Just recently Mario starred alongside iconic parts of Japanese culture (including Pac-Man, Doraemon and more) in a flashy presentation video at the Rio 2016 Olympics closing ceremony. It was part of the handover to Tokyo, which is hosting the 2020 games, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emerged from a pipe dressed as Nintendo's famous plumber.
If you haven't seen it, below is a reminder.
In any case, some have wondered quite why Pokémon didn't feature in the showcase, a valid question with Pokémon GO being a powerful force while Pokémon Sun and Moon aren't far away. Basically, it was all about timing.
Multiple outlets in Japan - summarised by Anime News Network - drilled down into the detail of the choices made in the video, and it seems Mario was the star courtesy of his undeniable brand power (and franchise sales of over 300 million units) and the hard-to-ignore Rio / Ma-Rio word play. Yet surely Pokémon could have also featured?
It seems timing went against it, as work on the video began back in January this year, long before GO took off. Pokémon is a huge franchise beyond GO, of course, but it's understandable that tough choices were made to represent a broad range of characters, not just video game mascots.
In any case, we think most will agree that Mario's appearance was a great choice, along with the many other iconic characters that help to define Japanese popular culture.
With thanks to Ed for the heads up.