Hello Kitty

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Hello Kitty
Sanrio character
Hello kitty character portrait.png
Hello Kitty
First appearance 1974
Last appearance present
Created by Yuko Shimizu
Voiced by English:
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)
Japanese:
Fuyumi Shiraishi (Kitty and Mimmy's New Umbrella)
Mami Koyama (Hello Kitty's Cinderella)
Akemi Okamura
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)
Information
Nickname(s) Hello Kitty
Species Japanese bobtail cat[1]
Gender Female
Family Mimmy White, George White, Mary White, Anthony, Margaret
Nationality Japanese[2]
Full name Kitty White[2]

Hello Kitty (ハローキティ Harō Kiti?)[3] (full name Kitty White (キティ・ホワイト Kiti howaito?))[2] is a fictional character produced by the Japanese company Sanrio, first designed by Yuko Shimizu. She is portrayed as a female white Japanese bobtail cat with a red bow.[1] 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.[4][5] The character is a staple of the kawaii segment of Japanese popular culture.[6] At age 36 as of 2010, Sanrio has groomed Hello Kitty into a global marketing phenomenon worth $5 billion a year.[7]

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.

Hello Kitty is originally Japanese, "Hello Kitty" refers to the group of related characters, while the main character herself is known as Kitty White (キティ・ホワイト Kiti Howaito?), or affectionately as Kitty-chan (キティちゃん Kiti-chan?). According to the official character profile, she was 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.[2][8]

Hello Kitty is portrayed surrounded by a large family who all possess 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 bow on her left ear, Mimmy wears hers on the right. Also Hello Kitty's dresses are normally red, whereas Mimmy's are normally yellow. Their Papa, George, is described as dependable, humorous but also absent-minded. Mama, Mary, is portrayed as a good cook who loves doing housework. Grandpa Anthony likes to tell stories and Grandma Margaret likes sewing.[8] Dear Daniel is Hello Kitty's childhood friend. His character profile describes him as born in London on May 3 with the real name Daniel Starr. He travelled 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.[9] 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.[10] Hello Kitty also has a pet hamster named Sugar, who was a gift from Dear Daniel.[11]

Background[edit]

Yuko Shimizu, creator of Hello Kitty, in 2010

In 1962, Shintaro Tsuji, founder of Sanrio, began selling rubber sandals with flowers painted on them.[12] Tsuji noted the profits gained by adding a cute design to the sandals and hired cartoonists to design cute characters for his merchandise.[12] The company produced a line of character merchandise around gift-giving occasions.[13] Hello Kitty was designed by Yuko Shimizu and was added to the lineup of early Sanrio characters in 1974.[5] 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.[14] She first appeared in the United States in 1976.[4]

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.[6][15] 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.[16] Sanrio's motto is "social communication" and Tsuji wanted the brand name of the cat to reflect that. He first considered "Hi Kitty" before settling on "Hello" for the greeting.[17] 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."[6][18] 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".[15] 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.[6] There has been some suggestion[by whom?] 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.

History[edit]

Hello Kitty sold well immediately after the 1974 launch, and Sanrio's sales increased seven times up until they slumped temporarily in 1978.[6][19] 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.[6][19]

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.[6][15] 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.[6][15][19] The 1994-1996 Face series was the first to be designed for a more mature appeal.[6]

According to Sanrio, in 1999 Hello Kitty appeared on 12,000 different products yearly.[17] 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.[15] 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.[19]

Products[edit]

The Hello Kitty Airbus A330-200.

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.[20]

Financial[edit]

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.[21] MasterCard debit cards have featured Hello Kitty as a design since 2004.[22]

High-end[edit]

Sanrio Shop in Madrid, Spain with the Hello Kitty character outline as the entryway

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).[23] 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.

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.[24]

Jewelry[edit]

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.[25]

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.[26]

Establishments[edit]

Hello Kitty cafe in Hongdae, Seoul

There is a themed restaurant named Hello Kitty Sweets in Taipei, Taiwan. The restaurant's decor and many of its dishes are patterned after the Hello Kitty character.[27][28]

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.[29][30]

Hello Kitty is included as part of the Sanrio livery at the Japanese theme parks Harmonyland and Sanrio Puroland.

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.[31] It is one of several locations in the country.

Media[edit]

Animated series[edit]

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.[32] 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.

Music[edit]

Hello Kitty has her own branded album, Hello World, featuring Hello Kitty-inspired songs performed by a collection of artists, including Keke Palmer, Cori Yarckin, and Ainjel Emme.[33]

Hello Kitty was also chosen by AH-Software to be the basis of the new Vocaloid Nekomura Iroha (猫村いろは Nekomura iroha?)[34] to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sanrio.[35]

Canadian singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne has written and recorded a song called 'Hello Kitty' for her 5th studio album released in 2013.

