List of Sanrio Characters
Sanrio Co., Ltd., a Japanese company, is known around the world for its cute, iconic, and incredibly popular characters. Established in 1960, Sanrio began creating and marketing their characters in the 1970s and they've since become internationally recognized figures in popular culture. Here are some of the most famous Sanrio characters:
- Hello Kitty: The most famous of all Sanrio characters, Hello Kitty is an anthropomorphic white Japanese Bobtail cat with a red bow on her left ear. Hello Kitty was first introduced in 1974 and has since become a global icon, representing the epitome of "kawaii" culture. Her full name is Kitty White, and she comes from suburban London. Hello Kitty's vast merchandise includes clothing, toys, accessories, home goods, and more. She even has her own theme parks, named Sanrio Puroland and Harmonyland, in Japan.
- My Melody: Created in 1975, My Melody is a sweet, little, red-hooded rabbit who is one of Hello Kitty's friends. My Melody is often seen in a pink or a red hood that also covers her ears, and she's known for her cute and innocent appearance.
- Keroppi: Keroppi Hasunoue, or just Keroppi for short, is a frog character that was introduced in 1987. He lives with his family on the edge of Donut Pond, and he loves to swim and play baseball. Keroppi is one of Sanrio's most popular characters and has been featured on a wide range of merchandise.
- Badtz-Maru: Unlike the other Sanrio characters who are typically sweet and cheerful, Badtz-Maru is a little mischievous and even a tad cynical. He's a black penguin with spiky hair, and he always seems to be pulling a funny face. He was introduced in 1993 and quickly became popular for his distinctive personality.
- Pompompurin: Introduced in 1996, Pompompurin is a laid-back golden retriever with a brown beret. He is popular for his cute appearance and love of milk, his mom's cream caramel puddings, and soft things.
- Cinnamoroll: This white puppy character was born on a cloud and can fly around the sky. Created in 2001, Cinnamoroll is known for his fluffy ears (which he uses to fly), his blue eyes, pink cheeks, and a plump and curly tail that looks like a cinnamon roll—hence his name.
- Gudetama: The newest of Sanrio's most famous characters, Gudetama is a lazy egg yolk who first appeared in 2013. The character is often seen unmotivated and languishing, representing a unique kind of cuteness that's made it popular with fans all over the world.
- Chococat: First introduced in 1996, Chococat is a black cat with a chocolate-colored nose, hence his name. This cute and curious kitty character is recognized by his big eyes and his red collar.
- Little Twin Stars: Kiki and Lala, also known as the Little Twin Stars, were introduced in 1975. Kiki, the boy, has blue hair, while Lala, the girl, has pink hair. They come from a distant star and have since become iconic Sanrio characters, known for their star-themed attire and accessories.
- Aggretsuko: A more recent Sanrio character, Aggretsuko (short for "Aggressive Retsuko") was first introduced in 2015. Retsuko is a red panda who works in the accounting department of a highly respected trading company in Tokyo. She deals with her work-life frustrations by turning into a karaoke-singing, heavy metal-loving alter ego after hours.
- Tuxedo Sam: Tuxedo Sam is a cute penguin character who is well known for his collection of bow ties. He was created in 1979 and hails from Antarctica. He is popular for his friendly and clumsy personality, and his cute appearance.
- Kuromi: First introduced in 2005, Kuromi is My Melody's rival, who is known for her mischievousness. Despite her devilish tendencies, she's actually quite girlish and can be quite friendly.
- Pekkle: Pekkle is a small white duck known for his singing and dancing talents. He's a bit of a dreamer and is often seen with a pair of headphones.
- Monkichi: A monkey who loves to eat bananas and can eat 10 in just one minute. Monkichi enjoys making people laugh and dreams of one day being a poet.
All of these characters show the wide range and diversity of Sanrio's character universe. They each have unique stories, personalities, and characteristics, and they've all resonated with different fans around the world in their own ways. Sanrio's ability to create such loveable and interesting characters is a testament to their creativity and understanding of what appeals to people. These characters have stood the test of time, and they continue to delight fans, both new and old, with their charming and whimsical world.
Sanrio was founded by Shintaro Tsuji in 1960 in Japan, originally under the name of "Yamanashi Silk Center Co., Ltd". Tsuji's initial aim was to produce and sell silk, but as the silk market declined, the company began to focus on the production of giftware instead.
Tsuji wanted his products to stand out, so he started to decorate them with cute designs, which proved to be a popular choice. This gave birth to the "kawaii" or "cute" culture that Sanrio is known for today. In 1973, the company was renamed Sanrio, a name that comes from the Spanish words "san" (meaning saint) and "rio" (meaning river), and a name that Tsuji believed symbolized purity and longevity.
