Sanrio

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Sanrio Company, Ltd.
Native name
株式会社サンリオ
Company typePublic
TYO: 8136
IndustryWholesale[1]
Founded10 August 1960; 63 years ago (1960-08-10) (as Yamanashi Silk Company)
FounderShintaro Tsuji
Headquarters,
Japan
Key people
Products
  • Fashion
  • Accessories
  • Gifts
  • Entertainment
  • Video games
  • Plushies
  • Toys
BrandsHello Kitty
Mr. Men
RevenueIncrease ¥72,624 million[2] (2023)
Increase ¥13,247 million[2] (2023)
Increase ¥8,225 million[2] (2023)
Total assetsIncrease ¥100,704 million[2] (2023)
Total equityIncrease ¥50,152 million[2] (2023)
Number of employees
630[3] (2023)
DivisionsKokoro
Sanriowave
THOIP
Websitesanrio.com

Sanrio Company, Ltd. (株式会社サンリオ, Kabushikigaisha Sanrio)[4] is a Japanese entertainment company. It designs, licenses, and produces products focusing on the kawaii ("cute") segment of Japanese popular culture. Their products include stationery, school supplies, gifts, and accessories which are sold worldwide, including at specialty brand retail stores in Japan. Sanrio's best-known character is Hello Kitty, a cartoon cat[5][6][7] and one of the most successful marketing brands in the world.[8] As an overall brand, it is essential to have a mission and vision statement that the brand aims to achieve. Sanrio's mission and vision statements are "everyone getting along together" and "One World, Connecting Smiles". These statements reflect Sanrio's brand of having characters that represent happiness.[9]

Besides selling character goods, Sanrio takes part in film production and publishing. They own the rights to the Mr. Men characters and Japanese licensing rights to the Peanuts characters. Their animatronics branch, called Kokoro Company, Ltd. (kokoro being Japanese for 'heart') is best known for the Actroid android. The company also runs a franchise of KFC in Saitama Prefecture.

History[edit]

Sanrio store in Den-en-chōfu, Ōta, Tokyo

Shintaro Tsuji founded Sanrio on August 10, 1960, then known as the Yamanashi Silk Company using ¥1,000,000 in capital.[a] In 1962, Tsuji expanded his enterprise from silk to rubber sandals with flowers painted on them.[11] Tsuji noticed his success gained by merely adding a cute design to the sandals.[11] He began using existing cartoon characters for his merchandise. In the late 1960s the company began producing goods with the dog character Snoopy, from the American comic strip Peanuts, after acquiring the Japanese licensing rights.[12]

In 1973 the company was officially established under the name Sanrio. In the book Kore ga Sanrio no Himitsu Desu (これがサンリオの秘密です) or These are Sanrio's Secrets Tsuji, Sanrio's founder, said that Yamanashi (山梨), part of the company's former name, has an alternative on'yomi reading of Sanri. The remaining o was added from the ou (オウ) sound people make when they are excited.[13] The company's European website gives another origin of the name, saying the name comes from the Spanish words san ('holy') and río ('river').[14]

Tsuji hired his own designers to create characters for Sanrio, so as to not have to pay outside royalty fees.[11][15] The first original Sanrio character, Coro Chan, was introduced in 1973.[16][17] Hello Kitty was added to the lineup of early Sanrio characters in 1974 and the first related merchandise was released the following year. The popular feline whose mouth is usually invisible has had both peaks and drops in sales over the years but always has been the highest contributor to Sanrio's sales. Sanrio constantly adds new characters to its lineup. Specific characters are rotated in and out of active production.[18] For a short time, Osamu Tezuka's baby unicorn character Unico, who starred in two feature-length anime movies in the early 1980s, was also part of the Sanrio's lineup; however, the rights to Unico shifted to Osamu Tezuka's own company after Tezuka's death in 1989.

In late 2003, Sanrio won the "Top Brand with a Conscience" award from the Medinge Group of Sweden for its communication principles.[19] The company has partnered with UNICEF since 1984. In 2006, Sanrio launched Sanrio Digital together with Typhoon Games to expand to the Internet, online games, and mobile services.

