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ExHentai.org was a hentai website that would display an image of a sad panda if a user who did not have established credentials for the site attempted to visit it. Colloquially, the website came to be known primarily as “Sad Panda.”
Unfortunately, Sad Panda is no more. As of early Friday night, the hentai and doujin (fan comic) website had its servers shut down for good. Attempting to visit the site won’t even show you the infamous sad panda that previously prevented unsavvy Internet users from accessing the site. The site’s closure sparked a rabid and passionate response from fans online who liken the loss to “the burning of the library in Alexandria.”
Exhentai going down is potentially the greatest loss to culture since the burning of the library of Alexandria— Rheph (@Rhiph) July 25, 2019
Warnings of ExHentai’s impending doom were broadcasted via 4chan and Twitter, and regular users quickly went to work backing up their favorite content. “Backup everything now. This is not a drill. I repeat, this is NOT a drill. You have a few hours,” read an announcement post on 4chan’s hentai board from an ExHentai moderator.
Rumors began swirling that ExHentai’s demise might be tied to the actual locations of its servers in the Netherlands. These suspicions were quickly confirmed by ExHentai owner and administrator Tenboro. “Unfortunately, recent legislative changes in the Netherlands, confirmed by our host, has made it impossible to keep the status quo going,” Tenboro wrote on ExHentai’s sister-site E-Hentai.
Tenboro did not specify what legislative change directly incited the shutdown, but some are speculating that the legal consequences directly dealt with the subject matter of content hosted on ExHentai. ExHentai’s extensive library included content that was very niche and taboo with categories including loli (hentai depicting underage-looking girls), shota (underage-looking boys), and guro (hentai involving gore). Ramifications for 2D pornography of this nature have always been in the legal grey area, though some precedence through similar cases has been established. Individuals have previously faced jail time and registration as sex offenders for being in possession of such material.
Tenboro added that a simple backup and reupload of the site wouldn’t be as simple as setting up a type of file like a torrent because “the source image files alone weigh in at over 50 terabytes.”
There are unverified rumors that Reddit’s technology board did a site-wide backup of Sad Panda. Yet, that seems unlikely because the file size in question appears to stand at under 50 terabytes.
A relic of “the old internet” is now gone after around 20 years of existence. During its time, ExHentai received over 40 million visits and was ranked 264 in terms of popularity for sites on a global scale, according to SimilarWeb metrics. Additionally, many users have pointed out that were it not for ExHentai, a huge library of non-pornographic art books would be completely lost to the annals of history.
Unfortunate to see a lot of people being willfully ignorant about what seems to be the inevitable demise of Sadpanda, thinking it's "only porn". There are almost as much on it that are very old and Comiket-exclusive artbooks that are you would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere— ShinP (@shinn87) July 26, 2019
The disappearance of Sad Panda does provide an example of a weird phenomenon. The World Wide Web feels infinitely more streamlined than it did in the years prior. With the permeation of social media sites and how often they seem to function as portals for any other online content, the internet is beginning to feel both smaller and fleeting.
apparently sadpanda is getting nuked which is the best evidence to never trust the cloud— Mr. Feel #MiqoteGang (@mrfeelswildride) July 25, 2019
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Ignacio Martinez is a reporter specializing in online gaming and political communities. His work has previously appeared in the Texas Observer and on the airwaves at KVRX 91.7 FM. He is based in Austin, Texas, and you can follow him on Twitter at @NacioMartinez.