Poetic Bookending, Parallels and the Like in Super Paper Mario

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 performing literary analysis on a very cheesy Mario game, you should probably ignore this.


I really love it when stories have parallels between plot threads and events and that sort of thing as well as parallels between characters in the form of foils. I don’t why I love them. I just do. They’re so satisfyingly, wonderfully, beautifully structural. But anyhow, perhaps this is part of why I enjoyed Super Paper Mario so much, because SPM has quite a few of these parallels. Here are the ones I’ve found so far – I may later update this post with more.

First of all, the beginning and the end parallel each other significantly. In the prologue, a bad guy (Bowser) and a good girl (Peach) are married without any true love in order to create the Chaos Heart. (One could try to argue that Bowser has true love for Peach, but I don’t think so, mostly because I think true love does not involve forcibly kidnapping your loved one.) In the end, the marriage (or redeclaration of love…it didn’t look much like a marriage to me) of a bad guy (Count Bleck) and good girl (Tippi) destroyed the Chaos Heart. There are other parallels, too – Bowser and Count Bleck are both central antagonists, while Peach and Tippi are supporting character types.

Then the Chaos Heart and the Pure Hearts have large parallels. The Chaos Heart was used three times: to make the Void, to make Bleck invincible during the final fight, and to make Super Dimentio invincible. The Pure Hearts were also used three times: to remove Bleck’s invincibility, to remove Super Dimentio’s invincibility, and finally to destroy the Void. Also, as Mario and co. collected the Pure Hearts and so expanded their power, the Void, and so the power of the Chaos Heart, expanded too.

Finally, the beginning and the end are the only time when you don’t know where Tippi is. (You lose Tippi at other points, but in chapter 4, you know she’s with Francis, and in chapter 7, you know she’s with Merlon, and so on.) But in both cases, there are strong implications as to where she is, so you can make an educated guess – you can figure that she was living with Merlon in Flipside in the beginning, and that she’s living with Bleck in some other dimension in the end. (Unless the other characters are just lying at the end to make themselves feel better. That’s how you can interpret it if you like bad endings.)

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