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Hello Kitty & Friends: Let’s Learn Together Vol. #1 Anime DVD Review

6 min read

Hello Kitty helps us understand how to be better people.

What They Say:
Hello Kitty and her twin sister Mimmy love to explore and learn new things, and learning becomes even more fun when you have someone to share it with. So you can imagine how excited Kitty is when she learns that her family has new neighbors, the Berry family, who also have a set of twins, Amy and Eric! And they’re the same age as Kitty and Mimmy! Plus, Amy and Eric also have another brother named Harry, who is really smart! That’s three new friends to go out and have adventures with! Whether they’re learning to tell time, fold origami or just help around the house, there’s always something new to discover!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the show in its original Japanese language as well as the new English language dub, both of which are in stereo and encoded at 224kbps. 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:
Originally released via SVOD in 2017, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. 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 pixelation 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:
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized DVD keepcase that goes for bright and colorful as we get her with her three friends floating about against the bright blue sky. There are lots of colorful balloons around them and the logo is a big messy rainbow of colors that works within the context of grabbing the eyes of kids. The back cover has a few shots from the show and a decent sized summary of the premise in the middle. The discs production information is easy to check out as is the very clearly listed information in the technical grid. The release doesn’t have any inserts nor a reversible cover, keeping things simple and basic.

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 some cute character artwork in the middle and is surrounded by all the episodes that you can select. 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. Kids don’t care about menus anyway but the 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)
With the launch of a Sentai Kids line there are a lot of us that are having memories flashing back to the ADV Kids line that brought out Hello Kitty titles and some other works as well. It’s smart branding to do since you have to work with different retailers and want to showcase some works but not others and to know that the releases will be separate in terms of advertising and branding. Hello Kitty has a pretty great reach around the world and though the marketing of it seems to ebb and flow at times there’s always much love for her. We saw a nice resurgence hitting in the past year with the Netflix special series that looked at Hello Kitty and I’ll admit I came away with a greater understanding of it all.

With the first volume of Let’s Learn Together, the premise is that Kitty and her family have a new family moving in next door with the Berry’s. They have two kids with Eric and Amy and Kitty ends up befriending them in a big way, spending lots of time with both plus some others as well. Eric and Amy look like they’re a touch younger and that allows for Kitty to be the older kid that helps to show them the right way to do things. And that comes into play pretty quickly as they’re all out playing hide and seek upon their first meeting but the younger kids want to play out in the street. It’s cute seeing Kitty explaining to them why it’s not safe when they just think that it doesn’t work because the road goes on forever and they’d never catch each other.

Silly kids.

This basically sets the tone for much of the show and it works that kind of straightforward educational aspect. It’s not quite as entertaining as some shows that blends in more silliness to it but with about five minutes of actual show per episode, it has to use its time well. This batch of episodes does a nice job of working through things with Kitty teaching them how to help their mom when it comes to dinner time or just cleaning up after themselves and there’s even a trip into learning how to tell time – complete with a sundial appearance that always makes me grin. There are bigger moments such as when Eric has to sleep on his own as Amy gets sick and is sleeping with their parents but we also get some good silliness as they discover origami and the joy of it, almost in a meditative kind of way.

In Summary:
I’ve never been a huge Hello Kitty fan but it’s something that I’ve long appreciated and more so in the past year as well. This release is definitely aimed at a very young audience in order to teach them some social basics and how to be a member of a family and it does it well as a run of short form stories. It’s got a lot of the usual hallmarks of a Hello Kitty property and I like the look of it as well as just getting to spend some time with her, even if I think she’s close to getting frustrated with the kids and laying into them something fierce. The release is pretty solid with a fun dub and a clean looking presentation that overall will appeal to kids and parents alike. Having gone through similar shows with my own kids I definitely know the value of it for its intended audience.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation

Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Kids
Release Date: November 20th, 2018
MSRP: $14.98
Running Time: 70 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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