Merry Christmas to you all…well in UK time, I don’t know about everyone else. Today on this merry occasion, I present to you, a movie review, I haven’t done that since the AVGN Movie (Which I may need to see again).
Well, since Nintendo are preparing to make movies based on their franchises, I might want to talk about it. For me, I wouldn’t mind seeing a:
Super Mario Movie
The Legend of Zelda (Obviously)
How about Mach Rider, like a Mad Max-like film for kids
Startropics, a quirky adventure for kids
Fire Emblem, a dramatic fantasy war film (I don’t know, I’ve never played the games as of yet)
Star Fox (After seeing the short cartoon for Star Fox Zero, it has huge potential)
Donkey Kong (minus the Dong…then it wouldn’t be feature length, OK, we need the Dong)
All these franchises have potential for movies or even TV series and I hope that if they do make movies, they’re enjoyable and remain faithful to their source materials…well, this is Nintendo, they at least respect their franchises…even if most have been abandoned.
But there has been a franchise from The Big N that has been on the big screen, Super Mario Bros.. I’ll review it one day, but lets just say, I have mixed feelings about it.
But what if I told you that this wasn’t Mario’s first outing on the big screen…kind of. Yes, in Japan there was already a Super Mario anime movie that not a lot of people know, but I’ve seen it on YouTube and never took a look at it…UNTIL NOW!!! Super Mario Bros.: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach! (スーパーマリオブラザーズ ピーチ姫救出大作戦! Sūpā Mario Burazāzu: Pīchi-hime Kyūshutsu Dai Sakusen!), it was released only in Japan in 1986. Production Companies include Holly Planning Production, Kyoto Animation, Grouper Productions, Horipro and Nippon Television Music.
Now here’s where this gets interesting. From what I’ve researched, the movie had a limited release at Sochiku theaters, it played alongside a guide on how to be good at Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels since it was a tie-in to that game. There were commercials for merchandise based on the movie, these included Furikake (rice topping), ramen, watches, cameras and phone cards. In the movie, there was even some blatant product placement, showcasing the Furikake and ramen.
And here’s the weird part, in terms of box office sales, that’s a complete and utter mystery. The anime was released on VHS and Betamax cassette tapes, distributed by VAP Video, but these copies are so limited it’s hard to find any of these tapes. Apparently there was a Laserdisc copy released in 1990, though I can’t find too many sources about it so take it with a pinch of salt with that fact. For some reason, despite being a Mario property, the movie was never re-released, not for overseas, not for DVD, not for Blu-Ray, not even a re-release for Japan, and yet the live action movie does have a DVD release and a Blu-Ray release? The VHS original is a collector’s item, but the manga that also tied in to the movie, is the Holy Grail compared to the VHS tape. During the release of the movie, a soundtrack was released that feature tracks from the movie and a Picture Book, these are also rare.
Why has this movie been in the dark? I mean, this is Super Mario, Nintendo will throw everything at you that’s Mario, they’ll show you their history in any way shape or form…but not this? Who knows? Since you have no way of getting the original release, you can watch it on YouTube, I watched the original Japanese Dub with English Subtitles…no, I’m not a weeaboo…seriously, the internet has a name for EVERYTHING!
One night, Mario is playing a game on his Famicom. Suddenly, Princess Peach is running away from enemies and jumps out of the TV along with the enemies. Mario instantly falls over heels for Peach. But Bowser (known as Koopa in the movie and his name in the game series in Japan) also jumps out from the TV, kidnaps Peach and jumps back into the TV, with Peach pleading for Mario’s help. Mario is upset about this but finds Peach’s necklace. Luigi asks what happened and Mario explains the predicament, to which Luigi laughs due to not believing in him.
The next day, Mario and Luigi do their daily job at their shop. Mario looks at the necklace, but when Luigi sees it, he tells Mario that this is known as “The Visionary Jewel from the Country of Treasure”, Luigi gets excited and says that they should go to the Country of Treasure, but they don’t know where it is. A dog, known as Kibidango, takes the necklace and Mario and Luigi chases after him and they enter a pipe that takes them to the Mushroom Kingdom.
They meet an elderly hermit Kinoko Sennin, who tells the brothers about how Bowser has taken over the Mushroom Kingdom and is forcing Princess Peach to marry him on Friday the 13th (I guess Bowser has specific priorities). Bowser uses his magic to turn the residents into blocks and plants. In order for the brothers to save the Princess and the kingdom, they must find three magical items, a mushroom, a flower and a star (you know where this is going). So Mario, Luigi and Kibidango travel all through the kingdom to collect the items and rescue the Princess from Bowser.
Mario surprisingly has a personality, he’s can be hot-headed at times but when it comes to Peach and needing to rescue her, he has determination, though at first he’s near cowardly when confronting Bowser for the first time. Mario being cowardly? SUCH HERESY!
Luigi is enough the highlight for me, since he’s near enough the comic relief, because the Mushroom Kingdom has tons of coins, Luigi’s only concern is getting coins and gold and gets overjoyed when he gets or finds them. This is the only time we see him like this since in the games, especially later over the years, he became a more cowardly character.
Peach is the Princess of the Mushroom Kingdom, she…well she’s doesn’t really have any unique character traits other than being a Princess, she does try to trick Bowser at one point but without success, but that’s about it.
Bowser is also played for laughs but is mostly a generic villain as what you’d expect from Bowser anyway.
There are other characters that do appear in the games like Goombas and Koopa Troopas.
But this movie has moments that have been used for future Mario games, like a flying ship, big enemies and Kuribo’s Shoe for Super Mario Bros. 3, the way Mario defeats Bowser would be used in Super Mario 64 and Bowser turning into a scarecrow that could be the inspiration for how enemies can turn you into a scarecrow in Super Mario RPG.
There have been a few music tracks in the movie, but mostly consisting of 80’s J-Pop tracks that sound very cringey and along with the lyrics don’t exactly make it any better.
Overall, despite the very simple plot, lacking of interesting and near underdeveloped characters (apart from Luigi), the blatant product placement, along with weird backgrounds that don’t fit the universe (though I understand why), this is still highly faithful to the original source material and has all the elements that make it a Mario movie that works compared to the live-action counterpart.
But don’t let the one hour-length fool you as I think it’s the perfect running time for a movie like this…come on, what could you do with a 90+ minute Mario movie? It’s a shame that this movie remains unseen by many, though you can watch it on YouTube, there are many videos that show the movie in full, they have English Sub/Japanese Sub or the other way round, whatever version you watch, it’s going to be an hour long of Mario fun.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE FROM THE EVERY GAMER!