Hello Kitty (ハローキティ Harō Kiti?) is the best-known of many fictional characters produced by the Japanese company Sanrio. Hello Kitty is a very simply drawn character who was created in 1974 by the Sanrio Company in Tokyo, Japan. Registered in 1976, Hello Kitty is now a globally known trademark.
Hello Kitty was originally to be named "Whitey Kitty" (from one of the cats that Alice kept in the book Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll), due to British culture being popular among Japanese girls at the time of her inception. However, this name was not adopted.
When Hello Kitty's boyfriend "Dear Daniel" was created in 1999, designers took his name from the 1971 film Melody, which starred Mark Lester as a character called Daniel and features songs by the Bee Gees.
Hello Kitty's fictional world includes a whole array of friends and family members. Hello Kitty is also friends with other famous Sanrio characters such as Kero Kero Keroppi, who has recently made its way back onto Sanrio shelves in late 2007. Since 2004 she has even had a pet cat of her own called Charmmy Kitty and a pet hamster called Sugar. Charmmy resembles Hello Kitty but has more cat-like features. Charmmy Kitty was given to Hello Kitty by her father, George White, and Sugar by Dear Daniel.
Hello Kitty has been marketed in the United States from the beginning and has held the position of U.S. children's ambassador for UNICEF since 1983. The brand rose to greater prominence during the late 1990s when several celebrities such as Mariah Carey adopted Hello Kitty as a fashion statement. New products featuring the character can be found in virtually any American department store and Hello Kitty was once featured in an advertising campaign of the retail chain Target.
Many American celebrities have contributed to the character's popularity: Ricky Martin, Mariah Carey, Cameron Diaz, Heidi Klum, Steven Tyler, Christina Aguilera, Carmen Electra, Mandy Moore, Raven-Symoné, Miley Cyrus, Varla Jean Merman, as well as Paris and Nicky Hilton have all been spotted with Hello Kitty and Bobby Jack goods. Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton was also spotted with a Hello Kitty handbag while doing a video blog with Ross Mathews. Perez Hilton was also seen wearing a Hello Kitty tie on Victoria Beckham's show 'Coming to America'. Victoria commented on his 'fierce' tie. Singer Lisa Loeb, who is marketing the pink Hello Kitty guitar, has admitted to being a fan and has even dedicated a whole album in homage to Hello Kitty named Hello Lisa. 'Scene queens' like Jeffree Star, Audrey Kitching, and Heather Joy can often be seen donning Hello Kitty apparel.
Although originally aimed at the pre-adolescent female market, the Hello Kitty logo now adorns products for all ages. Though a large proportion of the merchandise are stationery products, other goods range from foods and clothing to computers and cars and passenger jets , and in Japan, its popularity has penetrated every aspect of Japanese daily life. In Japan, Hello Kitty is no longer viewed as merely for young girls, but is equally popular with teenagers and even adults who like the sweet, cute and girly image. This expanded market is reflected by the sale of Hello Kitty guitar, adult underwear and even vibrators. Hello Kitty items in the USA include luggage tags, posters, purses, cosmetics, stickers, and jewelry. In addition, there are many stores selling only Hello Kitty merchandise. A Hello Kitty themed AR-15 assault rifle has also been produced by an avid fan for his wife.
The very first product bearing Hello Kitty's image was a small clear vinyl coin purse which sold for ¥ 240 yen (today, roughly $2.27, or €1.77). She is now a phenomenon adorning over 22,000 products and accounting for half of Sanrio's $1 billion yearly revenue.
Hello Kitty as a character
Several Hello Kitty animated series targeted towards young children have been produced. In the animated films made by Sanrio from 1977 to 1985, Hello Kitty has made cameo appearances in them (similar to Disney's hidden Mickey techniques).
