31 Shinbi's Apartment Ghosts!
DAY THIRTY ONE: THIRTY ONE MORE GHOSTS!!
Written by Jonathan Wojcik
One of several ghosts from the original series pilot special, the Tagger was a little girl who died in an accident while playing tag blindfolded. Now, she asks living children to play tag for their lives. Simple enough, but what's truly disturbing is that her ghost appears to have "kept growing up," and done so not quite right. She's abnormally tall and gangly, her skin is wrinkled and her hair is white, with strands of skin stretched across a mouth that's too wide, with too many teeth.
This is only the second ghost in the first season, and as far as we know, it was never a human being; Torso is simply an evil spirit that can be summoned by name to grant wishes, but in exchange, it will take something the summoner cherishes most - even if that something is a person. Hari's little brother, Doori, actually summons this spirit to make himself thinner, after being teased for his chubbiness, and the spirit takes Hari as payment. Disturbingly, the spirit is first seen as only a floating head, but it gains more of a body the more people it takes away.
Sweetly, the final conclusion of this episode is that nothing was wrong with Doori, and he doesn't need to change himself at all.
Another non-ghostly "demonic entity," Keyclaws is the master of an ever-changing labyrinth full of deadly traps, and the only way to proceed is to answer logic riddles. The being himself manifests as a single eye in blackness, but can delightfully form a big, blobby body with four humanoid limbs! Keyclaws is also the guardian of a treasure chest full of gold and jewels, but in a cruel twist, it's too heavy for the kids to take back with them on their only escape route, an elevator.
Could have pocketed a few coins though...
Despite the name, this ghost is entirely covered in withered skin, probably a censorship issue; to market any "supernatural" media in China, skeletons have to be covered in flesh, because exposed human bones are actually considered too gruesome for Chinese media, but a rotten corpse is perfectly fine.
Skeleton Ghost's human life is never shown; only that it was content resting in its grave before a construction project disturbed it. The ghost's primary ability is to turn humans into its hypnotized zombie slaves with the dust it can breathe, and there's a wonderfully tense sequence in which Hari must navigate a foggy room without touching any of the silent, motionless victims, as the Skeleton Ghost itself scurries around the fog-shrouded floor!
This ghost first appears as a possessed robotic vacuum with metal cable tentacles, which is adorable! It unfortunately sheds this form in the end to reveal a sort of goofy, giant humanoid with a jagged mouth and cables for hair, kind of like a cheesy comic book supervillain design, though the reasoning behind this is fair enough: Heron was a chronically ill, bedridden child envious of everyone who had a stronger body, miserable to realize that even the hospital's vacuum cleaner could move around as it pleased.
Heron's "true form" does look kind of exactly like the kind of body a little boy in the 90's would have designed for himself.
The true appearance of this ghost is just a fat, hairless, purple man with sharp teeth, but when he possesses a human, he can devour other people, objects and ghosts with a secondary set of jaws that flare out much, much larger than the host's entire body! The ghost can also attach a thin, invisible strand of slime to people that allows him to follow them home, which is just what he does to Hari and Doori's mother. We don't know an origin for this one, but the name comes from the fact that it follows roads at random, and marks anyone it crosses paths with as its next meal.
The same episode with the Roaming Ghost has the kid's mom experiencing sleep paralysis almost every night, seeing a vaporous cloud with only a wide, grinning mouth that gets closer and closer each time. Of course we're lead to believe it may be the Roaming Ghost's doing...until mom is possessed by this other spirit just in time to fight off the Roamer. It turns out to be Hari's grandma! She chose to keep watch over her family rather than move on, and reached out when she saw that another, murderous spirit was coming for her daughter and grandchildren.
Yes, Hari gains her own dead grandmother as a summon...though I'm sad to say the story potential for this goes to waste. We almost never see Grandma again, and when we do, it's just like any other brief battle. The kids have been in so much more danger than they were from the Roaming Ghost, you'd think their own grandmother would get a little more involved in their adventures.
