Kirby is a small pink spherical creature with two stubby arms, two red feet, and two oval-shaped eyes with black pupils (with a faint shade of blue at the bottom starting with Kirby Super Star, which was brightened in later appearances). Kirby's cheek-blushes weren't introduced until his second game, Kirby's Adventure, where they appeared as two black whisker lines in artwork. In subsequent games until Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, they were depicted as three red diagonal lines in artwork, although they were usually always solid red ovals in-game (except Kirby's Dream Land 2, where they were missing from his sprite).
Kirby's body is soft and flexible, allowing him to flatten himself or expand like a balloon. Officially he is 20 centimeters (8 inches) tall, but the Super Smash Bros. games depict his height as about three feet when compared to the other characters. His weight is not known, although several parts of the anime and the Super Smash Bros. series suggest that he is light enough to be easily carried.
Kirby has no form of skeletal structure nor does he have teeth. The latter is confirmed in the anime episode 'A Dental Dilemma', where Hardy couldn't find Kirby's teeth to clean. His appearance has changed subtly over the years, his arms and body becoming more rounded and his facial features more defined with larger eyes. The new design has been used in all subsequent games.
With regards to Kirby's appearance on the box art of games and certain artwork, there is a phenomenon fans refer to along the lines of the "angry Kirby" look. For some undisclosed reason, although likely attributed to cultural differences and atmosphere at that time, Nintendo of America decided to depict Kirby's eyes as significantly sharper-looking than his usually benign expression on the US box art of several games, starting from Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, and including (in chronological order) Kirby Air Ride, Kirby & The Amazing Mirror, Kirby: Canvas Curse, up to Kirby: Squeak Squad. Kirby Super Star Ultra and Kirby's Epic Yarn are exempt from this phenomenon, although the trend continues into Kirby Mass Attack and Kirby's Return to Dream Land. The same thing happened for the promotional material for Kirby: Right Back at Ya!.
However, even the Japanese boxart of Kirby: Triple Deluxe features a distinctly angry looking Kirby.
Age and Gender
Kirby's age and gender are never directly stated by Japanese sources, although this rule was initially broken when he was introduced to western audiences as a "spry little boy" in the English manual for Kirby's Dream Land. In most translations, Kirby is consistently referenced with masculine pronouns by default in subsequent games and in the anime. Assuming that Kirby is heteroromantic, this would be more in line with the hint of romance between Kirby and Ribbon in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards where Ribbon gives Kirby a kiss on the cheek in the good ending, making both of them blush in embarrassment. ChuChu's crush on Kirby in the non-canon manga also might imply that Kirby is a boy. In the anime, where he more or less acts like a little child, Kirby's peers Tiff and Tuff sometimes call him a "baby" (in the Japanese dub, Meta Knight implies he's a baby when he tells Tiff that he's born 200 years too early). Along with his high-pitched voice and "poyo language", it is implied that Kirby is at least young.
Kirby is largely innocent and has a cheerful demeanor and a positive attitude. He likes to help other people so much, sometimes he goes out of his way to do it; in the Dyna Blade sub-game of Kirby Super Star Ultra, he feeds Dyna Blade's chicks on his own (though expresses annoyance at Dyna Blade's chicks' constant noise-making before dragging them off to Whispy Woods to be fed by the constant dropped apples from the tree's branches) and teaches them how to fly. He has been shown to have a sense of justice, and won't spare someone who is a danger to those around him, as evidenced by his battles against final bosses. Throughout the many dangers he is put through, he is notably brave, maintaining a neutral expression almost constantly. This is especially evident in The Subspace Emissary. In the anime, he doesn't harbor dislike for anybody, in particular, not even King Dedede or Escargoon who mostly cause trouble for himself, and mostly greets everyone he meets.
While he is brave and has a sense of justice, Kirby is quick to suspect King Dedede as the culprit for mischief, such as at the beginning of Kirby Squeak Squad. In fact, Kirby has demonstrated a consistent impulsive streak throughout the series and can be as quick to start fights as he is to pass them by, fighting Dedede, Meta Knight and Dyna Blade on impulse. He also willingly responded to Dedede's call for a rematch and attacked Shadow Kirby without thinking. This recklessness can often lead him into trouble or cause him to create trouble (such as when he accidentally released Nightmare).
