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August 29, 2016

Kirby: Right Back At Ya - 12 Recommendations

Last week, I reviewed three episodes of the anime Kirby: Right Back At Ya, three episodes that were put on Kirby’s Dream Collection, But this does not mean we should keep it to only these three episodes! The anime has 100 episodes, there’s got to be some good ones in there. And indeed, there are! And, in fact, more than 12 good episodes. I went back through the series, and found over 12 episodes that I heartily recommend. The three episodes of the previous post, plus the ones here, this should be a 7-hour binge. Honestly, if you like the Kirby series, you should check these out.

1. Episode 4 – Dark and Stormy Knight

You’ll find that some episodes on this list advance the overarching plot of the series. And the series wastes no time to get into the meat of the plot. Episode 3, “Kirby’s Duel Role”, had Meta Knight dueling Kirby to push the pink baby to his limits, as Meta Knight is teaching Kirby to reach his potential. In this one, we learn more about Meta Knight’s backstory, which he explains to Tiff. Meanwhile, it’s Hell outside with NightMare Enterprise sending none other than Kracko after Kirby, attempting to zap him and generally causing destruction all over Cappy Town. Much like in the games, Kracko is a formidable opponent with extremely dangerous moves, and it takes Kirby everything he’s got to be able to hurt it. That’s the kind of episode needed in a TV show: The pilot tries to drag you in and present the concept. The first few episodes need to show off the universe surrounding the characters, explain more of it. In the case of series with a continuity, the first few episodes must already throw hints at the greater storyline, and on that front, the Kirby anime does pretty well. Oh, not all episodes on this list are relevant to the story arc; but it makes sense that this list would have some of them. Also, freaking Kracko, man.

2. Episode 6 – Un-Reality TV

Tssk. Puppetry shows are so passé. Too bad
there isn't a Jim Henson in that universe to help.
Even though Dedede is the King of the place and already rules with an iron fist, he’s not exactly taken seriously. His crusade against Kirby only made it worse, as the King has suffered defeat after defeat. What’s a King to do to get control of his citizens? Well, control the media, of course! After all, the little people ae more inclined to accept what they hear on TV! Or else, why would it be on TV? Thus the penguin delivers televisions to every home in Cappy Town, with a single channel (that we know of): DDD, a propaganda reputable channel that will repeat as often as possible that Kirby is a threat and King Dedede is a benevolent ruler. Somehow, Dedede and Escargoon turn out to be a part of every show, whether it’s a quiz, the news, a cooking show, a kaiju film, a Star Trek spoof… or even a medical drama. Gee, there’s an awful lot of characters speaking in a Southern accent in these shows. Things get serious, however, when Dedede uses this media to hypnotize the people of Cappy Town to turn on Kirby… A pretty funny commentary on television, with a whole bunch of parodies – how could one say no to that?

A hospital drama... in the Kirby universe. Odd.

3. Episode 21 – The Empty Nest Mess

This show salvaged Dyna Chicks, who had so far
only been seen like annoying chirping creatures.
They're so cuuuute here!
As shown Friday in “Waddle While You Work”, whenever Dyna Blade gets involved, you know something BAD is about to happen. She’s an actual wild animal here, and not a monster created by eNeMeE, thus she has an agenda of her own, which is mostly two words: "Protect chicks". There was that episode where Kirby found a Dyna Egg and everyone was afraid he’d gobble it up; he ended up hatching it and raising the baby. Then there’s “The Empty Nest Mess”. To avoid having to pay eNeMeE to get monsters, Dedede has Escargoon create an instant monster formula: A potion that transforms any creature into a monster. Don’t yell BS too quickly, instead wait to see what they plan to do with it: Injecting a Dyna Chick. Now, thats pretty evil. Thankfully, thanks to their incompetence, the first Dyna Chick they catch escapes and goes on a joyride around Cappy Town, which gives some absolutely adorable moments. Most of the episode afterwards is Kirby and Dedede racing to get the chick first, with Dyna Blade hot on Kirby’s trail, as the heroes try to prevent the horrible from happening.

