Kirby: Right Back at Ya!

Kirby: Right Back at Ya!

Japanese promotional poster
(Hoshi no Kābī)
Genre Action, adventure, comedy, science-fantasy
Anime television series
Directed by Sōji Yoshikawa
Produced by Satoru Iwata
Taihei Yamanashi
Seiichi Hirano
Takeyuki Okazaki
Written by Soji Yoshikawa
Music by Akira Miyagawa
Studio Studio Comet
Warpstar, Inc.
Licensed by

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4Kids Entertainment (2002–2009) (TV)
FUNimation Entertainment (VHS/DVD)

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  • CH:  Horng En Culture
Network Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting (2001–2003)
Tokyo Broadcasting System (2007–2009)
Kids Station
Tokyo MX
English network

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Fox (Fox Box, 4Kids TV) (2002–2008)
Original run

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  • JP: October 6, 2001 – September 27, 2003

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  • NA: September 14, 2002 – December 9, 2006
Episodes 100

Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, known in Japan as Hoshi no Kirby (星のカービィ Hoshi no Kābī, Kirby of the Stars), is a Japanese anime series created by Warpstar, Inc. and based on Nintendo's Kirby franchise. The series ran for one hundred episodes from October 6, 2001 to September 27, 2003. The series aired on Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting in Japan and in the United States on 4Kids TV; 4Kids Entertainment heavily edited the content in the process.

The anime follows Kirby, a pink, spherical, childlike creature who does not speak in coherent words but possesses the ability to take on new magical powers by temporarily sucking up their owners. Kirby arrives on a planet called Pop Star, near the village of Cappy Town, when his spaceship crashes there. He quickly befriends two yellow-skinned siblings named Tiff and Tuff and their friends Fololo and Falala. Over the course of the series, Kirby and his friends evade King Dedede and his assistant Escargoon, who try to get rid of Kirby.

The series aired extensively on 4Kids TV, as well as being picked up in numerous other languages across the world. Episodes have also been released on a channel for the Wii game console, and on the game compilation Kirby's Dream Collection.


Thousands of years ago, a being known as Nightmare appeared and created a company called NightMare Enterprises, often abbreviated as N.M.E. (Holy Nightmare in the Japanese version). It was in truth a front for his great armies of monsters, which he used to take over much of the universe. 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 most. However, everyone is quite surprised when Kirby's ship crashes close to Cappy Town (Pupupu Village in the Japanese dub) on the planet Pop Star. They find he is tiny, round, pink, and a royal baby, unlike Tiff's now rejected desire of a strong knight. 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, along with their servants Fololo and Falala.

The ruler of Dream Land, King Dedede, is jealous and suspicious of Kirby from the start. He and his sidekick Escargoon constantly try to get rid of Kirby with monsters provided by the company for a high fee, though Escargoon shows a great deal more reservation and morals. However, these attempts usually fail because of Kirby's natural abilities. Just as in the games, Kirby can inhale enemies and temporarily gain their powers, transforming into forms such as Fire Kirby with the ability to spit flames, or Sword Kirby to literally slice foes into pieces.

Kirby grows and becomes stronger before his final battle with Nightmare. In the end when Kirby and Tiff face Nightmare, which is in a dream, Tiff throws the Warp Star at Kirby, who swallows it and becomes Star Rod Kirby. Star Rod Kirby has the Star Rod which is Nightmare's sole weakness, allowing Kirby to defeat him.


