Nico Nico Douga (ニコニコ動画) is a Japanese video-sharing service much like YouTube. In fact, it started out as an online YouTube front-end before they were blocked from loading videos off YouTube servers. Now they host their own videos (for most language versions; for the English version they have somehow been allowed to do this again). Its trademark feature is the ability to add timed scrolling or subtitle-style captions to a playing video instead of offering a regular comments page like YouTube. This solves one problem (multiple pages required to see all comments on a YouTube video) while introducing a whole new one (see "Bullet Hell" below). Additionally, it has two features not originally seen on YouTube note — one is the "live broadcast", which is exactly what it sounds like, usually a concert or anime, and the other is the "International NicoNico Film Festival", where people compete to make a short film based upon a certain theme; there is a cash prize.
Despite the title, Nico Nico Douga isn't just limited to videos — 2009 brought in sister sites Nico Nico Seiga and Nico Nico Pedia. Seiga is the place where content creators post art, comics, and comment on other people's work Imageboard style. Later years allowed for official publishers to post chapters of their ongoing series, making for a handy site to catch up on lesser-known works. Pedia is the site's own official wiki, giving information on the characters, memes, and inside jokes that run rampant throughout. The popularity of these portions most likely contributed to the site being rebranded as "niconico" in 2012.
It is now available in Japanese, Spanish, German, and Chinese (the Chinese site is "tw" because that's where Niwango (the people who keep the site running) were told the most Chinese-language users were from, so don't start a political mess here). Registration is required; free membership (downgrades playback quality during peak hours) is available in all four languages, premium membership applications can only be purchased on the Japanese site but can then be carried over to any other language (credit card required, JCB or American Express from any country can be used while Visa and MasterCard issued outside Japan don't work, 500 yen or approx. US$6.20/month). There is no given timeline for carrying over the new player or site redesign over from Japanese to other languages (Taiwanese members now have a direct link to purchase premium membership).
In April 2011, a long-awaited, mostly functional English version went up. Also, an option to purchase premium memberships by PayPal was added, allowing international members without JCB cards or WebMoney vouchers to purchase it. There is also a redirector that allows viewing videos without having an account at the Japanese website.
On October 17, 2012, a full English version of the site was launched, rendering niconico.com obsolete.
This site is currently/was home to:
- Affectionate Parody: NND is known for hosting a lot of these, skewering 2ch/an memes, anime, news, games...
- all lowercase letters: Combined with CamelCase when the site rebranded to niconico.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: Version 1 of the Chinese site. It was little more than a script that Babelfished the Japanese site, leaving gaping holes in the translation and making the site hopelessly confusing. This is because it only had one meaning programmed in for each word and would translate part of words that weren't meant to be translated partially. When they released the Spanish and German translations they went and actually made a proper translation for the Chinese site.
- The Spanish translation is only about as good as Google Translate.
- The English version fares a bit better, but still suffers from a bit of poor translation, such as "authentification code".
- Bullet Hell: That's how people refer to a bunch of comments with the same phrase appearing in the same time. It's usually hilarious, or downright awesome.
- Becomes quite literal in some Touhou videos, especially with comments composed of Sakuya's knives. ─━╋ ─━╋ ─━╋ ─━╋ ─━╋ ─━╋
- There is also a tag for some of their videos: Danmaku Song. The dictionary entry of that tag list several of those songs.
- Cover Version: Tons of them, to the point where an entire tag was crafted for them. Many popular contemporary singers got their start as utaite on Nico Nico.
- Fan Convention: Officially sanctioned festival "Nico Nico Choukaigi" serves as this for fans. It even comes with its own concert, "Nico Nico Cho Party", in the evening.
- Let's Play: Players will record their playthroughs of some games and upload them with voiceover, much like how Western players do so, except the voiceover is in Japanese. In some cases, these players may end up playing through Western games. In rarer cases, crossovers may be used in the case of silent voiceover. Who knew Portal 2 could be matched up with The Idol Master, of all things (Or to be more accurate, Hibiki Ganaha as Chell)?
- MST: The /a/ and /jp/ boards on 4chan sometimes use the site to upload and mock videos from YouTube. Such videos include various fanime series (example) and the infamous report about the "hackers on steroids" group Anonymous.
- The Japanese users do something similar and there's even a tag for it: "Nico Nico International Cultural Exchange" or some such.
- Stupid Statement Dance Mix: Like its Western counterpart, Nico Nico is home to these. They even have common songs to back up the dance mixes, commonly referred to as "series".
- Troll: Since comments scroll across the video instead of being forced to the comments section which you can ignore, naturally, this can and often is used in the exact way you'd expect. Thankfully, it's (usually) not a problem if you don't know Japanese. If the comments get too inflammatory or controversial (or if there are simply so many that it begins to make it hard to see the video), the uploader may insert a tag in the keywords which roughly translates to "it is recommended to hide the comments" as a warning.
- Trope Maker: For -mita videos (utattemita,note odottemita,note etc.), which eventually launched into their own media category (utaite and odorite refer to those singers and dancers that started on Nico).