Previously: Jack O’ Lantern.
Type: CC (Corporeally Challenged).
Period/location of origin: It is generally accepted that subject, known as Aka Manto (赤マント) or the Red Cloak, first appeared in the 1930s in Japan. However, both the time frame and the precise region of origin are not fixed: Numerous theories exist that shift the time frame, specify differing regions, or both. It is unknown which, if any, of these origin stories is true.
Appearance: Subject appears to be a tall, humanoid figure clad in a red cape or cloak. It is frequently hooded, as well as typically masked. Due to this mask, subject’s face is presented to targets not as a human face, but as an expressionless, white blank. According to some reports, beneath the mask lies a handsome, characteristically male face, but there is no consensus as to whether this is actually the case.
Subject habitually occupies public restrooms, although the nature of the restroom varies by report. Sometimes the restroom is specifically a school restroom; sometimes it is an especially run-down restroom, the condition of which sets it apart from other restrooms in the vicinity (particularly in the event that the restroom is also a school restroom); and sometimes, subject is said to occupy a particular stall — the last one in the row.
Any or all of these details may change at any moment.
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Modus operandi: Subject lies in wait until a target presents themself. Should target enter subject’s restroom, enter a stall, do their business, and find upon completion that there is no toilet paper in the stall, subject will then make itself known vocally: Subject will ask target, “Red paper or blue paper?” (Note: Target will not necessarily know where the owner of this mysterious voice is positioned relative to themself. They could be outside the door; they could be in the next stall over, either to the right or left; or, their directionality may simply not be possible to discern.)
One of the following will then occur, depending on target’s choice:
- Should target ask for red paper: They will immediately be sliced to bits, as if they had been attacked with a knife or other sharp object, and will subsequently expire. Their body later will be found within the stall, covered in lacerations, soaked in blood, and occasionally flayed.
- Should target ask for blue paper: Every ounce of blood will immediately be drained from their body, leading to their subsequent expiration. Their body will later be found within the stall, bloodless, cold, and blue.
Some accounts report slight variations in subject’s reaction to target’s choice. For instance, should target ask for blue paper, it is possible that, rather than drain target’s blood from their body, subject will instead strangle or otherwise asphyxiate target. The result, however, is essentially the same: Target will later be found within the stall, dead and blue.
Other possible reactions subject may have to target’s choice include allowing the target to survive, but permanently dyeing their skin the color of the paper they chose; allowing the target to escape, but later causing them to fall ill and die; touching or licking target; or dragging target to the underworld, frequently through the restroom’s plumbing.
Subject may also present target with slightly different choices. According to reports, variations include “Red paper or white paper?” and “Red paper or purple paper?”
Whether subject is directly responsible for the stall chosen by target being out of paper in the first place has not been determined.
Containment: Subject is notoriously difficult to contain. The following suggested methods have been found to be ineffectual, as evinced by targets’ failure to survive an encounter with subject after deploying them:
- Asking for a different color paper: Should targets ask subject for a color of paper not specified in the original question, subject will still react in such a way as to cause target’s death. For example, should target ask for yellow paper, subject will force target’s head into the toilet bowl, causing them to drown.
- Bringing additional paper: Should target bring a roll of paper with them into the restroom, they will find it to have vanished mysteriously by the time they need it — that is, they will presented with a situation in which they have no paper and must respond to subject’s question, whether they like it or not.
It is NOT recommended that these failed methods be deployed. Further research into them is not necessary.
According to some reports, the following methods may prove effectual against subject:
- Asking for purple paper: In instances where subject has demanded target choose between red and purple paper, choosing purple paper will result in subject allowing target to escape unharmed. Use ONLY when asked to choose between red and purple paper; asking for purple paper when required to choose between red and either white or blue paper will be treated in the manner described under “Asking for a different color paper” above.
- Asking for no paper: In some cases, stating that one has no need for any paper may confuse or distract subject long enough to allow target to escape. However, there exists the possibility that subject will recover before target is able to exit the restroom, or that subject will simply block the door and prevent target from escaping in the first place. Use with caution.
They only failsafe way to avoid encountering subject is simply never to enter a restroom known to harbor subject in the first place.
Additional notes: Tracing accounts and stories of subject throughout the 20th and 21st centuries reveal that subject’s MO has changed considerably over time.
Reports of subject may be traced to the 1930s, although at the time, subject did not occupy and ensnare targets in public restrooms, but rather existed as a sort of bogeyman figure dressed in a red cloak who kidnapped children.
It has been proposed that an allegedly unsolved murder, Aogetto no Satsujinjiken (青ゲットの殺人事件), may have something to do with subject’s rise to attention. On Feb. 11, 1906 in what is now Sakai City, Fukui Prefecture, a man in his mid-30s wearing a blue blanket allegedly lured several people away from their home and the store they operated with a story about a sick family member, then reportedly murdered them. There is no definitive proof that this alleged case — which may itself be a rumor; the record is… hazy — contributed directly to subject’s rise, but the similarities between its details and subject’s earliest MO are enough to raise a few eyebrows. Notably, it’s a nod to an infrequently-referenced variation on subject’s name: Aoi Manto, or Blue Cloak.
Stories have also circulated in which subject itself is absent, but in which subject’s MO may be observed. These stories, which date to the 1950s, are set up similarly (a target enters a public restroom, shuts themself in a stall, and finds themself needing to answer a question about the color of paper) and include almost identical denouements (target dies horribly in a manner dictated by their choice); however, rather than being actively attacked by a figure in a red cloak, targets find their wounds simply… appearing. There is no mention of subject itself — only the actions later ascribed to subject. These stories are referred to not by subject’s modern name, but as Akaikami, Aoikami, or Red Paper, Blue Paper.
It is therefore possible that subject’s current form is a hybrid of these two previous forms — the child-snatching bogeyman and the phantom Akaikami, Aoikami story.
Recommendation: If there’s a rumor about a particular restroom at your school — don’t use it.
/赤マント (Aka Manto. Tn Japanese).
赤い紙、青い紙 (Red Paper, Blue Paper. In Japanese).
現代妖怪図鑑 (Modern Yokai Picture Book. In Japanese).
Summary Of The Urban Legend Aka Manto (in Japanese).
都市伝説、謎の「赤マント」と元ネタとなった殺人事件とは (What Is The Urban Legend Aka Manto And The Original Murder Case? In Japanese).
都市伝説になった「青ゲットの殺人事件」 (Aogetto no Satsujinjiken Which Became An Urban Legend. In Japanese).
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[Photo via Allodium/Pixabay]