The earliest Hello Kitty animated series known was the American-animated (co-produced with Japan) Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theatre, which aired throughout 1987. This show, produced by Sanrio in cooperation with DiC Entertainment, parodies various famous fairy tales and blockbuster movies from the period. It was broadcast in the United States on The Family Channel, and a Spanish-dubbed version also aired Saturday mornings on Univision.
On U.S. television, the Japanese anime series Hello Kitty and Friends aired on CBS in 1991, and also ran on Toon Disney. On the show, Kitty is depicted as a little girl who lives with her mother, father, and twin sister Mimmy, who is identical to Kitty but has different colored clothes and wears her bow under the opposite ear. 13 episodes were produced, using animation produced as early as 1991.
On Japanese television, Hello Kitty (and pals) have starred in at least one anime series of their own. Hello Kitty's Paradise ran for 16 episodes between 1993 and 1994. This version was released in English in 2000. This version, like "Hello Kitty and Friends", also aired on Toon Disney.
Hello Kitty and friends also appeared in Hello Kitty's Animation Theatre, which had Hello Kitty and other Sanrio characters appearing in their versions of different fairy tales. Available in the U.S. from ADV Films (who also own the video/DVD rights to Hello Kitty and Friends & Hello Kitty's Paradise)
In 2006, it was announced Hello Kitty will be appearing in a new Japanese clay-animated series called Hello Kitty's Stump Village from Sanrio. At Anime Expo 2006, Geneon Entertainment announced that Hello Kitty's Stump Village was one of the series it licensed for U.S. release. Volume 1 was released in October, and Volume 2 was released in January.
Appearances with a mouth
Hello Kitty, as well as her family and friends, is generally depicted without a mouth, especially in merchandise. Her current designer says that she should have one because without, she lacks emotion. The official position of Sanrio is that she speaks from the heart, having no need of any particular language. Hello Kitty was depicted as having a mouth in Hello Kitty and Friends. However, it has been said that Hello Kitty does have a mouth, but it is not drawn, as the creators wanted Hello Kitty's emotions to be interpreted by the viewer. Also in the anime hello kitty's paradise she talks and is depicted with a mouth.
Some claim that Hello Kitty was inspired by Miffy, or Nijntje in Dutch, created by the Dutch artist Dick Bruna in 1955. And some others claim that Hello Kitty was inspired by Musti, created by graphic artist Ray Goossens in 1945. Musti is a little cat, living with his mother and father in a little house in a rural village, surrounded by a large garden with animals and trees. Winter 2007 - Hello Kitty Super Fan Juanita Applebaum, 5 apples high Hello Kitty stuffed animal, receives a purple scarf as a Christmas gift. The scarf which perfectly adorns Hello Kittys neck was a gift from Juanitas fashion forward lover who list Tom Ford as his inspiration.
- A merging of Sanrio characters with the Cthulhu Mythos results in the webcomic Hello Cthulhu 
- The character Maromi in Paranoia Agent is a pastiche of Hello Kitty.
- On the episode "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" of the TV series The Simpsons, the family travels to Japan and passes by the Hello Kitty merchandise factory. The yowling noises from within suggest that they were made from real cats.
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, there is a Hello Kitty parody named Sassy Cat.
- In the Futurama episode, "Crimes of the Hot", a "Curious Pussycat" factory is seen in the background of a scene set in Kyoto. The logo is reminiscent of the Hello Kitty logo.
- The band Goons of Doom created a song entitled "Hello Kitty", presumably relating to the character.
- The Online Webcomic The Order of the Stick parodies Hello Kitty by creating a, presumably parallel, character in the world in which the comic takes place. This character is known as "Hello Goblin", and is seen on an umbrella that is carried by the Monster in the Dark.
- Webcomic Achewood occasionally mentions a Japanese brand of merchandise created by the "Sanryobuki" corporation, which features a cartoon cat on its products. The company makes everything from artificial cat livers to a remote-controlled colonoscopy machine.
- On the episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft" of South Park, Butters states that he does not play World of Warcraft but rather the fictional game Hello Kitty Island Adventure.