It's the inevitable demonic clown! Nebiros, of course, controls an evil supernatural circus ring and preys on human children, which it transforms into balloons and can even kill by popping. Freaky enough, and certainly adequate if you're into the killer clown thing, though he didn't make our reviews because there's simply not much more to him. You would expect this series to give its "Pennywise" some additional, more ghoulish form than just a slightly more off-putting Joker.
Not to be confused with Mama Centipede, there's an entirely different, non-mama giant centipede spirit featured as an adversary in an episode otherwise centered on a more marketable fox spirit. At least, you would normally think the fox spirit is more marketable, but if various wiki notes are to be believed, the Centipede Ghost was one of the fandom's all time favorites around when it debuted. It really doesn't do much besides talk menacingly, burrow and typical centipede stuff, so maybe it was just something that got memed for whatever reason, or maybe there's something about its voice or mannerisms that's lost on me as a non-Korean. But seriously:
Drama in the centipede ghost fandom.
Golden Hog is a pretty unpleasant one: a huge, bloated, drooling pig-man with golden skin that possesses people to fatten themselves up, far faster and far more severely than is normally possible, so the Golden Hog can eat them alive. It turns out to be the spirit of a hungry wanderer who starved to death centuries ago, denied food by the rich nobles he approached, which explains not just the behavior pattern but the ironic golden coating. That still doesn't quite make up for the fact that he punishes "gluttony" such as...children enjoying snacks. It also doesn't quite make up for the fact that he actually eats people off-screen who, unlike many other "victims" in this series, really never did anything cruel to deserve it. Definitely one of the most malicious spirits in the franchise, regardless of why.
This one is an agent of a season-long villain who wants to steal the ghost ball, so that's about as deep as this one's storyline goes, but I'm glad that there's a spooky tree in this series. Every good ghostly setting needs at least one. Evil Ent is capable of turning people into wood and apparently absorbing them!
Good old Bloody Mary doesn't actually appear in the series proper, but in a "choose your own path" story laid out as official youtube videos. The focus is on romance between Hari and Kang-lim, with the attack of Bloody Mary as the backdrop, but her design is pretty stellar! She looks like a normal, nice woman in a wedding gown until she gets pissed off enough, then she reveals her withered, corpse-like flesh, big glowing eyes and long, needly, anglerfish-like teeth!
The world's biggest and most famous noodle is the antagonist of a movie special, and there isn't too much to say here; it's your typical big world-ending monster that must be stopped through lengthy, epic action scenes. It has a nice enough design for what looks very much like a Darigan Neopet of a python, but what's really interesting are the S'CUTES. In Shinbi's Apartment continuity, individual scales of Jormungandr can come alive as deadly, humanoid wasps, and yes, they are considered their own separate "ghost" to capture. They even seem to be more popular in the fandom than Jormungandr itself, and they have a fusion form in the app game with none other than Beelzebub!
The Sandman, in this series, is an evil spirit whose sand puts children to sleep forever. It's also, interestingly enough, a humanoid crow with a skull head, giving it a very "plague doctor" sort of appearance, and can also control regular crows! Is the bird connection a reference to the 1991 stop motion film??
Nekomata is an elderly woman who wound up dying alone with her many cats, after refusing to get rid of them and driving away her only son. I feel like she got a good deal out of it, though, by becoming such a badassed cat woman. I've never quite seen one designed like this, with an old woman for her right half and maniacal looking cat monster for her left half, divided right down the middle. She continues taking care of neighborhood cats, which is adorable. Less adorable is that she feeds them by turning human beings into mice.
Despite the name, "Crocodilian" looks more like a humanoid fish with the face of a venomous snake, but it's pretty much everything you could hope for from a fish man called the "Crocodilian:" it lives in sewers and it curses normal humans to become sewer-dwelling reptile people themselves! It's the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Deep Ones, Sewer Crocs, maybe even a bit of Batman's Killer Croc all rolled into one.
Crocodilian comes with a painful story, too, and was only barely pushed out of our reviews by some of my other favorites: he was lost as just a child and grew up with no home, wandering the streets, avoided and rejected by others for being dirty and homeless. He wound up hiding in the sewer one night to escape a cold rain but would ultimately die there, most likely from pneumonia. His behavior as a ghost is nothing more than a perversion of his desire for a family :(
Doppelganger is just what you expect: a wicked fairy that tries to imitate and replace people. Her design is strikingly unique, her little fairy-like form comprised mostly of purple goo, with large, round yellow eyes and a saw-toothed mouth that opens much farther back than it should. It almost reminds me of the face of a deep sea dragonfish!
