The Internet Meme
Animation loop from visual novel Popotan, now know as "Caramelldansen"
It was first a small fifteen frame Flash animation loop showing Mai and Mii, characters of the Japanese visual novel Popotan (doing a hip swing dance with their hands over their heads imitating rabbit ears), and the chorus of the sped up version of the song "Caramelldansen" sung by Malin and Katia from Swedish music group Caramell. A sped up version of this song was released in early 2006 by DJ Speedycake and was called "Caramelldansen Speedycake Remix" which started to distribute on the internet almost in parallel with the flash loop. The original Swedish lyrics of the song can found here, and english lyrics here
Popotan first appeared as a Japanese PC game in December 12, 2002. After the anime was aired from July 17, 2003 to October 2, 2003, small animated GIF clips where captured from the opening of the anime and distributed over the internet.
Some of those clips where modified and turned into small flash loops with sound. The oldest and most noticeable of those clips is one where Mii is doing a solo dance. This later on became a loop with sound called miidance.swf.
The oldest reference in English found on the internet referring to Popotan game intro was found on animesuki forum in the thread called “Most kawaii intro” created on Nov 14 2003. The discussion started with Popotan anime, others where mentioned too but was till user Anlushac11 said “About the only thing more Kawaii than Popotans intro is Popotan the Game's intro” that this became the first time the game intro was mentioned to be significant.
It was not long before parts from the opening of the PC game were captured and posted on the internet as small GIF animations for people to use. The oldest post found on the Internet so far showing Popotan dance in .gif format was in livingwithstyle.com forum. The thread was called “Anime Animated Gifs [NOT 56K Friendly]”. User “TheMadCountess” made a small post on July 10 2004 with 6 links to different animated gif shorts, and 3 of them where from Popotan:
07-10-2004, 04:57 PM
Popotan dance party!
Mou dame po po po!
Mou dame po po po!
07-10-2004, 10:46 PM
Countess - ^^^ Those are so cute! What are they from?
07-10-2004, 11:13 PM
The first one is from Azumanga Daioh. The first dvd or two of that is out, as well as all 4 books of the manga. The next two are from Nurse Witch Komugi-chan Magikarte!, which is licensed but I don't know the release date. The last three are from Popotan, which is also licensed but I don't know the release date either.
The site and the original files are no longer available at the time I did a revision of this article, but the user who posted it is still around here
January 2 2005
Later on the .gif animation was added music and changed to flash format. The oldest known reference so far is from conectr.com forum. The thread was called “punks onnozele flash thread” created on January 2 2005, from user “punkfreak” posting his flash collection. The first known animated flash loop with sound from Popotan PC intro was called “Walk this Way”, file named walkway.swf was 1.3Mb, which included the song “Walk this way” by Aerosmith and Run DMC.
November 2 2005
In November 2 2005, sheezyart.com user Andeh posted another flash version of the Popotan animation, this one including song Wakalaka, making it the second most oldest known version of the Popotan animation with sound. This flash was called "Popotan dance 2".
Around November 2005 and May 2006 sheezyart.com user Funzo released his own version of the Popotan flash, this one originally named “Sexy Bunny Dance” was the first known custom made flash animation with sound derived from the Popotan animation loop. This version shows ID3 and IDK, demon characters that belong to an artist called Dokuro, and the song "Dare" by the virtual band Gorillaz. This flash was originally posted on sheezyart, but was later removed by its own author do to personal reasons. The flash can still be found in some flash archives and on youtube by the name of "Lizard Girl Dance"
In April 16 2006, deviantart.com user animegirl000 posted a custom made gif animation without sound called "Axel and Roxas dance"
The original Carameldansen flash loop was composed by Sven from Sweden at the first half on 2006 and originally posted on his personal website, but later reposted on internet community 4chan, which was here where its popularity started.
As I contacted him by mail he told me how it all started:
Can you tell me how this idea was put together and where did you post it first?
"The gif-animation was, if I remember correctly, taken from /gif/ at 4chan. I tried some different tracks, found the song that I thought was appropriate, fiddled a bit in Audacity and added it to my page along with all the other loops. And as I wrote on Wikipedia, I didn't know the loop had started such a meme until just a couple of months ago, which took me totally by surprise. As I added the loop to /f/ on 4chan at the same time I added it to my page, there is a big chance that the majority of views and spread is thanks to 4chan."Did you use the sped up version of the Caramell song made by Speedycake or it’s just coincidence it came out almost at the same time?
