|Created by||Yuko Shimizu|
Tara Strong (Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater)
Karen Bernstein (Daisuki! Hello Kitty)
Monica Rial (Hello Kitty's Animation Theater)
Melissa Fahn (Hello Kitty Paradise)
Fuyumi Shiraishi (Kitty and Mimmy's New Umbrella)
Mami Koyama (Hello Kitty's Cinderella)
Yuko Kobayashi (Playing with English: Hello Kitty's Magical Journey)
Kyōko Hikami (Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater Japanese Dub and Daisuki! Hello Kitty)
Megumi Hayashibara (Current Voice Actress)
|Family||Mimmy White, George White, Mary White, Anthony, Margaret|
|Full name||Kitty White|
Hello Kitty (ハローキティ Harōkiti?) (full name Kitty White (キティ・ホワイト Kiti howaito?)) is a fictional character produced by the Japanese company Sanrio, first designed by Yuko Shimizu. She is depicted as an anthropomorphic white Japanese bobtail cat with a red bow.
The character's first appearance on an item, a vinyl coin purse, was introduced in Japan in 1974 and brought to the United States in 1976. The character is a staple of the kawaii segment of Japanese popular culture. By 2010, Sanrio had groomed Hello Kitty into a global marketing phenomenon worth $5 billion a year. By 2014, when Hello Kitty was 40 years old, it was doing $7 billion a year, all without any advertising.
Originally aimed at pre-adolescent females, Hello Kitty's market has broadened to include adult consumers. She can be found on a variety of products ranging from school supplies to fashion accessories and high-end consumer products. Several Hello Kitty TV series, targeted towards young children, have been produced. Hello Kitty is also the main character at the two Japanese Sanrio theme parks, Harmonyland and the indoor Sanrio Puroland.
Initially known only as "the white cat with no name" (名前のない白い子猫), the official character profiles for Hello Kitty now lists her full name as Kitty White (キティ・ホワイト Kiti Howaito?), born in the suburbs of London, England on November 1. Her height is described as five apples and her weight as three apples. She is portrayed as a bright and kind-hearted girl, very close to her twin sister Mimmy. She is good at baking cookies and loves Mama's homemade apple pie. She likes to collect cute things and her favorite subjects in school are English, music, and art.
The character is a gijinka, an anthropomorphism or personification of a cat. In August 2014 an anthropologist from the University of Hawaii was told by Sanrio that Kitty White was not simply a cat (i.e. "depicted on all fours"), describing her as a little English girl called Kitty White, from outside London. Following reports that interpreted this to mean she was human, a Sanrio PR representative said that the organization had "never said she was a human", explaining anthropomorphization by comparing the character to Mickey Mouse: "No one would mistake the Disney character for a human–but at the same time he's not quite a mouse. Just like Hello Kitty isn't a human, she's not quite a cat either." Sanrio stated further, "Hello Kitty was done in the motif of a cat. It's going too far to say that Hello Kitty is not a cat."
Hello Kitty is portrayed with a large family with the surname White. Her twin sister Mimmy is described as "shy and very girly," interested in sewing and dreaming of marriage. While Hello Kitty wears a red bow on her left ear, Mimmy wears a yellow one on the right. Their father George is described as dependable, humorous but also absent-minded. Their mother Mary is portrayed as a good cook who loves doing housework. Grandpa Anthony likes to tell stories and Grandma Margaret likes sewing. Dear Daniel is Hello Kitty's childhood friend. His character profile describes him as born in London on May 3rd with the name Daniel Starr. He traveled with his parents and was away from Hello Kitty for a long time. He is portrayed as fashionable and sensitive, good at dancing and playing the piano, with an interest in photography, and dreams of being a celebrity. Charmmy Kitty is Hello Kitty's pet, a white Persian. She is described as docile, obedient and fond of shiny things. Her necklace holds the key to Hello Kitty's jewelry box. Hello Kitty also has a pet hamster named Sugar, who was a gift from Dear Daniel.
