Talking Point: How Would You Reboot The Kirby Anime?
Talking Point is Kirby Informer’s column where our staff and readers can respond to trending questions and topics! Be sure to join the discussion in our comment section below or head on over to our social pages and share your thoughts with us there!
Kirby: Right Back at Ya! (Kirby of the Stars in Japan) is getting a lot of love lately--and for good reason. HAL Laboratory just officially released the complete series on Blu-ray for the first time in its home territory, and Kirby fans across the world are of course now begging for the company to remaster the show for audiences in other territories. It's been over 15 years since the last time Right Back at Ya! episodes were released in a DVD format in the West, and the show has never been available on dedicated streaming platforms.
Despite its long-standing popularity, 20 years later, the 100-episode-show of silly and heartfelt Kirby Saturday morning adventures is arguably no longer representative of the aesthetics or lore of the franchise. Today, the Kirby franchise is as much a multi-media behemoth as it is a video game series. So we have to ask: how the heck has there not been a new Kirby anime yet?
Here at Kirby Informer, our staff, like all other Kirby fans, is desperately awaiting the day for Right Back at Ya! to show up on some streaming service or receive a localized Blu-ray release. However, we also have plenty of concepts in mind as to what a rebooted Kirby anime might look like. Here's what some of us are thinking!
Editor, Marc Kaliroff
As someone who grew up watching every episode of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! thanks to reruns of the series on 4Kids, creating a new Kirby anime is something I have mixed feelings about--I absolutely want one, but I think picking out how to execute the show in terms of story structure is where things grow complicated. Kirby: Right Back at Ya! took a formulaic approach; every episode fit an enemy of the week format that had King Dedede ordering a monster from Nightmare Enterprises to destroy the beloved pink puff. While the purpose of Cappy Town's residents and the structure of the show certainly worked, I think we could settle for something a lot more fruitful in terms of variety and storytelling capability.
If we were to ever receive a new Kirby anime, I would hope that the creators choose to start from scratch and make a whole new canon while also keeping members of the original show's cast (Tiff, Tuff, Escargoon, Waddle Doo, etc.) in supporting character roles so that they can be used every now and then. I think having slice-of-life-styled one-shots and multi-episode story arcs would be a better way of approaching a Kirby anime today rather than sticking to the same cookie-cutter formula every episode. Yes, not every episode would be an immediate jumping-in point for all viewers, but focusing on one-shots and story arcs would allow a new anime to experiment with its direction and explore different tones that Right Back at Ya! never had the chance to tackle. Kirby is the type of character that can go from being the lovable hero who chases after a slice of cake with the Cappies to assisting a robotic assistant in coming to terms with the loss of her father.
While you cannot build much onto Kirby as a character, the rest of the franchise's cast has a lot of room to fully develop and change over time. Kirby has the ability to fit into stories that can teach life lessons, but the character himself does not exactly have the potential to convey said stories through emotional dialogue and conversations that carry weight--that is unless they choose to give him a voice (which I hope they never do).
The reason the Cappies were introduced in Right Back at Ya! was so that Kirby would never have to speak full sentences. Unless episodes had individual themes similar to the Kirby Time picture books, it would be wiser to allow Kirby to share a spotlight with his buddies rather than take it for himself. It would be a massive storytelling mistake not to let characters like King Dedede, Elfilin, Meta Knight, Susie, and so become the focal points of the show's narrative. Kirby has some great storytelling potential, but almost all of it does not revolve around the pink puff. Kirby should be a reflection of the viewer, a witness of events unfolding in front of them--events that they can learn from and sympathize with in distinct ways.
Staff Writer, Sean Douglass
I haven't seen much of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! It first came out when I was in 7th grade, and while I had been a big Kirby fan for several years by that point, I could tell it was very different from the video games I liked. But I remember reading coverage about it in Nintendo Power, and I have seen enough clips, gifs, and memes of the show to get at least some sense of what it was like.
