We've previously looked at virtually every snail-based tokusatsu villain, but I have to confess that as lovable and whimsical as snails may be, I'm quite a bit more partial to slugs. Yeah, the spiral shells may be cool and all, but in my book nothing beats a simple, streamlined lump of crawling goo with eye tentacles. And while there aren't quite as many shell-less gastropoda in this genre, I've come to observe that the designs and superpowers of slug kaijin tend to be both stranger and grislier, likely owing to their "grosser" image in the public eye. Works for me!
TOKUSATSU MONSTER DESIGN:
13(!) SLUG KAIJIN
I believe this was the first slug-based Kaijin to ever grace television, once again all thanks to the original Kamen Rider. Namekujira was capable of morphing entirely into slime and back again, spewing acid from his mouth, and later gained the ability to spew radioactive flames thanks to a cybernetic upgrade!
Design: the first shell-less Gastropod villain in Tokusatsu is appropriately "basic," at least at a glance; a guy with pale, slimy slug skin and a fairly realistic slug head, with both the two stalk-eyes and two smaller oral tentacles. Basically a whitish slug with arms and legs. There's an interesting hint of a secondary face, however, as the dark recesses under the slug's mouth look a lot like sad, narrow eye sockets, another dark fold below this might be a nose hole, and you get the impression of a frowning human mouth where the slug's underbelly overlaps the "chin" of the humanoid face. Drab when you see it as just a walking slug, subtly disquieting when you see that faint ghostly face in its flabby tissues!
Kamen Rider 555:
We discussed the Orphnochs when we looked at snail guys, how they're "the next evolution of humanity" but they all look like suits of armor carved from stone. Slug Orphnoch is extremely minor, one of several Orphnochs disguised as human businessmen until they were wiped out by a team-up of Riders.
Design: The Snail Orphnoch was fairly interesting, covered in tattered rags to represent being "slimy," but the Slug Orphnoch is just another plain, grey-armored Orphnoch whose helmet-like head sort of resembles an animal. The face is only slightly different from Snail Orphnoch, the same bell-shaped helmet with a flaring lip-like rim and long, curving antennae. Sorry guy, but you might be officially the least interesting Gastropod kaijin in general!
This one comes from an independent Toku series you can actually watch on youtube! In fact, you can watch this very episode here! The quality is honestly pretty close to more mainstream productions, it's developed a decent sized fandom and it's even begun to get merchandise, from what I can tell! SLUG ROCKET is the fusion of a slug with a firecracker, apparently, covered in various cannons and blasters. Thanks to his sliminess, he can also turn into goo and can deflect energy attacks.
Design: his slugginess is a little abstract, but he's got a good style! A gooey, blobby purple head with three or four pure red eyes in random locations and four thick, metallic tubes protruding just as randomly around his skull, with another set on his shoulders. Once you know that he's a slug plus a firecracker, you can more or less see it, if you ask me.
From one of Toei's less famous 1970's series, Namekujiiger is a combination of a slug and a showerhead, apparently, whose "slug shower" leaves human victims susceptible to the mind-controlling radio waves he can emit. He's also capable of teleporting, but apparently only if he first falls backwards, and for whatever reason he can conjure a scythe.
Design: only all that humanoid from the waist down, Namekujiiger's giant, pale blue slug face is draped over his head, shoulders and upper torso almost more like a big, drippy jellyfish bell. He has some goofy looking vampire fangs poking out from under his huge frown-like mantle, a pair of knobby antennae without any visible eyes, and a transparent glass dome erupting from the top of his head, even surrounded by bloody-looking torn flesh! He's also got a pair of "arms" that are more like big, flipper-shaped drips of flesh, and one of them ends in an organic showerhead. Comically creepy, visually very "villainous" looking, and the creativity of his overall costume design is at least a little above averge.
