My husband and I are pretty big Hello Kitty fans. Yes, that’s me AND my husband. He’s actually the bigger fan, with Hello Kitty iPhone accessories and the Hello Kitty decal on the car. And it was his idea for us to attend Sanrio’s 50th Anniversary celebration in Santa Monica and visit Hello Kitty’s Puroland in Japan (which you can read about here).
One thing we’ve noticed about Japan’s feline ambassador is that Sanrio seems very open to licensing her image to others. (Hello Kitty Swarovski crystals anyone?) One of its latest partnerships is with Viz Media, which has been granted permission to create graphic novels featuring the iconic cat. They’ve recently released the first of these books entitled Hello Kitty: Fashion Music Wonderland.
I should emphasize that this is not a translation of an existing Japanese comic. The story was written by Viz Media, and the illustrations produced by one Argentinian and three American artists. But though the comic is intended for a Western audience, storylines are simple enough to be understood across cultures.
Regarding the artwork, each of the three stories within Fashion Music Wonderland is drawn by a different artist. While all of them use bright colors, their illustration styles are distinctly unalike. Chabot’s artwork, which I liked the best, is closest to the standard Sanrio look. Maderna uses softer lines and colors for her illustrations. McGinty has a cluttered style and takes the most liberties with the Sanrio characters, exaggerating proportions and depicting them from multiple angles.
Fashion Music Wonderland has been called a graphic novel by some, but it’s really a comic book. It contains three simple stand-alone stories that feature no dialogue and a minimal amount of text for things like signs and flyers. As such, it’s perfect for very young readers. The only common element connecting the three stories is Japanimation Kitty, Sanrio’s latest version of the famous cat. With her pink wig, maid-style costume, and sparkly eyes, she looks like a Visual Kei band member. Each story takes normal Hello Kitty and thrusts her into circumstances that transform her into Japanimation Kitty. It’s not groundbreaking storytelling, but it is cute and certainly a book that little kids and hard-core Hello Kitty fans will enjoy.
By the way, don’t be fooled by the two cover designs. Fashion Music Wonderland is printed with a rock band cover and a Wonderland cover, but both versions contain the same material inside. Extras include a cutout paper doll with clothes and accessories and two notecards.
Fashion Music Wonderland is rated A for all ages, and the 48-page wordless comic is definitely appropriate and well suited for a kid audience. But though the artwork and stories are as charming as the cute cat herself, the books are probably too simple for anyone past third grade (unless you’re a hard-core Hello Kitty fan).