Sanrio Acquires Mr. Men, Adds To Their Hello Kitty Empire

By Danica Davidson

At Sanrio, it’s all about the cuteness. The Japanese company has created such iconic images of cuteness and pop culture as Hello Kitty, Spottie Dottie and My Melody. Sanrio is going to keep on releasing cute merchandise, but they’re trying something new this time: using other people’s characters.

Hello Kitty and all the others were created by Sanrio. However, the company has acquired rights to Mr. Men and Little Miss, which are the creations of British author Roger Hargreaves. Hargreaves started publishing children’s books about funny characters with funny names in 1971 with Mr. Men, and then branched out to include female characters with Little Miss.

We first got word of something like this happening last summer, when it was reported Sanrio might spend quite a bit of money (like 30 billion yen, which is about $377 million) to acquire rights to new characters. Apparently they don’t want to count as much on Hello Kitty for their income.

This won’t be Japan’s introduction to Mr. Men or Little Miss. Television shows have been made based on the books and, though they’re not from Japan, they have made it on TV there.

Interestingly, in the Japanese-inspired American market, VIZ has also gotten itself involved with Mr. Men and Little Miss. The anime and manga company, which releases big names like Naruto and Bleach, will start publishing its own line of Mr. Men and Little Miss graphic novels this spring.

Hello Kitty: Technically British (image from Hello Kitty Tumblr)

Sanrio Global chief executive Ray Hatoyama was quoted at Anime News Network talking about the Mr. Men and Little Miss acquisition. Hello Kitty isn’t just a cute feline — she has a whole story made up about her, including the fact that she too is from England. Hatoyama tapped this when he said, "Hello Kitty was born in London as well, and we are sure that [she, Mr. Men, and the Little Miss characters] will become good friends. We are confident that with Mr. Men and Little Miss on our portfolio, we can drive our global license program to the next stage."

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