During the early 80's, there was a period when Hello Kitty, a product of the Japanese company Sanrio, seemed to be taking over the world. From pencil sharpeners to purses, makeup to music, there was no medium the cat couldn't conquer. By the end of the 80's, refusing to be limited, the ubiquitous feline finally appeared on her own Saturday morning cartoon.
The premise of Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater revolved around Kitty's running a repertory theatre, which presented two plays every episode. Kitty herself would star (naturally) as the heroes of these feline versions of fairy tales and nursery rhymes, while her less loveable companions Catnip and Grinder would usually play the antagonists.
Apparently, all that Kitty touched did not turn to catnip. Unlike the line of toys, the series lasted for only one year. Shed no tears for poor Hello Kitty, however. The resilient feline bounced back with a continuing parade of merchandise, ensuring her popularity into the next decade and beyond.
A Hello Kitty version of "Cinderella" was shown theatrically in 1989 before the franchise of "Hello Kitty's Fairy Tale Theatre."
In 1990, a Hello Kitty theatrical version of "Thumbelina" was released in Japan.
Several direct-to-video productions were released in Japan. These included a second "Heidi" parody in 1994 and a 10-part series of adaptatations of such Japanese folk tales as "The Hidden Tengu," "Momotaro," "Kintaro," "The Monkey and the Crab," Princess Kaguya and "Here Comes the Mouse Bride."
Kitty appeared in several video specials with Bad Batz Maru (another Sanrio character), as well as in 1989's "Ratboy" and "Return of the Tanuki."
Later stories included "The Day the Clock Stopped," "Hello Kitty: Aliens in London" and "Hello Kitty: Mom Loves Me After All" (all 1992); "We Love Hello Kitty" (1993); and "Hello Kitty: Everyone Must Protect the Forest" (1994).
Short informational videos released in 1997 included "Trying Hard," "Cleaning Up the House," "Going to the Toilet Alone," "Sleeping Alone," "Being Careful Outdoors," "Saying Sorry," "Table Manners" and "Enjoying the Bath." All bore the subtitle "...with Hello Kitty."
A six-part video series of Aesop's Fables (done Hello Kitty-style) was released in teh late 1990s.
In 1999, the "...with Hello Kitty" series" was combined with "Kitty Parody Theater" for rebroadcast on Japanese TV as the 39-episode "Kitty's Paradise." Saban Entertainment soon picked this up for the American market.
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