Fun With Numbers: Scrolling Comments As a Function of Time

If you’ve immersed yourself in the culture surrounding anime more than a little, you’re probably aware that Japanese video sharing sites operate their comment sections a little differently from the way Crunchyroll does. For the uninitiated, while sites like Youtube stick their comments underneath the video for viewers to scroll down and see if they want to, sites like Nico Nico Douga have user-submitted comments scrolling across the same screen playing the video. I personally prefer this style of commentary for a variety of reasons,* and I sometimes miss the feature when transitioning to official releases. Just recently, I realized fully functional logs of these comment tracks are actually available for download at himawari douga, a fairly large** and in-no-way-legal video streaming site.

These himado comment tracks have a particularly neat (if totally necessary) feature – each comment keeps its 1/100th of a second timestamp, which usually corresponds fairly precisely with the thing in the video being commented on.*** Thus, these tracks, properly analyzed, have the potential to provide an interesting window into which moments in an episode most engage the audience. I built a very basic code**** to analyze the data, and I came up with some fun plots.

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