- The After Dark screensaver "Hall of Fame", which features several famous After Dark characters portrayed as anime characters, shows an image of Bad Dog that looks like Hello Kitty.
- On the episode "No Man's Land" of Grey's Anatomy Izzie is wearing Hello Kitty panties. Meredith greets her with the words "Hello Kitty".
- In the Too Short song "Burn Rubber," Too Short talks about pimping hoes, "Take your ass straight out, of Sin City. Wearin' all pink like Hello Kitty. Bringin back all C-notes and no fifties."
- Dave Navarro performed a reunion concert with The Red Hot Chili Peppers as a homage to Hello Kitty, and played a Hello Kitty guitar given to him by Hello Kitty herself.
- In the TV show Danny Phantom, the episode What You Want includes a film called 'Sayonara Pussycat', featuring a cat similar to Hello Kitty. Sayonara is Japanese for goodbye.
- On the same note, a series of T-shirts and other merchandise depicts a small cat about to meet certain death called "Goodbye Kitty".
- A shop of Warhammer 40,000 cover art parodies Hello Kitty's cheerful image, with the pronouncement "IN THE GRIM FUTURE OF HELLO KITTY THERE IS ONLY WAR".
- Gaia Online features a plushie of a white cat called the KiKi Kitty, as well as a black version called CoCo Kitty. The description reads that it is a plushie version of a fictional cartoon character, a parody of Hello Kitty. However, the item has evolved into a mascot in its own right, and is one of the most famous items in the game, and even appears on real life merchandise.
- In the game Destroy All Humans! 2, if you scan a mind of a teenage Japanese female, they will sometimes mention a parody of Hello Kitty, 'Hiya Pussy'.
- In Jon Stewart's book America: The Book, a page about Japan labels the Prime Minister and national flower with a Hello Kitty face.
- In the Neopets website, the Plushie Angelpuss is based on Hello Kitty.
- In the episode "Itty Bitty Kitty" of Brandy & Mr. Whiskers, Brandy's cat doll named "Itty Bitty Kitty" is a parody of Hello Kitty.
- In a Robot Chicken episode, Hello Kitty comes in to discuss something pertaining to her show, but is interrupted by her loudly coughing up a hairball.
- In another episode of Robot Chicken Hello Kitty appears as a martial arts master alongside faux versions of Scorpion (Mortal Kombat), Sub-Zero (Mortal Kombat) and Smoke (Mortal Kombat) to train Joey Fatone
- Singer Lisa Loeb is a big fan of Hello Kitty, and is also an avid collector of her items. She has a Hello Kitty Stratocaster guitar, and is featured on the American Sanrio website.
- As of August 2007, Thai police officers who have committed minor transgressions such as showing up late or parking in the wrong place will be forced to wear Hello Kitty armbands for several days as penance. 
- In an episode of Will & Grace, Grace purchases a bra full of water to enhance her breast size to impress an old crush from high school. Will sees it for the first time and exclaims, "Hello, kitties!"
- The Official Hello Kitty Website
- The Official Hello Kitty Community Website
- Hello Kitty Stump Village - Claymation TV series
- Official profile - in Japanese
- Official Hello Kitty News
- Hello Kitty Hell - Strange Hello Kitty products
- Hello Kitty World - Hello Kitty products reviews
- Hello Kitty Online Game
- Discussion about the resemblance between Hello Kitty and Musti
- The History Of Hello Kitty
- PopCult magazine interview with Ken Belson, author of Hello Kitty: The Remarkable Story of Sanrio and the Billion Dollar Feline Phenomenon
- Cute, Inc. from Wired Magazine
- San Francisco Gate article
- "All That is Soridu Melts Into Kitty": Academic spin on macrocephalic feline in CTheory
- Kinsella, Sharon. "CUTIES IN JAPAN", published in "Women Media and Consumption in Japan", Lise Skov & Brian Moeran eds., 1995.