“The Swimming Anime” Is an Incredible Look at how Fandoms Can Explode Overnight – Literally

Recently, something very interesting has been happening within fandoms: the internet. Whereas before people who loved something – let’s use X-men as an example – had to meet at their local comic shop or at a convention in order to rabidly express their appreciation for their beloved series, now we have social media – particularly Tumblr.

Tumblr is a quick share blogging website that is populated with the most intense fandom appreciation the internet has ever seen. With the ability to share just about ANYTHING with the click of a button – text, images, video, music – and then reblog it with another click, posts that people love get thousands and thousands of “notes”. It is a fast moving social tool that has been important in many different things – from civil rights issues to “OMG LOKI IS SOOO HAWT”. There are tumblrs dedicated to incredibly specialized things: characters, “ships” (fandom speak for “relationships”), drawings of just Avengers characters as puppies… And it’s bringing new fans into the fold.

Tumblr makes fandom accessible to people who maybe would not have been into something, due to ignorance or inaccessiblity. It has helped things like Doctor Who become common knowledge among Americans, made web comics like Homestuck blow up, and launch social issues within the geek world into the light in as little as 24 hours.

Within the last week or so, the absolute perfect example of this “fan uprising” has come to light: “The Swimming Anime”.

Kyoto Animation – aka KyoAni – is an animation studio that creates beautiful, feminine female characters that appeal to the straight male. However, they recently came out with a 30 second short (to demonstrate their animation abilities) that appealed to young women who like yaoi – anime and manga that has beautiful men (or “bishounen”) that are usually homosexual. Yaoi stories are wildly popular, and this mock trailer only drove that point home.

Within 48 hours, Tumblr had EXPLODED. The four boys featured in the trailer all had expansive back stories and character development. There was fanart and fanfiction. Dozens of “anime music videos” setting the 30 second trailer to various songs. Cosplay plans. Roleplaying blogs. Texts from Last Night parodies. All with thousands and THOUSANDS of “notes” (the way Tumblr tracks reblogs).

The fandom for this fake anime has become so huge that in the very near future it may just become a REAL anime – as many of the participants are begging for.

This is the most poignant example of how fandoms have grown throughout the years. Thanks to the internet they are accessible to people around the world, who all share their mania and intense love for their “geeky” exploits. In fact, websites like Tumblr are creating an entirely new generation of fans. With the release of the Avengers movie, many young women who had never read a comic book latched onto the movie and characters with such a passion and love that they filed into comic stores in droves.

The entire thing is absolutely amazing to me. I love looking around conventions and seeing new, passionate fans who are just so full of excitement and life rather than being jaded and judgemental. The fandoms are inclusive, communities where people feel safe expressing themselves and their opinions.

I’m very intrigued to see how Tumblr helps fandoms evolve in the future… and I hope “The Swimming Anime” becomes a real anime. Because then Tumblr is going to explode. LITERALLY EXPLODE.


Molly McIsaac likes her whiskey neat and her superheroines badass. You can follow her bizarre life on her blog the Geeky Peacock or on twitter.


  1. I have a few questions Molly: I understand this only a trailer, though there is a back story now. Are these characters super powered or just regular guys? I assume that there’s romance involved, so are they teenagers or twenty-somethings? Is swim team stories a sub-genre in anime/manga?

    I’m totally out of the loop. I’ve only seen AKIRA, NINJA SCROLL, and some episodes DEVIL MAN and WOLF RAIN that’s it,
    so not at all familiar with this art form.

    • Swimming is a very common sport that Japanese High Schoolers participate in during PE. Most of the time, Swimming is used to show off a little fan service as well as put characters in awkward situations that generate comedy or progress romantic storylines. It’s a safer environment than, say a spa (which usually involves bathing in Japanese culture) or the Beach (which is almost always about playful comedy).

      Most likely these guys are just normal High Schoolers or College students. However, adding on a supernatural layer to these kinds of shows is also very common.

      You’ve only seen Akira and Ninja Scroll? You are definitely out of the loop. I suggest you watch Cowboy Bebop (which is widely praised and beloved).

    • I have heard of Cowboy Bebop and how good it is, just never got around to watch. Thanks for answering my questions, I’m glad someone took the time to do so.

  2. I think a large part of why something like this exploded is that rare occurrence of right material and the right place. Or to paraphrase John Siuntres, if you’re selling a Western comic shouldn’t you try selling it in cowboy magazines? While KyoAni may not have intended this to circulate like it did, they’re crazy if they don’t attempt to capitalize on this and even crazier if they don’t use Tumblr to promote it.

  3. There was a point whilst I was reading your article when I actually wondered if I should continue with my day as planned or just devote the rest of it to diving into this awesome phenomenon to which you have introduced me. I chose the former – but hot damn, this is something I’ll be watching out for!! Thanks for the article, Molly. I pray I’ll see “Swimming Anime” cosplay at WonderCon 😉

  4. “Swimming Anime” reminds me of when you are somewhere and the sign on the eatery just says “Family Restaurant” or “Italian Food” haha

  5. Tumblr is home to a very special way of beating dead horses.Maybe that’s not the right analogy but hopefully you get what i’m saying.They love debating “sexism in comics” which usually translates to “this character is dead and the writer is a white male therefore there is a conspiracy to keep her in limbo because she’s a woman”.They also worship Stephanie Brown with a messiah-like reverence.

    Perhaps i shouldn’t have brought up Steph, i know how that’s a “hot button” issue on the internet.

  6. Also I think fandoms relish the opportunity to apply themselves to these type of blank slates.

    A character as weak and bland as Hawkeye in the Avengers movie is BY FAR the most popular Avenger on tumblr and engaged in multiple streams and memes or fanart, fanfic, and he’s also the crux of most of the gender swapped sexy pose Hawkeye Initiative that were all popular *before* the Hawkeye comic even relaunched.

    The Hawkeye comic even seems to pander to fandoms a lot of the time with known internet smash hits like pizza and dogs coagulating in PizzaDog and other things. It certainly is benefitting from siphoning off its internet cache while also being a good comic that bucks many of the trends that stop mainstream comics from becoming popular.

    Don’t even get me started on Kid Loki and Young Avengers!

  7. see… this is why i love the internet. it turns the WORLD into one big massive real time convention.
    i’m not a fan of yaoi or yuri, but i’m a fan of fandom. i love seeing people collectively enjoy something this much.
    creating back stories, fan art, spin offs, for characters in a thirty second short, that’s just amazing and great to me.

    i love seeing this. it makes me feel good knowing with all the cynicism, sarcasm, and hatred we believe the internet is majority comprised of, the real truth is it’s more so made up of dozens and dozens of pockets of love, and admiration for small simple things that turn into massive internet wide movements.
    i mean cosplay too?! just wow.

  8. What’s a Tumblr?

  9. I have no idea what this article is talking about. I thought I knew what fandom meant but now I’m not sure. And if that video is fake anime what is real anime.

  10. You know, guys, I think you’ve kind of over-done it. I get that you wanted to be funny and create a parody of what everyone thinks a fake-nerd-girl is to show the ridiculousness of the whole concept, but the satire is starting to go a little too far into the obvious, and soon everyone is just gonna know. I mean, no one can ever honestly be like this and be called a successful journalist, even if just an internet one for a comics website.

  11. Pure trash.

  12. Wow. Please ignore those misogynist asshole commenters above! This is awesome.