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Hello Kitty

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Hello Kitty

Everybody who is really, really into Hello Kitty knows her name is Kitty White. Ditto for this: according to her official Sanrio biography, she was born in London, making her British by default, no? So what’s the big deal?P

Yet, pretty much everyone in Japan thinks Kitty-chan is Japanese—with only diehard Hello Kitty nerds all the wiser.P

According to an Atlantic Wire piece by Tokyo Vice writer Jake Adelstein, Tatsuya Nakajima, a leader of the right-wing group Junshinkai, was ticked off by the assumption that Hello Kitty was not Japanese, saying, “That’s the kind of stuff the Chinese say when they pirate our national treasures and goods. It’s outrageous. And unforgivable.”P

Miffy was created by Dick Bruna in 1955. Bruna, 83, is quite popular in Japan as is his character Miffy. The rabbit also inspired an Aussie rock tune.P
Hello Kitty debuted in the mid-1970s and was created by illustrator Yuko Shimizu. Cathy went on sale in 1976. In a 2008 interview with the Telegraph, Bruna accused Hello Kitty of ripping off Miffy, saying, “That [Hello Kitty] is a copy [of Miffy], I think. I don’t like that at all.”P
The complaint against Cathy, Hello Kitty’s friend, was filed by Mercis, the company that manages Bruna’s copyrights. The court’s ruling means that Cathy merchandise is banned in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Sanrio, the firm that makes Hello Kitty goods, can no longer sell Cathy items.P


 

If the Cathy ban is broken, Sky News reports, Sanrio must fork over £21,000 (US$34,000) a day, up to £1.75m ($2.8m). “We object to this ruling and do not believe any copyright infringement took place,” Sanrio said, “a view we intend to express legally.”P

No Two Cartoon Rabbits Are The Same (Except These Ones)

No word on how this impacts Hello Kitty Online. Kotaku is following up with the game’s publisher and will update should the company comment.

Of course, designer Yuko Shimizu created Hello Kitty in Japan in the early 1970s—though, there’s been dispute that it rips off Miffy.

In 2008, the cat was even named Japan’s “Official Tourism Ambassador”. However, Hello Kitty’s official profile contended that the character lived in London with her family. So…shouldn’t she be a tourism ambassador for the U.K.?P

In Adelstein’s tongue-in-cheek piece, he and co-writer Nathalie-Kyoto Stucky note that a recent book Hello Kitty’s Guide to Japan, complicates questions of the cartoon cat’s nationality further as it underscores the feline as Japanese—not British. From the piece:P

According to their story, Hello Kitty is introducing Japan to her American boyfriend Dear Daniel. When he arrives, he discovers Kitty living in a tatami-mat laden house. Her entire family lives in Japan and they all can read Japanese and speak the language fluently. Kitty is so knowledgeable about Japanese culture and traditions that the reader can only surmise she is either Japanese or an amazingly bilingual Japanese studies scholar.P

 

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