‘Astral Chain’ and Other Dumb Nintendo SongsHands-On: ‘Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020’ Seems Fine Ever since that first trailer for Super Mario Odyssey showing humans in New Donk City with Mario walking alongside them, the very nature of humanity in the Mario universe has been thrown out of whack. Do Mario and Luigi have some sort of unique dwarfism? Are they even human? Have they been mushroom people all this time?After extensively studding Super Mario Odyssey, I have the answer to those questions. It doesn’t just explain the residents of New Donk City, but a much older question that has gone unanswered ever since Super Mario Bros.As you play through Super Mario Odyssey, you visit different kingdoms on Earth. Well, on Mario Earth, which is clearly not our Earth in any way. Even with similar land masses, national boundaries and the entire ecosystem are completely unlike our Earth. Instead of nation-states, Mario Earth is defined by kingdoms, each with their own unique characteristics. The Cap Kingdom is a foggy felt world. The Lake Kingdom is primarily underwater caves. The Lost Kingdom is a poisonous jungle.And New Donk City is a city, because it isn’t just New Donk City. It’s a city in the Metro Kingdom, a kingdom defined by its urban landscape. Just like Bonneton in the Cap Kingdom and Tostarena in the Sand Kingdom.Nearly every kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey is defined not only by its visual theme but by its population. And outside of the Metro Kingdom, each population has a very consistent physical aesthetic. The Cap Kingdom has hat ghosts. The Wooded Kingdom has watering can robots. The Luncheon Kingdom has forks with chef’s hats. And the Metro Kingdom has humans, right?No. The Metro Kingdom specifically has humans in suits. That’s an important distinction, because it’s consistent through all of Super Mario Odyssey. The New Donk City resident you meet in the Sand Kingdom wears a suit. The New Donk City couple vacationing in the Seaside Kingdom wear suits. And every single person in the Metro Kingdom wears a suit. That’s because the Metro Kingdom isn’t a land of humans, it’s a land of humanoids in suits.They’re always suits. Suit jackets and trousers for men, and suit jackets and skirts for women. No one from New Donk City wears jeans and a t-shirt. They don’t wear swimsuits when they go to the beach. They don’t wear tuxedos when attending a white tie wedding. They wear suits.The conclusion is obvious. The Metro Kingdom isn’t populated by humans in a broad sense, but by humanoids who wear suits. Their proportions and their suit-wearing both define them, just like the residents of the Cap Kingdom are defined by being hat ghosts.“But what about Pauline? She wears a dress in the New Donk City festival!” Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on target Yes, she does. And this is where we break the nature of people in Mario wide open and answer one of the longest-running questions in the series. While Pauline is the mayor of New Donk City and wears a suit most of the time, she is not a native of the Metro Kingdom. This is clear from her facial features. They’re big and cartoonish, just like Mario, Luigi, and Peach’s faces. She looks very different from every other New Donker, even if she has similar proportions. She isn’t from there. She’s a transplant who became mayor.So what is she, if she isn’t a human from the Metro Kingdom? Well, she’s a princess. Or rather, she’s from the same race of people as every other princess in the series, which we’ll call princesses. Princesses are their own unique species, humanoids with implied nobility and cartoonish features, who often rule over kingdoms. Daisy is the princess of Sarasaland. Rosalina is the ruler of the Comet Observatory. And Pauline is the leader of New Donk City.The idea that princesses are their own unique race apart from the natives of different kingdoms doesn’t only explain the “humans” in New Donk City, but the long-running question of Princess Peach. How does a human woman rule a kingdom of noseless mushroom people? Because that’s her thing, as a member of a species that rules. They don’t rule every kingdom, but they are treated as nobility wherever they go, and tend to lead wherever they settle.This concept isn’t unheard of. A race bred for nobility and endowed with powers or characteristics their subjects don’t have is a fairly common trope in fantasy. It’s also a staple concept of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, where princesses aren’t simply monarchical rulers, but physiologically unique from the three main races of ponies (Earth pony, pegasus, and unicorn) and endowed with unique powers. Like Rosalina’s cosmic abilities in Super Mario Galaxy or Peach’s elemental abilities in Super Princess Peach. It fits.This is supported in Super Mario Bros. 3, where Mario and Luigi need to save the kings of different lands. Those kings are all humanoids, turned into different creatures. Those creatures are consistent with the lands they rule. The king of Sky Land is turned into a bird. The king of Water Land is turned into a kappa. The king of Pipe Land is turned into a piranha plant. And when Mario gets the magic wands that fixes them, they become humanoids. Humanoids that, in the case of the Water Land king, look a lot like Mario.So, where does this leave Mario and Luigi? The revelation is shocking. They aren’t humans, but the same race of humanoid nobility that almost every other monarch in the series is.This kingdom-and-princess dynamic has some pretty huge sociopolitical implications in the Mario universe, that cast Bowser in an entirely new light. Bowser isn’t just the king of the koopas and the leader of the Bowser Kingdom. He’s a revolutionary leader who threw off the shackles of rule by racially distinct aristocrats and crowned himself monarch of his own kingdom, a constantly changing land of lava.And, while he does try to kidnap Princess Peach constantly and dominate other kingdoms, he might actually be the most egalitarian leader in the entire Mario universe. In fact, maybe his attempt to marry Peach wasn’t out of romantic interest but a desire to establish legitimacy for his kingdom and encourage an end to the racial homogeneity of the kingdoms.You know how every kingdom has a distinct race of people living in it, whether they’re ruled by a princess or not? That isn’t the case in the Bowser Kingdom. Bowser leads the most racially diverse nation ever seen in the Mario universe, with koopas (presumably his native species), goombas, thwomps, lakitu, and endless variations of all of them. All working together, whether guarding the Bowser Kingdom or marching on the Mushroom Kingdom. That includes goombas, who are a weak and vulnerable race of mushroom people with darker complexions from Toads. Mushroom people who are largely absent from the Mushroom Kingdom, under Princess Peach’s rule.The different kingdoms have plenty of tourists, sure. Toads explore everywhere and there are lots of vacationers. But the population of each kingdom is largely homogeneous. Not under Bowser’s rule, where turtle people live alongside mushroom people. Even in the Mario RPGs (which aren’t technically canon, especially Paper Mario), the most diverse population can be found in Paper Mario: The 1,000 Year Door‘s Rogueport. A derelict town of scoundrels and crime that just happens to have the biggest variety of types of people. A port without a government. A kingdom without a princess. And that’s the world Bowser is fighting for.So, that’s what we now know. New Donk City residents aren’t human, Pauline isn’t a native, Mario and Luigi are princesses, and Bowser is an egalitarian revolutionary pursuing political legitimacy through an arranged marriage.