His personality in Kirby's Avalanche is different, where he is depicted as somewhat rude. This is especially evident with his encounter with Whispy Woods, where, despite being warned by Whispy Woods not to step on his roots, he steps on a root and then quips about wanting some apple pie. However, the game is considered non-canon.
Kirby never hesitates to help whenever Dream Land is in trouble, but when he doesn't have his work cut out for him doing that, he loves nothing more than eating and sleeping, especially during the day. Kirby's favorite food is tomatoes, Maxim Tomatoes in particular, and these fully restore his health in the games. In the anime where tomatoes are never seen growing, Kirby gorges on watermelons instead. Kirby's appetite for food is immense (but he does have his limits); he can eat whole tables' worth of food and still go on, and partially eat a cake as large as a mountain, as shown from a cutscene in Kirby's Epic Yarn, where he and Prince Fluff had an eating contest.
While it is undeniable that Kirby adores eating, it is not certain whether he enjoys the act of eating or the taste of food. Kirby has preference over certain foods but he eats just about everything, including those most would deem unpalatable e.g. an item called "rotten pumpkin" in the games. In the anime, since Cappies know about this attribute of his, they invite him to dinner whenever they have leftover food, and Tuggle often gives whole piles of expired food for him to finish. While the Cappies do it for their convenience more than for Kirby's benefit, Kirby doesn't realize nor seem to mind, and the expired food doesn't do him any harm. Even food hot enough to make people breathe fire doesn't seem to bother him one bit, but anything truly disgusting, like Belly Buster's pies in the anime, Mariels in Kirby's Dream Land 3, or Whispy's poison apples, Kirby would understandably hate or be hurt by.
Kirby is a character of few words and rarely speaks in-game. Much of his speech is indirect, in the form of speech bubbles or monologues in games' instruction manuals, and brief greetings such as "Hi" in games including Super Smash Bros. and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Story-wise, if Kirby is depicted as talking to another character, it is often in the form of text panels or narration. Kirby is depicted as rude and smart-alecky in the American-made spin-off of the Puyo Puyo genre titled Kirby's Avalanche, but despite being developed by HAL Laboratory, it was never released in Japan, and is not considered to be canon.
In the games, Kirby narrates the functions of certain Copy Abilities on the pause menu in Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, Kirby & The Amazing Mirror, and Kirby: Squeak Squad. In Kirby's Super Star Stacker, he gives short descriptions of various menu options when they are highlighted. The most in-game talking Kirby ever did was in Kirby's Star Stacker, where he explains the game's rules, along with brief gameplay descriptions if it isn't already explained by Dedede. Kirby says the names of certain attacks when he uses a foe's ability in the Super Smash Bros. series.
In the anime, Masahiro Sakurai insisted early in the development process that Kirby would not speak in the anime series, as it makes the character more endearing and easier for people to relate to. The most common thing Kirby says in the anime is "Poyo", which is meaningless, but it allows him to use his voice in such a way that it conveys his emotions without actually saying anything meaningful. Kirby does occasionally say the names of his special attacks in the Japanese version, the names of certain foods, and sometimes repeats names and certain words he hears, such as yuki (snow) or suika (watermelon).
In contrast with his usual speaking habits, Kirby loves to sing when he gets the Mike ability. Mike Kirby's amplified voice is devastating to enemies (and friends in the anime); one good bout of singing actually reduces King Dedede's Castle to rubble in the episode 'Abusement Park'. Although the reaction from Kirby's audience suggests that his singing is bad to downright unbearable, Kirby never seems to realize it and enjoys himself regardless.
In the anime
Kirby's personality in the anime is either very alike or very unlike his personality in the games. He retains some of his old traits, like his cute playfulness and tendency to do good and reveals new facets of himself. He is shown to be very loving towards his robotic dog in Kirby's Pet Peeve and being very determined, like not giving up when fighting Meta Knight in Kirby's Duel Role.
Kirby is also more or less dimwitted in the anime, like enjoying Channel DDD when the program he is watching is insulting and humiliating him, probably because he doesn't understand that insulting him is the whole point of the show, and he finds the antics Dedede does with the hand puppet supposed to resemble him to be funny. He is a good sport when it comes to people laughing at him, usually because he realizes what he had done was genuinely humorous after a while.
