Mario and Luigi go to China! Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. appear in Shenzhen

Nintendo's mascots have made a surprise appearance in a large Shenzhen mural

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 December, 2013, 9:18pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 December, 2013, 9:25pm

Nintendo’s famous mustachioed mascots, the Mario Bros., have popped out of the Mushroom Kingdom and appeared in Shenzhen on a massive elementary school mural.

The mural, which first went up in October, was captured in photos taken by a Shenzhen resident and Flickr user known as Chris. These images have since gone viral, appearing on various gaming and pop culture websites.

Featuring Mario and his brother Luigi jumping over obstacles and enemies taken straight from Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. video game series, the painting takes up the entire wall of a currently unidentified five storey Shenzhen elementary school.

Internet commentators studying the photos have claimed that the school seems to be located close to Shenzhen’s Bao’an Stadium, roughly a 15 minute walk from the city metro’s Tai’an Station.

A reporter from Japanese popular news website NariNari travelled to Shenzhen to check the authenticity of the mural, and reported that it was constructed partly because of the school’s curricular focus on Japanese animation and comics, and also as an artistic installation designed to inspire children.

“As Mario runs up from the bottom of the mural to the top without fear of the difficult obstacles in his path, children must actively strive to do the same,” NariNari reported, citing explanations for the mural’s creation given in local Shenzhen newspapers.

The quirky and colourful artwork has proven popular with children and passerby in the area, although it is unclear whether Nintendo actually sanctioned the use of the Super Mario Bros. likeness.

Netizens have pointed out that the school likely designed the mural without Nintendo’s permission – especially since Luigi, the younger and lankier member of the Mario Bros. duo, is wearing a red and blue outfit instead of his trademark green.  

“They are out of green paint,” a commentator on video game website Kotaku wrote. “Budget constraint.”

Although Mario and Luigi do not command the same star power in China as they do elsewhere around the globe, a fact largely thanks to the mainland’s 13 year ban on foreign video game consoles, the Nintendo mascots are still recognised by most Chinese gamers - especially those who grew up playing the original Japanese Famicom video game system, which was popular in China in the 1980s.