Japan is currently experiencing its third "tapioca wave," ("tapioca" being the word used in Japan for bubble tea drinks), and it seems that new bubble tea drinks are popping up at every corner in most major cities. Tapioca is a brisk business, and as we've reported before, hundreds line up when a popular store opens for business. Young actors like Nichika Akutsu, who got his break playing the lead character Ryoma Echizen in The Prince of Tennis The Musical, is famous for his love of bubble tea drinks. In fact, it's so popular that there's even a verb in Japanese, タピる tapiru usually meaning "have a bubble tea drink."

With all the attention bubble tea drinks are getting, it was only a matter of time before manga artists and illustrators found a way to make light of the trend. Kiseki Himura, the artist responsible for the popular "Tawawa on Monday" web comic which inspired the viral trend in 2016 known as the Tawawa Challenge consisting of setting your smartphone on your chest, found a way to do so with this panel he posted on June 10th:

His post went viral, garnering over 71,800 likes and 24,000 retweets at the time of writing, and imitators soon appeared. Thus, the latest viral trend, the "hands-free bubble tea challenge" (or 手放しタピオカ tebanashi tapioca) was born.

Let's take a look at some of the more popular examples being shared on Twitter:

Illustrators and manga artists

This illustration from Tsukino (@tsuki_nonono) on the theme of Fate/Grand Order already has over 42,000 likes and 12,00 retweets:

Illustrator Jobson (@JobSleepyowl), who kindly granted us permission to use his artwork in our title image, contributed this illustration featuring Rize, Chiya and Sharo from Is The Order A Rabbit? doing the challenge. Sharo, unfortunately, is unable to compete...

Jobson (@JobSleepyowl)

Or this illustration from UsagiHime (@kuroxusagihime)

Even MMD modelers are getting into it, as with this example of Vtuber Robo-ko by Kazami Yuzu (@Kazamin_F):

Models, cosplayers and entertainers

Vtuber and net broadcasting enthusiast Kanan showed off her hands-free bubble tea skills with style:

Gravure idol Momoko Mizuki (@mizuki___momoko) was also up to the challenge:

So was cosplayer and model Yutori (@creamcandy123):

The hands-free look can also be achieved with other drinks, as cosplayer Natsume Madoka (@maaysk1220) shows:

The trend seems to be catching on internationally as well. If you want to follow the latest activity, you can search with the hashtags #手放しタピオカ on Twitter or Instagram.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.