|Kirby series character|
Kirby as he appears in Kirby's Return to Dream Land
|First game||Kirby's Dream Land (1992)|
|Created by||Masahiro Sakurai|
|Designed by||Masahiro Sakurai|
|Voiced by||Mayumi Tanaka (1994)
Makiko Ohmoto (1999-present)
Kirby (カービィ Kābī?) is a fictional character in the Kirby video game series by HAL Laboratory and Nintendo, created by Japanese video game designer Masahiro Sakurai. Serving as the eponymous protagonist of the series, Kirby has appeared in more than twenty games since his creation in 1992. Kirby, whose appearance is described as a "small pink ball", is a citizen of Dream Land on the planet Pop Star, and possesses the ability to inhale objects and then expel them with great force. Kirby can absorb the properties of swallowed objects to temporally gain new magical powers known as "copy abilities." In the Kirby series of video games, Kirby often battles antagonistic forces including Dark Matter and his nemesis King Dedede.
Concept and creation
Kirby was created by video game designer Masahiro Sakurai as the player character of the 1992 game Kirby's Dream Land. The character's design was intended to serve as placeholder graphics for the game's original protagonist in early development, and thus was given a simplistic ball-like appearance. Sakurai switched to the placeholder design for the final character design when he believed that it served the character better. The character was known as Popopo (ポポポ?) during development until the name "Kirby" was chosen. Sakurai does not recall the origin of Kirby's name; Shigeru Miyamoto revealed in a 2011 interview that "Kirby" was on a draft list of potential names for the character. "Kirby" was chosen because of the similarity to American lawyer John Kirby, who defended Nintendo in the Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Nintendo Co., Ltd. case in 1984 and that the guttural-sounding name contrasted amusingly with the character's cute appearance.
Kirby appears white in Kirby's Dream Land due to the grayscale palette of the Game Boy system. Sakurai intended the character to be pink, though Miyamoto originally wanted the character to be yellow. Kirby appears white in the game's North American promotional materials and artwork to reflect the character's in-game appearance.
Kirby is a pink, small, spherical creature with large red feet, stubby arms, and trademark pink cheek-blushes. His body is soft and flexible, allowing him to be flattened. He is supposedly 8 inches tall, according to the Super Smash Bros. games. His weight is unknown, although several parts of the anime, the game Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, and the Super Smash Bros. series suggest that he is light enough to be carried and for the wind to cause him to move in an unwanted direction. He hails from the planet Pop Star, where he lives in a dome-shaped house in the kingdom of Dream Land. His appearance has changed subtly over the years, becoming more rounded and defined, mainly in his face and larger blue eyes. The new design has been used in all subsequent games.
Kirby has a positive attitude, and helps to save Dream Land through the use of his unique powers. His age is never directly stated, although he was once called a "little boy" in the English manual for Kirby's Dream Land, literally acts like a baby in the anime, and was referred to as being a "jolly fellow" in Kirby Super Star. This, along with his high-pitched voice, suggests that Kirby is young.
Kirby is cheerful and innocent. He loves to eat, dance, defeat enemies, play and sleep, especially during the day. His favorite food is Maxim Tomatoes, which fully restore his health in the games (although in the anime series Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, his favorite food appears to be watermelons and he eats them whole). He is said to dislike caterpillars. His other hobbies include singing, although he is tone-deaf. He sometimes acts in an impulsive nature, such as when he accuses King Dedede of interfering with the Fountain of Dreams (also known as the Dream Spring) in Kirby's Adventure, and then leaves to retrieve the pieces of the shattered Star Rod without even letting Dedede explain himself, or when he accuses Dedede of stealing his slice of strawberry shortcake in Squeak Squad, not knowing that Dedede's castle has also been burglarized recently.
The same personality and nature is presented in the Super Smash Bros. titles. In Super Smash Bros. Melee, his trophy profile states that he is an "extremely skilled technician". Kirby has been seen to have made the biggest, and most playable role in Subspace Emissary, the story mode of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Meta Knight and King Dedede also play a prominent role in the Subspace Emissary mode as well. Unlike most trademark Nintendo antagonists (Bowser, Ganondorf, etc.), King Dedede ultimately has good intentions in the Subspace Emissary.
