Hayao Miyazaki is responsible for one of the biggest social media trends in the world, but one of his closest associates says the legendary anime director doesn’t know about it.
People across Japan will be plopping themselves down in front of the TV on the evening of January 15 to watch "Castle in the Sky Laputa," the very first anime produced under the Studio Ghibli name. Watching a 30-year-old movie might not sound like a very exciting Friday night, but not only is "Laputa" a genuine anime classic, it’s part of an enthusiastic tradition among social media users in Japan.
During a famous scene in the film, protagonists Sheeta and Pazu chant the word "barusu" (sometimes Romanized as “balse”) in unison, triggering an ancient spell of destruction. It’s such a pivotal moment that whenever "Laputa" is shown on TV, fans across Japan send out messages of “Barusu!” on social media.
When "Laputa" was aired in 2011, the viewing audience set a world record by firing off 25,088 tweets per second. In 2013 the film was shown on TV again, and this time the tweet-per-second count for "barusu" soared to 143,199.
So with "Laputa" scheduled to be shown on Nippon TV next week, Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki was asked for his feelings on the phenomenon.
“I like it,” he cheerfully answered, comparing the communal excitement to the atmosphere of a festival. “I don’t tweet it myself, but once I saw it happen on Nico Nico [Douga] or somewhere…it was really exciting to see.”
But while anime and media-savvy individuals across Japan are anxious to see how many tweets per second "Laputa" can rack up this time, there’s one person who’s completely unaware of the movie’s impressive Twitter records, according to Suzuki:
“I think there’s probably only one person in the world who doesn’t know about this…and that’s Hayao Miyazaki.”
“I’ve never mentioned it to him, and the other people he associates with haven’t either…There’s really no need for us to tell him.”
Considering Miyazaki’s well-known Luddite leanings and disdain for compulsive-personality types, Suzuki’s discretion is probably wise. And even if you’re not taking part in the ignoring the social media frenzy, "Laputa" still has plenty to offer as a motion picture. When asked what he thought young children watching the movie for the first time could take away from it, the veteran producer thoughtfully replied:
“This might be a rather adult way of putting it, but in the end, there’s more than reality that makes up the world. There are ideals and dreams, too, so I hope children can come away with an understanding that those non-real things exist.”
Still, if you’re interested in getting in on the "barusu" fun, but you don’t live in Japan, you can just set up a copy of the film to start at 9 p.m. on January 15. Since the movie will air without commercials, you should be able to throw your tweet in with all of the other "Laputa" loyalists.
Sources: Oricon Style via Hachima Kiko, Anime News Network
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