Greg recently sent in some more questions about Toad from the Super Mario Bros. series:
There’s something about the Super Mario series that I’ve been wondering about for a while now, and I was hoping that you might be able to help. For most English-speaking Mario fans, it’s common knowledge that Toad is both the name of an individual character and the name of an entire species.
I never thought too much about this until a few months back, when I realised that most of Toad the Individual’s early major appearances were from American sources, like the Saturday morning cartoon or the Super Mario Bros. 2 version of Doki Doki Panic. When I thought about it more, I realised that almost all of his other video game appearances, at least that I can remember, could just as easily be filled by a nameless Toad without anyone noticing. The only exception I can think of is Super Mario RPG, where only one of the Toads is identified as “Toad” in his dialogue box, but I’m not sure if that was in the Japanese version.
So, my question is: In Japan, is the name Kinopio associated with both a recurring individual and a species, or is it just the name of a species? In other words, does the Toad that we all know and love even exist in Japan?
You know, this is something I’ve wondered about too. Growing up as a kid in America, I always got the impression that Toad was a single character thanks to the American cartoon series, our version of Super Mario Bros. 2, and other such things. But once I learned Japanese and started playing various Japanese Mario games, I found myself confused.
|Toad/Kinopio in Super Mario Bros. 1 (NES/Famicom)||Toad in Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)|
Anyway, I’m actually not an ultra-expert on the Super Mario Bros. series or anything, but after a little bit of research here’s what info I can provide:
- The name “Toad” is indeed “Kinopio” in the Japanese releases, as I’ve already covered in past articles and in my Super Mario Bros. localization analysis.
- Japanese sites indicate that “Kinopio” doesn’t refer to just one person, but a group of people. (example 1, example 2)
- Kinopio characters in most games do appear to be generic ol’ characters. I guess it’s kind of like how there’s not a singular Koopa Troopa character, but Mario games often have one as a playable character.
- Super Mario RPG does seem to be the only exception I can find to this for now – there seems to be a character by the name of “Kinopio” who you see regularly throughout the game. But it’s been a long time since I played the English version and I don’t think I’ve played the Japanese version more than a few minutes, so maybe there’s more to that than I remember.
So I think for the most part you can assume that, yeah, Japanese fans view “Kinopio” as a group rather than an individual character. It’s interesting how this viewpoint is such a strong topic of discussion for people outside of Japan. I wonder why that is.
Incidentally, while doing some quick research for this, I did discover a few things of interest.
First, there’s apparently a secret code in the Japanese version of Super Mario RPG that was meant to tease players. It was even printed in some strategy guides, so I imagine it ended up as one of those schoolyard rumors that turned out to be true. Here’s a video I took of it:
Basically, if you do the code, Kinopio shows up and trolls the player a little bit.
The code is:
Go to the menu screen and then press: DOWN, UP, RIGHT, LEFT, SELECT, START, SELECT, START, B
And the resulting text says:
Secret code found!
Now, let’s take a look at your Status.
Nothing’s changed at all.
But, what about your experience points……
Nope, nothing’s changed.
There’s no point in looking for other codes,
and the result will always be the same.
I’ll play with you as many times as you like, though……
Secret Code END
I seem to recall hearing about this recently on ROM hacking boards, actually. This code doesn’t work in the English version, but it’s possible the code combination was changed. If anyone has more details, let me know.
More interesting than that, though, is that apparently Kinopios were originally meant to be the princess’ handmaidens – meaning Kinopios were meant to be girls originally! This is most clearly brought up in the Super Mario anime:
My first thought was to say, “Whatever, that’s just a cartoon movie, it doesn’t apply to anything.” But then I realized that the American cartoon series was pretty influential for fans. So I guess you can take it however you like, but at the very least it seems that a number of Japanese fans fondly remember Kinopios as being girls and wonder at what point they became guys.