31 Shinbi's Apartment Ghosts!
DAY THIRTY: The Series' Most HIDEOUS Haunting?!
Written by Jonathan Wojcik
SEASON 03, EPISODE 18: the town has seen days of continuous rain, and tenants of the apartment complex are beginning to notice a mold problem. A worsening, and worsening, and worsening mold problem. One by one, residents even seem to go missing, or at least, they stop answering their doors or setting foot outside....
Mold begins to infect human residents from there, turning them into mindless zombie-like carriers that spread the gunk wherever they go until they're finally engulfed altogether by the expanding biomass.
In the ensuing fight, the creature falls defeated, and Hari sees a few brief moments of its human memories...
ORIGIN REVEAL, PART ONE:
Apartment 312 was once the home of an elderly couple. The wife had already reached a state of helplessness in her old age, unable to even stand or walk on her own, and depended fully upon her husband to tend to her day and night.
...But he was an old man, too. One day, coughing up a storm, he wasn't even strong enough to open his wife's pills for her. Continuing to cough, he clutched his chest as he collapsed and fell unconscious beside her.
The kids think they know what the spirit is still hurting over, and they're sure they can put this one to rest...but they're mistaken.
As Hari's sword-wielding friend prepares to strike down the toadstool man, the blob-being abruptly takes on her true, human form and hurls herself into danger to protect the raging myconid, upon which Hari is able to view the rest of their story...
ORIGIN REVEAL, PART TWO:
The old woman continued to lie there, inches from her unresponsive husband. She was too weak to move from her bed, call for help or even drag herself to a telephone, and could do nothing but wait to see if someone came to check in on them.
...But they'd had no children, or at least any children they kept in touch with. Nor did they have any surviving friends, or even know any of their neighbors by name. As far as anyone else knew, the people in Unit 312 were reclusive shut-ins who liked to be left alone, and so they were.
Now that they can both remember what happened to them and why they were so furious, they realize that someone has finally found them...but that they still have each other, too. The couple pass on together, and all the supernatural fungus they had spread simply fades from existence with them.
Hari and Doori can then, at long last, welcome Grandma and Grandpa Spore to their collection of malformed wraiths. It is a wonderful thing. A good day. A normal and fine time to be had by all.
I know we've seen a lot in this series, but for me, this was "the one;" the story that really clinched how much this series, clearly inspired by the likes of Yo-Kai Watch and designed to sell an app game full of cute mascots, is still willing to tell tales of horror and tragedy for a younger audience with no sugar coating, no disarming tone of camp, no protective barrier of sarcastic humor.
Two elderly people were so alone in the world, they didn't just die, but rotted to nothing with nobody knowing, and consumed with spite, their souls sought to rot away everyone else.
We see oozing, green mold overtake the bodies of people and animals. We see their shapes dissolve into the dreamlike forest of pale, hairy fungi that was once architecture. In one of these infested apartments, for a brief moment, we see how the mold has even ruptured an aquarium, surrounded by mold-caked goldfish still flopping and squirming long after they probably should have asphyxiated. The imagery in this story is more grotesque, the ideas more haunting than almost any I've seen in entire horror films with fungal infestation themes, possibly rivaled only by the original Matango.
And, of course, those monsters designs are positively KILLER. Grandma is a putrid, half-melted heap of slimy, hairy microbiota with the subtle suggestion of a human corpse, while grandpa is a predatory, vicious and alien looking mushroom with legs. They're two distinct styles of mycological monstrosity and two contrasting flavors of horror that perfectly complement one another and cover as many bases as just two designs can within their shared theme, all while reflecting the state they were in leading up to their deaths: grandma is still sedentary and grandpa still collects the food.
It's only made clear in some artwork, but I really love the big, purple, sort of dish-like pits that grandma actually has for eyes, and I love how grandpa's mouth and eyeball fit into that single "8"-shaped orifice on the mushroom stem. These two are easily my favorite designs in the series and now among my all-time favorite fungus creature designs, which is some STIFF competition, for sure.