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Kirby series character
SSU Kirby artwork.png
Kirby, as depicted in promotional artwork for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
First appearanceKirby's Dream Land (1992)
Last appearanceKirby and the Forgotten Land (2022)
Created byMasahiro Sakurai
Designed byMasahiro Sakurai
Voiced byMakiko Ohmoto (1999–present)[1][2]
Taeko Kawata (Kirby and the Story of the Dream Spring) (1994)
Amy Birnbaum (Kirby: Right Back at Ya!; certain scenes in the English dub) (2002-2006)
In-universe information
GenderMale (in English)
Gender-unknown (in Japanese)[4][5][6][7]
OriginDream Land, Planet Popstar
Height8 inches

Kirby (Japanese: カービィ, Hepburn: Kābī, Japanese pronunciation: [kaːbiː]) is a fictional character and the titular protagonist of the Kirby series of video games owned by Nintendo and HAL Laboratory. He first appeared in Kirby's Dream Land (1992), a platform game, for the Game Boy. Originally a placeholder, created by Japanese video game designer Masahiro Sakurai, for the game's early development, he has since then starred in over 20 games, ranging from action platformers to puzzle, racing, and even pinball, and has been featured as a playable character in every installment of the Super Smash Bros. series. He has also starred in his own anime and manga series. Since 1999, he has been voiced by Makiko Ohmoto.

Kirby is well known for his ability to inhale objects and creatures to gain their powers, as well as his ability to float by expanding his body. He uses these abilities to rescue various lands, including his homeworld of Planet Popstar, from evil forces and antagonists, such as Dark Matter or Nightmare. On these adventures, he often crosses paths with his rivals, King Dedede and Meta Knight, though Meta Knight can be seen as a hero, depending on the game. Kirby has been described as one of the most legendary video game characters of all time by PC World.[8] In virtually all his appearances, Kirby is depicted as cheerful, innocent and food-loving; however, he becomes fearless, bold and clever in the face of danger.

Concept and creation[]

Kirby was created by Masahiro Sakurai as the player character of the 1992 game Kirby's Dream Land. The character's design was intended to serve as placeholder graphics for the game's original protagonist in early development and thus was given a simplistic ball-like appearance. Sakurai switched to the placeholder design for the final character design when he believed that it served the character better.[9] The character was known as Popopo (ポポポ) during development until the name "Kirby" was chosen from a draft list of potential names. Shigeru Miyamoto stated that "Kirby" was chosen in honor of American lawyer John Kirby, who defended Nintendo in the Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Nintendo Co., Ltd. case in 1984 and that the guttural-sounding name contrasted amusingly with the character's cute appearance.[10][11] Kirby appears white in Kirby's Dream Land due to the grayscale palette of the Game Boy system. Sakurai intended the character to be pink, though Miyamoto had originally thought the character to be yellow. Kirby does appear white in the game's North American promotional materials and artwork to reflect the character's in-game appearance.[9]

In North America, Kirby consistently appears in artwork with a more striking, bolder expression than in Japan, where his expression is more relaxed. Nintendo has said that the more battle-ready appearance appeals to a wider audience in North America.[12]


Kirby can gain the properties of enemies or objects he eats. For example; by inhaling a sword wielding foe, Kirby becomes a skilled swordsman.

Physical appearance[]

Kirby has a pink, spherical, body with small stubby arms and large red feet (not shoes). His eyes are a distinctive oval shape and are white (eye shine) at the top, black in the center and dark blue on the bottom (all black in early games) with rosy cheek-blushes near his eyes. His body is soft and flexible, allowing him to stretch or flatten and adopt different shapes, open his mouth very wide to inhale foes, or inflate himself with air and fly. He is 20 cm (about 8 in) tall. The 8-inch high Kirby hails from a distant, peaceful star. Like his simplistic appearance, he is an easily-understood character. True to his instincts, Kirby eats when he gets hungry and sleeps as soon as he grows tired. Nevertheless, Kirby remains a formidable opponent. In addition to his distinct flying and swallowing skills, he also has the ability to copy enemy attacks for ever-changing action.


Kirby hails from the distant Planet Popstar, where he lives in a dome-shaped house in the country of Dream Land.[13] He has a positive attitude, and frequently helps to save Dream Land through the use of his unique powers. His age is never directly stated,[4][14] although he is referred to as a "little boy" in the English manual for Kirby's Dream Land, described as a baby in the anime, and was referred to as being a "jolly fellow" in Kirby Super Star.

Kirby is cheerful and innocent. He is often depicted with a voracious appetite. His other hobbies include singing, although he is tone-deaf.[15]


Kirby's main ability is inhaling enemies and objects and spitting them out with incredible force. Both his mouth and body expand to allow him to inhale things much larger than himself. However, there is a limit to what he can inhale; excessively large or heavy foes like bosses can resist Kirby's inhale. Against these opponents Kirby must find smaller characters to use as ammo or intercept his opponent's attacks and send them back at them. In Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Kirby gains a new ability: his extremely elastic skin allows him to inhale large objects and take on their shape; this ability is referred to as "Mouthful Mode". During this state, Kirby is able to use control whatever he inhaled as if he was the object himself; for example, when Kirby inhales a car, he is able to make it drive around, or in the case of a light bulb, make it turn on and off at will.

