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11 The Third Channel
The Third Channel: Futaba Channel – The Mother of the Western Imageboard Culture
Futaba Channel is something of a mystery for foreigners or for even established Western channers. It may be the mother of the Western Imageboard Culture, but its culture is not well known to the general public or anything. Futaba Channel did not had the same mainstream exposure 2channel did in the year 2000, nor the same media coverage it had. Like Ayashii world and Amezou world, it remained relatively underground, and the audience of Futaba is more narrow, underground, and otaku than 2channel. But what Futaba Channel innovated in when it was born revolutionized anonymous discourse forever.
Futaba channel was set up during the August crisis of 2001. The August Crisis was the 2channel was threatened to be closed down due to overwhelming server load due to the ever expanding use from the media coverage. There were two responses to the August crisis; one of them was from the Unix textboard. The other response was that a separate group of 2channelers set up another textboard as a refuge just in case it died. The admin made a url called “2chan.net” in order to differate itself from the 2channel url “2ch.net”.
Futaba channel started as a textboard for those 2channelers. However, it made something of a forced evolution in a form of a feature upgrade. At some point after the launch of Futaba channel, there was a feature upgrade that allowed the uploading of images. In 2channel, in order to post a picture, you have to post a link to an off-site host. Now with Futaba channel, you can simply upload any image in jpg, png, or gif format and have others view it. The end result is a revolution in image sharing.
What is Futaba Channel
Futaba Channel is the world’s first imageboard website. It’s more narrowly focused on otaku and underground topics than 2channel. The site consists of 60 imageboards with topics “from advice to junk food, ramen, and gore” (Futaba Channel – English Wikipedia). There are boards for sports like baseball, soccer. There’s a mahjong board, one for animals and one for plant life. There are cooking boards for pictures of food, and dedicated boards for candy and ramen. Video games? There’s a board for games and a board for MMORPGs called Net Games. There’s even a board for politics, economics, advice, and most recently a board for the recent Toidai Earthquake and for nuclear power issues.
The board is powered by the Futaba script. The script is named after the name of the site, and is “considered a bastard child of the GazouBBS script” (An irreverent guide to the many boards of Futaba Channel by Ordinary K !3GqYIJ3Obs) The Futaba script is open source can be customized to allow the uploading of Ops with pictures with text-only replies, or image replies with text. This script was the basis of the first English script 4chan used for their first incarnation the futabully script.
The major difference that Futaba channel has over 2channel is that content is ephemeral. Ephemerality means that content is ongoing and never persistent. In layman’s terms it means that it will eventually disappear. Depending on the size of the community and thus it’s posting rate, threads can last from anywhere from ten minutes to several hours. This is in contrast with threads on 2channel, where
threads can last for anyway from hours to days when people actively post in them. And when the thread gets automatically locked when reached 1000 replies, it stays on the boards practically forever because they get moved to an archive.
Another way of enforcing ephemerality is that threads depending on the time length get pruned automatically. This is shown at the end of the OP message “Thread marked for deletion (old)”. This indicates that the thread has already reached it’s time frame. With content always appearing and disappearing, people make a habit of saving content they already created or want. This essentially creates memes out of simple pictures.
Unlike the administrator of 2channel, who is well known in the domestic and international media. The administrator of Futaba Channel has not been known, in reflection of the underground nature of the site. No one in Futaba channel knows who admins the site, nor how do other moderators of Futaba Channel get selected or run the site. The administrator’s name is only known as Kanrinin-san. However, in some fanart depict the administrator of Futaba Channel as a female or a fujoshi (female otaku).
About 2007-2008 The server administrator updated the system to allow people to delete their own posts and threads via the del link. In addition, the system also allowed the adding and deleting boards. Threads and posts can be reported for indecent images, personal information, harassment, spam, and slander.
