With Japanese Translation by Rev Storm
So this isn't actually, technically, the first Halloween post of the year at all, in case you missed our interview with Samantha Hensley and review of Paxton Gate, but if you're reading this on August 1st, Happy Halloween 2019!!! We've been working on something extra-special (to me) for this first post, which turned into a lot more research than I originally expected.
I also originally thought I'd split this post up into three parts, building up to its "big twist" around Halloween itself, but I have my doubts it would hold most other people's attention quiiite that strongly. It just means a whole lot to me right now, and perhaps to the select number of others who care to any degree about the bizarre cult classic video game known as Monster Party.
That's right, Monster Party fandom, all six or even seven of us...you're about to get in on some deep, dark, secret lore here.
To those who do remember Monster Party, perhaps none of its many oddball bosses stand out quite like what the manual erroneously called a "giant spider" in the very first stage, but was always clearly some sort of big, reddish lizard-like creature, and one that never actually engaged the player in combat. Politely informing us that it is in fact already deceased, the "battle" is considered a victory in our favor just by entering the room at all. This was a truly surprising, funny twist at a time when video games were seldom self-aware, and one that nobody, to my knowledge, ever really questioned any deeper than that. It's not like the dead thing is a reference or a cameo like some of the other bosses, right? Just some totally generic, all-purpose reptilian beastie, right?
It's difficult to say how many people ever knew this before a single twitter thread, since even the Japanese side of the internet has little to offer on the connection, but holy shit, there it is. Both Monster Party and this gloriously ghastly package sport Bandai branding, which means "Sorry, I'm Dead" was all along nothing but a stealthy in-joke!
WRONG. YOU WERE WROOOONG!!!
But the more pressing question here, what I'm sure is primarily on everyone's minds, is JUST what in the hell we're actually looking at.
Released in 1988 - about a year before Monster Party - Gegebomajuu was a set of what you could kind of describe as one part toy, sometimes one part practical joke and one part miniature model kit, since they required some obvious assembly and also came completely unpainted.
The series name is a bit challenging to translate directly; "gege" in this context is a sort of "creepy" gibberish more or less invented by the creator of Gegege no Kitaro, while "majuu" means basically "demon beast." There isn't any perfect English equivalent, but I think a fair approximation may well have been something like Heebie-Jeebie Horrors. This is getting to be so up my various alleys that it's already spilling into my various streets, and that's NOT sanitary.
It's a shame that Monster Party saw fit to reference only one of these Icky Sticky Goblins, because there were at least nine of them in the series, each one with its own unique quirks and a lovely dose of "species data" my spouse has been able to translate for us! We'll just start with the "least" exciting first, and we'll end on THE HOT DEETS of the famous video game celebrity, Not A Giant Spider themselves...
"A Creepy Guy That Cackles At You!"CLASS: Quitetheentertaina
HABITAT: Desk Lamps, Bookshelves
FAVORITE FOOD: Gets energy from human sadness and failure.
PERSONALITY & SPECIAL TRAITS: Loves making fun of people. Obnoxious laughter is its specialty.
WEAK POINT: If it sees people enjoying themselves it will swiftly become weakened.
Translated as closely (or in the closest spirit!) as possible, every Ooey Gooey Gremlin features a similar set of specs on the front packaging, the kind of critical intel you get with any self-respecting monster design. Kekerakan actually is "#1" in the series, if you care about that, and is reviewed first because his design is the simplest and most straightforward, but he's obviously got a lot of character for what's basically just a little hobgoblin. His name comes from the sound of laughter and a possible reference to rakanmawashi, a game in which you try to imitate each other's silliest, stupidest faces.
Kekerakan's figure is modeled so that it can clip on to thin enough objects, and you're presumably expected to set him up where he can mercilessly ridicule your various creative and academic endeavors from his preferred vantage points, perhaps even sneak him on to someone else's work space as a gag!
As the "first in the series," he definitely makes a fine introduction. Not too outrageously bizarre, but memorable once you get to know what he's all about.
"A playful rascal that will win you over with its googly-eyed charm!!"CLASS: Quitetheentertaina
HABITAT: The edges of desks and beds.
FAVORITE FOOD: The edges of desks. Often chews on them.
PERSONALITY & SPECIAL TRAITS: Very shy, but finds people interesting. An expert at chin-ups but has stiff shoulders as a result!
WEAK POINT: Legs are too short for it to walk around.
So this little pal sure is different from Kekerakan! Not all of these are just jerks, it would seem, as this adorable weirdo just wants to nibble the corners of your furniture while he watches whatever it is you're up to!
The "Heri" in the name comes from "edge," and of course the figure's claws are big enough to actually clip him on to a lot of things around the house. The "maamu" part is a bit less clear, but could be based on surprised or curious noises it makes as it observed people. The design is also overall very cool and striking with its massive clamp-like hands, reptilian scales, elongated hatchetfish-like skull and protruding eyeballs that remind me most of a mudskipper or some other goby. The "playful rascal" part of its description is also a little joke, because the term in Japanese is literally "child with tea-colored eyes."
