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August 26, 2016

Kirby: Right Back At Ya - Three Episodes


I will go back on what Kirby’s Dream Collection has to offer in next Friday’s article. Until then, I need to talk a final time about Kirby: Right Back At Ya. There are three episodes of the TV show available in the collector’s item, so I figured it would be fair to review them here. I remember making an article about the anime in general back in January, but I believe I didn’t exactly do the show justice there, writing what’s more like an introduction than an actual review. I was also planning to write quick posts about every episode, but I soon found out that my real life obligations would have made it impossible for me to do that. Think of this as me paying this kind of debt to the Kirby anime, by offering finally honest critiques of three episodes of the show, maybe giving you the desire to look for these episodes and watch them. And Monday, I will try to direct you to twelve other episodes that I really enjoy in this anime, episodes that I go back to more often than others… that is, whenever I’m in the mood to watch Kirby kick ass outside of a video game. Alright then, enough blabber, let’s get this started!

Episode 1 – Kirby Comes to Cappy Town

EXT. FIELD – NIGHT. Panorama shot of a hoard of sheep sleeping. A giant octopus monster comes out of nowhere and starts eating them all, leaving carcasses behind.

So, another fan of lamb cutlets! Nice to meet you!

Well… This sets the mood! Welcome to Dream Land, home of all your kaiju-esque nightmares!

Ah, Kirby. Adorable regardless of dimension.
2D world, 3D world, game world, anime world...
After its meal, the creature flies back to King Dedede’s castle. Meanwhile, in space, a little star-shaped spaceship flies across the vast emptiness. Its inhabitant, our pink copying sphere, suddenly wakes up. The ship alerts him that there’s trouble on a nearby planet. Kirby sets the controls for the heart of the sun – Oh wait, my bad, I had Pink Floyd in my head. I mean, the spaceship heads towards Planet Popstar.

In Cappy Town, the Cappies confront King Dedede about the giant octopus, but all he has to show them is a tiny cute little pet octopus that cannot in any way be the giant monster that attacked last night. One villager, the young Tiff, daughter of King Dedede’s Cabinet Minister, still has doubts, especially after seeing the tiny octopus doing a scary face. (After all, who else but villains do scary faces like that?) Worried, the townspeople head towards the mystical Kabu, a giant stone spirit in the forest, and the spirit informs them that a hero named Kirby is coming. Tiff immediately imagines a Link-like figure. Oh, girl, you’re in for some disappointment!

Tiff; if you're dreaming of bishonen, I have bad news for you;
You got gypped, you were sent into the wrong franchise.

"Do not worry my friend, I am not here to clob-beh
you with that there, uh, sword. Am I doing this right?"
That’s when Kirby crashes his starship on Popstar. The townspeople get there with Dedede, who’s ready to annihilate any forms of extraterrestrial “menace” with his tank. The ship opens, and its inhabitant reacts to the name Kirby with joy. Disappointment for Tiff in 3… 2… 1…  Laughing at the idea that this two-foot-nothing pinkie is a Hero, King Dedede whips out his trusted hammer and clobbers dat dere Kirbeh into the nearby abyss. Tiff and her brother Tuff try to look for him but Tiff falls, only to be rescued by the floating Kirby. Admitting that Kirby is more than he seems, Tiff and Tuff tell Kirby their names and realize that the new hero is like a baby, still learning to pronounce names and words. Though he mostly says Poyo. Dedede viciously attacks but Kirby hides in a field of watermelons. Dedede and his lackey Escargoon cease their attack after Tiff and Tuff stop them, though. Later that night, the Cappies discover Kirby’s, ahem, impressive appetite. I mean, the food, the plates, the utensils and the tablecloth: it all went inside his pink tummy in a matter of seconds! Running out, Kirby finds the carcasses and Tiff asks if he was the one to attack the village’s sheep hoard. They hide inside a little shack when they encounter two knights, followed by the masked Meta Knight, who enters with a riff of a Spanish guitar. 4kids, Antonio Banderas called, he wanted his interpretation of Puss in Boots back. However, the three knights leave after meeting Kirby. Meta Knight himself senses something powerful inside the pink kid.

