Some call it one of the best power-ups in Mario, allowing you to fly in the air for extended periods of time and do tail spins. Others (namely PETA) call it a metaphorical 'green light' to wear animal fur, in a statment made recently by the organisation for ethical animal treatment.
“Tanooki may be just a ‘suit’ in Mario games, but in real life, tanuki are raccoon dogs who are skinned alive for their fur. By wearing Tanooki, Mario is sending the message that it’s OK to wear fur.” PETA proclaims to USA Today.
The odd question to ask is, why now? Why take offense now, when Mario's use of the Tanooki suit goes all the way back to '88 with Super Mario Bros. 3? Since tanukis hold a place in Japanese folklore associated with good fortune, it could be argued that Nintendo are simply harnessing the spirit of the animal. Or maybe they just put it in there because it was the first thing they thought of?
PETA’s campaign against Mario comes complete with a pretty gruesome 8-bit online game called Super Tanooki Skin 2D: taking the Super Mario Bros. game formula and making you chase Mario to reclaim Tanooki's fur.
It's a pretty strange claim that seems to have been raised only now. We think it's just a game, if it was a visceral experience that connotates the origination of that fur then maybe, just maybe, it'd be something PETA can shout about. But as it is, in a children's video game, where no subtext is explored into the suit except for it just being a power-up suit, there isn't really much behind it.
Watch the pretty creepy animated version of this story, courtesy of nma.tv.
Source: USA Today