I just don’t want to live in a world without a nation as weird as Japan – and thankfully I don’t have to. Where else but Japan would you encounter Anpanman, which the NYT says is “a character that is based on a Japanese jam-filled pastry and is produced by Nippon Television”? (Dear NYT: An Anpan is filled with bean paste, not jam.) Further, where else would Jelly Donut Man be the best-selling character image in a nation obsessed with the images of cute cartoon characters?
According to the Tokyo-based research firm Character Databank (!!!!), Anpanman’s image is outselling the perennial powerhouse Pokémon and the rapidly fading Hello Kitty. This is quite a blow for Sanrio’s Kitty, who invented the category of cute characters created solely to sell product. Kitty is also facing challenge from two newcomers the panda Tarepanda, and Rilakkuma (“Relaxing bear.”FYI, Rilakkuma has a sidekick Korilakkuma whose name translates into, and I’m not making this up, “co-relaxing bear.”) — which has charged up the Character Databank charts and ranks fifth in the latest survey.
As an aside (isn’t this whole blog an aside?) it is interesting to note Hello Kitty lost her long-held spot as Japan’s top-grossing character in 2002 and has never recovered. That is the same year that Mrs. CollateralDamage made her pilgrimage to Sanrio Purio Land, the HK theme park near Tokyo. Coincidence? I report. You decide.