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Episode 19: "Pirates of Koopa"

CARTOON SUMMARY

The Mario bunch have hit choppy waters, quite literally. Or, as Mario puts it; "pirate times, in a pirate sea". I say they're on a badly-drawn ship in a badly-drawn sea. The reason for this? Mario: "We were on our way back to Princess Toadstool's castle". And since they couldn't afford a taxi, they had to go there by boat, I suppose. Specifically, the ship of a certain captain Clump, who wears pink nappies with a frilly collar and purple frilly bits on his shoulders, has no legs (he gets around with a pogostick. Or is that a wooden leg?) and has a chin the size of my kitchen sink. Looks like a potential mascot for the ever-exciting Amsterdam Canal Pride Parade. He's quite an unpleasant person, who disapproves of Mario and Luigi's creative potato-sculpting, but still, he is the only one who dares to sail in these troubled times.

Or rather twisted times, as the seas are as of now being terrorized by "Blackbeard Koopa". And no-one's safe from him, according to Clump (hey, that sounds almost like CLAMP. Weeh, CLAMP are cool!). Just when the Princess suggests they take a quick break to sniff some fresh cocaine, an extremely sudden storm rises. Risible animation techniques are then employed. A layer of celluloid with some horse vomit smeared over it is rapidly dragged over the screen to generate the illusion of sudden heavy clouds. Mario cuts a hole in the horse vomit, and by peeking through this opening, they spot Koopa's ship, and realize, rather belatedly, that they're under attack from the infamous Blackbeard Koopa, who, apparently, just had a major shave, as his manly chin is as smooth and hairless as a baby's bum, despite what his name may have led you to expect (he's going for the sleek look this time. Hence his leather high-tops and frilly lace collar). After some profoundly offensive taunts, Koopa hurls a Bob-omb onto the deck of Clump's boat. Mario rapidly hurls it back at Koopa, and it ends up exploding in his face. Unhappy to have his mascara ruined, Koopa then engages a massive attack against the Mario bunch. Several Bob-ombs are fired onto their ship and explode. Luckily, the ship's made of fireproof wood, so it makes no difference at all. The Koopa Troopas are then sent in, menacingly brandishing deadly bananas. Or maybe they're popsicles, it's very difficult to tell. Anyway, que little fight scene where the valiant Mario team beats the pants off several Koopas and Bob-ombs. But suddenly, another wave of Bob-ombs is flung onto their still fire-proof ship, who generate a thick smoke screen as they explode en masse. Koopa takes advantage of this smoky cover to do something utterly dreadful. Due to the smoke, you can't see what exactly he's doing, but you do hear the Princess scream in panic. She: "Koopa, no, not now! We're supposed to be working here!" He: "Rrrrrowf !". Alas, those phrases were edited out, and my cat ate the only copy of the uncensored version of this tape. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Anyway, once the smoke has cleared up, the Princess is comfortably installed on Koopa's luxurious cruise ship (insert your own Love Boat-based pun here), while the Mario crew is left to die, tied up to the mast of Clump's boat. Luigi suggests they sing to kill time. Since they're tied to the mast, they can't run away screaming, instead, they can only cringe in agony before Luigi's acid-samba-trance-disco interpretation of Sailor Star Song. While this is going on, Koopa and the Princess indulge in some hefty verbal flirting and make plans to throw the mother of all house parties once they reach Koopa's place. Koopa also reveals that he intends to sell the Princess for hard cash, which, apparently, turns him on even more than she does. Switch back to the Mario gang, who are still tied to the mast. Only now the boat is also sinking, and the waters below are infested with munch-happy Trouters. The Marios then make an amazing discovery: by wriggling about, they are actually able to slowly clamber up the mast to which they're tied, and violently bump their heads against the crow's nest. This awakens the captain's parrot, who was taking a nap in that very same crow's nest. The parrot then immediately rams his head against a wall and begins to -literally- see stars. However, this turns out to be a good thing, as the animal throws one of these stars down to Mario, who grabs it and transforms. This enables him to break free, brutally murder the Trouters and improvise a boat out of the crow's nest. My, how very handy.

