Goodbye Harlem Shake, Hello...Hadouken-ing?
Whether you are a professional planker, a Lolcats veteran, or just someone who has watched a few pandas sneezing on Youtube, you know that it is almost impossible to avoid the viral trends of the internet. You are also probably aware of the passionate debates that traditionally follow these web sensations, like whether the Harlem Shake is better than Gangnam Style, or whether Epic Fail pictures are funnier than those from People of Walmart.
Well, the cherry blossoms have bloomed in Japan, and so has the new viral meme called "Hadouken-ing". Recently, some Japanese schoolgirls took still photographs of one person standing still while others appear to fly away from them, as though propelled by a ball of energy. At first, it sounds quite strange, but it looks a bit like this...
The word "Hadouken" may not mean much to some of you, particularly if you didn't grow up playing the classic video game Street Fighter. The Hadouken is a signature move of some of the characters, and it consists of the player putting both palms forward and shooting powerful spirit energy at the opposing player. This "special" move became very popular and well-recognized, and variations even arose in other games like Mega Man.
As you can see from these Japanese superheroes/amateur photographers, the images are pretty cool when captured perfectly, and I can certainly see the potential for massive internet fame in the coming weeks. I'll admit that at first, I didn't think much of planking either, until I saw someone doing it on the side of the Grand Canyon. At that point, after seeing a human being actually risk their life to participate in an internet trend, I began to understand the full power of memes and online fads.
However, the story doesn't end there. The early titling of this meme as "Hadouken-ing" may have been a mistake, and one which denizens of the blogosphere and unsleeping internet trolls have been quick to point out in passionate comments packed with nerd-rage.
Many bloggers were eager to jump on the meme in order to break the story of the internet's "next big thing", but the "move" mimicked in the pictures may actually be based on the "Kamehameha", a different move made famous in the Japanese anime series Dragon Ball Z. The "Kamehameha" is performed by a person drawing cupped hands to their side or chest, which then focuses a ball of powerful energy between their hands that can be used to blast an enemy.
Now, this second name for the meme makes more sense because a brand new Dragon Ball Z movie was released in Japan on March 30th, 2013. The anime cartoon is an extremely popular franchise in Japan, and Saturday's premiere is the first theatrical release of a DBZ movie in 17 years. I know that coincidences exist, but the chances seem slim that this meme was released from Japan within days of the Japanese premiere without somehow being connected.
Basically, in the excitement to jump on the bandwagon and spread information through this bizarre living organism of social media, obvious questions were overlooked and due diligence was left undone. Even reputable and well-respected names in online media like The Huffington Post leapt at the article and may end up looking foolish if this supposedly hot trend catches flame in a "Harlem Shake" kind of way. Retractions don't go over too well in the world of blogs and fact-checking fiends.
The last thing I find interesting about this story is how absolutely sure many of the websites and blogs are that "Hadouken-ing" (Kamehameha-ing?) will be the hottest new trend to sweep through the Internet. So far, after a few days of feverish blogging about it, the web presence of these clever Japanese photogs and even imitators of their visual trick seems embarassingly small. The pressure to discover new trends is so great that perhaps some people are trying to force things into fame by sheer force of will and an exaggeration of their actual "coolness".
I do think that this is a clever and amusing trend that could very easily explode in popularity, but before I blindly follow other bloggers off the cliff of outlandish predictions, I want to at least have my facts straight. Street Fighter or Dragon Ball Z? Hadouken or Kamehameha? What's the good of being the first to write a story if the information is wrong? And also, before I herald something as the next "Gangnam Style", it's not a bad idea to wait until the search term "Hadouken meme" generates more than 42,000 hits.
But that's just me.
What do you think? Are you already brainstorming amazing locations where you can create your own version of this photographic trick? Or will it be April Fools Day for those overeager bloggers when the Hadouken-ing/ Kamehameha-ing trend is gone before it even arrives?
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