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Overwatch’s new emotes feature a perfect anime reference

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The Melancholy of Mei-Ling Zhou

haruhi suzumiya
“Hare Hare Yukai” from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was a huge hit in the mid-’00s.
Kyoto Animation

Overwatch’s new anniversary event skins and emotes are among the best the game’s ever received, so it’s hard to choose a favorite. As a lifelong anime fan, I’m going to have to go with Mei’s dance — which, as some observant Twitter and Reddit users picked up on, is an obvious reference to a recent anime classic.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya premiered in 2006 and quickly became a hit for its surreal blend of comedy, romance and supernatural hijinks. The show was beloved for something else, too: Its catchy-as-hell opening and closing themes, the latter of which featured its very own dance.

Watch the animation for “Hare Hare Yukai” below ...

... and then take a look at Mei’s dancing emote:

See the similarities? That can’t be a coincidence; it’s straight-up part of the “Hare Hare Yukai” dance.

If I had to compare Mei to any of the Haruhi Suzumiya cast, I’d have to go with Mikuru Asahina, the shy redhead whose cutesy nature belies her intelligence. Mikuru’s one of the “Hare Hare Yukai” dancers, too, although Mei looks even happier to be pulling those moves than Mikuru ever did.

I’m chalking this emote up as yet another reason why I can’t concentrate at work today. Apologies to my editors, but between the Mei emote and the Kamen Rider-styled Sentai Genji skin, Overwatch’s blatant anime callouts are too good to not obsess over. (Plus, with Blizzard Entertainment’s known appreciation of quality anime, I can’t help but speculate on what other series might inspire future Overwatch outfits.)