31 Shinbi's Apartment Ghosts!
DAY ONE: SPIDER GHOST
Written by Jonathan WojcikEarlier this Halloween season, I quite suddenly caught up with the existence of an entire monster-collecting franchise still unknown to most of the world, but almost as big a hit in its own South Korea as Pokemon or Yo-Kai Watch ever were in Japan. It's a genre that means a lot to me, and this is the most overt Horror entry in that genre that I've ever seen, so this year's 31-day October special will be to review my favorite Shinbi's Apartment spirits in a similar fashion to my Pokemon and Digimon reviews, with one of the ghastliest possible clips for every single one!
Read up on my Review of the first episode and general outline of the series if you haven't yet, and today we skip just a little bit ahead to episode four...
Simply called the "Spider Ghost," this spirit appears as a huge, furry humanoid, almost like a gangly-limbed ape, with a frill of petal-like growths around its neck. Its face is sort of skull-like with sharp little teeth, and it has a single pair of huge, glassy red eyes, almost like a grey alien. It's a really unique look for a spider themed monster, having actually nothing at all in common with a spider anatomically but still strongly communicating the idea of a spider: a long limbed, crawling, climbing, predatory looking creature. It's the same thing I found interesting about the original Ettercaps from Dungeons and Dragons!
Abs established from the first episode, the main character can see the memories of ghosts when she looks them in the eyes, usually learning where they came from and what they really want. In the case of Spider Ghost, we flash back to a lovely scene of a pretty cool mother buying a tarantula for her son. Specifically, a tarantula with an egg sack, and the mom explains to her child that spiders are actually doting mothers who carefully protect their young.
...But later that day, the boy is playing with his new pet on the floor of their apartment, and it scurries out the window. Mom narrowly saves him from falling over the edge, but in the process, her weight breaks the small, rickety balcony and she plummets to her death alongside the hapless arachnid. That is, technically, two mothers dying together, and their souls apparently mingled to create the Spider Ghost. All along, it was only collecting children out of its confused and overzealous parenting instincts, desperate to keep them "safe" even if it couldn't truly remember how, or why, or even whose children they were at all.
Having come along on the investigation, the mother's real son recognizes her even as a monster, and the chance to meet her boy one last time is enough to give her restless spirit closure. Like most "exorcised" ghosts in this series, her original human form finally ascends to heaven...
...But also like most of the ghosts, her "monster" form remains behind, and the kids gain another spirit they can summon to their aid. You would think perhaps her own son deserves the ability to call on his spider-mom when he's in danger, but, that's never really addressed in this show. Only the main kids get the ghost orb, collecting other people's dead loved ones like so many Bulbasaurs and Agumons.
Spider is a fairly simple and straightforward haunt, like most of the first season's ghosts, but more unique and memorable in design than your typical Araneoid monster. While both are also cool, I'm glad she's neither a basic "giant spider" or a spider with a lady sticking out of it. I'm also delighted to see any piece of media more accurately emphasizing a spider's devoted parenting techniques instead of playing them up as savage cannibals.
So, I hope some of you are ready for another 30 pages of these. Some will be much weirder, some much sadder, some much darker and some all of the above. And unfortunately, outside the first season's Netflix dub, this review series will be some of the only English content the franchise has for the time being, if not for the rest of our lives.