Characters who kill or torture a dog or a child cross a moral event horizon, from which no redemption arc can save them. Therefore, it’s no shock that, among fans of Fullmetal Alchemist, the outwardly unassuming Shou Tucker is the most vile, widely hated person in the entire saga. Tucker took his daughter and dog, blended them together and made a monster that begged for death from the moment of its creation.
However, when many people are confronted by something horrific, they try to make it into a dark joke. Maybe to lessen the bite of what they saw, or maybe because what they saw was so horrific that it loops around into darkly funny. An entire niche of memes parodying and joking about this moment was birthed almost immediately after.
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. When he failed to produce anything that impressed the government after years of being a licensed state alchemist, he figured his life would be over if he lost his license, so swung to the fences and 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’s even earlier, happening 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 compared to anime like Evangelion, Berserk and Clannad: After-Story.
To the surprise of no one, this 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 more than 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.
However, bizarrely enough, 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.
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.
One of the most disturbing moments in Fullmetal Alchemist is also a big meme. How did it happen?