Shinbi's Apartment Ghost Reviews:
Toxic Pollen!

Written by Jonathan Wojcik

direct video link

SEASON 04, EPISODE 11: four seasons and five years in, Shinbi's Apartment at long last tackles a zombie plague. Granted, we've seen mass possession and ghostly infections before, but this is the whole full-blown contagious ghoulishness spread by bite, with one of the darkest clips we've been able to share in a few episodes now, as Hari and Doori's parents succumb to the transformation right on their anniversary day.

It's the dad's delusion of the clapping crowd that really sells this scene. Sad and creepy, but...I'm sorry to say also pretty humorous. That isn't a bad thing. It can be all of those things.

What's interesting about these zombies is that they seem to be created first by some kind of airborne infection...but it's not a virus, bacterium, fungus, protozoan or parasitic animal, but plant pollen! That's a pretty rare choice! I can't even remember the last time I came across an entirely plant-borne zombie scenario.

These zombies get much wilder, too, because when the kids track the pollen to its source, a horde of infected ghouls abruptly fuse together to protect their creator:

WOW! Now there's the grotesque kind of imagery we're here for! Diseased human beings melting together into a big, bloated corpse monsters with goopy skin, extra arms jutting out of their flesh, extra eyeballs that can sprout apparently anywhere, even extra mouths in their torsos! So cool and so ghastly, I'm willing to overlook that they repeated some design traits among them that were clearly conceived as "random" deformities. Very "Resident Evil!"

...But what, exactly, is generating pollen that can do this to people? I went back and forth on wether I should really combine these into one review, but, I think we can consider the zombies to be an "ability" of this episode's spirit, even if they are, in fact, given their own distinct entry as a collectible monster.

The pollen is, surprisingly, all coming from just a single tiny herb, each of its little white flowers bearing what looks like a pink-tinged human eyeball. Marvelous, but sadly not indicative of the spirit's actual design:

"Toxic Pollen" actually has a lot in common with Sarmigwi from a couple of episodes ago, and in fact, it seems to represent the rage of one of the same spirits; either a more advanced Sarmigwi or an entity it was answering to. It manifests as a giant, wooden demon with the same green "tongues," but now erupting from the mouth-like cavity in its chest. Its head resembles a anged and four-horned skull, and around its neck is a gigantic mane of white flower petals.


Sarmigwi had alluded to an event in which the ghosts haunting a village were driven away by exorcists, but only now do we learn who these ghosts were: the victims of a deadly plague, lead by the soul of their village herbalist.

Deep in the mountains, the man had collected a single sample of a rare flower he knew could save the entire community, but as he returned home, men from a neighboring village thought it would be easier to take it from him than to hunt for the flower themselves. He fell to his death in the ensuing struggle, knowing his loved ones would suffer and die from the disease as his killers made off with the only cure.

Eventually joined by the souls of his dead wife, children, friends and neighbors, the enraged spirit exacted its revenge by possessing the herb itself, corrupting its medicinal pollen into an even more horrific contagion that transformed the rival village - and anyone else seeking the plant's benefits - into mindless monsters. These were the events that would catch the attention of the Dark Exorcists, who sided only with the living and banished the tormented dead. Why? I'd imagine because the living are the ones with the money, but this season of Shinbi is only half finished; Toxic Pollen is the mid-boss antagonist of this story arc, and we won't know the true nature of the Dark Exorcists until the next dozen episodes pass!


This is a pretty cool double serving of new monsters. We get to see bizarre plague zombies that can fuse into one another, and they're the result of cursed pollen from a haunted plant with a satisfyingly grim tale to tell!

The ghost's final design isn't as interesting to me as it could have been, but I guess we've already had a ghost in this series that was just a giant, monstrous flower, and they wanted to do something different. The visual effect of a gnarly demon guy with giant pretty flower petals is pretty unique, however, actually kind of adorable. I'll give him strong points on aesthetic for being objectively creative and distinct, even if he's not the weirder, less human sort of plant monster I'm all about. Otherwise, he'd be another 5/5 across the board!