Doppelganger is given a pretty grim backstory by one of Hari's youtube videos, too: when a queen died giving birth to identical twins, the second was seen as having killed her, and grew up the black sheep of the family. When her sweeter, kinder mannerisms caught the affection of a neighboring kingdom's prince, her more popular but more abusive sister deliberately had her murdered and took her place. Doppelganger is, of course, the corrupted spirit of the once kind twin, who was treated so horribly her whole life just for being a "duplicate."
This is another I wanted to review, but there wasn't QUITE enough to fill an article: Formica is an ant queen ghost, with a pretty cool design that draws very slightly from xenomorphs, and she can control an endless horde of ghostly ants that can collectively form whatever shapes they need! Human victims are haunted to perceive ants crawling over every surface, including themselves, which is all pretty terrifying.
What's remarkable about this one though, is that it's the ghost of an actual ant colony killed by some cruel children. It's apparently not routine for this to happen, otherwise there'd probably be more vengeful ant ghosts in the world than there are people, but another supernatural force in the same season is capable of awakening the latent grudges of the dead, creating this ghost as part of a prophecy it's supposed to fulfill. The episode ends with a nice note about how all life, no matter what it is, has some kind of value that deserves some kind of respect; that we can't avoid killing some things, sometimes, but we shouldn't do so out of malice alone.
This is a popular one; a big giant muscular reptilian with the head of a hooded cobra, multiple eyes and enormous bat wings. It actually turns out to have been a regular bat that fell into a vat of alchemist's gold many centuries prior, and I include it because of its frightening ability to transform people into pure gold...then melt them.
This fate does turn out to be reversible, oddly enough, which is good because Gargantua wipes out almost every single character in the series before we're through!
A completely deranged looking, scuzzy bunny guy! Hell yeah! CRAZY RABBIT is actually the spirit of a child who snuck onto a roller coaster that wasn't safe for him, a pretty ghastly way to go. His rabbit form is based on the theme park's mascot, and of course, he can control supernatural, murderous carnival attractions!
THIS is the thing that wakes up the ant queen ghost and several other spirits in the second season: a bizarre, towering clockwork device with a golden mask and a skeletal, mechanical hand. Its story is rather elaborate, created by a mad alchemist to punish mankind and end the world. It's not technically a "spirit," but it is supernaturally sentient, and is considered its own "ghost" by the series!
This is one of two ghosts designed by a small child for an official contest, and is featured in all apps and games as a permanent addition to the franchise. Lucky kid! It's a great design and concept, too, a black-skinned figure whose ten limbs end in white gloves, and whose face is hidden by a smiling white mask. Naturally, it challenges humans to its namesake, but you can't possibly win when it has so many more hands at once!
ROCK PAPER SCISSORS
The final, official interpretation is also a much weirder design than it might appear at first glance: notice that it's actually not a multi-armed humanoid, but some sort of ten-armed arthropod standing up on two of its hands to appear like a humanoid!
This is the other contest winner, and just the kind of wonderful wackiness you expect from kids. Its head is an entire stoplight turned on its side, its body is assembled from busted car parts and its arms are made of power cables surrounded by green slime. Apparently it messes with stoplights in order to trick humans....but that's all we know!
You wanna see what the original entries looked like, don't you?
Hell yeah!! That's what I'm talking about!!! These kids earned it!
I believe this one is lifted from mythology, but I'm not sure I know the details! It's a hulking, humanoid tiger-like beast with luminous eyes and a smiling maw, eats people, the usual beast stuff, but it also imitates people's voices to try and lure its victims. There are flesh-eating monsters around the world who do this trick, but it's somehow even freakier when it comes from something as "ordinary" as a big scary cat. One of my favorite instances of this gimmick is the leucrocotta, which was a misunderstanding of the laughing hyena!
