If you haven’t been hiding underground lately, chances are you’ve witnessed the rise of a new meme featuring Kill La Kill‘s Ryuko Matoi. Most renditions of the meme have her blushingly offering her affection to the viewer by stretching her arms out and saying that the viewer is “my little PogChamp.” As of the writing of this article, appreciative little PogChamps throughout the world have gone on to twist the appreciative scene in all possible manners, whether it be increasing Ryuko’s polygon count or having her interact with a potential pogchamp.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular interpretations, and at the strange history, of this viral movement.
The “source” of most of these PogChamp remixes is a video made by PEAR哥 and posted on Twitter and Youtube on November 14 and 19 respectively. In the video, a 2D-animated Ryuko hesitantly recites her famed PogChamp line in front of a bright-orange background. Following that release, Youtube filled up with bright orange thumbnails — many of them derivatives of PEAR’s video.
Youtubers edited in characters from other shows, modified Ryuko’s animation frames, and cut from Ryuko to other memes in a “bait-and-switch” manner. A surprisingly large number of videos show characters that do not respond well to the PogChamp offer and violently reject Ryuko — or, in a rather meta take, reject Ryuko’s meme itself.
However, the meme didn’t actually start with PEAR’s animation. While Ryuko’s unfettered love has only just exploded in mainstream popularity, her act of kindness actually began on September 24. On that fateful day, a Facebook page named “Smol dom gf” posted an image macro that combined pixiv artist HONG DOO’s Idolmaster x Kill La Kill fanart with the text: “UGH FINE I GUESS YOU ARE MY LITTLE POGCHAMP, COME HERE” — a “PogChamp” being a Twitch emote that according to Urban Dictionary symbolizes “hype or excitement.” A day later, Twitter user @gothmei posted a version that she reportedly dubbed herself:
TikTok then grabbed hold of the meme, where it enjoyed usage as a part of TikTok’s lip sync trends — a common viral activity on the platform where its users video-record themselves badly lip synching catchy audio files, usually with some sort of personal twist (and/or with a show-off-y close-up of their attractive faces). An unknown artiste then posted something that was closest to today’s popular bait-and-switch renditions; in a groundbreaking move, they took gothmei’s dubbed post and cut away to true mainstream weeb territory: a Dragon Ball Z x Hennessy whiskey meme. While the original post has been lost to the digital winds, Instagram user nitro_if has managed to salvage this work of art:
But, prior to PEAR’s involvement, Ryuko’s call to PogChamps has largely flown under the radar of the internet’s collective consciousness. While the meme’s shares and interactions previously numbered in the tens of thousands per popular post, only with the orange-backgrounded animation do the interactions shoot up to the millions. Currently, PEAR’s post on Youtube alone has 2.3 million views, and the animation’s most popular derivatives have been racking up hundreds of thousands to over a million views each. The original image macro format is seeing remixes as well, like this punny take by Twitter artist @ZestyLemonss:
Like all memes, this one will eventually fade with time. However, during its run, the Ryuko PogChamp meme has brought joy to many a sad champion of Pog in need of an uplift. The way the meme has morphed through its many iterations reflects the fluid and often zany stream-of-consciousness of the internet. It brought people together, organically, in spite of today’s divisiveness and suffering, and it reminds us all that we’re still — and will always be — PogChamps.