While "Switched at Birth?" has been a staple of FlyingOmelette.com almost since its inception, there are times when the entries go beyond the mere casual coincidence or rip off. There are times when the resemblance goes beyond the mere physical and into the realm of personality, role, voice, manners, and other general strangeness, to such an extent that you wonder if more intention is at work, or if it is simply a matter of great minds thinking alike. These entries are...

Episode 1

File #1: Super Mario Land vs. Alex Kidd


On the left we have Alex Kidd in his Pedicopter as seen in Sega's Alex Kidd in Miracle World. On the left is Tatanga in his spaceship Pagosu, the final boss of Nintendo's Super Mario Land. The similarity in the shapes of the heads, ears, and even the vehicles themselves is unmistakable. Sega and Nintendo were the chief rivals of the video game industry during the era the Alex Kidd and Super Mario Land games were made (and for many years after that, too.)The question is: Coincidence? Or intentional parody on Nintendo's part?

Tatanga is described in the Super Mario Land manual as an "unknown space monster" and "mysterious spaceman". Alex Kidd is from a faraway planet called "Aries" (although sometimes it was called "Radaction"). My guess is that this "mysterious spaceman" really is Alex Kidd, and Nintendo was poking fun at their competition by having him be the final boss of Mario's flagship Game Boy game. Tatanga's invasion of the kingdoms in Super Mario Land is symbolic of Sega's "invasion" of the home video game market.

Several years ago, long before I noticed the similarity of Tatanga to Alex Kidd, I played Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle and remarked on my forums that it shared some striking similarities to Super Mario Land. Alex Kidd is very obviously a Mario-inspired game series, so some things like the blocks and coins originated with Mario. But what struck me the most were the presence of vehicles used to get through certain levels in both games and the Kyonshi enemies:


Kyonshi, or Jiang Shi, are a type of Chinese vampire that often appear in video games. (Two other notable exmaples are Phantom Fighter and Hsien-Ko of DarkStalkers.) In Super Mario Land, they are called "Pionpi", but are undoubtedly the same type of bouncing, zombie-like creature.

As if all of this weren't enough, this quote from the Super Mario Wiki really makes me wonder:

Tatanga reappears as a boss in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. Although his role in this game was not as significant, much of his backstory was revealed, included [sic] the motivation behind the invasion of Sarasaland. As it turns out, Tatanga was hired by Wario to invade the peaceful Sarasaland and kidnap Princess Daisy, just so Wario could conquer Mario's Castle. While Mario was distracted with Tatanga, Wario took over Mario Land and occupied Mario's Castle.

Though Wario has grown into his own thing over the years, he was originally a Mario-wannabe, an imposter, so to speak. So, with Tatanga having been working for him specifically, was Wario a metaphor for Sega themselves? Or maybe just Sonic the Hedgehog? Think about how Sega eventually ditched Alex Kidd for Sonic, and Tatanga, being seen as a minor distraction, could be symbolic of that.

One possible argument against this theory is that Tatanga's official artwork looks nothing like Alex Kidd:

While that is true, there are two things I can say about that. The first is that while you can probably get away with making a similar-looking game sprite (especially on a monochrome game with such tiny graphics as Super Mario Land), if Nintendo had made the manual artwork look like Alex Kidd, that could have opened up the door for them to be sued for copyright infringement. The second thing I can say is that while it does not look like Alex Kidd, it does resemble Janken, the final boss of Alex Kidd in Miracle World, particularly when he gets turned to stone:


On a final note, I have seen some people claim that the final castle in Super Mario Land 2 has similarities to the final castle in Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, but I watched YouTube videos of both and saw little resemblance myself.

File #2: Captain N: The Game Master vs. The Mighty Heroes

The Captain N version of Mega Man had always bothered me ever since I first saw the show. And believe it or not, it wasn't really for the obvious reasons (I never even heard of Mega Man before I saw the show. I wasn't really into playing NES games at the time, so I didn't know until a little later that there were blatant design inconsistencies.)

What bothered me was his voice. I was absolutely, positively sure I had seen a small superhero-type character with a nearly-identical raspy voice somewhere before. For years, I could not place it. I thought maybe it was Astroboy, who does bear physical resemblance to some of Mega Man's official art, and may have been a source of inspiration for the game series, but research did not confirm a similar raspy voice ever used for that character.

Then one day I'm reading an article about famous cartoonist Ralph Bakshi, and I was suddenly reminded of a cartoon he created in the mid-60's called "The Mighty Heroes".

The Mighty Heroes was a parody of superhero cartoons and comics - the five heroes, Rope Man, Cuckoo Man, Strong Man, Diaper Man, and Tornado Man, were portrayed as being spectacularly incompetent. They'd often end up unintentionally beating each other up while trying to fight against the show's many villains. However, no matter what happened, they'd always win in the end.

One of these characters, Diaper Man, is (like Captain N's Mega Man), a hero of short stature with incredible strength and a really raspy voice.

There are quite a few Mighty Heroes videos available to watch on YouTube, but Diaper Man's voice can be heard saying his catchphrase in the series intro I posted here. If you have not heard what Mega Man sounds like in the Captain N cartoon, you can look up any number of Captain N episodes on YouTube to hear it for yourself. (Also of note is that all the Mighty Heroes' names end in "Man", just like Mega Man and all the robot masters from the various Mega Man games. Although the "Man" moniker is not uncommon amongst superheroes.)

The similarities go just beyond what I've mentioned so far. Notice that while Mega Man and Diaper Man have similar voices, Diaper Man looks a lot like Pit from Kid Icarus, who also featured as a prominent character on Captain N.