Koopa's big fiesta has meanwhile kicked off. After a short bondage/flirtation scene with the Princess, he decides that enough is enough and starts to auction her off to his party guests. The Marios are on their way, however. Due to some painstaking coloring errors, it's difficult to tell if Mario is still transformed or not, but by the time they reach Koopa's modest home, his transformation has certainly worn off. So, the only option they have left is to dress up as absolute idiots in order to sneak in. That is, Mario and Luigi need to dress up as absolute idiots, while Toad and Clump already look idiotic enough as it is. With this intricate strategy, they succeed in gate-crashing Koopa's techno rave party, and Mario tells Luigi to "act tough". Not easy when you're wearing a Madame Pompadour wig like Luigi is doing right now, but he still gives it his best shot by boldly ordering a glass of milk from the bar. Mario rapidly corrects this faux pas by telling the bartender to mix in lots of XTC. While Koopa still makes vain efforts to raise a decent amount of cash for the Princess (hardly anyone is interested, however), Luigi bravely offers a billion as a price. Everyone finds this a little suspicious, and logically so. Who would possibly want to pay such a huge amount for someone as ugly as the Princess? Still, Koopa doesn't care, and declares that the Princess is now sold. Mario and Luigi are hoisted around in typical jolly fashion, and for no reason whatsoever, Koopa starts to throw potato crisps from his balcony. Or maybe those are supposed to be coins. It's hard to tell. Toad takes this opportunity to rapidly sneak past Koopa and free the Princess. Alas, after he has broken the lock to her cage, he loses his balance and falls backwards, thus alerting Koopa of his presence. The Marios' disguises are also foiled, so the course of action left to take for them is brute violence. Toad, Clump and the Princess push Koopa off his balcony, and he makes a rather uncomfortable landing on top of some unfortunate Troopas (or they may be considered very fortunate Troopas. Depends on how you look at it). The Princess then gravely insults him. Everyone legs it out of Koopa's disco, but he rushes after them at full throttle with his Troopas in tow. A grandissimo battle kicks off at this moment: wooden swords are sliced to pieces! A teeth-gritting song plays in the background! Troopas attempt to peek up the Princess' dress! Clump wobbles about for no reason at all! Mario tries to eat a plunger! The intense emotional strain of this adrenaline-pumping combat scene is finally brought to an end by the Mario gang, who decide to give Koopa a taste of his own medicine by forcing him into scandalous bondage practices before hurling him off the ship and into the water. Que rotten pun from the Princess, and that wraps it up.

WHAT'S GOOD?
  • The background paintings are quite nice, with a pleasingly subtle "pencilly" effect near the end.
  • Mucho fight scenes, with a decent selection of enemies
  • A transformation for Mario, short-lived as though it may be, which is nice.
  • Koopa's outfit is one of his better ones.
WHAT'S BAD?
  • The animators have forgotten to ink Koopa's eyebrows for most of the time, so he looks as if he's stoned for half of the episode (but maybe that was done intentionally and on purpose?)
  • Clump is a flat, boring and 300% useless character. He doesn't do one single remotely useful or redeeming thing.
  • The storyline is too "formula-ish". If you've seen one or two typical SMBSS episodes, you'll know exactly what's coming next.
  • It's kind of a shame that Mouser and the boys only get a tiny little cameo in this episode.
OVERALL
This episode is, on the whole, forgettable. It's not as hair-tearingly horrendous as some other eps, but it also doesn't soar to great heights. That is to say, this episode follows the typical SMBSS formula so closely that it's horribly predictable, and there isn't even anything particularly redeeming to counterbalance this. File this one under "average".

EPISODE RATING: 2.5/5.0

LIVE-ACTION SEGMENT
Uh-oh, this is not good. Luigi is trying to do three things at a time: shaving, talking and preparing spaghetti sauce. With his mental capacities, that's just asking for trouble. And trouble soon enough arrives in the form of a basketball star who got stranded in the Mario's bathroom closet (yes, again). They say he's Magic Johnson, but I'm not sure if I believe that. Well, whoever he is, he should've stuck to basketball, as he has about as much acting talent as a pregnant cow. He sounds hopelessly flat and unconvincing. But anyway, he asks Luigi to repair a slightly knackered trophy, and Mario, in one of his more lucid moments, immediately hurls said trophy into the furnace. Luigi has read Slam Dunk, so he knows that upsetting a basketball player is a bad idea, and they both make panicky attempts at re-building the deceased trophy from scratch. But the award-winning actor Johnson doesn't fall for it. It's allright, however, as the missing trophy pops up again from the spaghetti sauce. The only downside is that Luigi's shaving mug had to give it's life for this. Pathos and sorrow all round.