It's your gal, Medusa! With extra massive snakes for hair, a snake tail and a snake face of her own, she's a solid take on a classic monster. Her story also ties in with the older idea that Medusa was cursed with "ugliness" by a jealous goddess as punishment for her beauty, since this Medusa preys on young human girls by running a beauty pageant. Kids don't need beauty pageants! They're bad enough without Medusas in them!
A real wacky one! Dumpling Ghost is a vicious gremlin made of dumpling dough, with mean little sharp teeth and enormous eyeballs with inky black sclera. It has all the powers of, well, dumpling dough, able to fire off sticky globs and even grow increasingly larger. As whimsical as this one's ghost form is, though, it's actually the spirit of a child whose family ran a dumpling shop at the time of the Korean War, and was separated from his family during an evacuation, never to find them again.
We're nearing the end, for now! We've hit season four, which we previously only touched on when we reviewed Eyestealer! "Long Armer" seems to be an interpretation of the "Eight foot Woman" from Japan, which we also discussed in our review of Otherside Picnic!...though this "eight foot woman" is actually the ghost of a young child, who was teased for being too short. She died while playing with other, older children, when she stacked boxes up in an attempt to climb over a wall, and now she wanders the streets sucking the lifeforce out of kids to presumably keep growing! A lot of that went straight to her arms, though, which she can extend to even more unnatural lengths.
Our next Season 4 ghost is a girl who was playing a late-night game of hide and seek at school, when she hid in the bathrooms and got trapped behind a wall. She became a long-necked, snake-fanged revenant that can slink through the bathroom's pipes and even emerge from the toilets to terrorize other kids who break the rules and stay after dark. Besides a pretty wicked aesthetic, this actually combines Japan's "Toilet Hanako" legend with the "long necked woman" youkai, Rokurokubi!
This snazzy looking demon is a pretty obvious homage to Noh Face from Spirited Away, having an oversized body of pure black goo with a small, white mask. In this case, the mask's mouth and eye sockets are fractures in the porcelain, revealing sharp teeth and mean little red eyeballs, though the entire mask can also flip open to reveal a gaping, hollow orifice in which it traps human victims!
Masked Spirit actually manifests through a cursed cell phone app, a "secret" alternative to Tiktok that encourages users to gossip about one another. Nourished by the wicked emotions, it absorbs several users together to form its physical body, but it's ultimately thwarted when enough kids agree to upload the same exact thing: a wish that the app itself would disappear.
The name translated to something about "warts," but this spirit appears only very briefly in an official comic story, which is tragic, because good lord that design! It's a hairless, pinkish, burly humanoid with big, bat-like ears, but no facial features other than that unpleasantly pink-rimmed, vertical slit in the middle of its face, eyes in its chest, and another of those awful slits down its stomach. Both slits, because we haven't said the word "slits" enough in this horrible thing's description, also have some kind of swirling, pale vortex inside. There is no official explanation I can find for this ghost or what it does. As near as I can tell, it just shows up to menace the kids and gets defeated in a couple pages. Who are you. What are you. What terrible, god awful thing can you DO. The nerve of someone putting a design this bizarre and tantalizing in anything and leaving us hanging!! Come on!!!
WHATEVER THIS IS
With any luck, this one could perhaps appear in another piece of Shinbi media, some day, if the app game doesn't eventually get around to it.
This terrifying foe can manipulate time itself, bend space, rewrite memories and more, which is all scary enough, but that design is phenomenally rad! A pale, hunched ghoul whose face is nothing but toothy jaws a single large, round hole housing a clock pendulum! Wearing a tattered, black shroud and wielding a gigantic clock arm for a weapon are just icing on the cake.
While there's not much more to discuss in terms of this ghost's story, the best part of this entry is why it's really our last one: because this episode debuted only days ago! I've mentioned a few times that the latest season is only airing as I write these, but if you've been having fun with these reviews, maybe it feels even more fun to really see that this is a franchise still charging along at full speed. If you read this on Halloween 2021, you basically just caught up with the actual Korean fandom, and if you're reading this months or years later, I already know there's been more for me to talk about, because they've already teased a fair number of new ghosts I'll either round up come wintertime or save for next year!
We're still not done, though: stay tuned for a final bonus post!