Twitter is a strange place. Among the seemingly never-ending supply of terrible people with too much time on their hands, there’s magic. Some such magic began two days ago, on Sept. 5, 2022, at 6:25 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. User @sexymanOTD began a journey that would quickly become what the terminally online call a “heritage post.”
Tumblr Sexymen Explained
The account, which stands for “Sexyman of the Day,” is simple. It’s entirely dedicated to posting one Tumblr Sexyman every day. But what is a Tumblr Sexyman? It lacks an exact definition, but anyone who’s spent their time trawling Tumblr will be familiar with characters like Gravity Falls‘ Bill Cipher or Raymond from Animal Crossing: New Horizons, as well as the boatloads of fanart dedicated to them.
Generally, these are animated male characters with a penchant for doing mischief or downright evil. In fact, having some undesirable traits is key to making a Tumblr Sexyman — for example, dressing poorly and being misanthropic. They are also often, but not always, nonhuman. However, it’s very common for artists to create humaniform versions of them, and certain designs (and/or design characteristics) become more popular than others. Stereotypically, these human versions are white, tall, and thin.
Sans, the older skeleton brother from Undertale, is one such Sexyman. Not despite but in fact because he was depicted as a schlubby and goofy guy, “Sans Undertale” captured the hearts of thousands. It’s difficult to describe how completely he destroyed the Tumblr landscape when Undertale came out in 2015. Even accounting for the broader gaming internet’s memery of Sans, he was truly inescapable on the now-beleaguered social media site.
Many sexymen have come and gone before and since, all paling in comparison to Sans Undertale. In a relative sexyman drought, however, one unexpected hero would rise: Mob Psycho 100‘s Arataka Reigen.
The New Sexy: Arataka Reigen
Reigen serves as series protagonist Mob’s mentor. Although he’s a conman with no psychic abilities himself. This is crucial to his appeal as a sexyman — he is, in some ways, a total loser. In particular, his manga appearance tends to be more selfish and generally pathetic. However, his depiction in the anime gives him a duality that’s key to any potential sexyman.
The illustrious animation studio Bones, which also worked on Wolf’s Rain, Soul Eater, and My Hero Academia, took a clear liking to Reigen. Despite being a shonen anime full of epic psychic battles, Mob Psycho 100 spends a lot of time in a more slice-of-life setting, focused on Mob’s mundane affairs. But that didn’t stop Bones from going all-out when animating completely non-supernatural events.
Reigen has been the vehicle for most of that. He has many “signature moves,” most notably a flurry of hand movements he uses to charm and distract others, whether it be potential customers or opposing ESPers. There’s a running joke among Mob Psycho 100 fans, contrasting mangaka ONE’s depiction of Reigen with studio Bones’s. ONE will draw Reigen taking up an entire couch by himself to watch a movie, leaving his young ward Mob to stand. Meanwhile, Bones will draw Reigen carefully balancing on the edge of an armchair so Mob can sit comfortably.
To simplify: Reigen is as dirtbag or as husband material as he needs to be. This makes him a titan of a Tumblr Sexyman.
So, What Happened?
@sexymanOTD, clearly a scholar of Tumblr Sexymen, decided to settle the question of Ultimate Tumblr Sexyman with a tournament of sorts, which they hold semiannually. The account created the bracket featuring characters like the infamous Onceler and Portal 2‘s Wheatley. From then, each one-on-one round was determined publicly via Twitter poll.
The two favorites emerged quickly and on opposite sides of the bracket. Competition seemed stiff with the greatest sexymen of all time in attendance. But most fell away quickly (quite easily I might add). Sans never dropped below 63% against his opponents. He was only briefly challenged by the aforementioned Bill Cipher (a sapient talking Eye of Providence with a top hat and bowtie). Reigen was not quite as dominant, but still made clear victories; his lowest score was 56.6% against Spamton, a kindred spirit to Sans from Undertale‘s sister game, Deltarune.
It was only a matter of time before Sans and Reigen met in the grand finals on September 7. Reigen seemed to be the favorite, with even the event organizer throwing their support behind him by adding “i hope reigen sweeps” to their thread. Twitter users quickly got followed by getting #REIGENSWEEP trending in kpop fan fashion on the final day.
However, seemingly out of nowhere, #SANSSWEEP climbed the trending topics list to join it. The battle was fierce as fanart wars broke out between the two camps and fans speculated how the characters would react were this a real fight. The contest for both the #1 trending topic and the poll were fought in equal measure.
The grand finals received a whopping 244,809 votes.
Sans won by 0.1% of the vote.
As the dust cleared and users realized that, yes, the Twitter poll still read an almost perfect 50/50 with Sans’ name lit up in Twitter blue, celebration erupted. If fanart abounded before, it was nothing compared to now. From serious art of Sans standing victorious with his signature electric blue eye to the two making out, Twitter was ablaze.
— Cassie @ SANSWEEP (@curioscurio) September 8, 2022
Amidst all the wonderful, wonderful fanworks we were treated to that fateful night, one sticks out in particular: brief stint of fanfiction, no more than a few paragraphs, documenting the day’s events. A story written by none other than Toby Fox, the creator of Undertale.