In the episode 'Kirby Takes the Cake', Kirby's flashbacks show his inner side, where certain people (besides food) can mean a lot to him. When they don't treat him as well as they usually do, and he doesn't know why, he doesn't voice his thoughts or blame them, but he can get very upset about himself.
It is revealed in 'Beware: Whispy Woods!' and 'Don't Bank on It' that whatever Kirby eats enters some sort of dimension. In 'Beware: Whispy Woods!', Kirby travels inside himself and handles the things he swallowed. He also can cause himself to spit out select items that he ate, such as Whispy's apple.
Tiff deduces that Kirby may have been a monster created by Nightmare Enterprises during a conversation between Tuff, herself, and Kabu in 'Kirby's Duel Role', but no other event in the series or the games either confirms or denies this possibility.
Kirby is shown to have an impulsive side to him, such as when he accuses Dedede of interfering with the Fountain of Dreams in Kirby's Adventure, and then leaves to retrieve the pieces of the shattered Star Rod without even letting Dedede explain himself. This personality feature of his is also an important plot element in Kirby: Squeak Squad, where Kirby immediately blames King Dedede for the theft of his Strawberry Shortcake without any proof, then later on releases Dark Nebula from a Treasure Chest that he thinks contains his missing cake. Despite his impulsiveness, he is relatively intelligent, evidenced in his systematic destruction of the Halberd in Revenge of Meta Knight and his general resourcefulness in The Subspace Emissary. He is also eager to help everyone who isn't a clear enemy, a part of his innocent personality that is exploited by some characters.
When it comes to food, Kirby can be so focused on eating it that he puts his own safety aside, such as in the episode 'Cooking Up Trouble'. It takes great effort for him to resist eating food already in his hands, but he does have a degree of restraint on himself that makes Tiff proud when reminded of the more important things, however.
In Super Smash Bros. Melee, his trophy profile states that he is an "extremely skilled technician" but Kirby himself is never seen doing anything particularly technical.
Kirby's signature technique is his inhale and has been performing it since Kirby's Dream Land. It is available in almost every standard Kirby platformer with the exception of Kirby's Epic Yarn and Kirby Mass Attack. The manual of Kirby: Squeak Squad attributes this ability to his "powerful lungs", although all Kirby is ever seen doing is opening his mouth really wide and sucking up lots of air in the manner resembling a vacuum cleaner more than breathing. Traditionally, Kirby's inhale is unlimited in duration, but in Kirby & The Amazing Mirror, he tires after inhaling for several seconds and has to take a short break. Kirby's Super Inhale is also introduced in the game, where, after inhaling for about a second, it becomes more powerful and can suck up larger objects. The Super Inhale returns in Kirby: Squeak Squad, and becomes even more powerful in Kirby's Return to Dream Land, where he can suck up stone blocks and many enemies at once. In the same game, Kirby can inhale other Kirbys to steal their Copy Ability. In Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Kirby gains an ability known as Hypernova by touching a Miracle Fruit, which allows him to inhale things as large as trees or move things made of stone or metal more than twice his size. Hypernova allows Kirby to inhale almost anything and send it back. In all games except Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Kirby cannot inhale underwater.
After inhaling anything, Kirby has the option to either swallow it or spit it back out as a Star Spit attack. Starting from Kirby's Adventure onwards, Kirby gets a Copy Ability should the player choose to swallow an enemy with a special power. In Kirby's Adventure, Copy Abilities essentially let Kirby mimic whatever the enemy he had just swallowed, but in later titles like Kirby Super Star, each Copy Ability has multiple moves which Kirby can perform instead of just one or two. In Kirby 64, Kirby can combine Copy Abilities by inhaling two enemies at once or throwing Ability Stars at enemies.
In early games, having a Copy Ability does not change Kirby's appearance drastically, aside from his color changing to orange or cyan in Kirby's Adventure, or wielding a weapon for abilities like Sword or Hammer. Kirby Super Star introduced a continuous Vitality system instead of the traditional six bars of life, and is best known for introducing copy ability hats for Kirby, where most Copy Abilities give a different hat and makes Kirby look different, such as a burning headdress for Fire, a frozen crown for Ice, or a backwards baseball cap for Yo-Yo and Wheel. While the hats are absent after their introduction in the games Kirby's Dream Land 3 and Kirby 64, both of which are incidentally not designed by Masahiro Sakurai, they are featured consistently in later titles.
