"Hello Kitty" Is Taking Over the World...Starting With Disney
When people think of Disney, they think of old childhood stories re-imagined into major motion pictures that the whole family can enjoy (the quality of said films will be saved for another time). When people think of Hello Kitty, they think of a mass-merchandised Japanese icon that’s so popular it even has its own store in various malls across the country. So, what do you get when you combine the two? Why, some Not-so-timeless tales, that’s what!
First up, we have our favorite kitten getting lost down a rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. Young Alice has an overactive imagination, which leads her to follow a white rabbit down a hole, where she then enters a magical land full of strange creatures, including a smoking caterpillar, an invisible cat, a lying man in a hat and an easily-angered queen. As Alice does her best Apache Chief impression, she is put on trial by the Queen for not hitting the croquet ball correctly and for painting white roses red. The Mad Hatter tries to frame her as well, but Alice escapes by telling the jury that he served invisible tea to her. Yea, I’m not sure how that helps, but it does. Probably has to do with Alice growing to about 50 feet tall. Too bad she didn’t go Galactus on everyone, because gosh darnit, Alice is just too nice to do that. Damn.
Next we have Heidi. OK, so Disney never made an animated version of this story, but the original story is Disney-esque enough that it counts. A young girl, who by chance is named Heidi (never saw that coming) is annoying her parents enough that they don’t even want to be around her anymore, and her caretaker is so sick of the brat that she dumps Heidi off at her grandfather’s in the country just to get rid of her. Grandpa, being grumpy and anti-social, doesn’t want to even talk to the kid, leaving her to run away with the next door neighbor, a boy named Peter, and the herd of goats. Unfortunately, they are interrupted before they can elope and run away to China by Peter’s grandmother, who’s not only blind, but her house is falling apart. Heidi’s grandpa can fix the house right up real quick, but that would require leaving the house, and there’s no way you can get Grandpa to do that!
Deciding to leave Kitty for a while, this tale of Aladdin stars Pekkle, a little duckling who isn’t nearly as interesting or foul-mouthed as Donald Duck. Aladdin is framed for a fruit stand robbery, but along the way rescues a princess from a band of thieves. The two immediately fall in love. Later, an evil falcon (you can tell he’s evil because he’s old, lanky and grey) tricks Aladdin into getting a special lamp for him. Along the way, the boy gets a special jewel which allows him access to a guardian genie, who stops time and helps Aladdin out. The strange lamp also holds a genie, but with greater powers, and with his help, Aladdin acquires a huge fortune, as the King is offering his daughter up to the highest bidder (I’m completely serious. What a positive message for the kids). Anyway, evil guy gets the genie and frames Aladdin by burying the entire town in sand. How the sultan thinks Aladdin did this is never explained, as only he and his mother know about the genies, but whatever. Aladdin gets the genie back and buys his bride. Despite the back cover though, there are no flying carpets around, which is disappointing.
Finally, we have Keroppi in The Adventures of Gulliver. OK, sure, this one wasn’t a Disney film either, but like Heidi, it’s close enough. Gulliver is a young boy sailing with his father when he is washed overboard and ends up on an island of little people. They tie him up so that he doesn’t squish anyone, but when a fire rages through the kingdom, Keroppi saves Princess Mary, thus earning him a 1-room house to live in while his boat is being fixed. We’ll ignore the fact that his boat would’ve been fixed a lot faster if the King hadn’t built the damn house in the first place. Anyway, King Fredrick, the one who started the fire, wants one final battle to decide things. Apparently his army is twice the size of the good guys’ army, so why he didn’t invade sooner nobody knows. Well, Gulliver decides at first that he doesn’t want to get involved in politics, but minutes later changes his mind and beats up King Fredrick’s armada. It is then revealed that the two kings were fighting in the first place because they can’t decide how to eat hardboiled eggs. Everyone over the age of 6 groans loudly.
Obviously, this is only for those who can stand Hello Kitty. I mean, when you name your child “Hello,” there’s only so much a person can take. And if you can survive an episode without rolling your eyes or yawning, then this should tide you over. Everybody else will notice the biggest, most glaring problem with these episodes: the length. Each episode is 23 or so minutes long, but every episode feels like it was originally planned to be only 11 minutes long, then stretched out beyond belief. The result is a decent beginning, a long and torturous middle, and a rushed ending. It doesn’t help that many of these episodes skip out the interesting parts (I guess they didn’t have the animation budget or something), leaving it up to the narrator to fill in the gaps, and instead they focus on Kitty talking to people.
The animation in Hello Kitty is so amazingly animated it makes Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex look like Aqua Teen Hunger Force. OK, so I’m kidding. The animation is decent at best, not doing too much, nor too little, but remaining uninteresting anyway. All of the character designs are amazingly simple, though it is weird to see Hello Kitty have an actual mouth.; not to mention Keroppi’s obvious resemblance to Kermit the Frog from The Muppets (or, for a more accurate comparison, Kermit as seen in Muppet Babies). The transfer is a basic encoding, and even includes the VHS hiccups, so don’t expect stellar quality here. It’s a bit of a shame, since most kids nowadays are trained to like the brighter digital shows, I wonder how they will like a faded-looking show like Hello Kitty.
While the newer Hello Kitty products are being voiced by various LA studios, the old-time Hello Kitty shows were funded by Optimum, whom you might remember assisted DiC in the dubbing of the first few seasons of Sailor Moon. And that similarity is seen here in Hello Kitty, as many of the VAs are from Sailor Moon. The most obvious is Karen Bernstein, who played Amy/Sailor Mercury in the early Moon days, and who plays the title character here. Other Sailor Moon VAs, including Jill Frappier (Luna), Mary Long (Molly), Ron Rubin (Artemis), Susan Roman (Lita/Sailor Jupiter) and Rino Romano (Darien/Tuxedo Mask [and also Bruce Wayne/Batman in The Batman). Aside from that little bit of trivia, there’s not much worth talking about here. The acting is decent, there’s no Japanese version, and the audio is standard stereo. What else did you expect?
The only extras here are the intro/trailer for ADV’s other Hello Kitty series that plays when you boot up the disc, the DVD’s credits, and an insert advertising Menchi (from Excel Saga) and Johnathan (from Kaleido Star) plushies.
Obviously, this disc is only for those who need a digital babysitter or love anything from Hello Kitty. Everyone else, just read your kids the original stories before they got Disney-fied. Kids don’t read enough as it is and it enriches their soul, so they’ll be less likely to act like idiots on the Internet.
Episodes on Hello Kitty & Friends Volume 3 – Timeless Tales:
– Hello Kitty in Alice in Wonderland
– Hello Kitty in Heidi
– Pekkle in Aladdin and His Magic Lamp
– Keroppi in The Adventures of Gulliver