Hello Kitty, Copyright, and My New-ish Co-written Paper

It’s been a while since I just wrote a blog post that wasn’t a review! The news that Hello Kitty was appointed as the Copyright PR Ambassador of Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs seemed like the perfect time to mention my latest co-authored article on the Sanrio series Sanrio Danshi… Well, that news came out in August, and my article came out all the way back in April, so it’s not exactly timely, but time doesn’t pass the way it usually does in 2020, right?

Hello Kitty as the PR ambassador for copyright law is particularly apt, since Sanrio is notoriously strict when it comes to upholding their own copyright, even when it comes to fan-produced materials (this Reddit post is a good overview). In fact, when the Sanrio Danshi anime came out in 2018, this Twitter post (shared from Facebook) warning fans not to make fan merch was highly circulated.

So what will Hello Kitty do as Copyright PR Ambassador? Apparently, she’ll appear in various informational videos and other materials on copyright infringement. Since it’s been a couple of months since the initial news, I thought I’d have a look to see if any of these materials have been released yet, but unfortunately, I didn’t find anything online.

And what does that have to do with my not-so-recently published paper? Well, Dr Simon Gough and I wrote a paper about Sanrio Danshi as a Sanrio media mix centered around character merchandise that exists to promote the consumption of Sanrio’s of other character merchandise, i.e. Hello Kitty. So, only tangentially related, but at this point, if I don’t talk about this paper now, I don’t know when I will!

Material Multiplicites and Sanrio Danshi: The Evolution of Sanrio’s Media Mix is open source, so you can read the entire thing right now if you’re so inclined! It was a lot of fun to research and write, plus I even got to include some photos of merch I took in Japan. It was also a great excuse to trawl through the Sanrio Danshi Twitter account for choice images like the one above.

Speaking of the Sanrio Danshi Twitter account, it employs many of the same techniques as the recent League of Legends Seraphine account, which made waves when the fictional character posted about quitting her day job and asked for words of support from fans (that she then printed out and hung up on a board for motivation). So, pretty relevant, right? If you end up checking my article out, let me know what you think in the comments!

About Anne Lee

Also known as apricotsushi. Anne can be written with the kanji for apricot (杏), and sushi was the most quintessentially Japanese thing I could think of when I was 13, resulting in my goofy, albeit memorable, nickname.