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Paper Mario (known as Mario Story in Japan) was adapted into an anime and released on video as an OVA on November 22, 2000 in Japan. Despite being called an OVA, it was actually broadcast on Tokyo MX TV prior to its video release. The video became one of the top-selling video releases in Japan during the holiday season of its release, selling more than 6 billion units by January of 2001. The cartoon runs more than 100 minutes in length (each chapter being around 10-11 minutes in length). Despite being dubbed into English, the video was never released in the USA in any form until June 2010, when a bilingual DVD surfaced on Netflix and Amazon.com.
The OVA basically has the same plot as the Nintendo 64 game of which it is based apart from slight alterations (such as Goombario's real name being Goomnivere, a pun on the name Guinevere, making Goombario a nickname and Lady Bow using a parasol as a weapon twice in a battle and the addition of a prince (named Prince Senbei) from another land who was originally engaged to Princess Peach before she met Mario who was turned into a black cat and joined Mario on his quest before being restored to his original form at the end of the video, unlike the other Mario anime, the prince agreed to let Mario marry Princess Peach.
Just as the game was initally announced to the Japanese public, CG studio Polygon Pictures and traditional animation studio Oriental Light & Magic acquired the rights to produce an animated video based on the game. Takashi Nakamura, animation director of Akira, was chosen to direct the video because his art had impressed backers. Although it was at first planned to be released directly to video in Japan for the holiday season of 2000, it was broadcast on Tokyo MX TV in the Tokyo area of Japan on November 18, 2000 (4 days prior to its video release). CIC Video, video division of Cinema International Corporation, agreed to distribute the movie on video in Japan along with record company Video Audio Project (VAP), through Universal Studios and Paramount Home Entertainment on VHS, DVD and Laserdisc.
By November 30, 2000, the OVA sold 8,000 units on video, DVD and laserdisc. By December 22, the video sold more than 63,783,790.91 JPY (each video costing 800 JPY). Reception to the cartoon was entirely positive, especially in that it differs in some ways from the original game.
- Charles Martinet - Mario and Luigi
- Megumi Hayashibara - Goombario, Prince Senbei (cat)
- Kappei Yamaguchi - Kooper, Prince Senbei (human)
- Rei Sakuma - Bombette
- Akira Kamiya - Parakarry, Red and Blue Goomba
- Minami Takayama - Lady Bow
- Kazuko Sugiyama - Watt
- Fumi Hirano - Sushie, Magikoopas
- Shigeru Chiba - Lakilester
- Joji Yanami - Eldstar, Goomboss
- Hiromi Tsuru - Mamar
- Ryusei Nakao - Skolar
- Mayumi Tanaka - Muskular
- Ai Orikasa - Misstar
- Mitsuo Iwata - Klevar
- Koichi Yamadera - Kalmar, Jr. Troopa, Sky Guys
- Kazuhiko Inoue - Bowser
- Chika Sakamoto - Goombario's Sister, Twink
- Takashi Aoyagi - Koopa Bros
- Shozo Iizuka - Tutankoopa
- Fumihiko Tachiki - Tubba Blubba
- Toshio Furukawa - General Guy
- Mahito Tsujimura - Huff N. Puff
- Tetsuo Kanao - Crystal King
- Naoya Uchida - Blooper
- Kyoko Hikami - Princess Peach
- Charles Martinet - Mario, Luigi
- Jen Taylor - Princess Peach, Toads
- Dee Bradley Baker - Goombario, Jr. Troopa
- Tom Kenny - Kooper, Lakilester
- Laura Bailey - Goombario's Sister, Misstar
The original Japanese VHS has become a collector's item since its discovery on North American eBay auctions since 2009. On July 14 2010, a digitally remastered version of the OVA was shown at 50 cinemas in Japan drawing in more than 5 billion yen by October of 2010.