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PeTA Upset With Mario Over His Tanooki Suit

Super Tanooki Skin 2D.jpg

Update: Nintendo has its say. Check it out after the jump.

You read that right, folks.

Why is PeTA so upset with Mario's Tanooki Suit - his magical flying raccoon suit that's been a fan favourite from Super Mario Bros. 3 all the way through Super Mario 3D Land? According to a press release quoted in Industry Gamers, it's because Mario's wearing of the "skin of a raccoon dog" is "sending the message that it's OK to wear fur." PeTA's reaction has been to engineer a grotesque flash game riff on the Super Mario Bros. series in which you play as an epidermis-less raccoon dog chasing after Mario - who is wearing your bloody skin on his back like a cape. To make things even more disturbing, the entire landscape looks like some sort of Lovecraft-cum-Clive Barker nightmare, soaked in blood and skin.

Whether PeTA is being serious about this (after all, who really believes that the Tanooki Suit represents the pelt of a dead animal? And where's the outrage over Mario stomping all those helpless turtles?) or whether it's an attempt to grab some headlines is my question in all of this. PeTA's been pretty consistent with the "fur is murder" bit, but this seems more than a bit...well...I guess I just don't get it. What do you guys think?

[Image credit: Forbes]


Eurogamer is reporting that Nintendo has issued an official comment on the PeTA...erm...controversy?

"Mario often takes the appearance of certain animals and objects in his games," a spokesperson told Eurogamer.

"These have included a frog, a penguin, a balloon and even a metallic version of himself. These lighthearted and whimsical transformations give Mario different abilities and make his games fun to play.

"The different forms that Mario takes make no statement beyond the games themselves."

[via: Industry Gamers]


Adrian said:

Geez, I'm fed up with PeTA and their stupid sh*t. Srsly, if they are going to attack something as silly as this, at least they should get their facts straight. First of all, it's spelled tanuki, not tanooki. It's a japanese word, with a perfect english translation, raccoon, they should use that instead.

Second of all, if they don't understand the mythological origins of why it's a tanuki suit (and why you got it through a leaf the frist time it appeared....20 years ago), they are ignorant as hell attacking something without understanding it completely, but then again, I guess I couldn't expect more from them.

The tanuki suit originated in the mario bros 3 for NES because in japanese mythology, tanuki (raccoons) are super natural beings who enjoy pranks and mischief, along with the foxes. They used leafs in their heads to transform in order to camouflage in plain sight to avoid being spotted, hence the ability to turn into a statue in the original appearance of the suit in Mario Bros. 3 and why the power up was represented with a leaf, and that is that, no hidden purpose other than to camouflage yourself as a statute.

Srsly, PeTA has done more harm than good for animals overall, they fund terrorism, they'd rather have all the dog and pets roam free in the street without food and shelter if they ever need one, breed out of control and even ban all medicine breakthroughs that have come through animal testing (like insuline) , I for one couldn't care less about this publicity stunt. While I agree that we shouldn't hurt animals for something like fashion when we can have something synthetic, this is damaging to the cause rather than helping it. It's a videogame, of a plumber jumping through a kingdom made of mushrooms to save a princess from a turtle, if you are an activist, this should not be at the top of your priorities.

gogoedward said:

After the Cooking Mama nonsense I put absolutely nothing past them.

I wonder how they feel about Billy Hatcher.

hellanicus said:

Peta runs a dog shelter that kills more dogs than any other shelter in the entire U.S. No one who is really interested in animal rights supports them. They are like the Westboro Baptist church of animal rights. They have done more harm than good and they waste their money on ineffective cultural manipulations like this.

tropicofanatics said:

Watching Mario wear the tanooki suit has NEVER made me want to wear furs, fucking SCHMUCKS.

KC said:

I dunno. I'm not really that offended.

The whole protest seems rather silly. I do give props to PETA for putting so much effort & creativity towards a cause.

I'd actually love to see a Westboro Baptist Flash game done as well as the PETA ones. Am I weird for feeling some thrill at the idea of video games battling with ideas?

Rosa said:


I'm going to call this massive win for PETA on basically every level.

LEVEL 1: Exposure.

What PETA wants is exposure for their message. This is the single goal that they have. For every twenty people who turn up their nose, there's two who say "well I like their message though they're a little militant for me," and one who goes "you know, I think they have a point."

Gamers (and geeks in general) are basically the most defensive motherfuckers on the planet. Just look at how much we care about what Roger Ebert thinks of video games, and how many gamers think that he's a big stupid old stupidhead despite being a Pulitzer winner and one of the most forward thinking men of his generation when it comes to technology. And we don't love ANYBODY as much as we love Mario. So PETA making it look like they're attacking Mario as a person is sure to get them instant and widespread exposure. I think about 96% of their hits -- or more -- have come from offended articles just like this one. I only follow two gaming sites, and I saw this story on both.