In 1962, Shintaro Tsuji, founder of Sanrio, began selling rubber sandals with flowers painted on them. Tsuji noted the profits gained by adding a cute design to the sandals and hired cartoonists to design cute characters for his merchandise. The company produced a line of character merchandise around gift-giving occasions. Hello Kitty was designed by Yuko Shimizu and was added to the lineup of early Sanrio characters in 1974. The character's first appearance on an item was a vinyl coin purse in Japan where she was pictured sitting between a bottle of milk and a goldfish bowl. She first appeared in the United States in 1976.
Sanrio decided to make Hello Kitty British because at the time when she was created, foreign countries, in particular Britain, were trendy in Japan. In addition, Sanrio already had a number of characters set in the US and they wanted Hello Kitty to be different. Shimizu got the name Kitty from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, where in a scene early in the book Alice plays with a cat she calls Kitty. Sanrio's motto is "social communication" and Tsuji wanted the brand name to reflect that. He first considered "Hi Kitty" before settling on "Hello" for the greeting. Spokespeople for Sanrio have said that Hello Kitty does not have a mouth because they want people to "project their feelings onto the character" and "be happy or sad together with Hello Kitty." Another explanation Sanrio has given for her lack of a mouth is that she "speaks from the heart. She's Sanrio's ambassador to the world and isn't bound to any particular language". Representatives for Sanrio have said they see Hello Kitty as a symbol of friendship, and they hope she will encourage friendship between people across the world. While there has been some speculation that Hello Kitty has its origins in Maneki Neko, and that the name Hello Kitty itself is a back-translation of Maneki Neko, which means beckoning cat in English, others disagree.
Hello Kitty sold well immediately after the 1974 launch, and Sanrio's sales increased seven times up until they slumped temporarily in 1978. New series with Hello Kitty in different themed designs are released regularly, following current trends. Yuko Yamaguchi, the main designer for most of Hello Kitty's history, has said that she is inspired by fashion, movies and TV in creating new designs.
Hello Kitty was originally marketed only to young girls. In the 1990s the target market for Hello Kitty was broadened to include teens and grown-ups as a retro brand. Marketed to those who could not get Hello Kitty merchandise as children, or who fondly remembers items they had, Sanrio began selling Hello Kitty branded products like purses and laptops. The 1994–1996 Face series was the first to be designed for a more mature appeal.
According to Sanrio, in 1999 Hello Kitty appeared on 12,000 different products yearly. By 2008, Hello Kitty was responsible for half of Sanrio's $1 billion revenue and there were over 50,000 different Hello Kitty branded products in more than 60 countries. Beginning in 2007, following trends in Japan, Sanrio began using darker designs for Hello Kitty with more black and less pink, and pulling away from kawaii styles.
Originally aimed at the pre-adolescent female market, the Hello Kitty product range has expanded and goes all the way from dolls, stickers, greeting cards, clothes, accessories, school supplies and stationery to purses, toasters, televisions, other home appliances, massagers, and computer equipment. These products range from mass market items to high-end consumer products and rare collectibles.
As of 2009, Bank of America began offering Hello Kitty-themed checking accounts, where the account holder can get cheques and a Visa debit card with Kitty's face on it. MasterCard debit cards have featured Hello Kitty as a design since 2004.
Sanrio and various corporate partners have released Hello Kitty-branded products, including the Hello Kitty Stratocaster electric guitar (since 2006, with Fender in the US) and even an Airbus A330-200 commercial passenger jet airliner, dubbed the Hello Kitty Jet (2005–2009, with EVA Airways in Taiwan). In late 2011 and early 2012, EVA Air revived their "Hello Kitty Jets" with their 3 new A330-300s. However, due to high demand, the airline added 2 more onto their existing A330-200s in mid-2012. A year after, EVA Air added another Hello Kitty Jet onto one of their 777-300ERs, which not only featured Hello Kitty characters, but other Sanrio characters on that aircraft as well.
