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ADV Kids presents
Hello Kitty's Paradise: Fun With Friends (2002)

"Let's let imagination be our guides!"
- Kitty (Karen Bernstein)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: January 27, 2003

Stars: Karen Bernstein, Jill Frappier
Other Stars: Len Carlson, Carl Banas
Director: Unknown

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing offensive)
Run Time: 01h:27m:10s
Release Date: January 28, 2003
UPC: 702727054921
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ B+A-B- D

DVD Review

Hello Kitty has been a phenomena for as long as I can remember. In the 1960s, Japanese stationary company Sanrio came up with a simple idea: branding a variety of products with a cute, stylized kitty along with all her other animal friends. They struck gold and unleashed a marketing giant so huge it even hit the West in a big way, with Hello Kitty merchandise still being sold in stores to this day. With the popularity of the character came the idea to animate it into the TV show, but the attempts over the years have been, admittedly, pretty weak. The most recent attempt at a series is Hello Kitty's Paradise, a very simple show in which Kitty and her best friend, Mimmy, explore all sorts of issues and activities in an everyday setting. Rather than going overboard with wild fantasy and syrupy dialogue, Paradise is more focused on teaching kids about basic ethics while making their brains work with a few well-placed visual games and puzzles. Best of all, each episode is only about 8-minutes long, meaning it won't stress any attention spans (adults included).

In each show, Kitty and Mimmy are faced with some sort of dilemma and have to figure out the best way to either help themselves out of it or help someone else. For example, in the first episode, The Magic Bags, they travel to Magictown in order to find a functional magic trick so that Kitty can entertain her friends at a party. In the process, though, they discover the power that magic tricks have to help other people and make them happy. It's a simple, sweet message and it's presented in a very effective, equally simple way. While directed at children, it doesn't talk down to them. Instead, it's colorful, bouncy, fast-paced, and even humorous with moments where the cutesy, kiddie mood is broken by Kitty behaving badly or giving someone attitude. Parents who watch Paradise with their kids won't be driven mad by endlessly repetitive songs and activities either. Between segments and episodes are also some quick visual games involving guessing or some other logical problem.

Hello Kitty is certainly a surprising disc because it shows just how effective a kid's show can be when properly made. It must, however, be an uphill battle for this series to compete against much of the heavy, marketing-laden material typically seen on television. Still, I think parents should seriously consider giving it a try with small children (the recommended age is 3-7), although the character design alone might limit this show to strictly girl territory. I will freely admit, I found the show kind of funny. It never gets so sweet and cutesy that it kills you, but rather often is humorous for both kids and adults, on entirely different levels of course. For example, in one episode Mimmy and Kitty decide not to bother cleaning their room properly, so they encounter a dust monster, who proceeds to terrorize their nights. Of course, the idea of the dust monster was implanted in them by Kitty's mother who wants them to do Spring cleaning. I think there's a lot to appreciate in this simple little show, so don't be threatened by the outer "cuddly" appearance.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The animation comes across clean and sharp, without any kind of transfer difficulties that make the image hard to watch. While the hand-drawn cels have their own small flaws here and there, it's all part of the original source. The cartoon is colorful, bright, and generally cheery, but never gets so wild that it becomes annoying. All of this imagery is handled quite well despite the simplicity of the animation and character design.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Unfortunately, the English dub is the only audio track available. I say unfortunately only because it would be interesting to hear the Japanese dialogue track, but it should be noted the English dub is pretty good. It's amazingly well synchronized with the animation and it fits very well. There are no issues with the audio, which is clear and well presented.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The disc has no additional features beyond basic chapter selection. The chapters separate the actual episodes proper from the mini-games. The episodes of Paradise themselves have no divisions, presumably because they're only 8-minutes long each.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Hello Kitty's Paradise is a little weird, but despite its looks, it doesn't kill you with its own cuteness factor. Rather, it's actually a funny way for getting kids to learn some basic life lessons through some well designed, though short, shows. I liked its creativity and willingness to do some weird things without going too far into the fantasy vein. A perfect balance between teaching and having fun, really. Give it a try.


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