In the past, I’ve talked about Sonic facts that aren’t true. We’ve seen various reasons for such misinformation to become fact. However, I don’t think we’ve seen such a web of different reasons play out to get to the points we have with these misconceptions.
The misconceptions? We’ve been getting Fang and Bean’s species wrong for decades.
The Weasel Does Not Go Pop
As you very likely know, Fang the Sniper was not called that name initially over in the West. Instead, for Sonic Triple Trouble, SEGA of America decided to localise the name to Nack the Weasel. For years, it was assumed this was the case over in Japan as well. However, a Japanese fan took the time to make profiles that Western fans had access to and revealed that Fang was in fact half-wolf. So, then we knew that Fang was half-wolf, half-weasel.
Turns outs, we were still wrong all this time. With access to this foreign information being more widely available, more research was conducted into the topic of Fang’s species recently. Eventually, it came to be found that Japanese sources were consistently listing the other half as “トビネズミ”. When looked up, this turns out not to be the weasel, but the jerboa. The jerboa is a small rodent that lives in Africa and Asia, and is known for its jumping abilities. Here is a picture of a jerboa for reference.
Now when we consider what traits Fang shares with the jerboa…
- Jumping Prowess.
- Long ears.
- Unique Tail Shape.
It definitely seems to share more in common with that than any weasel that exists.
As to why SoA went with weasel when Fang is neither of them? In Japan, mice and rats have a strong association with wealth and to an extent thievery (see: Paper Mario’s interpretation of Mousers, the legend of Nezumi Kozō, the symbolism of the rat in the Japanese new year), so linking Fang’s rodent half with his treasure hunting was natural. In the West, while rats have a bad reputation, they’re not as strongly associated with thievery. Instead, due to our own culture the weasel has come to be associated with deception and trickery. So, it can be easily theorised that SoA went with that as it has a stronger stereotype to the audience.
If It Looks Like a Duck, It’s Not A Duck
Bean’s situation is even more weird, and may include spanning out into classic animation. Bean is known to be a reference to Bin and Pin from Dynamite Düx, an arcade game where two birds are trying to rescue their owner from an evil troll king (or something). It’s taken that those two birds were ducks, so naturally Bean would also be a duck, right?
Turns out not; the Official Fighters Megamix guide from Soft Bank (which I own coincidentally) gave us some vital statistics for both him and Bark (which were relative to the other Fighters Megamix characters so not in line with typical Sonic stats), but the body of the profiles were not translated until recently. These profiles revealed that Bean was, in fact, a woodpecker.
Why Bean was assumed to be a duck is obvious enough, as being a homage to Dynamite Düx would lend itself that conclusion. The similarities to a woodpecker are interesting, as it becomes a bit more obvious when you take a certain animation legend into consideration.
With this in mind, Bean, Bin and Pin all share traits with Woody here.
- The exaggerated tuft of feathers on top of the head.
- The particular style of tail feather.
- The use of cartoony weaponry to best foes (even Bean’s soccer hobby may be a reference to his bomb kicks in Sonic the Fighters).
- The penchant for screwball antics and behaviour.
While the Dynamite Duo have also been compared to Clampett-era Daffy Duck, they certainly don’t have as much visual resemblance. Bean has one more comparison; The fact a couple of his attacks revolve around pecking, one being a heavy single peck and the other being a barrage of pecks. That says woodpecker more than duck.
So why is there an apparent disparity between Bean and his predecessors? That I couldn’t tell you. Perhaps AM2 wanted to make the homage to Woody even more obvious so made him a Woodpecker instead of a Duck.
So in the end, thanks to more inaccurate localisations and untranslated information being busted, we’ve finally discovered that we were all wrong all this time. At least now the word can get out and to the wider fanbase. Now, how long it’ll take for this to be common knowledge is something that I’m interested in seeing.
PS. If you want to know about Bark, he’s still a polar pear. He’s a pro snowboarder who hails from North Island. He’s blunt and quiet, but is also shy and possesses a gentle and loving heart. Not exactly how Archie interpreted him.
Sonic Dimension (via Wayback Machine)
Fighters Megamix Official Guide [pub. Soft Bank]
Jerboa photo – National Geographic
Woodpecker photo – Animalia Life