Kirby: Right Back At Ya!, known in Japan as Kirby of the Stars (星のカービィ, Hoshi no Kābī), is an anime series based on the Kirby franchise. The series was produced by Warpstar Inc., a company formed between a joint investment between Nintendo and HAL Laboratory, Inc.
In Japan, the series has aired on Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting Co., Ltd. since October 6, 2001. It is currently licensed in North America by 4Kids Entertainment under the title Kirby: Right Back at Ya! and was seen on 4Kids TV (formerly known as FoxBox). The North American Version of the Anime was distributed by 20th Century Fox, Nelvana Enterprises, and HAL Laboratory, Inc. It ended in Japan in 2003 with 100 episodes, and the series finished airing in 2006 in the US.
The series began rebroadcasting in Japan as of June 28, 2007 on the Tokyo Metropolitan Television station.
As of June 21, 2008, Kirby began rebroadcasting in the US, Saturday mornings at 11am EST on 4Kids TV until October 2009. The series could've also been seen on 4Kids' Video On Demand service and on www.4Kids.TV. As of today, the show is no longer legally available worldwide. Also as well as on 4Kids TV , as of September 12, 2009 (release of (movie) Kirby: Fright To the Finish.)
The show is about the adventures Kirby has with his friends after he crash lands on the planet Pop Star, in the country of Dream Land. Kirby is actually a legendary Star Warrior destined to save the planet from destruction by the evil Nightmare. The greedy ruler of Dream Land, King Dedede, orders up fearsome monsters from Nightmare's company, Nightmare Enterprises. He uses them to attack Kirby and the people of Dream Land, but Kirby uses his signature abilities to inhale and copy an enemy's power to save the day.
Kirby is only based on the game series, taking characters and concepts rather than copying any of the games word-for-word. It is to be taken as an alternate universe, having no direct connection to the game timeline. Being mainly self-contained, it can be easier for those unfamiliar with the game series to understand it.
The series is rifled with satire and parody, some of it self-referential in nature. Homages to old movies are common, as are references to modern popular culture, politics and news events, so adults as well as children can find aspects they can relate to and enjoy.
The series has since been released in other languages, including Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Serbian and Korean.
Tens of thousands of years ago, a being known as Nightmare, craving a rule of the universe, appeared and created a company called Nightmare Enterprises. It was in truth a front for his great armies of monsters, which he used to take over much of the galaxy. They devastated countless planets. But there were those who stood to combat his evil, in the form of the Star Warriors and the Galaxy Soldier Army. They fought for many thousands of years, but Nightmare's monsters outnumbered them, and killed all but one(Meta Knight).
The story tells how this great evil threatens the peaceful country of Dream Land on the planet Pop Star. It seems Pop Star could be Nightmare's next target. But the people are told a legendary hero will come to save them- the Star Warrior, Kirby of the Stars.
However, everyone is quite surprised when Kirby's ship crashes close to Cappytown (Pupu Village). They find he's tiny, round, pink, and only a baby! Despite his hardly warrior-like characteristics, he is quick to save anyone who is in danger. He is soon befriended by the siblings Tiff and Tuff (Fumu and Bun in Japan), along with their servants Fololo and Falala(Lololo and Lalala in Japan).
The mean ruler of Dream Land, King Dedede, is jealous and suspicious of Kirby from the start. He and his sidekick Escargoon (Escargon) constantly try to get rid of (or sometimes outright kill) Kirby with creatures and machines provided by Nightmare. (For a high fee.) However, these attempts usually fail because of Kirby's natural abilities. Just as in the games, Kirby can inhale enemies and gain their powers, transforming into forms such as Fire Kirby with the ability to spit flames, or Sword Kirby to slice foes into pieces.
The series deals with the day-to-day trials Kirby faces, and how he grows and becomes stronger before his final battle with Nightmare. It is slow paced, and mostly light-hearted with some darker themes running throughout. Though it's somewhat episodic, because of some story-arcs it is best to watch in order.
Producer Soji Yoshikawa speaks in length about the challenges faced by the creators of the Kirby anime. He expressed worry as most video game to anime adaptations don't go well, but as time went on he says he began to see a character with strength, and felt it could be successful.
