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drawing of rabbits

The Rabbits Podcast


This podcast by the Public Radio Alliance and Minnow Beats Whale begins with the narrator, Carly Parker, telling us that she started the podcast because she wanted to find out what happened to her best friend, Yumiko Takata. Yes, this sounds ridiculous. But, if you can get past this, and if you are anything like me, you will be completely drawn into this story. I have to say that this is, hands down, my favorite podcast. I only wish they had produced more episodes.

Rabbits is hard to classify as conspiracy theory, techno-thriller, murder mystery, or scary story you might tell late at night around a campfire. Carly informs us that no one knows the exact parameters of the game with no official name or how long ago it began, but it is believed to be global and to have stretched back into antiquity. We know that the modern version of the game is now in its ninth iteration. The first iteration of the modern version began some time around 1959, and it is referred to as, "Rabbits", after a poster of rabbits that was found that year on the wall of a Seattle laundromat. The eighth iteration of the game ended in 2007. No one knows when the current iteration began. It's difficult to gather much information about the game, because when each iteration ends, all evidence of its existence is erased, and players disappear.

There is an ill-understood darkness in the game. The most popular theory about the game is that it is a recruitment device for the CIA or MI6. "Wardens", a kind of secret police force, enforce the rules of the game. The rules require players to unravel the clues in the game without assistance from anyone else. If a player talks about the game or tries to get help, he encounters the wardens, and he is never heard from again. Early in the podcast, Carly comes to believe that Yumiko disappeared while playing the game.

The podcast documents Carly's search for Yumiko, as Carly travels to various geographic locations to uncover clues and meet people who are willing to help her. We are never sure of anyone's motivations that she meets, and we are never sure which clues might be significant. As in real life, a lot of extraneous information is revealed. The audience is left to puzzle over how it fits into the big picture, if it fits at all. We are never sure if Yumiko is dead or alive, and we are never sure how much longer Carly may have before the wardens catch up to her and make her disappear.

One interesting thing about "the game" is that, although the podcast never mentions it, there is something remarkably similar in real life. Cicada 3301 is a mysterious, clue-solving sort of internet puzzle that began on January 4, 2012. No one is sure who is behind it, or exactly what you get if you win it. Like Rabbits, many speculate that Cicada 3301 is a recruitment tool for the CIA. And, when each iteration ends, the websites and other clues associated with it disappear. One is left to speculate whether Cicada 3301 is the inspiration behind the Rabbits podcast.


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