"Bad Apple!!" is a chiptune stage theme from the game series Touhou Project that received a popular remix (under the same name) from the Touhou Fan Music group Alstroemeria Records. Said song later received a fan-made black-and-white music video that exploded in popularity on the internet, becoming a viral video in the late 2000s.
The original "Bad Apple!!" was the theme of the third stage of the 1998 Bullet Hell game Touhou Gensokyo ~ Lotus Land Story, composed by the game's creator ZUN. At the 4th Reitaisai convention on 20 May 2007, the Touhou doujin music group Alstroemeria Records released a remixed version of "Bad Apple!!" in the album Lovelight, featuring vocals from Japanese singer nomico (to differentiate this song from the original, it is typically referred to as "Bad Apple!! feat. nomico"). The remixed version was far more popular than the original (a minor stage theme from one of Touhou's lesser-known PC-98 entries), and inspired a series of events that led to the creation of its viral music video.
In August 2008, on the Japanese video website Nico Nico Douga, the user Μμnote released a video of a crude storyboard for a music video to (a slightly shortened version of) Alstroemeria's remixed song. The storyboard consisted of a series of clips, each displaying a Touhou characternote , and requested other users of NND to animate the MV. Several users attempted to produce an MV based on this storyboard, but one stood out among the rest.
On 26 October 2009, a collaborative group led by user Anira (あにら) released a black-and-white animation of Μμ's "Bad Apple!!" MV storyboard. The video used a monochrome "shadow-art" style, portraying the Touhou characters as 3D animated silhouettes, and smoothly transitioned between the clips using black-and-white Match Cuts. These distinctive stylistic elements made the video the undisputed definitive version of Μμ's MV prompt, and it rapidly climbed in popularity to become one of the most watched videos on all of Nico Nico Douga. The video also became incredibly popular in the non-Japanese internet through YouTube, and over the years has introduced many to the world and fandom of Touhou Project.
While technically just a fan video, the popularity of Anira's video attracted the attention of Alstroemeria Records, who unofficially adopted the video as the song's official MV.
In the mid-2010s, Anira's music video saw a resurgence as an internet meme, where the video would be played/replicated on all sorts of normal and wacky mediums like graphing calculators or Minecraft sheep. Thanks to the stylized, silhouette-based art style, any medium capable of producing two contrasting colors can theoretically be engineered to play "Bad Apple!!" on it, making it the video equivalent of wacky Doom ports.
"Bad Apple!!" and its music video provides examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion: The "Bad Apple!!" title was thematically irrelevant to either the story of Lotus Land Story or the story told through Alstroemeria's remixed lyrics; the music video attempted to give the title some thematic importance by showing Reimu and Marisa interacting with an apple in the MV's opening scenes.
- Animated Music Video: Anira's music video is made using a 3D animation software (generally believed to be a version of MikuMikuDance) with the monochrome silhouette applied as a filter.
- Bookends: The music video begins and ends with Reimu Hakurei holding an apple, which either cuts to (opening) or is shown in the same shot as (ending) a clip/shot showing Marisa Kirisame flying on her broom.
- Color Contrast: Being a Deliberately Monochrome music video, black and white contrast is used throughout the MV for stylistic effect. Notably, Eiki Shiki is shown as being half black and half white, mirroring her character of being a judge of the dead.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Aside from shaded shadows cast by some of the characters, the music video is entirely in full black or full white, with Touhou characters being displayed as black or white silhouettes over opposite colored backgrounds.
- Dragons Up the Yin Yang: The MV ends with a shot of a spinning Yin-Yang symbol that Match Cuts to shots of Marisa and Reimu, presumably a reference to Reimu's Hakurei Yin-Yang Orbs.
- Fan Animation: Anira's MV is technically just a fan animation that uses Alstroemeria Records' "Bad Apple!!" remix as its background music. However, due to its popularity, it has been adopted by Alstroemeria Records as the song's de facto official MV.
- Iconic Outfit: As the MV consists exclusively of monochromatic character silhouettes, the Touhou characters' distinctive outfits and silhouettes are brought in focus.
- Lyrical Dissonance: Alstroemeria's remix is an extremely catchy dance anthem, but its lyrics sings about someone struggling to find self-worth, becoming disconnected with society, and falling into depression. Through their grief, they ponder between their two choices; stay as "black" and staying depressed but also remaining as themselves, or turn "white", which would get rid of their sadness but would leave them as an Empty Shell.
- Match Cut: In Anira's music video, almost all transitions between the clips of Touhou characters are performed using match cuts. Examples include Sakuya's knife turning into Flandre's wing tip, a cherry petal from the Saigyou Ayakashi turning into Komachi's boat, and Aya's pen turning into Suika's horn.
- Slasher Smile: Flandre strikes a grin in the MV, accompanied by a dramatic, Jump Scare-like color flip. This is one of the few times a character's facial features are distinguished in the middle of their silhouette.