So, LEVEL 1: exposure. Success.

LEVEL 2: Awareness.

I had no idea that racoon dogs were kept in Chinese fur farms and literally skinned alive for their fur until this campaign started up. I was curious just what they were making a big deal about -- because I knew there was no way they actually gave a "flying" fuck that a cartoon plumber wears animal skins. Naturally, they're trying to use his name to draw attention a larger issue.

Not everyone who plays this little game and reads these articles is going to google racoon dogs and be horrified by what happens in Chinese fur farms. Of those that do, most will just think it's very sad and move on. But *I* googled it, and now *I* know. I'll probably tell my sister, who's really into animal rights stuff -- I'm not really, I support the Seal Hunt and so forth, I just don't like the mistreatment in the meat/fur industry, but she is. And she'll probably tell her all her hippie Vancourverite friends. Who knows? Maybe there's going to be a cafe charity for these little guys in a week because PETA got exposure to raise awareness for an issue.

LEVEL 3: Enjoyment.

This game is fun!

The art style is horrifying but in a 100% commitment, stylistic, and almost cute way. It gets across the horror without taking away from the lightness of tone of the whole thing. And the game is actually INCREDIBLY enjoyable! I got a good 20 minutes of fun out of it, learning how to jump just right to beat all the various different hazards and then adapt to them coming because of the genius idea to use procedurally generated levels instead of premade, so you can't do the usual 2D Mario memorize. Every loss felt mostly fair and just made me more determined to beat it. What started out as "I'm going to check this thing out I guess" became "DAMMIT I WAS SO CLOSE AKSJAKLS ONE MORE TRY!!!"

When I finally got my skin back from that mean old Mario, I pumped my fist and wooped!

On the whole, you know what -- PETA wins this round. And we helped them do it.

Let's hope a group with EVIL intent doesn't offend us for exposure. Who knows what harm we could do with our need to defend a mascot for a soulless corporation who takes our money and pretends they're our friend :p

And that's my essay.

Rosa said:

And just for clarification: I am REALLY not into PETA. I agree with some of what they have to say -- some, faaaaaaar from all -- but their flippancy to the plight of cats and dogs and their legal ambiguity are big turn-offs. Also, they're crazy.

Doesn't make this any less genius or deserving or respect though.

Jay said:

If it were a human suit, I suppose people would probably have a different opinion, even if it was the magical offspring of a leaf rather than the skin of an actual woman.

We're desensitized to dead animals, and we're desensitized to using their skin for whatever purposes. Mario wearing the skin of an animal is both a function of and a contribution to this desensitization, of course, no different than how stereotypes work in all walks of life.

Hanjo said:

PeTA is right: Mario is worse than Hitler!

SuperSwede said:

If i were of the more conspiracy-minded bent, i might that some within PETA are little more than plants, deliberately trying to discredit animal rights folks (and doing a superb job, by the way). Instead, i take the more sensible approach that this smacks of an organization in which no one questions anything their peers do, lest (god forbid) someone raise their hand and note that such BS does nothing but make PETA look like a parody of itself.

Well done, dipsh*ts.

Xavier said:

This game is awesome!!! I beat it and stole back the racoon's fur! In 12 seconds. :D Took awhile though, the jumping doesn't feel very natural.

But still a fun game. :)

Charlie said:

I'm with Rosa this move seems to have worked. they are trying to generate buzz about the fact that their is an industry for skinning raccoon dogs (I'd never heard of the industry). They are not attacking Mario or even really protesting him but using the brand to get their cause some attention. And it worked every time gamers linked the story to complain about it.

fillerbunny9 said:

I want PETA to be dealt with in the same fashion as so many of the animals they "rescue".

apricotsushi said:

I just wanted to chime in re: Adrian to say that a tanuki isn't actually a raccoon. It's a completely different animal, so saying raccoon is "a perfect English translation" is incorrect. The closest way to describe it would be "raccoon dog."

Regardless, just this whole PETA thing is stupid, awful, etc. I can't believe anyone would take them seriously.

Kdawg said:

it was actually an ok time waster!

Kdawg said:

it was kinda fun!

Devamon said:

I've got to admit, while the game was amusing, and Rosa is correct that the actual facts and semantics of it aren't that important, given that PETA still manages to garner attention and potentially interest in the real world issue...this is stupid.

The response that comes to mind is that given the absurdity of the Mario universe, it doesn't even seem likely that this is a Tanooki (Tanuki, whatever. The English game item is called a Tanooki suit) fur of any kind. The resemblance to the creature, rather than any sort of fur coat or outfit, implies to me that this is more of a costume (same with the Frog suit and such). Complaining that this is unethical because it will make people want to purchase furs is nearly identical with claiming the same of people wearing gorilla costumes on Halloween, or horse heads, or whatever you crazy kids do these days. It's simply ludicrous to compare the two.

