The world was introduced to some new information about Sanrio mascot Hello Kitty recently, though some of what emerged from an L.A. Times article ended up causing widespread confusion. You wouldn’t think the world would go so topsy turvy just by reading that Hello Kitty isn’t a cat, but that’s precisely what happened thanks to a few things getting lost in translation.
The article was written in advance of the upcoming “Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty” retrospective that opens at the Japanese American National Musem in L.A. on October 11. The article taps University of Hawaii anthropologist Christine R. Yano for some insight into the hugely popular kitty, and one of the bombs she dropped was that Hello Kitty is not actually a cat.
From the article:
When Yano was preparing her written texts for the exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum, she says she described Hello Kitty as a cat. “I was corrected — very firmly,” she says. “That’s one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show. Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it’s called Charmmy Kitty.”
Sanrio has since followed up with multiple sites like Kotaku to clarify that, yes, Hello Kitty is most definitely a cat. She just happens to be an anthropomorphic one, and should be regarded as a personification along the lines of Mickey Mouse. The latter may behave like a human in many ways, but he’s still a mouse, or at least a representation of one.
So, there you have it, heated controversy and debate deftly dodged! Feel free to enjoy the rest of the less dubious info about Hello Kitty in the article, including the fact that she’s British, has the full name Kitty White, and, understandably, holds a special significance to Asian Americans.
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