Welcome to a new three part series (I’ll be releasing all three at the same time) that I’m going to be delving into about discussing three games/services that were a part of my “childhood” (or just nostalgic in general) that I very fondly remember. Welcome to Part #1 about Flipnote Studio/Hatena.
Back in 2009-ish to 2013-ish, there was an amazing flipbook-style animation-making and online sharing service available for the Nintendo DSi. This service was Flipnote Studio (for drawing) and Flipnote Hatena (for sharing online with others). As for the animation app itself, it was well-made with many tools to choose from, and you could even add sound/sound effects and extremely low-quality pictures.
These easy-to-use and expansive tools began the perfect storm… called the community of Flipnote Hatena. But before I get into that, there’s some things I need to detail about the service in general. First off, before you could even fully use the service, you had to sign up, and, believe me, it was way too complicated. The most I remember of it, is that you couldn’t sign up on the website like any normal website, but you had to fax (in 2009-2013, mind you) your requested username, password, and service ID to Hatena Co., Ltd.’s offices, which I guess allowed parents to have more control over whether or not their children could join this free community. Occasionally, there were weekly animation contests run by the service, where you could make a high-quality animation and have your post put on a pedestal. Another thing is that there are these things called “stars” (basically unlimited likes), which you could add to any post if you liked it, hated it, or if it asked nicely, but there were steps above these called “colored stars”, which increased in rarity by color (and you could buy them with real money and give to people who made a really great quality animation). On one side, you had many people making animated cartoon dubs over popular/funny audio, people using pre-existing sprites to make animated “video game” series, people who made unique animations of stick figures very fluently fighting other stick figures, people who made animations dubbed over songs, and people like me who only drew extremely low-quality versions of all of the above. This wasn’t the majority of the users of Flipnote Hatena, however. On the other side, you had people constantly making “animations” asking for stars, colored stars, comments, etc.; people constantly making things against-the-rules so that the mods had more work to do; and people who posted nothing but drawn “messages” over a whole 100 page animation (most of which had a color layer placed on top of the text so that you were required to download and erase the color to even see the message). This was the actual majority of the community, and it was 90% of all the flipnotes on the site. However, the good typically out-weighed the bad in terms of what people added stars on, and, therefore, what you’d typically see on the front page of the service was always decently great (I know that’s a strange combination of words, but it’s the best way to describe it). All I can say is that the community was mostly made up of… emotional teenagers, high-skilled animators, and lazy kids like me.
I can’t entirely recreate the awe and wonder that there was inside of the service back when it was new, and I’m honestly out of things to talk about inside of the service. However… if you happen to own a DSi and still want to make/watch more flipnotes, there is a fan-made service called “Sudomemo”, which is nowhere near as big as the original in terms of community (obviously since it’s not an official service), but it is still a good service from what I see (a little over-saturated with Undertale flipnotes and single-page drawings, but it’s still decent enough).
In all honesty, however, I don’t think that anything can quite recreate the magic and wonder of the original service when there was a flood of unused creativity coming from even the youngest of children to the skilled artist. Also, I just realized from this whole thing that my old animations made no sense whatsoever back then, and I definitely don’t know what I was going for back then.
Anyway, that’s all that I can say about this service/app with words of my own.
Thanks for reading, seeya!