It has a certain nostalgic charm, yeah, but lets face it, the American Super Mario Bros. cartoons were pretty terrible. Poorly animated, poorly written, poorly voiced.
Next to the Japanese Mario cartoon, though, the American version looks like it was made by Disney.
Premièring around the same time as America's The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, in 1989, Japan's own Super Mario series (never shown or released outside Japan) consisted of only three "episodes". Rather than coming up with new adventures for the stars of the video game series, the show's producers instead opted to adapt three popular fairy tales and replace their characters with Mario, Peach, Bowser, etc.
Great idea in theory, but in practice, boy are these awful. For a nation that in many ways was and still is a children's animation powerhouse (the 1980's saw Japan give us Transformers and Robotech among other properties), these were barely animated at all.
In their defence, there are moments of badassery. Brief, glorious moments. A gun-toting Mario being one. Bowser holding a knife to Peach's throat while wearing lipstick being another.
You can see all three episodes in the gallery above. Note that we're only looking at the televised anime series today; the Japanese animated film, from 1986, will get its own dedicated feature in the near future.
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The first episode, called Super Mario Momotarō, is based on the Japanese tale of Momotarō, a boy from heaven who is found inside a giant peach by an elderly couple. As bad as it is, at least the Peach connection is neat! You'll also get to see Mario use a gun.
This is the first half, with the second half to follow.
This is part 2 of Super Mario Momotarō.
The second episode, Super Mario Issun-bōshi, is again based on a Japanese fairy tale, this time the story of the one-inch boy, with Mario in the starring role.
This is part 2 of Super Mario Issun-bōshi.
The third and final episode, Super Mario Shirayuki-hime, will be a little more familiar to you, being based on the Western tale of Snow White.
This is part 2 of Super Mario Shirayuki-hime.