4. Episode 24 – Hour of the Wolfwrath

Wait, a Fire/Electric wolf? Are we sure this is not
a Gen 7 Pokémon leaked years ahe3ad of time?
One of the most beloved episodes of the series, dealing with Meta Knight’s backstory – and in particular, how he came to have Sword and Blade by his side. As usual, King Dedede orders a new monster from eNeMeE, the aptly-named Wolfwrath, which then runs off and wreaks havoc in his castle. Upon finding out that it’s let loose, Sword and Blade go tell Meta Knight. The beats goes out looking for Kirby but Meta Knight steps in to fight it. When Sword and Blade show up, MK orders them to protect Kirby no matter what while he fends off the fiery wolf beast. After Meta Knight gets paralyzed and everyone else has to defeat Wolfwrath by their own means, Sword and Blade explain their backstory: Saved from that same wolf monster by Meta Knight in the days of Star Warriors, and Meta Knight took them under his wing to teach them the way of the warrior, as before they were nothing but lowly crooks. And as they recount this story, Wolfwrath is still in the halls, setting the castle on fire… Anyway, great episode, but no amount of text from me will do it any justice. Really, go watch it.

5. Episode 40 – Sheepwrecked

Never underestimate the strength of numbers.
Some of the weirder ideas could derail and result in awful episodes, or become classics. In this one, a reference to The Boy Who Cried Wolf, a little sheep attacks Kirby, and nobody believes Tiff when she reports on it! And of course, when she tries to find the evil one, she can’t tell it apart from the others! But this is no illusion, there really IS an evil sheep in the flock, and this woolly demon by the name of Amon is teaching the sheep to behave like wolves and leading them to attack the village! Silly, ain’t it? And yet, Amon will turn out to be one of Kirby’s more formidable opponents. That silly story is told with enough serious to make the viewer believe it, too; and to think Amon became that way after escaping his fate as cutlets in the King’s plate! Weirder plots don’t hurt a series, if they’re executed well, as shown in this episode.

6. Episode 44 – A Novel Approach

An illiterate leading a school. Dedede, your
stupidity never ceases to amaze me.
Like many other shows, Kirby of the Stars chose to harpoon one of the most famous fads in fiction: Harry Potter. Because, why not? “It’s been done”, you say? Ah, just listen to what this episode is about. The book craze is in town, and everyone is grabbing a copy of “Pappy Pottey and the Fool’s Stone” at the bookstore. Meanwhile, Dedede wants in on the fad, but there’s only one problem, and it’s big: He’s illiterate. Thus, instead of seeking someone to teach him to read, Dedede steals all the copies of the book and summons through NightMare Enterprises’s monster downloader the author of the book, who suggests to turn Castle Dedede into a magic school so that all the Cappies could live the world of the story. But of course, no one should trust eNeMeE, and especially not Dedede himself, so you can fully expect that this turns out to be another plan of Nightmare to defeat Kirby. Either way, you all know what will happen: Just wait, in a couple years Tiff will get into reading Fangnight, and then sometime later, Forty Tones of Pink.

7. Episode 47 – Cartoon Buffoon and Episode 89 – Tooned Out

Just you wait, Dedede. This little venture into
animation will take a turn for the sucky.
The “Cartoon Mogul Dedede” episodes. After seeing Tiff make a flipbook animation, Dedede decides he wants in on that animation business, and thus starts his own studio to produce “Dedede of the Stars”. Only problem is, the only workforce he can find is made of the Cappy Townsfolk, and none of them have any knowledge on how to produce a show – and very few have any artistic talent, too. But of course, since the King rarely thinks before grabbing a money-making idea, he immediately sells his show to NightMare Enterprises, with no guarantee that he’ll have anything of quality to present. This leads to hilarious moments during production and when the episode airs, with horrible animation and the voice actors having to do the voices on the spot. And of course, all this time, the only one who knows anything about cartoon-making is Tiff… This episode is pretty great, if only because of all the nods to real-life cartoon productions, showing every step of the process… and how it can go so very wrong in the hands of amateurs. The end result is a mess, which is completely unprofessional but admittedly hilarious.