The first Sanrio character, Hello Kitty, was created in 1974 by designer Yuko Shimizu. This character was introduced on a vinyl coin purse and quickly gained popularity. Tsuji recognized the potential of these characters to create an emotional connection with consumers. This led to the creation of a whole universe of characters, each with their own stories and personalities.
Sanrio introduced more characters over the years, and each of them was given a backstory that often included their birthday, favorite and least favorite foods, hobbies, family details, and more. This helped to make each character more relatable and allowed fans to form a deeper emotional connection with them.
Sanrio's character business really took off in the 1990s, when the company introduced new characters like Badtz-Maru and Pochacco. The popularity of these characters led Sanrio to expand into various media including TV shows, movies, video games, and even theme parks.
In recent years, Sanrio has continued to introduce new characters, such as Aggretsuko and Gudetama, who have both been well received by fans around the world. Today, Sanrio is known not just for their characters, but also for their commitment to spreading social communication, friendship, and positivity through their products. Sanrio's characters have not only become a significant part of Japan's pop culture but have also made a big impact globally, with millions of fans all over the world.
Continuing the history and the evolution of Sanrio:
As Sanrio's characters began gaining popularity in Japan, the company realized there was a market for these characters beyond the Japanese borders. Consequently, Sanrio began promoting their characters internationally and their merchandise soon found its way into stores around the world. This international growth was particularly fueled by the popularity of Hello Kitty, who had become a cultural phenomenon by the late 20th century.
Throughout the 1990s and into the early 21st century, Sanrio's characters not only featured on a range of merchandise but also starred in a variety of media. They became the subjects of animated TV series, comic books, movies, and video games, extending their influence further into pop culture. In fact, some of these characters have been used as cultural ambassadors. For example, in 2008, Japan's tourism ministry appointed Hello Kitty as its ambassador for tourism in China and Hong Kong.
Sanrio Puroland, a theme park based around the Sanrio characters, opened in Tokyo in 1990. It offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the world of these characters. The theme park features various rides, performances, restaurants, and shops all themed around the Sanrio characters. Another theme park, Harmonyland, located in Oita Prefecture, Japan, opened in 1991.
Over the years, Sanrio has collaborated with various companies to produce co-branded products, which has helped extend the reach of their characters even further. From fashion brands like ASOS and Converse to tech companies like Apple, these collaborations have resulted in a diverse range of products that appeal to a wide audience.
In recent years, Sanrio has worked to keep its classic characters relevant while also creating new ones. For example, Gudetama, the lazy egg character, has become a hit due to its relatable depiction of modern-day laziness and apathy. Similarly, Aggretsuko, introduced in 2015, resonates with many young adults due to her dual life as a mild-mannered office worker who vents her frustrations through death metal karaoke.
Sanrio's enduring success can be attributed to its unique blend of cute designs, engaging backstories, and relatable characters. The company's mission, which is to foster social communication through the creation of characters, has remained constant throughout the years. Its focus on "small gift, big smile" has brought joy and friendship to millions of fans worldwide. Despite the changing times, the universal appeal of Sanrio's characters ensures they continue to play a significant role in global pop culture.
In addition to the successful international expansion and widespread media adaptations of its characters, Sanrio has also been known for its strong commitment to philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. The company established the Sanrio Peace Foundation in 1984 to promote peace, harmony, and kindness around the world, using its characters as symbols of these values.
As part of their efforts to foster social communication, Sanrio has also organized a variety of cultural events and activities, including character-themed cafes, art exhibitions, and live shows. For example, in 2016, the first official Hello Kitty Cafe in the U.S. was opened in California, drawing large crowds of fans and creating a social media frenzy.
Sanrio's unique marketing strategy is another critical factor behind its enduring popularity. Rather than focusing on selling products, Sanrio emphasizes the creation of "social communication gifts" - gifts that serve as a tool for communication and expressing emotions. This philosophy is captured in Sanrio's slogan, "Small gift, big smile", which implies that giving a small gift can bring a big smile to someone's face.
Even after over six decades, Sanrio continues to innovate. It remains in touch with current trends and continues to expand its character universe. For example, they've embraced digital technology by launching interactive apps and games featuring their characters. In 2020, Sanrio even introduced its first-ever digital-only character, called Moppu.
Sanrio’s approach to character creation – focusing on storytelling and creating an emotional connection with the audience – has proven successful and is now being used by many companies in the digital age. With a robust portfolio of characters, each appealing to different demographics and personal tastes, Sanrio continues to maintain its strong foothold in pop culture.
Looking ahead, Sanrio seems poised to continue leveraging its iconic characters in new and creative ways, all the while maintaining its core values of friendship, kindness, and promoting social communication. With its rich history and beloved characters, Sanrio's impact on the global stage is undeniable and set to continue far into the future.