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Episode 43: "The Koopas are Coming, the Koopas are Coming"

CARTOON SUMMARY

Right, no need to tell you that you shouldn't think about that title too much, let's just get to the point instead. Mario and his cohorts have gone to some kind of Mushroom colony in a snowy setting. Yes, another snowy setting. It's easy to draw, see (but they still get it wrong). Anyway, they were summoned there by a certain General Washingtoad, who tells them that "it's terrible here" (there are drunk animators, lousy scripts and budget cuts). He then delivers a dull monologue, but Koopa suddenly appears out of nowhere. He goes by the name of "Redcoat Koopa" for this episode, on account of he wears a (drum roll) red coat. With purple extras, feathered hat, white tights and white Hermes scarf, and nifty Lancel booties. Nice one, Koopa baby. Koopa then calls forth Flurry who sito presto prods Koopa's bum with a kebab stick. No, wait, that's Koopa's deadly Magical Ice-Scepter. And it's bright pink with yellow knobs (the Sailor Senshi didn't think it was trendy enough to use, so they let Koopa have it instead). Note that it looked like a wooden spear at first but turned into it's pink plasticine incarnation a few seconds later, for some obscure reason. Koopa then uses this mortal scepter of doom to freeze Toad and Mario into big blocks of ice. He reveals that he has also frozen all of General Washingtoad's soldiers. Mario's chums bravely try to fight back by attacking Koopa with crap puns, but he just freezes them instead and makes an even crappier pun (and because the director just had an overdose, everyone just stands there and lets the ice blasts hit them).

So everyone's been turned into big blocks of ice now, but bizarrely, Mario can still move around. This scene is very hard to describe on paper, mainly because it makes -absolutely no sense whatsoever- on screen as well. What seems to be going on is that Mario, despite being solidly frozen in a big block of ice can still talk and even jump around (I've never tried to talk and jump while frozen in ice, but I somehow suspect that it's not quite possible). Mario: "I can't even move!". But you're jiggling your arms around in a badly-animated fashion while saying that, Mario. Whatever the writers were smoking when they came up with -this-, it's bound to be off the market by now. Anyway, Mario hops onto a stove, which melts the ice imprisoning him. He then stumbles around, making lame jokes and ends up destroying the other ice blocks, using Luigi, and some terrible directing. But, nom de dieu, the ice block containing Washingtoad is somehow sliding away. Can a block of ice slide over thick, flat snow? Mario tries his plunger-lasso move, but doesn't attach the rope to anything. Instead, the rope somehow ends up around his own ankle (but I don't remember him tying the rope around his foot), and he crashes into the snow (which -explodes-), and the general is freed. Somehow. Don't ask me what the hell is really going on, I'm just as mystified as anyone else over this bit of reality-twisting.

In any case, Koopa has decided, in a rather badly-animated scene where he mostly just shouts at Flurry, to wait until morning to attack (but whom does he want to attack if he has frozen the whole army?). This gives Mazza and co a bit of spare time, so the Princess hands Mario a fire flower (nobody knows where it came from), which causes Mario to transform. The gang arses around with the fireballs for a while, and then gets down to business. Using his fireballs, Mario will melt all the ice imprisoning Washingtoad's soldiers, but this will take a long time. Therefore, "someone has to warn the civilians" (what civilians?). General Washingtoad somehow has a Groucho Marx moustache during a few seconds in this scene (look closely). In the end, Luigi is dumped onto a badly-drawn anorexic horse, after -literally- telling the general that he's a cow (but we knew that, Luigi). Luigi rides around on his flea-bitten horse, shouting that "the Koopas are coming", but only two old junkies in a grotty slum hear him and they don't care. We then switch to an overhead shot of Luigi riding his horse, but the animators have made a tremendous gaffe and have drawn Luigi with white and red dungarees (making him look like fireball Mario). Tsk, tsk....A bunch of Beezos are deeply irritated by this terrible colouring error and try to kill Luigi, even though it's not really his fault. During the badly-animated skirmish that ensues between Luigi and the Beezos, Luigi makes crummy puns until he is knocked off his horse by some strangely elastic tree branches. Captured by the Beezos, Luigi is then taken away to Koopa. The horse looks mildly concerned.

Meanwhile, something has gone very wrong for Mario as well. He's still defrosting the mushroom soldiers with his fireballs, but the animators have goofed up tremendously -again-, so you see Mario wearing his regular clothes instead of his transformed costume. Luigi's ugly horse then comes by (Mario has his fireball costume again in this shot) bringing a fax message from Koopa explaining that he has imprisoned Luigi and wants the mushroom army to commit immediate Hara-Kiri. Mario will have none of that and jumps onto the horse (now he's wearing his regular clothes again), and declares that, even though they are gravely outnumbered, they can attack Koopa via an alternate route. A map screen-ish scene then explains that a verrry dangerous river has to be crossed in order to bring Mario's plan to fruition, but they decide to give it a go anyway. There's another colouring error in this scene which causes Mario's cheeks to turn yellow once or twice. They'll need to hurry, though, as Koopa has imprisoned Luigi in another one of his dungeon toys; a wooden hand/neck trap thingy (you know the kind of thing), and he does a little gloating session, while walking in a strange fashion (it's a small animation error that makes it look as if he's teleporting around).