Beginning with Jewelpet in 2008, Sanrio started collaborating with Sega Toys in creating characters intended to become media franchises. Subsequent collaborations include Rilu Rilu Fairilu from 2016 and Beatcats from 2020.[20][21]

2010 was Sanrio's 50th anniversary. In conjunction with this, Build-A-Bear Workshop released limited edition stuffed toys of several Sanrio characters, including Hello Kitty, Chococat, My Melody and Keroppi.[22]

Hello Kitty is alleged to be drawn in a similar style to the rabbit Miffy. On August 26, 2010, Mercis BV, representing Miffy's creator Dick Bruna brought suit against Sanrio. They claimed that one of Hello Kitty's companion characters, a rabbit named Cathy, infringes on the copyright and trademark of Miffy.[23] On November 2, 2010, a Dutch court ruled against Sanrio and ordered the company to stop marketing Cathy products in Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.[23][24][25] Following the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Sanrio and Mercis reached an out-of-court settlement on June 7, 2011, for Sanrio to halt production worldwide of merchandise that feature Cathy. They also jointly announced a €150,000 donation to earthquake victims.[26]

In December 2011, Sanrio Global acquired the rights to the Mr. Men characters, which includes the subsidiary Mr Men Films Ltd, taking over Chorion's THOIP company.[27][28][29]

In 2019 the European Commission fined Sanrio 6.2 million euros (approx. 6.9 million US dollars) for blocking cross-border sales of its licensed products.[30][31]

In June 2020, it was announced that the company's founder and President, Shintaro Tsuji would step down from the role and hand control of the company to his grandson, Tomokuni Tsuji. Shintaro Tsuji ran the company for 60 years.[32]

Locations[edit]

Sanrio Inc. headquarters in South San Francisco

Sanrio Inc. is Sanrio's American subsidiary. Sanrio Inc. has offices in South San Francisco, California, and Torrance, California. Sanrio's first Western Hemisphere store opened in San Jose's Eastridge Mall. In 2008, Sanrio opened its high-end boutique called Sanrio Luxe in New York City's Times Square. In the Western Hemisphere, Sanrio character-branded products are sold in upwards of 13,000 locations including department, specialty, and national chain stores and over 85 Sanrio boutiques. In April 2010, the first and only Sanrio-licensed eatery (Sanrio Cafe) in the U.S. opened at Pearlridge's Downtown phase in Aiea, Hawaii.

In 2004, Sanrio Co. Ltd., expanded its license to one of its major licensee and plush suppliers Nakajima USA to include the owning and operating of all Sanrio branded stores in the US, overseeing the relationships between individual licensed stores and supplying all categories of products for the retail stores in the US and wholesale accounts.

Sanrio hosts two theme parks in Japan, Sanrio Puroland in Tama, Tokyo, and Harmonyland[33][34] in Hiji, Ōita, Kyūshū.

Characters[edit]

Sanrio has created over 450 characters as of 2022, the best known of which is the white cat character Hello Kitty from 1974.[35] Other well-known characters include the pink rabbit My Melody from 1975, the frog Keroppi from 1988, the penguin Bad Badtz-Maru from 1993, the white dog Cinnamoroll from 2001, the black rabbit Kuromi from 2005, the animal series Jewelpet from 2008, the egg character Gudetama from 2013, and the red panda Aggressive Retsuko from 2015.

Notable designers of Sanrio characters include Yuko Shimizu, original designer of Hello Kitty, Yuko Yamaguchi, lead designer for most of Hello Kitty's history and Miyuki Okumura, original designer of Cinnamoroll.[36][37][38]

Since 1986 Sanrio has held the annual Sanrio Character Ranking poll where fans can vote on their favorite characters. It began in the Strawberry Newspaper (ja:いちご新聞) published by Sanrio in Japan, but now voting also takes place online.[35]

Besides their own original characters, Sanrio also owns the rights to the Mr. Men characters and Japanese licensing rights to the Peanuts characters.

Filmography[edit]

Theatrical[edit]

From 1977 to 1985, Sanrio produced movies through their Sanrio Films label. After A Journey Through Fairyland, Sanrio switched gears and started doing short films, OVAs, and TV shows based on their characters. In 2006, Sanrio announced they are again going to do feature-length films.

