The upcoming English-language Hello Kitty movie is a ploy for Saniro to take over the world. I truly believe this and I don’t just mean dominating the product market: I’m talking about building an all-out Kitty empire. Do you know how many Hello Kitties there are in circulation? Over 50,000 products in 60 different countries, grossing over $1 billion worldwide. She has comics, books, video games, and a few Japanese films already to her name. She has jewellery and clothing lines. She has restaurants, diners, cafes, and theme parks. She’s on the side of trains in Japan. She has her own Airbus A330-200, for goodness’ sake. That’s a hell of a lot of Kitty.
Many might be unfamiliar with the backstory of the iconic popular brand. To fill you in, when Hello Kitty was conceptualised in 1971 she was an anthropomorphism of a Japanese Bobtail cat, who is intended to resemble a third-grade schoolgirl who resides just outside of London (don’t ask me why). She’s got a smiley complexion yet no mouth, intended to mean that ‘she speaks from her heart’ to people of all languages and is known with the greeting ‘hello’ to reflect Saniro’s motto: ‘social communication’.
On the surface, you might protest that she’s such a loveable little feline. No doubt that she’s a fan favourite: I, too, have to admit to owning countless Hello Kitties throughout the years. She’s made a number of screen appearances, but this will be the first English-language production related to the brand. The new movie, which was announced back in March, has added screenwriter Lindsey Beer (writer of the Tom Holland-Daisy Ridley Chaos Walking and Netflix’s Sierra Burgess is a Loser, as well as co-writer of Masters of the Universe, The Kingkiller Chronicles and Transformers: The Last Knight) to its talent. Beau Flynn (of FlynnPicture Co) will be producing the picture and the rights deal reportedly also encompassed other Saniro icons like Gudetama, My Melody, and Little Twin Stars. It’s not yet known whether the picture will be a live-action production, hot off the heels of Detective Pikachu, or whether it will be animated like the series that have come before it, but it will be handled by the capable New Line Cinema at any rate.
But it really just begs the question, why? Why release a movie when she has so much to her name already? You could read this as a holistic approach to marketing and communication, encouraging children to enjoy the toys and play and learn together. Or you could read this as downright propaganda and watch as the loveable, unassuming, smiley little cat grows to gargantuan proportions and tries to dominate the free world. I might not be immune to the adorable little cat and its unassuming demeanour, but still I can’t help but imagine army of Hello Kitties, mass produced and smiling without a mouth, marching through our cities and imprinting their mark everywhere they go.