31 Shinbi's Apartment Ghosts!
DAY SIX: THE BELOVED BRIDE FLOWER
Written by Jonathan Wojcik
Season 01, Episode 13: the apartment's elderly superintendent plants a small flower in the community garden, but it soon begins to grow at an abnormal pace. Green vines begin to snake through cracks in the surrounding concrete, and as the building itself begins to destabilize, Shinbi - who is tied to the apartment, like a house elf - even suffers from back pain and fatigue, as if aging rapidly:
As you saw if you watched the clip, the kids soon find a monstrous plant in the basement level, a tower of tangled vines and stems with its roots twined around the crumbling pillars of the building's foundation. With its menacing, tooth-filled flower, the plant even swallows any human it can and deposits them in clear, stomach-like pods, alive but unconscious, and has already collecting many of the kid's neighbors. Eventually, it even captures Shinbi!
Long ago, in those very apartments, a woman was bedridden with an unspecified illness. Her husband had tended to her every moment that he could, but soon had to go on a trip for a job that he hoped could help pay for her recovery. He didn't want to leave her, even for a little while, but he left her potted flowers as a sweet gesture until he could return. As you might have guessed, she passed away only shortly before he could come home, and her soul took possession of the flowers that had reminded her of her husband in her final days.
Wracked with guilt, he would continue to take care of that same flower well into his old age as the building superintendent.
If you think this doesn't sound as grim or horrible as some of our other ghosts...you're correct!
The real twist here is that this ghost isn't angry, bitter or vengeful at all. She knew that her husband was looking out for her best interests to the very end, even if it meant that he couldn't be with her. He never knew that he watched over that simple little plant, his wife's soul was watching over him in turn as a guardian spirit, sticking by him just as he once had at her most vulnerable.
But one old man can't stop an entire building from wearing down with old age, either. Apparently even more attuned to the state of the building than Shinbi, she alone recognized that its foundation was crumbling, and that every single one of her neighbors would die if it finally collapsed.
All along, the flower ghost was trying to hold the architecture together, and swallowing residents in order to shield them from the inevitable disaster.
She was still a little misguided when she swallowed Shinbi as well, however. To save everyone, the kids have to free him from the plant-pod, and now that he can see what's really wrong with the building, it takes only one of his quick magic spells to mend it.
The woman's soul apologizes for scaring everyone, and gives Hari the orb that can summon her monstrous plant-form at any time...but in a unique twist for this series, she doesn't move on to the afterlife!
...It was her choice to remain on Earth to protect those she cares about, and she has no intention of giving up. She not only continues to occupy the garden, but whenever Hari summons the Bride Flower for the rest of the series, we actually see her human soul appear with it! In the English version, she often utters a one-liner about "wrapping things up" or some other vine pun. I don't think that's the kind of thing she says in the original, but I like to think she's having a little fun as some kid's battlemonster regardless.
This is the first plant-themed ghost in the series, of which there are only two or three in total, and I'd say it's satisfactory. It avoids the obvious Audrey II or fly-trap motifs, but still gives us those grotesquely yonic, interlocking fangs in the center of the flower and an ability to ingest "prey," even if it doesn't actually eat people. It's a very cool subversion for this series that this woman wants to be a ghost, too.
...And if you know either your famous plant monsters or your famous kaiju, Bride Flower may remind you heavily of Godzilla's one-time foe Biollante, which itself housed the memory of a researcher's dead daughter, whose "soul" manifests in a similar fashion during the film's climax!
Finally, while I don't usually include this, I NEED you to hear the English dub voice they gave the flower's "Chibi" form: