This is part of a planned series of posts analyzing, discussing and generally having fun with Super Paper Mario, my favorite Wii game. If you find it ridiculous that I am spending a great deal of thinking time trying to fill up plot holes in a very cheesy Mario game, you should probably ignore this.
VICIOUS SPOILERS HEREIN!!
Do you remember how way back, at the very beginning of Super Paper Mario, in the prologue – you know, the bit that will play if you don’t press 2 when you start the game up – that bit of music at the beginning of it will haunt me forever – anyhow, in the prologue, the narrator says of the Dark Prognosticus: “No person, after obtaining this amazing book, ever found happiness.” Yet, at the very end of the game, it is strongly implied that Count Bleck and Tippi are living in happiness, despite the fact that Count Bleck certainly had obtained the Dark Prognosticus at one point. So what should one conclude? Are all those characters at the end of SPM who insist on Bleck and Tippi’s happiness just deceiving themselves? Or perhaps they sincerely think Bleck and Tippi are happy, but we enlightened players are supposed to know that this can’t possibly be the case because of the Dark Prognosticus? Or is there some way we can still honestly think Bleck and Tippi are happy?
Well, you could say that Bleck broke the curse that had previously afflicted all people who obtained the Dark Prognosticus; after all, one of the themes of Super Paper Mario is that prophecies, curses and the like aren’t final and unchangeable. Or you could take a really cheap way out and say that Bleck wasn’t a person, exactly, he was a member of the Tribe of Darkness and not human. So even if no person could ever find happiness after having obtained the Dark Prognosticus, he could since he wasn’t a person. Or you could explain it another way. A way that fills up several other plot holes, too. And a way that gives a very important role to poor unfortunate Nastasia, who I think is probably my favorite character from SPM for no particularly good reason. I call this explanation the “awesome Nastasia theory,” because I personally think it’s awesome, but I leave it up to you to decide if it really and truly is.
So. Let’s begin with an assumption. This assumption is worth it, because if we just make this small adjustment to our interpretation of that prologue, we can satisfactorily explain a lot of holes that the more obvious interpretation leaves open. The assumption is: when the narrator in the prologue says that “no person, after obtaining this amazing book, ever found happiness,” they mean that no person ever found happiness while they actually had the Dark Prognosticus. One’s first interpretation would probably be that if you had ever obtained the Dark Prognosticus at any point in your life, you could never be happy, whether or not you still had it. My new little slightly-modified interpretation says that if you actually currently own the Dark Prognosticus, you can never be happy. Now, stay with me. This will work out.
Let’s now go far ahead, all the way to the beginning of the ending of SPM, the bit in Castle Bleck where you finally enter a room and meet Count Bleck and Nastasia. Now, have you ever noticed that Count Bleck doesn’t have the Dark Prognosticus with him in this scene? The other times you see him in Castle Bleck, he does have the Prognosticus. Yet at this point he doesn’t. So presumably, knowing that the heroes were coming – remember Nastasia’s warnings that “that hero’s gonna collect the Pure Hearts and come here. He’ll come for you”? – he put the Prognosticus in a safe place where it wouldn’t get in the way. He may have also wanted to get it out of the way of the coming battle because he had some protective instinct for it, but that’s not important; the point is that he put it safely away. Then, right before he begins fighting you, he sends Nastasia away, despite her initial hesitation. But where does Nastasia go? Perhaps to the same safe room where the Prognosticus is…?
Now imagine this. Nastasia is standing there alone, knowing that Count Bleck will probably fail, yet also desperately hoping that he won’t succeed and destroy the world; terribly worried for him, unsure of which prophecy to trust, not wanting either of them to come true, and completely unable to do anything. And there is the Dark Prognosticus sitting right there – the Dark Prognosticus that has all the answers. And then suddenly she remembers that no person can ever be happy while they own the Dark Prognosticus, and so as things stand, Bleck, her dear, unfortunate, tragic Count Bleck, can never find happiness. But if she takes possession of it and reads it, the curse would be lifted off him and put on her instead…Put on her, who could never be happy anyways while his heart belongs to Timpani…
What do you think she would do? Take it and read it. And then inside she would discover that Dimentio would betray Bleck and send him to Dimension D, but if Bleck and his other minions were together again, they might be able to restore the Pure Hearts, and if that happened, Tippi and Bleck would be happy together, albeit separate from everyone else. Now, you may ask, how is it that Nastasia could read something in the Dark Prognosticus that Bleck apparently never saw? I appeal to Carson’s story about Dimentio. Carson says that Count Bleck turned Dimentio away “until he read in the Dark Prognosticus about the role of someone similar.” Yet – assuming Dimentio joined Bleck relatively recently (a hypothesis supported by the story of the bat and the man who rescued her) – Count Bleck had a great deal of time to read the Prognosticus before he read this bit about somebody like Dimentio, as he says to Tippi that he “searched long…searched and searched” for her. All this searching would quite certainly be after he had acquired the Prognosticus and, it seems, killed his father. And he would probably have been reading it quite a bit, considering that even when he first acquires it he says, “Speak, Dark Prognosticus! Teach your dark history!”
So despite all this reading he did, and the great familiarity he seems to have with the dark prophecy judging from how often he quotes it, he didn’t see this bit about Dimentio until fairly recently. And the Dark Prognosticus, from how it looks in the game, doesn’t look like it was long enough that he could possibly not reach the bit about Dimentio until recently. So then presumably the contents of the Dark Prognosticus actually shift and change. After all, Count Bleck never shows any sign of having knowledge from the Dark Prognosticus other than the knowledge of the dark prophecy, despite the fact that it must have had such information at one point: “Over the years, many have fought over it… Entire countries have fallen. And the fall of those countries was already predicted in the book,” Garson says. Garson also says in the same story that “everything that’ll happen in the future is written down in this book.” So how on earth could it be that small and have all that information? Its contents must change.
So, back to Nastasia. Now, having learned all this, she could finally act and help to prevent what she dreaded. So of course, eager to try to save Bleck, even if she could never be with him, she would rush off to tell Mimi and O’Chunks to go to Dimension D, telling them that she “FELT” Count Bleck would be there since she would not want to admit that she had stolen the Dark Prognosticus from her master. Then she would rush back to the room where Count Bleck was being defeated, hoping to be able to shield him from Dimentio when the time came.
And so that is why Nastasia knew to shield Bleck from Dimentio, and why she knew that Blumiere and Timpani were living somewhere in happiness together as she says at the end, and and why she is so sad if you speak to her after you finish, saying that she knows what it was like when Blumiere became Count Bleck, because she too lost someone she loved and was corrupted by the Dark Prognosticus. And that is why Count Bleck and Tippi can actually live together in happiness after the events of the game, despite the fact that Count Bleck had owned the Dark Prognosticus for quite some time.
This theory could also explain why Nastasia was able to survive Dimentio’s blow. The Light Prognosticus reveals that Count Bleck had some sort of “dark power”: “Naught can stop [the Void]…unless the one protected by the dark power is destroyed.” Could this power have come from owning the Dark Prognosticus? After all, the Tribe of Darkness, according to Garson, may have “used the book’s power to enhance their dark magic.” If this power came from the Dark Prognosticus, when Nastasia took ownership of the book, she received the dark power…which could have then helped to protect her from Dimentio’s magic.
And so there you have it: my grand theory, my favorite crazy theory I’ve come up with to date, my lovely theory that explains the plot holes of how exactly Count Bleck can be happy, how Nastasia knew Bleck would be in Dimension D, how Nastasia was aware of the whereabouts of Bleck and Tippi after the end, and how Nastasia could have survived Dimentio’s magic blast, but best of all, my theory that makes dear, unfortunate, tragic Nastasia important. My theory that is, perhaps, just a bit awesome.