INSECT MONSTER SHILDOBAN...AND FRIEND
Written by Jonathan Wojcik
Back to good old giant-size monsters again, Shildoban is actually a very, very ordinary arthropod kaiju; literally just a very big bug that crawls up out of the ground one day and causes some trouble for a development project, not even exhibiting any particular powers besides its tough claws.
But...something strange happens shortly after the giant insect's death. By only the very next day, a gargantuan mushroom has sprouted where the kaiju had fallen, showering the surrounding area with deadly, toxic yellow spores. Seemingly impervious to harm, the mushroom continued to grow and change throughout the day, until finally it transformed in a surge of glowing energy, into...
PARASITIC MONSTER BAKKAKUN
Not only does this hulking dino-shroom have the same toxic spores as its original fruiting body, but just when Ultraman appears to be winning, its long tail drills into the ground and the pale corpse of Shildoban rises as its zombified puppet! The name Bakkakun has a really fun etymology to it, too; bakkaku translates to ergot, the toxic fungus famously responsible for mass hallucinations, while kun is a sound effect that, in this context, refers to a sudden wheeze or exhalation similar to "whew!" As for the design, it's not my favorite fungus-based monster, but using a mushroom cap as the "shell" of a reptilian beast is quite unique, and I adore the ghoulish, almost anguished expression on its face, particularly with those pure white eyes.
It's a great concept inspired by real-world entomopathogenic fungi, and it raises many questions that are never answered. Was the fungus already lurking in the soil, or was Shildoban already infected by the time it attacked? Is that why it attacked, driven mad by the parasite? And were both of them monsters when the infection began, or did one begin as either a natural insect or natural fungus until it was corrupted and mutated by the other? Whatever happened, it's a very fun and surprising twist on the usual battle formula, and I do believe one of the first times a fungus-controlled insect factored into popular fiction at all.