Have you ever wondered what the deal is with Toad and Toadette? You know what I mean. As in, where do little baby Toads come from? Or are you too caught up in how cute the two of them are? Hey, I can’t blame you if that’s the case.
Nintendo recently addressed the question of where and how it draws the line between “Toad” and “Toadette” in its Super Mario fiction. The topic came up in a GameSpot interview with Koichi Hayashida, a producer on Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, an upcoming Wii U puzzle game drawn from the eponymous hero’s side-missions in the excellent platformer Super Mario 3D World. GameSpot asked Hayashida about what rules, if any, exist to help differentiate “between male and female Toads”. Given the subject matter at hand, Hayashida’s answer is perfectly innocuous and silly-sounding: there aren’t any hard-and-fast “rules” about the gender of Toads, because Nintendo never really saw the need to create such rules in the first place.
“This is maybe a little bit of a strange story,” Hayashida told GameSpot, “but we never really went out of our way to decide on the sex of these characters, even though they have somewhat gendered appearances.”
“But I think what I can say is that Toadette and Toad are not siblings — perhaps it would be more accurate to say they are adventure pals,” he added, addressing the possibility of a romantic bond between the two mushroom-like entities.
Hayashida’s logic might not stand up to close scrutiny of Toad and Toadette’s entire history as core Nintendo characters. A 1986 movie about Mario that Nintendo only released in Japan, for instance, shows some Toads that were clearly relegated to more traditional gender roles (for lack of a better term). But I find the developer’s explanation illustrative all of the same, because it speaks to how the company is now choosing to address any previous ambiguities it allowed to linger about Toads’ genders by essentially saying that the ambiguity is intentional.
As for the similarities that Toad and Toadette have to Super Mario’s mushrooms, all Hayashida would say was: “This particular riddle might stay unsolved,” calling it “one of the great mysteries of the Mario universe.”
So, in other words… Toad and Toadette might don appearances that reference a specific gender. But those appearances don’t necessarily match the gender of the Toad wearing them. GameSpot and GoNintendo both conclude that Toad is a fundamentally genderless being as a result. I prefer to think of Toad’s gender differently, however. Toad and Toadette aren’t “male” or “female”. They’re both just Toad. And what is “Toad”, exactly? Maybe that’s just another one of “the great mysteries of the Mario universe.”