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"Is this a pigeon?" is a memorable quote said by the protagonist character from the 1990s Japanese anime TV series The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird in a scene wherein the humanoid character erroneously identifies a butterfly as a pigeon. On Tumblr, the quote, along with a reaction image of the scene featuring the English-translated subtitle, is widely used to express utter confusion.


The still shot originates from Season 1, Episode 3 of The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird[1] (太陽の勇者ファイバード) (or simply Fighbird), which first premiered in Japan in February 1991, in a scene where Yutaro Katori, a human android created by professor Hiroshi Amano, misidentifies a butterfly as a pigeon while studying the earthly nature. In addition to mistaking a pigeon for a butterfly, Katori also confuses Rosaceae with Violaceae (shown below). On Tumblr, the quote has been occasionally misinterpreted as an example of transcription FAIL, however, it is the direct translation of the original line in verbatim:


On December 6th, 2011, the image was uploaded for the first time by Tumblr user Indizi dell'avvenuta catastrofe,[2] which managed to gain more than 111,000 notes over the next three years.

On December 11th, the picture was posted on website and Funny Pics.[6] On November 23th, 2012, the picture was also included in Smosh's article titled "22 Hysterical Anime Screencaps," ranked in the second place.[8] On June 27th, 2013, Buzzfeed highlighted the image in a compilation article titled "27 Subtitles That Have Gone Awesomely Wrong,"[7] which misattributed Katori's quote as a fan-translation FAIL. On TV Tropes, "Is this a pigeon?" is noted as a 'Photo reply to any picture showing a butterfly' in Tumblr's Meme section.[9] Additional examples can also be found on Tumblr through the #is-this-a-pigeon hashtag.[10]

Various Examples

Don't Hug Me I'm Scared III

The popular musical film series directed by Becky Sloan & Joseph Pelling, Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, episode 3 referenced "Is this a pigeon?" fad in form of The Yellow Guy mistaking a butterfly Shrignold for 'A little baby pigeon'. It begun a new collection of editions and variations on Tumblr.[11]

2018 Resurgence

In late April and early May 2018, object-labeled variations of the meme saw a significant resurgence on Twitter. On April 26th, Twitter user romiosini tweeted a version labeling the butterfly as "any makeup look without red lipstick" (shown below, left).[12] On May 3rd, Netflix tweeted a variation joking about how 28-year-old actors are cast as teenagers in "high school TV dramas" (shown below, right).[13] Within one week, the tweet gathered upwards of 40,400 likes and 9,400 retweets.

In the coming weeks, numerous other object labeled examples were submitted to Twitter and Reddit (shown below).

On May 11th, 2018, Kara Dennison, one of the original fansubbers of the Fighbird anime, made a Blogspot post about the backstory of the meme and the series which it originated from. [14]

Female Version

On June 26th, 2018, Twitter user @ImFroppy[15] tweeted a picture of a female character from the anime You're Under Arrest holding pigeons with the fake caption "Is this a butterfly?" (shown below). Within 72 hours, the tweet gained over 77,300 likes and 35,800 retweets.

The following day, Twitter user @SeaShell_arts[16] tweeted a fan illustration of the two anime characters (shown below, left). Meanwhile, others commented that the new female version was still the original character, but had merely transitioned to the other gender (shown below, right). Also on June 29th, The Daily Dot[17] published an article about the new variation "There’s a woman version of the butterfly meme--and the internet loves it."

Search Interest

External References

[1]Wikipedia – The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird

[2]Tumblr – Indizi dell'avvenuta catastrofe / Posted on 12-6-2011

[3]Tumblr – Indizi dell'avvenuta catastrofe Archive

[4]Know Your Meme – LOLfansubs/Failsubs / Posted on 8-8-2010

[5]Know Your Meme – Image #213,616 / Posted on 12-6-2011

[6] – Funny Pics / Posted on 12-11-2011

[7]Buzzfeed – 27 Subtitles That Have Gone Awesomely Wrong / Posted on 6-27-2013

[8]TV Tropes – Memes: Tumblr

[9]Facebook – Smosh / Posted on 2-21-2014

[10]Tumblr – #is this a pigeon

[11]Tumblr – #dhmis

[12]Twitter – romiosini

[13]Twitter – @netflix

[14]The Dennison Collective, Blogspot – Hi, I'm Kara, and I inadvertently helped make a meme.

[15]Twitter – @ImFroppy

[16]Twitter – @SeaShell_arts

[17]The Daily Dot – There’s a woman version of the butterfly meme--and the internet loves it

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oh, so now this explains everything, they were talking to each other.





I am surprised there is not a "Is this bait?" edit yet.



I'm surprised there doesn't seem to be a "is this loss?" edit.



oh, there is, but it's not what I hoped for



Eventually that could happen….



Yup, FighBird (the show itself) is going to be "popular" because of that.



"So that's it? Yeah, that's it. I'm not gonna go all Makoto Shinkai on you and tell you not to enjoy it. I'm not gonna tell you to go watch the whole show it's from (because how), and that's pretty much the entire story." – Kara, the person who subtitled the anime



why the fuck the normies discovered this? this meme was dead time ago there was no need to resurrect a dead meme



Hey, so one of the people who subtitled the thing this is from just wrote a blog post about the meme. Figured people would like to see that.



Is this a meme resurgence?

I see it everywhere again.