Sanrio Co., Ltd. is a Japanese company that creates a range of (mostly) design series that features characters, and sells and licenses various products Branded with these characters. These products include stationery, school supplies, gifts and accessories. Sanrio's best known character is Hello Kitty, a white cat with red bow and no mouth. Hello Kitty is one of the most successful marketing brands in the world.
Sanrio was started by Shintaro Tsuji as the Yamanashi Silk Company in 1960, using 1 million yen in capital. The company produced a line of character merchandise around gift-giving occasions. It wasn't until 1973 that the company was officially established under the name "Sanrio." The word Sanrio comes from "san" (meaning three in Japanese) and "río" (meaning river in Spanish"). He named the company Sanrio to unify the three rivers of the world.
Besides selling their famed character goods, Sanrio also takes part in movie production and publishing. They also participate in the fast food industry, running a franchise of KFC in Saitama. They also own the rights to the Peanuts characters in Japan. Sanrio also has an Animatronics company branch called Kokoro Company, Ltd. ("Kokoro" being the Japanese word for "heart"), best known for the Actroid android.
Sanrio is the largest greeting card manufacturer in Japan. In 2002, they began a joint business venture with the Walt Disney Company for their greeting cards.
Hello Kitty was added to the early characters of Sanrio in 1974 and was released in 1975. The popular mouthless feline has had both peaks and drops in sales over the years, but always has been the highest contributor to Sanrio's sales. Other notably popular characters through the years have been The Little Twin Stars (created by Mr. Tsuji himself), My Melody, Keroppi, Tuxedo Sam, Badtz-Maru, Tenorikuma, Usahana, Pochacco, Chococat, and Cinnamoroll. Sanrio constantly adds new characters to its lineup (up to three a year), so some of the older characters go into retirement. Some of Sanrio's newest characters are Charmmy Kitty (Hello Kitty's pet cat), Kuromi (My Melody's rival) and Chi Chai Monchan (a pink monkey who balances bananas on his head.) For a time, Osamu Tezuka's baby unicorn character Unico, who starred in two feature-length anime movies in the early 1980s, was also part of the Sanrio empire; however, the rights to Unico shifted to Tezuka's own company after Tezuka's death in 1989.
In late 2003, Sanrio won the "Top Brand with a Conscience" award from the Medinge Group of Sweden for its communication principles. The company has partnered with UNICEF since 1984.
Sanrio also hosts two Theme parks in Japan, Sanrio Puroland in Tama, Tokyo, and Harmonyland in Hiji, Ōita, Kyūshū.
Sanrio Inc., Sanrio's American subsidiary that produces most of the merchandise found in franchise boutiques, has its office in South San Francisco, California. Sanrio's first Western hemisphere store opened in San Jose's Eastridge Mall. There are eighteen "flagship" locations across the country, and in 2005 Sanrio opened its first high-end boutique called Momoberry at Beverly Center in Los Angeles.
In 2006 Sanrio went Digital with a joint venture with Typhoon Games and launched Sanrio Digital to expand its brand and revenues through the Internet, Online Games and Mobile Services.
"The Adventure of Hello Kitty & Friends" is the first ever made Hello Kitty TV series animation in 3D. The animation is licensed by Sanrio Digital and produced by Dream Cortex. The first season with 26 episodes will premier on select networks in Europe and Asia, including Hong Kong, beginning in the first quarter of 2008.
- Bunny and Mattie
- Button Nose
- Charmmy Kitty
- Cheery Chums
- Chi Chai Monchan
- Coro Coro Kuririn
- Hello Kitty
- Deery Lou
- Den Den
- Doki Doki Yummychums
- Fairy Florence
- Flint the Time Detective
- Hello Kitty
- Keroppi Hasunoue
- Little Twin Stars
- Marron Cream
- My Melody
- Patty & Jimmy
- Picke Bicke
- Pink no Corisu
- Pinki Lili
- Pippo (Sanrio)
- Purin (Sanrio)
- Pururun Kyupi
- Ruby (Sanrio)
- Shinkansen (Sanrio)
- Spottie Dottie
- Spunky Burro (first Sanrio character)
- Strawberry King
- Sweet Coron
- Tabo (Sanrio)
- Tuxedo Sam
- Unico (formerly with Osamu Tezuka)
From 1977 to 1985, Sanrio produced the following movies through their Sanrio Films label:
- Jumbo (1977) (Chiisana Jumbo)
- Chirin (1978) (Chirin no Suzu or Bell of Chirin)
- The Mouse and His Child (film) (1978) (Oyaro Nezumi no Fushigina Tabi or The Wonderful Journey of the Mouse Family)
- Metamorphoses (film)/Winds of Change (Sanrio) (1978) (Orpheus no Hoshi or Orpheus of the Stars)
- The Glacier Fox (1979) (Kita-Kitsune Monogatari or The Story of the Northern Fox)
- Nutcracker Fantasy (1979) (Kurumiwari Ningyo or The Nutcracker)
- Unico (1979)
- The Sea Prince and the Fire Child (1981) (Sirius no Densetsu or Legend of Sirius)
- Unico (1981) - with Tezuka Productions and Madhouse Studios
- Unico (1983) (Yuniko: Maho no Shima he) - with Tezuka Productions
- Oshin (1984)
- A Journey Through Fairyland (1985) (Yosei Florence or Florence the Fairy)
- Mouse Story: George and Gerald's Adventure (2007) (Nezumi Monogatari: George To Gerald no Bouken) - with Madhouse Studios
- Cinnamoroll: The Movie (2007) - with Madhouse Studios
- The Adventures of Hello Kitty & Friends (2008) - with Dream Cortex and Sanrio Digital
After "A Journey Through Fairyland", Sanrio switched gears and started doing short films, OAVs, and TV shows based on their characters (Hello Kitty, etc.). In 2006, Sanrio announced they're going to do feature-length films again when they announced they were making 2 new movies: Nezumi Monogatari: George To Gerald no Bouken (Mouse Story: George and Gerald's Adventure), about mice living together, and Cinnamoroll: The Movie, about the character Cinnamoroll. The two movies were released as a double feature on December 22, 2007 and are expected to be released overseas.
Sanrio publishes many books featuring its own characters. Additionally, they publish art books (for instance, those by Keibun Ōta) and other books. Sanrio publishes books in many different languages, including Japanese and English.
Further reading Rectify
- Kinsella, Sharon. "CUTIES IN JAPAN", published in "Women Media and Consumption in Japan", Lise Skov & Brian Moeran eds., 1995
- Sanrio's official English website
- Sanrio's official Japanese website
- Interactive Sanrio Character List
- A 1999 "interview" with classic Sanrio character My Melody
- Sanrio's Internet Community Site
- Sanrio Spotlight:Momoberry
- Momoberry's official website
- Sanrio Digital Website
- Dream Cortex Website
- Vintage Sanrio - A website for fans of older Sanrio creations