Kamen Rider 555 (Manga):
I'm only counting manga and anime kaijin in this if said manga or anime ties in with a live-action tokusatsu show - otherwise it'd be too difficult to know where we should actually draw the line at what to include! - and of course if there's anything especially interesting about them. What's interesting about this one is that it is, somehow, the only kaiju or kaijin I've found that's based on a Clione or "sea angel," despite how iconic the creatures are in Japan! They even have a clear built-in battle gimmick, since the real thing looks cute and angelic until it reveals its barbed tentacles.
Design: Clione has the usual carved gargoyle-looking body surface of the Orphnochs, but a little frillier and lacier. Her head, meanwhile, has a pair of hooked "horns" on top - like the Clione's antennae - and many broad, flat ribbonlike appendages that hang down like hair. It's a very cool design overall, though I have to say it doesn't immediately bring to mind a sea angel. If I hadn't been told otherwise, I'd have thought she was some sort of Cephalopod!
Kamen Rider Black RX:
This series pits its Rider against a variety of strange, alien mutants almost all worthy of their own reviews, and a few of them are supposedly hybridized with specific animals! Bang-Gong interestingly has darkness-themed abilities, able to become a shadow as it pleases. This may be the first time I've seen this particular elemental power attributed to slugs or snails, but it's appropriate! No land animals have more valid reason to loathe sunlight than soft-bodied, slimy invertebrates.
Design: Bang-Gong is a warty, rugged bipedal monster whose hunched upper body is mostly head and mouth, with two long whiplike tentacles and no obvious eyes. His large jaws are more reptilian, with huge fangs, and a single horn on his nose makes him look overall more like a cross between a slug, a crocodile and a rhinoceros. Very cool, though the slug qualities get a little lost in the mix!
I reviewed Barom-1 once before, focusing mostly on its horrifying body-part monsters here! Most of its kaijin, however, were based on various animals, including what is somehow one of the only Nudibranchs I've found! This guy could form a club with Clione Orphnoch! With all their wild shapes and colors, wouldn't you have expected tons of Nudibranchs in this genre? The real animals even have built-in powers, too, since a lot of them can steal the stinging cells from the anemones, corals or jellies they consume. Seaslug Ruge, on the other hand, has no powers other than being very very sticky.
I also couldn't find or create any images as clear as this photo of his action figure, but we also have this lovely illustration:
Design: Nudibranchs are most famous for their intense, psychedelic colors, but their first (and still one of their last!) kaijin borrows from subtler, more camouflaged varieties. He's covered in mottled, warty, gloppy looking brown flesh. His finely bumpy head has a couple of big, solid blue, half-lidded eyes that look almost like sunglasses at a distance, he has two fleshy cups for antennae and his mouth is a short, fat, blue proboscis. He's not dramatic, no, especially not compared to most of the group that inspired him, but I'm definitely a fan. He's basically just more like the "sea hares" that mimic sand or algae!
Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger:
We're getting into the BEST already! Namero Bacho is a member of Interdimensional Crime Group Gangler, each of which is powered by one of many priceless treasures stolen by the fictional thief, Arsene Lupin, whom you may also know as the ancestor of the anime antihero Lupin III! These treasures in Lupinranger continuity are mostly fictional, and borrowing a page from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, they're all broad references to Western rock music.
Namero's treasure is "Who Made Who," named after an AC/DC song, and consists of a jade figure that allows the monster to physically remodel inanimate objects.
Design: Gangler monsters are pretty complex, and this is a real fun one! He's canonically a big, bright pink slug lying on its back in the open top of a biomechanical suit he can control, so his adorable green-eyed antennae actually bend "backward" from his head to peer over the edge of his "cockpit." The sort of goblet-shaped or corset-like mechanical torso has a bright white spinal column up the front, ending right between the slug's eyes, so he almost looks like he has a spinal cord "proboscis" from his "face" down his "torso." The rest of his suit has arms and legs formed from large, overlapping green leaves, one arm has a clawed pink hand that may be connected directly to his slug-tissue, the other arm is a gun and he's got a lot of thick, rubbery yellow hoses connecting the body to the legs. You may also notice the boxy cell-phone shaped object held in the slug's underbelly; every Gangler monster has one of these things, but I actually don't know what it does. Every Gangler monster also has a bone motif somewhere in their costume, and I love that the slug is the one who gets vertebrae, of all things.
