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The Tanooki Suit (also known as "Tanuki Suit") is an item in Super Mario Bros. 3 which allows Mario and Luigi to fly, turn into stone, or hit enemies with the suit's tail. If players can run fast enough to fill the Speed Gauge and jump, the suit allows Mario or Luigi to fly temporarily.
The suit is named after Tanukis, Japanese raccoon dogs (part of the canid family). Tanuki often mistakenly translates as "badger" or "raccoon." In Japanese folklore, Tanukis are said to be mischievous and jolly, masters of disguise and shapeshifting, as well as gullible and absent-minded. They are also said to possess absolutely enormous testicles (the males, anyway), though thankfully this is not mentioned in the games.
The Tanooki suit appeared in one of the rarest Mario comics, a story entitled, "Tanooki Suits Me." In the story, the suit is one of many magical suits created by a tailor named Tanooki who sewed a tail on the back of each suit he created. In the comic, Mario turns into a statue by pressing a button on the front of the suit and changes back by wishing to return to human form.
With the suit, Mario or Luigi can defeat almost any enemy in the game by getting above an enemy and using the statue ability.
The suit did return in Super Mario 3D Land when Mario or Luigi grabs a Super Leaf.