Wow, look at all that equipment! Dedede, you're equipped
to be the villain in another show, not this one!
Our small hero flies to Dedede’s Castle, where the penguin king and his right-hand snail brought the starship. Kirby searches in the ruined ship but doesn’t seem to find what he’s looking for, so he hurries inside, certain that King Dedede took the object, a little star-shaped trinket. Inside the castle, Dedede is annoyed at the little octopus, so he calls NightMare Enterprises. Customer Service, the only human to ever appear on the show (and even then, we all know how looks can deceive in this franchise), reassures Dedede that the octopus will become a real monster, and it only takes some time. Turns out, not only is the octopus growing, it’s also got mind control powers that it uses to send King Dedede at Kirby. Tiff and her family get there in the middle of the fight and Tiff picks up the star trinket, dropped by Dedede during the battle. When Dedede is defeated by running into a stone column, because admittedly bosses are never wise about the layout of their rooms, the octopus proceeds to grow gigantic and attack the people present, releasing dozens of miniature versions of itself as well.

Meta Knight explains to Tiff that the star trinket is actually the Warp Star, a source of Kirby’s power, and Kirby has to be reunited with it to be able to face this foe. The battle went a few floors higher, so Tiff goes up and shows the star to Kirby, who regains his energy and becomes able to inhale the mini-octopi. When the giant octopus releases fire-powered ones, Kirby inhales them and transforms, a crown of fire appears on his head, and he gains fire powers. And all this time, Meta Knight exposits like he has never exposited before. This power still isn’t enough though, so Tiff throws the star and it magically grows to become a platform for Kirby to fly around on. With this, Kirby gains enough power to send away the giant octopus, defeating it finally.

Leave it to Kirby to kick all the asses.
Especially giant monsters' asses.

The good guys cheer, Dedede and Escargoon cry at the thought of never getting a refund for that monster, and Customer Service, who was spying on the action, tells his master that Kirby is a Star Warrior after all. Kirby then prepares to leave Popstar, but the ship gets shot down by Dedede’s tank. Thus, Kirby has to live in Cappy Town for a while.

This pilot does a good job at setting up the characters and their motivations, showing Kirby’s joyfulness and abilities, King Dedede’s greed, and some facets of Tiff’s personality as well. It also contains many hints towards a larger storyline, in no small part thanks to Customer Service, his master in the shadows, and Meta Knight’s large knowledge, implying the masked blue puffball will be some kind of mentor.

However, the story does start a little clunky, in part because we have no idea why King Dedede called NightMare Enterprises to order a monster before Kirby even came around. We’ll never get an answer for that. Like many pilots, this one also does quite a bit of exposition, since there was a lot to set up and sometimes just showing it on the screen doesn’t help.

Also, while I kinda liked the intro before, I might revise my previous opinion and say it looks good but the lyrics kinda suck, repeating “KIRBY!” far too often. Viewers, make sure to remember the name of the main character! But if you forget, don’t worry, the theme song will remind you. Dozens of times.

Episode 60 – Crusade For the Blade

This episode takes us past the halfway point of the series, after many things have been explained, so you might have to watch more of the show to follow. However, by this point it’s been established that Meta Knight and a group of galactic heroes called the Star Warriors fought for a long time against the demonic forces of a cosmic evil deity named Nightmare, and that Kirby is a baby Star Warrior who needs to learn how to use his powers to their full extent to defeat Nightmare for good. That’s the ultra-ultra-condensed-abridged-shortened version. Now, on to the episode.

