The Bowser Shrine Mailbag
Last Updated: May 31st, 2008
Subject: Bowser's Hair!
Question: You know, I've been wondering... what is up with Bowser's hair? Most particularily, the fact that in the games where he is Baby Bowser (Yoshi's Island, Yoshi's Story, Yoshi's Island DS, and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time), his hair is a ponytail thing, but in all other appearances, it's a big mane! Why is that? I'm not sure about you, but my theory is that when he was young, his mother (or Kamek or whoever his legal guardian at the time was) didn't want him growing his hair out for some reason or another.
Answer: I was anticipating your question to be why in the heck would a fire-breathing dragonturtlesaur thing like Bowser have hair in the first place! Indeed, when Bowser was a youngster, his short little tuft of red hair was bundled up neatly in a short ponytail from the base. Although his hair was tied in such a way, his flame-like hair spikes could still be seen at the end. As for why Bowser did not have a mane of flowing, fire-like red hair as a kid (like he does presently as an adult), maybe it was just the style back then! I would doubt that any parent or guardian of the young king would have ever dared tell him how he should wear his hair, as Bowser doesn't listen to anybody but himself! I think this may have been Bowser's personal preference back in the day. It's also possible that young Bowser did not have a lot of hair to work with, so a full mane may not have been possible, or may have looked silly if attempted.
Also, many of Bowser's seven Koopalings have fully grown-out hair that is not tied in a ponytail, and some of them definitely went pretty funky (like Iggy and Lemmy). With Koopas seeming to be masters in style, I'm sure all of this is intentional. No two Koopas, seem to have identical hair styles, and a Koopa's hair style seems to be tied closely to their personality. During adolescence and adulthood, Bowser probably had a lot more hair to work with, and growing it out into a full mane was a much more mature and menacing look for him. As an aggressive fully-grown Koopa, it seems only appropriate that his mane of hair, spread neatly over the top and back of his head and neck, be spiky, red-hot, and fire-like (very much like the flames that would be shooting out of his mouth at you if you were to dare call him a red-head, or make fun of his do!)
Subject: Removable Shell?
Question: You know in many Mario games you can see Koopa Troopas lose or take their shells off? As for Bowser, he can twirl inside his shell... but does he, or can he, take his shell off? How would he look without his spiked shell? As for Kamek, Kammy, and the other Magikoopas, do they even have shells anyway?!
Answer: A fantastic question for sure, one I've been wondering myself for quite a while. For the longest time, I thought Bowser's spiky backshell was just attached to his back, to serve as armour, and perhaps also for looks. Looking at how Bowser's body is constructed in a lot of the concept art and renders seems to support this. Bowser's light-coloured, ripply stomach appears to be quite soft, and his legs, arms, and tail all attach and blend smoothly with the rest of his orange body, and don't appear like they can be pulled into a full-body shell. It appears as if Bowser's shell can be taken on and off his back, and Bowser's back would probably appear orange like the rest of his body if his shell was ever taken off. I always thought Bowser's body looked exactly as you see it, with only the exception of his back hidden by the hard spikey green shell.
Then, when Bowser first appeared as a playable fighter in Super Smash Brothers Melee, the depiction of how his body was constructed changed. Bowser was able to withdraw into his shell in the game and spin it quickly for a lot of his jumps and moves. Bowser had the ability to quickly tuck in his head, arms, and legs into his shell, meaning that his outside stomach was actually the underside of a full-body shell, and could possibly be hard instead of soft. Bowser was just like any other Koopa Troopa, and would most likely look much different if his shell was lost. Looking at Bowser's art render for Melee, it was hard for me to see any holes where Bowser could pull in his arms or legs or how his outer shell could be hollow. I thought at the time that this was just part of Bowser's "Melee Look", and the idea of Bowser encased in a fortress of a shell that he could use for offense or defense was pretty cool.
Then games came out like Mario Kart Double Dash where there was an item called "Bowser's Shell", which was a full-body shell of Bowser (without Bowser in it of course), with holes for where Bowser's arms and legs and head would stick out of. This huge shell could be thrown just like any other green Koopa shell in a straight line in order to knock other racers away. This was puzzling as it was hard to imagine Bowser was actually encased inside a shell like this. Later, in Mario Power Tennis, Bowser was again shown able to retreat inside his shell and spin over to a far away tennis ball in his Defensive Power Shot, very similar to the Whirling Fortress move in Super Smash Bros. Melee. This made it seem like Bowser does in fact have a full body shell, and it wasn't just exclusive to his look in Melee.
