Everyone loves a good meme. But, though hilarious, it's another story entirely when a meme also becomes a valid criticism of its subject. Such was the case in 2009, when Bleach creator Tite Kubo found himself the butt of the joke when after writing a plot-twist so bad that people believed he was trolling his fanbase.
The meme began after the release of Bleach Chapter 354, when 4Chan users took to the message boards to call Kubo "Troll of the Year." Fans criticized the plot-twist surrounding Espada member Yammy and the reveal that he was the most powerful, removing the number 10 and explaining that the numbers are 0-9, rather than 1-10 as previously thought. Fans criticized this revelation, some even granting it "so bad it's good" status.
Around the same time that this was going on, a thread called "Tite Kubo Trolled My Fandom" appeared on the Naruto Forums, while videos of Kubo attacking various Bleach characters with his "troll powers" began appearing on YouTube. In June 2010, a new image macro was submitted to Memegenerator with the title "Lazy Kubo," which made fun of the amount of training Chad and Orihime went through only to get one-shotted, followed by the power-ups of the Shinigami.
In August 2010, an Urban Dictionary entry for Kubo Troll was created by kuboisatroll, using colorful language to describe Kubo and his methods. This was followed by a Tumblr blog being created and answering questions as Kubo, making references to the Kubo Troll jokes. Fans took this time to not only criticize Bleach's story, but also artistic techniques -- or lack thereof -- used by Kubo. Kubo's explanation for the former is that he believes backgrounds are "distracting to the reader," so by eliminating them the readers can "see the heart of the character." Ironically, "The Heart" is another sub-meme that fans use, referring to the time Kubo used an entire page to showcase those two words.
One of the most famous uses of this meme is creating battle scenes between Kubo and the other "Big 3" mangaka, Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto) and Eichiiro Oda (One Piece), with Kubo usually beating them up. There have been numerous GIFs, videos and images with the three artists' faces superimposed into movie and anime scenes, with Kubo coming out the victor in every scenario.
Internet culture thrives on memes as a whole, with new formats and references being made constantly. So naturally, it was only a matter of time before a mangaka became the center of one of the most popular ones within the anime/manga fandom. Kubo Troll is a showcase of how Bleach fans viewed Tite Kubo at the time Chapter 354 was released: as a lazy mangaka who botched a big turning point in his story. Kubo Troll created the perfect way for members to vocalize their disappointment with not only the story, but with the way Kubo cut corners, as well. Kubo Troll was -- and still is, in a way-- massive, but it's only a matter of time before the next big mangaka meme.