Two of the main challenges were set by Kirby's creator Masahiro Sakurai. He said there were to be no humans, and Kirby must not speak. Yoshikawa says in his interview how difficult it was to have a main character who does not speak, as well as coming up with entirely unique settings and characters. Kirby is unusual in that it has no humans in the cast. He likens it to the Finnish series The Moomins, which was quite popular in Japan.
The series boasts very smooth animation that combines 3DCG with traditional 2D drawings. Because of this, the animators were able to use a much higher framerate than most TV anime, anywhere from 1.5-3X more on average. (About 10,000 frames are used in each episode, compared to the 4000-5000 used by most TV anime.)
The main concern was to have as much movement as possible, as Japanese animation has come to rely on shortcuts to reduce production costs. The success becomes apparent upon watching, as the character animations are fluid and there is a low incidence of stock footage or still frame. Despite being such a long series, there is also no degradation of the animation quality towards the end.
Nintendo had big plans for releasing the series in the US, putting $10 million dollars into an advertising campaign to make Kirby "the next Pikachu". Kirby has enjoyed high levels of popularity and financial success in Japan, selling a wide range of merchandise, but Nintendo's efforts in the US appear to have failed, judging by comparatively lackluster reviews and TV ratings the series received there. The official websites spoke much about Kirby toys and other merchandise, but almost nothing was actually released outside of the DVDs.
Main article: List of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! episodes
- Kirby (Makiko Omoto)
- Tiff (Kerry Williams)
- Tuff (Kayzie Rogers)
- Meta Knight (Eric Stuart)
- King Dedede (Ted Lewis)
- Escargoon (Ted Lewis)
- Customer Service (Dan Green)
- Nightmare (Andrew Rannells)
Main article: List of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! minor characters
Main article: List of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! quest characters
Main article: Demon Beast
Satire and Parody
While a great many video game to anime adaptations are created for the sole purpose of merchandising, the creators of Kirby had a very similar goal as they had when creating the games- to create something that could be enjoyed by anyone. The director described his vision for the show as a 'Life Drama'.
The show is rife with references to popular culture, history, current events and classic literature. Many episodes deal with what was current news and politics in Japan, from issues to North Korea to the very common theme of environmental protection. They even poke fun at American president George W. Bush by having the main villain Dedede make comments about 'Axis of Evil' and 'Weapons of Mass "DeDeDestruction"'.
Old American movies are commonly referenced, including King Kong, Gone with the Wind, Planet of the Apes, Modern Times, newer classics like Jurassic Park, and the works of Alfred Hitchcock such as Psycho and The Birds. Of course classic Japanese movies such as Mothra get their screentime as well, in addition to others that might be more obscure to American audiences.
Books referenced range from the classic Don Quixote to the current hit Harry Potter novels, and even the Holy Bible.
One episode's plot strongly references a period of history known as the Chinese Cultural Revolution, except the ones revolting are the Waddle Dees.
There has always been a certain amount of argument in the Kirby fandom over how the anime was made to be quite different from the games. It only uses them as a basis, rather than following them exactly- which while a breath of fresh air for many, is an annoyance for others.
However, a little publicized fact is that the anime was closely supervised by the same people who worked on the games- including Kirby's creator Masahiro Sakurai. In an interview with Famitsu Magazine he is quoted as saying "I was considerably involved with the production of the anime. The aim was to create an anime that could be enjoyed by children and parents the same as the games. At first, 'Kirby' began as a game that even a beginner could enjoy. I believe such a spirit was achieved in the anime."
One of the largest differences from the games is how Kirby is changed to be a legendary Star Warrior fated to save Pop Star. In the games he isn't described as being any kind of special soldier, nor are there any legends associated with him. (Star Warriors are a concept unique to the anime.)
Although it has always been hinted that Kirby is young, Kirby's age is lowered even more so he is only a baby, likely to act as an explanation for why he doesn't talk as Sakurai mandated. While many characters from the games appear, they are often changed slightly to better fit in.