Ahhhh! Too realistic! Too detailed! Too "Normal Anime"!
Creepy! Not like the rest is any better...

These guys would seem like quirky comic reliefs
who would deserve more scenes... that is, if they were
not stalking a little girl, with hearts in their eyes.
This follows in “Tooned Out”, where Dedede, undeterred by his previous failure, orders from eNeMeE a trio of otaku artists to make a cartoon for him. They seem qualified enough, and yes they are great artists, but there’s a problem: They quickly take an interest in Tiff, and they soon redirect the show to feature her. And thus, they start stalking her around, recording her lines and taking pictures, with an unhealthy obsession. Probably a crack at otakus, who aren’t exactly well-regarded in Japan. Sequestered by Dedede, the Otakings are left to work on their anime while Dedede summons, from Nightmare Enterprises, an obvious Walt Disney parody that tries to teach the King how to make cartoons through CGI and motion capture, but of course it turns out to be another ploy by eNeMeE. Not to mention what the Otakings end up showing at the end… Look up “Fumu-tan of the Stars”, you’ll see what I mean. Another episode I really like, despite being higher on the creepy factor than any other on the show. It’s another commentary on animation, especially about advanced animation methods and fandoms. It also has many references to other films, anime and series, and that’s always fun.

That. Is NOT. Tiff. Hell no. All the NOPE in the world.
I told you those Otakings were just perverted stalkers.
They do have a talent at drawing flowers and detailed
characters, but... No, just no.

From how much I wrote about these two, you can tell those are my favorite episodes in the series. The massive amounts of fourth wall-breaking and lampshade hanging helped quite a bit give these episodes a unique feel.

8. Episode 61 – Fitness Fiend (the Japanese one)

This one comes with a “But…”. The English episode is alright, but the Japanese one knocks it out of the park. The plot is simple; Dedede orders fattening chips from NightMare Enterprises to make Kirby fat and, at the same time, prevent him from inhaling stuff to gain abilities. However, in a bout of gluttony, Dedede also ends up snacking on the chips. As a result, both become big blobs of fat. Well, Dedede is lucky, his clothes still fit him even in that state. With neither being able to work out, Customer Service sends out Macho-San (Max Flexer in the English dub), a miniature guy with blackglasses, an afro and a leotard, who’ll put the two through training Hell. What do you mean, is it a ruse? Of course it is a ruse! Watch the episode in English, but then seek out the Japanese version of the part with Macho-San. It’s probably one of the greatest moments in the entire anime, especially with that impressive shot featuring over 70 characters.

Actually no, here it is.

Why is it so great? That scene uses a techno version of Dedede’s theme, and I swear, I listened to that video so often just for the song, I would PAY to get that song. It’s that damn catchy. It sucks that 4kids replaced it by a generic beat in their version for American audiences. I guess the episode is pretty great too on comedy, and that’s always positive.


9. Episode 64 – The Kirby Quiz

"So, was it Fire Kirby, Ice Kirby, or Stone Kirb-
Hey! Who left that stupid logo at the bottom?"
To start off the New Year, Channel DDD presents to Cappy Town a whole new show: The Kirby Quiz Challenge. Five teams of two join the quiz: One of these teams has Dedede and Escargoon, while another team is Tiff helped of Kirby. Gee, as if this didn’t already sound unbalanced. Oh, you haven’t heard the best: Customer Service is the main host for the questions! Interesting spin on the usual clip show, that’s for sure. At every question, Customer Service plays the relevant scenes from the anime. The quiz even starts with a question about the first episode! Most questions involve Kirby’s forms and the monsters he battled. Meanwhile, Dedede and Escargoon attempt to cheat their way to victory… A pretty brilliant concept for the episode, a real treat to watch.

