Sanrio, the character brand company, announced on Tuesday that it has acquired the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters from media company Chorizon Limited. This marks the first time that Sanrio has acquired characters that were not created in-house. Created by the late English author Roger Hargreaves, the Mr. Men series began in 1971 with books such as Mr. Tickle, Mr. Happy, and Mr. Bump. In 1981, Hargreaves introduced the Little Miss series, which includes Little Miss Sunshine. Roger Hargreaves passed away in 1988, but his son Adam Hargreaves has continued to add new books to the series.
As of now, the collection of Mr. Men and Little Miss characters has grown to over 80. The books have gained worldwide recognition and have been translated into more than 30 languages, selling over 100 million copies. The popularity of these books has led to the creation of four British and American animated television series, which have also been aired in Japan. Sanrio, known for its iconic feline character Hello Kitty, had reported to Bloomberg in July that it plans to spend up to 30 billion yen ($377 million) to acquire the rights of an already established character, in order to diversify its portfolio. The acquisition was handled by Sanrio Global, the company’s entity in charge of European business and international purchases.
Yūko Shimizu, a Japanese illustrator, first brought Hello Kitty to life in 1974. However, the CEO of Sanrio Global, Ray Hatoyama, stated that according to the official backstory, Hello Kitty was actually born in London. He went on to express his belief that Hello Kitty, along with the characters Mr. Men and Little Miss, will make great friends and be able to take Sanrio’s global license program to new heights.