31 Shinbi's Apartment Ghosts!
DAY SEVENTEEN: CHUPACABRA
Written by Jonathan Wojcik
SEASON 3.2, EPISODES 06-07: it's our second western Cryptid since "Mothman" guest starred as a Great Old One! In this two-parter, a farming village asks the kids for help, or at least that one kid who's already a successful monster slayer. As you might have guessed, they've been losing livestock to something that drains them of all blood, and have even spotted a monstrous, bat-winged creature.
This series interpets the Chupacabra as an aesthetic hybrid of a pterosaur and a leech; a reptilian figure with huge, membranous wings for arms and an almost tubular, beady-eyed face with a set of vicious jaws and teeth! As revealed in the clip however, the loss of cattle isn't really their biggest problem; just when sword kid thinks he's slain the goatsucker, the villagers themselves begin to convulse and transform, revealing an entire horde of the creatures!
We've been skimming over a series side plot about vampires up until now, but Gae-un's vampire boyfriend, who is also the vampire king, long story, explains that what some humans call the Chupacabra is in fact the "lowest" form of vampire, a kind of degenerated "zombie vampire" that can only subsist on animal blood.
As it turns out, a vampire character from a past episode didn't really die, but was able to take the form of a tiny, wormlike larval Chupacabra and escape unnoticed. Ever since, he's been trying to evolve back into a true, human vampire to no avail, and this is where the lore gets even stranger.
They don't adequately explain what this is, but the double-undead bloodsucker has been regenerating his true form within a demonic, dodecahedral artifact hovering in a decrepit old house. Is this just a vampire thing? Inside, his human form is condensed into just a wad of flesh, but manages to steal enough soul energy (or something like that) to reconstitute himself in a form that's 90% his original, 10% goatsucker, and man, is it something else when you have to piece together some of this from youtube's automatic subtitles.
That's not what he's saying. That's NOT what he's saying.
Shinbi's Chupacabra is kind of a mixed bag. I don't care much for its identity as the vampire bro, but it is canonically a known vampire species rather than something unique to him, and Hari even has access to it as its own distinct summon! The design is nothing like any Chupacabra we've seen before, which is a bummer if you're a big fan of its traditional spiny green martian look, but the bat-lizard-leech design is fairly cool in itself. This makes not just the second Western cryptid in the series, but the second one reinterpreted as something more supernatural in order to fit the setting, and I find that a fun trend in itself.
The manner in which the villagers transform into the creatures is also a marvelously frightening sequence, especially that moment where their necks violently elongate while the rest is still human!