Kirby Super Star greatly expanded on the concept of Copy Abilities from Kirby's Adventure. Originally Kirby just obtained one move from a Copy Ability which replaced his Inhale but Kirby Super Star introduced multiple fighting techniques for each ability with their own controls. Additionally while Kirby's Adventure didn't have Kirby's appearance drastically change when he had a Copy Ability, aside from his color changing to orange or snow white, or wielding a weapon for abilities like Sword or Hammer. Kirby Super Star gave each Copy Ability its own costume, such as a fiery crown for Fire Kirby or a floppy green cap that resembles Link's for Sword Kirby. In Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Kirby can use much more powerful, albeit temporary versions of Copy Abilities by inhaling and swallowing special kinds of enemies surrounded with a multicolored aura, these abilities are known as Super Abilities. One example is the Grand Hammer, which grants Kirby the usage of a much larger version of the hammer granted by the normal Hammer ability which can produce shockwaves.

In Kirby Super Star, Kirby can sacrifice his current Copy Ability to create a 'Helper', an allied version of the enemy Kirby typically gets that ability from.[16] The new Helper could be controlled by the game or a second player. This feature has not yet been included in later Kirby games, although it was included in Kirby Super Star's remake, Kirby Super Star Ultra and was intended to return in the cancelled GameCube Kirby game which would have had Kirby able to make up to four helpers at once. Kirby Star Allies has a similar mechanic where after being struck by a pink heart that fell from the sky, Kirby becomes able to create small pink hearts known as Friend Hearts which allow him to make friends with an enemy. This also causes the befriended enemy to change colors, presumably to aid the player in distinguishing enemies from friends. The maximum amount of friends Kirby can make is about three. To make another friend, Kirby will have to chose to "un-friend" one of his allies, which will make it disappear in replacement for the new ally.

In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Kirby's Final Smash is his Cook ability from Kirby Super Star, which cook opponents, items and more.[17] In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Kirby's Final Smash is an Ultra Sword attack.[17]


No official term exists for the name of Kirby's sepcies other than the word "Kirby". Sometimes the term 'puff' or 'puffball' is used in official materials to refer to Kirby's round shape,[18] though this does not necessarily indicate the name of his species. Another common term is 'Dream Landers', a term used in the instruction manual for Kirby's Adventure.[19] This term, however, also refers to anyone who lives in Dream Land, including characters like King Dedede. The biography of Kirby in Super Smash Bros. Brawl says Kirby is a citizen of Dream Land.[20] Although never explored in great detail in the series, Kirby is not the only member of his kind. The first game to introduce other individuals of Kirby's species was Kirby & The Amazing Mirror, where Dark Meta Knight slices Kirby into four other individuals identical to him in every way except in color. The English manual for the game states that those red, yellow and green Kirbies are pieces of the original Kirby rather than four individual Kirby like beings, although this doesn't seem to be the case in later games. These differently colored Kirbies along with an additional blue Kirby would later make appearances in other games as playable characters, usually in co-op mode, or as palette swaps for Kirby in games such as in the Super Smash Bros. series. In Kirby Battle Royale, King Dedede creates a "Kirby Printer" that generates differently colored clones of Kirby (although none of which are pink) when operated with a random Copy Ability that they cannot discard. In addition to the original red, blue, yellow, and green colors, the clones also have multiple other new colors such as orange and white. These clones vanish at the end of the game when the Kirby Printer is destroyed.

Aside from his look-alikes, Kirby is implied to belong to the same species as Meta Knight, his alternate counterparts Dark Meta Knight and Parallel Meta Knight, Galacta Knight and Morpho Knight, as they all have a similar appearance to Kirby without their masks on despite neither one of them demonstrating the same abilities as Kirby does. In Meta Knight's case, he is further hinted to be of the same species as Kirby in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, where Pit and Palutena assume that if a maskless Meta Knight were to inhale and absorb a masked Meta Knight, he would once again have a mask and "go back to where he started".[21]


Main series[]

Kirby's main media form are games, as he is the star and protagonist of the Nintendo owned series named after him. Most Kirby games are platform games in which Kirby fights enemies, solves puzzles, and challenges bosses. Each game typically adds a new twist or change to Kirby's abilities that the levels of the game emphasize, such as combining power ups in Kirby 64 or Super Abilities in Return to Dream Land. Most games involve Kirby saving a world or even universe from a dark, evil force of some kind. Typical Kirby games have a powerful being, such as Dark Matter or Nightmare, controlling or corrupting a secondary villain.

The series has 35 games currently, with the first being Kirby's Dream Land in 1992 and the latest being Kirby and the Forgotten Land in 2022. Although most are platform games, some spin-offs have included pinball, fighting, racing, and puzzle games.

