31 Shinbi's Apartment Ghosts!
DAY TWENTY FIVE: THE MASK GHOST
Written by Jonathan Wojcik
SEASON 03, EPISODE 23: a little boy dreams of being a comic book superhero, and soon finds a black, wolf-like mask discarded in an alley. Somehow, he just knows something amazing will happen if he puts it on, as if the mask itself is silently speaking to him.
What the boy doesnt notice is the scarred, battered man lying not much farther into the dark alleyway, weakly pleading that the boy not take the mask. When he does put it on, the kid experiences a surge of newfound strength, speed and bravery, able to leap from roof to roof and beat down anyone he finds threatening the innocent.
As he keeps donning the mask night after night, he's lost ever deeper in the fantasy of being a real superhero, but of course it's not at all what it seems. The mask itself is a dark spirit that requires a human host body, and preys on their desires until they give themselves over to its total control.
Through the eyes of the mask, even innocent people begin to look like villainous monsters, and once completely taken over, the boy is transformed into a grotesque, black-armored humanoid canine with a mindless lust for violence.
There's not a whole lot to cover for this one; the "cursed mask" story is a narrative we've all seen before and there are no complex story twists or revelations to be had. What makes this such a cool one is just the concept itself; we have a mask that's actually a parasitic spirit, even displaying retractable tentacles, which turns the wearer into a "superhero" resembling a monstrous dog-like demon. If you didn't put it together yet, this is basically a joke on a "wolfman" in the sense of both a Batman-esque wolf hero and a werewolf!...Although, the wolf motif does seem to be based on the child's favorite comic hero, and we see that the mask looks more like a "human" face by default.
So what other forms might this mask take, for other hosts? Is it always a superhero fantasy, or can it prey on any desires that might involve a mask? Its chibi form greets the audience with something like "Lookin' for a few good heroes!" so the superhero slant has either always been there or the spirit's just been really into it ever since this incident. We regrettably never find out more of its history, but whether it takes many different forms or just those that we've seen, the whole idea is just a lot of fun!