The Seven Strangest ‘Hello Kitty’ Characters of Sanrio
I'm not going to lie, you guys: I am a dude who loves Hello Kitty. Admittedly, that's not going to be all that shocking to anyone who's been keeping track of how many references to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic I've been able to slip into my articles, but it's important to establish that up front so that you all understand just how excited I am about the news of the upcoming Hello Kitty/Street Fighter merchandise line. I mean, if nothing else, that brings us one step closer to Marvel vs. Capcom vs. Sanrio, which would be the greatest thing ever produced.
I do realize, however, that not all Street Fighter fans share my love of Sanrio's adorable characters, which is why we here at ComicsAlliance thought it would be a good idea to provide a quick rundown of a few of the more notable characters of the Hello Kitty universe. Specifically, the ones that are notable because they're seven of the strangest characters ever created.
First up, we have Bad Badtz-Maru, who has plenty of weird stuff going on. For one thing, he lives in a place called Gorgeoustown (which would be more properly named Moderatelyattractiveburg), his best friend is a panda in a tutu, and he has a pet alligator. And, uh... he was also the mascot for the 2006 World Basketball Championships, and that's pretty weird for a penguin, right?
Okay, fine, I admit it: By cartoon character standards, Badtz-Maru (whose name can be translated as Wrong-Correct) isn't all that strange. But, well, we needed a baseline in this article, and also I totally love this guy. Seriously, I consider him to be my spirit animal. We've got the same unkempt hair, the same sleepy eyes, and the same basic body shape. He's even got the permanent scowl of a writer who's been assigned to see a Transformers movie! Also, I can often be seen reading books about myself. I make no apologies for that.
Hey, you know Pokemon? Well so do the folks over at Sanrio, as evidenced by the fact that they teamed with Sega in 2008 to create their own adorable, highly collectable creatures: Jewelpet.
Originally a line of toys that came with codes that unlocked stuff on the Internet, Jewelpet focused on animals with gemstones for eyes that they could use to battle cast spells, who were taken as the pets of trainers wizards who apparently didn't think cute animals with gemstone eyes were actually creepy as hell. The accompanying anime, however -- because of course there was an accompanying anime -- expanded on that premise by establishing that the Jewelpets were lost on Earth when the stork they were using to travel through a magical forest got blown away by the wind. Thus, young boy girl Ash Ketchum Rinko is tasked by a secret agent of the wizards to get them back before Team Rocket an evil Jewelpet captures them, and thus has gotta catch 'em all gotta catch 'em all.
And then in the third arc, it's suddenly about Hogwarts the Jewel Land Magic Academy.
Not to be confused with the song of the same name by Eric B and Rakim, Sanrio's My Melody was originally created as a rabbit version of Little Red Riding Hood. Eventually, though, she became so popular that she was picked to star in an anime series (a series whose time slot Jewelpet usurped, incidentally) that provided her with both a mouth and a truly bizarre backstory.
In the show, a villainous rabbit named Kuromi (we'll get to her in a minute) escapes from a magical world to Earth with the ability to grant twisted versions of people's wishes, which allows her to collect black musical notes. This, as I'm sure we are all aware, is a bad thing, because once she collects 100 black notes, the "Spirit of Dark Power" will of course rise up and devour the dreams of the entire human race. My Melody is tasked to stop this by flying around with her umbrella --- or "doing a Poppins," as we call it in the trade -- using enchanted stickers to bring objects to life and granting them additional powers by saying "please."
This, for some reason, allows her to collect the pink musical notes that she needs to stave off psychological armageddon and eventually become a princess, although I think that might happen in a prequel.
And that brings us back around to Kuromi, who I believe is the only Sanrio character to feature a skull, a jester's cap and a devil tail as part of her look. On the off chance that the whole thing where she escaped from a dungeon and rode around on a flying tapir while granting wishes in order to resurrect an evil spirit in order to destroy her enemy (who she is essentially a duplicate of) wasn't enough to tip you off to the fact that she's is a little odd, wait'll you see what they've come up with for the theme parks.
