All About Japan

The Rebranding of Tokyo's 'MariCar' Go-Carts

| Nintendo , Tokyo

From the start, MariCar’s business model was to piggyback on the popularity of Nintendo’s Mario Kart. Offering multi-participant go-kart tours on the streets of downtown Tokyo, MariCar’s name was obviously meant to evoke images of the video game franchise, as were the knockoff Super Mario-style costumes MariCar rented out to customers.

But MariCar has no working relationship or collaborative contract with Nintendo, and eventually the Kyoto-based software developer took MariCar to court, a move which came in the wake of multiple go-kart tour accidents (with at least one confirmed as involving a MariCar customer). Nintendo won the lawsuit, and MariCar was ordered to pay a fine to Nintendo and also to cease and desist with renting costumes designed to resemble Nintendo characters.

Nevertheless, MariCar is still up and running, now with a total of seven branches in Tokyo and also rental centers in Kyoto, Kanagawa, Osaka, and Okinawa (though some are operated under the brand name “Street Kart”). They’ve even spruced up their vehicles with new paint/graphics. See if you can spot what’s new.

It’s hard to tell if this is a genuine effort to distance themselves from the Super Mario Kart series, or a passive-aggressive push-back against Nintendo, but the MariCar go-carts are now plastered with notices reading “Unrelated to Nintendo.” They’re visible from every possible angle, with the message appearing no fewer than 15 times.

Such enthusiastic sticker-slapping hasn’t been seen since the late ‘90s, when teen drivers would pry the DX badges off their EK Civic coupes and cover them with bootleg Type R decals purchased from the shady tuner parts shop at the mall.

Twitter users have started sharing snapshots of the new MariCar carts they’ve spotted in the wild…

…and at least one gamer has gone extra-meta by customizing his vehicle in one of the Mario Kart games with the “Unrelated to Nintendo” notice in Japanese text.

Their doth-protest-too-much disclaimers aside, it’s still pretty apparent that MariCar knows that the majority of its customers are people with at least a moderate interest in Mario Kart. When accessing the company’s website, the very first thing that pops up is a warning about the importance of safe driving which quickly starts dropping references to the Nintendo games, telling prospective drivers “Do not throw banana peels” and “Do not throw red turtle shells.”

▼ Blue Shells are not mentioned, perhaps because of a consensus that using them, whether in the rule world or the confines of the games, makes you a jerk.

Ironically, all the “Unrelated to Nintendo” notices end up, in a way, having the opposite effect, because they make it completely impossible to look at MariCar’s carts for even a second without thinking of Mario Kart too, but Nintendo will probably still take that over having people behind the wheel who’re dressed as Mario.

Read the original article from our friends at SoraNews24 via the link below!


Source, images: MariCar

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