31 Shinbi's Apartment Ghosts!
DAY SEVEN: RAVANAV
Written by Jonathan Wojcik
SEASON 01, EPISODE 16: one of the kid's friends is a boy who can not only see ghosts by now, but runs his own paranormal webforum and loves to investigate online rumors, which can of course get them all into trouble for no good reason. This time, he hears about a game you can play in which you craft a small doll from straw, perform a summoning ritual and play a game of Hide and Seek with the spirit that appears.
So, he does this, and it works, and now the kids are on the run from the malevolent entity Ravanav, which manifests as a towering, animated version of the original doll but actually contains four distinct souls that presumably wish to add more into their collective legion. When one of the children is caught, it's their turn to be the seekers, and have a limited amount of time to find four of Ravanav's souls if they wish to defeat the spirit.
The first soul is already featured in today's clip, disturbingly coiled up into a spiral in one of the school's toilets, Uzumaki style. Ravanav's collected souls are universally hairless, simplified, oily black figures with gaping, toothless mouths and oversized, bright blue eyeballs that almost remind me of the face of deep sea fish. Once one of these souls has been found, it can only be sent back to Ravanav if the player looks it in the eyes and says "FOUND YOU!"
The second spirit is found disguising itself as an anatomical model in the science classroom. It fights back with stretching, whiplike arms, and differs from the first by having an oversized, egg-shaped head.
The third spirit, hiding in a crude and childish painting of a human face, resembles the others but with a totally inhuman, plant-like mouth; a circle of six fleshy, toothless petals!
The final spirit, hiding in a school desk, is just a little tiny fella! With his even larger eyes than usual and fat, wrinkled torso, he almost evokes something more bug-like, but maybe also kind of like a tarsier or a bushbaby.
Ravanav was never a human soul as far as we know, but always existed as a demonic spirit or bogeyman. This isn't a first for the series, but it is a first for our reviews! It is ultimately defeated by another of the kid's friends, Choi Kang-lim, who in fact specializes more in hunting and defeating demons than exorcising human souls and does so the "old fashioned" way; even wielding an enchanted sword and binding spirits to paper spell tags. There's more than one way to Pokemon!
Kang-lim has his own reasons for hunting spirits that are slowly revealed in the first major story arc of the series, but we won't really be touching on that in our reviews; we don't even get to see all eight of these spirits that he's trapped! I have no idea what that mummy or that cyclops are! I'll take this opportunity to run you through a few extra monsters, however, in case the rest of his collection piques your curiosity:
ETHRA: antagonist of the fifth episode, a solid horror tale but one we skipped as I narrowed favorite ghosts down to just 31 reviews. Appearing as a woman with a smartphone instead of eyes, Ethra texts with human children to "befriend" them, entrances them, and actually tries to trick them into suicidally walking over a ledge or into an old well. Incredibly nasty!
HOMUNCULUS: created in episode twelve by a highly intelligent but somewhat antisocial child to be his perfect friend, this tiny baby-like figure becomes violently jealous when its creator begins to make real, human friends. It's capable of growing much larger, sprouting fangs and claws, and even replicating itself.
DARKSINY: we only see this spirit for the opening scenes of the fifteenth episode, coming in on the moment Kanglim is defeating and sealing it. All we know is that it feeds on human fear, and looks like a pale, four-armed man in a black suit and hat.
IRON BEAST: the rest of the focus of episode fifteen, the Iron Beast is an ancient monster that feeds primarily on metal, but also requires human souls, and oddly resembles a huge, terrifying, saw-toothed tapir.
STRAW GHOST: not to be confused with Ravanav, the Straw Ghost is a surprisingly deadly spirit fought across two different episodes, but simply resembles an old straw rain poncho with a pair of glowing, red eyes and two dangling, clawed arms. This spirit simply wanders in the rain and steals away anyone it encounters.
These specific spirits Kanglim has captured, counting Ravanav, are apparently requirements for what he's actually trying to do, but we'll talk about that in another review.
Ravanav is one of the nonhuman monsters lacking a deeper backstory, which perhaps feels a little underwhelming when we've just looked at so many horrifying deaths and hauntings, but it's one of many I wanted to share for its cool design and concept. I think its doll form would have been a little scarier without the eyes, especially since it seems like it's "really" those slimy black ghouls it can unleash, but each of its different bodies are memorable, and it's nice to see one of these "spooky ritual" spirits show up in the series for the first time.
Ravanav's name seems to come from the Hindu Ravana, an evil many-headed spirit whose defeat is, in fact, celebrated by burning a giant, straw effigy, though any similarity abruptly ends there. "Ravanav" seems more like an all original concept, loosely borrowing the theme of multiple "faces" and a straw body.