Hello Kitty is a fictional character produced by the Japanese company Sanrio and first designed by Yuko Shimizu. According to official character profiles for Hello Kitty, her real name is Kitty White, and she was born in the suburbs of London, England on 1 November. She appeared in Japan in 1974 and was brought to the United States in 1976. The first item featuring this famous white bobtail cat was a vinyl coin purse.
Have you ever thought that she doesn’t have a mouth and wondered why? Yuko Yamaguchi, the current official designer of Hello Kitty, entertained this question when Time Magazineinterviewed her:
“It’s so that people who look at her can project their own feelings onto her face, because she has an expressionless face. Kitty looks happy when people are happy. She looks sad when they are sad. For this psychological reason, we thought she shouldn’t be tied to any emotion – and that’s why she doesn’t have a mouth.”
Manga characters in general are very innocent and subtle. Manga can be translated as “whimsical drawings” and consist of comics and print cartoons. These drawings have a long history dating back to 10th century, where depictions of animals were drawn as being part of the upper class. Eventually, these scrolls went on to be known as the Chōjū giga or “The Animal Scrolls.”
In Japan, people of all ages read manga. There are also manga cafés, or manga kissa (kissa is an abbreviation of kissaten). At a manga kissa, people drink coffee and read manga and sometimes stay there overnight. Manga represent pieces of Japanese culture and history because they take part in everyday life dealing with politics, religion, economy, family and gender and integrate it to create their stories.
Manga-influenced comics, among original works, exist in other parts of the world, particularly in Taiwan (“manhua”), South Korea (“manhwa”) and China, notably Hong Kong (“manhua”). In France, “la nouvelle manga” has developed as a form of bande dessinée (literally drawn strip) drawn in styles influenced by Japanese manga. In the United States, people refer to what they perceive as manga “styled” comics as Amerimanga, world manga, or original English-language manga (OEL manga).
What’s the secret of Manga success? In the case of Hello Kitty, she speaks from her heart; she’s Sanrio‘s ambassador to the world and isn’t bound to any particular language. Even if we are in the era of high tech story lines and fancy 3D, people are still in love with the simplicity of the fables.