Western Animation / Ni Hao, Kai-Lan


"You make my heart feel super happy! Ni rang wo hao kai xin (你让我好开心)! "

Short description: Chinese-American Dora the Explorer.

Long description: Ni Hao Kai-lan (2007-2011) is a preschool Edutainment Show currently airing on Nickelodeon. The show's primary function is to teach children Mandarin Chinese. According to the show's website, it also "teaches children how to identify and cope with their feelings."

The show chronicles the adventures of Kai-lan, a young Chinese-American girl, and her various friends and family:

  • Ye-Ye is Kai-lan's grandfather, the only parental figure on the show.
  • Rintoo is a small tiger with a slight lisp who tries everything with reckless abandon. He proclaims everything as "awethome!", and often gets into trouble with his headstrong nature.
  • Hoho, a three-year-old monkey who likes to play around.
  • Tolee, a koala with an unhealthy obsession with pandas.
  • Lulu, a pink rhinoceros who flies via a balloon tied to her horn.
  • Mr. Sun is the sun, who smiles and shines all the time. He sometimes releases "sun fuzzies" that can tickle or form props.

It basically comes off as a cute, albeit somewhat trippy kid's show.

While perhaps never formally canceled, the show ceased production in 2010. The program currently only airs in the evenings on the Nick Jr. sub-network, having apparently never quite caught the fire that Dora the Explorer did.

This show contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Absentee Actor: Lulu was absent from "Wait, Hoho, Wait!", "Kai-Lan's Campout" and "Safari Pals".
  • An Aesop: Every episode has morals.
  • Animesque: Just look at the animation style!
  • Blush Sticker: Tolee, Lulu, and Hoho are always drawn with these on their faces.
  • Broken Aesop: In Kai-Lan's Playhouse, Hoho learns never to hit anyone and vocalize his frustrations. The problem is that Hoho was standing between two friends a moment ago yelling - not saying, yelling - "I CAN'T GET ANY OF THE THINGS I WANT! I JUST WANTED THE YELLOW PAINT!" and Kai-Lan and Rintoo just stood there ignoring him. The episode's Use Your Words moral seems stupid in light of this, as does Rintoo saying he had no idea Hoho was even mad even though the monkey stood two feet from him and jumped up and down yelling about his anger.
    • It's symptomatic of the show's use of That Makes Me Feel Angry. The characters often show in words or actions exactly why they're frustrated or upset. Yet viewers are still told that "We gotta, gotta try to find the reason why," even though anyone with even the most basic empathy should have already figured it out.
  • Captain Ersatz: Rintoo is basically a knockoff of the Japanese children show Shima Shima Tora no Shimajirō.
  • Catch-Phrase:
    • "You make my heart feel super happy!"
    • Rintoo's "I love <topic-of-the-moment>!" also counts.
    • Also, Rintoo's favorite expression appears to be "AWESOME!".
    • Tolee's "Ai ya!"
  • Characterization Marches On: In Kai-Lan's Playhouse, Hoho is obsessed with bananas and hits Rintoo over him hogging the banana shaped stickers. He never acts this way about bananas again, actually preferring apples over them in a later episode.
  • Cool Old Guy: Kai-lan's grandpa, Ye-Ye. His feats include building racing canoes, setting up camping trips, and going rollerskating.
    • In Kai-Lan's Playhouse, he builds a house-sized building perfectly proportioned to Kai-Lan and her friends using only his bare hands and the help of some sentient ants.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Tolee prepares for a group hiking trip with a backpack that's twice his own size.
  • Crossdressing Voices: Hoho was voiced by Angie Wu.
  • Cry Cute: The characters (except Lulu) does this in some episodes.
  • Cute Little Fang: Rintoo and Lulu (Funny as people thought that rhinos were vegetarians)
  • Forgiveness: "Playtime at Tolee's" has Tolee refusing to forgive Rintoo for tearing his painting. The lesson of the episode is that you should instantly forgive somebody for wrongdoings so they don't have to feel guilty about it.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Tolee doesn't forgive Rintoo after he accidentally rips Tolee's painting and then Rintoo fixes it right after
  • Gratuitous Chinese: Not so gratuitous since it's a major point of the show. But there is relatively little Chinese used in the show anyway, considering that the idea is to teach it to children (as well as about Chinese culture and general kid topics). Dora the Explorer suffers from the same problem.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: "Kai-lan's Big Surprise"; when a gust of wind knocks down the decorations for a surprise party Kai-lan was holding for Ye-Ye, she falls into one of these. So far it's been the only time where she's the one who needs help.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!: Mr. Dragon is a very friendly and strong dragon.
  • No Fourth Wall: Kai-lan (and occasionally other characters) regularly interact with the audience.
  • Once an Episode:
    • Usually one of Kai-Lan's friends suffers a negative moment and has a problem, and has to be solved.
    • The solution to the problem is told through a jingle.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Normally Tolee is polite and understanding, but in one episode, when Rintoo accidentally ripped Tolee's painting, Tolee refused to forgive him. Adds bonus points that he wouldn't forgive even though Rintoo fixed it.
  • Panda-ing to the Audience: Tolee (a koala) has is obsessed with panda-themed accessories.
  • Parental Abandonment: Never addressed in the show itself, but a regular viewer of the show might well wonder where Kai-lan's parents are. It gets extra awkward when other family members are featured, but the parents remain absent and unmentioned.
  • Parental Substitute: Ye-Ye is one to Kai-lan. Neither one of her parents are ever seen.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Dora the Explorer. Little ethnic girl and her monkey sidekick teach kids a foreign language while hanging out with other animals.
  • Swiper, No Swiping!: In "Tolee's Turn," Rintoo won't give Tolee a turn at steering a boat. Kai-lan and Hoho tell him that everyone feels happy when they take turns, but he's still not convinced, so the viewers are asked to tell him "Give Tolee a turn."
  • Talking Animal: Literally every animal talks.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Used heavily, as the show is about exploring and identifying feelings.
  • Vacation Episode: "Kai-Lan's Trip to China" is a double-length episode that's Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: Notable in the Chinese segments. Repetition is actually a good way to learn a language.
  • Weird Moon: A cloud that covers only the moon in "Kai-lan's Moon Festival."