Judge Bryan Pope says "Bye Bye" to Hello Kitty.
It's a royally good time with your friend Hello Kitty!
Having just watched the indomitable Kitty and her merry compadres tackle kings, castles, and the days of yore, it's hard to know quite what to say. Sure, Kitty looks sweet, but don't be fooled. Beneath that cute little bow and quiet, unassuming demeanor lies a marketing dynamo. With her line of Hello Kitty school supplies, clothes, jewelry, videos and, for all I know, semi-automatic weapons and durable medical equipment, she's a merchandising heavyweight. The point is that she and her retail empire could squash me like a kumquat.
So it is with more than a small amount of fear for my personal well being that I declare Hello Kitty & Friends Vol. 5—Princess to be a waste of your money and your child's time. Brainless entertainment can be fun (these days, it doesn't get much better than The Fairly Oddparents), but two of the episodes in this compilation are marred by incoherent, lazy storytelling and jarring shifts in tone.
The disc contains four 25-minute episodes. The first two star Ms. H. Kitty herself, and are the most perplexing of the bunch. "The Sleeping Princess" begins with Kitty and her twin sister Mimmy searching for costume ideas for a princess-themed party by reading a fairy tale. Before you know it, the not-so-very-dynamic duo are players in the tale (some nonsense having to do with a kidnapped prince, his napping sister, a stolen crown, and a very large vulture). "The Prince in His Dream Castle," about Kitty helping Prince Edwin Greenwald defend his castle from the Blackwell brothers and their teddy bear army (you can't make this stuff up), is better, but only by a whisker.
Neither story is told with grace or style. Dream sequences set the action into motion, and it's seldom clear where the Hello Kitty universe ends and the medieval dream world begins. But what foils Kitty the most are the tonal shifts. One moment, the stories are bathed in soft pastels and icky sweet sentiment that would be at home on Noggin; the next, Kitty's comrades are wielding swords and making bargains with evil green liquid masses straight out of a Troma film. Like a size 18 foot squeezing into a size 6 pump, it's a bad fit, and just as painful.
"The Adventures of the Coward Prince" and "The Frog's Secret House" make more sense from a story standpoint, and yet they somehow manage to be even less interesting than Kitty's outings. That probably has to do with Keroppi, the nondescript hero of both stories. In "Coward Prince," he teaches a young prince about courage and helps him save the Kingdom of Aquarius. "Frog's Secret House," about a stranger who has seized Keroppi's tree house, doesn't follow through with the set's medieval theme, but it gets the job done. But who is Keroppi? What are his likes, his dislikes, his hopes, his dreams? And who are the half dozen other frog-like creatures that bounce around him making nonsensical remarks like an amphibious Greek chorus on Mescaline? I can't much say that I care, and, judging by the amount of attention expended on this release, neither does ADV Films.
The full frame transfer is shoddy. The picture is often slightly out of focus, and the color is occasionally washed out, giving the picture a gauzy look. Verdict judge Mike Pinsky noticed the same problems in Hello Kitty and Friends: Let's Be Friends (Volume 4). The Dolby stereo sound is adequate, with no detectable hissing or distortion. The disc comes without subtitles or extras.
Bad Kitty! Bad, bad Kitty!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
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