With the popularity of the Super Mario series you'd think that, with all of the licensing Nintendo has done over 30+ years, some items will have gone missing. One of these was a short educational film in Japan called “Super Mario’s Traffic Safety”, also known as “Super Mario no Koutsuu Anzen” in Japanese. Released by Toei Animation in 1989, the video was made as a companion to “Super Mario’s Fire Brigade”; that video has been preserved and can be found online. The traffic safety one, though, has not.
But why? Mario has been popular from the beginning and surely anything mass-produced can be found, even if it has gone out of print. The answer is that these videos were never for sale to the public and were only sold to schools in Japan in 1989. So while there may have been thousands of copies distributed back then, none have turned up online.
However on May 27th I witnessed this video in full first hand. A special screening of anime for children was shown at the Animation and Film Center at Sonic City in Omiya, Japan. Alongside other shorts based on classic and modern characters, “Super Mario Traffic Safety” was shown to a sold out crowd of 500 people, mostly excited kids.
The short was on a well-kept 16mm film reel with very little deterioration. The story focuses on a young boy and his little sister who get separated from their mother because he was playing Super Mario Bros. 3 when he shouldn't have been. The boy almost gets hit by a car, which Mario was driving. Mario tells the boy about the dangers of running out into the street and together they try to find the boy’s sister and mother. Bowser is also in the town and tries to kidnap the lost girl after running into her; when the family finds each other Mario then spots Bowser, who runs away right into traffic. Mario then kicks him out of the way and reviews safety points with the boy and a police officer. With the lesson learned, Mario uses his Tanooki tail to fly away.
While the film is not “lost” any more in the traditional sense of having no existing copies remaining, it still has not been uploaded in full online. The copy that was screened will be shown again in the future, but is not being lent out. It is possible that other film reels and VHS tapes exist somewhere in Japanese schools, or in forgotten boxes somewhere. Until then, take a look at the video below, which explains the plot in greater detail and shows about 2 minutes of footage I was able to sneakily capture during the screening.
If you happen to find a copy, please let me know so it can be digitized and preserved.
If you liked this video be sure to check out Gaijillionaire's Club for all things retro, Nintendo and Japan.