When you think of Japan, a few things certainly come to mind: Sushi, Samurai, and perhaps even Mario. The lovable mascot for Nintendo has been around since the 1980s and heads the most lucrative video game franchise of all time. Mario has appeared in over 200 video games since his creation, and now, the overall-clad plumber can say he's taken part of the Olympics - no, really. The famous character made a surprise appearance tonight during the Olympics Closing Ceremony.
In Rio, over 40,000 people gathered to celebrate the end of the Summer Games as athletes and fans came together. The extravagant event is held at every games to thank that year's host city and usher in the next. So, with Japan set to host the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, the country wanted to go all-out with their celebrations. And, to do that, they needed a 1-UP from Mario.
The character made a surprise CGI appearance as the closing ceremony incorporated a video which showed the character taking a warp pipe from Japan to Brazil. And, in the meantime, the character managed to transform into Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. A giant green pipe was center stage in Rio as Mario traveled thousands of miles to bring a what appears to be a dodgeball to the arena. And, when, the prime minister popped out of the iconic pipe, the crowd understandably went wild.
And, what's more, a massive fireworks display accompanied Japan's showcase at the ceremony. A barrage of fireworks were lit around the arena's open roof while a very familiar jingle played over head. The song that plays whenever players complete a Super Mario Bros. level was blasted in time with the pyrotechnics, creating a stunning display of colors and geekiness.
While several reports earlier in the day indicated that Pokemon might've been Japan's ambassador at the closing ceremony, Mario is a good of choice as any. Standing as a cultural icon, Mario did a wonderful job welcoming the Olympics to Tokyo as plans for the future games head underway.
Just, nobody tell Akira about what all went down tonight. After all, the cult classic manga debuted over thirty years ago and used the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as its backdrop, and the games are even included in the franchise' iconic anime. If anything were to have wanted to be Japan's cultural ambassador, it would've been Akira.