Although (or perhaps because) he appears cute and innocent, many commercials and ads have showcased this as a contrast to his extreme fighting skills when he takes on the abilities of an enemy.
Kirby is a character of few words and rarely speaks in-game. His dialogue is largely limited to appearances in some games' instruction manuals, and brief comments such as "Hi!" or "Poyo!" in games including Super Smash Bros. and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Despite his lack of dialogue, Kirby narrates the functions of certain Copy Abilities on the pause menu in Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, and Kirby: Squeak Squad. Kirby gives short descriptions of various menu options when they are highlighted. The concept of Kirby being mostly mute is supported by Masahiro Sakurai's insistence that Kirby does not speak in the anime series, although he does occasionally say the names of his special attacks and certain foods and sometimes repeats other words that he hears. In the Super Smash Bros. series, when Kirby copies a foe's ability, Kirby says the name of some attacks, such as Captain Falcon's "Falcon Punch", Ness' PK Flash, and Lucas' PK Freeze. There are some notable exceptions where Kirby actually does speak in-game, such as Kirby's Avalanche, Kirby no Kirakira Kizzu and Kirby's Epic Yarn.
Kirby's main attack is inhaling enemies (both his mouth and body expand to allow him to inhale things much larger than himself) and swallowing them. He can also attack others by spitting enemies out as star-projectiles. Certain enemies, when swallowed, grant Kirby new powers called Copy Abilities.
In Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby did not have Copy Abilities. He collected power ups, such as a mint leaf, which enabled him to shoot out endless air pellets for a limited amount of time, and curry and chicken (which makes a reappearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as Superspicy Curry), which let Kirby shoot out fireballs from his mouth until the item's effect wore off or he lost a life.
In most early games, an ability does not change Kirby's appearance drastically, aside from his color changing to orange or snow white in Kirby's Adventure, Kirby Air Ride, or wielding a weapon for abilities like Sword or Hammer. However, with Kirby Super Star, Kirby gains a unique hat for each ability, such as an "ice climbers" hat (similar to Popo's parka from Ice Climber.) for freeze, a frozen crown for Ice, or a backwards baseball cap for Yo-Yo and Wheel. While this would be overlooked in later games not designed by Masahiro Sakurai (such as Kirby's Dream Land 3 and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards) the hats soon became a staple of the series (with the exception of Kirby: Canvas Curse).
In Kirby Super Star, Kirby could sacrifice his copied ability to create a 'Helper', an allied version of the enemy he had devoured. The new Helper would be controlled by the game or a second player. The 'Helper', or sidekick as he or she is known, would fight enemies with Kirby. This feature has not yet been included in later Kirby games, although it was included in Kirby Super Star's remake, Kirby Super Star Ultra. Kirby Super Star also introduces a mechanic where Kirby can copy a single ability and gain multiple fighting techniques from it, such as short blade techniques for the Cutter ability. Kirby games before this one and Kirby 64: Crystal Shards only allowed Kirby to use one attack per ability though Kirby's Dream Land 2 used animal friends and current copy ability to determine which attack he could use.
Kirby also uses his powers to attain food or other special items like lollipops that grant him beneficial effects such as healing or temporary invulnerability. Kirby Super Star, "Kirby Super Star Ultra", Kirby & the Amazing Mirror and Kirby's Return to Dreamland contain a feature where Kirby can share his food with the second player.
Kirby can inhale air to make himself more buoyant, flying slowly by flapping his arms. He can attack enemies by quickly exhaling a puff of air. This technique is known as the air gun. While in most games he can float indefinitely, this ability is limited in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards and Super Smash Bros. Other games have developed his powers even further, such as allowing him to block attacks in Kirby Super Star. As a whole, however, his basic moves have remained the same, although more Copy Abilities are added in each new game. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Kirby displays an ability called "Cook Kirby", that was taken from Kirby Super Star and other recent games, as his Final Smash Attack. For this power, Kirby acquires a chef's hat, cooking utensils, and a boiling pot. All objects, including Assist Trophies, Pokémon, and players within a limited range are drawn into the pot. Various items then rain from above into the pot, and the players shoot out.
