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.
The Tanooki Mario form's name comes from the tanuki, an animal found in Japan and is often depicted in folklore. The form that Statue Mario takes while wearing the Tanooki Suit 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, also depicted in folklore.
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 looks like a Tanooki and can turn into an invincible 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, Piranhaci Gigantici, Venus Fire Traps, Spiny Eggs, Thwomps, Podoboos, Firesnakes, 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. One setback is that while Mario is a statue, he cannot move.
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). In his Tanooki form, Mario can spin and use his tail to defeat enemies and hit blocks lying over the ground. He can also glide by shaking his tail and so fall slowly. However, Tanooki Mario does not fly during gameplay. In this form, Mario can wall jump using only a corner. Although such a move is not referenced in the instructions (written or in-game), it is useful for speed-running courses and can be used to obtain items normally deemed available only by use of a Propeller Box. Statue Mario also reappears in this game, but it can only be used once a Statue Leaf is found in the Special Worlds, making it closer to the Tanooki Suit. Mario wears a red handkerchief around his neck as Statue Mario, while Luigi wears a green one. Also, the duration that Mario can stay in stone form is limited, like in Super Mario Bros. 3. Another variation of Tanooki Mario also appears in this game, called White Tanooki Mario. Mario can only obtain this form by collecting an Invincibility Leaf after losing five lives in a level, and is completely invincible for the duration of the level.
Luigi is given a different Tanooki costume in this game, the costume more resembling a kitsune (a Japanese fox) rather than a Tanooki. While most languages, including the original Japanese, call this form Kitsune Luigi, the English translation still refers to it as Tanooki Luigi.
In the game's ending, the three Toads that had accompanied Mario on his journey become Tanooki Toads by using Super Leaves. While in their Tanooki forms, the Toads accompany Tanooki Mario and Princess Peach (who is being held in Mario's hands), flying all the way back to Princess Peach's Castle from Bowser's Castle (despite the lack of flight in-game). The Tanooki Toads flutter around Mario and Peach while flying during the credits. Despite having gained the powers from a Super Leaf, they are seen sporting scarfs 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 often gives a Super Leaf to either Mario or Luigi in representation of his get-up. Toad also appears in a Tanooki suit prior to the airship levels, when he launches either one of the Mario Bros. from a cannon to reach the airship. 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 version of her normal dress).
Super Mario 3D World
Tanooki Mario also appears in Super Mario 3D World. The form functions just as it does in the game's predecessor. Mario, Toad, and Peach's Tanooki Suits look almost the same; Mario's has lighter-colored ears, Peach's now has puffy shorts and darker limbs, rather than 3D Land's dress, and Toad lacks a scarf. Luigi's Kitsune Suit remains the same. When Peach is wearing the suit, she can pull off her unique glide and still scuttle afterward to gain even more horizontal distance. Rosalina's Tanooki Suit in this game is the same as Peach's.
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 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 coloration rather than Mario's red and blue one). Although Tanooki Mario is a middle-weight character as Mario, he has slightly more acceleration at the cost of his weight stat. Tanooki Mario's anti-gravity-specific trick animation involves his briefly turning into Statue Mario. One of his trick animations is a reference to one of Racoon 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.
Names in other languages