31 Shinbi's Apartment Ghosts!
DAY TWENTY SIX: PAINTER WRAITH
Written by Jonathan Wojcik
SEASON 03.2, EPISODE 08: on her way home from work one evening, Hari and Doori's mother sees a framed picture discarded in somebody's garbage, a simple painting of a boy standing outside of a distant cabin. Something about it enchants her, figuratively and literally, and she takes it home to hang on their own wall.
...But of course, the inoccuous painting is terribly cursed. That night, the boy in the painting comes alive and drags mom into the image, later snatching her husband and finally her son. The spirit's only mistake is attempting to kidnap Shinbi, a magical being who has no difficulty teleporting back home, informing everyone else of the danger, and transporting them back into the painting to face the entity head-on.
Within the painting, they find a disturbing forest of pale, ghostly trees and plants covered in an assortment of eerie eyeballs and clutching, hand-like branches. As an aside, this is one of the most gorgeous landscapes I've ever seen and now one of my top picks to live in.
The painted world shifts and transforms as the being attempts to stop the intrusion, but they finally make their way to the cabin, where they find a gallery of portraits representing every soul the spirit is keeping imprisoned. Horrible, ghastly portraits with featureless black holes for eyes.
When the creepy little boy is attacked (by Mama Centipede, by the way!) his human guise fully melts away at last, revealing his true form as the Painter Wraith, a monstrous humanoid figure seemingly pieced together from different paintings, capable of changing shape and changing its surroundings as it pleases. Though it defeats Mama Centipede, a second attack by the Drowned Twins (from the first episode!) thins his paint and drags everyone back into the real world.
Painter Wraith is another "demonic spirit" whose origin is impenetrable to Hari's supernatural vision, but also the second one we've looked at with a bonus youtube backstory video! Meta-Hari has some interesting ideas here. She extrapolates from the eye-filled forest and eyeless portraits that the wraith harbors a resentment for those who see its paintings. From there, she spins the elaborate story of an unknown painter who was also a single father to - get out your Shinbi bingo cards here - a terminally ill child in need of expensive medical care.
In his efforts to turn his work into money, the artist soon meets a more famous painter whose carpal tunnel had forced him to retire, and takes him in as an apprentice. Marketing the paintings under a mysterious, viral alias, he seems to be setting his apprentice up for the success he needs to help his son...but as the pieces of his scheme fall into place, it's clear that he intended to take all the credit, and easily makes his apprentice look "insane" for claiming to be the real talent. Losing everything and unable to save his son, the painter became the evil spirit we know today, punishing everyone who hangs his final masterpiece on their wall without knowing his true name.