Why the anime channel DaFuq! became the biggest hit of the summer on Youtube

The hottest Youtube channel this summer is not MrBeast or Cocomelon, but DaFuq.-Boom., a meme-filled animated short channel created and run by an artist calling himself Blugray.

DaFuq.-Boom. dominated Youtube traffic tracking site Tubefilter throughout the month of May, racking up 2.8 billion views during that time. The channel topped the global rankings for the first three weeks of the month and is expected to top the monthly rankings to be released this week. The channel's total views exceeded 7 billion.

A basic timeline of the Youtube channel's growth and important subscriber and view milestones can be seen here. The channel was launched on June 6, 2016 and reached its 10,000th subscriber on May 18, 2017. Since then, growth has been mostly steady, but no one could have predicted what happened this spring when the channel's popularity exploded: while it took DaFuq.-Boom. nearly seven years to reach its first 5 million channel subscribers, in the past month and a half, nearly 12 million new channel subscribers.

Blugray's real name is Alexey Gerasimov and he lives and works in Georgia (country). Gerasimov is 25 years old and has been self-taught in animation for the past nine years. He has no formal education in this field and has worked only for himself and his channel.

Over the years, Gerasimov has released several short films loosely related to the channel, some of which have gone viral on their own, although not the kind of thing the channel is seeing now. His short film I'M AT DIP was released in March 2017 and has been viewed over 45 million times; ULTIMATE MALE_07 COMPILATION was released last year and has already been viewed 34 million times.

However, the channel's standout series and the catalyst for 2023's rapid growth is Skibidi Toilet, an ongoing short film about the Skibidi Toilets and their war against the allied forces of Cameramen and Speakermen.

We recently spoke with DaFuq.-Boom. via his Discord channel. Talking about his production process, he explained that he uses Source Filmmaker because it "allows me to more easily and quickly work with the assets I need when animating, directing, scripting, and editing the film myself. However, I have one person who helps me get the assets I need".

According to Gerasimov, the plan was never to go viral, but to create something for himself and his audience. 'At first I tried to make something unexpected and ridiculous,' he told Cartoon Brew. 'The new episodes still have elements of that.'

So how did such a niche channel manage to grow by leaps and bounds in so little time? We posed that question to Phil Lanta, a specialist in online trend tracking. Lanta has been involved in digital media for 20 years and is currently the COO of We Are Verified, a digital management agency focused on building businesses around content creators.

There are several elements to achieving great success in original digital content creation, he says, but the most important is that the creators are great artists. DaFuq.-Boom may be rough around the edges compared to major studio productions, but Gerasimov's is definitely a filmmaker who understands tempo, camera work, sound design, and how to tell a story. Lanta says:

Anyone can make shoddy machinima, and you see it all the time on Youtube. But it takes a lot of work to make a detailed video on DaFuq.-Boom. I think we all know deep down that this guy is not BS. He really strives to make this kind of - and I mean this in the affectionate sense of the word - dumb stuff. Like the toilets, or the people making mushy faces at the camera, but it feels real, and you can see that this isn't just thrown together. This deserves recognition.

Another thing Gerasimov does particularly well is create worlds and stories that keep fans coming back. According to Lanta,

he has taken the time to build an audience and build loyalty. Sometimes time is the only thing that helps you build enough until you are ready to enter the slipstream and really take off. I think it's significant that he started serializing the "Skibidi Toilet" series, giving people a reason to come back and watch. There are plenty of interesting, well-animated, well-produced one-offs out there, but that doesn't give viewers much reason to watch the next one. The series was filled with people trying to decipher the meaning; there was even a group on Reddit that broke down each episode and shared fan theories, and he grew a fan base for this strange and mysterious series.

And of course, there is no substitute for luck:

Sometimes you have to expect the Internet to take on a life of its own. We must consider what comes next. We can't force it to be like last year's #GentleMinions, where the characters were used as memes. Universal did not plan for the Minions to become a meme like that. They were the perfect avatar for a sometimes serious, almost alt-lite trend in a childish way. They created shocking juxtapositions that made people stop scrolling and pay attention. They didn't create minions for that purpose. The minions just became what they became; in the case of DaFuq.-Boom., the channel has ads on it, so Gerasimov gets ad-sense revenue from Google. Nevertheless, Lanta believes that the channel has the potential to be bigger and broader, although the content is far from mainstream:

I would like to mention something like Five Nights at Freddy's. There are ways to twist it and turn it into something more commercial. Or something like "Cyanide and Happiness" which launched a board game.

Regardless of what Gerzimov does with this channel in the future, it is definitely the hottest thing on Youtube right now.