The world of gaming is no stranger to complaints about excessive violence, and there are certainly critics of sexism and misogyny, but it turns out that even Mario isn’t immune to criticism.
No, it’s not a string of complaints about Italian stereotyping, but rather a protest from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). They are objecting to Mario’s appearance in Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS in which he brings back an outfit from Super Mario Bros 3.
The outfit is a Tanooki suit, based on the Japanese tanuki, which Westerners would know as a raccoon dog. According to PETA, while the outfit may appear cute, it wrongfully sends a message that wearing fur is OK. The group notes that in the real world, tanuki are treated cruelly: they aren’t simply killed for their fur, but skinned alive.
To promote their cause, the group has produced a spoof “Super Tanooki Skin 2D” game in which a skinned tanuki has to chase down Mario, and reclaim its blood-soaked fur.
Nintendo Life has a different take on things, giving a lengthy history of how the tanuki is part of Japanese culture: “a mischievous animal that is full of joy, but it’s also thought to be capable of being a master of disguise with legendary shape-shifting abilities. It notes that statues of tanuki are popular across Japan and are common in children’s toys and cartoons.
The Nintendo “Tanooki” appears in at least four other games, though admittedly in those cases the creatures are somewhat more intact than with the latest release.