Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hayao Miyazaki fans shatter Twitter's 'Tweets Per Second' record with magic spell

Asking someone to name their favorite Miyazaki movie can tell you volumes about their personality.

If they say Nausicaa or Princess Mononoke, you might guess that they haven't seen too many of his films or just have a thing for the whole nature vs. civilization thing.  Naming Totoro, Spirited Away, Ponyo, Howl's Moving Castle, or Kiki's Delivery Service indicates a love of whimsy and wonder, while a b-side like Castle in the Sky lets you know that they're a huge fan of all things Ghibli.

Japan, as you might expect, loves it some Miyazaki and - specifically - Castle in the Sky. Two years ago, an airing of the (then) 25-year-old animated epic broke Twitter's global Tweets Per Second record by amassing 25,088 tweets in a single second.

This record was itself broken on January 1st - again, with heavy traffic from Japan - as some 33,388 tweets went out in a second wishing the world a happy new year (or ake-ome, in Japanese shorthand).

Now, Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky has roared back to reclaim the record by generating 143,199 tweets in a single second.

The spike in traffic, according to the Twitter blog, looks like this -

Pretty neat, eh?

The question many might be asking is what about Castle in the Sky coaxes this reaction out of Japanese Twitter users. To answer this, you have to look no further than the film's conclusion when (spoiler alert!) Princess Sheeta and her friend Pazu join hands and complete the Spell of Destruction to undo the mythical land of Laputa and keep it from falling into the greedy hands of those who would exploit its technology.

As the two young heroes join hands, they speak the final word together - "balus” or “balse", depending on the version - and the spell is completed.

Apparently, Miyazaki fans like to say the magical word alongside Pazu and Sheeta at the climax of the movie, since it was that word - balse - that shattered the Tweets Per Second record in 2011 and again in 2013 during a televised showing of the film.

Call me old-fashioned, but it does this aging geek's heart good to know that thousands of fans united by the love of a great story can join together, establish, and then break the Twitter world record in an age where everyone seems obsessed with celebrity gossip and royal baby names.

Score one for the power of fandom.