This one starts when a new spaceship crashes near Cappy Town. King Dedede and Escargoon go to investigate, and meet the ship’s inhabitant, a girl with white hair (or fur? In the Kirby series, it’s hard to tell), who asks who they are. Upon hearing that the penguin is King Dedede, she says she’s in the right place, and breaks their limousine with a few blasts of her weapon. She follows them back to the castle and attacks the army of Waddle Dee. As she ventures inside, she encounters Meta Knight and it becomes clear that he’s the one she was looking for. She shoots at MK, then later shoots at Sword Knight and Blade Knight. Good thing this girl has the accuracy of an Imperial Stormtrooper, or we’d be seeing blood in this kid’s show! The white intruder’s weapon seems to have an option for everything: A gun, a hookshot, a rocket launcher, a blade… There are heroes out there who have wet dreams of ever owning a weapon like this one.

Let's make a deal; Beat up Dedede and I'll tell you where Meta Knight is.
Just stop pointing this weapon at me, pleaseé

Flashback time! And we can see it, too.
The world of fiction can be so awesome sometimes.
The girl causes more destruction in Dedede’s Castle – poor Dedede, good thing he has thousands of Waddle Dee slaves to repair everything, because this damn place comes crashing down once about every five episodes. Tiff, Tuff and Kirby accidentally encounter her and she tells them that her name is Sirica. She adds that she’s looking for Meta Knight because he took something that is important to her – the Galaxia sword. Pfft, not that I’m a weapons critic, but Galaxia’s design is impractical for a sword, you don’t want that. Leave it to MK. Sirica then explains that MK and her mother were Star Warriors who went looking for Galaxia, and were attacked in the sword’s room by a large monster known as Kirisakin. Sirica claims that Meta Knight took the sword and fled while her mother died at the hands of the monster, and thus that the sword rightfully belongs to her. When Meta Knight shows up, a short fight ensues where the masked warrior is wounded. The group flees with Meta Knight. Tuff and Kirby get medicine from Sir Ebrum and Lady Like, Tiff anf Tuff’s parents, and run to where they’re hiding MK, unaware that Sirica is stealthily following them.

Kirisakin, you have such big claws!
"GROOOOOOOOOOOOOAR!"
No, that's not the line!! You are messing up Red Riding Hood!
Galaxia doesn't like its hilt touched by strangers. Sorry.
Dedede summons a monster through NightMare Enterprises, and the creature turns out to be none other than Kirisakin, because Customer Service is psychic or something. Meanwhile, Tiff makes a bandage for Meta Knight, and Kabu explains the full story of Galaxia: Mythology mythology mythology life of its own eNeMeE Kirisakin dark cave Nightmare no longer almighty mythology yadda yadda. No word on Sirica’s mother Garlude, and Sirica shows up for a fight before Meta Knight can fill in the blanks. The battle gets taken outside and Sirica knocks Galaxia out of Meta Knight’s hand, and when she hurries to grab its hilt she receives an electric shock that knocks her back, with MK explaining too late that it can only be wielded by the person it chose. Kirisakin runs at them at that moment, and Sirica’s unable to stop it with her weapon – no, not the machine gun! Sirica, you know your aim sucks with that one!

Sirica, Sword Knight and Blade Knight’s efforts proving futile, Kirby inhales a sword and becomes Sword Kirby, but he, too, isn’t able to do much. Sirica grabs Galaxia again, but this time the swords speaks to her and explains that Garlude sacrificed her life in the previous fight against Kirisakin to throw the sword to Meta Knight, the Chosen (because even in the cartooniest confines of the universe there’s a goddamned Chosen One, I will never escape from this trope, ever!). Accepting that she can’t wield the sword, Sirica tosses it at Kirby, who grabs it, and unleashes a Galaxia Blast that splits the monster in two, destroying it for good. Because of course Kirby is the next Chosen One, am I right?

After making peace with Meta Knight, Sirica embarks on her ship and leaves the planet, over the goodbyes of her new friends.

This is a very strong episode that explores Meta Knight and Galaxia’s backstories some more. It introduces Sirica, who is frequently described as “Tiff, but white, and with the complete opposite personality”. So, basically, not Tiff at all, though she is a cool action counterpart to her. Can she get her own show, please? This episode also has more action, which is pretty neat. However, King Dedede and Escargoon are a lot less important in it, taking away some of the comedy potential, making it a grimmer episode than others. Thankfully, that doesn’t have an impact on the quality, and more serious episodes are important in kid shows. All in all, an episode beloved by the fans, and I can see why.