Title (English and Japanese) Release Date Miscellanea
Joe and the Rose (バラの花とジョー/ Bara no Hana to Joe) March 7, 1977 (Japan) Animated short film
Little Jumbo (小さなジャンボ/ Chiisana Jumbo) September 10, 1977 (Japan) Animated short film
Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids? September 10, 1977 (Japan)

December 7, 1977 (USA)

Live-action documentary,

Co-Produced with Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates and Korty Films

The Mouse and His Child (親子ねずみの不思議な旅/Oyaro nezumi no fushingina tabi) November 18, 1977 (USA)

March 11, 1978 (Japan)

Co-Produced with Murakami Wolf,

Based on the children's book by Russell Hoban

Ringing Bell (チリンの鈴/Chirin no Suzu) March 11, 1978 (Japan)

April 8, 1983 (USA; Direct to Video)

Animated short film;

Based on the children's book by Takashi Yanase

Olly Olly Oxen Free (also released as The Great Balloon Adventure) May 13, 1978 (Japan)

c. August 1978 (USA)

Live-action film
Orpheus of the Stars/Metamorphoses/Winds of Change (星のオルフェウス/Hoshi no Orufeusu) May 26, 1978 (USA; as Metamorphoses)

May 3, 1979 (USA; as Winds of Change)

October 27, 1979 (Japan; as Orpheus of the Stars)

Animated film;

Based on the poem, Metamorphoses, by Ovid

Co-produced with Columbia Pictures

The Glacier Fox[39](キタキツネ物語/Kita-kitsune monogatari) July 15, 1978 (Japan)

January 5, 1979 (USA)

Live-action Documentary
Nutcracker Fantasy (くるみ割り人形/Kurumiwari Ningyō) March 3, 1979 (Japan)

July 6, 1979 (USA)

Stop-motion animated film;

Based on The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Unico: Black Cloud, White Feather (ユニコ 黒い雲と白い羽/Kuroi Kumo Shiroi Hane) April 1979 (Japan)[40] Rejected animated pilot;

Based on the manga by Osamu Tezuka

A Tale of Africa/The Green Horizon (アフリカ物語/Afurika Monogatari) July 19, 1980 (Japan)

c. 1981 (USA; Released as The Green Horizon on television)

Live-action film
The Fantastic Adventures of Unico (ユニコ) March 14, 1981 (Japan)

May 12, 1983 (USA; Released Direct-to-Video)

Animated film;

Co-production with Tezuka Productions & Madhouse; Based on the manga by Osamu Tezuka

The Sea Prince and the Fire Child (シリウスの伝説/The Legend of Sirius) July 18, 1981 (Japan)

September 8, 1982 (USA; Released Direct to Video)

Animated film
The Ideon: A Contact (伝説巨神イデオン 接触篇/Densetsu-kyoshin ideon: Sesshoku-hen) July 10, 1982 (Japan) Animated film (compilation film based on Space Runaway Ideon)

Co-produced with Sunrise/Co-distributed by Shochiku

The Ideon: Be Invoked (伝説巨神イデオン 発動篇/Densetsu kyojin ideon: Hatsudou-hen) July 10, 1982 (Japan) Animated film (Alternate ending of the television series: Space Runaway Ideon)

Co-produced with Sunrise

Don't Cry, It's Only Thunder November 5, 1982 (USA) Live-action film
Unico in the Island of Magic (ユニコ 魔法の島へ) July 16, 1983 (Japan)

November 10, 1983 (USA; Released Direct to Video)

Animated film;

Based on the manga by Osamu Tezuka

Oshin (おしん) March 17, 1984 (Japan) Animated film;

Based on the Japanese television drama of the same name

Fairy Florence/A Journey Through Fairyland (妖精フローレンス/Yosei Florence) October 19, 1985 (Japan)

November 4, 1985 (USA; Released Direct to Video)

Animated film
My Melody no Akazukin (マイメロディの赤ずきん) July 22, 1989 (Japan) Animated film; Part of Sanrio Anime Festival
Hello Kitty no Cinderella (ハローキティのシンデレラ)
Kiki to Lala no Aoi Tori (キキとララの青い鳥)
Pokopon no Yukai na Saiyuuki (ぽこぽんのゆかいな西遊記) July 21, 1990 (Japan) Animated film; Part of Sanrio Anime Festival
Hello Kitty no Oyayubi Hime (ハローキティのおやゆびひめ)
Kero Kero Keroppi no Daibouken: Fushigi na Mame no ki (けろけろけろっぴの大冒険 ふしぎな豆の木)
Kero Kero Keroppi no Sanjuushi (けろけろけろっぴの三銃士) July 20, 1991 (Japan) Animated film; Part of Sanrio Anime Festival
Hello Kitty no Mahou no Mori no Ohime-sama (ハローキティの魔法の森のお姫さま)
Tabo no Ryuuguu Hoshi Dai Tanken (たあ坊の竜宮星大探険)
Hello Kitty no Minna no Mori o Mamore! (ハローキティのみんなの森をまもれ!) January 13, 1996 (Japan) Animated film; Part of Sanrio Anime Festival
Kero Kero Keroppi no Bikkuri! Obake Yashiki (けろけろけろっぴのびっくり! おばけやしき)
Bad Batzmaru no Ore no Pochi Sekaiichi (バッドばつ丸のオレのポチは世界一)
Mouse Story: George and Gerald's Adventure (ねずみ物語 ジョージとジェラルドの冒険) December 22, 2007 (Japan) Animated film;