So, Mario and the others cross the fearsome icy river in a bathtub. Even the horse comes along. They get stuck in the ice, but they somehow get out with a ridiculous story about throwing coins and unbridled greed. They then burst in and ruin Koopa's little monologue. Koopa is frightened and orders his troops to deal with the Mazza bunch. No problem, Mario and the fat-faced general slide down a hill in their bathtub and kill three troopas. They also crash into Luigi's prison/handcuff thingy, causing it to explode and freeing Luigi in a rather violent fashion. The cheesy insert song has started to plinkety-plonk along by now, while Koopa fails to kill Mario with a Bob-Omb cannon. Toad and the Princess, meanwhile are sliding down a hill with ice-skates, even though it's probably not possible to skate over snow. Mario then jumps out of the sliding bathtub o'doom. Due to a colouring error, he's somehow wearing his fireball costume in this shot, but he hasn't transformed. He then grabs a red cannabis leaf from the ground and transforms for real this time. His fireballs quickly deal with some more troopas (the Mario posse was supposed to be dead outnumbered, but they only need to kill three or four troopas, oddly), and when Koopa makes a grab for his ice-scepter, a rapid fireball to his claws causes him to hurl the deadly weapon into the air. A race between Flurry and Luigi is then on to grab the scepter. After violently wrestling with Flurry (mostly off-screen, natch), Luigi obtains the scepter and throws it to Mario. Koopa still tries to interfere, but a rapid tackle from Washingtoad (along with the only genuinely clever line of the whole series) soon deals with him. Mario then fires into a black layer of celluloid (nobody knows why) and freezes Koopa and Flurry. Then it's back home for a bit of a fiesta. Washingtoad sneezes tremendously (definitely one of the coolest sneezes I've ever heard). Note an animation error in this scene which causes the jewel on the Princess' dress to change size a few times. When one of the Mushroom soldier blokeys -dares- to chuckle at a stupid pun from the general, everyone stares at him angrily. Shame on him, -nobody- ever laughs at SMBSS puns. But he will be forgiven, and Mario and co come by playing trumpets or something, with Mario still in his fireball costume (hard to tell if that's another colouring error or not...).

WHAT'S GOOD?
  • Mario gets to transform -twice-, oh wow.
  • Some shots are shown from pretty nifty angles, there's a bit of inventive imagery in here.
  • It makes a nice change to see Flurry in there.
  • Koopa and the boys in some pretty good costumes (but he has done better).
WHAT'S BAD?
  • Tremendous colouring errors absolutely plague this episode. The animators can't seem to remember whether Mario is supposed to wear his fireball costume or not. But we can, so the whole thing looks strictly -terrible-.
  • Apart from the colouring mess-ups, there are some other major flaws in the animation and overall quality of the artwork. It's mostly very badly drawn, even by SMBSS standards.
  • The scene where Mario breaks free from his block of ice makes -no sense whatsoever-.
  • Quite a few other plot points are more than a bit surreal.
  • Koopa is drawn rather clumsily for most of this episode, and his troopas look completely dreadful.
  • The whole thing's vurry Amurrican, so I was a bit lost here. Not to mention that the Mario franchise is Japanese, after all.
OVERALL
This one's a bit tricky to judge. It would be quite allright if it weren't for the huge colouring mistakes. The few standout points such as Koopa and Flurry's costume and Mario transforming twice are pleasing, granted, but they can't quite counterbalance the terribly bad animation and some of the complete and utter nonsense that takes place in the storyline. If you really get off on unintentional comedy, this is a hysterics-fest, but those wanting something that comes close to a shadow of decent animation should look elsewhere (and avoid the SMB cartoons altogether, really).

EPISODE RATING: 2.0/5.0

LIVE-ACTION SEGMENT
There's a bit of a hairy situation going on. Mario: "Tulio, the human wrench, is out to get me!". What, and Tulio's not your type, Mario? Oh, wait, it's not like that. Mario actually tried to make a pass at Tulio's sister, and now he wants to kill Mario (because having Mario making a pass at you is a really horrible thing to go through). But all hope is not lost, as an Asian blokey pops up in the mirror. He bears the typically Asian name of Oby Juan Cannoli and specializes in helping out people who are about to get duffed up. He tells Mario to run into a wall (the camera gets shaken about and the accesoirist throws some bricks across the screen), but that doesn't work. He then tells Mario to stand in a silly pose and wobble his arms about, which is of no use at all. But there's a simple solution. When Tulio shows up, Cannoli-sensei simply tells him to piss off, and he obeys this order (because there's no way they could afford a second extra actor to appear on the screen). And thus ends the typical let's-make-fun-of-Asia scenario. Hoo-hargh.