31 Shinbi's Apartment Ghosts!

Written by Jonathan Wojcik

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This time, weirdness begins when some of the girls in Hari's class claim to have taken up ballet. Acting almost in a trance, they keep referring to a dance studio at the school itself...but nobody recalls such a studio existing. Following them to an old, unused gymnasium in the school's lower levels, the girls are found posing around a gigantic carousel, exhausted but forced by a malicious spirit to maintain their positions.

This spirit, The Marionette Queen, takes the form of a wooden ballerina puppet with a wonderfully deranged aesthetic even by ghostly puppet standards. Besides her thin, gangly wooden body and sharpened fingers, her head is kind of stretched a little too tall and dominated by enormous wide eyes. She's animated just like she's always dangling from unseen strings, and she's almost constantly giggling and tittering with joy.


In her human life, the Marionette Queen was a young girl who loved to dance, but only had any confidence to do so if she could listen to her favorite music box, which played a rendition of her favorite piece, Swan Lake. Even knowing that it wasn't rational, she felt certain she would "mess up," or that something bad would happen, if she couldn't go through this simple, little ritual.

One day, she received a letter accepting her in the lead role of a Swan Lake performance, the one thing she always wanted, but she would have to fly to Russia.

As you may have feared, she accidentally left her music box behind, and sure enough, her flight ran into a severe storm. Her worst possible fears came true, and she died senselessly just before she could live her dream.

The kids realize that the spirit has actually transformed her old dance studio and the kidnapped children into a recreation of her music box, and that she doesn't want anything other than to finally lead Swan Lake, just once.

Instead of stopping her, Hari tries to offers herself as the final back-up dancer, but her friend Gaeun ends up taking her place. In a very cool and dramatic scene, the ghost takes on her true, human form and performs to the song before her soul's final ascension.

...And Hari acquires the Marionette Queen as a summon! This spirit's main ability is to generate supernatural, red strings that can bind and control people or objects, so she does kind of have some strategic crossover with the Spider Ghost. In fact, when Hari simply needs something tethered, grappled or tied up throughout the series, you never really know if she's going to summon Spider or Marionette.


You can pretty much never go wrong with dummies, dolls, mannequins and puppets as monsters, especially when giving them freaky, over the top personalities and designs. Marionette Queen is entertainingly maniacal, effectively creepy looking and her methods disturbing, but her intentions are still innocent and sympathetic. Her superstitious faith in her music box is also something rarely addressed so respectfully in fiction; rational or not, it's wildly common for people to develop these kinds of personal rituals and really fear that something will "go wrong" without them. All in all, a good solid ghost for this franchise, seemingly already regarded as a classic and fan favorite.