PARASITIC MONSTER MAGNIA & ULTRA PARASITE SWARMS!
Written by Jonathan Wojcik
We just looked at an interesting enough parasitic Kaiju, but for our tenth page in the feature, I'm showcasing my personal favorite of that pleasingly extensive category and one of my favorite Ultramonsters ever! In the 22nd episode of Ultraman Tiga, it all begins with the arrival of a "meteor" that's clearly biological in nature, its appearance reminding me of colonial organisms such as corals and ectoprocts...or perhaps a cluster of abnormally massive cells?
This meteor continuously spews out a thick blanket of fog, and lurking within are organisms with their very own title, Space Life-Form Magnia. So it's not the most original title in the Ultraman universe, no, but I like that it was applied to these as if there's something particularly special about them coming from space.
And wow...these things are spooky as hell, resembling clumps of veiny eggs, pustules, or even "eyeballs" without any irises or pupils, and I love the crooked, red spines dangling off them like stalactites!
Chittering as they levitate through the fog, they latch on to any humans they can find and take control of them, transforming them into raging zombie slaves that eventually return to the mother meteorite, which subsequently absorbs their "energy," or basically sucks out their souls.
When Ultraman arrives, the parasitic nodules and the fog itself condense into a single monster, the true "Magnia!" I love knowing that the very mist swathing the area was just this monster in a gaseous form. Even that in itself is fairly horrific, and incidentally, the episode itself is a homage to The Steven King story "The Mist!"
It's kind of fun how Magnia has such a dinosaur-like form, essentially the outline of a classic kind of kaiju, but it happens to be made out of giant puffball-like warts and its only "facial feature" is a clump of pink, wormy tentacles! Its only major power in this form is to channel its collected energy into a sizzling blue bolt from its face, but does that mean it's just burning human beings as ammunition?? What in the world is the purpose of this organism, anyway? It's such a weird, ghastly concept, and I adore every one of its life cycle stages that we've seen.
But as much as I love this one, and as bizarre as it is for a kaiju...it's by far not unique for an Ultra kaiju at all, and delightfully so! There's also...
COB MONSTER OKORIN BALL
Yes, yes, this one's title is COB MONSTER. This one actually came before Magnia, which is considered a "tribute" to Okorin Ball, but I feel as though Magnia sort of perfected the concept into something even creepier. There's not to say Okorin isn't splendid itself; its core form begins as a rugose, fleshy orb with multiple short, segmented tentacles, controlling an enormous swarm of smaller balls. Apparently single-celled, each ball can drive its two main tentacles into a human body, penetrating the heart and brain to become virtually irremovable as it swells with blood like a deadly, giant tick.
Like its descendant Magnia, the Okorin can merge together into one big kaiju! This one is more humanoid, and truly consists of nothing more than a whole lot of fleshy balls and bubbles. You can probably see what I mean about Magnia being an upgrade to almost the same creature. And then, there's...
BLOOD-SUCKING LIFE FORM MARICULA
This one is adorable, because it actually represents marimos - the fuzzy algae balls considered a national treasure and popular "pet" - mutated by another weird, alien meteor. Now colored a beautiful blue-purple, the marimos can split open into four-pointed starfish-like parasites capable of leaping, latching on to other organisms, and of course draining blood. Notice that their name draws from both "marimo" and "Dracula!"
You can guess by now that the little parasites are capable of merging together, and the giant-size version is a great looking ultramonster. It's roughly identical to its tiny starfish forms, but the center looks more like a pair of human lips. I also appreciate that as a kaiju costume, it stands on only one of its four points, rather than taking the easy route of using two fo them for the actor's legs, because this isn't a monster that walks around anyway; it either hops, or it rolls back into a huge ball!
How many powers can a mutant mossball-starfish-leech possess? More than you might think, and not necessarily thematic to any of those things. Its limbs can shoot needle-tipped tendrils that electrically shock its enemies, it can absorb energy, it can spit fireballs, and it can also spit a super-corrosive mist!
PARASITIC SPACE CREATURE PEGINERA
Our last one is more of a parasite swarmer on the down-low, since we don't see a whole lot of its parasitic stage, which actually looks more like a greenish slime or glowing, green energy. It is, however, highly infectious and capable of mind control, as well as intelligent enough to distribute itself through the populace as a bogus medical product that vastly increases host intelligence. Those few humans who proved incompatible with this assimilation, however, would be drained entirely of nutrients and reduced to a mummy-like corpse!
While the other monsters here fused into kaiju with appropriate visual motifs, Peginera's goo fuses into a highly unexpected monstrosity resembling a black, chitinous "bug" that is simultaneously one huge, chomping, alien mouth! The whole upper carapace is an upper jaw, the "arms" are the mandibles of a lower jaw, and the meaty, veiny "torso" and "legs" are actually just tongue-like tentacles! GENIUS! It's such a threatening overall look, but the little snail-like face on the tip of its "snout," with its dangling tentacles and stalked, beady eyeballs gives it a real dash of cuteness.
This won't be the last time I include a monster's major counterparts, spiritual successors and homages on the same page, and what's really fun about this one is that these certainly aren't the only Ultra Kaiju formed by the fusion of a "swarm" or "horde," nor are they still the only parasite-themed kaiju. With thousands of monsters in the franchise, many concepts have been repeated again and again, but spun with a great new twist just about every time!