Kirby (カービィ Kābī)
Voiced by: Makiko Ohmoto
Kirby is a young Star Warrior. He is spoken of in legend as Kirby of the Stars, because a Star Warrior's ship is designed to go wherever monsters are. Kirby's ship detected the creatures Dedede was ordering and he was awakened 200 years before schedule. Due to this early awakening he is still only a child.
He does not speak much, only saying "poyo". Certain characters such as Kine and Meta Knight have acted as if they understand him and Kirby uses it quite expressively. Occasionally he speaks their language, his favorite word being "suika" (Japanese for watermelon) or repeating snippets people have said.
The official explanation of why Kirby does not speak is that his creator Masahiro Sakurai did not want him to. Characters who don't speak are often created that way to be seen as more endearing and easier to relate to. There is also the "window for the gamer" factor – this is expressed more in Link of the Legend of Zelda series, created by Shigeru Miyamoto. Soji Yoshikawa cited examples such as Snoopy and the like, but said it was rather difficult to have a main character who didn't speak.
Tiff (フーム Fumu)
Voiced by: Sayuri Yoshida (Japanese); Kerry Williams (English)
Tiff is daughter of the Cabinet Minister. She has lived in Dedede's castle her entire life. She's very intelligent for her age, with much of her interest being in the environment. Her favorite subject is marine biology. She can also be short-tempered and definitely speaks her mind on things, especially when she thinks King Dedede is up to no good. Tiff is the only one who can summon Kirby's Warp Star when he is in danger. Meta Knight said that Kirby cannot keep it safe himself, so she can control it because she truly cares for him.
Tuff (ブン Bun)
Voiced by: Rika Komatsu (Japanese); Kayzie Rogers (English)
Tuff is the younger brother of Tiff. He is in many ways her complete opposite, preferring to play outside rather than read books. He can be quite a troublemaker, even when he's really trying to help. Impetuous and always getting into mischief, such as pulling pranks and cracking jokes. He is now friends with Kirby, even though he gets jealous of him sometimes.
King Dedede (デデデ大王 Dedede Daiō)
Voiced by: Kenichi Ogata (Japanese); Ted Lewis (English)
King Dedede is the ruler of Dream Land. Despite the fact Dedede is greedy, scheming and even outright sadistic, even going as far as to say that people's suffering amuses him, no one has ever tried to dethrone him, despite the fact that he also threatens the children. He's actually harmless for the most part, but his intense dislike of Kirby compels him to purchase monsters from HolyNightMare Co. and cause mayhem for the people of Dream Land. He loves buying new "toys" and acts like a spoiled child, despite his age. He is often jealous of the attention Kirby gets, and while at first he even wanted to defeat Kirby, later he focuses more on trying to kick him out or just make him look bad. He does have a kinder, gentler side, but it only shows in the most extreme of circumstances.
Escargoon (エスカルゴン Esukarugon)
Voiced by: Naoki Tatsuta (Japanese); Ted Lewis (English)
Escargoon, an anthropomorphic snail, lived with his mother on a farm before leaving to make it big. But despite the fact Escargoon is well-educated, knowing a great deal about chemistry and electronics (even writing a book on botany), he's been working for Dedede for many years as an assistant and punching bag. But it seems that he truly cares for the king and is always concerned for his welfare, despite the abuse he receives from him on a daily basis. While Escargoon usually goes along with what Dedede wants and helps him with his schemes, he may actually be a nice guy at heart who only acts mean because he wants Dedede's approval.
Meta Knight (メタナイト Meta Naito)
Voiced by: Atsushi Kisaichi (Japanese); Eric Stuart (English)
Meta Knight works for Dedede as well, along with his followers Sword Knight and Blade Knight. However, it is revealed that Meta Knight is a Star Warrior like Kirby, and one of the only ones to survive the war with Nightmare. He carries the sacred sword Galaxia, which only a select few can wield. Meta Knight appears as a sort of mentor, helping Kirby and others, though only when he absolutely has to. He has a habit of appearing seemingly from nowhere, helping Kirby and his friends in times of need. In the original, his voice actor is serious, with occasional random English thrown in, possibly in reference to Meta Knight being similar to English knights, with honor and courage. He is the second strongest Star Warrior in the universe, after Kirby.
Customer Service (カスタマーサービス Kasutamā Sābisu)
Voiced by: Banjō Ginga (Japanese); Dan Green (English)
As the public face of Nightmare Enterprises, he handles much of the company's sales (and advertising) from the center of Nightmare's Fortress. In both the Japanese and English versions he can be quite sarcastic, and enjoys finding ways to make things difficult for King Dedede, although he is much more subtle about it in the original. In the English dub, he went through a drastic personality change; his persona is more that of the stereotypical "slimy used-car salesman," using a large amount of slang. In the original, his image is that of a polite Japanese salesperson, using a large amount of honorific language (even when he insults customers like Dedede). The English dub makes it seem like he wants nothing more but to defraud or swindle Dedede for every money amount he has, rather than actually helping him.
Nightmare (ナイトメア Naitomea)
Voiced by: Banjō Ginga (Japanese); Andrew Rannells (English), :Voiced by: Michael Sinterniklaas in Kirby 3D special
Nightmare is the main antagonist of the series and the president of Nightmare Enterprises. Nightmare only appears in the shadows for most of the series, his full form is only seen at the very end of the penultimate episode, and in the series finale. Very little is known about him or his origins, but as his name suggests, he is a living nightmare. He thrives on suffering, creating monsters to sell in his company and use in his armies to continue his conquest of the universe in order to bring himself more power. He also gives off the illusion of being invincible, since he can open his cloak and suck all attacks into the area where his stomach and chest should be.


