8/2013 by Gavin J. Blair
Japanese web users tweeted a “magic word” used in the anime master’s classic “Castle in the Sky” 140,000 times a second while it aired on Nippon TV.
TOKYO — Twitter users in Japan set a new world record of 143,199 tweets per second (TPS) by tweeting “balus” during a television broadcast of Hayao Miyazaki‘s anime classic Castle in the Sky(Tenku no Shiro Rapyuta) on Aug. 2. A magic word in the Miyazaki universe, “balus” triggers a spell of destruction when said by characters at the beloved film’s climax.
Twitter confirmed the new world record on Aug. 3, saying that it had beaten the 33,388 TPS mark set, also in Japan, on Jan. 1 when “ake-ome” — a shortened version of ‘Happy New Year’ in Japanese — was tweeted en masse. By comparison, during the royal baby frenzy immediately following the birth of Prince William andKate Middleton‘s first child in July, tweet rates peaked at 25,300 per minute.
The practice of posting “balus” online began back in 2003 on the country’s wildly popular 2channel Internet chat boards, which crashed at the time due to the huge traffic influx, along with those of some anime fan sites where large numbers of people posted the same message.
In recent years, the action has shifted to Twitter as the microblogging platform has grown massively popular in Japan.
The last time the 1986 Studio Ghibli classic was aired, in December 2011, “balus” was tweeted 25,088 times a second, setting a TPS record at the time, when Princess Sheeta and Pazu read out the spell toward the end of the film, destroying the flying city of the film’s title and saving themselves.
Some other companies in Japan couldn’t resist getting in on the act this time, with the official Twitter accounts of Amazon, PlayStation, Nissan, KFC and convenience store Lawson all including a “balus” button that made it look like their pages were destroyed when pressed.
Miyazaki’s latest anime, The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu),is currently sitting atop the Japanese box office after recording the biggest opening weekend of the year.