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HAL Laboratory shuts down Kirby fanmade card game

Starring the saucy Chef Kawasaki.

HAL Laboratory, the developer of the Kirby series, has shut down a fanmade card game featuring supporting character Chef Kawasaki.

The fangame was created and sold by a group called KWSK Karuta. Consider that strike one.

The fangame was called Chef Kawasaki's Micro Bikini Karuta. Consider that strike two.

Cover image for YouTube videoKirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe - Nintendo Direct 9.13.22 - Nintendo Switch
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe trailer.

If you've not heard of them before, karuta are Japanese playing cards.

KWSK Karuta had manufactured physical and digital decks of karuta, and was selling them through an online Japanese art marketplace called Booth.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the designs being sold are a little less savoury than the family-friendly image the Kirby series has. The phrase "Chef Kawasaki's micro bikini" is a sequence of words not many people would have ever imagined they would read.

I won't embed any of the cards here (for the sanctity of your eyes and the safety of my job), but you can get an idea of Chef Kawasaki's portrayal by scrolling through the group's Twitter account.

The Twitter account's first posts are from January, which showed off some of the karuta designs. The first packs eventually went on sale earlier this week, and the physical decks had sold out within a few hours.

Two days later, the group announced on Twitter that they will no longer sell the cards, physically and digitally, due to request from HAL Laboratory. (Use Google Translate on the Tweet for a funny mistranslation thanks to katakana.)

The group's Booth page still stands, but the product is no longer listed.

It isn't surprising to see unofficial content of a Nintendo game sold by fans being shut down by the developer or Nintendo themselves. I'm not sure that turning Chef Kawasaki into a bikini model helped much, though.

According to Automaton Media, who spotted the news, the design idea sprouted from Chef Kawasaki's canon choice of outfit. He is bare except for his signature apron, which then led to fans imagining him in a micro bikini (naturally).

There are no figures on the deck's sales so it's unclear exactly how many people managed to snag a set. The physical deck was priced at 890 yen, which converts to just under £6. With the discontinuation of the cards on HAL Laboratory's request, Chef Kawasaki's Micro Bikini Karuta sounds like it's set to become a bizarrely sought after fan-creation.