In Kirby's Epic Yarn, at the start of the game, Kirby inhales a yarn-based Maxim Tomato (referred to by Yin-Yarn as a Metamato) transforming him into yarn, granting Kirby the ability to transform into a car, a surfboarding penguin, a UFO, and many other forms. Also, since Kirby cannot suck up enemies in this game (since air just goes through him), he uses a yarn whip to grab enemies and turn them into yarn balls, which can by thrown at other foes, attached to buttons, move zippers and more.
In Kirby's Return to Dream Land he gets many abilities. In the start of the game a flying ship crashes on Popstar. Kirby and his friends decided to help out. The adventure begins as they help an alien named Magolor. During this adventure, Kirby can gain "Super Abilities", which can be gained by swallowing certain enemies. While they are used to take out other enemies with a single attack, they are mostly used to open hidden warp holes that go into another dimension. The Super Abilities can also be used in certain boss battles.
While Kirby is the one most often emphasized, he is not the only member of his kind. His similar kind is evidenced by similar looking characters seen in the ending of Kirby's Dream Land, Spring Breeze in Kirby Super Star, and potentially Meta Knight along with Galacta Knight, who appears to look nearly identical to Kirby. In Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, Kirby's Return to Dream Land and Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, different colored Kirbys appear as other players in multi-player games. In the case of the latter, they are the result of Kirby being divided into four by Dark Meta Knight. In general, members of the species all look similar, but sometimes have different colored skin, eyes, and feet. They are commonly referred to as Kirbys, just as 'Yoshi' in the Mario series is the name of both the species and character. As a name, however, 'Kirby' refers to only one character. Terms like creampuffs or puffballs are also used to describe the species, referring to their soft, round appearance. In the English manual of Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, the term Kirbys is used at points, to illustrate the feature of having four differently colored versions of Kirby active in the game simultaneously. Another common term is Dream Landers, a term used in the instruction manual for Kirby's Adventure. This term, however, also refers to anyone who lives in Dream Land, including characters like King Dedede. The biography of Kirby in Super Smash Bros. Brawl says Kirby is a citizen of Dream Land.
In the anime, Kirby has also been called a Star Warrior, along with Meta Knight and other characters that have appeared in the Kirby animated series. It's a common belief that this refers to their species, but this is untrue as there is another person referred to as a Star Warrior who looks nothing like them. It is said that Kirby is just a young Star Warrior or an underdeveloped one. In the first episode of the animated series, Kirby's space ship prematurely crashed on Pop Star. The trip was supposed to take him several hundred years and in that time he was supposed to be dormant; however, his ship drifted into a space rift causing it to warp to Dream Land and making his trip shorter, not allowing him to develop into the Star Warrior he was going to become. Kirby was also called a Warpstar Knight or a Warpstar Warrior, but this was only occasionally seen in select advertisements. Although it is unclear, the possibility also exists that he may be one of Holy Nightmare's (NME or Nightmare Enterprises in the English dub) monsters that turned against his creator.
In Kirby's Dream Land 3, mysterious characters appear called Batamon. They resemble Kirby aside from a more flattened shape and different face. They are always seen walking past walls or ceilings beyond Kirby's reach, with the exception of a single stage in Cloudy Park, where Kirby can continue past the exit and come into contact with one.
Kirby set off on his first adventure in Kirby's Dream Land when the self-made ruler of Dream Land, King Dedede, stole everyone's food and the Sparkling Stars they needed to get more food. Since this act of greed, more dangerous enemies have threatened Kirby's home. His journeys have become more daunting as creatures like Dark Matter possess and control his friends against their will. Kirby maintains a brave and cheerful personality despite it all, gaining new powers and allies to aid him.
Super Smash Bros. series
Kirby also appears in the Super Smash Bros. series of games as a playable character, which is also created by Masahiro Sakurai. He was the series' sole representative in Super Smash Bros. and Super Smash Bros. Melee, but is accompanied by fellow characters, Meta Knight and King Dedede in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where Kirby plays a huge role in the Subspace Emissary Adventure mode. Kirby will reprise his role as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.
