Fungi and Fun Gals


I’m back on a Mario kick this week. Wait, does Mario kick? I know he punches in Super Mario 64. Oh, wait, he kicks Koopa shells.

First, I wanted to look at another Mario mini-movie, Mario to Yoshi no Daibouken Land, or Mario and Yoshi’s Adventure Land.

It’s a short anime adaptation of Super Mario World to be used with the Bandai Terebikko, a device used to answer simple questions throughout the video. From what I understand, the Terebikko gets signals from the VCR to tell whether you got the right answer.

The plot is a basic retelling of the game’s plot, and uses the music and map from the game. Mario and Luigi take a plane to Dinosaur Land, which here has its own airport. According to the opening of the later Super Mario Advance 2, they got there in a hot air balloon, which doesn’t require the prehistoric country to be that modern.

All of the Koopalings show up, most of them pretty briefly. Iggy has a bit of dialogue, while Lemmy appears just in time to be beaten up by Mario. The others are all together in a single castle on Chocolate Island. In the Forest of Illusion, the brothers meet up with some nasty trees who try to trick them. Get a load of these expressions.

There’s even a little bit of tension when Luigi gets mad at Mario for making fun of him, and Yoshi has to talk him into continuing the journey. I found it interesting that Yoshi has a voice similar to the babyish one in the American SMW cartoon. Iggy, on the other hand, has a much deeper one. Princess Peach also has red hair instead of blonde, bringing her more in line with her Western portrayal at the time.

It uses several game mechanics that aren’t present in the American animated series, including other Yoshis, with no cave people.

Speaking of Oogtar, there was an interesting note in an interview I read a few years ago that the character was originally named Bartzan, a combination of Bart Simpson and Tarzan.

This was in the early days of The Simpsons, so we’re talking about the catchphrase-spouting Bart here. It was presumably changed for legal reasons, and without that we wouldn’t have had Bowser’s line, “Oogtar spelled backwards is rat goo.” Oogtar seems to have been sort of a replacement for Toad, the explanation I’ve seen being that they only had the rights to use characters from that particular game (plus their own, I guess), and there weren’t any Toads in it.

Picture by RetroUniverseArt
He even had the same voice actor, John Stocker. Toad in the Super Show had the similar trait of using “dude” and related slang a lot, although I think that was toned down somewhat for the Super Mario Bros. 3 series.

An interesting thing I read about Toad is that he wasn’t conceived as having a specific gender, which ties into how all of the Toads in The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach were portrayed as female. According to a 2014 interview with Koichi Hayashida, “we never really went out of our way to decide on the sex of these characters, even though they have somewhat gendered appearances.” And Shigeru Miyamoto has said, “Actually, when we made the original Toad, we didn’t really have in mind whether Toad was a boy or  a girl…and then ever since Toadtette has started appearing in games, I think people have come to take the impression that Toad was a boy because Toadette was a girl.” I don’t know whether this was true in Japanese, but in English sources, Toad was considered male long before anyone had conceived of Toadette.

In the English manual for SMB2, the first game to present Toad as an individual character, the character is referred to with male pronouns. But so is Samus in the original Metroid manual, so make of that what you will. And this is also the same manual that infamously said Birdo “thinks he is a girl.” I’ve noticed that American writers tend to think of male as the default, although perhaps this is now changing. This gendering is also the case in the cartoons, and his voice, while squeaky, is still identifiably masculine. Still, it’s true that THE Toad doesn’t have any specific gender markings, unlike Toadsworth with his mustache, or Jolene from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door with her hair and heels.

But then, in more recent games, there’s a trend toward ignoring individual Toads in favor of presenting them as more or less interchangeable.

Well, except for Toadette, who shows up quite a bit. I had asked earlier why she wasn’t playable in the New Super Mario Bros. games, but then she was in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe for Switch.

She can also get a power-up that gives her Peach’s appearance and abilities, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but led to a lot of memes and fanart.

That’s all old news, but I sometimes feel it necessary to respond to myself from the past. I think Yoshis are also all referred to as male in English sources, even though they lay eggs and otherwise don’t have any gender-specific characteristics. Well, unless you count Yoshi’s mother from a Japanese guide for the puzzle game Yoshi, who has eyelashes.

And if you thought Yoshi’s mom was Luigi, I found some art by Sigyoshi that addresses this.

Hayashida has also said Toad and Toadette are neither siblings or lovers, just friends. He was talking about Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker at the time, though, and he elsewhere confirmed that Captain Toad isn’t the same as the main Toad. I assume Toadette isn’t related or in a relationship with either Toad or Captain Toad, but it’s not entirely clear. And while Toad has always been associated with the Mushroom Retainers from SMB1, we don’t know that he’s actually one of the ones you save in that game. A 1993 Nintendo character guide that I’ve mentioned before, he was visiting relatives in the Fungus Federation during Bowser’s takeover.

Of course, other things in that guide have since been contradicted, and I don’t think anything else Mario-related has mentioned said Federation. When I searched for it on Google, I found stuff about a mycological club in Santa Cruz, California. So there you have it. Toad was visiting Santa Cruz. I wonder if he got to ride the Giant Dipper. Seriously, my thought was that the Federation could be another name for the Mushroom World, the seven kingdoms visited in SMB3.

There’s also been an official answer on whether the mushroom caps are hats or parts of their heads; they’re the latter, as I believe I originally thought. I suspect it was largely the DiC cartoons that promoted the alternate interpretation.

But I guess Nintendo still likes to play with the idea. For instance, I recently noticed this in Paper Mario: The Origami King.

I’ve also seen this one around the Internet, which I believe is from Mario Party: The Top 100.

And what shoud we make of this from World 6 of SMB1 in Super Mario All-Stars (screen capture from the same channel as the anime video).

Is this not six Mushroom Retainers sharing one cap? I guess they could also have individual caps underneath that. By the way, this is what Toad’s skeleton looks like, according to Super Mario Strikers.

How he can hear music through that thing, I don’t know.

My unnecessary compromise is that the caps are indeed part of the Toads’ heads, but they can also be removed with no ill effects. If there are turtles who can remove their shells, then why not?

This entry was posted in Art, Cartoons, Conspiracy Theories, Gender, Humor, Magic, Mario, Metroid, Monsters, Music, Relationships, Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Technology, Television, The Simpsons, Video Games and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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