Animation Art Toys

Hello Kitty, Not Actually a Kitty — Or Asian

In a stunning development, it has been revealed that Hello Kitty, Sanrio’s iconic — and forever mouthless — character is not, and has never been, an actual cat. How is that possible, you ask? Beats me.

The Los Angeles Times broke the news today — in advance of a special exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo — in an interview with noted Hello Kitty scholar Christine R. Yano:

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.”

Still not sure how that explanation makes her “not a cat.” I mean, plenty of anthropomorphized cartoon animals are “never depicted on all fours.” What’s next? Is Mickey Mouse not really a mouse? Is Goofy not really a dog?

If Mickey can have a best friend who’s a dog and a dog who’s a dog, why can’t Hello Kitty have a pet cat? I mean, Hello Kitty’s pet cat shouldn’t disqualify her cathood, should it? Though to be fair, I’ve always found it weird that Goofy has never questioned the way Mickey treats Pluto.

Here’s the real kicker to me, though. Not only is Hello Kitty not really a cat, she isn’t even Asian?!?! Say wha?

Kitty is actually named Kitty White and she has a full back story. She is a Scorpio. She loves apple pie. And she is the daughter of George and Mary White.

“She has a twin sister,” adds Yano. “She’s a perpetual third-grader. She lives outside of London. I could go on. A lot of people don’t know the story and a lot don’t care. But it’s interesting because Hello Kitty emerged in the 1970s, when the Japanese and Japanese women were into Britain. They loved the idea of Britain. It represented the quintessential idealized childhood, almost like a white picket fence. So the biography was created exactly for the tastes of that time.”

That’s right. Hello Kitty’s fur isn’t the only thing that’s white about her. Wait, if she isn’t a cat, does she even have fur? I don’t even know anymore.

This news has definitely sent a shockwave across the internet. If you want to get the lowdown for yourself, head over to JANM next month and check out the exhibit.

Meanwhile, I’ll be over here in the corner rethinking my entire life.

6 comments

  1. I’m honestly not surprised that she’s British: I mean, her name is Kitty, her boyfriend’s name is Dan, she drinks tea from cups with handles and saucers… It’s a charicature of British culture that represents a kind of reverse racial exoticism. But I am pretty shocked that she isn’t a cat. What kind of little girl is she? She has ears, whiskers, and no mouth. Is Miffy not a rabbit?

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