New Viral: What The Hell Are These Red Seal Mailings?
by Kevin Powers
May 23, 2008
Similar to my previous post on the still-mysterious Aladygma, I thought I'd light another fire today for what seems like a new viral campaign that is making its way around the web and directly involves our friends over at Screen Rant (lucky!). Unlike Aladygma (which is as confounding as ever and now contains many more hidden, cryptic images), this campaign is far more tangible - literally - and therefore appears much more promising in terms of its resolution. So far, the campaign surrounds individuals that have randomly received a black envelope sealed by a red-wax seal that contains a single sheet of odd letters with an equally indecipherable red stamp/seal/logo, which centers around the domain Chishio.jp. The recipients are somewhat varied, but a common thread appears to be comic-related writers (e.g. authors J.C. Hutchins and James Zahn), along with film (ScreenRant.com) and horror (DreadCentral.com) outlets; this isn't an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea. So what does it all mean? Let's take a look at some of the details.
A Few Specifics
If you look at Chishio.jp, which incidentally means "blood" in Japanese, there are four separate sheets of paper. Each sheet apparently is of a different language: (from right to left) Akkadian, Hieratic, Greek and Sumerian. I certainly can't confirm the validity here and it's been discussed at length back and forth, but I think it's safe to say the language is unique to each piece of paper. If that's the case, we need to ask what the common thread here must be? From what I can tell, no one has actually translated any of the material, either because the lettering is too stylized, or it's a pain in the ass to find a Sumerian translator. Obviously.
As for the circular red marking and the 'tb' logo, there's been little discovery there as well.
Is it Horror-Related?
One could naturally look to those that have received these mailings out-of-the-blue and why. While Screen Rant and Dread Central lend itself to a theme, why would pop-culture blog YesButNoButYes receive one as well? A few other non-film, non-horror folks have apparently received envelopes too.
Probably the biggest evidence that pushes this mystery to the horror spectrum is the fact that a friggin' Google ad was served up on Bloody Disgusting and Horror.com at some point that contained the same writing and imagery as found in the letters. This is certainly an interesting move for something so covert. I can't remember the last time a viral campaign tried to seed the discussion with ambiguous web ads. Interesting.
A Plausible Solution
I certainly don't like to suggest it, but from purely a movie perspective and trying to align this material with a project on the horizon, it seems plausible that this might have something to do with the upcoming release of The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (August) and the direct-to-DVD release of The Scorpion King: Rise of the Akkadian (a prequel to 2002's The Scorpion King, which itself was a spin-off and prequel to Mummy Returns). The languages apparently at play give this theory some weight.
Of course, the third installment of the Mummy deals with China and not Japan. And outwardly, this material appears to be something of a invitation or announcement. A few commenters have suggested an invite to a Dragonball tournament, following along with that movie's upcoming release in early 2009. That might explain the differing languages to a degree, but I can't recall a Greek from the Dragonball series.
Whereas whomever behind the Aladygma has kept that mystery purely virtual and inconspicuous, those in charge of this campaign definitely want to be seen and are taking impressive real-world lengths to start the discussion and hunt. So let's have at it!
UPDATE: Apparently sneaky Vic from Screen Rant has solved the mystery. You can read my comment below, but essentially the campaign seems to be tied to an upcoming HBO series on modern-day vampires called "True Blood" that is based on Charlaine Harris' books titled "Southern Vampire". And I was hoping this would play out a bit more! The whole affair is still worth the read. I wanna be a true blood!!