Samurai Sentai Shinkenger:
This is one of the Ayakashi, demonic kaijin based on various yokai, and its yokai is Kosode no te, an obscure entity that manifests only as ghostly hands from short-sleeved kimonos. It's also typically associated with prostitutes, sometimes the vengeful soul of one who died while still owed money. Otherwise, the yokai could haunt any kimono that's been disrespected after its owner's death, especially one sold for money rather than donated to a temple.
Kugutsukai doesn't really have anything to do with this legend, but instead has the power to physically control people through the use of invisible puppet strings!
Design: AMAZING, that's the design. Absolutely awe-inspiring. Nothing's ever officially mentioned of its obvious insect element, but it basically looks like a giant, bipedal cockroach "wearing" a giant green slug as a cloak. Its chitinous, humanoid arms and legs are wrapped in sleevelike slug flesh, and two fully insect-like legs emerge from shorter gaping "sleeves" on its shoulders. The top of its head is just a dome of green flesh, flaring open like a hooded cape, and the slug's four tentacles are part of a yellow rim along the edges of the "cloak," lined with thick finger-like yellow cilia.
This would all be cool and ominous enough, except there are also rows of puppet strings emerging from the upper cockroach-legs and the slug-head hood, connected to a grotesque red mannequin, partially embedded in the creature and occupying most of the front of the design! Its red and pink motif coupled with its emaciated ribs and other details almost make it look like a skinned corpse, at first glance. My favorite detail of all, however, are the monster's two glowing yellow eyes, hidden in the darkness between the red puppet and the slug hood. They aren't even located where its "humanoid head" would be, but seemingly on the cockroach-creature's upper chest.
It's a highly complex, totally unique and SUPREMELY badass monster, combining nothing but motifs I'd have placed in my uppermost favorite of motifs.
Kamen Rider Skyrider:
A cybernetic monster of Neo Shocker, this sadistic mollusk has the old standby of transforming into slime and dissolving his victims, in this case actually firing a wad of his own gooey white slug-flesh that hilariously transforms his victims into skeletons almost instantaneously. Yeah, I made you a clip:
It's also important you know that Namekujin's other major power is to transform into Santa Claus. I mean, they'd have you believe it's just the guise of Santa Claus, but if he looks like Santa Claus and he has superhuman powers, he is arguably the realest Santa Claus there ever was in his timeline. Shocker made Santa Claus real. They just made him real as a skeleton-making slug man, too.
Design: I appreciate that his slug form retains a festive red and white color scheme. He's another slug creature shaped kind of like a guy in a hooded jacket, white slug flesh wrapped around his head, torso and the backs of his arms with a wavy fringe wherever it gives way to his red spandex. His slug tentacles are blunt, eyeless, pointed like horns and stick straight forward from the "hood," and the exposed, dark red face underneath has only dark, eyeless sockets and a gaping, lipless mouth full of long, sharp white teeth, more an Anglerfish sort of mouth than anything else. I also like how the slug-skin is split open down his chest, too, like the "jacket" is unzipped. His humanlike left hand also has sucker-tipped fingers, while his right hand is a really rad cup-shaped orifice he can open and close, like a fleshy toothless mouth, to fire his flesh-dissolving globs! His more "humanoid demon" features weren't originally as interesting to me as some of the other slugs, but he's really grown on me a lot.
This is a monster of Gel Shocker, the same group employing a chameleon-leech hybrid, so you know we're in for a real treat here. This guy is part slug, part MUSHROOM! What a wonderfully natural fit! Mushroom kaiju and kaijin most commonly exhibit some sort of mind control, infestation or parasitism against their foes, and this one takes a disturbingly more hands-on approach but just plain possessing people! As is also tradition for Japanese mushroom monsters, he laughs a lot!
