Judge Sandra Dozier is more of a Chococat fan herself, but thinks kids might like Kitty's adventures.
All your friends in one fun-filled box!
The first thing that struck me when I fired up the first DVD in this set is that the image quality varies between poor and just so-so. It was like watching a VHS tape in a crappy player. There's a lot of bright color, so it's not like the image has washed out, but it does have a mushy quality that is surprising, given that this is a DVD and the episodes in this collection are from the late eighties and early nineties…hardly candidates for significant age-related wear.
Since this series was originally dubbed from the Japanese Hello Kitty & Friends series in 1994, the image quality is probably due to a sub-par transfer and an expected VHS release—DVD clarity was probably not a consideration at the time. This is a low-budget series to start with, so the source material probably wasn't 100% clear, either.
That said, the intended audience for this series (children ages 4-10) is probably not going to care. This is definitely not a situation where an anime is automatically classified in America as being for kids, but any age group can enjoy it—Hello Kitty & Friends Holiday Fun is squarely aimed at young kids, with simple morality tales and stories that deal with adventures, friendship, childhood fears, and parent-child relationships. Kids will likely be entertained by the stories without giving a flip about image softness.
Outside of adaptations like "Cinderella," most of the episodes involve Kitty, her twin sister Mimmy, and their group of super-cute friends. Occasionally an episode will feature Keroppi (a cute frog), Pekkle (an Australian duck), and Pochacco (an athletic dog). All of these Sanrio favorites speak, whether or not their original character designs had mouths, and they are just as cute as they are in any Sanrio-marketed product.
This set gathers 14 of the Hello Kitty & Friends episodes and includes three holiday tales as a bonus:
Fairy Tale Fantasy:
Holiday Fun (Bonus Episodes):
Although this is billed as a holiday set, these episodes are good for year-round enjoyment, even if most of them deal with winter themes. For example, the "Mom Loves Me After All" episode in the Holiday Magic section is an episode about how Kitty's mom babysits a neighbor's baby for a few days and gives the baby so much attention that Kitty thinks her mom would rather have a new baby than her, so she runs away. This doesn't have much to do with holidays at all, but it is set in wintertime, and that is probably why it was included in that section.
Will kids enjoy this series? Yes, younger kids who are watching G-rated, kid-oriented fare such as Blue's Clues will probably enjoy Kitty's adventures. Episodes like "Find the Secret Treasure," in which Pekkle and his friends find a treasure map and travel across a forest and over a raging river to find the treasure, are fun and engaging, as well as being entertaining enough for parents to spend time watching with kids. Although the episodes featuring Hello Kitty should appeal to boys as well (they are usually not girl-specific), the presence of characters such as Pekkle, Keroppi, and Pochacco are sure to attract their attention even if they have no interest in Hello Kitty.
Hello Kitty & Friends Holiday Fun is presented on two double-sided discs in its original fullscreen aspect, with a 2.0 stereo soundtrack that is evenly distributed between the front channels and sounds good, with clear, well-mixed voice and music, and no hiss or distortion. The only language track offered is English, and there are no subtitles, but the voice acting is pretty good for this series—voices are appropriately cute, but easy to understand. No one speaks too quickly or with an accent thick enough to be unintelligible.
All in all, this is a good set to pick up for kids. With 350 minutes of Sanrio goodness, this set is reasonably priced at around $25.00. The only thing missing is a "Play all" feature, but once you start an episode, it will automatically play whatever episode comes next without returning you to the menu first, which is better than "play all" since that means you can start it from any episode on the list and it will automatically play the rest.
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