Saturday, October 23, 2010

31 favorite monsters: the Bugboy

I used to be called "bug boy" all the time in grade school, so I can relate to Hideshi Hino's creation of the same name. Despised even by his parents, the sad and misunderstood Sanpei prefers the company of insects over humans, but when he gets stung by a bizarre and unidentified caterpillar, he undergoes a long and agonizing transformation:

After months of rotting in his own skin and praying for death, Sanpei hardens into a humanoid chrysalis and emerges as a happy, healthy, bug-eyed maggot creature, flees his family and moves to the city sewers, where he eventually discovers that he has a lethal sting and goes mad with newfound power:

Sadly, Sanpei's fulfilling new life as a feared monster takes a turn for the worst by the end of the Manga, but that's to be expected from a Hino story; the man's entire career is built on grotesque manga with grotesque endings, and it's his child characters who suffer the worst - an artist after my own heart.

31 favorite monsters: Gudis

I was going to write at some point about the monster Majaba and its significance to my childhood, but as you can see I've already blathered about that extensively, so let's talk about another monster I love from Ultraman Great - GUDIS!

GUDIS was the very first monster appearing in the series, and easily pummeled by our giant, silver superhero - or so it seemed. Before it could be killed, Gudis transformed itself into a sentient virus, basically its true form, and spread throughout the planet Earth, infecting random lifeforms and transforming them into the giant monsters Ultraman would face for the entire first half of the series.

Gudis would eventually piece itself into a new monster form, equally bizarre in appearance, and successfully absorb Ultraman into itself. The two proceeded to debate about ethics and the environment before Ultraman exploded from the monster's body, finally destroying it. Both forms have a lovably alien appearance, though I have to say I prefer the exposed brain and bug-teeth of the first one.

My figure of Majaba came from the short run of "Ultraman Great" toys released in America, which incorrectly described all the series monsters as Gudis creations. I now know that Majaba and many of the others appeared after the defeat of Gudis, though either way, why didn't he get a figure in the same line? If he had, I daresay I may have chosen him first over the Majaba figure, and perhaps developed just as much attachment. Gudis is my gross little monster pal that could have been...

31 favorite monsters: the Helmeted Bird Demon

Heironymus Bosch was a 14th century surrealist most famous for his hauntingly bizarre depictions of hell, particularly in his triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. With the human mind's natural fascination for darkness and horror, the hell panel has become more iconic and well known than the two paintings it was attached to, and was even used as a hellscape in The Simpsons. Of all the outlandish critters frolicking in his grisly netherworld, however, my favorite Bosch creation is this little guy from the bottom corner:

There's something about the combination of undersized bird's head, pudgy human legs and sinister-looking helmet that comes out much more disturbing than any of these traits rightfully should be, and the fact that this otherwise whimsical little critter wears a severed human foot just for the hell of it is especially unnerving. Our more popular image of a "demon" as some bull-horned, hooved ogre or clawed succubus may look a lot more "dangerous," but Bosch's creations look like a sickly infant's delirious nightmares. Their absurdity contributes to a sense of wrongness that just screams evil in a way that snarling imps and red skinned satyrs can never achieve.

...And I don't even want to know what's going on with the slutty pig-nun and the paperwork.