Moe Anthropomorphism, also known as Gijinka (擬人化 in Japanese for "humanization"), is the trend of creating human-like characters based on non-human subjects, including inanimate objects, animals, brands or concepts. Online, many of the female representations are named using the Japanese honorific "-chan."
Anthropomorphism has existed in human cultures since prehistory. On the Internet, one of the earliest examples of Moe Anthropomorphism is the Japanese artist Toy's "iMac Girl" (left), which portrays the iMac model of Apple desktop computers as a woman. According to Toy's website, the art was first published in 1998. In 2003, the character ME-tan (right), a personification of the Windows ME operating system, was created on the Japanese imageboard Futaba Channel, which spawned the OS-tan series of Windows-oriented moe anthropomorphism.
Left: iMac girl by Toy, Right: ME-Tan
A Wikipedia entry for Moe Anthropomorphism was created in 2006. A Wikifur entry for gijinka was created in August of that year; said page defines the term as being focused on animal personifications within the furry fandom. An Urban Dictionary definition for gijinka was submitted in 2009. A TV Tropes page for the concept was created in 2010.
The Pokémon fandom was one of the earliest fanbases to latch to moe anthropomorphism. On January 29, 2007, a DeviantArt group was created around the concept of anthropomorphising Pokémon creatures. Also in that year, the artist hitec began a project involving drawing anthropomorphic versions of every Pokémon created to that time. The Moemon series of hacks replaces the Pokémon featured within the games with humanized versions.
Left: an example of hitec's art, Right: Sprites from Moemon
Operator-chan is the moe character of a female operator of the United States Army’s Combat Application Group (CAG, more commonly known as Delta Force) that gained a fan following on 4chan’s /k/ (weapons) board.
Winter-chan is a female anime character created to be an anthropomorphic representation of the winter season. The character is used by members of the web forum 4chan to express the response of right-wing Europeans to those fleeing the Middle East in the European Migrant Crisis.
ISIS-chan (Japanese: ISISちゃん, Aishisu Chan) is a moe anthropomorphized character for the jihadist rebel group Islamic State (IS) created by users of the Japanese text board site 2channel. Similar to the story behind the birth of Hinomoto Oniko in 2010, ISIS-chan was conceived as part of an online effort to counter terrorist propaganda by disrupting the search-engine optimization (SEO) profile of relevant keywords with images of a moe character.
Ebola-chan is a female anime character designed as an anthropomorphic representation of the Ebola virus. The character was created on 4chan in response to growing concerns regarding the West African Ebola outbreak in the summer of 2014. The character gave rise to the related anthropomorphisms Zmapp-chan and Cure-chan.
Ipo-chan is a moe anthropomorphized character for the Indonesian web filtering service Internet Positif originally designed by illustrator Rouzille Erzabalna and unveiled in July 2015.
Smug Wendy’s, also known as Wendy-chan, is an anime-style anthropomorphic personification of the @Wendys well-known Twitter feed, which gained much online notoriety for its funny and sarcastic responses to customer complaints and questions. The character is based on the restaurant’s mascot Wendy Thomas.
Earth-chan is an anime-style anthropomorphic representation of the planet Earth. She is depicted as a young girl with hair dyed in the colors blue and green, resembling a photograph of the planet taken from space. Online, image macros featuring the character often contain jokes using the popular anime trope of characters being insecure about their flat chest by referencing to the flat earth theory.
Tide POD-chan is an anthropomorphic representation of Tide POD laundry capsules, which was created in early January 2018 in response to trending jokes about people eating the product as if it were a fruit-flavored snack.
Clorox-chan is an anthropomorphic anime representation of Clorox Bleach, a surface whitener made by Clorox. As drinking Clorox Bleach is a well-known means of poisoning oneself, many of the representations of the character contain jokes related to bleach drinking.