The series was produced by Warpstar Inc., a company formed between a joint investment between Nintendo and HAL Laboratory, Inc.[1]

Producer Soji Yoshikawa speaks in length about the challenges faced by the creators of the anime. He expressed concern as most video game to anime adaptations do not go well, but as time went on, he says he began to see a character with strength, and felt it could be successful.[2]

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. Sometimes, Kirby, King Dedede, Escargoon, and other characters are shown in 3D mode.

The series contained occasional references to non-Japanese culture. One episode, "A Novel Approach", featured a fictional novel titled Pappy Pottey and the Fool's Stone—a parody of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone—that was popular in Cappy Town.[3]

To celebrate the release of Kirby Air Ride in Japan, a special DVD was released with a popular video gaming magazine. It had clips from episodes and different games, and also a short "pilot anime" that seems to be an early form of the show. No information was given about it, and it was not narrated with any voice acting. It was done in a mix of 3D computer graphics and 2D animation, much like the final series. When Kirby's Warp Star crashes down onto a planet (presumably Pop Star), a young, yellow skinned girl in a tiara who resembles Tiff is the first to find him. The two soon become friends, but Dedede, likely to be the princess' angry father, also appears. He tries to get rid of Kirby with a series of weapons and pranks reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote, but each plot fails or backfires, leaving Kirby unharmed. Kirby then gives him a hot dog on a fork, completely unaware of what was going on, causing Dedede to start crying. At the end, dark clouds appear along with animated versions of many Kirby game enemies, such as Dark Matter, Ice Dragon and Meta Knight. But Kirby quickly goes into battle, inhaling them to gain their powers. Though he doesn't gain his signature hats as with the current anime, he does gain their abilities. Kirby defeats them all, and he, Dedede, and Tiff are happy. All of a sudden, Nightmare appears and attacks the trio with an electric shock. Kirby wakes up on his Warp Star, only to find that his adventure was all a strange dream.

Game differences

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, he said, "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."[4]

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 abilities in the anime. Meta Knight is never shown with wings (although in the original test pilot [see above] he was shown as an enemy and has his wings) or flying abilities, and he is never seen without his mask on. Dedede is unable to float or inhale, and has a more antagonistic personality.

4Kids adaptation

The English dub often removed any visible text

The anime is a children's anime, targeted at young Japanese children from kindergarten to middle school. When adapted by 4Kids Productions and dubbed into English for North America, the anime was edited: content that was deemed inappropriate for American and Canadian audiences, including guns and alcoholic beverages, ended up cut out completely and some had to be changed to other non-offensive imagery. Some of the visible text, whether it was English, Japanese, or even gibberish, still had to be digitally removed. However, direct references to Japanese foods or culture (such as onigiri) were not removed, but rewritten for context. However, the Galaxy Soldier Army subplot was removed entirely, and all soldiers are referred to as Star Warriors.

The Japanese score was completely replaced. The original Japanese score played a mass variety of music to fit the individual moods of each scene (relaxed, heroic, comedic, etc.), while the dub score songs still did fit the individual moods of each scene but in their own way. Some of the original sound effects were retained, while some of them were replaced with a new sound effect when, for instance, a sound effect could not be retained. Some of the sound effects in the original version were already in 4Kids' sound library.

A few of the characters received different accents in the English dub. For example, Meta Knight speaks using a Spanish accent to complement his Zorro-like qualities; and King Dedede speaks using a Southern American dialect, while he originally spoke proper Japanese (albeit having a verbal tic, of ending all sentences with "zoi" (そい) & "gesu" (です)), Ted Lewis voiced both King Dedede and Escargoon. Makiko Ōmoto's performance of Kirby is the only voice that was preserved in the English dub.

