Sanrio has really struck gold in the adorable mascot market. The company has dozens of iconic characters that children from different generations have all been able to love. Sanrio still develops new mascots and there are plenty of popular characters who have stepped into the spotlight, but one figure who’s never fallen into obscurity and might be the company’s most well recognized character is Kitty White of Hello Kitty.
The world of Hello Kitty continues to grow and in some ways it’s even more popular now than when it debuted in the 1970s. There’s even a feature film on the way and it’s happening in America, no less! Kitty White and her friends and family are mighty cute, but Hello Kitty isn’t all sunshine and roses. Accordingly, Here Are 20 Facts About Hello Kitty That’ll Ruin Your Childhood.
20 She’s Not A Cat
Anthropologist Christine R. Yano was doing prep for her Hello Kitty exhibit in the Japanese American National Museum, and it was during this time that Sanrio gave everyone a rude awakening. Sanrio’s clarification is that, "She's a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat..." The fact that she’s bipedal and doesn’t operate on all fours like typical cats do should have been a major tell.
19 Those Plagiarism Rumors
Dutch artist, Fick Bruna, creator of the stationary-based animal mascot, Miffy, claims that Hello Kitty's Kitty White is a rip off of Miffy that only makes minor style changes. Bruna has publicly voiced his frustration on the matter, but there are so many cute mascots of this nature out there, that this just might not be based in reality.
18 She's Not Even Japanese
Sanrio and Hello Kitty may come out of Japan, but Kitty White was actually born in London of all places and lived with her family there in the city's suburbs. So in spite of her relevance in Japan, she's technically a Brit. This is actually a clever idea on Sanrio’s part and it gives Kitty White a baked in international quality— it’s not what you’d expect from her family’s origins.
17 She Doesn't Have Control Over How She's Used
Merchandising and sponsorships don't typically come from the Hello Kitty brand itself, but rather others that want to use the property. Kitty White's a corporate shill! The only restrictions in place state that the property's name can't be used with tobacco or items that cause bodily harm— but sexualizing the characters is apparently fine.
16 She’s Fought Against Earth
In the recent collaboration anime project, Gundam Vs. Hello Kitty, the animated shorts posits a world where Amuro Ray and his legendary Gundam not only encounter Kitty White, but fight against her in outer space. It’s all a misunderstanding, but Hello Kitty acts as a threat to the helpful Gundam forces.
15 She's 44 Years Old
Kitty White's birthday is November 1, 1974, which will mean that she turns 45 this year, but you’d never know it by looking at her. This information is a little unusual considering the character is meant for a younger demographic. That being said, Kitty White’s meant to resemble someone that operates on the level of an eight year-old.
14 She's Used As A Form Of Punishment
This is super strange deterrent tactic that's used in Japan, but it seems to work as a viable means of humiliation. The retaliation for minor infractions, like parking errors or truancy, is that the police will make offenders wear a pin armband with Hello Kitty featured on it. The exact rationale behind the tactic is that the guilty party is supposed to “...feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense…” Maybe we should start doing this overseas, too.
13 There's A Sadako Version Of Hello Kitty
Sadako, from the Ring franchise has become a bit of an international figure that's transcended beyond her horror films. That being said, a scary version of Kitty White that bears resemblance to the tortured Sadako is a real bizarre match. Hello Kitty’s spin on the horror villain still manages to be cute, but you’d expect Kitty White to team up more with Critters than Sadako.
12 She's Going To Toss You A Cold One
In Taiwan and China there are Hello Kitty beers, which seems kind of dangerous. They may not get sold to youth, but clearly they're going to appeal to them. On top of that, these beers have "fun" flavors like banana, peach, passion fruit, and lemon/lime which will clearly be of interest to the youth as well.
11 She'll Permanently Invade Your Vision
There are plenty of unusual Hello Kitty products and sponsorships out there, but the weirdest and most invasive has to be a pair of contact lenses that contain Hello Kitty's image within them. This is for only the most hardcore of fans, but this seems like an ill-advised idea and the fact that it's out there is kind of dangerous.
10 She's Teamed Up With KISS
A pair-up between the adorable Hello Kitty and the abrasive Knights in Satan's Service doesn't make any sense, but it happened! Some strange collaborations have taken place throughout Hello Kitty’s history, but this is definitely one of the weirdest and it feels like there wouldn’t be much crossover between these audiences. Maybe Kitty White is just a big rock lover?
9 She's Invading The World
Forget about watching Hello Kitty on television or wearing merchandise with the character all over them. There are a growing number of Hello Kitty cafes, all with their own unique differences in themes, which are not just in Japan, but springing up all over the world. On top of this, the Keio Plaza Hotel has Hello Kitty themed rooms and there’s even a massive Hello Kitty theme park in Singapore! Nothing is safe!
8 She Has A Boyfriend
Kitty White lives a life full of fun and few responsibilities, which makes it a little surprising that she has a boyfriend in her life. Furthermore, this is far more than some innocent crush and Kitty and her beau have gone through a lot. Kitty’s boyfriend name is Daniel Star and the two are tragically separated when Daniel’s family moves to South Africa due to his father’s job. Rather touchingly, they reconnect again later in life.
7 You Can Travel With Her
Fans’ love for Hello Kitty goes to seriously unheard levels when they demand that their means of travel also need to be ensconced with their favorite Sanrio character. EVA Air has a whole Hello Kitty themed airplane, which doesn’t just feature tons of Hello Kitty art, but the stewardesses are decked out in Hello Kitty attire and even the meals are on theme. Additionally, Japan has had Hello Kitty bullet trains, so even more transportation is under Kitty White’s watch.
6 She's Been Corrupted By Social Media
Hello Kitty has her own Twitter account that can be found at @HelloKitty. From a marketing and promotions perspective, this makes perfect sense, but if Kitty White is supposed to be eight years old within the logic of the series, then that's pretty young to have a social media account and be frequently engaging with strangers.
5 She's A Real Ambassador
In 2008, Hello Kitty’s Kitty White was named the tourism ambassador to both Hong Kong and China. This is kind of ridiculous considering there are real heroes and inspirational figures that could fill this role, but Kitty White's popularity took that opportunity away from a real person (and also, Pikachu)!
4 She Has Pets Of Her Own
Many people may perceive Kitty White as a cat, but she actually has three pets of her own, which include cats! She also has a hamster, so it’s not as if she’s biased purely towards felines. She keeps an open mind, but even still, the idea of this character tending to cats of her own is quite the bizarre visual.
3 Her Whole Existence Is A Reaction To Snoopy
Sanrio had the rights to Snoopy and used him all the time with their merchandise. This worked for them, but they wanted to develop their own characters and not have to license others and help them out at the same time. Sanrio debuted six original characters at once, but Hello Kitty was far and away the most popular of the lot.
2 She Doesn't Have A Mouth (And May Be Telepathic)
Astute individuals may notice that Kitty White's character model doesn't actually have a mouth. This isn't a mistake and Sanrio has claimed that Kitty White's mouthless nature is because she actually "speaks from her heart." This is also to cover international barriers so she can transcend language. In a way, that form of communication is some kind of telepathy.
1 Her Mother Has No Idea Who She Is
Kitty White's iconic red ribbon isn't actually some fashion statement, but rather a gesture from her mother, Mary, so she's able to tell Kitty White apart from her twin sister, Mimmy. Mimmy also has a ribbon, a yellow one on her right ear, but with Kitty White technically the older of the two twins, it feels more responsibility falls on her.
Sources: SoraNews24.com, Buzzfeed.com, USMagazine.com