Tanooki Mario is a form of Mario or Luigi that first appeared in Super Mario Bros. 3. In its debut, it was essentially an advanced version of Raccoon Mario, with the addition of a temporary transformation into a stone statue, attained by donning a Tanooki Suit.
This form's name comes from the tanuki, an animal found in Japan and often depicted in folklore. The form that Statue Mario takes in Super Mario Bros. 3 resembles Kshitigarbha, the protector of travelers and the guardian of souls, who is known as Daigan Jizō Bosatsu in Japan. As of Super Mario 3D Land, Luigi's version of the form is sometimes called Kitsune Luigi or Fox Luigi, referring to the kitsune.
Super Mario series
Super Mario Bros. 3
The first appearance of Tanooki Mario is in Super Mario Bros. 3, when Mario obtains a Tanooki Suit. In this form, he can turn into an invulnerable statue when pressing and Down on the at the same time, in addition to using Raccoon Mario's moves. This makes it an improved version of Raccoon Mario.
As a statue, Tanooki Mario cannot be hurt, and if he uses this ability in the air, he can slam down like a Thwomp. This can destroy many enemies, instantly destroying all Goombas and enemies with throwable shells (like Koopas, Buzzy Beetles, and Spinies). It can also stomp previously unstompable enemies like Piranha Plants, Big Piranha Plants, Fire Piranha Plants, Spiny Eggs, Thwomps, Lava Bubbles, Fire Snakes, and Chain Chomps.
The Statue form is also the only way to destroy Roto-Discs and Rocket Engine flames. Statue Mario will sink rapidly underwater, and can even oppose some pipes' upward currents. This allows Mario to stomp Lava Lotuses, Bloopers and fish enemies underwater. Boss Bass is the only fish that Mario can't stomp on, and the only enemy that can defeat him in that form by eating him. In Super Mario All-Stars, Tweester can turn Statue Mario back into Tanooki Mario on contact. He can still turn into the statue while in the Tweester, but it will not free him or have any desirable effect. Statue Mario will also automatically revert to Tanooki form in five seconds.
In the ending, a Koopa Troopa can be seen comically praying before Statue Mario as if he was a religious idol.
Super Mario 3D Land
Tanooki Mario makes a reappearance in Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS as the main form. In this game, Mario becomes Tanooki Mario when he obtains a Super Leaf (since neither Raccoon Mario nor the Tanooki Suit appear in the game); the form is also slightly redesigned, as its ears are on the front of the hood, facing forward (rather than on the sides facing outward), and Mario's cap brim was added. In his Tanooki form, Mario can still tail whip (by pressing or ) and glide (by holding or ). However, the form's mechanics are different from Super Mario Bros. 3, as Tanooki Mario cannot fly during gameplay. His slow descent also speeds up back to normal, rather than his acceleration decreasing, unlike before. The tail whip is usable underwater, and able to hit more enemies. Mario also gains a new tail wag move in this form (done by pressing or while crouching) which replaces the Roll and Rolling Leap, letting him tail whip continuously, even while moving.
Statue Mario also reappears in this game (making this form closer to its original depiction), but it can only be used once a Statue Leaf is found in the Special Worlds. The statue now has a red scarf and depicts Tanooki Mario holding out his right hand. It replaces the Ground Pound, and lasts longer than it did in Super Mario Bros. 3. A new variation of Tanooki Mario also appears in this game, called White Tanooki Mario. Mario or Luigi can only obtain this form by collecting an Invincibility Leaf after losing five lives in a (skipped) normal world level, and it makes him completely invincible for the duration of the level.
Luigi's Tanooki Suit and Statue form are now Kitsune-themed, rather than Tanooki-themed, unlike in Super Mario Bros. 3. Additionally, Statue Luigi has a green scarf and is shown holding out his left hand, unlike his brother. While most languages, including the original Japanese, call Luigi's Tanooki form Kitsune Luigi, the English translation still refers to it as Tanooki Luigi.
