The birth of the royal baby? Yeah, that was nice. But on Twitter, William and Kate's new arrival doesn't hold a candle to a floating castle in Japan.
Japanese television viewers set a world record on Friday when they tweeted 143,199 times in one second (with the hashtag "balus"). You read that right, in a single second. By comparison, Twitter updates about the royal baby — that happened just after his birth two weeks ago — topped out at 25,300 per minute, which means "balus" left baby in the dust.
So what's this "balus" business about? It all happened during a TV screening of Hayao Miyazaki's classic 1986 anime adventure "Castle In The Sky." By saying the word "balus," characters in the film can trigger a magic spell of destruction, and at a crucial moment in the movie, when heroes Princess Sheeta and Pazu are trying to bring down the evil magic castle in the title, viewers at home helped out the characters on screen by joining in with their own "balus" tweets at a frantic pace.
Miyazaki fans have a history of giving their favorite characters a boost from their living rooms. In 2003, during a broadcast of "Castle In The Sky," thousand of fans took to 2channel, a then-popular on-line chat forum, to post "balus," with so many posting at once that the board's server crashed. These days, fans are using Twitter to join in the fun, and when the movie was last shown in December 2011, "balus" was tweeted 25,088 in a second. But more than five times that many folks joined in this time, setting a record unlikely to be broken until the next showing of "Castle In The Sky."
While Hayao Miyazaki's movies may be good for social media in Japan, they're not so great when it come to the nation's financial sector. Miyazaki – whose other films include such classics as "Princess Mononoke," "My Neighbor Totoro," and "Spirited Away" – is one of Japan's most celebrated and popular filmmakers, and every few weeks, the Nippon Television Network shows one of his pictures on Friday night. However, those who follow the markets in Japan have noted than in the 24 times since 2010 that Nippon has shown a Miyazaki movie on Friday night, on Monday morning the value of the dollar relative to the yen has dropped 75 percent of the time, and there's a 50/50 chance Japanese stocks take a tumble.
As for why it happens — no one seems to know. Studio Ghibli is the company that produces and releases Miyazaki's work, and global traders have come to call the phenomenon "the Curse of Ghibli." When asked about the "curse," Nippon spokespersons said, "These questions do not merit commenting on." Perhaps Hayao Miyazaki should make a movie where the characters save the day by saying, "Hard currency is strong! Buy low, sell high!"