Hello Kitty Wiki
Advertisement
Hello Kitty Wiki

"Hello!"
—Kitty as the intro to Hello Kitty and Friends Supercute Adventures comes to a close, just before Keroppi flies in on his kite.

Hello Kitty (ハローキティ, Harō Kitī), also known by her full name, Kitty White (キティ・ホワイト, Kitī Howaito), is a fictional character produced by the Japanese company Sanrio, created by Yuko Shimizu, and designed by Yuko Yamaguchi, as the company's longtime mascot. She is also the main protagonist of the franchise that was named after her. She is portrayed as a female anthropomorphic white Japanese Bobtail cat with a red bow worn on her left ear and often wears blue overalls with a yellow shirt. Hello Kitty was created on November 1, 1974 and her first appearance was on a vinyl coin purse introduced in Japan on March of the following year. In the anime shows Hello Kitty's Paradise, Hello Kitty & Friends, and Growing Up With Hello Kitty, she has gray paw pads. Hello Kitty's favorite food is apple pie, specifically from her mother.

This iconic character is a staple of the kawaii segment of Japanese pop culture. Since her debut, the Hello Kitty trademark was an instant hit and has massively spread globally; Sanrio earned over $1 billion annually in sales outside of Japan, as of 2003. Although mainly aimed at the pre-adolescent female market, the Hello Kitty product range goes all the way from purses, stickers and pen sets to toasters, televisions, clothing, messages, and computer equipment. It has a cult-like following among adults as well, including men, especially in Asia, where Hello Kitty adorns cars, purses, jewelry and many other high-end consumer products. Several Hello Kitty animated TV series, targeted towards young children, have also been produced. Examples of products depicting the character include dolls, stickers, greeting cards, clothes, accessories, school supplies, dishes and home appliances. Her exceptional fame has led to the creation of two officially licensed theme parks, Harmonyland and the indoor Sanrio Puroland.

Character Information

While a good chunk of her official character profiles call her "Hello Kitty" or just "Kitty", her real name is Kitty White, and she was born in the suburbs of London, England on November 1st. Her height is described as five apples and her weight as three apples (although various media depict different sizes). She is portrayed as a cute, bright, sweet, kind-hearted and tomboyish girl who can do anything she sets her mind to, and she is very close to her slightly younger identical twin sister Mimmy. Kitty is good at baking although she claims that she is an awful chef in the Hello Kitty and Friends episode The Wonderful Sisters (it is possible she learned from Mimmy and got better later on), and loves Mama's homemade apple pie. She likes to collect small and cute things. Like some other mainline characters, Kitty's age is not consistent over the years; For example, in The Adventure of Hello Kitty and Friends she is in kindergarten to around 1st grade and in Hello Kitty and Friends she is in 3rd grade. Her favorite subjects in school are English, music and art.

Her blood type is A. Hello Kitty's trademark signature is the red bow on her left ear.

History

In 1962, Shintaro Tsuji, the 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. When a front and side drawing of Hello Kitty (then unnamed) was shown by Yuko to several other people in the company including her assistant, they greatly preferred the side view drawing and praised it. When Shintaro Tsuji had first seen Hello Kitty, he didn't really have any strong opinions, but warmed up to her later on.

Hello Kitty first appearance

The original vinyl coin purse marking Hello Kitty's grand debut to the world in 1975.

The character's first appearance on a product was a vinyl coin purse in Japan, which ended up being the hottest selling item that year which came as a surprise to everyone.

Following Roko Maeda of Patty & Jimmy fame, Shimizu came up with a backstory for her character and dubbed her Kitty, after the name of the protagonist’s pet cat from her favorite book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

When Hello Kitty was introduced in the United States in 1976, a year after her debut in Japan, her popularity continued to boom throughout 1977. However, Yuko Shimizu left in 1976, as she had gotten married and focused on family in the meantime.

Shimizu’s former assistant, Setsuko Yonekubo—the same one who had declared Shimizu’s initial illustration so very kawaii—oversaw Kitty during the boom years. She introduced incremental innovations like the first portrayal of Hello Kitty in a standing pose, but otherwise made a point of hewing closely to her predecessor’s linework, down to using a photocopied template of Kitty’s face to ensure uniformity. Whether because of this conservative approach or because of the ever-changing whims of young children, the first Kitty fad ran out of steam around 1979. Yonekubo took the opportunity to announce her own retirement, for she wanted to start a family of her own.

