A fairly recent addition to the Nick Jr. line up, Ni Hao, Kai-lan is a show about young Kai-lan, a five (nearly six) year old Chinese-American girl that fills the screen with her excitement and variety of friends. The show takes on the educational role that so many other Nick Jr. shows have taken on and includes not only emotional development and cultural education, but also the teaching of a new language—Mandarin Chinese. With Kai-Lan, each day is an adventure as children are taken through various Chinese cultural settings to learn about the Eastern culture.
Debuting in February of this year, Ni Hao, Kai-lan further expanded upon Nick Jr.’s weekday lineup of television shows for youngsters. Following in the same vein as Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go!, Ni Hao, Kai-lan mixes in the language and culture of the Chinese into settings that children can grow and learn from. Whether it’s learning about the dragonboat festival or figuring out how to build a sand tower, Ni Hao, Kai-lan keeps things eventful for children to enjoy and to also teach the parents something along the way as well.
I’m not going to lie, trying to watch this show with a straight face was near impossible. Between the long pause breaks and candy coated dialogue, I was entertained by the show simply by how incredulously happy it made me feel watching it. It’s certainly a replacement for that bowl of sugar cereal if you don’t have one lying around; I can see why kids are so wrapped up in this show. I’m sure I would be if I fit its age group a bit better. Unfortunately all I can think of when I see these multi-cultural shows on Nick Jr. is that SNL skit that parodied Dora the Explorer, which was…so very wrong.
But, Dora is a different show. Or is it? Well quite frankly aside from having a slightly different look about it (Ni Hao looks a lot cleaner and has a bit more fluid animation than Dora), the two shows really aren’t different. Both contain the aforementioned pauses for children to respond (“Do you want to go to the beach?…………………………………………………………………………….Yay! Let’s go!”), so there’s that similarity right away. The structure of the shows is the same as well and when it’s all boiled down to specifics, the only true difference between the two is the culture it represents. This isn’t a bad thing—it creates variety on the network and makes for an entertaining time for the parents if they want to sit down and watch it with their children.
There was a slight disconnect for me whenever a Chinese phrase was brought up for the children to learn. The voice for Kai-lan changes so drastically in-between her usual accent and her Chinese voice that it immediately made me think someone else was talking. Obviously the tone change is to keep kids paying attention and I’m not even sure why I’m mentioning it (other than the fact I really, really don’t have anything to criticize about this show as I’ve pole vaulted out of the age range of this one and received an Olympic gold medal for distance traveled), but it was one thing that stood out to me about the series.
Children will love the series for its eye-popping visuals and parents will love it simply because it genuinely teaches children something amidst its beach travels and parade participations. It’s a solid series that Nick Jr. would be wise to keep around for some time to. Recommended (for the children, of course).
Ni Hao, Kai-lan arrives on DVD in a single disc release with four episodes from the series. The episodes are an interlaced transfer which sometimes muddles the otherwise crystal clear transfer and the audio comes in Dolby Digital English 2.0. Inside the DVD case is an advertisement for other Nick Jr. titles and the disc itself, which has art mirroring the cover. Nothing of any particular worth here to check out in the extras, a simple photo gallery (titled “Meet Kai-lan!”) and a music video (2:51), which has Kai-lan singing “My Favorite Places.” I did quite enjoy this video, as the rhymes were particularly well-done, with lines such as “I love going to ant city, I think its super pretty.” Super pretty, indeed.
Overall this DVD is worth purchasing if your children absolutely love the show and can’t get enough. But with only four episodes, you might be better off just watching the show on a weekly basis, since it currently airs five days a week.
Ni hao, Kai-lan: Super Special Days is now available on DVD.