[Review] Hello Kitty: The Remarkable Story of Sanrio and the Billion Dollar Feline Phenomenon

By Nadiah Alwi - Write at Home Mom On Friday, October 13, 2006 At 9:35 AM |

This book lied there on my boss’ desk and had been attracting me since the first time I saw it. How come? Was it simply because of the title? Hello Kitty? Which was one of my favourite characters when I was little?

Yes…to be honest the answer is yes.

I thought, what the heck is interesting about Hello Kitty to make it a billion dollar feline phenomenon?!!!

Then I decided to borrow the book from my boss. I knew he would like it that I read such a good book.

Finishing the book took me more than 2 months. I’ve mentioned once that it always takes me centuries to finish a non-fiction book. Now that I’ve finished it, I owe my self to make a review of what I’ve got from the book.

The thing that impresses me most is the Kawaii culture in Japan. Kawaii means cute. So, all Japanese are into cute things, mostly the girls/women. They are attracted to cute characters such as Hello Kitty and others created by Sanrio.

This culture is so much related to their language. Their way of communication is using kanji, a series of pictograms. And, it’s also connected to Japan’s long tradition of graphic arts—manga and anime. Thus, Japanese love using images, artistic or otherwise, to communicate.

So, Sanrio is smart enough to use this Kawaii syndrome to make the business go well. These girls/women, the loyal consumers, collect all the series of Hello Kitty and other characters of Sanrio, including Snoopy of which license was bought by the company.

Yet, what makes Hello Kitty a great phenomenon?

First of all, the reason is related to the Kawaii syndrome. The next thing is that it is accepted highly in other countries. Not only those in Asia but also those in Europe or America.

And, what this cat without mouth—yes, without mouth, I didn’t realise either that Hello Kitty had no mouth until I read the book and took a glance at my only Hello Kitty collection—has done to make these people love her so much?

There are many reasons. Yet, one of them is that Hello Kitty is a symbol of innocence, sentimentality and harmony. She represents kindness. And, it seems like the world needs such a character. Yet, there are more other reasons that you can find in the book.

One more thing that gave me a surprise when I read the details about this lovely cat with the pink bow on her left ear: she is British, not Japanese!

She was given a name, White, Kitty White. She was born in London on November 1, 1974 (she is three years older than me). Her parents are George and Marry. And, she had an identical twin sister named Mimmy, the difference is that she wears a yellow bow on her right ear. Such a happy family, isn’t it? Well, there are more other details about Kitty that you can find in the book, such as about her grandparents!

Overall—even though it took me billions of centuries to finish the book—, I really enjoyed reading it. I highly appreciate the two people writing the book in such a lovely style. It’s non-fiction but their dictions were nicely flowing. I relished the book as if it were fiction. What made me read it that long was simply because I was foolishly trapped into my own silly way of thinking: that I’m not a big fan of non-fiction.

Actually, this book taught me to read more non-fictions. And I’ve promised my self to do so.

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