"This jerk doesn't even mind burping at the dinner table!"CLASS: Quitetheentertaina
HABITAT: Dinner tables, toilets.
FAVORITE FOOD: Cola and other carbonated drinks.
PERSONALITY & SPECIAL TRAITS: Impolite, unclean, and vulgar.
WEAK POINT: It loves to eat, so it's weakened by hunger.
This one's name is literally "Belchoid," and there's not a whole lot to this one besides JUST how nasty that official art makes it look. Blobby, slimy, pimply, hairy and filthy, complete with sticky saliva and diseased-looking pink eyeballs! I don't think Belchoid's figure really "does" anything but look weird, making a fairly rude gesture I suppose.
UPDATE, this video implies Belchoid actually had a farting or belching feature, and maybe even actually smelled bad!?
"A pervy peeping tom that clings to your window!!"CLASS: Quitetheentertaina
HABITAT: Outside of windows or on windshields.
FAVORITE FOOD: Water droplets on windows.
PERSONALITY & SPECIAL TRAITS: It loves peeping, so it's always looking in on people with its huge eyes. Really just a skeevy guy.
WEAK POINT: It is a peeping tom, so you can just close the curtains or the blinds or something.
CREEPER!!! Miruzerii's name means "Staring Jelly," which is a very cool sounding name, to me, for a monster that's really more like a blobby frog. A blobby, sucker-toed frog with a humanoid face for a stomach! Another simple but cool design, and it's also one of the more elaborate figures in the series; it actually has suction cups in its hands and a wind-up feature that rotates its eyes! You can see a demonstration here, though it also shows just how off-model the figure is from the artwork.
"A lifeform giving birth to children here and there!"CLASS: Mildlysurprisinga
HABITAT: Easily squeezes into the nooks and crannies in your room.
FAVORITE FOOD: Males.
PERSONALITY & SPECIAL TRAITS: A lifeform that gives birth at random. If captured, the children scatter.
WEAK POINT: Moves slowly because of all the children.
They certainly didn't squander the line's only arthropod! Inspired by a spider but a little more mite-like to my eyes, her name is seemingly derived from "komochi," which means either a fish full of roe or any kind of expectant mother, and "pon" which is just "pop." Rev suggests that this becomes a whole new and excellent pun in English: Mommapop!
Anyway, we showed off Mommapop's actual contents early on in this article, and she interestingly includes not only her babies, but a very soft, squishy rubber abdomen and a bag containing some sort of powder. I can't find any information on how she worked, but I'm going to guess that the powder became some sort of slime or foam when mixed with water. Judging by similar toys and even candies I've seen over the years, the substance possible fizzed up enough to actually pop her open and ooze her little spawn everywhere. NICE!!! I'd love to get my hands on one and see if it still works, but it looks like you were only given one little bag of the stuff and I'm not sure I could handle the pressure of getting our one and only shot just right.
"A jokester that crawls in your bath and writhes around!"CLASS: ??? (unclear, this is the only scan we could find!)
FAVORITE FOOD: Hard water stains.
PERSONALITY & SPECIAL TRAITS: It's a terrible swimmer, so after getting in the bath it clings to people.
WEAK POINT: Lather, rinse, repeat.
Maybe this one isn't cool enough to most people to be so far into the list, but any kind of ghoulish skeleton fish monster is pretty important in my book, I love the way it's got a scurrying lizard-like arrangement and it has my favorite sort of excessively big, buggy eyeballs! The name comes from the word for water, the word for shooting water, and an "on" suffix that's seen as kind of cutesy and affectionate. Rev thought this might kinda translate to something like Water-Shooter-Wooter, but then thought that was a bad and lazy suggestion, and that's too bad because it's stuck in my head forever and exactly what this looks like. This is definitely a Water-Shooter-Wooter.
I think the figure was actually designed to float, but it's difficult to find any further information on this one.
SURAMEEBA SAN KYOUDAI
"Loving siblings who pride themselves on collectively forming a face!!"CLASS: Mildlysurprisinga
HABITAT: Doorknobs, mittens, gloves.
FAVORITE FOOD: Hand grease and dust.
PERSONALITY & SPECIAL TRAITS: They are timid in their true forms, but when the three combine they will appear before people.
WEAK POINT: If hit by sunlight they dry up.
This one is just AWESOME! Three monsters in one, known as The Three Slimeoba Brothers! Each brother is such a delightful flesh-blob in its own right, like a cross between a slug and a jellyfish without its tentacles, and each has a great design all on its own merits, too. My favorite is just the one with eyeballs, as usual, the cutest of the three, but the eye-in-mouth brother is obviously cool, and the totally blind nose-bearing brother is intriguing in his own right as well, even possessing a mustache-like pair of sensory feelers!
