The Bowsette trend has continued pretty much unabated since last week — and I’m certainly not complaining.
Alongside the original phenomenon, however, there has been a related meme that has proven almost as successful and popular — so much so that it’s quite common to see the pair of them together.
I am, of course, talking about Princess King Boo, known to our Japanese cousins as キングテレサ姫 (kingu teresa-hime).
Header image by Yusan (Pixiv). Please support the many fabulous artists who have helped bring this meme to life!
Princess King Boo’s origins are a little less clear-cut than those of Bowsette, but her creation is attributed by most people to the Japanese artist community on Twitter, who began spreading the #キングテレサ姫 hashtag a few days after the Bowsette meme took off.
Early examples of Princess King Boo images include the Luigi’s Mansion-inspired gif above, created by Twitter user @sameduma. Luigi’s Mansion proved popular source material for many other Princess King Boo images since although King Boo and the Boos in general have appeared in numerous Super Mario games to date, he was the final boss of Luigi’s Mansion and thus had something of a “headline role”.
It didn’t take long for Princess King Boo’s “canonical” appearance and personality to be well-established. In particular, the white, frilly, somewhat Gothic wedding dress-esque gown was settled on very quickly, as it was attractive, distinctive and a suitable complement to the sexy black number Bowsette was typically depicted as wearing.
The personality was also pretty simple to establish, given that King Boo and the Boos already have plenty of their own personality. Princess King Boo is typically seen in one of two states: ghostly and “threatening”, as seen above, or absolutely mortified, as seen below. These two states reflect how the Boos in Super Mario games behave when you are facing away from or towards them respectively.
Princess King Boo’s depiction in her “aggressive” state is heavily inspired by the way ghosts are typically represented in Japanese popular media such as manga, anime and video games. The heavy use of the colour white (including her extremely pale, albino skin) is evocative of the coldness of death, with flecks of red in her jewellery reminding one of blood. As with many visual aspects of Japanese popular media, there’s a heavily spiritual, symbolic aspect, too; the use of white is also a reference to burial kimonos used in Edo period funeral rites, as well as being the colour of “purity” in Shinto tradition.
A long, pointed tongue is often seen in artwork of ghosts and humanoid monsters to emphasise how the creature has left behind their mortality and humanity. While they may look and even behave in a “human” manner, as soon as that tongue appears you know you’re not quite dealing with a normal person any more, and it would probably be a good idea to get out of the way as soon as you possibly can. Some images, such as the one below, play up this monstrous, horrific angle further than others — note the presence of hitodama (will o’ the wisp) spirits in this image, another common feature of commonly agreed ghostly imagery in Japanese popular media.
While artists have mostly seemingly reached an unspoken consensus over what Princess King Boo “should” look like, that hasn’t stopped some artists from experimenting a little, and there have been some great results when this has happened.
This image, which looks like it’s come straight from a VHS tape of a 1990s anime — or perhaps a scan of a Super NES manual — is a personal favourite.
Luigi has put in a number of appearances alongside Princess King Boo, too, as he’s something of an “underdog” so far as the fanart community as concerned — plus, as we’ve already noted, Luigi’s Mansion means that he’s a character inextricably tied to the character of King Boo… so why not Princess King Boo, too?
In such images, Princess King Boo is typically shown having a romantic or sexual interest in Luigi; while her monstrous visage may be somewhat frightening, more often than not she’s shown wanting love more than anything.
And this is perhaps one of the best reflections of Japanese depictions of ghosts. Even more so than in Western literature and media, Japanese ghosts are depicted as lingering somewhere between this life and the next due to lingering regrets of some description.
We’ve never really got to the bottom of exactly why the Boos are lingering around the Mushroom Kingdom from a canonical perspective, but that hasn’t stopped a few fanartists from coming up with their own theories, or indeed going so far as to make their own stories and comic strips starring the character.
And, much like we saw with Bowsette, a number of established artists have been jumping on the bandwagon and providing their own take on Princess King Boo, too.
In this case, one of my personal favourites was this little strip created by Chinese artist MiLk, best known online as the creator of the “Emoting Mokou” meme, which stars an adorable chibi version of Fujiwara no Mokou from the Touhou Project series of games.
As several people commented back when the Bowsette meme first broke, it’s been a real delight to see the Internet come together and produce something so delightful, wonderful and creative. It’s inspired people to bust out their art supplies and get creating, it’s provided a veritable torrent of charming artwork (and utterly depraved pornography) for everyone to enjoy, and, perhaps most importantly, it’s drowned out the insufferable bores who can do nothing but shout about politics 24/7. And I think we can probably all agree that’s very much a Good Thing.
The King is dead; long live Princess King Boo.
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