For more from Small Gift, check out "Kitty in Pink: Sanrio's '80s Prom," "Sanrio Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary with 'Small Gift'" and "Sanrio Meets Fight Club in Peekaboo Monster's Installation for Small Gift."
Hello Kitty might be the most famous Sanrio character, but she certainly isn't the only one. At Small Gift, the exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of Sanrio, we saw all sorts of characters, from fan favorites like Badtz-Maru and Little Twin Stars to more obscure characters like Goropikadon and Hangyodon.
At Kitty in Pink, the '80s prom party that closed out Small Gift in L.A., we asked a handful of people what were their favorite Sanrio characters that weren't Hello Kitty. Their answers are below, feel free to add yours to the comment section.
Irene Yuen mentioned Goropikadon, also known as The Thunder Brothers, a trio of boys with pastel hair that aren't terribly well-known in the U.S.
"I just discovered them recently because my friend wanted to do them for the VIP party," she said.
The Thunder Brothers were first released in 1982. Their Sanrio character bio states their birthday as the "twenty-fifth day of the fourteenth month of the fifty-third year of the Thunder calendar."
That is confusing. Sanrio characters usually have conventional birthdays, like December 8 (Landry) or October 31 (Kuromi). Regardless, the Thunder Brothers are pretty cute and each one has a distinct personality.
Michelle Nguyen of Bubble Punch, the event team that helped coordinate the Small Gift parties, says that she used to prefer Badtz-Maru, but, right now, she's into Hangyodon.
"He's awesome," she said.
Hangyodon is, like The Thunder Brothers, a lesser-known Sanrio character that stems from the 1980s. He's adorable, with a face a little reminiscent to a character on The Simpsons. However, Hangyodon has what might be the saddest character bio in Sanrio-land. Despite his penchant for making people laugh, he's described as "a sensitive and lonely little guy" who "dreams of being a hero, but things never seem to go according to plan." Poor, little dude.
Onch Movement has a love for Pochacco.
"When I was growing up, I had a little Pochacco tissue holder that I kept every day by my side," said the jewelry designer.
Part of the '80s gang of Sanrio characters, Pochacco is the popular guy. According to his character bio, he's good at sports, especially basketball and soccer. He's no conformist, though, Pochacco is a pup who went vegetarian.
Jocelyn Sia has a good reason for picking Chococat.
"Because it's a cat," she said, "that's not Hello Kitty."
Chococat popped up in 1995. His character bio mentions friends with names like Cookie-bau and Jellybean. How sweet. Also, his whiskers are like antenna, transmitting news, which could be awesome or annoying.
Animator Aimee Major-Steinberger went with the classic pairing of Kiki and Lala, the Little Twin Stars.
"They're so cute and they always show them flying on stars above the clouds and the clouds are pink and blue," she said. "It's just very peaceful."
Like Hello Kitty, My Melody and Tuxedo Sam, this brother and sister duo dates back to the 1970s and, like other sibling pairings in the Sanrio universe, they have distinct personalities. Their character bio notes that Kiki is a young inventor, while Lala is a budding poet and cook.
"He's just angry at the world and the band. That's why I like him," said Glenn Freund of Badtz-Maru.
"The world and the band?" I asked.
"Especially the band, they're holding him back," he answered.
We've been to enough concerts where Badtz-Maru stickers decorated guitars to know that this is a pretty apt description of the penguin with attitude. A product of the early '90s, Badtz-Maru became an unofficial mascot for goths and metal kids. (I liked to mix up Badtz-Maru and Bauhaus stickers on my school supplies and kept a Badtz-Maru wallet and trinkets inside my black, metal-trimmed "goth box" handbag. It's a good look. Let's bring it back.)
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While Badtz-Maru was the gothest character in the Sanrio universe, Kuromi has taken over that position since her release in 2005. She was even born on Halloween.
"And she has a skull on her," said Sheyne Fleischer, one of the many Kuromi fans at Kitty in Pink.
"She's the leader of a tricycle gang," mentioned Bubble Punch co-founder True Mee Lee.
Kuromi is a sometime-antagonist for My Melody, but as partygoer Bebe mentioned she's also "a little sweet." Like Badtz-Maru, she's the naughty character who is too cute to dislike.