Episode 72 – Waddle While You Work

Oh hey1 I had that amount the other day
in AdVenture Capitalist! Or was it Cookie Clicker?
From serious, we go full-on comical. We open on King Dedede, tuque-deep in debt with NightMare Enterprises. He’s not able to pay for all the monsters he ordered to clobbah dat dere Kirbeh, so Customer Service brings a pretty interesting idea: What if he sold his workforce? With the money accumulated from selling Waddle Dees to the inhabitants of Cappy Town, he might be able to get out of debt. After all, Dedede has thousands of them, and he never had to bother to learn all of their names. They’re all called Waddle Dee anyway. Except that single one over there with the bandana. That’s Bandana Waddle Dee, you have to remember that. Or he gets angry. He doesn’t have a mouth, and he can’t really hurt you, but he’s really good at making death glares. Customer Service supplies Dedede with machines that will let him sell his Waddle Dees easily.

"Okay, you were working the ovens, so you are a Hot Waddle Dee."
"You managed the freezers, so you're a cold Waddle Dee."
"You bumped into Kirby and lost the fight easily, you must be the Normal Waddle Dee."

The Dees instinctively know how to use a broom.
Or anything else, really. If their health wasn't so
poor, they could be dangerous.
On the next morning, some of the townspeople find Waddle Dee vending machines installed across town. Chef Kawasaki suggests that the Mayor of Cappy Town tries it first, and the Mayor does. Though, to be honest, I have no idea why the Dees are advertised as “Cold”, “Normal”, and “Hot”. Are those repurposed coffee machines? What are the benefits to have a Hot Waddle Dee? Perfect to have around while the hubby is away? What about the Cold ones: Do they automatically come with the option to blow on your drinks if they’re too hot? But wait, they got no mouths… I am confused. The Mayor pays himself a Waddle Dee, and it already starts getting to work by taking a broom and sweeping around. The villagers head to the Mayor’s house to see it sparkling clean, with the Waddle Dee still well at work. Seeing their usefulness, more Cappies start buying Waddle Dees.

They sure seem to be able to dapt to anything...
At first, Tiff is tempted to climb on her soapbox and defend the hard-working Dees who might wind up treated as slaves, but then it turns out the Waddle Dees love to help around and do all kinds of tasks. By the way, it really is stated in another episode of the anime that the Dees will settle with anyone who offers them some hospitality, and in Cappy Town, it seems Dedede was the only one who wanted them around. Unable to convince anyone, Tiff leaves, but soon sees the Waddle Dee craze take over the town. Toy store employees, mailmen, doctors, chefs, policemen, handymen… They show up everywhere, occupy all the roles. However, the townspeople gladly reward them for all the hard work they do, even bringing them to the restaurant… even if they don’t have any discernible mouth to speak of…

A Waddle Dee with a mouth. That's an abomination
of nature. Unlike the normal Dees, whose lack of
mouth is somehow acceptable.
Dedede still has thousands of Dees to sell, but whenever he goes to get the cash from a vending machine he finds it’s gone; all sent directly to eNeMeE to pay his debt! Thus he has no choice but to sell them all. Escargoon sees Kirby waddling around and has a devilish idea, and Dedede rolls with it: Disguise Kirby as a Dee and sell him with the others! You haven’t heard the craziest: It works! Nobody can tell this suddenly voiced, pink-faced Waddle Dee going “Poyo!” left and right is actually Kirby! Soon enough though, King Dedede’s reserves of Dees goes empty, and even Waddle Doo, the Dee army’s leader, packs up and leaves! Well, guess that’s the problem, Dedede: you didn’t sell them for a high enough price! The king pesters Escargoon as well, so the snail leaves too, leaving Dedede alone to do everything in his gigantic castle. A king who has done nothing his whole life now having to do everything by himself. I smell a comedy there!