As if the resemblance of the cartoon version of Pit to Diaper Man (mostly in the size and bright red hair) weren't enough, take a look at how eerily the version of Pit from the Kid Icarus NES game manual resembles Diaper Man:


Despite the heavy resemblance of the manual image to Diaper Man, it's possible that could be coincidence. However, I do strongly believe that the look of Pit in the cartoon and Mega Man's voice were indeed intentional homages to The Mighty Heroes. To further my insane theory, take a look at the design of Captain N's Simon Belmont when compared to Strong Man of The Mighty Heroes.


This could certainly explain why Simon Belmont on the cartoon show very little resembled the Simon Belmont of the Castlevania game series that he was taken from. While some sources claim that the cartoon version's design was based on his voice actor, I have seen pictures of Andrew Kavadas and noticed very little resemblance myself. The large-jawed, blonde-haired superhero archetype was a more likely source of inspiration, which both Simon and Strong Man are based on (though I am unclear as to where this archetype got started.) Cartoon Network's Johnny Bravo and Launchpad McQuack of DuckTales also appeared to be based on this archetype.

One might also point out that Tornado Man bears a slight resemblance to Captain N's Mega Man - they have a similar body shape, size, and a blue mask over their faces (though I believe Mega Man's visor in the show is based on the Mega Man 2 box art, in which he is seen wearing a visor.) Tornado Man, like Mega Man, Diaper Man, and even Pit for that matter, also speaks in a gimmicky voice - being a living tornado he has a raspy voice that I'm sure is meant to sound like the wind blowing.

But if Diaper Man inspired Pit's design, then why not have Pit talk in the raspy voice and not Mega Man? Again, I think making them too similar could raise copyright concerns. That, and it was probably deemed more appropriate for Mega Man to talk like that than Pit.

So where do Cuckoo Man and Rope Man fit in? Nowhere, I guess, because they had to be replaced with a princess, an average American teenager, and a dog. But considering that both cartoons feature a group of comical, and very diverse heroes from completely different walks of life, it seems that Mighty Heroes could have been a very likely and appropriate source of inspiration for Captain N. They are also alike in the sense that both teams are comically incompetent, but always win in the end, anyway, although that was more true of Captain N's Season 1 than later seasons.

On a side note, I wouldn't worry too much if Captain N did borrow from Mighty Heroes, as that show was no stranger to parodies and homages itself:


File #3: Megane vs. Dwight Schrute


On the left we have Megane from the anime movie, Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer, and on the right we have Dwight Schrute as played by Rainn Wilson in the hit comedy show, The Office. I recently rewatched UY2 and the first thing I noticed when Megane came onscreen was how much he looks like Dwight Schrute. (I shouldn't even need to point out the similarities.) But then the more I thought about it...the more I realized that Megane acts an awful lot like Dwight Schrute, too:

Both have an authority complex. Dwight is a real stickler for rules and regulations. He has been described by his own actor as a "fascist nerd" who "loves the system". Megane, who mostly hangs out with the characters Perm, Chibi, and Kakugari, acts authoritative to them. He is also the only one to vocally challenge Mendou, the other highly-authoritative character in UY2.


To illustrate a few examples of Dwight's love of authority and rules, in The Office episode "Stress Relief", he tries to teach his peers a lesson when they failed to pay attention to his fire safety presentation by starting a fire in the office. In another episode, "Drug Testing", Dwight turns in his honorary sheriff badge because he helps Michael pass a drug test by supplying him with a cup of his own urine.


The most blatant scene of UY2 that showcases Megane's strict adherence to rules and love of authority is one where they are gathering groceries from an abandoned grocery store. The characters had previously made up a list that Megane feels they must stick to at all costs... So when the group's youngest member Chibi steals a chocolate bar, Megane threatens him with death for breaking the rules. I couldn't help but feel that if Dwight Schrute was in place of Megane, he would have done the same exact thing.

Neither Megane nor Dwight have much of a sense of humor. Dwight's lack of humor often left him vulnerable to pranks by his rival, Jim Halpert, such as one episode in which his desk was moved to the men's room.

Megane's lack of humor manifests itself in a scene where he yells at Perm, Chibi, and Kakugari for joking at (what he felt was) an inappropriate time.


And holy crap, look at how similar the pants and boots of Megane's school fair costume is to Dwight's honorary sheriff uniform! Speaking of Megane's costume, it's a Nazi SS parade uniform. It has been implied several times on The Office that Dwight's family has a history connected to the Nazis. He has mentioned that his grandfather fought in World War II and ended up in an Allied Prison Camp, implying that he fought for Germany. In another, he said that he attempted to visit his grandfather in Argentina, but his visa was protested by the Shoah Foundation.

Finally, The Office is known for its "talking head" scenes in which characters openly acknowledge and talk to the camera. Megane is the only character in UY2 who gets a "talking head"-like scene where he semi-breaks the fourth wall to give his perspective on the situation he's in.


One aspect of Dwight that he does not share with Megane is his hobby of collecting weapons.


However, another UY2 character, Shutarou Mendou, is known for having a huge collection of weapons, including swords and a German Leopard tank. Of all the UY2 characters, Mendou is also closest to Megane in personality - both have the authority complex and lack of humor.

Unlike File #1 and File #2 in this presentation, I do not believe there is any intentional homage in this case. As amazing as these coincidences are, I believe them to be just that - coincidences - not least of which is because Urusei Yatsura 2 is a rather obscure movie and Megane an obscure character - he doesn't really have much of a role. It's just that when he does pop up here and there throughout the film, it feels like someone inserted Dwight Schrute into random scenes.

Now if I ever do my comparison between Urusei Yatsura 2 and Dark City... THERE will be some similarities that will seem too close to be coincidence...

Random trivia: "Megane" is Japanese for "glasses".



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