The Nijiura Boards
The heart of the Futaba channel are the Nijiura boards. The original /b/ board created (known as /b/) was about illustrations, and screenshots of popular anime and scans from manga series, and general discussion about anime and manga. The first nijiura board (which is mistakenly known as /b/ in the Western World) was initially created to separate anime and manga discussion and from captured images and fan created manga. Eventually the doujin discussion and captured images eventually turned into all sorts of random things about anime and otaku culture. Gag pictures, memes, photoshopped images and all sorts of stuff which gave birth to many net characters and in culture which made the Nijiura boards. The popularity of the /b/ boards gave rise to four additional boards, and then three more boards were created. Some of them have forced anonymity, some have option of anonymity. But the Nijiura boards have their own culture which spawned multiple gag images and net characters. Many of them were bridge memes between Futaba and 4chan.
The word Nijiura is a combination of two phrases: “Two dimensions” and “Flip side”. The full word for Nijiura in Japanese is “Nijigen ura”. The word Nijiura combines Niji and ura. The Two dimensions part of the board is reference to anime- and manga-related artwork and materials (Nijiura wiki), than the three-dimensions of film, television, and photography. The flipside means it’s an alternative board to the original two-dimensional board.
Inside the Nijirua boards reside the Toshiaki. Most of the work on the Nijiura boards is created by them where they anonymously create, modify, and suggest ideas. Ideas can include gag pictures, to full blown characters. Due to the high posting rate only anything that “strikes a note with a significant number of
people stays, while ideas that fail to attract support disappear” (ibid). With the basic requirement to remain popular with the Toshiaki, there are no true guidelines.
The Nijiura boards have become a symbol of Futaba channel. There are seven nijiura boards in all of Futaba: img, dat, may, jun, nov, dec, and cgi. Each nijiura subdomain has a difference in culture and content, and they have their own original characters and mascots. In particular, the may nijiura subdomain is often used to test various functions thus they call that subdomain of nijiura the experimental board. The may server is also considered more friendly to foreigners who are able to post on Futaba and new futaba channers than the other Nijiura boards.
A glance of the Nijiura Boards
Img – The first ninjiura board and the “largest creative force” of the five, as most content in created there. Forced anonyminity. No image replies
Dat – Forced anonymity. No image replies.
May – Public nijiura board. Experimental board. More friendly to new comers than the rest. Less porn and more focused on real world stuff
Jun – Public ninjiura board. The porn board. More focused on hentai and loli content. (http://tanasinn.info/wiki/Nijiura)
Nov – Unknown, hidden
Dec – latest nijiura board. Not much information about it, except that it’s public.
Cgi – unknown, hidden
Toshiaki – the /b/tard of Futaba
The /b/ boards are different from the regular imageboards of futaba because their default anonymous name is not “Nameless” but “Toshiaki”. The default name was changed in April 12, 2003 “honor” of the lifeless spammer/crapflooder Toshiaki.
It’s unknown how the /b/ boards got changed to that default name but to our knowledge and from our YS Historian IshiharaYar, here is our theory:
Futaba Channel has always been plagued by crapflooding (another way of saying spam) since its inception. Despite blocking foreigner IPs from Futaba, it doesn’t prevent domestic crapflooding. Most spammers do their spamming anonymously without using a name. What made Toshiaki different was that one he did it in /b/, a place where you are expected to remain anonymous as much as possible.
So what that spammer did and he adopted the name of Toshiaki. Using that handle he constantly spammed threads on /b/ with the usual crap flooding. But for some reason or another people of /b/ thought it was funny that he adopted a username to begin with. Eventually other futaba channers adopted the same name because it was funny. The toshiaki crapfests ironically brought the community
together because Toshiaki was unique to /b/. The admin thought the same thing, and decided to change the default name of the /b/ boards to Toshiaki.
