Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Hello Kitty, character

I interviewed Hello Kitty in 2005 in the guise of a 450,000-yen 'robot doll' with artificial intelligence and the ability to respond to human speech. It was one of my most in-depth and revealing tete-a-tetes. It was one of the few interviews where I actually used the entire audioscript in the subsequent article - money for old rope!

CBL: Hello Kitty.

HK: What you just said are words Kitty doesn’t know…Today is a relaxing day. Please speak in a big voice.

CBL: Hello Kitty… Hi.

HK: Goodbye!

CBL: You’re a terribly rude cat.

HK: Kitty can’t hear well. Speak up, please.

CBL: What day is today?

HK: It’s fun. Kitty likes having fun. It’s fun to play with one’s friends. When do you feel happy? …Oh isn’t it.

CBL: Please listen.

HK: It’s nice that you can feel happy everyday, isn’t it?

CBL: Yes, when I’m happy I sing. Can you sing for me?

HK: Kitty can’t catch your words. Please speak up.

CBL: Please sing a song.

HK: Let’s speak up just a little louder.

CBL: Please sing a song.

HK: A song, eh? Which do you want to hear, a spring song, a Japanese song, a foreign song, a dance song, a hit song?

CBL: A foreign song.

HK: This is “Yama no Ongakuka” [sings a traditional German song in Japanese] Shall Kitty sing another song?

CBL: Yes please.

HK: Let me see, Kitty will choose it, OK? [sings a Japanese pop song]

CBL: That was very good.

HK: Did you hear Kitty’s song?

CBL: That was enjoyable. Thank you.

HK: Kitty doesn’t understand. Your voice is so loud that it’s difficult to hear.

CBL: I said thanks for the song.

HK: Please use words that Kitty can understand.

CBL: Kitty, may I ask a question.

HK: Yes … the end.

CBL: Kitty.

HK: Please speak up a little.

CBL: Good morning. Good morning. Good morning.

HK: Hello. Now it’s the afternoon, so you should say hello.

CBL: What is Kitty’s favorite food?

HK: Kitty loves apple pie made by Mama. Do you like apple pie? Oh you like apple pie, don’t you?

CBL: Where is Mimi Chan [Kitty’s sister]?

HK: The subjects Kitty is good at are English and music.

CBL: Where is Mimi Chan?

HK: Do you like music?

CBL: Yes, I love it.

HK: Goody, that’s like Kitty. Kitty is very happy.

CBL: I’m also very happy.

HK: What?

CBL: I’m also very happy. Kitty, do you like chocolate?

HK: Kitty’s so happy to stay with you…Do you like carrots?

CBL: So-so.

HK: Mmmm. Next time, please eat Mother’s homemade carrot glace. It’s very delicious.

CBL: What is your dream?

HK: Kitty’s dream is traveling around the World making many friends. Kitty has many dreams. My Father told Kitty it’s important to have dreams. Please have dreams.

CBL: My dream is to live in London [Kitty’s hometown according to her official biography].

HK: Kitty doesn’t understand.

CBL: You stupid cat!

HK: Please speak a little quieter... We’ll talk later.

CBL: London.

HK: London has got so many beautiful parks. There are many people exercising in them in the morning. Do you jog?

CBL: Sometimes.

HK: Mmmm. Is that so? London Town is very beautiful. It would be very nice if we can go there together sometime.

CBL: Kitty, bye-bye.

HK: What happened? Are you OK?

CBL: Have a rest.

HK: Kitty loves having a rest.

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