When seeing art renders for Koopa Troopas, the bottom of their shells seem harder, and there does seem to be holes in the shell for them to pull their limbs through to tuck them into their shells. The shells they are encased in look more like the items in the Mario Kart games and the shells you can kick in the platformer games. As for Kamek, Kammy, and other Magikoopas, I believe they have shells as well, but they are just hidden under their wizard cloaks or capes. It definitely looked funny when a Koopa Troops lost their shell in Super Mario World walking around practically naked in their underwear, and it would be funny imagining what Bowser would look like if he lost his. Perhaps that is one for the fan artists who could come up with some interesting dipictions of a shell-less Bowser. I imagine Bowser would find some practical use in wanting to escape from or take off his shell, such as sleeping or other activites. I could not begin to imagine, however, the method Bowser would use to find a way to escape out of a shell like his with him being so large. If he indeed has a full-body shell like suggested, it seems he would be stuck for good in it if this was how it was made, and he could not take it off... it's hard to say.
To be honest, I'm not entirely sure if Bowser's shell is a full-body one, encasing him like a regular Koopa, or if it's just attached to his back. I'm also not sure either way if he is even able to take it off or not. Hopefully in a future Mario game we could get some more information about Bowser's shell, or perhaps what he looks like without it.
Subject: The Origin of Bowser's Kids?
Question: This is a fellow Bowser fan and I have two questions:
1) Where do you believe that Bowser's kids came from? I personally believe that it could have something to do with Koopa magic. Seeing as how Bowser spent a majority of his life with Kamek, learning Koopa magic, I think he could have learned a thing or two along the way that could have led to the creation of his kids.
2) Do you believe Princess Peach is involved in the origin of the Koopa Kids in any way?
1) The existance of Bowser's children is one of the most mysterious enigmas the Mario storyline has to offer. No official explanation has ever been given, except for a rumour in an issue of Nintendo Power of the UK that Bowser has a wife named Clawdia, who would be the Queen of the Koopas. The Mario games pretty much leave that part of the storyline left completely wide open, which allows for everyone's wild imaginations to fill in the plotholes. Perhaps Nintendo did this on purpose in order to give countless fanfic writers the opportunity to offer their unique explanations for the origin of the Koopa Kids. There have been several theories that I have seen thrown around to try to explain the creation of these Koopa youngsters. One is that they could be adopted, as some have pointed out that a lot of the Koopalings don't really resemble Bowser too closely. Another is similar to your idea in that Bowser may have been created them with Koopa magic, or that they might be clones or may have been engineered somehow. Bowser Jr. resembles what Baby Bowser looked like around his age, and I've always thought it quite possible that Bowser Jr. is a clone of Bowser. And finally, it seems the most widely held theory is that Bowser did indeed father all 7 children himself, either through the aid of an unknown female Koopa wife of his, or perhaps several female Koopa partners. If the latter is true, Bowser must be quite the player! I guess you could also ask a similar question about the creation of Bowser himself, and who his mother and father could be if Koopas do in fact reproduce sexually. As for where I think Bowser's kids originated from, I'm still sticking with the rumour that Bowser had them with Queen Clawdia Koopa. All that needs to happen now is for her to appear in a game, which would tie the loose ends for good. As for now, all we can do is speculate, which is pretty very fun to do.
2) I have also heard the idea, or perhaps you could even call it the rumour, that Princess Peach was involved with the creation of the Koopa Kids somehow. With the storyline of Super Mario Bros. 3 offering no explanation of the Koopa Kid's existance, some must have concluded that Princess Peach's first capturing by Bowser in the first Super Mario Bros. may have had something to do with it. This could even be reinforced further after learning later that Bowser has a secret crush on Princess Peach. Then there was Bowser's deception to Bowser Jr. in Super Mario Sunshine that Princess Peach was actually his mother, much to the imagined simultaneous shock and dismay of all gamers who saw that cutscene. I don't think I need to go into too much specifics to point out why it seems absurd how Peach can be the mother of the Koopa Kids. Bowser's children look like Royal Koopas should, and I'm still sticking with the belief that Bowser has a very shy Koopa Queen for a wife.