For a long while afterwards, Sanrio made no particular effort to replace Hello Kitty's designer. Soon Yuko Yamaguchi joined Sanrio in the midst of the Kitty boom in 1978, at the age of twenty-two, hoping to get a job focused on advertising. When Tsuji had learned of the team planning to abandon Kitty, he fought to keep her and decided to hold an in-house competition for new concepts for Hello Kitty.

In the end, Yuko Yamaguchi won with her whimsical illustration of Hello Kitty sitting at a piano surrounded by an adoring family—a charming visual of a deeper backstory that had previously only been hinted at by Yamaguchi’s predecessors. She was awarded the post of Hello Kitty’s chief designer in 1980, and continues to be the character's designer to this day.

A spokesperson from Sanrio says that Hello Kitty is not normally given a mouth because "without the mouth, it is easier for the person looking at Hello Kitty to project their feelings onto the character" and that "the person can be happy or sad together with Hello Kitty." There has been some suggestion 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.

Popularity

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.

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.

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 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". Though not an actual credit card, it was criticized for its promotional website encouraging users to "shop 'til you drop."

For the 50th anniversary of Sanrio, Sanrio and Girl Skateboards collaborated and released skateboards with a Hello Kitty graphic. A Hello Kitty store in Africa opened in 2013.

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

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

The Hello Kitty brand rose to greater prominence during the late 1990s. At that time, several celebrities, such as Mariah Carey and Lady Gaga, had adopted Hello Kitty as a fashion statement.

Hello Kitty cameos with Keroppi and Badtz-Maru in the first few minutes of the 2018 film Ready Player One. Kitty also gets a few more appearances in the film such as a motorcycle decal and as a costume.

On April 21, 2020 Hello Kitty made an official crossover live action video called Shimajiro & Hello Kitty in Exercise with Friends in which the mascots of Shimajiro and Hello Kitty joins together to get people to dance and exercise during the Coronavirus pandemic.

There are also many songs based on Hello Kitty. Two of the most popular are by Slayyyter & Avril Lavigne.

Conspiracy Theories

Hello Kitty, being a very popular character, has had several conspiracy theories surrounding her over the years.

Hello Kitty is a human girl and not a cat

"That [suggesting that Hello Kitty is a cat]’s one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show. Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it’s called Charmmy Kitty."
—Christine R. Yano, August 26, 2014, after stating that Hello Kitty was a cat and having her statement corrected by Sanrio themselves[1]

On August 26, 2014, an article for the Los Angeles Times was published surrounding the then-upcoming Hello Kitty 40th anniversary exhibit scheduled at the Los Angeles Japanese-American National Museum in October. Christine R. Yano, an anthropologist from the University of Hawaii, and author of the book Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek Across the Pacific (which is about Hello Kitty's rise on popularity in and outside of Japan), was preparing texts for the exhibit, where she described Hello Kitty as a cat. Sanrio themselves proceeded to correct Yano, which is where the title of this Los Angeles Times article comes from; Hello Kitty, as stated by Sanrio, was not an actual cat.

Specifically, Hello Kitty was not a "real" cat in the way that her pet Charmmy Kitty is actually such, as Hello Kitty is always portrayed as standing and walking on twos, rather than fours, and is not actually specifically referred to in official Hello Kitty media as a cat.

However, many interpreted the statement that Hello Kitty was not a cat in a literal sense, resulting in the idea that Hello Kitty is actually a human girl, with her cat-like features being simply an aesthetic design choice. Supporting this, the name Kitty is actually a real, although passé diminutive for the name Katherine[2]. This would imply that Hello Kitty's full, legal name is Katherine George White. Of course, those who believed that Hello Kitty actually was supposed to be a human girl never referred to her by this hypothetical legal name.

The controversy surrounding the idea of Hello Kitty actually being a human became widespread, to the point that Preston Phro of RocketNews24 (today SoraNews24) called Sanrio's Japanese PR department to ask about the matter. The PR representative's response was blunt:

"We never said she was a human."
—Sanrio PR representative, August 28, 2014, on whether Sanrio's statement to Christine R. Yano implied Hello Kitty was a human[3]

The representative clarified that Hello Kitty was a gijinka (anthropomorphic) cat, and "Basically just like Mickey Mouse", stating that Disney's mascot character is not mistaken for a human, but isn't quite a mouse either, and that Hello Kitty was similar.