Co-produced with Madhouse; Released in a double bill with Cinnamoroll the Movie[41]

Cinnamoroll the Movie (シナモン the Movie) December 22, 2007 (Japan) Animated film;

Co-produced with Madhouse; Released in a double bill with Mouse Story: George and Gerald's Adventure[42]

Jewelpet the Movie: Sweets Dance Princess (映画ジュエルペット スウィーツダンスプリンセス) August 11, 2012 (Japan) Animated film;

Co-produced with Sega Toys & Studio Comet

Onegai My Melody: Yū & Ai (おねがいマイメロディ) August 11, 2012 (Japan) Animated film;

Co-produced with Studio Comet

Gō-chan and his Forest Friends Moko & Marvelous Creatures May 3, 2017 (Japan) Animated film;

Co-produced with TV Asahi & Shin-Ei Animation

Gō-chan ~Moco and the Promise Made on the Ice~ March 18, 2018 (Japan) Animated film;

Co-produced with TV Asahi & Shin-Ei Animation

Jewelepet Attack Travel! May 14, 2022 Animated short film;

Co-produced with Ashi Productions

Other animation[edit]

Sanrio began its involvement in the production of TV and direct-to-video animation during the late 1980s and early 1990s, starting with the US-made Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater in 1987. The character My Melody got her first starring role in an animated series in the anime television series, Onegai My Melody, which first aired on TV Osaka on April 3, 2005, and was produced by Studio Comet. The Sugarbunnies franchise was later adapted into a 7-minute short series in 2007 and was popular enough to gain two sequels.

Jewelpet was also adapted into an anime metaseries in 2009, which was also produced by Studio Comet, spanning 6 official seasons and one theatrical movie, making it the longest-running anime adaptation of a Sanrio franchise in history.

Show by Rock!!, a game by Sanrio and Geechs got an anime adaptation produced by Bones in 2015 - and was licensed in the United States by Funimation. Aggretsuko also get three animated adaptations by Fanworks, one aired on TBS and the later two were released officially on Netflix.

Variety shows[edit]

A few children's variety shows by Sanrio aired on TV Tokyo.

  • Daisuki! Hello Kitty (1993—1994)
  • Asobou!! Hello Kitty (1994)
  • Hello Kitty to Bad Badtz-Maru (1994—1998)
  • Kitty's Paradise (1999—2011)

Video games[edit]

Sanrio Digital produces and publishes digital content based on Sanrio intellectual property assets like Hello Kitty, My Melody, Badtz Maru and many others. Among the games are: The Adventures of Hello Kitty & Friends, Hello Kitty: Roller Rescue, Hello Kitty: Birthday Adventures, and Hello Kitty Seasons. Hello Kitty Island Adventure (2023) is a new Sanrio game created for IOS platforms and is only available through the Apple Arcade subscription.

Publishing[edit]

Sanrio publishes many books featuring its own characters. It also publishes art books (for instance, those by Keibun Ōta). Sanrio publishes books in many languages, including Japanese and English. Sanrio published video games in the early 1990s under the name Character Soft.