"About the song, I had the full album of Caramell in my music collection (where I got it from the beginning I don't really remember, but a qualified guess would be that I got it from a friend through a LAN/filesharing-gathering). I had never heard of the Speedycake-remix until I read the Wikipedia entry."
"Well the loop turned out a little over the top, very "cute" and very "japanish", which made it look like something that actually could have originated from Japan (in my own opinion anyway). I then added "ANIME LOL!" (actually reads "ANIME LOL KAWAII ^_^" now, since I had to rewrite the whole site thanks to a server crash a while back) as the title of the page, to give it even more "over the top" feeling. That the loop became popular, especially in Japan, I find quite ironic. :)"Have you had any interviews asking about this?
"Regarding media interviews, I don't really think there is much more to the "story", but of course if there is any interest I'm willing to answer their questions. But for now I don't think the media care too much for the original story. :p"Caramelldansen Speedycake Remix
By this time, DJ Speedycake was releasing the sped up version of the "Caramelldansen" song, quite a coincidence that it came out almost at the same time as Sven's flash loop. This is the story of the mix told by Speedycake himself:
Where does your name come from?
"The name comes from my normal internet alias and then tacking on speedy in front of it after a few live mix sessions that mostly were in the 150+ BPM range. I thought it was suitable at the time. The place where I started my net broadcasts was the first incarnation of #/b/radio located at the Rizon IRC network"When did you released the sped up song and where did you post it first?
"The song was created on an accidental mixing mistake where I was transitioning the song, completely neglecting to check the BPM difference and turning on the key pitch lock. So when it came for me to start the track, well it was squeaky and high pitched. After the broadcast I had several requests for the song, however the song didn't really exist in the form that I mixed it in so I released it under the same sped up conditions and posted it on the /b/radio BBS (4chan). From there the song spread onto 4chan's /flash/ board from which it was almost a daily thing for people to request what song it was and a link to download it which I supplied"
"Caramelldansen Speedycake Remix" was released in early 2006 and posted originally on 4chan too. Thats where it started to distribute on the internet. Most of the followup versions of the flash meme used this song to make their versions.
So, after the second half of 2006, Caramelldansen spread on the Internet in Flash archives and popular communities such as Hongfire and 4chan. Caramelldansen was also referred first as the "Popotan Dance" or "Popotan Dansen". After 2008 is more known by its popularity in Japan as "Uma uma dance".
August 8 2006
One of the oldest post of the Caramelldansen flash found was in the popular anime community hongfire.com. Post date was August 8 2006 by user npdcb. After contacting him, told me that he didn’t remember exactly where he got the flash from, but was probably in 4chan or animesuki.
Later in March 23 2007, another custom made caramell flash appeared. Created by Veertje and originally posted in yaoi.y-gallery.net, this flash was called "Cyborg CaramellDansen" and included characters from 60’s anime Cyborg 009. She saw the original flash on www.caramel.co.nr and decided to make her own version. That webpage no longer exists but I manage to get a cached version from google.
In April 11th 2007, another customade flash animation based on the original Caramelldansen was released, called by it's author Devvo the "Midnatt Boxer Rave Dansen" (more know this days as "Dota furry dance", "Dota dance" or just Dota) was released first on furaffinity.net. Not sure if this version could be considered part of the Caramelldansen family of flashes, because it uses a different song, a speedup version of the Swedish song called "Vi sitter i Ventrilo och spelar dota" by Basshunter. The reason I mention it is because of the popularity it had on the internet. The characters on this flash are Ritts the raccoon and Devvo the cat.
On June 24 2007, was released my version of this meme and posted it originally on deviantart.com, called it "Caramel Chu", was inspired first on the Dota flash and later on the original Caramelldansen flash. Had a decent amouth of views and was the start of many followups flases on the deviantart community before they where all removed(included mine) because of copyright issues. The flash was reposted on March 07 2008 with a different song so it won't get removed again. Posted this also on youtube and newgrounds.
Many more versions of the flash came out after, but it wasn’t till early 2008 that was noticed an increasing amount of versions on youtube. The links on some of the videos took me to Japanese video sharing site Nico Nico Douga. Was here where the real boom of this meme started.
umauma.cd - The official page for umauma single and album
Myspace - The Unofficial Caramell page
Myspace - DJ's Vasco & Millboy Page
Myspace - DJ Speedycake page
www.bubblegumdancer.com - About Caramell discography
www.caramell-dansen.com - Caramell Dansen Video Collection Site
Animesuki Forums - Collection of Caramelldansen versions