• 01 . 11 . 04
  • Another happy occasion/cynical cash grabbing opportunity today, as both Hello Kitty and Godzilla reach important milestones.

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Many Happy Returns

Apparently, today is Hello Kitty’s 30th birthday which presents, as if it were needed, another opportunity to shamelessly rebrand what already has got to be the most over merchandised franchise in existence. As her website says, 30 years of friendship is indeed a good thing to celebrate, but not when the method of celebration is to selectively relaunch old designs at inflated prices as “anniversary specials”.

Apart from the obligatory hats, pencils, pencil cases, bags and clothes, Hello Kitty has taken advantage of the Japanese obsession with all things cute and infiltrated the market in a quite remarkable way. If you thought it was popular back home, you haven’t seen anything. I’ve seen more of this character in the last 7 months than I thought would be possible in a lifetime. There is literally no section of life that she isn’t involved in. Every town and city has their own themed Kitty-chan doll. At home, in the living room, you can watch Hello Kitty DVDs on your pink Hello Kitty TV and DVD Player. You can listen to music on your Hello Kitty CD Player. In the kitchen, your kettle, coffee maker, milkshake maker and cutlery can be Hello Kitty adorned. In case of spillages, there’s Hello Kitty aprons.

For the stylists, there’s Hello Kitty hair crimpers, curling irons, shampoos, soaps and towels, and if you’re going on holiday, be sure to take your Hello Kitty luggage. From clocks to fans, puzzles to karaoke machines and watches to bed linen, you can be sure that whatever you are doing, you can be doing it with her. But what about the extortionate prices? Now there’s no need to worry. Simply whip out your Hello Kitty debit card and shop till you drop (or pass out from pink-fatigue). I should at this point mention that I do in fact own a Hello Kitty in a monkey suit, but it was a present and an in-joke, so if I’m being hypocritical it’s only a little so!

However, my sources tell me that Hello Kitty may be suffering from over-saturation (can’t imagine why) and that she’s on the way out. Parents making the faux pas of buying cool Hello Kitty gear for their kids instead run the risk of seriously undermining their social status, as buying the wrong kind of trainers or clothes would. Is this a sign of kids and Japan in general getting sick of fluffy mascots? Of course not, it’s just that something more kawaii has come along. The new kid on the block? Miffy.

Finally, many happy returns to Godzilla, whose 50th birthday it also is today.

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