I recently contacted Nintendo to see if I could get an interview with the Kirby development team. To my surprise, they replied by offering three interviews. During one of them, I asked what Kirby’s feet look like and the reply was another swerve.
“It’s definitely a unique question,” Shinya Kumazaki, chief creator at Kirby studio HAL Laboratory, said over email. “I couldn’t help laughing a bit. But I’m afraid the mysterious composition of Kirby’s body is top secret.”
I’d wanted to know because an unofficial online comic strip went viral in 2017 after it dared to depict Kirby with human feet. Kirby always wears shoes in his many, many games, and many of us hadn’t considered what’s under them until seeing that unexpectedly disturbing comic.
Sadly, Kumazaki wasn’t going to end the mystery, though he wasn’t quite done answering.
“I would like to talk a little bit about designing the running animation where Kirby’s feet kick out into the air while running across the ground,” he said. “Kirby’s body is uniquely shaped compared to us humans, but the animation we designed is reminiscent of movement that’s not so different from humans walking. It was created based on the idea of a human running energetically, with the thighs, knees, and ankles invisible, but nevertheless accounted for.”
“That concept has been used in drawing the movement of Kirby’s hands and feet ever since Kirby was made up of pixels,” he said. “So maybe rather than getting hung up on Kirby’s soft round body, picture a lively child running around a wide meadow, then take another look at how Kirby’s feet move!”
Ok, so we don’t know what Kirby’s feet look like, but we now know that he at least in spirit has thighs, knees and ankles. That’s something.
I’ll have more from my interviews with Kirby’s creators in the coming days. We talked about more than just Kirby’s feet.