Japanese culture has had such a huge influence on Western culture; there's seemingly some new trend, meme, or anime every week. Some are way more popular than others, so even if we may have seen them, we may not know exactly where they come from.
The phrase "Nico Nico Nii" is the latest phrase to take social media by storm. The cute saying pops up in some memes and videos across the internet, but what does it actually mean? It turns out that it's not an actual Japanese word. But it does have an adorable backstory.
What does "Nico Nico Nii" mean?
It's a catchphrase from the anime Love Live! created by the character Yazawa Nico. She's a member of the idol group μ's, which is actually pronounced "muse," and is the group's wardrobe designer, according to the anime's Fandom. μ's was formed to bring attention to their school Otonokizaka High School because there was a decline in enrolling students.
In a meeting during Season 1, Episode 5, μ's watches Yazawa give her impression of an idol. At the time, she isn't a member of the group, but μ's needed a place to practice during the rainy season. They have enough people to create an official idol club at their school, but they learn from the student body president that they can't because there's already an Idol Research Club.
When μ's goes to check it out, they find out that Yazawa is the only member of the Idol Research Club, but she doesn't want to merge their groups because she says μ's doesn't have personas.
A member named Kosaka Honoka suggests they should merge groups and have Yazawa teach them how to really be idols. She loves the idea and agrees.
This is where the "Nico Nico Nii" line comes in. In her performance, she uses the phrase to create a relationship with her future audience with lines like, "I'll Nico Nico Nii your heart! I'm Yazawa Nico Nico, and I'll put a smile in your heart! Remember, I'm Nico-Nii and I love you!"
Is μ's still an idol group?
Unfortunately no, μ's is no longer a group. According to the Fandom, the group was only created to support the school, so once everyone graduated, they broke up. The anime ended back in March 2013, but the voice actresses of the group stopped making music together in April 2016.
However, it turns out that the real-life group has gotten back together. In 2020, they released their first new single in years. Titled, "A Song for You! You? You!!" the song is all about not giving up on yourself. You can read the lyrics in English on the song's Fandom page.