If I were to make a new Kirby anime, however, I would take inspiration from the short Kirby videos Nintendo shares on YouTube, like the Kirby Time read-along tales. I think Kirby lends himself so well to little heartwarming or funny stories about his friends and himself, but I'm not sure how well that structure would work in a longer-form context. While almost all the franchise's characters have cute voices and sounds they make, Kirby would face the same question a lot of less-talkative protagonists face when it comes to the dialogue that may be needed for an ongoing series. It's the same question I have about Link when people talk about possible new adaptations of The Legend of Zelda to other formats. Do I want to hear Link talk? I'm still not sure I want to hear Mario talk extensively, and his movie just came out!
If it ends up feeling natural, and not strangely un-Kirbylike, to have the pink puff and his friends talking, then I'm all for it. It would open up a lot of possibilities. But for now, I'd have Kirby stick to his proven formula of bite-size adventures with his friends, featuring wholesome observations about life combined with excellent physical comedy. Pairing three shorts together could equal about one half-hour episode of TV. Although honestly, the Kirby anime I really want is an Arc System Works fighting game starring the Kirby crowd. Just imagine what these masters of the genre could do with the next Kirby Fighters game--and they're no strangers to giving their games film-length anime stories to go with them.
Staff Writer, Collin Hall
Kirby’s first anime felt a little too basic and formulaic to be truly special, even if it was the show that got me into Kirby in the first place. It clearly resonated; it was no small feat for an anime to air 100 episodes in the West in the early 2000s. But I chalk most of this up to the strength of Kirby’s character rather than anything inherently exceptional about the show itself. Kirby as an IP is a lot more established than it was 20 years ago--a new show doesn’t have to lean into anime tropes or a ‘monster of the week’ format to be compelling.
A new show should embrace what makes Kirby’s home world so special--painterly backgrounds, kind characters, and a sense of playfulness that undergirds Kirby’s interactions with the world around him. For this reason, I think Netflix’s Rilakkuma and Kaoru presents a good mold for what a new Kirby could hold. That show is lovingly animated with stop-motion and relishes in the small details that make life beautiful, like a mushroom that sprouts up overnight or a kind exchange with a stranger. Kirby's childlike attitude is similarly curious. I want to see Kirby interact with the world around him in a way that encourages viewers to be softer and more empathetic to the world around us.
Oh, and Kirby better bring lots of his friends! Let’s see Kirby and Magalor embark on an adventure to grow a gem apple tree or a friendly bout between Kirby and Meta Knight that ends in the two enjoying a picnic on a sleepy afternoon.
Staff Writer, Gigi
I am personally very neutral to the Kirby: Right Back at Ya! anime. It had its qualities and flaws, and I believe it was decent for its time. However, more than 20 years after its release, I feel that if Kirby were to get another anime it would need to be a different direction because so much has changed. In particular, the series now is full of beloved characters, and I feel it would be a waste not to include many of them in said new anime. Moreover, I am unsure how we could get a direct sequel to the original anime, so this pitch is for a new anime completely unrelated to the one we got.
If it were me, a new show would have characterization and stories similar to those present in the Kirby novels--and yes, that includes Kirby talking in full sentences. The main characters would be Kirby, Dedede, Meta Knight, and Bandana Dee, and other characters would appear every once in a while. For the plot and format of episodes, I feel something similar to The Owl House (at least the first season, as I'm still watching it) would be perfect: each episode is it's own contained mini-story, but there is an overarching plot that gets slowly developed with each episode, and the characters are slowly developed too. The original anime attempted to do this, but couldn't explore much due to how it was harder to watch a show in order back then, but now with streaming and other digital means of watching shows, it looks more feasible than ever.
In the end, my biggest wish is to have more characters from the games appear in a new anime no matter what format the show would take--just seeing our favorite characters animated and interacting with each other would bring a smile to my face. It would be great to see a bunch of copy abilities too as I loved seeing them in the original anime!