Online publication Kotaku also called Sanrio's Tokyo headquarters to have this question answered for themselves, and a representative responded to them, saying:

"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 a personification of a cat."
—Unknown Sanrio representative to Kotaku on whether Hello Kitty was a cat or human, August 28, 2014[4]

Hello Kitty is a knock-off of Miffy

"That [Hello Kitty], 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.' After all, there's so many nice things."
—Dick Bruna to the Daily Telegraph on Hello Kitty, 31 July 2008[5]
Miffy blog 1200x1200

Dick Bruna argued that Hello Kitty was a copy of his creation Miffy

The Dutch artist Dick Bruna, creator of nijntje pluis, known outside of the Dutch language as Miffy, has suggested that Hello Kitty is a copy of Miffy (who debuted in 1955) being rendered in a similar minimalist and 'cute' style, with both characters typically lacking an obvious mouth.

Supporting his belief, Dick Bruna's company Mercis Media, on his behalf, sued Sanrio directly on August 26th, 2010 over Hello Kitty's friend Cathy, claiming that the character infringed on Miffy's copyright and trademark. Sanrio counter-sued, going as far as attempting to revoke Miffy's trademark rights entirely. Ultimately, following the disastrous March 11th, 2011 earthquake in Japan, both parties settled out of court, donating €150,000 (over 162,000 USD) to relief funds for the 9.0 magnitude earthquake's incredible damage.

Sanrio was, from then on, forbidden from using Cathy in any capacity, going as far as editing Cathy out of media which originally featured her in re-releases. Despite Dick Bruna's statement to the Daily Telegraph, Hello Kitty herself was seldom mentioned in the lawsuit, only insofar as clarifying that she was Cathy's friend was concerned.

Beyond Mercis and Dick Bruna himself, the late veteran American animator Gene Deitch additionally supported the hypothesis that Hello Kitty was a Miffy rip-off. Deitch had been the director of the 1992 animated adaptation of Dick Bruna's books, titled Dick Bruna's Miffy storybook classics, which he had put much time and effort into. On his website, he writes:

"A Japanese company created something called “Hello Kitty,” a blatant copy of Miffy, just with shorter ears and whiskers, and with far less graphic integrity. They’ve flooded the USA with Hello Kitty shops, caught Mercis napping, and virtually usurped the American market from [Dick] Bruna. Miffy would now struggle to make it; ironically, it would now be seen in America as a copy of Hello Kitty, when in fact it’s the other way around! Mercis had something unique, and they blew it."
—Gene Deitch on Hello Kitty, 2012[6]

Dick Bruna tried to make Hello Kitty illegal

A related conspiracy theory to the above arose from the aforementioned Cathy lawsuits and Dick Bruna's statement on Hello Kitty. This theory proposes that the Cathy lawsuits were not intended to solely prohibit Cathy specifically from being used by Sanrio, but that Mercis Media, and by extension Dick Bruna himself, were using the Cathy lawsuits as a backdoor to outlaw the entire Hello Kitty franchise's existence, positing that had Mercis outright won the lawsuit, they would have filed another lawsuit against Hello Kitty herself, and demand either royalties for her usage, or for Sanrio to stop producing Hello Kitty media and content entirely.

One argument for this theory is that Cathy, at least the version concerned in the Cathy lawsuits, does not actually resemble Miffy enough for Mercis to have been reasonably justified in filing a lawsuit against Sanrio. Although Cathy's previous incarnation, Little Honey, did look like a copy of Miffy, Little Honey is never brought up in the legal documents surrounding the lawsuits.

Hello Kitty is a knock-off of Musti

"Although it is evident to everybody that Kitty was an imitation of Musti, Sanrio, the publisher of Hello Kitty have not [sic] touched on it."
—The Extraordinary Ordinary Guy in Japan on Hello Kitty, September 11, 2004[7]
Musti

Hello Kitty bears greater resemblance to Ray Goossens's character Musti than to Dick Bruna's Miffy

An alternative Hello Kitty knock-off conspiracy theory proposes that Hello Kitty is not a knock-off of Miffy, but rather, Belgian cartoonist Ray Goossens's character Musti. Hello Kitty does resemble Musti more than Miffy, as both Musti and Hello Kitty are cat characters, both lack an obvious mouth, both are drawn in a simplistic and 'cute' way, and both are primarily marketed towards children, although Hello Kitty is also frequently marketed towards adults as well.

