Sanrio Co., Ltd. is a Japanese company that creates a range of (mostly) design series that features characters, and sells and licenses various products Branded with these characters. These products include stationery, school supplies, gifts and accessories. Sanrio's best known character is Hello Kitty, a white cat with red bow and no mouth. Hello Kitty is one of the most successful marketing brands in the world.
Sanrio was started by Shintaro Tsuji as the Yamanashi Silk Company in 1960, using 1 million yen in capital. The company produced a line of character merchandise around gift-giving occasions. It wasn't until 1973 that the company was officially established under the name "Sanrio." The word Sanrio comes from the Spanish words "san" (a shortened form of "santo"—"saint", "saintly", "sacred"—used in giving saints' names) and "río"("river").
Besides selling their famed character goods, Sanrio also takes part in movie production and publishing. They also participate in the fast food industry, running a franchise of KFC in Saitama. They also own the rights to the Peanuts characters in Japan. Sanrio also has an Animatronics company branch called Kokoro Company, Ltd. ("Kokoro" being the Japanese word for "heart"), best known for the android, Actroid.
Sanrio is the largest greeting card manufacturer in Japan. In 2002, they began a joint business venture with the Walt Disney Company for their greeting cards.
Hello Kitty was added to the early characters of Sanrio in 1974 and was released in 1975. The popular mouthless feline has had both peaks and drops in sales over the years, but always has been the highest contributor to Sanrio's sales. Other notably popular characters through the years have been Little Twin Stars (created by Mr. Tsuji himself), My Melody, Keroppi, Tuxedosam, Badtz-Maru, Tenorikuma, U*SA*HA*NA, Pochacco, Chococat, and Cinnamoroll. Sanrio constantly adds new characters to its lineup (up to three a year), so some of the older characters go into retirement. Some of Sanrio's newer characters are Charmmy Kitty (Hello Kitty's pet cat), Kuromi (My Melody's rival) and Chi Chai Monchan (a pink monkey who balances bananas on his head). For a 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 empire; however, the rights to Unico shifted to 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. The company has partnered with UNICEF since 1984.
Sanrio Inc., Sanrio's American subsidiary that produces most of the merchandise found in franchise boutiques, has its office in South San Francisco, California. Sanrio's first Western hemisphere store opened in San Jose's Eastridge Mall. There are eighteen "flagship" locations across the country, and in 2005 Sanrio opened its first high-end boutique called Momoberry at Beverly Center in Los Angeles.
In 2006 Sanrio went digital with a joint venture with Typhoon Games and launched Sanrio Digital to expand its brand and revenues through the internet, online games and mobile services.
"The Adventures of Hello Kitty & Friends" is the first ever made Hello Kitty TV series animation in 3D. The animation is licensed by Sanrio Digital and produced by Dream Cortex. The first season with 26 episodes premiered on select networks in Europe and Asia, including Hong Kong, beginning in the first quarter of 2008.
See the Movies category.
From 1977 to 1985, Sanrio produced the following movies through their Sanrio Films label:
- Little Jumbo (1977) (Chiisana Jumbo)
- Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids? (1977) —with Korty Films and Charles M. Schulz Inc.
- The Mouse and His Child (1977) (Oyaro Nezumi no Fushigina Tabi or The Wonderful Journey of the Mouse Family)
- Ringing Bell (1978) (Chirin no Suzu or Bell of Chirin or Ringing Bell)
- The Glacier Fox (1978) (Kita-Kitsune Monogatari or The Story of the Nothern Fox)
- Nutcracker Fantasy (1979) (Kurumiwari Ningyo or The Nutcracker)
- Unico: Black Cloud and White Feather (1979)
- Metamorphoses/Winds of Change (Sanrio) (1979) (Orpheus no Hoshi or Orpheus of the Star)
- A Tale of Africa (1980) (Afurika Monogatari)
- The Fantastic Adventures of Unico (1981) - with Tezuka Productions and Madhouse Studios
- The Sea Prince and the Fire Child (1981) (Sirius no Densetsu or Legend of Sirius)
- Don't Cry, It's Only Thunder (1981)
- The Ideon: A Contact (1982) - with Sunrise and Shochiku
- The Ideon: Be Invoked (1982) - with Sunrise
- Unico in the Island of Magic (1983) (Yuniko: Maho no Shima he) - with Tezuka Productions
- Oshin (1984)
- A Journey Through Fairyland (1985) (Yosei Florence or Florence the Fairy)
- Mouse Story: George and Gerald's Adventure (2007) (Nezumi Monogatari: George To Gerald no Bouken) - with Madhouse Studios
- Cinnamoroll: The Movie (2007) - with Madhouse Studios
- The Adventures of Hello Kitty & Friends (2008) - with Dream Cortex and Sanrio Digital
- Jewelpet the Movie: Sweets Dance Princess (2012)—with Sega Toys and Studio Comet
- Onegai My Melody: Yu & Ai (2012)—with Studio Comet
After "A Journey Through Fairyland", Sanrio switched gears and started doing short films, OAVs, and TV shows based on their characters (Hello Kitty, etc.). In 2006, Sanrio announced they're going to do feature-length films again when they announced they were making 2 new movies: Nezumi Monogatari: George To Gerald no Bouken (Mouse Story: George and Gerald's Adventure), about mice living together, and Cinnamoroll: The Movie, about the character Cinnamoroll. The two movies were released as a double feature on December 22, 2007 and were expected to be released overseas.
Sanrio publishes many books featuring its own characters. Additionally, they publish art books (for instance, those by Keibun Ōta) and other books. Sanrio publishes books in many different languages, including Japanese and English.
- Kinsella, Sharon. "CUTIES IN JAPAN", published in "Women Media and Consumption in Japan", Lise Skov & Brian Moeran eds., 1995
- Sanrio Filmography on Wikipedia
- Sanrio's official English website
- Sanrio's official Japanese website
- Interactive Sanrio Character List
- A 1999 "interview" with classic Sanrio character My Melody
- Sanrio's Internet Community Site
- Sanrio Spotlight:Momoberry
- Momoberry's official website
- Sanrio Digital Website
- Dream Cortex Website
- VintageSanrio.com via Archive.org