Subject: Bowser Name Confusion?
Question: Being a huge Bowser fan myself, I thought I would state a few facts that I have learned about Bowser's name:
1. In the TV series "Super Mario Bros. 3", the episode Sneaky, Lying, Cheating, Giant Ninja Koopas, Mario confronts the Koopas calling Bowser by his first and last name.
Quote: "You won't be taking over anything you Bowser Koopa!"
2. The Koopalings are named after famous people, but it is said that Morton Koopa Jr. might be named after Bowser's father, who may have been Morton Koopa Sr.
There you have it. I am also a little confused as to why Bowser is called Koopa in Japan. What do they call Koopa Troopas and Koopa Paratroopas in Japan?
1. For the creation of the green, crocodilian version of "King Koopa" for the Mario Cartoons from way back, the animators most likely depicted their version of Bowser based off the vague 8-bit sprite from the original Super Mario Bros. game. When Bowser's sprite became much more detailed in the Super Mario Bros. 3 game, they had to remain consistent with their original depiction for the sequel cartoon series. This result turned out quite strange however, as Bowser's kids are not green and crocodilian like him, and instead more closely resemble their in-game counterparts. I believe that "King Koopa" (from the cartoon), and Bowser Koopa (from the Mario games), are widely regarded as two unique and seperate characters, despite their name similarities.
2. It was confirmed that the Koopalings - with their wild, punk hairstyles like their father's mane - were personally designed by a different member of the production staff of Super Mario Bros. 3. When the game was ported out, the then nameless children of Bowser's apparently were all named after famous pop-culture icons. Perhaps due to an oversight, they may have gotten into trouble when naming Morton Koopa Jr. The postfixed title of Jr. usually means that the son inherits the same name as the father (e.g. Bowser's son Bowser Jr.). If Morton was named after Bowser's father Morton Koopa Sr., wouldn't that make Morton the brother of Bowser himself? Assuming the validity of Morton's name is correct, the only explanation I have thought of is that Bowser's middle name might be Morton. Maybe Bowser was originally named Morton Koopa, but changed his first name to "Bowser" to sound more intimidating. In the end though, I think they may have just overlooked this during their naming, because Bowser Jr. is confirmed to be Bowser's son, and holds the same first and last name.
As to why Bowser is called just simply "Koopa" in Japan, I'm not entirely sure. The term Koopa usually refers to the entire species, so calling Bowser just simply "Koopa" seems vague. Another idea I thought of, and is just a guess, is perhaps the Japanese like referring to someone by their last name first; maybe out of respect.
Subject: Kammy Koopa Fired?
Question: Has Bowser fired Kammy Koopa? When I first started playing Super Paper Mario, at the beginning at Bowser's Castle, I noticed Kammy was replaced by a regular MagiKoopa. Has something happened in between the events of The Thousand Year Door and Super Paper Mario? Or did he just hate her? Or was it that while Kammy was having fun in Glitzville, Bowser fell in the ocean and "swallowed a dang Blooper" (a quote from Bowser in TTYD). What do you think happened?
Answer: It is hard to say what Bowser does with his minions or accomplices that fail him in his quests and ambitions. Not having seen the Koopalings for several years after Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, one can only assume where Bowser is keeping them. Perhaps they have been shackled in Bowser's dungeon all this time for their past defeats. Although, they did reappear as bosses in Mario & Luigi: SuperStar Saga, so perhaps their punishments, if you wannna call it that, was just to stay and guard Bowser's Castle. However, with Bowser coming across as much more benign than cruel lately, I doubt he would punish his sidekicks or his children; which he seems to spoil more than anything (like the way he was raised). I think currently Bowser no longer has a use for Kammy Koopa, and will be using other followers to carry out his deeds.
Subject: No Emotion?
From: Katrina Parkinson
Question: I've heard that Bowser has no emotion, but is it true? I'm rather confused as he seems to feel something for Peach, especially for Bowser Jr. So could there be a reason for his hatred to most other things? And if so, why?
Answer: No emotion? Bowser is pretty much the most emotional out of all of the Mario characters! Or at least the character with the most personality! Peach's constant capturings are fueled by Bowser's secret crush on her. Bowser is also the loving father of eight Koopa Kids (including Bowser Jr.). In fact, some think that Bowser isn't really that evil of a villain or bad guy because of how much of a softy he seems to be lately. It also doesn't really seem that Bowser hates most other things, his evilness seems almost like an act, or just pure obnoxiousness. Bowser is just an attention craving, power hungry beast... and we love him for it!