2009 marked the collaboration between apparel and accessory Kitty entered the wine market with collection made up of four wines available for purchase online, continuing an expansion of products targeted at older audiences.
In Spring 2005, Simmons Jewelry Co. and Sanrio announced a co-branded jewelery licensed partnership. “Kimora Lee Simmons for Hello Kitty” was launched exclusively at Neiman Marcus prices ranging from $300 to $5000 Designed by Kimora Lee Simmons and launched as the initial collection. The jewelery is all hand-made, consisting of diamonds, gemstones, semi-precious stones, 18K gold, Sterling silver, enamel and ceramic.
In Fall 2008, Simmons Jewelry Co. and Sanrio debuted a collection of fine jewelry and watches named “Hello Kitty® by Simmons Jewelry Co." The collection launched with Zales Corporation to further expand the reach of the brand, and it developed accessories to satisfy every Hello Kitty fan. The designs incorporate colorful gemstones and sterling silver to attract a youthful audience with retail prices starting at $50.
In 2008, a Hello Kitty-themed maternity hospital opened in Yuanlin, Taiwan. Hello Kitty is featured on the receiving blankets, room decor, bed linens, birth certificate covers, and nurses' uniforms. The hospital's owner explained that he hoped that the theme would help ease the stress of childbirth.
There is also a Hello Kitty Cafe, located on an uphill alley off Eoulmadang-ro, the main shopping thoroughfare in Hongdae, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea. It is one of several locations in the country.
There have been several different Hello Kitty TV series. The first animated television series was Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater which was 13 episodes long and aired in 1987. The next, an OVA titled Hello Kitty and Friends, came out in 1993 and was also 13 episodes long. Hello Kitty's Paradise came out in 1999 and was 16 episodes long. Hello Kitty's Stump Village came out in 2005 and The Adventures of Hello Kitty & Friends came out in 2006 and has aired 52 episodes.
KISS Hello Kitty is a forthcoming American animated TV series, that will premiere on Hub Network. Gene Simmons, bassist of the band KISS, is slated to be an executive producer for the series. No cast or release date has been announced yet.
Hello Kitty's Paradise was a long-running live action children's program that aired on TXN from January 1999 to March 2011. It was the longest-running weekly kids television program in the network's history. In January 2011, the show's creators mutually agreed to end the series after twelve seasons, with the final episode being broadcast on March 29.
Numerous Hello Kitty games have been produced since the release of the first title for Famicom in 1992; however, the majority of these games were never released outside of Japan. Hello Kitty also has made cameo appearances in games featuring other Sanrio characters, such as the Keroppi game, Kero Kero Keroppi no Bōken Nikki: Nemureru Mori no Keroleen. Special edition consoles such as the Hello Kitty Dreamcast, Hello Kitty Game Boy Pocket, and Hello Kitty Crystal Xbox have also been released exclusively in Japan.
Partial list of Hello Kitty video games
- Hello Kitty no Hanabatake (1992, Famicom): a platformer
- Hello Kitty World (1992, Famicom): a Famicom port of Balloon Kid co-developed by Nintendo and Character Soft.
- Hello Kitty's Big Fun Piano (1994, PC): a piano simulation
- Hello Kitty's Cube Frenzy (1998, Game Boy Color, PlayStation): a life simulation/minigame collection
- DDR Hello Kitty (1999, Bemani Pocket): a handheld Hello Kitty game in the Dance Dance Revolution series
- The Hello Kitty Simple 1500 series (PlayStation): a series of specifically low-priced games
- Gotouchi Hello Kitty Sugoroku Monogatari (2003, PlayStation): a sugoroku-based game
- Hello Kitty: Happy Party Pals (2005, Game Boy Advance): an action/adventure game
- Hello Kitty: Roller Rescue (2005, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2): an action/adventure game
- Mainichi Suteki! Hello Kitty no Life Kit (2007, Nintendo DS): a puzzle game
- The Hello Kitty Simple 2000 series (2007, PlayStation 2): a series of specifically low-priced games
- Hello Kitty: Big City Dreams (2008, Nintendo DS): an adventure game published by Empire Interactive developed by Sanrio Digital. In the game, Hello Kitty moves to the Big City where she meets other Sanrio characters and makes new friends.