In the game's ending, Mario and the three Toads that had joined him on his journey become Tanooki Mario and Tanooki Toads by using Super Leaves. Mario carries Princess Peach and the Toads flutter around as they fly all the way back to Princess Peach's Castle during the credits (despite the lack of flight in-game). Despite using Super Leaves, the Toads are seen sporting scarves that match their vest and cap colors, much like Statue Mario.
In the Special Worlds, Toad himself sports a Tanooki Suit in the Toad Houses and pre-airship level cutscenes; in the former, he often gives a Super Leaf to either Mario or Luigi in representation of his get-up. Tanooki Toad (much like the other Toads sporting Tanooki Suits) also wears a colored scarf (red in Toad's instance) around his neck.
When the player completes all the levels, a picture appears after the credits are finished. It shows two Tanooki Toads and Tanooki Peach (wearing a Tanooki Suit version of her normal dress).
Super Mario 3D World
The normal and White Tanooki forms also appear in Super Mario 3D World, functioning just as they do in Super Mario 3D Land. Mario, Toad, and Peach's Tanooki Suits look almost the same; Mario's has lighter-colored ears and belly, Peach's is darker-colored and has puffy shorts and darker legs, rather than its 3D Land design, and Toad lacks a scarf. Luigi's Kitsune Suit remains the same. Rosalina's Tanooki Suit in this game is the same as Peach's, though with darker arms and shorter gloves. When Peach is wearing the suit, she can pull off her unique glide and still scuttle afterward to gain even more horizontal distance.
Mario Tennis Open
In Mario Tennis Open, Tanooki Mario is a costume for the player's Mii. It is unlocked by turning 15 characters into star characters. The racket for this costume costs 1550 coins to buy at the Clubhouse for Miis to be able to use.
Nintendo Comics System
Tanooki Mario appears in the Nintendo Comics System story "Tanooki Suits Me". In the comic, Mario is forced to wear the Tanooki Suit due to Luigi accidentally ordering a single tuxedo, and the Tanooki Suit was the only one available at the rental shop. An old man informs Mario that that the suit is a genuine one created by Mushroomland's first tailor, Tanooki, who sewed a tail on the back of every suit he created as his trademark; he also informs Mario that Tanooki's suits possess magical powers, and that genuine suits are very rare. Mario transforms himself into Statue Mario by curiously pressing a button on the front of the suit, and it isn't until he wishes that he could turn back to normal that he turns back into Tanooki Mario.
Mario Kart series
Mario Kart 8
Tanooki Mario appears as a character available in the first downloadable content pack in Mario Kart 8, The Legend of Zelda × Mario Kart 8, appearing as a character separate from Mario. Tanooki Mario has a different set of animations and voices from Mario, as well as having different kart colors (for instance, the Sport Bike he rides has the orange/yellow coloration rather than Mario's red and blue one). Tanooki Mario's signature vehicle is the Tanooki Kart.
Although Tanooki Mario is a middleweight character, just like Mario, he has slightly more acceleration at the cost of his weight stat; a trait that he shares with the male Villager. Tanooki Mario's anti-gravity-specific trick animation involves him briefly turning into Statue Mario. One of his trick animations is a reference to one of Raccoon Mario's artworks from Super Mario Bros. 3, and, if he is on a bike or an ATV, one of his trick animations replicates his ability to fall slowly. Also, the sound his horn makes is Cape Mario's spinning sound from Super Mario World.
Tanooki Mario uses various voice clips taken from other games, with several voice file prefixes seemingly indicating the source game. File prefixes include GBAGolf_Mario, GC_SunshineMario, GCTennis, SuperMarioAdvance, and WiiBseball_Mario.
Mario Kart Arcade GP DX
Tanooki Mario reappears in Mario Kart Arcade GP DX, as a second downloadable alternate color scheme for Mario.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS Trophy information
Names in other languages