Some episodes were aired out of their original order, sometimes to put a holiday-themed episode closer to that holiday or to coincide with an event that was happening at the time. For example, "A Novel Approach," which parodied the Harry Potter books, was moved to air in conjunction with one of the real books' release. Sometimes episodes were aired earlier to advertise new Kirby games, one controversial example took episodes 96 and 97, "Crisis of the Warp Star" from the finale of the series and aired them near the middle as the television special "Air Ride in Style" to advertise the Kirby Air Ride game for the Nintendo GameCube. Because these episodes were at a major climax in the show, certain scenes from the special were edited to make it look like Tiff and Kirby were having a "prophetic dream" rather than the events actually happening. The episodes were placed in the original order and sans these edits for the Kirby: Fright to the Finish!! DVD of the final episodes.

Michael Haigney originally stated in an interview that the Fox Network would not let it air the episode "A Dental Dilemma" because it shows dentists in a bad light and could scare children (although it was meant to encourage children to brush their teeth and go to a dentist if they thought they had a cavity).[5] This applied to all other countries that used the 4Kids dub as well. The episode did eventually get dubbed, but it was aired under a third season, along with some other episodes in the line-up.

Broadcast history

In Japan, the series has aired on Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting Co., Ltd. since October 6, 2001, ending in 2003 after 100 episodes.[6] After a preview on September 1, 2002, 4Kids aired the series on 4Kids TV (formerly known as FoxBox) from September 14, 2002[7] to late 2006. The North American version of the anime was distributed by 4Kids Entertainment, Nelvana Enterprises, and HAL Laboratory, Inc.

The series began rebroadcasting in Japan on June 28, 2007 on the Tokyo Metropolitan Television station, then on June 21, 2008 in the US, Saturday mornings at 11am EST on 4Kids TV, and ended along with all other 4Kids TV shows on December 27, 2008. On June 6, 2009, Kirby, along with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward, rebroadcast in the US again, and aired at 7:30am EST on The CW4Kids. The series used to be seen on 4Kids's video on demand service and on However, the show was removed from the 4Kids TV website in October 2009 as 4Kids Entertainment only held the rights to the show till September 2009.[8]A moderator on the 4Kids forums stated in November 2009 that 4Kids no longer holds the license.[9] Since May 21, 2009, the Tokyo MX website has stated that the show has been removed from the air.[10]

Since 2009, the series was available for streaming via the Everyone's Theater Channel for the Wii in Japan only, with each episode worth 100 Wii Points,[11] but on April 30, 2012, Nintendo terminated broadcast of the Wii no Ma channel. On June 23, 2011, the show has made a comeback to Europe and Australian audiences on the Wii, for the first time as the Kirby TV Channel, which expired on December 15, 2011. This service also returns in April 2012, however, the same episodes will be available, rather than the other half. A special CG animated episode, titled "Take it Down!! The Crustation Monster Ebizou" (倒せ!!甲殻魔獣エビゾウ Taose!! Kōkaku Majū Ebizou) was released for the Wii no Ma service in Japan on August 9, 2009.[12] A stereoscopic 3D version of the episode was dubbed by 4Kids and streamed internationally in two parts on the Nintendo 3DS' Nintendo Video service in January 2012, under the title "Kirby 3D".[13] With the release of Kirby's Dream Collection for Kirby's 20th anniversary, three complete episodes are available to watch on the Wii via that disc.[14] Kirby Right Back At Ya! is now available to watch on the Nintendo 3DS's 'Nintendo Anime Channel'.

Theme songs

  • "Kirby * March" (カービィ★マーチ) (Episodes 1-71)
  • "Kirby!" (カービィ!) (Episodes 72-100; Also used in the Japanese version of Donkey Konga)
  • "Kihon wa maru" (きほんはまる) (Episodes 1-71)
  • "Kirby * Step!" (カービィ☆ステップ!) (Episodes 72-100)
  • Composed by Akira Miyagawa
  • "Kirby Kirby Kirby!" (Also used in the North American version of Donkey Konga)
  • Composed by Ralph Schuckett, Manny Corallo, Wayne Sharpe, John VanTongeren, Louis Cortelezzi, Rusty Andrews, Peter Scaturro, Norman J. Grossfeld, Anne Pope, Liz Magro, John Sands, John Siegler, and Jonathan Lattif

DVD releases

All North American DVD releases of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! were licensed by Funimation Entertainment. The 2005 DVD release of Kirby: Fright to the Finish!! was a compilation of the final five episodes of the television series edited together to create a feature-length film.