Design: magnificent. A work of art. Simple and yet difficult to describe accurately. This slug man has a smooth, fleshy white body that fades to purple along the right side of his torso and upper left side of his head area. Wherever there's purple, there are also angular, blood red pits clustered together, like chunks missing from his flesh. A large mushroom cap also sticks out of his left side, like a partial shell on his back, and he has smaller red mushrooms growing from his shoulders at odd angles. His face is especially tough to explain, but he has a blood red, sort of upside-down V-shaped crevice in his puffy mushroom-slug flesh, or I guess kind of W-shaped. His dark green eyes are barely visible in this narrow scar, looking somewhat sad and dopey under the flaps of white and purple skin, and of course he's got knob-tipped slug antennae growing out of the top. There's a bit more to this design, but inreasingly difficult to explain, so I have to apologize to e-reader visitors for stopping there.
It's a beautiful, cute, gloomy and haunting design all at once, truly capturing the whimsical personality of both a slow-moving gastropod and a faceless mushroom with a psychedelic surrealism befitting some mycotoxin-induced hallucination. You look at this design, and you just already know it's going to Body Horror you in some fashion.
Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger:
GANGLER is back! That's right; the Interdimensional Crime Group has two slug based agents, though this one's a bit subtler about it. Goche Ru Madou isn't just any Monster of the Week, but a high-ranking villainess tasked with the coveted job of making other monsters BIGGER! Countless toku series use this gimmick to take the action from monster vs. human to monster vs. giant mecha, and Goche Ru achieves this by injecting fellow freaks with syringes full of her own original, highly illegal growth serum.
GOCHE RU MADOU
That's right; she's a doctor. A criminal doctor. She's wanted across the galaxy for various drug violations and unethical surgery, infamous for her deranged sadism, though she also acts flirty and motherly and refers to every other monster as one of her "nuses" and I know at least some of you are falling in love at this point if you hadn't already.
But she's ALSO a slug, and not just any slug, but the internet's own beloved blue dragon sea slug, Glaucus atlanticus! Finally another Nudibranch, and one of the colorful ones!
Design: oh my god. Oh my god. Let's get this out of the way first: she has a pair of little human ribcages for breasts. I can't believe this was the first time I ever saw this idea, honestly, and I especially can't believe it was for a humanoid Glaucus. The rest of her is mostly a fleshy blue humanoid with finely grooved skin, except for the partial satin gown covering only some of her chest and one thigh. She has feet that look like red shoes, but also like claws, cybernetic forearms with jagged blue fins, and an open cavity in her chest filled with what look like bandoliers made of bone, which can actually fly out and bind people like tentacles, because why not. An ammo belt bondage attack is another thing I can't say I've seen before, and strongly did not see coming from a mad doctor gastropod.
The head and face is always what really makes these designs, though, even with rib cage boobs, and hers is just gorgeously done. Her mouth area is human and real cutesy, with dimpled cheeks and smiling black lips, but she only has menacingly slanted pits where her eyes should be, merely grooves between the short, fat tendrils of flesh sprouting like Medusa-snaked off the rest of her head. The two largest tentacles add the most to her aesthetic, like two large teardrops of skin with their bulbous bases forming her alien forehead. There's a little fleshy hornlike protruberance between these, above a V-shaped noselike slit, that I don't think comes directly from a Glaucus but certainly feels all very Sluggy to me. An elegantly badass villain design that really fits her outrageous character concept, and the coolest villain you could ask for if you're a fan of her real life inspiration...though she could have certainly used a set of "wings" like the animal's tentacled appendages.
Kagaku Sentai Dynaman:
It's a very, very difficult decision, but I think the honor of being my personal favorite slug-kaijin must go to this glorious abomination. In Dynaman, the monsters are supposed to be animals accelerated into their absolute peak of evolution, which is why Slug Evo happens to be immune to salt! Or immune to salt everywhere other than his eye stalks, as it turns out, which leads to his defeat, and really shouldn't have. Couldn't he have just wrapped them in cellophane or something?
