Image source: TVアニメ「カオスチャイルド」公式 on Twitter

A series of grisly deaths and an underlying mystery connecting them all… Chaos;Child is a fantastical suspense story, yet it carries with it an atmosphere of realism. That’s probably because, like the other stories from its creator, it incorporates real life elements–including the creepy “Sumo Stickers.”

[Note: This article contains minor spoilers from Chaos;Child.]

The story of Chaos;Child centers on a group of newspaper club students who stumble upon a possible connection between a recent series of bizarre murders and a similar series of murders that preceded a catastrophic earthquake six years ago. Early on it is discovered that at the scenes of the murders, strange stickers can be found. The stickers are plastered to walls and telephone poles in such a way as though they’re almost observing the gruesome deaths that occur.

Called “Sumo Stickers,” the stickers are of somewhat varying design, but all seem to retain a common theme: Two fat-ish faces merged together to create a large double-face with two mouths, two noses, and three eyes. Their creepy look adds to the unsettling tone of the series.

Image source: 5pb.Games on Twitter

Note: The above image is of replica Sumo Stickers that were handed out as bonuses to people who played a Chaos;Child demo in 2015.

These Sumo Stickers are indeed a real thing. Starting in early 2008, they began appearing on walls and telephone poles and other random places. In the series, it is mentioned that these mysterious Sumo Stickers can be found seemingly randomly plastered all around Shibuya, but in reality, they were spotted all throughout Tokyo, though mainly in Chūō city, Taitō city, and Kōtō city.

The stickers came in varying designs, shapes, and sizes, with very few perfectly identical ones. Interestingly, there have been no reports of witnesses or security footage of anyone placing a Sumo Sticker anywhere. Hundreds of the stickers were discovered and with little information as to their meaning or purpose. Theories and conspiracies quickly arose on the internet. Among the rumors were that the stickers were being placed not by a single individual, but by an organization. Some thought the stickers were hidden signs for underground criminal activity while others speculated that they were a secret code for some cult. The most widely accepted theory appears to be that the stickers were a form of graffiti art–a sort of Japanese Banksy, if you will.

As to the creator of the Sumo Sticker, two individuals have been theorized as likely designers, but there is very little in terms of concrete evidence tying either person to the stickers.

Regardless of their intent, legally the stickers are regarded as graffiti. Since they were placed without permission, for all intents and purposes, they are damage to property and any individual who is responsible would likely be charged and fined as such. As such, since they first began to emerge nine years ago, most have been removed, with hardly any recent discovery of new stickers.

The Sumo Sticker craze mostly died down after 2009 with very little in terms of answers. Just the perfect sort of thing for creator Chiyomaru Shikura to incorporate in Chaos;Child and give his own spin on. However, while Chaos;Child has resurrected some of the attention to the mysterious stickers, this has not led to any sort of resurgence of Sumo Sticker pastings or even sightings. Still, while it seems they are a things of the past, thanks to Chaos;Child they are not forgotten.

Chaos;Child can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll, and with English dialogue on FUNimation.

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