This version was first proposed by the Extraordinary Ordinary Guy in Japan, through his blog post Copycat on September 11, 2004. Likely further explanations for the Musti version of this theory are that Musti is more obscure than either Miffy or Hello Kitty, making its proponents more satisfied in believing it, Musti's creation predated that of Hello Kitty, and that as previously mentioned, Musti and Hello Kitty may look more like each other than the latter looks like Miffy.

Merchandise

Hello Kitty, like fellow Sanrio characters, can easily be found on a wide variety of consumer products ranging from school supplies to fashion accessories and even food. These products range from everyday items to rare collectibles. Sanrio's official website (https://www.sanrio.com/) is where you can find a variety of items and many other cute things such as phone backgrounds, paper crafts, and more.

As of 2009, Bank of America began offering Hello Kitty-themed checking accounts, where the account holder can get checks and a Visa debit card with Hello 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 A330-20 commercial passenger jet airliner, dubbed the Hello Kitty Jet (2005–2009, with EVA Airways in Taiwan).

2009 marked the collaboration between apparel and accessory brand Stussy and Hello Kitty. Stussy worked with Hello Kitty on a collection focusing on the Hello Kitty character with Stussy signature graphics. This collection included T-shirts, keychains, and hoodies.

In 2010, Hello Kitty entered the wine market with a 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 jewelry 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 jewelry 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.

Funko Pop

In 2019. Hello Kitty appeared on the Funko Pop toys in 2019. The Funko Pop ranges from Hello Kitty with the Cup Noodles, Classic Hello Kitty, Rainbow Pride Hello Kitty which appeared in the America Market including Hot Topic, Box Lunch.

Music

Hello Kitty has her own branded album, Hello World, featuring Hello Kitty-inspired songs performed by a collection of artists, including Keke Palmer and Cori Yarckin under Hello Kitty's record label: Lakeshore Records.

Hello Kitty was also chosen by AH-Software to become a Vocaloid. The choice was attributed to the fact it was their 50th year anniversary. The Vocaloid was named Nekomura Iroha and was released in Japanese.

Video Games

Official

Numerous video games featuring Hello Kitty have been produced since the release of Sanrio Carnival for the Nintendo Famicom (internationally known as NES) in 1990 and the following year on the Game Boy; however, the majority of these games were never released outside of Japan. Hello Kitty also has made many cameo appearances in games featuring other Sanrio characters, such as the Keroppi Super Famicom (Super NES) game in 1994, Kero Kero Keroppi no Bōken Nikki: Nemureru Mori no Keroleen. Special edition versions of various classic consoles such as the Hello Kitty Dreamcast, Hello Kitty Game Boy Pocket, and Hello Kitty Crystal Edition Xbox have also been released exclusively in Japan.

In 1996, Big Top Productions released Hello Kitty Big Fun Deluxe for Mac & Windows with three guest characters Joey Mouse, Cathy Rabbit, and Thomas Bear making appearances within the game.

Crossover content in other games

In 2015, she made a playable appearance in Nintendo's Wii U game Super Mario Maker of the Super Mario franchise, in the form of a special Mystery Mushroom costume in the "Super Mario Bros" theme exclusively. When the player plays as her (or My Melody, who also appears as a costume) and finishes a level or loses a life, the respective jingles have Hello Kitty effects.

In 2016, she, alongside other fellow Sanrio characters, made a playable guest appearance in Sega's mobile app game Sonic Dash of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, during a collaboration with a Sanrio event.

In 2021 and 2023, Hello Kitty and several other Sanrio characters made an appearance the Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp mobile game of the Animal Crossing series, again in collaboration by Nintendo with a Sanrio event, as an available shirt, fan, backpack, and a plushie item, albeit expensive to purchase in-game.

Unofficial

In 2010, Hello Kitty made an appearance in a very difficult fan-made PC game known as "I Wanna Be The Boshy." She appears as the first boss character. A cutscene plays where the Hello Kitty TV theme starts playing and a tiny Hello Kitty floating on a pair of balloons gradually floats toward the top of the screen, but stops and starts to dance not even halfway to the top. At least a dozen Hello Kitties drop from the top of the screen and start bouncing around the spot the Hello Kitty on the balloons is dancing. After a few seconds of this, a voice obscenely says "I hate Hello Kitty, f***ing creeps me out," to which Hello Kitty gets angry, instantly becomes larger in size, and starts to attack the player. Fans of the character speculated that it was made by an individual who simply hated Hello Kitty.

