How an Old Anime Film Broke Records on Twitter

They say nothing dies on the Internet. For classics like "Castle in the Sky," it seems they even thrive. Photograph: Buena Vista Pictures/Everett Collection Close

They say nothing dies on the Internet. For classics like "Castle in the Sky," it seems... Read More

Close
Open

They say nothing dies on the Internet. For classics like "Castle in the Sky," it seems they even thrive. Photograph: Buena Vista Pictures/Everett Collection

Live TV events such as the Super Bowl and MTV Video Music Awards often translate into big traffic on Twitter. But it's the rebroadcast of a Japanese animated film from 27 years ago that's scoring record numbers on the microblogging service.

Earlier this month, Twitter recorded 143,199 tweets per second -- compared with the average of 5,700 -- when users in Japan watched "Castle in the Sky." During a climactic scene, viewers simultaneously tweeted "balse," a spell the film's two main characters invoked to fend off villains.

The fact that Twitter is big in Japan isn't new. Earlier this year, users there set a record by tweeting "ake ome" -- short for "Happy New Year" -- more than 33,000 times in a second. And in 2011, the country had set a record during a broadcast of "Castle" with about 25,000 tweets per second.

So how did a Japanese movie from 1986 become the biggest hit on Twitter, a U.S.-based service that's offered in dozens of languages?

First of all, for you non-anime folks, this is not just any film. Directed by famous animator Hayao Miyazaki, "Castle" is a fan favorite. And so is the company behind the movie, Studio Ghibli, which also produced the highly acclaimed and high grossing "Spirited Away."

And the ritual of "balse" actually began years earlier when Japanese computer geeks would post the spell on the 2channel bulletin boards. The practice has since migrated to Twitter.

They say nothing dies on the Internet. For classics like "Castle in the Sky," it seems they even thrive.

Bloomberg reserves the right to edit or remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.