Unfortunately, the gimmick of the Slimoebas Three is that they're a set of three glow in the dark sticky toys, which may have been accurate to the spirit of the concept, to be sure, but it also means they're the only Gegebomajuu you could never have painted to look like the package art. It also means they would have gotten completely ruined over time, and I'm sure they're impossible to find in good condition unless you find them sealed in their original packaging. Even then, they would have to be so old that the very chemistry of the sticky rubber could have broken down by now; my own "mint" sticky toys tend to leak a little grease after a while. Poor Slimoebas! Too pure to live!!!
At least this is another instance of the Gegebomajuu as "practical jokes," since they seem to want you to put them on doorknobs or other places someone might accidentally touch them. The instructions also indicate that you can use them as finger puppets...by far, these would have had to have been the most fun to actually play with. While they lasted.
"A mischief-maker with a weird, stretchy body!"CLASS: Mildlysurprisinga
HABITAT: Inside drawers, like in desks and cabinets.
FAVORITE FOOD: Soft things like erasers and rubber bands.
PERSONALITY & SPECIAL TRAITS: Enters drawers as it pleases, surprising people.
WEAK POINT: If it gets stretched out too much, it takes a while to go back to normal.
Certainly one of the more striking designs in the series, GYUYOYOON's name comes from the sound of being squeezed (gyu) and then stretched! There's also a cute pun going on with its dietary preferences, since the Japanese term for eraser is "erasing gum" and a rubber band is basically "circle gum."
Monsters completely "split open" by their mouths always make for an entertaining design, I love creatures that just seem like a fleshy ball or clam-like form, and you know I especially love monsters with eyes inside their throats. The figure actually has a plastic eye embedded in a stretchy, translucent rubber strip, so the idea is that you'd attach one set of limbs to the back of somone's desk drawer and the other set to the front, making it a bit trickier to open with a gruesome-looking surprise inside! I could imagine this one genuinely startling someone if you at least painted the eyeball nicely enough.
And...wait a minute...WAIT A MINUTE!!! THIS IS FAMILIAR!!!
Yes, it seems as though Sorry, I'm Dead wasn't the only one of these slipped into Monster Party after all, and I do believe I am the very first person to point this out! These enemies from the sewer level are a bit more simplified and they don't have the eyeball, but they are unmistakably M. Likesdrawersalotta, especially given away by the two nostrils on the lower jaw!
"Plays dead when humans lay eyes on it!!"CLASS: Wakingupica
FAVORITE FOOD: The mercy of humans.
PERSONALITY & SPECIAL TRAITS: Unconscious, weak, has barely clung to life.
WEAK POINT: Already weak.
Waaaaaait a minute here..."plays" dead? "PLAYS" DEAD!?!?! Are you telling me this bastard has been LYING to us for almost thirty years?!
Well...alright. They're polite about it, in any case, and they're at least confirmed to be nearly completely dead. Even "practically extinct," usually unconscious, and apparently so frail that no particular weak point warrants mentioning. I guess the abnormally large specimen from Monster Party knew it didn't stand a chance against even a little human boy, and took the easy way out.
Anyway, Torigaran's name is basically "chicken carcass" with the cutesy "an" addition, so something like Chicken Corpsey. While anatomically the simplest Gegebomajuu - basically a lizard - its deathly pose, humanlike limbs, gaping jaws and bloated abdomen, apparently its "rotten lungs," are all pretty damn unsettling even before you zero in on...that...artwork...
...Yeah, I know why Torigaran was chosen first for a video game cameo. Someone at Bandai obviously really, really liked it. Slightly too much, if you can believe that's even possible for something so majestic.
But seriously, why WAS this one of the only ones? If they owned the rights to these monsters and saw fit to recycle two of them for Monster Party, why didn't they just throw in the rest of these ready-made designs?
It certainly couldn't have been deemed too lazy or too unimaginative by the development team, since most of the bosses were either generic monster tropes or half-baked movie references they even had to cover up at the last minute. How amazing would this game have been if we'd gotten to battle The Three Slimeoba Brothers as a boss fight?! Komopon scattering more and more babies as she takes damage?! Miruzerii fighting us from the other side of a wall, vulnerable only when it peeps through broken windows? WE WERE ROBBED!
Even without their remarkable tie-in to an infamously peculiar game, it's almost boggling how hard the Ooky Spooky Ghoulies hit home for me, occupying a special place in my aesthetic shared only by such privileged bestiaries as The Uglies, the Germs and The Trash Bag Bunch Series II. Why is it seemingly only long forgotten toy series that boast what I consider history's greatest-ever creature designs?
If you're even half as enthused for these things as I am, don't worry - I've already got some pretty excellent material coming for a followup on the Gegebomajuu, though it just might wait until nearly Halloween after all.
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