Hello Kitty Animation Theater Vol. #1 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 3 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 14.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty Animation Theater Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     February 07, 2005
Release Date: February 01, 2005

Hello Kitty Animation Theater Vol. #1
© ADV Films

What They Say
Everyone's favorite feline, Hello Kitty, is here with her friends in some of the best stories of all time! Come along and join Kitty, Mimmy, Badtz-Maru, Pochacco, My Melody and Dear Daniel as they re-tell your favorite classic tales in their own adorable style.

The Review!
Hello Kitty returns in a new series whose first volume is all about fairy tales and is for the first time available in its original language of Japanese.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its English language format. This is the first time that the series has been dubbed by the people at ADV Films so it was interesting to hear previously familiar voices being done by another set of familiar voices but since we were letting our kids watch this we went with the English mix all the way through. The show isn't anything really outstanding when it comes to its audio but it does have a good stereo mix, particularly for the music and opening vocal, that gives it a good warm feeling. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Though listed with numerous copyrights on the package, I believe these are the newest episodes from 2004. The transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Being that it is Hello Kitty, the materials here are very bright and colorful in nature and go for a mix when it comes to the design, where some backgrounds look like they were crayoned while others are full solid feels. Each of them maintains a great solid look to them with no noticeable blocking or pixellation to it. The transfer is also very clean when it comes to areas such as cross coloration and aliasing and is pretty much pristine across the board. The opening and closing segments have their credits translated into English which isn't a surprise but that appears to be the only difference between this and the original.

Going with as cute and colorful an image as possible, a couple of large circles make up the bulk of the cover while the background has all sorts of small colored circles lined up. Inside the two main circles we get the series name and volume number as well as a cute picture of Hello Kitty sitting on a bench outside a fairy-tale style setting. The back cover has a few shots from the show and a couple of sentences about the basic idea of the release. The complete listing of episode titles is included as well as a couple of character shots. The discs production information is easy to check out as is the very clearly listed information in the technical grid. The insert for this release is essentially a two sided advertisement for the other Hello Kitty releases.

I was glad to see that this is a kid friendly release in that after the load-up trailers and company logo it went right to the show itself instead of to the menu. The menu layout, which comes up at the end of all the episodes or whenever you key the button for it, is a very basic piece that has a theater stage in all pink with the episode selections in the middle. The bottom set of navigation has things such as the languages and extras, all of which is set to a brief bit of music from the show. Toss in a little bit of animation with some bows and it's a very simple but effective menu. Kids don't care about menus anyway. Access times are nice and fast and the disc did read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

The only extras included are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Many, many years ago, I went through a brief Sanrio phase where I just happened to think that Keroppi was the coolest thing around and had picked up some gimmicky knick-knacks for it and it provided a bit of fun with my then-girlfriend to joke about. While the fascination didn't last long, it did clue me into some of the basics of Sanrio's world and what it's all about. I've pretty much ignored it for years since then, but with kids of my own now, it's time to let the mass merchandising god of cuteness do its bidding on them.

ADV Films has brought over a number of Hello Kitty releases in the past couple of years and for the most part I've not given them to my kids since they didn't seem interested in them the last couple of times. With the acquisition of Animation Theater, the property took on something of a different approach. For one thing, it's the first time that the dubbing studio at ADV Films has been able to work on that part of the show as previous instances came to them with an already completed dub. This proved to be an interesting hook in itself since I was already curious to hear some of my favorite voice actors have fun with some simple kids roles and just have to not worry about dealing with a variety of Japanese names, technobabble or angsty drama. This is just simple clean fun for them and they approach it with a real energy and sense of fun. This includes the dub of the opening and ending songs by Luci Christian, Monical Rial and Jessica Boone, which just works out perfectly.

Being able to hear this in Japanese was also a real treat, though I did that without my kids in attendance. This was fun to listen to just for Megumi Hayashibara's performance as Hello Kitty as well as her singing the opening and closing songs. Since she's not as prolific in the anime field as she once was, it was actually good to hear her voice and style once again, even if it is applied to a show like this. While I couldn't pick out any other names off the top of my head from the Japanese cast, there are certainly some familiar ones so I'm not surprised if there are some others that I enjoy working in here as well.

As for the show itself, it's a very basic thing that is so low-impact and doesn't want to offend at all that it's not surprising that it's enjoyable on some level for kids. They take a variety of fairy tale stories, such as Snow White, The Boy Who Cried Wolf or Little Red Riding Hood and place all the familiar Sanrio characters into the roles and then make sure that any bit of the edge from the original fairy tale is removed. This is what we get with a lot of US cartoons that do the same so it's terribly familiar territory for me considering how many kids shows there are out there that do things like this that my own kids have watched. Since it's all Sanrio all the time, it doesn't have the fun of something like Happily Ever After that brings an ethnic or musical mix to something like this, but the Hello Kitty take is the kind of thing that's simply not bad to sit down and watch with them so they get some of the basic fairy tales. But at the same time, it makes you want to haul out the originals and read them once again to remember exactly what was really in it since you realize that the mainstream media has for the most part really sanitized these across the board for a number of years now.

In Summary:
I'd talk about character designs or art style, but honestly, it is pure Sanrio and animated with that intent. The show looks great for what it's trying to do and the visual quality holds up well under an upconversion to 1080i. I wouldn't be surprised to see these kinds of things while watching Nick. Jr or Noggin as they did a really good job overall of keeping to the Sanrio spirit while bringing in a new round of voice actors to tackle the project. Knowing how much of a fan of Hello Kitty that the series ADR script writer is, this release comes across really well and should please just about any Hello Kitty fan and probably tickle the fancy of a few dub fans as well.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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