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on Bowser
Bowser: a character study. I did some soul searching about a year ago. I set out to truly understand who I am and what I believe. And in order to do this, I went as far back as my childhood to deconstruct the narratives I heard growing up. I realized that in all those stories and fairytales, there was always a hero and a villain. And, as a child, I never questioned those roles. I simply accepted that the bad guy was inherently evil, and the good guy was inherently righteous.

But as I began to think critically about each of those childhood stories, I realized that accepting the narratives at face value actually made me more close-minded and less understanding of the circumstances that shape who we are.

Enter Bowser.

We've all heard of Bowser, the villainous King of the Koopas and archnemesis of everybody's favorite mustached plumber. To most, there's no question that Bowser is a bad guy. He kidnaps the princess and sets out to take over Mushroom Kingdom. It's a pretty cut and dry story of good versus evil.

But is Bowser, under closer inspection, truly an evil character? What motivates his actions? And how have his circumstances shaped who he's become?

One thing we know about Bowser is that he's a great father. He's very protective of his son, Bowser Jr., and we see a rare emotional side to him whenever the two are together. This emotion surfaces in Super Mario Sunshine, where we learn that Bowser Jr. never met his mother. To relieve his son's sadness and longing, Bowser tells him that Princess Peach is his real mother. But, at the end of the game, Bowser Jr. reveals that he knew all along this wasn't true. It's at that moment that we see an emotional Bowser tear up as he realizes he couldn't fill that void for his only son.

Beyond his connection with his son, Bowser also adopted 7 orphan Koopalings. He took them in and raised them as his own children, and he later built a castle for each one.

It's possible that part of his attachment to his children stems from not having a real relationship with his own parents growing up. Bowser was instead raised primarily by Kamek, a powerful sorcerer known for wreaking havoc across the kingdom. For every one of Bowser's wrongdoings during his childhood, Kamek was there, like a proud parent encouraging his son.

These circumstances created the princess-stealer we know of today. Unable to process his love for Princess Peach, Bowser kidnaps her and attempts to win her love with an elaborate wedding on the Moon, as shown in the recently released Super Mario Odyssey. Bowser goes to great lengths to acquire the very best of everything for this wedding, visiting kingdoms all over the galaxy to obtain the best flowers, cake and decorations. Of course, these efforts only lead to rejection—something Bowser has become quiet familiar with.

For me, taking a deeper look into Bowser's character added much-needed context to his actions throughout the many Super Mario storylines. But above all, it's also taught me to consider the circumstances of those around me and avoid making judgements without a complete picture. To those that have read this far, I encourage you to give it a try. Pick a popular villain and dig deep. See what you discover, and perhaps your view of that character will change.
6mo ago  •  3 comments

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