White Shadow People Commercial

In Japan, one commercial has been seen by many, but there is no recorded existence of this work anywhere. What is the White Shadow People Commercial?

Called “Hitogata” in Japanese, this was first mentioned in 2004 on the anonymous Japanese message board website 2chan. Users believe that this piece of media is either a PSA presented in schools or a commercial that aired late at night.

Although there are varying accounts of the description of the actual commercial, most of them have similar tropes.

As two white, featureless human figures appear on the screen, the sound of railroad crossing signs echoes in the background. As one figure fades out, another appears. The screen displays some text with a narrator saying: Every two seconds, someone on Earth dies

This is the original text of the first post back in 2004, translated from Japanese to English.

Post #854: Poster: Anonymous: 04/10/06 14:21:45 "There was this scary commercial, and I still have it constantly left in my memory. There were two white human figures depicted against a black backdrop, and this noise going "Kan-kan" kept ringing. What's sure is the part that went "Every two seconds, a man dies on Earth", and when the noise is repeated, the other figure disappears. In the next instant, the human figure returns to its original place, and now the other one disappears. It was a commercial with only that repeating over and over."

Numerous search efforts have been made despite the vague nature of the testimonial making it difficult to find "Hitogata." According to some sources, the commercials from the early 80s to late 90s featured a railroad crossing sign with a sepia background, while other sources claim there was no railroad crossing sign or black background. Thus, there are conflicting reports on what is the actual description of the commercial. There could be the possibility that many see different versions of the commercial updated to reflect the time.

There is a post dating back to 1999 which is unarchived and so we should take this with a pinch of salt. If this post is to be believed, it is the first ever mention of the Shadow People commercial on the internet. "There's this commercial with two monochromatic people flickering on and off alternately going "Pon-pon". Among regional PSA commercials, there's many I can't make sense of."

This strange commercial could have many explanations, but the leading and most popular one is that it was a commercial for a product since the original testimonial described it as 15 seconds long. This leaves confidence in the theory that this was a short commercial for an unknown product. In addition, a similar urban legend describes an advertisement made by Tokuyama, a chemical company from Tokyo, around the year 1994, which is believed to be an advertisement that aired regionally in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The eyewitnesses report that a featureless white figure appears against a bluish-black background with several white balls around the figure before text appears on the screen that translates to "Chemistry is now in the unknown world," before Tokuyama's name appears. Other hypotheses suggest that this could have been a video created to guide children about the hazards of railroad and traffic safety. These traffic safety and railroad safety specials are unique and popular forms of teaching in Japan. However, these films become lost as they are only shown in schools in Japan and are rarely screened to the public. There are however many that believed that this is simply a case of false memory like that of the Mandela Effect (False memories can sometimes be shared by multiple people) which is phenomenal throughout the world, especially with Western audiences covering various media that they did not remember correctly. Since the archived post of 2004, there are many search efforts made to find what could be the source of this legend, but it has been close to a decade with no fruitful results being produced. It got extremely famous on the anonymous message board website 2chan that there are attempts to forbid individuals from even speaking of that commercial. In 2019, a new thread was created on 5channel, another message board website, which is completely dedicated to all topics relating to "Hitogata."

If there is no exact proof apart from eyewitnesses, we can safely say that this either remains an obscure piece of Japanese media or just a fabricated urban legend.

Japan is a land with many oddities that are perplexing to those in the West or even those nearby. The nation has its unique bubble which continued to develop over the years and there are bound to be media releases that are lost to time. This can be seen in the West with many media that are lost but remembered by individuals decades later. Some of them can be true like the Pinwheel Clock man animation from 1976 and some could be hoaxes, created for fun. 

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