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 "You make my heart feel super happy! Ni rang wo hao kai xin!"


Short description: Chinese-American Dora the Explorer. And yes, that's just as bad as you think.

Long description: Ni Hao Kai-lan 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 jump randomly.
  • 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 wordlessly smiles and shines all the time. He sometimes releases "sun fuzzies" that can tickle or form props.

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

This show contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: In "Sports Day", Rintoo brags a lot after he's won several games, much to his friends' annoyance. He later learns not to be too boastful.
  • Agitated Item Stomping: In "Beach Day", an irritated Tolee jumps on his friends' sand castle after waves keep knocking over his own sand castle.
  • An Aesop
  • Animals Not to Scale: Lulu's a rhinoceros who is the same size as Rintoo (a young tiger) and Tolee (a koala).
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Lulu's a pink rhinoceros.
  • Balloonacy: Lulu has a balloon tied to her horn and is often seen floating around.
  • Blush Sticker: Tolee, Lulu, and Hoho
  • Break the Cutie: In "Kai-Lan's Big Surprise", Kai-Lan breaks down sobbing after the wind destroys Ye-Ye's surprise party.
  • 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.
  • 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 often exclaims, "Ai-ya!" when he's distressed.
  • 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.
  • Cheerful Child: All the kids in this show are pretty playful and optimistic when they're not getting angry over minor things.
  • Chinese Girl: Kai-Lan, of course.
  • 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.
  • Cute Little Fang: Rintoo and Lulu (Funny, I thought rhinos were vegetarians)
  • Development Hell: More like development purgatory, since it managed to escape, but for a while there it wasn't looking promising. The show was originally announced for Spring 2007, but didn't materialize, though the characters from the show were featured for months in the now-defunct Nick Jr. Magazine. The program didn't finally materialize until February 2008.
  • Edutainment Show
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Hoho
  • Floating in A Bubble: Kai-lan and Lulu in "Lulu Day".
  • Forgiveness: In "Playtime at Tolee's", Tolee refuses to forgive Rintoo for accidentally ripping his painting, even when Rintoo fixes it. He does learn that it's best to forgive and forget later on, though.
    • What the Hell, Hero?: Tolee doesn't forgive Rintoo after he accidentally rips Tolee's painting and then Rintoo fixes it right after.
  • Fridge Logic: Lulu the balloon flying rhino.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Five-year-old Kai-lan wearing a bikini at the beach. What on Earth...?
  • 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 BSOD: "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.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: San-San the Ant; you could almost picture him going, "First off, this is a JOURNAL, not a diary."
  • Honorable Elephant: Stompy's an elephant and a very sweet kid.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Mr. Dragon is highly revered by the other characters.
  • Keet:
    • Rintoo is a very energetic tiger.
    • Hoho likes to jump and play. Justified, as he is the youngest of his friends.
  • No Fourth Wall
  • Non Interactivity
  • Odango: Kai-lan
  • Only Sane Man: Kai-Lan tends to keep her emotions under control, unlike her friends, who tend to get angry easily.
  • Pandaing 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 takes care of Kai-Lan, since her parents are never around.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Lulu has pink skin and is at least a bit more feminine than Kai-Lan.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Hoho spends most of "Kai-Lan's Playhouse" trying to maintain his frustration when he runs out of yellow paint and his picture is messed up, but what really gets him to snap is when Rintoo takes the last of the banana stickers.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Kai-Lan lives with her grandfather, Ye-Ye. It's unknown what happened to her parents.
  • Sore Loser: In "The Dragonboat Festival", Rintoo loses his temper after he keeps losing the river raft race and kicks his boat onto a roof. He then starts to pace in circles, stomping.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Dora the Explorer. Little ethnic girl and her monkey tiger 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: Pretty much every animal on this show can talk, even the ones who aren't as anthropomorphic (i.e. Stompy the elephant).
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Used heavily, as the show is about exploring and identifying feelings.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: You could make this case for Kai-lan and Lulu.
  • 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."
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Who names their kid after a vegetable?
    • Katniss Everdeen's parents?
    • Given the nature of the Chinese language, many people are named after plants, gemstones, or landmarks. Word of God is that "Kai-Lan" was the birthname of the show's creator, Karen Chau (it was later Anglicized).