Shou Tucker, the outwardly unassuming character in Fullmetal Alchemist, is widely regarded as the most vile and despised character in the entire saga by fans. Someone would have to do something truly heinous to achieve that level of hatred. So, what did Shou Tucker do to elicit such vitriol from the audience?
Tucker combined his daughter and dog to create a monster that begged for death from the moment it was born. When it comes to harming children or animals, audiences are understandably outraged. When confronted with something so horrific, many people turn it into a dark joke to alleviate the discomfort. Almost immediately after, an entire genre of memes parodying and joking about Tucker's darkest moment emerged.
FMA Fans were taken aback by Shou Tucker's selfish experiment
Shou Tucker gained notoriety as an alchemist due to his ability to create a chimera -- which he made by secretly fusing his wife with a dog. After failing to produce something that impressed the government after years of being a licensed state alchemist, he figured his life would be over if he lost his license. Wanting to avoid that at all costs, he produced a second chimera, only this time he used his daughter Nina and dog Alexander.
The scene where Ed and Al find Tucker with his new chimera is haunting, as the two brothers slowly realize how Tucker made the chimera. It doesn't help that Tucker seems to have no remorse for his actions, showing almost a manic pride in what he did. For many fans, Scar quickly dispatching both the Chimera and (depending on what version you watch) Shou Tucker himself is an act of both mercy and justice.
This event happens fairly early on in all versions of Fullmetal Alchemist. In the manga, this takes place in the fifth chapter, collected in its second volume. In the original anime, it's in episodes 6 and 7. In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, it happens in episode 4. This was the source of many viewers' realization of just how intense this series could get. Kotaku even ranked it as one of the most depressing scenes in any anime, even when compared to anime like Evangelion, Berserk and Clannad: After-Story.
The Dark Fullmetal Alchemist Meme Went Viral on 4chan and Tumblr
To no one's surprise, the Nina meme started on 4chan. In a thread on the /a/ board, 4chan users anonymously posted a thread about anime animal noises. Almost immediately, one user posted an image of the Nina-Alexander chimera, which left even other channers a little uncomfortable.
From there, Nina became a common source of shock-humor on the image board, often on the anime side of the site. In a bizarre turn of events, it would be rival image board site Tumblr that outshone 4chan in the sheer morbid humor department. A now-infamous thread started by Tumblr user lychgate would become one of the biggest viral posts of the meme.
Why Did FMA's Nina Meme elicit Such a Strong Reaction?
From there, Nina memes spread like wildfire, each one more morbid and darkly hilarious than the last. The fact of the matter is that these posts had a strong response among people, but why? Why do people enjoy talking about this profoundly disturbing moment? To quote Jack Nicholson's Joker, "Have you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?"
In the face of truly disturbing events, laughter and humor is sometimes one of the greatest coping mechanisms we have. Fiction can impact us deeply. While many fans might find the Nina Tucker memes frustrating, even triggering, for others, this is a form of collective therapy after this fairly disturbing moment in one of the most widely watched anime ever.