody or poke fun at these people. It is also used as a way to ridicule anime fans and japanophiles.
The expression "Chinese cartoons" is in wide use by those unfamiliar with anime subculture and Japanese culture in general, due to the common Western confusion between Chinese and Japanese cultures. The first registered instance of its use to refer un-ironically to anime was a thread on 4chan's anime and manga board /a/. Posted on February 28th, 2008, the post featured a joke about anime elitism and "intellectual animation".
Beginning as a synonym of anime and as a way to troll anime fans and japanophiles on 4chan, the usage spread to other communities like Tumblr. On May 10th, 2012, Urban Dictionary user icantfeelmyarms submitted an entry for “chinese cartoon”, defining it as “what normal people call anime.” On November 29th, 2013, user Lanik submitted a thread on the MyAnimeList forums asking why people call anime "chinese cartoons"; users responded that the term was a joke.
Usage on 4chan
On 4chan, the imageboard originally founded as a discussion forum for anime fans, the "Chinese cartoons" joke has spawned a series of insults directed at anime fans on the site. The structure of joke originated with trolls accusing others of talking about unrelated subjects on boards like /a/, which is specifically devoted to anime, by saying "why are you discussing this on a Chinese cartoons forum?" In response, people would create long reaction threads by coming up with different types of titles for the board, using the format "[Country of Origin] [Skill or Hobby] [forum or board]."
As the threads progressed, the derivations would become more extreme and specific. This type of joke is widespread, and is rumored to date back to the origin of 4chan. A search of the first country of origin, "Mongolian" combined with the word "board" on the 4chan archive 4plebs returns more than 1300 instances as of January 29th, 2016. A search for "Cambodian board" returns 455 results. While it is difficult to track all the different uses of this meme, we have recorded some of the more common derivations below.
- Bangladeshi Kite Testing Forum
- Mongolian Spearfishing Forum
- Bulgarian Rug-weaving Forum
- Indian Metalworking Forum
- Kurdish Underwater Basketweaving Forum
- Somalian Potato Farming Forum
- African Fingerpainting Forum
- Cambodian Cave Drawing Forum
Note: Search interest for the ironic use of "Chinese Cartoons" also represents search interest for cartoons of Chinese origin. Top search results are mixed, with ironic usage and un-ironic usage returning about an equal amount of results. However, any results before 2008 refer to cartoons of Chinese origin.
 MyAnimeList – Why do people call anime Chinese cartoons?
 TVTroopes – Interchangeable Asian Cultures
 Archive.moe – Search for chinese cartoons
 Archive.moe – Did you know there are people who use such terms as Shakespeare, literature, and deep when talking about Chinese cartoons and tentacle porns?
 Tumblr – Search for chinese cartoons
 Urban Dictionary – Chinese Cartoon
 /r/outoftheloop – Why are people referring to 4chan as a Bangladeshi Kite testing forum, Chinese frog breeding forum, and so on?
 /r/4chan – Jeb! makes a thread
 4plebs – Search: Mongolian board
 4plebs – Search: Cambodian board
May 10, 2015 at 12:22PM EDT
May 10, 2015 at 05:47PM EDT in reply to
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