Kirby Super Star also introduces the Helper system where Kirby could sacrifice a Copy Ability to create a Helper, an allied version of the enemy he had previously swallowed. Helpers have the same function as Gooey in Kirby's Dream Land 3. The new Helper would 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 Ultra. Helpers were meant to be included in the unreleased game, Kirby GCN, where Kirby could summon three at once.
Since Copy Abilities are only present in Kirby's Adventure and most games after that, in Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby uses the inhale solely for the Star Spit attack. There are certain power-ups which he can collect, such as a Mint Leaf (Sweet potato in Japan) which lets him shoot out unlimited and more powerful air pellets for a limited time, and Superspicy Curry, which has the same effect, but lets him shoot fireballs instead of air pellets. Kirby can collect food or other special items like lollipops that grant him beneficial effects such as healing or temporary invincibility.
Kirby has a soft, flexible body. This allows him to be flattened or stretched, always returning to his original shape. He can inflate himself, making himself more buoyant, and he can flap his arms to fly. In most games, he can do this indefinitely. He can exhale to deflate himself and use the exhaled air as an attack. This technique is known as the air gun/air bullet. In certain games — Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, the Super Smash Bros. series, and Kirby Air Ride — Kirby's ability to fly or float is limited.
When underwater, most of Kirby's Copy Abilities do not work, and he is largely limited to using the water gun attack, where he shoots a bubble of water in one of four directions (or a constant spray in some games), unless he happens to have Sword, Hammer, Parasol, or a few other abilities which can be used underwater. The water gun works just like the air gun, but Kirby does not need to inhale beforehand. In Kirby's Return to Dream Land, having the Water ability strengthens Kirby's water gun attack by having it reach farther and do more damage to enemies. In Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Kirby can inhale underwater.
In all games after Kirby's Adventure, Kirby can do a move known as the slide kick or slide attack while crouching as a basic attack that does minor damage. In Kirby & The Amazing Mirror and Kirby: Squeak Squad, if Kirby does a slide kick facing down a steep incline, he will roll down and over any enemies in his way. The slide kick is useless against most bosses and mid-bosses.
In Kirby Super Star (and its remake), Kirby's Return to Dream Land, and Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Kirby has the guard move, which allows him to protect himself from enemy attacks, and take little to no damage. When playing with multiple players in Kirby's Return to Dream Land, the team attack, which sends out a large ball of energy, is performed by two or more characters guarding and releasing their guard at the same time after a set amount of time while riding piggyback.
He can also perform the normal beam in Kirby Super Star and Kirby Super Star Ultra near Helpers to revert them to an item state, which Kirby can inhale to reacquire the Copy Ability for himself. In the same games, he can get rid of his ability and toss it as an item, which Helpers can touch to claim that ability, which also saves the Helper from dying if they have run out of health.
Kirby Super Star and recent games have a feature where Kirby and other playable characters can share food with each other to restore health in a motion that resembles kissing. This is done by one character touching a recovery item, and touching another player within the next few seconds. It became a popular topic to parody in the Japanese manga series, and the 4Koma panels have a running gag about Kirby and Bonkers kissing each other when one is at critical health. The Kirby Super Star Ultra booklet refers to it as face-to-face food transfer.
In Kirby's Dream Land 3, Kirby can summon Gooey, who has the same function as Helpers in later games. Summoning Gooey sacrifices one of Kirby's pegs of health and makes his maximum health four pegs instead of five. Kirby can inhale Gooey again whenever he likes to restore one peg of health.
In the anime, Kirby is an astonishingly fast runner. In Dark and Stormy Knight, he could run fast enough to skim across water and get over to the horizon within seconds. It is also explained in the episode 'Beware: Whispy Woods!' that whatever Kirby consumes enters another dimension. Kirby can also run a lot faster than usual in Kirby Super Star, Kirby Super Star Ultra, and 'Gourmet Race', as can King Dedede.
Role in the series
Because King Dedede and Escargoon are members of Team Nefarious, the Anti-Team Nefarious Freedom Fighters have invited Kirby to be a member. While Kirby was reluctant because of a connection the two had, he still took it upon himself to actually make sure that Dedede doesn't cause any trouble since it might hurt his own home and friends that he holds dear. While some question his membership since he doesn't know how to behave on occasions such as eating out of control or being reminded of what the mission is, he is considered a worthy member.