…Oh.

With no servants and no knowledge on how to do anything for himself, poor Dedede is left looking like a hobo, pitifully attempting to sell pencils door-to-door. And the villagers mock him. You can almost feel sorry for this penguin. After eating a raw vegetable he uprooted, Dedede swears he’ll turn his life around and do his best to “never go hungry no more”!

Honestly, this scene would be really scary, if it were
not for the derpy expression on the Dyna Chick.
Dedede, stop, you're choking this chicken!
.......Wait, I just realized what I said. Forget that.
But he’s not one to hold on to a promise, so he jumps on the first Dyna Chick he sees, even if it’s a bird just like him. You heard that right: A bird almost eating another bird on a kid’s show. Have fun thinking of that while you roll around in your sleep, folks! As you may guess, this rightly pisses off the mother, Dyna Blade, who’s every ounce as huge and badass as she is in Kirby Super Star. Probably more so. Dedede tries to run away with the chick, but is now in danger. Waddle Doo calls the Dees to their ex-master’s rescue, and they all flock towards the penguin’s current location, including Kirby. That’s when Tiff and Tuff, who have been trying to stop the King from doing a “Dyna à l’Orange”, yell for Kirby to come to help them. Kirby, on Warp Star, takes the chick away from Dedede and back to the next, but Dyna Blade grabs Dedede. The Dees try to slow the giant bird down, to little avail, and the confrontation ends near the nest, where Dyna Blade drops Dedede and the King is rescued in the nick of time by a long chain of his minions, while Kirby leaves the chick safe and sound to its giant mommy.

Gee, good thing there was the right number of Waddle Dees!
Had there been one more, there would be a Dedede-shaped
dent in the ground right there.

Despite Dedede learning nothing, the Waddle Dees go back to serving him, but the Cappies will remember for a long time the happy days where they had all of those extra helpers around town. As for the penguin king… well, he won’t be running out of coffee machines in his castle anytime soon.

Then again, Dedede has never been one to learn all that much; he's the Kirby equivalent of Cartman.


Image from Brawl In The Family.
Original strip here. Ganondorf Boomhauer forever.

There were way too many Ds in this part. I am taking a break from using that key for a bit. Starting immed- er… starting now!

...Dammit, I still gotta give my thoughts on the episode. Well, it’s a pretty good one. Never thought it would be possible to make an episode about the most generic minion the series has ever had; it would be like the Super Mario Super Show making an episode about Goombas, back in the 90s! The idea behind the episode is really good, and follows all the logical conclusions one would make from that scenario. Tiff’s usual attitude gets shot down pretty quickly (she has a tendency to be sanctimonious). However, in the end, it’s still an episode about King Dedede and how he would be reduced to nothing without his minions on this show. In the games, he’d still be able to put up a fight, but you don’t exactly fight the oven to cook yourself a meal, so even there a lack of minions would be a problem. Thus Dedede ends up having to learn a lesson… which he doesn’t due to other circumstances showing up, and then the episode ends up with an almost-status quo, as usually happens in those series. It’s pretty funny to see the Dees occupy menial tasks around town, like swatting away readers in the bookstore (it’s not a library!), or working at the restaurant but none of them answering the phone (and only then does Chef Kawasaki remember that they can’t speak). And Kirby, who just accepts the new role like it’s nothing. In the end, it’s a pretty great episode about Dedede.

Come to think of it, it seems to make an awful lot of sense that the developers at HAL Laboratory picked those three episodes, even if they’re not necessarily the best ones in the series: Each episode is centered on one of the main three characters of the franchise. The pilot is obviously about Kirby. “Crusade For the Blade” shows more of Meta Knight’s backstory. “Waddle While You Work” is all about King Dedede.

But those are not the only three Kirby: Right Back At Ya episodes I recommend. Next Monday, gear up, I will be suggesting no less than 12 other episodes to check out from the show!