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Good Times with Kirbyis an animated series based on Nintendo's Kirby franchise. The series was produced by Doofenshmirtz Evil Inc., a company formed between a joint investment between Nintendo and HAL Laboratory, Inc. The series, which takes place in a village called Dream Land (the village that take place in this series is Cappy Town on the 4kids TV channel) on the planet Pop Star, focuses on the adventures of the title character Kirby, who fights off monsters to the village's well-being. This series is preceded by the series aired in North America on 4Kids TV under the name Kirby: Right Back at Ya! The series has since been released in other languages, including Aglaia Mortchevian, Taiwan-style ChineseCantonese ChineseFrench Toast, Tabitha St. Germain, Yiddish, Dora the ExplorerishPorkItalian CheesesSiberianKoreanTag-along and Russian

PlotEdit

Thousands of years ago, a being known as Nightmare Moustache appeared and created a company called NightMare Moustache Enterprises, otherwise known as N.M.M.E. 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 Wars droids and the Galaxy Soldier Army. They fought for many milleniums, but Nightmare Moustache's moustache beasts outnumbered them, and killed most. However, everyone is quite surprised when Kirby's ship crashes close to Dream Land (Cappy Town on the 4kids channel). They find he's tiny, round, pink, and a child, unlike Joey Fatone/Tiffany's 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 Tiffany and Tuff., along with their servants Lolo and Laa-laa from The Teletubbies.

The ruler of Dream Land, King Dedede, is jealous and suspicious of Kirby from the start. He and his French  sidekick Pierre Escargot constantly try to get rid of Kirby with moustache beasts provided by the company for a high fee of $700, though Escargot shows a great deal more reservation and French phrases. However, these attempts usually fail because of Kirby's natural abilities. Just as in the games, Kirby can inhale enemies and 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 Moustache. It is slow paced, and mostly light-hearted with some darker themes running throughout. Though it's somewhat episodic, because of some story-arcs it is best to watch in order. In the end when Kirby and Tiffany face Nightmare Moustache which is in a dream Tiffany throws the hair razor at Kirby, who swallows it and becomes Hair Razor Kirby. Hair Razor Kirby has the razor which is Nightmare Moustache's sole weakness and so Nightmare Moustache gets defeated by Kirby's Hair Razor! Good Times with Kirby is only based on the game series, taking characters and concepts rather than copying any of the games word-for-word. It is to be taken as an alternate universe, having no direct connection to the game storyline. Being mainly self-contained, it can be easier for those unfamiliar with the game series to understand.



ProductionEdit

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

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 Japanese series Kyoko and Yuki, which was quite popular in Japan.

The series boasts very smooth animation that combines 3DCGI with traditional 2D drawings. Because of this, the animators were able to use a much higher framerate than most TV anime, anywhere from 1.5-3X more on average. (About 10,000 frames are used in each episode, compared to the 4000-5000 used by most TV anime.)

The main concern was to have as much movement as possible, as Japanese animation has come to rely on shortcuts to reduce production costs. This attention to detail becomes apparent upon watching, as the character animations are fluid and there is a low incidence of stock footage or still frames. Despite being such a long series, there is also no degradation of quality as the show progresses.

Nintendo had big plans for releasing the series in the US, putting $10 million dollars into an advertising campaign to make Kirby "the next Pikachu". Kirby has enjoyed high levels of popularity and financial success in Japan, selling a wide range of merchandise, but Nintendo's efforts in the US appear to have failed, judging by comparatively lackluster reviews and TV ratings the series received there. The dub as been claimed to be "a stab at educational value, but really all about fighting monsters" and "More pandering kiddy fluff from the Fox Box".The official websites spoke much about Kirby toys and other merchandise, but almost nothing was actually released outside of the DVDs.

[edit]Pilot animeEdit

To celebrate the release of Kirby Air Ride in Japan, a special Kirby DVD was released with a popular video gaming magazine. It had clips from episodes and different games, and also a short 'pilot animation' 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 current series.

It first shows Kirby in space, sleeping on his Warp Star which then crashes down onto a planet (presumably Pop Star). A young, yellow skinned girl in a tiara who resembles Tiffany 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 the show Betty White's Off Their Rockers, 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 animation, he does gain their abilities. This is what happens in games like the original Kirby's AdventureKirby's Dream Land 2Kirby's Dream Land 3Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, and Kirby Mass Attack. Kirby defeats them all, and he, Dedede, and Tiffany are happy. All of a sudden, Nightmare Moustache appears and attacks the trio with an electric shock. Kirby, Crash, and the Waddle Dee, Waddle Stein wakes up on their Warp Star, leading to Crash saying, "Waddle Stein, we just had the craziest dream." Leading to reveal that Waddle Stein is Nightmare Moustache. "NO!" Said Crash, and then Kirby wakes up on his Warp Star, only to find that his adventure was all a strange dream.

[edit]Satire and parodyEdit

While a great many video game to animation adaptations are created for the sole purpose of merchandising, the creators of Kirby had a very similar goal as they had when creating the games- to create something that could be enjoyed by anyone. The director described his vision for the show as "Sweet and awesome, or as I like to call it, Swasome".