His powers, and his subsequent evil plant, are by far my favorite on this page: his misty breath can transform humans into small slugs, and lest you think this already presents kind of a problem for our species, the slime of these slugs is such a powerful acid that they can dissolve entire buildings. The idea is to turn everybody into slugs and wipe all our cities off the map in the process. It feels a bit excessive, admittedly.
Design: this is what really rockets Slug Evo to the top of my list, besides just his rad abilities and bonus slug mutants. I will admit that the final costume in the show itself isn't nearly as colorful or as finely detailed as the concept art, but it's clear that they intended to recreate it as best as they could on a budget, so I'm counting the artwork as his "true" appearance: wonderfully veiny, squishy looking humanoid slug with simple, blobby gastropod tails for arms and legs, knobby tentacles sprouting off his sluggy upper lip, and thick, veiny eyestalks that grotesquely erupt from a pair of slits and swell into spherical, bright yellow eyeballs. It's really one of the simpler and straightforward designs here, but everything about it just perfectly "clicks" for me, especially the style of the eyes and the dash of overall cuteness that contrasts with his disturbing powers.
I think it's also important that I show you what a human looks like once they've been turned into a slug by Slug Evo:
On another note, we actually have a last-minute addition from the very newest Kamen Rider series, Kamen Rider Geats, which only began airing weeks before this posting! It is not, however, a "kaijin" per se, and arguably maybe even too abstract to be called a "kaiju," but it's not only a slug, it's one more proper nudibranch!
...A gargantuan, flying, biomechanical purple Nudibranch that's also a many-tentacled airship combined with an old Japanese style castle. Alright then! Tokusatsu is easily one of the media genres of all time.
So over a month after writing this post, I reviewed Choushinsei Flashman's Beast Warriors, only to discover that two of them are slug based and also absolute top tier slug guys! Oh no!! I've thus gone back and added them in, beginning with Gerzol, a hybrid of slug and squid! That's so much mollusk! The Gerzol has the strange ability to possess metal objects, causing household appliances and other machinery to attack people!
Design: The Gerzol is a great looking mutant; its upper body is an elongated, upright slug with long, thin eyestalks, many additional tentacles, and wicked little hooked teeth all the way around its edges, making its whole underbelly a part of its "mouth." A single red eyeball is situated at the top end of this, encircled by the fangs, and below that is the extra, biomechanical eye that every "Beast Warrior" has somewhere on its body! The entire slug ends where there's a ring of large tentacles, joined by a frilly membranous webbing, and emerging from beneath this squiddy umbrella are just a whole lot of long, thin yellow tendrils, like hair, hiding the suit actor's legs. It's another rare case of a completely nonhumanoid tokumonster! There's a lot of personality to the designs of this series, while also looking very alien and very menacing.
Oh my god, I can't believe one of the ones I missed was another top favorite! I'm so sorry, Slug Evo! The Metagas is a combination of slug and crab, most of its body actually a collection of little slugs with chomping, crustacean-like jaws! Oddly, this one also pertains to metal; its slugs can eat any kind of metal to excrete enormous amounts of a metal-destroying gas. The villains fool children into believing the slugs will turn normal metal into gold, hoping the kids will collectively destroy the city when they try to feed their new pets. It's not a plan that really makes any sense, since you could just as easily scatter the slugs around yourself and let them eat whatever scrap they find just about anywhere, couldn't you???
Design: Beautiful!! This creature's true underlying form is basically a thin, chitin-plated humanoid up to the waist, then everything above the waist is just a large crablike creature with no pincers, but many long thin appendages ending in barbed hooks. Almost the entire crab and is limbs are, however, hidden beneath the thick coating of what look like little slimy eggs or bubbles, but are actually the many detachable slugs! A vertical mouth full of ribcage-like teeth is visible in front, and there's a small patch of exposed carapace on the top where its eye stalks are; yellow stalks with swollen red knobs on the end, presumably the eyes themselves, looking rather directly between the eyes of crab and gastropod.
It's not just the slug coating, but the arms that really make this design; the sketch shows us that they're actually bone, chitinous appendages, they're just so thin that they look more like hanging jellyfish tentacles!
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