Among the many things that The Matrix launched into the pop-culture lexicon—the notion that we’re all living in a vast simulation, “bullet-time” action, Hugo Weaving—one of the most immediate was its vision of digital rain. You know, this stuff:
The green lines of code that represented the technological underpinnings of reality became their iconic opening, like the Star Wars text scroll, and were used at the climax of the first movie to show how literally the Wachowskis were willing to take their society-as-system metaphor. It also launched a thousand screensavers, its black-and-green text a sort of permanent touchstone of cyberpunk iconography.
Also, apparently, it was just a bunch of sushi recipes. The rain was designed by Simon Whitely—although he went uncredited in the movies—and in a recent interview with CNet he explained how he came up with it:
“I like to tell everybody that The Matrix’s code is made out of Japanese sushi recipes,” says Whiteley, a production designer from England who’s now based at the Animal Logic animation and visual-effects studio in Sydney. He scanned the characters from his wife’s Japanese cookbooks. “Without that code, there is no Matrix.”
So there’s that. But now it allows us to re-watch the Wachowskis’ trilogy, knowing that, actually, it is all a metaphor for one man’s mastery of Japanese cuisine—in which the Agents are, um, restaurant critics, and the attack of the Sentinels is actually just an E. Coli outbreak or something, and that ultimately that brave sushi chef has to become a sushi Jesus in order to save the restaurant industry. It’s almost more powerful when you think of it that way.