Further research revealed that not that the original Toshiaki not only crapflooded, he shitposted on Futaba’s /b/. He was a “particularly insistent user” who shitposted on various threads in a satirical, trollish manner. (Secchan Nijiura Wiki) Eventually, the /b/ users of Futaba adopted the name and begun copying his style of posting. With so many of them posting under the name, the admin changed the default name of the Nijiura boards to Toshiaki.
However for a brief period from July 15th, 2004 to May 25th, 2005 the administrator briefly removed the default names in changes of the script. Later img and dat /b/ were the only ones that have that change and the name field was removed entirely. Those boards are the forced anonymous boards, where there is no true name,「」,“representing an empty quotation, much like ""”. (ibid) The other Nijirua boards still use the Toshiaki name though.
Depending on the situation, the word Toshiaki can be said in a number of ways. It can be often shortened to Toshiaki. This tradition expanded for “who take a name for themselves” in the Nijiura boards, by ending their usernames in “-aki”, like Me-tan as in the creator of ME-tan . (ibid)This tradition is continued in other contexts in Futaba Channel as well, such as the yuri board (Yuriaki), the img and dat boards as kakkou or kakkou-aki, and female Nijiura channers (Joshiaki). Even when in meetups outside of Futaba Channel, they refer to themselves as Toshiaki.
Toshiaki is also depicted as a character called “ore”, a character born from a self-portrait festival on the Nijirua boards. The original image is a scary depiction of Toshiaki that was actually drawn from a user named “scary Toshiaki” drew him as a self-portrait (ibid) Ore is a more scary and more depraved version of the character and there are different versions of the style of the style of character. Even in colored art work, he’s often drawn in grayscale.
Some of the rules of Nijirua
According to Shii there are some unwritten rules of /b/. These are two primary ones.
1. Hantoshi-rom is a Japanese saying for "You must only read this board for six month". In plain English this means before you post crap like a newbie, you must lurk for at least six months, before posting. After six months, you will be able to post decent stuff like any other toshiaki. Another variant of this is Kuuki Yome or “read the air or feel the atmosphere”. In slang terms, it means “don’t be stupid”. (http://j-comixxx.livejournal.com/18628.html)
2. Stay anonymous as possible. Futaba Channel is an anonymous imageboard, names or individuality is quite unnecessary unless you have to. “One toshiaki is as good or as a loser as another”
Well known memes and gag images
The Nijirua boards have produced well known memes, net characters, and gag images that many 4channers don’t notice. You might recognize some of them as bridge memes, memes that cross over from one chan to another.
OS-tans: The OS-tans are a series of cute, moe net characters based primarily on the Windows series of operating systems. Depicted as women and related as sisters of varying ages, they represent each windows operating system by height, age, and by breast size. The first OS-tan, Me-tan, was created at August 6, 2003. Me-tan was depicted as fickle, troublesome girl in a maid suit complete with green hair with an idiot strand.
Some Toshiaki artists included a setting where Toshiaki owns a PC. With that comic strip then a group of women which they personify every operating system he owns. The first OS-tans were from the Windows operating system. Then the Mac OS line was created, and then other software lines were created. There’s also a male counterpart to the OS-tan’s called OS-kuns.
Ninjura Maids: A collection of maid characters that serve Toshiaki. Most of the creation of the maids involves puns based on their personalities. The first maid that was created out of the series is Medoi-san, an apathtic maid that finds everything to be a bother. Other maids include Kudoi-san the maid who speaks a lot and keeps rambling on, Modoi the maid that is angry and impatient at everything, and Nemui, a tired maid who’s always drowsy and carries a pillow. There are 15 maids in all in character series.
One of the maids that crossed over to our side as a bridge net character is Yakui-san. Yakui is a maid who is addicted to drugs and pharmaceuticals. He’s one the primary mascots of 420-chan along with TCC-chan. Despite the fact that she’s addicted to drugs, she’s actually adorable.
