Nintendo has never bothered that much with lore, but when it does, man, is it weird. Case in point: ARMS.
the ARMS "lore" is maybe the best fighting game backstory of all time pic.twitter.com/XL8sF4UhiV
— NOAH ♪♫ (@getdizzzy) June 20, 2017
But even ARMS has nothing on Nintendo's latest revelation about Mario's hat in Mario Odyssey. It’s kind of weird enough that Mario’s cap, Cappy (hey, we don’t come up with the names), is a sentient being that specialises in taking control of other living things and objects. But now we've learned that the sentient spirit-stealing hat also has a family.
Yes, someone in Kyoto felt that Mario’s hat needed a motivational arc. Thus Cappy has a ‘sister’ in the form of Princess Peach’s tiara. This is why he’s helping out everyone’s favourite former plumber. Of course, this raises more questions than it answers.
Do hats have DNA?
Let’s start with the basics. If you’ve got a brother and sister, that relationship is probably based on shared parents and shared genes. It’s not difficult to believe that Cappy might have a double helix, but this raises the question of what exactly is going on when he takes over other organisms. Splice in a bit of dino DNA, perhaps? Are they still genetic brother and sister when possession is taking place? Is he some kind of genetic leech?
How does this affect Mario and Peach’s relationship?
A relationship between a plumber and a princess is a beautiful thing, but when you contextualise that as a plumber and princess who wear the bodies of a brother and sister duo upon their heads, things get a little messier. Do the hats have to leave the room for any semi-romantic moments between their wearers? If not, isn't that super awkward?
Has Mario’s hat ALWAYS been sentient, and has the hat always been brothers with Peach’s Tiara?
I mean, we can kind of answer this one. Mario’s hat hasn’t had eyes in the past, and neither has Peach’s tiara. If they have always been sentient, they must have been hiding secretly away, which makes things creepy again. How long has Mario’s Hat been waiting, watching, plotting?
Thankfully, yesterday's Nintendo Direct clearly showed Mario’s classic hat held in tatters by Cappy, in the form of a top hat ghost. Mario’s original hat was probably just a hat, and this hat ghost has transformed into Mario’s cap after it was destroyed.
Who or what are the hat’s parents? Do we get to meet them?
If Cappy and Tiara are siblings, it stands to reason that they share a set of parents. Assuming those are biological parents, we now have to ask what pairing of hats genetically produces both Cappy and a Tiara. Are all male hats top hats and caps, with female hats guaranteed to be tiaras? Are they different types of hat entirely with recessive alleles coming to the surface? Will we be able to meet the parents to strengthen our emotional attachment to Cappy’s quest?
Does gender as a social construct apply to hats?
If Cappy and Tiara are brother and sister, with Cappy using female pronouns to refer to Tiara, does that mean hats have a concept of societally constructed gender? In a species with no visible genitals, there’s no obvious societal signifier that would naturally lead to a delineation along gendered lines for hats, which makes me wonder how you tell the gender of a hat in the first place. Is the gender of a hat determined by the gender of the human wearing it? Is it determined by human clothing stereotypes?
I fully expect Mario Odyssey to answer this question for me before it’s done.
Can hats have sex? HOW do hats have sex? Do they do asexual reproduction? Do hats have pregnancies?
So, this is the killer question. If hats can have children and siblings, it stands to reason hats in the Mario universe can have sex. What does that even look like? Does the brim of one hat get inserted into the head cavity of another? Does that make the brim of Mario’s hat a set of exposed genitals? When a hat is pregnant does it fill up, becoming for a short time unable to be worn? Does it give birth through that little hole in the back of the cap you use to adjust the tightness on your head?
Surely this is giving the erotic fanart community a lot to work with.
Are all the hats in the Mushroom Kingdom actually sentient or is it just these two?
Well, in the Nintendo Direct we see a world of sentient eyeball hats called Cap Kingdom. It’s heavily implied this is the world of sentient hats. If your hat isn’t secretly from here, it’s not alive. All the other hats in the Mushroom Kingdom are probably just hats.
Why are the hats in poverty? What is the socioeconomic structure of the hat kingdom?
In the brief glimpse we get of the Cap Kingdom during last night’s direct, things appear to be grey, dilapidated and smouldering with the smoke of a fire only just put out. Considering these hats seem to not have the money or infrastructure to fix up their homes, it stands to reason the Cap Kingdom is a place of socioeconomic poverty. The question is, why?
From the brief glimpse we saw, Cap Kingdom is comprised solely of wooden boxes and houses, showing no signs of businesses, emergency services, places of employment, governance or banking structures. In a community with no ecosystem, it’s no wonder things fall into disrepair. These hats really need to go find jobs somewhere, maybe commute to New Donk City or something.
We do however seen coins hidden behind woodeen pillars in a background shot. Hats, why are you not fixing your town with these coins? Is this a rudimentary banking system?
Do top hats look down on other hats?
If we extrapolate the personalities of hats from the personalities of the humans who typically wear them, we have to ask if top hats look down on flat caps like Cappy. Do they share our societal notions of an upper class/working class divide? By becoming a cap, has Cappy had to adjust to a step down in societal position? Will he be forced to confront hat-based class prejudice? This is fertile ground for emotionally-driven narrative.
Why is Cappy called Cappy if he’s a top hat and not a cap?
Was Cappy called Cappy when he was still a top hat? If not, that's one hell of a coincidence.
Is a Tiara technically even a hat?
So, let’s get this straight, I don’t think a tiara is a hat, as much as it’s an item of jewellery. An accessory. It doesn’t feature a top, and it doesn’t fully circle the head. It’s made of metals and gems rather than fabric. I think it’s a stretch to call it a hat.
Maybe Tiara is secretly not a hat ghost at all, but some kind of jewellery ghost adopted from an as yet not revealed Jewellery Kingdom. It’s the only natural explanation. I feel like we're starting to go in circles here. Better stop before it gets out of hand.