Video games[edit]

Numerous Hello Kitty games have been produced since the release of the first title for NES 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[edit]

Reception[edit]

Hello Kitty at Children Day in Germany

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.[15] 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".'[39]

[40]

Musti, a cat character created by Belgian cartoonist Ray Goossens, was also cited as an inspiration for both Miffy and Hello Kitty.[41][42]

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.[43] 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."[15]

UNICEF has also awarded Hello Kitty the exclusive title of UNICEF Special Friend of Children.[44][45]

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.[19] 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."[19] They also said that Hello Kitty not having a mouth has dampened her success as an animated TV character.[19]

Legacy[edit]

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.[46]

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.[47]

During the financial crisis of 2007–2010, a poster of a Hello Kitty pre-paid debit card expanded to roughly 1 meter 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 criticized for its promotional website encouraging users to "shop 'til you drop."[48]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Hello Kitty Hooks Generations On Cute, Kitsch". NPR. 2010-12-03. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Hello Kitty". Sanrio. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  3. ^ "サンリオキャラクターたちの本名、言えますか?" (in Japanese). 2008-07-11. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  4. ^ a b Dhamija, Tina (April 1, 2003). "Designing an Icon: Hello Kitty Transcends Generational and Cultural Limits". ToyDirectory. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  5. ^ a b "Hello Kitty celebrates 30". China News Daily. 2005-08-19. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Takagi, Jun (August 21, 2008). "10 Questions for Yuko Yamaguchi". TIME. Retrieved 2009-10-31. 
  7. ^ Tabuchi, Hiroko (May 14, 2010). "In Search of Adorable, as Hello Kitty Gets Closer to Goodbye". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-06. 
  8. ^ a b "Sanrio - Hello Kitty Family". Sanrio. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  9. ^ "Sanrio - Dear Daniel". Sanrio. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  10. ^ "Sanrio - Charmmy Kitty". Sanrio. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  11. ^ "Hello Kitty, My Melody, and other Sanrio characters at SanrioTown". 
  12. ^ a b Belson, K. (2003). Asia times online. The cat who turned kawaii into cash. Retrieved May 19, 2011, from http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Japan/EL13Dh01.html
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  14. ^ "Hello Kitty Turns 35". Time. 2009-06-01. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Walker, Esther (21 May 2008). "Top cat: how 'Hello Kitty' conquered the world". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2008-09-19. 
  16. ^ "Hello Kitty, You're 30". St. Petersburg Times. November 15, 2004. Retrieved 22 March 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Tracey, David (May 29, 1999). "The Small White Cat That Conquered Japan". New York Times. 
  18. ^ Walker, Rob. Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are. Random House, Inc., 2008. 18. Retrieved from Google Books on August 30, 2010. ISBN 1-4000-6391-4, ISBN 978-1-4000-6391-8.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g Tabuchi, Hiroko (May 14, 2010). "In Search of Adorable, as Hello Kitty Gets Closer to Goodbye". NYTimes.com. 
  20. ^ Paschal (2003-05-18). "Sanrio's Hula Kitty heads to the beach". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 1998-08-21. 
  21. ^ ""Bank of America's "My Expression Banking" page with the Hello Kitty theme". Retrieved 2010-01-21. 
  22. ^ Mayer, Caroline E. (October 3, 2004). "Girls Go From Hello Kitty To Hello Debit Card". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  23. ^ "World's first `Hello Kitty' airplane to make debut Lunar New Year flights". The Taipei Times. December 13, 2005. 
  24. ^ Garcia, Catherine (March 26, 2010). "Please pass the bubbly, Hello Kitty". EW.com. 
  25. ^ "Kimora Lee Simmons for Hello Kitty". Retrieved 4 May 2011. 
  26. ^ "Hello Kitty Fine Jewelry". Retrieved 4 May 2011. 
  27. ^ Catherine Shu (March 27, 2009). "RESTAURANTS : Hello Kitty Sweets". Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  28. ^ "Hello Kitty Sweets resto in Taipei (Part I)". April 30, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  29. ^ "Hello baby! Hello Kitty welcomes Taiwan newborns". Reuters. December 5, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  30. ^ "Taiwan hospital a hit with Hello Kitty fans". The Sydney Morning Herald. January 21, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-06. 
  31. ^ Lim, Hyun-wook (20 November 2010). "Hongdae’s bohemian raps and dancing". Joongang Daily. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  32. ^ Parker, Lyndsey. "KISS, Hello Kitty Team For What Will Surely Be The Best TV Show Ever". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  33. ^ "Lakeshore Records". Lakeshore Records. 
  34. ^ "VOCALOID2 猫村いろは" [Vocaloid 2 Nekomura Iroha] (in Japanese). AH Software. Retrieved September 16, 2010. 
  35. ^ Fujimoto, Ken (August 16, 2010). "ハローキティといっしょ!×VOCALOID2って何だ!?" [Hello Kitty Together with Vocaloid 2; What the!?] (in Japanese). Livedoor. Retrieved August 20, 2010. 
  36. ^ "Hello Kitty's Big Fun Piano". MobyGames. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  37. ^ "Hello Kitty: Big City Dreams". IGN. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  38. ^ "Hello Kitty Parachute Paradise". ZIO Interactive. 
  39. ^ Daily Telegraph, 31 July 2008, Dick Bruna, creator of the Miffy books, talks about his life and work
  40. ^ "Hello Kitty - Hello Kitty Store". Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  41. ^ "Miffy cracks down on copyright infringements | Radio Netherlands Worldwide". Rnw.nl. 2011-09-07. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  42. ^ "Le Matin, l'actualité en direct: sports, people, politique, économie, multimédia". Lematin.ch. 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  43. ^ "Hello Kitty named Japan tourism ambassador". MSNBC. May 19, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  44. ^ "UNICEF Special Friend of Children". Sanrio. March 23, 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  45. ^ "Hello Kitty marks 30th birthday". The Japan Times Online. June 10, 2004. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  46. ^ People.com.cn. "People.com.cn." 妙齡女郎慘遭殘酷碎尸 三名疑犯陸續落網. Retrieved on 2008-02-24.
  47. ^ "Thai cops punished by Hello Kitty". BBC News. 2007-08-06. Retrieved 2010-05-04. 
  48. ^ "Credit card reform bill: Bye-bye to Hello Kitty?". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 

External links[edit]