Another major difference is how Dedede and Meta Knight lose certain abillities in the anime. Meta Knight is never shown with wings or flying abillities while Dedede is unable to float or inhale enemies (only on cartoon buffoon king dedede inhales.)
In addition, Dedede is portrayed as an evil(ish) character in the show. In the games, Dedede is not evil, but just tends to be a bit of a nuisance. On the whole, there seems to be no real aggression between Kirby and Dedede in the games.
Certain characters in the anime are enemies/bosses in the games, but are friendly towards Kirby in the anime. Chef Kawasaki, Meta Knight, Lololo and Lalala, and the Cappies are prime examples of this statement.
It is also notable that Kirby's inhaling ability is a lot more powerful than what it was in the games.
Influences to the Games
There are a few features from the anime that have made appearances in the games. They are listed below:
- A lot of the musical pieces featured in the Japanese episodes was used in Kirby: Air Ride and Super Smash Bros. Brawl along as Cappy Town most likely being the basis of the City Trial mode.
- Spear-wielding Waddle Dees appear as enemies in Kirby Canvas Curse, Kirby Super Star Ultra, and Kirby's Epic Yarn.
- Castle Dedede appears on the map of Prism Plains and as the location of where Kirby fights Dedede in Kirby: Squeak Squad. Also in Dedede's throne room (where Kirby fights him), the player can see the NME Teleporter in the background. The Halberd also makes an appearance with its anime design. Meta Knight also uses Galaxia as opposed to his regular golden sword.
- What appears to be Water Kirby (or it could be Bubble Kirby) was scheduled to appear in the canceled Kirby Wii game.
- During the trailer for Kirby's Epic Yarn, Kirby can be heard saying "Poyo."
Main article:Kirby of the Stars Pilot
Home Video Release
Funimation Entertainment is the main DVD license to the 4Kids dub of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! All those DVDs show the edited TV dub version only. There are no uncut DVDs, as are 4Kids' standards.
Kirby Right Back At Ya!, was released onto 3 volumes each containing 3 episodes:
Kirby: Right Back at Ya! Volume 1: Kirby Comes to Cappytown (EPS, 1-3)(Released:11-12-02) Kirby: Right Back at Ya! Volume 2: A Dark and Stormy Knight (Eps, 4-6) Released:5-20-04) Kirby: Right Back At Ya! Volume 3: Kirby's Egg-Cellent Adventure (Eps, 7-9)9Released:11-4-03)
The Final Four Episodes were released in a movie format: Kirby: Fright to the Finish-Movie (Eps, 97-100)(Released:6-14-05)
Kirby: Right Back at Ya! Cook Kirby (EPS, 11, 27) Released 11-15-05 Kirby: Right Back atYa! Ice Kirby (EPS, 66, 20) Released 11-15-05
Recently the series appears to be coming out on new sets:
Kirby's Adventures in Cappytown (Eps, 1-7)(Released:2-19-08) Kirby: Cappy New Year & Other Kirby Adventures (Eps, 8-14)(Released:9-30-08)
In the commercials from Premavision, there is the package edition with Rodgy, but not edition anymore:
Mickey Mouse Stories, New Year's Movies, Kirby (Wii), The Adventures of Gumby and I Spy 4-Pack Collection (TV ad, 1-9) (Released:December 27-30)
Kirby (TV ad, 1-2) (Released:February 28-March 1)
Mickey Mouse Stories (TV ad, 1-3) (Released:March 1-March 15)
I Spy 4-Pack Collection (TV ad, 1) (Released:March 22-Apri 6)
Japanese version (Hoshi no Kirby)
- "Kirby March" by Shanchii (Eps. 1-71)
- "Kirby!" by Hiroko Asakawa (Eps. 72-100)
- "Kihon wa Maru" (First draw a circle) by Shanchii (Eps. 1-71)
- "Kirby Step!" by KONISHIKI (Eps. 72-100)
U.S. (Right Back at Ya!)
- "Kirby Theme (Kirby Kirby Kirby!)" by Norman J. Grossfield and Ralph Shuckett (Eps. 1-100)
- "Kirby Theme (Instrumental)" by Ralph Shuckett (Eps. 1-100)
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