Mistaken Identity: Fang and Bean Are Not What You Think They Are

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

What a rat…er, weasel.

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.

Whether full breed or half breed, he’s a half-rate at being competent.

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.

Cute ain’t it.

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.

Observe, an example!

 

If It Looks Like a Duck, It’s Not A Duck

Come to think of it, he does look like he’s playing football.

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.

I should hope I don’t need to tell you what a woodpecker is.

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.

*Laughing intensifies*

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.

Okay he’s totally playing football.

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.

Note that quiet doesn’t mean mute.

Sources: Sonic Retro [Fang], [Bean and Bark]

Sonic Dimension (via Wayback Machine)

Fighters Megamix Official Guide [pub. Soft Bank]

Images:

Jerboa photo – National Geographic

Woodpecker photo – Animalia Life

5 Comments

  1. The question is though that at what point is Fang’s species in the official Japanese material being ever mentioned or where did Japanese got that information in the first place? The Japanese manual for Sonic & Tails 2 does not have mention about it at all in Fang’s bio (he is basically referred to as “treasure hunter” and nothing else):
    http://www.sonic-jam.org/sisghzs:gg-sonictails2-cp2

  2. I’ve known about Nack/Fang being called half-jerboa on Japanese sites for a while now, and he certainly resembles one more than he resembles a weasel, but I’ve never been able to find where the original source for it is… Someone really needs to do some more digging for that.

  3. I see your comments, and I too was keen to chase up a concrete origin for it.

    Turns outs the same source that originally broke it was too, and they have discovered that the source was…the man who designed Fang saying it. That’s pretty concrete, check out the source again and look later in the thread to find it.

    Funny thing; While Fighters Megamix and Sonic the Fighters (I translated what little sources we had on that myself) both say Woodpecker, the web page listing for the later Virtua Soccer 2 calls him a duck ala the Dynamite Dux. Not sure if the game itself called him that (so that would be 1997, a year after both FM and StF) or if the webpage was the one to add that in (that was put up 2004). Either way, it seems it’s not just the West that’s confused with Bean’s link to Dynamite Dux!

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