Mania Grade: B-
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B-
- Extras Rating: B-
- Age Rating: TV Y
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 14.98
- Running time: 75
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Hello Kitty
Hello Kitty Animation Theater Vol. #4
By Chris Beveridge
August 28, 2005
Release Date: July 12, 2005
Hello Kitty Animation Theater Vol. #4
What They Say
© ADV Films
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 bring new versions of old favorites to life.The Review!
Hello Kitty and friends return for six more classic tales done in Sanrio style that will likely delight young children.Audio:
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.Video:
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.Packaging:
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 an absolutely adorable picture of Hello Kitty dressed in pink and set next to a set of fruit slices which plays up the glass of lemonade that she's carrying. 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. No insert was included in this release or at least my copy of the release.Menu:
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.Extras:
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)
Admittedly, reviewing these releases has been kind of difficult to do since it's not exactly material that really merits much being said. Most of what could be said was said early on and it stands across all of the volumes, such as enjoying the performances of familiar voice actors taking on these roles as well as hearing the Japanese actors for the first time and seeing who was involved in it and enjoying those performances. The other area that has been fun with these shows is watching how the fables and morality tales are a bit darker or at least a bit more honest in their presentation here than in what's typically given to little kids in the US.
For example, I'm surprised that the episode where Hello Kitty as the little matchstick girl dies was actually included. Or at least not kept as an extra with a warning or something since it seems like something that normally would never air on TV here or be shown to kids due to its nature. Even worse for that particular episode was that it was one of the final scenes on that release which could leave some children thinking Hello Kitty is dead. And that's just… ok, a really pleasant thought until you realize it's your kid that may be going through that.
But that's also where the fun in these has been for me in that it's something I've been able to watch with my kids and to be able to see new material and see stories that they normally would not see. By expanding the view under which the stories were gathered, we get a lot of the standard fairy tales and fables such as the three little pigs and the ugly ducking but we also get ones like Momotaro or the Snow Queen. Several of these, even in their truly kiddified form, are new to me and that made it enjoyable to watch with my kids. This final volume had a few new tales to me as well so it was well spread across all four of the releases and the balance was good.In Summary:
This last volume really carries through on what we've seen before and while yes it is more of the same, it's a good same and it is entertaining material for what it is. I don't expect most anime fans to really have much to say about this other than laugh or mock it, but should they ever end up in the same situation I am someday they'll realize why this is a good release and how much fun it can be to watch with the right audience. It's provided me with a lot of smiles, a lot of laughter and a lot of warmth from little bodies cuddling up with me to watch it. Little bodies that will definitely grow up to watch more shows that expand on these very same tales in much darker and intriguing ways.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.