There are many good podcasts out there to listen to. There are few however, great podcasts to listen to. The upper echelon of podcasts are reserved for those who make you tingle and really feel something rather than being a voice you listen to while driving or doing menial labor. For these reasons I believe that Rabbits is one of these great and unique podcasts that come around once in a lifetime.Now I’m not saying that no podcast will ever stand up to Rabbits. What I am saying is that it is the only podcast so far that made me pull off the road to make sure I didn’t miss a single word. Yeah thats right, I sat in the parking lot of a Burger King for an hour to listen to this thing, just to make sure that the simple action of driving didn’t take any precedence over this amazing story.
Rabbits starts simply enough when the best friend of podcaster Carly Parker goes missing under mysterious circumstances. Carly recalls her friend (Yamiko Takada) “losing time” while watching a mysterious video and considers that this may be the reason behind her friend’s disappearance. It turns out that the video Yamiko was watching is much more than simply an internet anomaly. Rather, the video is a portal to a exciting worldwide game known as Rabbits, where the rewards are unknown and the consequence for losing can be death.
Right from the beginning I was hooked on this concept. It was new, but not necessarily original. There have been stories about reality games before, and technically these games exist in real life (think LARPing and Geocaching.) Rabbits isn’t about fitting into one of these boxes though, and takes these concepts and turns them on their heads by introducing new aspects to the game. One such aspect that I really enjoy is the tying in of the Rabbits with early video gaming.
Right from the beginning, early video games hold a spot of importance as the vehicle that moves you through the story. At the beginning Carly even explains her and her brother’s obsession with video games, and how they had almost every game system through the 80s and 90s. A lot of the games mentioned like Defender Stargate and Space Ace were titles I had never heard of, but rather than being a turn off from the podcast, they persuaded me to to do some research into early video gaming which is much more exciting than the traditional pong and tetris that people are used to hearing about. Needless to say, I enjoyed this aspect of the podcast and it has even driven me to get my hands on some older gaming systems in real life.
Beyond the unusual aspects the game focuses on, Rabbits is also a success because of its characters. The reason I like the characterization of figures in the Rabbits universe is because they aren’t tropes like stereotypical story characters are. In the case of Rabbits anybody can be a hero and anybody can be a villain depending on how you look at them. The secondary protagonist (Jones) fits into this category by being a guide through the game but also as an arbiter. He isn’t sitting in the center controlling everything, but he seems to know more than most people when it comes to the game. Equally mysterious, are characters known as The Magician (a tracker of the game) and the elusive billionaire Alan Scarpio (a rumored former winner of Rabbits.) The fact that there is a perspective third enemy in the gray clad Wardens adds another layer to the complex yet pleasing character list.
The real stand out concept with Rabbits though is the concept of alternate reality. Rabbits (as a game) seems to be based off an alternate theory hypothesis where contestants enter an alternate universe to play the game only to return to the normal universe later. I say this only as an avid Donnie Darko fan, where Donnie’s universe is a split from the actual universe. Donnie then must solve a puzzle to get the universes to fall back together and well, it’s complicated. Complications aside though, Rabbits feels very similar to this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the creators took some creative liberties from Donnie Darko to form Rabbits. (Side note, if you haven’t watched Donnie Darko, it’s totally worth the watch although I’d listen to Rabbits first.)
The final thing I like about Rabbits is the replay value. I have been able to listen to rabbits again and again, and find something new every time. Things that I wouldn’t really have noticed before (such as mentions of the painting Christina’s World and Dog Lover in Hell, guess which one of those is a real painting) really jump at you upon second listen. It doesn’t matter whether they’re obscure (or made up) paintings, locations or a simple video game reference, Rabbits always has more in store.
The first season of Rabbits is out in its entirety now. You can listen online, or on podcasting apps such as Stitcher Radio, Podcast Republic and Apple Podcasts. Do you want to talk about this post? Subscribe to my wordpress or on the Podcast Fanatic twitter (I’ll be posting the web address later) and as usual, stay safe.