- Hello Kitty Daily (2008, Nintendo DS): a PDA application featuring a diary, calendar, alarm clock, money managing system and school planner
- Hello Kitty Online (2009, PC): an online MMORPG developed by Sanrio Digital and Typhoon Games. The game allows players to create and customize characters, then use them to battle monsters, socialize with one another, mine for ore, do domestic chores like farming or cooking, and participate in quests.
- Hello Kitty Seasons: A game in which the playable character is appointed as Deputy Mayor to help Sanrio Town.
- Hello Kitty Parachute Paradise (2009, iPhone/iPod Touch): an iPhone game with tilt-based controls
- Apron of Magic (2010, Arcade): An Arcade Card Game developed by Examu to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Sanrio. The game features Hello Kitty and other notable Sanrio Characters.
The Hello Kitty brand rose to greater prominence during the late 1990s. At that time, several celebrities, such as Mariah Carey, had adopted Hello Kitty as a fashion statement. Newer products featuring the character can be found in a large variety of American department stores.
The Dutch artist Dick Bruna, creator of Miffy, has suggested that Hello Kitty is a copy of Miffy (in Dutch: Nijntje), being rendered in a similar style, stating disapprovingly in an interview for the British paper The Daily Telegraph:
- 'That,' he says darkly, 'is a copy [of Miffy], I think. I don't like that at all. I always think, "No, don't do that. Try to make something that you think of yourself".'
In May 2008, Japan named Hello Kitty the ambassador of Japanese tourism in both China and Hong Kong, which are two places where the character is exceptionally popular among children and young women. This marked the first time Japan's tourism ministry had appointed a fictional character to the role. Dr Sharon Kinsella, a lecturer at Oxford University on Japanese sociology, called the selection of Hello Kitty "a bit farcical;" "as if a dumbed-down cultural icon ... can somehow do something significant to alter the gnarly and difficult state of China-Japan relations."
Hello Kitty's popularity began waning in Japan before the year 2000. In 2002, Hello Kitty lost her place as the top-grossing character in Japan in the Character Databank popularity chart and has never recovered. In a 2010 survey, she was in third place behind Anpanman and Pikachu from Pokémon. In 2010, the New York Times described Hello Kitty's characterization as "not compelling enough to draw many fans" and wrote that analysts called the characterization "weak." They also said that Hello Kitty not having a mouth has dampened her success as an animated TV character.
In 1999, a brutal murder known as the Hello Kitty murder took place in Hong Kong. The popular name of the case derives from the fact that the murderer inserted his victim's head into a Hello Kitty doll after decapitating her.
As of August 2007, Thai police officers who have committed minor transgressions such as showing up late or parking in the wrong place are forced to wear pink Hello Kitty armbands for several days as penance.
During the financial crisis of 2007–2010, a poster of a Hello Kitty pre-paid debit card expanded to roughly 1 metre in length was displayed on the floor of the US Senate by Senator Byron Dorgan as a demonstration of extreme methods used by credit companies to attract "children 10 to 14 years of age". It was criticised for its promotional website encouraging users to "shop 'til you drop."
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hello Kitty.|
|Wikinews has related news: Thai police to wear 'Hello Kitty' armbands as punishment|
- Official Hello Kitty website
- Kittylab Singapore Expo 2009 Hello Kitty 35th Anniversary Project Kitty Lab
- How Hello Kitty Conquered the World April 12, 2013 Wall Street Journal