Gaijin 4koma (Bridge). A 4panel comic which has mutated into many variations. The 4koma usually interpose boredom and excitement images with good and bad images. The action images used a image of 4 attendees at E3 “responding to news of a Zelda video game” (Futaba Channel – Everything Shii Knows). The images have also been used as models for anime characters, video game characters, and even Touhou characters drawn in the same poses.
Yaranaika: Is a phrase meaning “Shall we do it”. The phrase is a double entendre suggesting anal sex. It was used in a homosexual erotic comic book "Kuso Miso Technique" (Shit Soup Techniuqe). The original manga was discovered by Ayashii worlders in 2002, but ignored. In 2003, Futaba Channers discovered the manga years later and was endlessly parodied by Futaba users. It triggered a “Yamajun boom" of interest in Junichi Yamakawa's work not only in Futaba, but also in 2channel.
BIKECAT: A cat that sit’s in the basket of a bike. Often times the cat is depicted in the streets of Nagoya Japan. His endearingly grumpy personality makes him even cuter. But not only his personality makes him even cuter, it’s interpreted as a quality of a leader or even a god. It’s pictures were crossed over to iichan’s /b/ board and WTFux.org cat imageboard. BIKECAT pictures can be seen at Soviet Russia’s Meow board.
There are other memes and catchphrases that originated on Futaba Channel. Such as MIYOCO, Mageres, Mr.Munday, Musashi GUN-DO, a Master is OUT, Longcat, Nevada-tan, Moetron, the Waha character, and the Kimoi girls. They are listed on the Tanashin wiki, and Shii’s everything knows wiki as well.
The Net Runner Incident
Netrunner was a magazine about computers and computer technology. They were famous for publishing illegal information like hacking irresponsibly. The magazine introduced an imageboard browsing software named Berry in one issue. That issue was responsible for creating a surge of traffic to Futaba as well as many inexperienced people who know nothing about the atmosphere of the site. But that wasn’t the thing that angered them.
Around 2003, the magazine decided to copy Futaba characters and sold merchandise based on the characters at the dismay of many Toshiaki. So much a deep enmity is sown, that many Futaba Channers made a campaign against Netrunner and its readers. Futaba Channers created various images basically telling Netrunner reads that they are not welcome to Futaba. More specifically“禁ネトラン厨” ,“No NetRunners allowed”. This type of image can be seen in every fan site of Futaba’s Culture.
Netrunner magazine eventually went out of existence in 2009.
The futaba script since its open source allows many Japanese to build similar styled imageboards. Thus you have a whole set of Japanese imageboards, many of them are unknown to the English speaking community and has yet to be studied and documented by the Western World. There is even one imageboard, which is secret which is dedicated to preservation of the creativity of the Toshiaki of Nijiura.
Relationship with 2channel and Futaba Channel
Futaba Channel originally became a refuse for 2channelers when it was threated with closure due to the ever expanding server use. After the end of the crisis, most of the 2channelers left Futaba culture. As an end result Futaba Culture made its own culture, despite some similarities with2channel culture. However, they consider 2channel culture and, by extension NicoNocoDouga Culture, conflicts with Futaba culture.
People who are not living in areas with Japanese IPs are allowed to view Futaba Channel. However, they are not allowed to post due to several incidents from crapflooding/spam and DDoS attacks from foreigners. Particularly people from the Republic of South Korea and the People’s Republic of China. Due to the fact that foreigners are not allowed to post and contribute to Futaba Channel due to the language barrier and culture barrier, 4chan was created for Westerners to have their own Futaba Board. In a sense, an English 2chan.
However the birth of Futaba Chanel and 4chan had a result of the creation a whole world of imageboards, not in the Japan but in the Western World. As a matter of fact 2chan influenced not only 4chan’s culture and structure, but the culture and structure of the Western Imageboard Culture. (http://lang-8.com/235151/journals/794817/thinking-about-4-chan-by-2chan-mad) As a matter of fact, if it wasn’t for Futaba Channel, we would not have 4chan.