I never in my entire life thought of Mario wearing skins and don't know how it can possibly pass this message.

I always saw it as he was wearing a costume, just like a superhero costume or a vampire costume. And I never saw any superhero or vampire skinned so one could make a costume of them, so I don't see the point of comparing it with humans or animals. ¬_¬

In fact, when I was a small boy, I indeed thought he could really transform into Tanuki or frog (but keeping his face :P)

(Anyways, I got the skin back in 03 seconds and 60 coins! lol)

Dehnus said:

Although the Tanooki Fur trade should be banned, the Mario Tanooki is hardly fur wearing. Infact originally he got the tail and ears only from a feather. The Full Tanooki mode was something you could only find very rarely. Which also had a meditation quality of turning into a statue.

So in this thing I think PETA should STFU. And just focus on the Tanooki fur trade instead.

John said:

Why wouldn't they complain? This is what they're founded on. If it were a racial situation we would have other organizations stepping forward. Why do we downplay something Peta stands for? Rather you agree or disagree with it..the tone of this article makes it sound like this is all something stupid. It's not if they were showing Mario wearing your hairy butt on his back. Let Peta do what it does. It's like that idea that a small hole in the dam...only creates a much bigger hole if someone doesn't step up and try to block it. They can't just ignore something like this because its Mario. It is weird that he wears skins of other animals. Period.

John said:

And as far as Nintendo's statement...what else would you expect from a country that clubs dolphins regularly. I don't believe Japan as a nation cares to a great extent for anything outside of the Japanese borders.

CPFace said:

PETA once again rides the coattails of a popular video game to get people talking about them, and blogs once again feed them attention like the trolls they are. Nothing against you guys, of course; I'm just saying it's silly to give this message any more legitimacy than that.

Craig WK said:

So instead of devoting money into saving or helping animals... PETA decided to fund a poorly made violent video game?

Rahzen said:

Heh. No point getting upset. Nobody takes PETA seriously so it's not like they can get the game banned or have the suit removed from future Mario games. We'll all forget this ever happened in a week.

Jeff LaSalle said:

Has anyone actually watched the damn video that PETA put out?


Then tell me that Peta (AND ALL OF US) shouldn't be protesting this.

Rosa said:

@Jeff LaSalle

I'm honestly a little disappointed in our fellow gamers. Everyone is more upset about Mario being used to generate awareness for a serious and very sad issue than they are that this is going on. That little tanuki at the end with all his skin gone is really just heart-rending.

Rosa and Jeff LaSalle

I think most people are debating whether or not Mario games condone or stimulate the use of fur.

Mario's universe seems so innocent to me that it's absurd that they link his image to things as violence, animal mistreating and blood. I did not feel upset about it, but I think when you use absurd arguments to validate your point, it counts more against your cause than in favor of it. They attracted attention to the subject, but at the same time, they've got negative reactions to it.

I've seen worst videos than that, such as this . Fur is not the only and not even the biggest problem. I've been avoiding the use of any product with animal origins, and even avoiding eating meat for over ten years. I think it's a bit hypocritical how people freak out when they see a cute dog, raccoon or dolphin being tortured or killed while they eat hamburgers at McDonald's and buy leather purses without regrets.

Matt said:

O_O Coming from someone who loves Silent Hill, that was really creepy :X I'm completely for animal rights, but omg, PETA is crazy XD

Rosa said:

@Luciano Antoniasse

PETA very obviously isn't actually angry at Mario, but rather using his name and image to generate buzz for the tanuki farm industry. I highly doubt people who hate everything his games stand for could parody the aesthetic and music of his games so accurately. Whoever made this is fond of Mario, was horrified by the plight of racoon dogs, and realized that there's nothing bound and determined to get gamers spreading the word for them so much as seeming to say something bad about Mario.

Also, I'm well aware of the problems with the meat industry and frequently bring it to the attention of others. As I said, my sister is a big animal rights activist. I, too, get very frustrated by people who pick and choose their battles. For instance, the ridiculous amount of media attention the Seal Hunt gets -- when those seals are treated far more humanely than the hamburgers these same people eat every day without thought. But they, the seals have white fur! Aw! That said, I think being skinned alive and left to die completely skinless is just about one of the most horrifying things I can possibly imagine.

Besides, do we really care if peta IS mad at Mario? He's a big boy. He doesn't need use to take care of him.


The first time I read this article I was in doubt whether PETA was being serious about it or just using a widely known character to attract attention to the subject. Now with later statement, it's a bit clearer that the latter is more likely to be true, as you said. And I must agree that it seems they at least made some of us discuss about it, even that not everybody (like me) approves this approach.

Other than that, I think I totally agree with you, specially about Mario being a big boy (even tough he's not that big). :D

Quite interesting preparing our nourish!

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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