I-Shaped Balance or Standing Split refers to a series of fan art and photographs depicting people or characters performing a vertical standing split, usually accompanied by the #I字バランス部 hashtag. In late September the trend became popular on Japanese Twitter through fan art and hentai parodies, spreading further in early October.
On September 25th, 2020, Japanese artist and Twitter user @arito_arayuru posted a fan art of a character performing a vertical standing split, with the post receiving over 1,800 retweets and 8,600 likes in two weeks (shown below, left). On the same day, artist and Twitter user @arito_arayuru retweeted the post.
Within two hours of the art being posted, @Ulrich_46 and @arito_arayuru pitched an idea for a fan art challenge based on images of characters performing a vertical standing split, with virtual YouTuber and Twitter user @momoge911 suggesting to use #I字バランス部 (jap. #I-ShapedBalanceClub) hashtag (conversation shown below, right).
@Ultich_46: Only crotch-showing and open-leg stretch could crown with victory.
@arito_arayuru: We have to master the I-shaped balance before demanding it from others.
@momoge911: How about #I-ShapedBalanceClub…
Later on the same day, @Ulrich_46 uploaded an illustration of Granblue Fantasy character Claris doing the pose accompanied by the hashtag (tweet and image shown below). The post, the first instance within the trend, gained over 8,000 retweets and 38,000 likes in 10 days.
Prior to the introduction of the hashtag, I-Shaped and Y-Shaped balancing poses (jap. I字バランス/Y字バランス) have been often been used in fan art and hentai by Japanese artists.
Starting on September 26th, 2020, artists on Twitter and Pixiv posted multiple viral fan arts based on the challenge. On that day, artists and Twitter users @Kaedeko111 and @GaRaSi888 made two of the earliest viral posts containing such artworks (shown below).
The trend maintained significant popularity on Twitter and Pixiv in the following weeks, with both fan arts and photographs being posted by users.
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