Something’s happening . . .

. . . on the Newtype website.

Grainy “live” footage from security cameras showing figures moving about on a school campus at night. People who’ve read the third book in the Suzumiya Haruhi series will find the scenes eerily familiar . . .

It’s still playing even as I type this. (It’s now 9:24 PM Tokyo time.)

Will update blog as soon as I know more.

Quick background: I found out from a comment on Heisei Democracy that there was a full-page ad in today’s issue of the Asahi Shimbun saying something about an announcement on the official website and on the Newtype website at about 9 PM tonight. Tried the official site first a few minutes before 9 PM Tokyo time, refreshing several times as the clock ticked away; it didn’t load (probably because too many people were trying to access it). Struck gold with the Newtype website – that’s what I’m looking at right now.

UPDATE (08 July 2007): The video has now been removed from both the official site and the Newtype anime channel page, but downloads and screencaps are beginning to circulate. Memento has the links. (Thanks, Garten!) There’s also a YouTube version on Heisei Democracy. (Thanks, Seiya!) Watch to your heart’s content – although as I said below, it raises more questions than answers. But I think it’s worth seeing all the same.

WARNING – POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR THE THIRD SUZUMIYA HARUHI BOOK UP AHEAD. ALL TIMES ARE 07 JULY 2007.

UPDATE (9:30 PM Tokyo time): There’s no doubt in my mind now. I’m watching scenes from Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody – the second short story in 涼宮ハルヒの退屈 (The Boredom of Suzumiya Haruhi). This could be it, folks.

UPDATE (9:47 PM Tokyo time): It’s still playing. The pattern on the field is taking shape, though it’s not quite finished yet; the security camera feed will probably continue for a little while longer. Is anyone else watching this right now? Do let me know.

UPDATE (9:55 PM Tokyo time): The feed just died. I tried reloading the page, just in case; the footage went back to the start, so no worries about missing it the first time around. Watch it and tell me what you think. Fingers still crossed.

UPDATE (10:26 PM Tokyo time): I revisited the page – and the video was gone. Is it loading on anyone else’s browser? In any case, I think we’ve seen all we’re meant to see for tonight; now it’s all a matter of waiting for an explicit, unambiguous statement about what the heck just went on. (By the way, the official site still won’t load; I’m guessing traffic is still very high.) Oh, and I’m now certain I wasn’t seeing things – Seiya of Heisei Democracy saw the video too.

Last update for tonight (11:17 PM Tokyo time): I hastily typed out an event timeline of the video as it was playing. I really don’t have the time to organise it right now, but for those who didn’t catch the video and would like to know what I saw it may still be of some interest. I think you’ll agree, the video fits Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody quite closely.

I’ll try to reformat this transcript into a more coherent document tomorrow. Now I really need to sleep.

[UPDATE (08 July 2007): No point in tidying this up since the video has now become widely available. But I’m keeping it here anyway as a historical record. Believe me, I had loads of fun watching it “live”, without the luxury of skipping to the end or even going back to previous scenes; the suspense was incredible. Ultimately disappointing, for the lack of new information – but a great experience all the same. ^_^]

205908 girl comes into view, walks across field of vision right to left
205921 girl stops in front of closed gate, joined by a man in what appears to be a north high uniform, with tie (sans jacket)
43 girl attempts to scale gate, man approaches, seems to be carrying another person on his back
210000 girl makes it over gate, gate opens, man walks through
47-58 girl walks past camera, man follows, sets companion down against a wall
0109 girl starts to drag *something* out of what appears to be a shed or storage room
21-32 man takes wheelbarrow-like object and moves away with the girl following behind
0207-18 man follows girl around an open field with wheelbarrow in tow
0239-03.. both come into view, man seems to be spreading something on the ground, girl just walks around as if directing him
210430 cat comes into view
50 pattern starts to take shape on field
210630 figures still moving around field
0828 pattern continues to take shape, girl walks around as if inspecting it, drags man over to a certain spot
2109 figures move about on field
2112 pattern continues to take shape, girl stands around pointing here and there, man draws pattern on ground
2114 pattern becoming quite elaborate
2119 pattern now well advanced in form
2120 feed ends

Just a few words on the video itself. It appeared on top (not at the top, but over, as if hovering above) the website in a small black-bordered screen. The film was grainy, black-and-white, soundless – as one would expect from security camera footage. It had a running timestamp on the lower right which I attempted to record in my event timeline, although since I was watching most of the time and typing only when nothing was going on the times indicated above can be off by as much as a few seconds (perhaps more), and I may very well have typoed some of them. The feed didn’t come from a single camera but from a series of cameras positioned all around the school. It skipped from one camera to the next as the events were unfolding, but it wasn’t really following the people on screen; most of the time I found myself looking into a room or at a wall and nothing was going on (which means the transitions happened automatically, rather than initiated by a guard or someone else actively keeping his eye on the video screens). Frustrating, but it all added to the realism. There was a fair amount of static here and there; the feed ended in a burst of static and the screen went dark.

Oh, and this is live-action footage – not animated – we’re talking about. It’s clear from the feed that they used a real school and real people to fill in the on-screen roles.

UPDATE (08 July 2007): The video has been downloaded and screencapped. Memento has the links. Watch to your heart’s content – although as I said earlier, it raises more questions than answers.

10 Responses

  1. this sounds scary.. its like a live footage.. but you don’t know whats going on… and its on NEWtype website @@

  2. As far as I can tell, this is probably a reenactment of when Haruhi drew that crazy pattern on the field with chalk; this was possibly part of a flashback in subsequent books.

  3. Possible spoiler for the third book ahead.

    I gave the text of Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody another look. I am now ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that’s what I saw in the video. It’s not the whole short story, of course; just from the part where Haruhi meets Kyon and enters the school down to the part where the symbol is drawn on the ground.

  4. the japanese people sure are great at this type of stuff!

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