//how i learned to stop laughing and love the -tans
A long time ago, possibly the late sixties, a man named Aesop imparted his animal characters with human traits in order to beat his children over the head with morals and proverbs. Since then, we've been able to put a smiley face on everything from happy bunnies to consumer electronics to teach kids that old farmers want to murder them with a shotgun for their jackets and that the Sega Game Gear gets sad when exposed to water.
It wasn't long before morals and lessons became obsolete, and anthropomorphism abandoned philosophy in favor of a better paying major; i.e; sold out, lending the whole affair a sordid edge. Soon, Sheriff "Judas" Twinkie rode into town with his ten-gallon hat and gunbelt (guns later omitted). With the help of numerous Marvel super heroes, he became a smiling endorsement for the processing and consumption of his own people. Just sit back a moment and think of all the happy faces from your youth condoning- no, encouraging cannibalism. Feel that in the pit of your stomach? That's a decade or two of being a monster and loving it.
It should come as no suprise that the Japanese were enamored by this concept and have taken in to new heights and depths. Going back to the example of smiling Sheriff Twinkie happily selling his own folk to ravenous fatties/children/fat children, his Japanese equivalent would most likely have huge, sparkling eyes and a look of screaming, orgasmic joy, even going so far as to tear off bits of his own head to feed the kiddies. (Witness his sacrifice!! ANPANMAN DIED FOR YOUR SIN OF GLUTTONY)
There is a certain otaku collective out there, the Futaba Channel (2chan) image board. It eventually lead to other #chans and various Korean sites of similar intent like MoeBoard. Mostly it's made up of people uploading their current underage cartoon porn desktop themes and random screens from the latest episode of Uninspired Dating Adventure 23: Cherish My Sakura Doily: The Animation. Also poked into the mix are feminized versions of things like Gundam suits, given the honorific '-tans', a childish pronunciation of the already childish honorific '-chan.' Well, there are two things that the apocryphal image posters had in common (probably more, but I'm trying not to stereotype in this sentence): They all liked pretty anime girls, and they all liked computers. So, inevitably, the two paths would cross into one of the biggest 'fake anime' crazes of all time:
The OS girls are Windows (for the largest part, though there are Mac-tans and Linux-tans out there) personified. The most popular one is ME-tan (above), hopelessly clumsy and stupid, but tries so hard it tugs at the heartstrings almost as hard as one tugs at their hair while running her. (HA. WINDOWS HUMOR.) The other most occuring members of their family are XP-tan (she's pretty but a little slow), 2k-tan (the responsible older one with glasses who seems to do all the work), 98 (a little girl who hides inside a carboard mecha suit which I guess is a security pack or something), and 95 (the eldest sister, a touch old-fashioned, virulently hates Macintoshes.) The concept of making cute girl versions of spiteful, unfeeling machinery seemed to get its kick-start when Mika Akitaka (creator of the ridiculously saccharine Yuna, as well as mech designers for gobs of stuff from Nadesico to Macross) designed his Gundam-based MS Girls.
This is like the ultimate twist on a joke going too far. The "Troubled Windows" family wasn't credited to any one person- their appearances and personalities were slowly shaped by dozens of people bent on fleshing out something behind the cutesy mascots. The popular ones mentioned above pretty much always look alike from artist to artist, but the less-used ones like NT tend to vary more from lack of focus. They even added a sort of fictional boy toy to the Windows harem in the form of Toshiaki, supposedly named for an obnoxious dickhead posting around 2ch in a know-it-all manner. There's even an Easter-egg-laden 'OP sequence' floating about the internet.
All that, and there isn't even one consistent manga or TV series behind the concept. We're talking about a perpetual motion machine of fandom. OS-tans are popular with their fans. So fans draw more OS-tan stuff. Let it sink in. It's fucking beautiful. No bitching about plots, out of character alerts, or late deadlines. Just one big artistic circle of life.
But Mark, you say- OS-tans are orudu hatto? The topic has already been gone into elsewhere both more coherently and more cleverly? Well, you're right. And there's not much to say besides gushing about the thinking behind panty firewalls. For you see, -tans are all around us, bringing smiles and joy to places that need it most. Like the world of brutal murder.
Nevada-tan came to be after the horrifying slashing death of a female student by her er, slightly touched classmate, alledgedly inspired by a scene in the manga/movie Battle Royale. Though her name and identity couldn't be released, the magical Internet fairies have pretty much narrowed it down to a girl in a hooded navy "NEVADA" sweater. So began a new 'mascot' craze- navy hoodies, short hair, and box cutters became adorable. There are whole archives out there with drawings of the girl in adorable little poses, cuddling with her classmate, and of course cutting the HOLY HELL out of her.
The cutesy anthro fad hit the fighting machines of WWII pretty hard. In fact, Konami's toy branch is going to be making a handful of figures based on the kamikaze Zero, Panzers, and so on. On the surface, it sounds cool. Cute girl, ominous German tank-inspired shoulder pads, no shins- the hell? That isn't cute. Surgically replacing the girl's lower legs with tank treads is just creepy. You're killing it for us!
A magic tank-girl makes an incidental appearance in the World of Narue manga (AUSF-chan!). She does have shins.
Then there are indescribable adorable horrors that sleep below the ocean, and materialize from sharp angles. You wouldn't think that surreal English-language horror would be that appealing to the Japanese fan-art world, but sure enough, there are even Lovecraft-based cuties out there. Apparently what Great Chtulhu actually dreams about is clearing up its complexion and growing up into a beautiful young Old One. It's creepy and cute all at once, kind of like grown-up child stars on a talk show.
There are tons of others, of course. There's Ronald McDonald-tan, girls who dress like boxes of cigarettes, car girls, female versions of popular male characters (sometimes leading further into a dank and inky realm we call futanari.) The Ecchi-Attack IRC crew has even taken it upon themselves to create Jerkcity-tans who shriek disorientingly offensive catch phrases while looking precious.
So, it's time to bring this over-long ramble about the spreading obsession of sexing up crazed killers and otherwordly horrors. I'd like to thank all of the inanimate objects in my immediate area for their moral support and for not killing me in my sleep with a smile. So if you're lonely, just have a look around and see the adorable harem of
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