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ ¥250,000 of the capital came from Tsuji's former government colleagues, while the rest came from his government pension and personal savings.[10]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ "サンリオ[8136]の株価・株主優待など。". Archived from the original on 2016-12-05.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Financial Statements". Sanrio Co., Ltd. Retrieved December 8, 2023.
  3. ^ "Company Profile | About Sanrio | Sanrio". Sanrio Co., Ltd. Retrieved December 8, 2023.
  4. ^ サンリオ
  5. ^ Ashcroft, Brian (28 August 2014). "Don't Be Silly, Hello Kitty Is a Cat". Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  6. ^ Allen, Sarah (29 August 2014). "Is Hello Kitty A Cat? Sanrio Doesn't Know". Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Hello Kitty isn't a cat!? We called Sanrio to find out!". 28 August 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Hello Kitty's guide to business success - CNET News". 2015-04-02. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2023-10-31.
  9. ^ Sanrio. "About Sanrio". Sanrio. Retrieved 2024-04-03.
  10. ^ Belson & Bremner 2004, p. 38.
  11. ^ a b c "The cat who turned kawaii into cash". Asia Times. 2003-12-13. Archived from the original on 2005-02-10. Retrieved 2020-05-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  12. ^ Gomez, Edward (July 14, 2004). "How Hello Kitty Came to Rule the World / With little advertising and no TV spinoff, Sanrio's 30-year-old feline turned cute into the ultimate brand". SF Gate. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  13. ^ Tsuji 2000.
  14. ^ "Sanrio Europe". Archived from the original on October 1, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
  15. ^ "Shintaro Tsuji, CEO, Sanrio - CNN.com". edition.cnn.com. Archived from the original on 2014-11-05. Retrieved 7 November 2022.
  16. ^ "Coro Chan | Sanrio Timeline". Archived from the original on 2020-10-25.
  17. ^ "サンリオキャラクターたちの知られざる素顔を覗き見!?【誰かに話したくなるサンリオの魅力まとめ】". 22 April 2019. Archived from the original on 2019-12-18.
  18. ^ Characters Archived 2010-12-23 at the Wayback Machine - Sanrio.com
  19. ^ The Medinge Group - Brands with a Conscience Past winners 2004 Archived 2010-12-17 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Sanrio, Sega Toys Collaborate on Rilu Rilu Fairilu TV Anime". Anime News Network. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  21. ^ "ニャンとかわいい☆ダンスボーカルユニット『Beatcats』公開♬". Animage. 2020-10-08. Retrieved 2020-10-24.
  22. ^ "Hello Kitty and Sanrio Friends Celebrate Sanrio's 50th Anniversary at Build-A-Bear Workshop". Business Wire. St. Louis. August 4, 2010. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014.
  23. ^ a b "Announcement of Provisional Disposition Order Against Sanrio" (PDF) (Press release). Sanrio Company, Ltd. November 4, 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 30, 2011. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  24. ^ Kollewe, Julia (November 4, 2010). "Miffy biffs Cathy in Kitty copycat case". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
  25. ^ Dawson, Chester; Kanna Takeuchi (November 4, 2010). "Miffy, Hello Kitty Take Bunny Beef to Court". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
  26. ^ "Japan's Hello Kitty resolves bunny battle with Miffy". Radio Netherlands Worldwide. Archived from the original on June 23, 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  27. ^ Mark Sweney (6 December 2011). "Mr Men bought by Hello Kitty owner". The Guardian. UK.
  28. ^ "'I asked my dad what a tickle looked like'". 16 November 2021. Archived from the original on 2021-11-16.
  29. ^ "Company Profile | Sanrio".
  30. ^ Abdul, Geneva (10 July 2019). "Hello Kitty's Parent Company Fined $6.9 Million by E.U." The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2019-07-10.
  31. ^ "Press corner European Commission". Archived from the original on 2020-05-16.
  32. ^ "Hello Kitty gets a new boss after 60 years". The Guardian. Agence France-Presse. 13 June 2020. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  33. ^ "Attractions".
  34. ^ Harmonyland Archived 2006-12-01 at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ a b "2022 Sanrio Character Ranking Kicks Off!" (PDF). sanrio.eu. Retrieved 2022-07-06.
  36. ^ "Hello Kitty's lead designer tells the origin story of the British schoolgirl". Today. Singapore. 21 June 2016. Archived from the original on 27 August 2016.
  37. ^ Tabuchi, Hiroko (May 14, 2010). "In Search of Adorable, as Hello Kitty Gets Closer to Goodbye". NYTimes.com.
  38. ^ Dennison, Kara (22 November 2019). "Oda Cinnamon Nobunaga Teams up with Sanrio's Cinnamoroll for Canine Collab". Crunchyroll. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  39. ^ "The Glacier Fox (1978) - IMDb". IMDb.
  40. ^ Ettinger, Benjamin. "Pelleas.net | Masami Hata Filmography > 20". Anipages.
  41. ^ "Mouse Story: The Adventures of George & Gerald (2007) - Trivia". IMDb.
  42. ^ "Mouse Story: The Adventures of George and Gerald (2007) - Trivia". IMDb.
  43. ^ "Sanrio's Show by Rock!! Mobile Rhythm Game Gets TV Anime in 2015". 21 May 2023.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Belson, Ken; Bremner, Brian (2004). Hello Kitty: The Remarkable Story of Sanrio and the Billion Dollar Feline Phenomenon.
  • Tsuji, Shintaro (2000). Kore ga Sanrio no Himitsu desu これがサンリオの秘密です [These are Sanrio's Secrets] (in Japanese). Fusosha.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]