See, Sanrio operates two theme parks in Japan, and at one of them, there's an attraction called The Hello Kitty Black Wonder. The storyline for it is Kuromi has taken a liking to Hello Kitty's signature bow -- a liking so intense that she breaks through the fourth wall so that she can ask Hello Kitty's creator, Yuko Shimizu, if she can have one of her own. Unfortunately, Shimizu is apparently too busy to respond to the request, so Kuromi kidnaps Kitty and her boyfriend Dear Daniel and imprisoned them in a castle called -- you guessed it -- the Black Wonder. Thus, park patrons are finally forced to answer the question of whether they are bad enough dudes to save Hello Kitty.
Also, Kuromi once brought a dead woman back to life, but when you consider that she had some help from Santa Claus, it doesn't seem all that strange.
Okay, this one might require a bit of backstory. In 2002, Sanrio created Cinnamaroll, a puppy who was also a cloud who came down from the sky to live in a bakery because he really liked cinnamon rolls, which, by Sanrio standards, is pretty logical stuff. Then, five years later, for reasons I can't even begin to explain, they decided to spell his name backwards and use it as the name for a mirror dimension populated by actual demons. This was Lloromannic, which is described on Wikipedia as being "a world where is over mirror, and reversed the human world." So, you know, that should clear things up.
The main inhabitants of this horrifying mirror dimension are called Berry and Cherry, and as their shadows suggest in the picture above, they can shape-shift their demonic forms, hiding their claws and horns to look more cute. Their favorite pastime is crossing over into the human world to "play tricks on" children (which according to this video involves glowing pentagrams) while they sleep, then spend the day hiding in their closets.
So, to review: A pair of shape-shifting demons from a backwards-talking mirror universe that hide in children's closets and torment them when they fall asleep. So basically, it's Sanrio by way of Slayer.
As one of Sanrio's lesser creations that has yet to be imported to America, it's almost impossible to find any information about the Dokidoki Yummychums, to the point where I'd think it was an elaborate prank if they didn't appear in the characters section of Sanrio's website.
The Yummychums -- which include a hamburger, his girlfriend French Fries, a friendly looking milkshake and a group of flying chicken nuggets -- would seem to be your standard fast food mascots, except for the fact that as near as I can figure, the food that they'd be the mascots for doesn't actually appear to exist. I've even checked the food sections of the theme parks, and there's not so much as a single Dokidoki fry, let alone a bunch of them stuffed into a a blushing paper carton.
But really, that's beside the point, which is that if someone asked you to come up with a stereotypical Japanese product mascot and you came back with these dudes, they would think you went way too far over the top. Even the name -- Dokidoki Yummychums!! -- seems like something somebody came up with for an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force before realizing that they'd have to tone it down if they wanted it to be even remotely believable.
And that all leads us to the absolute strangest character in Sanrio's entire library:
That's right, everyone: The strangest Hello Kitty character is Hello Kitty herself. And not just because her popularity has led to toasters that toast an image of her face into the bread. For me, it all comes down to three major points.
First, the fact that Kitty often dresses in costume as her friends:
Even if you can get past the Inception-esque levels of cuteness within cuteness, think about how weird it would be if you went into work tomorrow and one of your friends was wearing a hoodie meant to look like your face and body. You would be creeped out, and rightly so.
As for Point Two, well, I'm just going to go ahead and let the website for Sanrio's Harmonyland theme park handle this one:
Now, I'm not a particularly religious man, but I think I would've remembered it if Hello Kitty showed up as The Goddess of Light to help Noah pass out presents from the far universe in the pages of Genesis. In fact, if that had happened, I'm pretty sure I would be a religious man.
For the third point, allow me to introduce you to one of Sanrio's more recent characters:
That's Charmmy Kitty. She is Hello Kitty's pet cat.
I'd like to go through that one more time, just so we're all on the same page: Hello Kitty, who is herself a cat, owns a pet cat that looks exactly like her. This boggles the mind. I mean, it's bad enough that 35 years of seeing Kitty in clothes makes Charmmy look indecent even though they are both cartoon cats, but then you hit the moral implications. Is Charmmy some sort of slave? Is she a homunculus, given the face (and bow) of her master in a foul mockery of nature? Does Kitty's family ever get confused by the fact that they look exactly alike? Did no one at Sanrio think this would freak people out?!
I don't even know anymore, Sanrio. I don't even know.