Subject: Bowser may be a Fire Bro.
Question: Is it possible that Bowser is just a very large Fire Bro.? Y'know Fire Bros., they're cousins of the Hammer Bros. that spit fire out of their mouths. So far, besides his son Ludwig, Bowser is the only Koopa who can breathe fire, other than these guys. Although he doesn't do it in the same style, no other Koopa besides them can do the same. Fire Bros. are also known to be extremely rare, which could explain why there aren't any Koopas similar to Bowser (besides his children) in the Koopa Kingdom.
Answer: It does seem like there are very few Koopas with the ability to fire-spit in the Koopa Kingdom, and originally I thought only Koopas of the Royal Family (Bowser & children) were able to do it. The Fire Bros. were introduced in Super Mario Bros. 3, and are variations of the Hammer Bros., throwing fireballs instead of hammers. Although Bowser and the Fire Bros. are both Koopas, the Koopas from the Royal Family have different looking faces than normal Koopas. Royal Family Koopas have short alligator-like snouts, while most normal Koopas have beaks. This question seems very similar to the one earlier about Bowser possibly being a Spiny. Although other foot soldiers of the Koopa army may have some of Bowser's characteristics, none are part of the Royalty. As suggested earlier, perhaps Koopas with abilities that Bowser shares, such as breathing fire or sporting spikes may be higher-ranked Koopas.
Subject: Bowser's native language
From: Cyndi H.
Question: I have a theory about Bowser regarding why he speaks in some games and only roars or growls in others. Perhaps "Mushroom" (English) isn't his native language. Maybe his "native language" is the roars and growls. So his voice sounding gruff and growly could be his accent, since speaking "Mushroom" wouldn't be as natural for him as roaring or growing. I mean if you're playing Mario Kart 64 and Bowser roars, how do you know he's not cursing out Mario in Koopa-ese? (Bowser would have awful road rage, I can tell!) If you imagine the Mario universe like the Star Trek universe - where the aliens all have their own languages, but speak a "universal" English, it does make sense. Just thought I'd toss that out.
Answer: An interesting theory indeed, although I couldn't imagine a very complex Koopa language consisting of just grunts, growls, and roars! (What would a long speech sound like?) In Super Mario RPG, Bowser's "speech" was written out, similar to subtitles. Mario and the other characters were able to understand and communicate with Bowser, so he must have been speaking their language. In Super Mario 64, Bowser also had his "speech" written out, and the only sounds heard was his intimidating evil laugh "Bwa hah ha ha". In these earlier games, the player was left to just imagine what Bowser's gruff, imtimidating, low booming voice must have sounded like (unless you're talking Super Mario Sunshine, but lets not go there...) If Bowser's only form of communication was his roaring, I doubt the other characters would be able to understand him. As for all the characters speaking a "universal" language, this seems to make the most sense. Although I doubt just English would be the only universal language, it would be tied to the region the game was presented in. So that universal language could be Japanese, French, Spanish, etc. I guess it is possible that there is a "Koopa-ese" language, but how would the other characters understand it to translate it? I think Bowser just roars, grunts, and growls because he's bad, cool, and just because he can!
Subject: I'm confused about Bowser's species!
Question: Why is Bowser a KOOPA? He has spikes on his shell! Wouldn't that technically make him a Spiny?
Answer: The term "Koopa" means the collection of species of turtles in the Super Mario universe. There are many different kinds of Koopas in Bowser's "Koopa Army", including Koopa Troopas, Magikoopas, Hammer Bros., Dry Bones, Chargin' Chucks, Lakitus, and Spinys. All of these Koopas have different ranks, with Koopa Troopa being the lowest ranked Koopa, and King Bowser Koopa of course being the highest. The Koopa Kids, as well as Bowser Jr., who are part of the Royal Koopa line, also have spikes. It is possible that the spikes are a display of a Koopa's rank, as King Bowser Koopa's spikes are the largest and longest. Most likely however, Spinys have spikes to avoid being jumped on, making it a challenging foe. Spinys are a valuable addition into the mixture of turtle soldiers in the Koopa Army, with King Bowser Koopa being the powerful ruler and commander of all Koopas.
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