Super Smash Bros. series[]

Kirby appears in the Super Smash Bros. series of games as a playable character, which is also created by Masahiro Sakurai. He is the sole Kirby series representative in Super Smash Bros. and Super Smash Bros. Melee, and has been one of three (the others being Meta Knight and King Dedede) as of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. He reprises his role as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the latter of which features him playing a starring role in the "World of Light" story mode in which he survives Galeem's massacre on all the fighters.


Kirby appears in his own anime titled Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, (Japanese: 星のカービィ Hoshi no Kaabii) in Japan. The series was licensed in North America by 4Kids Entertainment and the Canadian company Nelvana, and produced by Warpstar Inc., a company formed between a joint investment between Nintendo and HAL Laboratory. It aired on 4Kids TV, via Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting (since 2001 which has done 100 episodes).

The anime series is set in its own universe independent of the games and offers its own take on the setting and characters, however, Kirby's creator, Masahiro Sakurai, was greatly involved in its creation, so it did not stray far from his vision of how Kirby should be.[22] The anime contains darker themes such as war, and death while still maintaining the cheerful and surreal themes the games are known for.

In the anime Kirby's origin and backstory are explored much more deeply than in the games. Kirby is a legendary Star Warrior who, according to legend, is fated to save Pop Star from destruction, but he was awoken from his slumber 200 years too early by mistake and as such has many baby or childlike qualities. Because of his age, he is still getting the hang of his powers and depends even more on the help of his friends to pull through tough situations. It is also implied that Kirby was originally a creation of the ancient evil entity called Nightmare but refused to follow his evil orders and was discarded into the depths of space.

Kirby's Warpstar is also expanded upon, as in the games it is a mode of transportation, but here the Warpstar is also the source of his power. As he's too young to keep it safe for himself, Tiff takes it upon herself to keep the Warpstar safe.

Though Sakurai instructed that Kirby not speak in full sentences (citing the Peanuts character Snoopy) he did allow him to use a small vocabulary including a catch phrase "Poyo" and the names of various attacks and characters.

Prior to this Kirby was also in a short educational video that was released exclusively in Japan in 1994, designed to teach Kanji to young children. The feature was not animated, but contained illustrations and was bundled with a similar video featuring Mario and Wario.

Manga and comics[]

Kirby also stars in several manga adaptations, which have been drawn by over 20 manga artists. The longest running series, Kirby of the Stars: The Story of Dedede Who Lives in Pupupu, was serialized in CoroCoro Comic from 1994 to 2006, which has been compiled into 25 tankōbon volumes, with over 10 million copies being printed. It continued serialization in CoroCoro Aniki in 2017.[23][24] Viz Media originally planned to release the manga in English in September 2010, but it was pushed back and eventually cancelled.[25][26] The series was later published as a "best-of" collection, which also features new chapters from its continued serialization, and was published in English as Kirby Manga Mania by Viz Media.[27]

The German Club Nintendo magazine often featured comics starring various Nintendo characters, including Kirby. In his comics, Kirby is reimagined as a detective and King Dedede as his sidekick. These comics were promotions for Kirby games that were released in Germany at the time including Kirby's Dream Land 2, Kirby's Avalanche, and Kirby's Dream Course.[28]


Since he first appeared in Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby has received positive reception. Nintendo Power listed Kirby as their 19th favourite hero, commenting that he doesn't get the respect that he deserves.[29] Kirby ranked second on GameDaily's Top 10 Super Smash Bros. characters list.[30] They also included him in their "Pretty in Pink Video Game Characters" article.[31] GamesRadar listed Kirby as one of the most lovable blobs, calling him one of the cutest things to appear in a Nintendo game, yet also describing the way he defeats his enemies as "horrific."[32] He ranked sixth on IGN's top 10 veteran Super Smash Bros. characters, described as the "pinkest badass ever made."[33] An issue of the webcomic VG Cats depicts Kirby in 100 forms from both video games and other forms of media, such as characters from The Legend of Zelda, Metal Gear and Gundam.[34] In 2011, Cheat Code Central ranked Ninja Kirby as the ninth top ninja in video games.[35]

UGO Networks listed Kirby on their list of "The Cutest Video Game Characters" stating "It's easy to get on board with someone who will eat anything."[36] In 2009, GameSpot chose him as one of the characters to compete in their poll for the title of "All Time Greatest Game Hero".[37] In a 2010 Famitsu poll, Kirby was voted by readers as the 12th most popular video game character.[38] The 2011 Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition lists Kirby as the 18th most popular video game character.[39] In 2012, GamesRadar ranked him as the 40th "most memorable, influential, and badass" protagonist in games, saying "[i]f you don’t think a pink blob can be tough, then you clearly haven’t seen Kirby in action".[40] Jeremy Parish of Polygon ranked 73 fighters from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate "from garbage to glorious", listing Kirby third and stated that "He’s probably the single most consistent character in the Nintendo mascot lineup; unlike Link and Mario, And his “copy power” makes him unpredictably fun to play as in Smash."[41] Gavin Jasper of Den of Geek ranked Kirby as first of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate characters, and stating that "Kirby is the glue holding Smash together."[42]

See also[]

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  15. name="20th"/><ref name="profilejp"
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External links[]

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