On May 6, 2010, the first 26 episodes were released on DVD in complete season format in Taiwan.[19] [20]


David Sanchez from GameZone found the show "awesome" and specifically praised Escargoon, whom he called "one of the best contributions to the Kirby franchise thanks to his dimwitted attitude and obvious stupidity" and suggested should be in the fourth Super Smash Bros. game.[21] However, Common Sense Media described the English dub as "a stab at educational value, but really all about fighting monsters",[22] Christina Carpenter from THEM Anime described the show as "more pandering kiddy fluff from the Fox Box".[23] Bamboo Dong of Anime News Network cited Kirby: Right Back at Ya! as one of several examples of anime series that "exist only to be made fun of" and stated that "the series really isn't that good at all" and would only be enjoyed by loyal Kirby fans.[24]

See also


  1. "HAL Laboratory: Company Profile". N-Sider. October 5, 2005. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  2. カービィを手がけた監督に直撃!アニメ界の大御所、吉川惣司監督インタビュー (in Japanese). Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  3. Hernandez, Pedro (July 12, 2011). "When Kirby (Briefly) Became Harry Potter". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  4. "【NEWS】テレビでカービィの活躍が見られるぞ! アニメ『星のカービィ』制作発表会". Famitsu. August 21, 2001. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  5. "mr. michael haigney interview (4kids)". Anime Boredom. February 12, 2006. Archived from the original on March 24, 2007. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  6. 星のカービィ ストーリー (in Japanese). Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  7. "Nintendo's Kirby Cartoon to Sneak Preview this Weekend". Gamers Hell. August 31, 2002. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  8. "4Kids Entertainment Annual Report 2004" (PDF). March 16, 2005. p. 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 9, 2006. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  9. "4kids forums: Where, oh Where, has Kirby Gone?". November 16, 2009. Archived from the original on March 1, 2012. Retrieved Dec 9, 2009.
  10. "Tokyo MX's official site for Kirby of the Stars". MXTV. May 21, 2009. Retrieved July 3, 2010.
  11. "The Wii no Ma's list of Kirby episodes". June 4, 2011. Retrieved Jun 4, 2011.
  12. "星のカービィ ~特別編~ 番組の紹介 「Wiiの間」ホームページ" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on February 11, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  13. "Kirby: Right Back At Ya! Volume 1". Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  14. Osborne, Matthew (July 17, 2012). "Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  15. "4Kids Entertainment Home Video Announces Kirby's Home Video Debut With Kirby Comes To Cappy Town" (PDF). November 12, 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 14, 2006. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  16. "A Dark and Stormy Knight". Archived from the original on February 17, 2006. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  17. "4Kids Entertainment Home Video Brings Kirby:Right Back At Ya!With Release Of Kirby'S Egg-Cellent Adventure On November 4, 2003" (PDF). November 4, 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 14, 2006. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  18. "Kirby Comes Right Back At Ya With His First Full-Length Movie From 4Kids Entertainment" (PDF). April 13, 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 15, 2006. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  19. "Kirby DVD Box Set 1 from Taiwan". May 6, 2010. Retrieved Feb 6, 2011.
  20. "Kirby DVD Box Set 2 from Taiwan". May 6, 2010. Retrieved Feb 6, 2011.
  21. Sanchez, David (2012). "Ten Nintendo characters that should be in the next Smash Bros.". GameZone. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  22. Galguera, Robin. "Kirby: Right Back at Ya". Common Sense Media. Archived from the original on August 18, 2010. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  23. Carpenter, Christina. "Kirby: Right Back at Ya". THEM Anime. Retrieved January 6, 2010.
  24. Dong, Bamboo (February 9, 2003). "Shelf Life: Some anime series are like popular J-Rock bands". Anime News Network. Retrieved November 11, 2014.

External links

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