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Mario Odyssey 2 Can Bring Back The Mario Anime’s Weirdest Character

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Super Mario Odyssey brought back forgotten elements of Mario’s past with New Donk City, and a sequel could dive deeper with the anime’s dog Kibidango.

If Nintendo produces a sequel to Super Mario Odyssey, it has a chance to bring back the strangest character from the 1986 Mario anime, Kibidango the talking blue dog. This would be a fitting deep cut to follow up the prior game’s precedent of re-introducing legacy characters. In Mario Odyssey’s New Donk City sequence, the game brought back older, largely ignored elements of Mario lore, making both Pauline and Donkey Kong part of the mainline Mario canon. Pauline was the US-territory name for the woman Donkey Kong took hostage in the original Donkey Kong video game a few years before the introduction of Princess Peach in Super Mario Bros. Kibidango was an original character from the anime film Super Mario Bros. – The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach. Bringing this bizarre character into Mario Odyssey 2 would be a novel bit of fanservice for Japan’s longtime Mario fans, as well as international audiences who have seen the anime’s more recent remasters, and fit the gonzo tone established in the first game.

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It’s almost a given that Super Mario Odyssey is the best Mario game on Nintendo’s newest hardware, but it is also one of the very best Switch games overall, and easily the best 3D Mario title to date. The game’s refined 3D action-platforming is a treat for gamers of all skill levels, and it incorporated retro-throwback 2D platforming sequences that paid homage to Mario’s origins. The whimsical storytelling, while still minimalist by the standards of modern cinematic games, was considerably more fleshed out than early Mario titles, where most of the story was in the instruction manual, and the game itself might feature a few stray lines of dialogue. Mario Odyssey wisely took time to detour from a focus on the story at hand, which included the new character of Cappy and Bowser’s latest plot to forcibly marry Princess Peach, to acknowledge Mario’s earliest gaming adventures where his nemesis was Donkey Kong and the damsel in distress was Pauline.


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Nintendo has made use of more obscure Mario characters sporadically in other games, like Princess Daisy and the alien menace Tatanga from the original Game Boy’s Super Mario Land, who have been featured in Nintendo sports titles and referenced in Smash Bros. games. A sequel to Super Mario Oddysey can go further, reaching to more obscure material like the 1986 anime film. Some gamers find it odd when Mario characters speak in full sentences, but the anime featured this just one year after the release of the original Super Mario Bros. The anime resembles what modern audiences might consider Mario canon even less than the 1993 live action film. While playing a video game on the Famicom (Japan’s equivalent of the NES), Mario first encounters Princess Peach and King Koopa leaping out of his television set. Peach leaves behind a necklace and pleads with Mario to save her, and then the film’s true strangeness sets in.


Mario Odyssey 2 Can Acknowledge Kibidango’s Single Anime Appearance


Mario Odyssey 2 Can Bring Back The Mario Anime's Weirdest Character - Mario anime

Mario and Luigi are depicted as grocery store employees in the anime, not plumbers. The talking blue dog Kibigando interrupts the brothers at work, snatching the necklace Peach left behind, prompting the heroes to follow him into the desert. The dog leads them through pipes that connect to the Mushroom Kingdom where they meet a wizard-like figure, also an original creation for the anime. This wise hermit instructs them to obtain three objects of power needed to defeat King Koopa: the super mushroom, the fire flower, and the super star. Fans would have recognized these as the iconic power up items from the original Super Mario Bros., as the movie was released two years before Doki Doki Panic became Super Mario Bros. 2 for overseas audiences. The anime deviated from the norm in many other ways, from small details like Luigi’s yellow shirt, to major changes, like King Koopa being depicting as capable of shape-shifting. Kibidango himself is still the most distinctive part of this strange bit of Mario history, and he provides the best opportunity for a callback in Super Mario Odyssey 2.


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Mario and Luigi were given characteristics that seem exclusive to the 1986 anime. Mario is portrayed as an eternal romantic, determined to rescue the woman who called his name from his television screen (as might be expected of Mario’s red costume), while eternally green Luigi is cast as the greedier brother, fixated on gathering as many of the fantastical world’s golden coins as possible. The later introduction of Wario would provide a character centered around greed and the lure of gold, and Luigi would of course go on to have his own adventures in the world of parapsychology, hunting ghosts in Luigi’s Mansion. The anime reaches its climax when Mario uses the three items of power to become the true Super Mario, and lays into King Koopa with a series of super-powered punches. The film’s final twist comes when King Koopa’s curse is lifted, restoring Kibidango to his true form as Prince Haru of the Flower Kingdom. Mario may be Peach’s destined hero, but Prince Haru is her fiancé – at least in the anime. Super Mario Odyssey included clever Easter eggs in the Mushroom Kingdom, but none of them referenced this particularly odd chapter in the character’s history.


Bringing Kibidango Into Odyssey 2 Could Give Mario A Romantic Rival


Mario Odyssey 2 Can Bring Back The Mario Anime's Weirdest Character - Kibidango and Prince Haru

Some early concept art for Mario Odyssey suggested the game would include an area based on Sarasa Land, Princess Daisy’s kingdom from Super Mario Land. A return to the setting of Mario’s first Game Boy adventure would be a welcome homage to one of the few Mario games that has not been remastered and re-released across various iterations of Nintendo hardware, but bringing in the prince-turned-dog from the obscure anime would be a far deeper cut, showing Nintendo is perfectly willing to wink at Mario’s strange past.

The anime featured offbeat scenes like Mario sprinkling Mario-branded ramen flakes on rice, a scene of Luigi drinking saké, and King Koopa taking over the brothers’ job at the grocery store in an inexplicable post-credits scene. Mario has been battling Bowser for Princess Peach’s affections for decades across various video games, television series, and films, and Mario 35 players killed 1.5 million Bowsers in that single game. A Super Mario Odyssey sequel can bring back Prince Haru of the Flower Kingdom in his Kibidango form to return Mario’s other romantic rival to the series’ canon, and remind gamers of one of the strangest chapters in Mario’s history.


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