Ranking in the Sanrio Character Ranking

In the 2013 Sanrio Character Ranking, if Hello Kitty reaches 1st place, she will go to your side and hug you. She won the ranking that year, then did a journey to hug everyone in Japan.

As the mascot of Sanrio, Hello Kitty has expectedly never fallen below the top 10 since 1986. She also has the most consecutive wins in the rankings out of every character, being 11 wins in a row (after Cinnamoroll with 7), between 1998 to 2009.

  • 1986: 8th place
  • 1987: 9th place
  • 1988: 6th place
  • 1989: 6th place
  • 1990: 8th place
  • 1991: 8th place
  • 1992: 8th place
  • 1993: 7th place
  • 1994: 9th place
  • 1995: 4th place
  • 1996: 4th place
  • 1997: 2nd place
  • From 1998 to 2009, she was 1st place.
  • 2010: 3rd place
  • 2011: 3rd place
  • 2012: 1st place
  • 2013: 1st place
  • 2014: 2nd place
  • 2015: 7th place
  • 2016: 5th place
  • 2017: 4th place
  • 2018: 4th place
  • 2019: 1st place
  • 2020: 5th place
  • 2021: 6th place
  • 2022: 6th place
  • 2023: 5th place
  • 2024: 5th place

Gallery

HKSadEmoji
No Fanarts, please!
Please DO NOT add artworks that aren't made by Sanrio to Hello Kitty Wiki. Any artworks made by anyone else will be removed except the pictures of merchandises or anything that isn't an artwork.

Trivia

  • Despite being the iconic mascot of Sanrio for five decades, Hello Kitty is not the first character ever to be created by the company. Coro Chan predates her by one year - 1973. She is in fact the second made character during Sanrio's early history.
  • In the animated series Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater, Hello Kitty and Friends, Hello Kitty's Paradise, Growing Up With Hello Kitty, and Hello Kitty's Animation Theater, Hello Kitty is shown with a visible mouth.
  • Hello Kitty's nationality is British, although in most English dubs of the animated series she's featured, she has an American accent.
  • Hello Kitty's birthday is the same as the day she was created in 1974, November 1st.
  • Alongside her twin sister Mimmy, Kitty's best friend is My Melody.
  • In the Hello Kitty Super Style! episode "Plushie Life", it is revealed that Kitty does not like stepping on sidewalk cracks.
  • Although Hello Kitty's eyes are usually shown to be plain black like other Sanrio characters, in rare cases, she is revealed to have brown irises in close-ups.
  • It was revealed in Hello Kitty and Friends Supercute Adventures, Kitty's trademark red bow was a special gift from her mother.
  • Since 1999, Dear Daniel was created to be officially depicted as Hello Kitty's boyfriend, which was initially met with controversy.
  • Hello Kitty's massive global success of her franchise in merchandise rivals Pikachu of Nintendo's Pokemon franchise.
  • At times, Hello Kitty can be seen wearing Mimmy's clothes, especially in older media.
  • Due to the twins' contrasting personalities in Hello Kitty and Friends, Kitty is shown to be the braver or more courageous sister while Mimmy is shown to be particularly shy and timid in comparison. This has led some fans to find Hello Kitty to be similar to Mario as opposed to Luigi for Mimmy, from Nintendo's Super Mario franchise.
  • Hello Kitty owns a jewelry box and her pet Charmmy Kitty owns the key by wearing it around her neck. It is said that Kitty gave it to her because she became fond of the key on how it was small, cute, and shiny.
  • In Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater, she was voiced by Tara Strong, who is widely known for voicing Bubbles (The Powerpuff Girls), Timmy Turner (The Fairy Oddparents), Raven (Teen Titans), Twilight Sparkle (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic), Princess Unikitty (Unikitty!), and more. Coincidentally, this show is also her debut of voicing animated characters, at the age of 13.

Name Translations

Langauge Name
Japanese ハローキティ Harō Kitī

キティ Kitī

English Hello Kitty

Kitty

Korean 헬로키티 Hello Kiti

키티 Kiti

Sources

Links

References

Advertisement