10. Episode 80 – Power Ploy

Buff Kirby.... *shudder* That's just wrong.
Dedede has had enough of eNeMeE’s monsters never getting rid of Kirby, so he tries to file a complaint, but Customer Service tricks him into buying more stuff from them – namely, a new energy drink that soon becomes the talk of the town among Cappies for its crazy energy and muscle-boosting capabilities. When Kirby drinks some of it, he inhales a statue, becomes Stone Kirby, and goes on a manic destruction spree! The downside is that once the drink’s effect ends, its user is all worn out, and that was the plan all along: Customer Service sends a monster at Kirby, who’s now too weak to fight back! Once again, an episode with plenty of funny moments, but also quite a bit of action, just the way it’s supposed to be. And a pretty smart plot, really, that shows that NightMare Enterprises calls the shots on the side of evil, Dedede be damned. Oh, and an epic ending, too!

11. Episode 92 – Hunger Struck
What was that I said about the strength in numbers?
Oh, right...

Another episode about the Waddle Dees – let’s hope it doesn’t break my D key to talk about this one. Escargoon sees the multi-course meal the Dees receive and reports to Dedede, who upon seeing the cost of these meals, decides to drastically cut on his army’s portions. He creates a contest to see who, among the townspeople, could create the cheapest meal for his army, and Chef Kawasaki wins. Unfortunately, the chef’s paper-thin sandwiches are not a hit with the Dees, causing them to revolt against the entire town. “It’s not because we’re a mouthless nondescript mass that we can’t get hungry, you know!” You’ll believe they can be a threat! You’ll believe they can give death glares! And of course, things get worse when Customer Service sends out a cooking monster-

I told you the Waddle Dees were good at making
death glares.
No, a cookING monster, to feed the Waddle Dees on the condition that they bring Kirby… Another great episode, and one that finally paints the Waddle Dees as a credible threat! Strength is in the numbers, they say. Plus, it’s always good to have an episode that discusses the inner workings of the universe that's been presented to us since Episode 1. By the way, the episode finally answers how Waddle Dees eat: They absorb the food through the skin of their face and then chew it! Must… resist… temptation… to… question… the cartoon… biology… THAT MAKES NO SENSE! But I'll let it pass, because it's funny.

12. Episodes 96 to 100 – The Movie

Iron Kirby - a fan design. Looks good!
I can’t end this list without the big series finale. In the Japanese version, these five episodes formed a 90-minute movie, but upon localization (and to fit with the release date of Kirby’s Air Ride), 4kids released the first two episodes in the middle of the series. Those two episodes, Air-Ride In Style, were pretty important to the end of the series, but 4kids’ change in the order of episodes passed it off as a dream within the series. And yet, this two-parter turns out to be a long battle against some of NightMare Enterprises’ strongest creatures: The Air Riders.
Wow, that's a big ship.
Following this, it seems eNeMeE has finally had enough of this battle and sends out destroyer starships that level Cappy Town. Meta Knight reveals that through the duration of the series, he and his acolytes were building the Halberd, which they can use to travel across space towards NightMare Enterprises, to settle this once and for all. And thus, the final battle comes as Kirby, helped by an unlikely group of heroes formed by many of the Cappy Townspeople, head out to take down Nightmare. Oh, Dedede and Escargoon are in there, too, but they're mostly just nuisances here. As a movie, this is a really good ending, mostly living up to the expectations. It has comedy, it has action; it has everything that made the show so fun to watch. By this point, King Dedede and Escargoon in 3D blend pretty well with the surroundings, an art that was refined over the 95 previous episodes.
A chess theme, yet the pieces are not even on squares.
That is not how you play chess.
The Air Ride episodes have four Kirby abilities that were created by fans, and one of them, Water Kirby, even became part of the game series! One problem with it is that the battle against Nightmare is rather anticlimactic, but then again it’s justified by Kirby wielding the Star Rod and Nightmare being easy to defeat but also easy to revive since he’s a personification of bad dreams and, thus, can come back whenever someone has a nightmare…

P.S. Even the last episode alone is worth watching for that one scene with the revelation about Customer Service. It’s hilarious.

Anyway, enough rambling. This is my final post about the Kirby anime. I hope this gave you enough interest in the series to check it out at some point. It’s not perfect, there are some glaring mistakes in the English dub, but it’s still a pretty enjoyable kid’s show with enough wit in many episodes to appeal to everyone.

Next Friday: A final post about Kirby’s Dream Collection!