Hello Kitty 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. 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. The character is a staple of the kawaii segment of Japanese popular culture. At age 36 as of 2010, Sanrio has groomed Hello Kitty into a global marketing phenomenon worth $5 billion a year. 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.
Formally in 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 ofLondon, 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. 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.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. 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. Hello Kitty also has a pet hamster named Sugar, who was a gift from Dear Daniel. Background
Yuko Shimizu, creator of Hello Kitty, in 2010
In 1962, Shintaro Tsuji, 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. 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. She first appeared in the United States in 1976. 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. Shimizu got the name Kitty fromLewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, where in a scene early in the book Alice plays with a cat she...
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