Anime fans rejoiced this week at the debut of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train in North America. The movie had a great start and made roughly $21.1 million, making it the biggest US foreign-language box office debut ever. And with all those sales came a major gathering of anime fans for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
The pandemic still has an effect on the movie-watching experience, of course. A recurring joke on the internet speculates about whether or not people will know how to act normal after spending over a year away from other human beings. Anime fans are already used to being told they don’t “act normal,” or hearing jokes that they don’t wear deodorant. But the anime fans going to see Demon Slayer have decided to embrace the cringe.
It all started with a sound clip on TikTok that combined a bunch of cliché phrases that anime fans say on “weebtok,” the part of TikTok where people post anime content. There’s a person shouting “Dekuuuuuuuu!,” a reference to My Hero Academia, and a person saying “You’re such a silly ‘baka’”, the Japanese word for fool. It’s meant to make fun of how anime fans act in public, but part of the video took off. Specifically, people latched onto the clip’s dramatic pronunciation of “Eren Yeager,” the name of Attack on Titan’s protagonist. Other videos using the audio soon followed suit and made the same joke in different variations.
This video points to the fact that their parents will be attending the premiere: “PLS GUYS!!!! My parents are gonna be there!!!”
While the “Eren Yeager” clip wasn’t initially based on a real thing, folks decided to bring it to life. Like clapping when a plane lands or when a movie finishes, people are now actually shouting “Eren Yeager,” just after the Funimation credit rolls pre-movie. Posting videos of yourself (or others) shouting it has now become a popular trend on TikTok, with some of the clips garnering over 700K views. The videos are silly and have a prank-like quality to them. One person who recorded themselves shouting the name posted a video saying, “I did what needed to be done.”
While the original sound clip makes fun of various fandoms, people still found it funny. Videos of people speaking up at the start of the movie usually have comments like “why wasn’t my experience like this, it was so quiet,” suggesting that the jokes were entertaining even if they were trolling. In some videos, people will chime along with people making the joke, adding silly comments like, “sheeeeesh.”
Shouting “Eren Yeager” has become a way to add color to viewing the movie. A meme and inside joke extended from an online community out into the greater world. And unlike that time when anime fans notoriously yelled during a different big movie premiere, folks don’t seem to see this meme as disruptive — everyone’s just happy to finally be social after a year of distancing.