Sometimes humor doesn’t translate between languages… even if there’s no language involved.

Japan often comes up with its own strange Internet trends that confuse the rest of the world, but this time around the tables have turned.

Now Japanese netizens are scratching their heads trying to figure out a meme that recently exploded online. Why do they care? Because it involves Sasuke, the much beloved/hated friend/antagonist from the Naruto anime and manga series.

▼ Basically random characters choke-slam Sasuke against the wall.
I… I swear it makes sense!

For those who don’t know, this scene originally comes from a part in Naruto where Sasuke attempts to fight his older brother Itachi. Sasuke has been hunting him his entire life, vowing revenge after his brother killed off their entire clan.

But when Sasuke finally confronts his brother for the first time and attacks him, he is quickly subdued.

▼ It’s a powerful scene, Sasuke being so easily defeated,
and Itachi telling him that he is weak.

But now anyone can choke Sasuke! Thanks to the power of Twitter and/or MS Paint, a plethora of “choking Sasuke” memes have popped up online.

▼ The tidying-up legend Marie Kondo tosses Sasuke away…

▼ …Bob Ross makes Sasuke into a happy little accident…

▼ …and Seto Kaiba shows Sasuke that his Blue Eyes White Dragon means business.

Since Sasuke is from a Japanese manga/anime, news of the meme made its way to the Japanese Internet pretty quickly. But rather than having a chuckle with their fellow English-speaking netizens, many Japanese people were confused by what they were seeing:

“This is so sad. Why don’t Americans like Sasuke?”

“I don’t get it. Is this supposed to make sense?”

“Why is this happening now? Shouldn’t this have been a thing ten or more years ago?”

“I guess humor doesn’t translate well between cultures.”

“Foreign jokes have a high rate of falling flat.”

Unfortunately jokes in one language or culture don’t often work in another. I can’t count the number of times I’ve translated English jokes into Japanese, laughed at the punchline, and was greeted by blank stares from my Japanese friends. In fact this kind of Japanese/English joke misunderstanding is so common there’s a word for it: American Joke.

Of course it wasn’t all confusion. There were some Japanese netizens who appreciated the meme for what it was:

“Okay, I laughed. That’s great.”

“Oh wow, Bob Ross. That takes me back.”

“Sometimes the foreign otaku are better than us at coming up with funny stuff. Like the shark girl memes and the senpai memes. I like those.”

There were also some Japanese Twitter users who tried their hand at putting their own spin on things:

▼ Sasuke and Hatsune Miku

▼ Sasuke and Gackt taking a selfie

▼ Sasuke and Kanan Matsuura from Love Live! Sunshine!!
Gotta appreciate the extra mile coloring the sleeve.

▼ And of course, Sasuke and Kiki

▼ Although several users also wanted to remind people that
Sasuke and Itachi had some nicer times together too.

While the meme will likely die out soon, it’s still nice that for some people it acted as a common bridge between two parts of the Internet for a little while.

Now as for Japan trying to understand America’s sudden obsession with Szechuan sauce last year, that still remains hopeless for all parties involved.

Source: My Game News Flash, Yurukuyaru
Featured image: Twitter/@NikkoGuy