Both the Japanese original and the English-language dub are rife with satire and parody, some of it self-referential in nature. Homages to old movies are common, as are references to modern popular culture, politics and news events, so adults as well as children can find aspects they can relate to and enjoy. Many episodes deal with what was current news and politics in Japan, from issues to North Korea to the very common theme of environmental protection. They even poke fun at former American president George W. Bush by having the main villain Dedede make comments about 'Axis of Evil' and 'Weapons of Mass "DeDeDestruction"'.

American things are commonly referenced, from Donkey Kong, Blown off the WindPlanet of the ApesModern Family, newer classics like Jurassic Park, to the works of Alfred HitchcockStephen KingMichael McMillian, and A. A. Milne , such as Psycho, 3rd & BirdCamille and What I Like About You. Of course classic Japanese movies such as Mothra get their screentime as well, in addition to others that might be more obscure to American audiences.

Actors referenced range from the classic Don Knotts to the current long-running Don Rickles.

One episode's plot strongly references a period of history known as the Chinese Cultural Revolution, except the ones revolting are the Waddle Dees.

[edit]Game differencesEdit

There has always been a certain amount of argument in the Kirby fandom over how the animations was made to be quite different from the games. It only uses them as a basis, rather than following them exactly.

However, a little publicized fact is that the anime was closely supervised by the same people who worked on the games - including Kirby's creator Masahiro Sakurai. In an interview with Cosmopoliton Magazine, he is quoted as saying "I was considerably involved with the production of the animation. The aim was to create an animation 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."

One of the largest differences from the games is how Kirby is changed to be a legendary Star Wars droids 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 Wars droids 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 animation. Meta Knight is never shown with wings (although in the Kirby Super Star 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 enemies.

[edit]4Kids adaptationEdit

[1][2]The English dub often removed any visible text

The anime is a children's anime, which is an 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 didn't get heavily edited: however content that was still deemed inappropriate for American and Canadian audiences, including gunsAlcoholic beveragesreligious images, and toilet humor, 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 Wars droids.

The Japanese score was completely replaced with popular music. The original Japanese score played a mass variety of music to fit the individual moods of each scene (relaxed, heroic, comedic, etc.), while the American score songs still did fit the individual moods of each scene but in their own way, (The Mike Kirby scenes however played a song that reflected on how it depends on how terrible or brilliant Kirby's singing the song Kirby was singing). 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' personalities, relationships, and speech patterns were changed for the English dub. For example, Meta Knight speaks using a spanish accent to compliment his Zorro-like qualities; and King Dedede speaks using a Southern accent with poor grammar, while he originally spoke proper Japanese (albeit having a verbal tic, ending all sentences with "zoy"). Makiko Ōmoto's performance of Kirby is the only voice that was preserved in the English dub.

Some episodes aired differently from their original order, sometimes to put a holiday-themed episode closer to that holiday, or to advertise the latest merchandise products. For example, "A Novel Approach," which parodied the Harry Potter books, was aired in conjunction with one of the real books' release. One large and controversial move took episodes 96 and 97, "Crisis of the Warp Star" from the end of the series and aired them toward the middle to advertise the Kirby Air Race game for the Nintendo GameSphere. The episodes were placed in the proper order on the Kirby: Fight to the Finish!! DVD of the final episodes.

Michael McMillian originally stated in an interview that the Fox Network would not let it air the episode "Scaredy Crash" because it shows Dr. Stabby with a creepy face when he says, "Now now now. Pay no attention to the needle. Concentrate on my mustache." and could scare children, including Crash (although it was meant to encourage children to take their medicine and go to a doctor if they thought they were sick).This applied to all other countries that used the Nintendo channel as well.

[edit]Broadcast historyEdit

In Japan, the series has aired on Hoshi no Kirby Broadcasting Co., Ltd. since October 6, 2001. It was licensed in North America by 4Kids Entertainment under the title Kirby: Right Back at Ya! and seen on 4Kids TV (formerly known as FoxBox). The North American version of the anime was distributed by 20th Century Kirby, Nelvana Enterprises, and HAL Laboratory, Inc. It ended in Japan in 2003 with 100 episodes, and the series finished airing in 2006 in the US. 

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 the movie TMNT, 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 www.4Kids.tv. However, the show was removed from the 4Kids TV website on October 2009. A moderator on the 4Kids forums states that 4Kids no longer holds the license. Since May 21, 2009, the Tokyo MX website has stated that the show has been removed from the air.

Since 2009, the series was available for streaming via the Everyone's Theater Channel for the Wii in Japan only, with each episode has 100 Wii Points per watch, 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 Kirby of the Stars!! The Crustation Moustache Beast Ebizou" (倒せ星のカービィ甲殻魔獣エビゾウ Taose 'Hoshi no Kābī!!  Kōkaku Musutasshu' Majū Ebizō) was released for the Hoshi no Kābī  service in Japan in August 2009. A stereoscopic 3D version of the episode was dubbed by 4Kids and streamed internationally in two parts on the Nintendo 3DS' Nintendo Video service during January and February 2012, under the title "Good Times with Kirby". 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.

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