Kirby appears in his own anime titled Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, (Japanese: 星のカービィ Hoshi no Kaabii) in Japan. The series was licensed in North America by 4Kids Entertainment and the Canadian company Nelvana, and produced by Warpstar Inc., a company formed between a joint investment between Nintendo and HAL Laboratory. It aired on 4Kids TV, via Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting (since 2001 which has done 100 episodes). Kirby was also in a short educational video that was only released in Japan, designed to teach kanji to young children. The feature was not animated, but contained illustrations.
Kirby's image in the animated series is similar to his in-game image. His feet are a deeper shade of red than in the games, although most anime-related merchandise does not reflect this change. Though Sakurai prefers Kirby not to speak, he has allowed him to use a small vocabulary.
Only in the anime series is Kirby's background given any significance. On the show, he is a legendary Star Warrior who, according to legend, is fated to save Pop Star from destruction. No such legends are ever referred to in the games. It is implied early in the series that he was a creation of an ancient evil entity called Nightmare. It is also said that Kirby was meant to sleep for 200 years, but was awoken too early by mistake, which is why he has baby-like qualities. Because of his age, he depends even more on the help of his friends to pull through tough situations.
Unlike the games, the anime contains darker themes such as war, blood, violence, and death (although mostly in the Japanese version), though it still maintains most of the cheerful and surreal themes from the games. Kirby's creator, Masahiro Sakurai, was greatly involved in its creation, so it did not stray far from his vision of how Kirby should be.
A main trademark of the show is his Warp Star, which, although it appeared in some of the games, is used in almost every episode in the series. It is, apparently, his source of power. He only needs to see it to get his power, but he can't keep it safe for himself. Unlike the games, there is only one Warp Star that Kirby uses for transportation.
Manga and comics
Kirby also stars in several manga series, most of which haven't been released in a language other than Japanese. The longest running series is titled Kirby of the Stars: The Story of Dedede Who Lives In Pupupu, running up to 25 books, and was written by Hirokazu Hikawa (ひかわ 博一 Hikawa Hirokazu). Other Kirby manga are typically one-shot comedy 4koma based on the games, and have multiple artists. They usually have recurring themes and running gags, despite having different creators.
A few comics published in the German Club Nintendo magazines feature Kirby as a detective and King Dedede as his friend. His animal friends Rick, Kine and Coo appear in the comics as pets of a female Kirby look-alike, ostensibly one of Kirby's girlfriends. In one comic, he meets Lolo, Lala and Lulu, the stars of the Adventures of Lolo series. These comics were advertisements for Kirby games that would be released in Germany.
It was originally confirmed that Viz Media would release the manga beginning on September 2010. It was then pushed back to October 4, 2011. Suddenly, on May 16, 2011, the manga was removed from Viz Media's website.
Since he first appeared in Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby has received positive reception. Nintendo Power listed Kirby as their 19th favourite hero, commenting that he doesn't get the respect that he deserves. Kirby ranked second on GameDaily's Top 10 Super Smash Bros. characters list. They also included him in their "Pretty in Pink Video Game Characters" article. GamesRadar listed Kirby as one of the most lovable blobs, calling him one of the cutest things to appear in a Nintendo game, yet also calling him nothing in the way he defeats his enemies. He ranked sixth on IGN's top 10 veteran Super Smash Bros. characters, described as the "pinkest badass ever made." An issue of the webcomic VG Cats depicts Kirby in 100 forms from both video games and other forms of media, such as characters from The Legend of Zelda, Metal Gear and Gundam. In 2011, Cheat Code Central ranked Ninja Kirby as the ninth top ninja in video games.
UGO Networks listed Kirby on their list of "The Cutest Video Game Characters" stating "It's easy to get on board with someone who will eat anything." In 2009, GameSpot chose him as one of the characters to compete in their poll for the title of "All Time Greatest Game Hero". In a 2010 Famitsu poll, Kirby was voted by readers as the 12th most popular video game character. The 2011 Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition lists Kirby as the 18th most popular video game character. In 2012, GamesRadar ranked him as the 40th "most memorable, influential, and badass" protagonist in games, saying "[i]f you don’t think a pink blob can be tough, then you clearly haven’t seen Kirby in action".
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