Rooting for the underdog, rabbit, and cat: less well-known Sanrio characters

The 2018 Sanrio Character Ranking marked the 33rd time they’d asked us all to vote. When we posted this, voting was still running. Who’s gonna win this year?!

The list of characters you can vote for gets capped at 100 by Sanrio. Same way that the AKB48 group only lets 100 girls in their final sousenkyo ranking. But we know – we know – about the others.

Y’see, Sanrio’s created 400+ characters over the last 50-ish years. Since 1998, only 4 of them have topped the yearly ranking: Hello Kitty, Pompompurin, My Melody, and 2017 winner Cinnamoroll. You’d think Gudetama would’ve taken it once, but nope.

There is competition this year, to keep things tense. Yoshikitty’s grabbed a top 10 spot every year since debut. And never underestimate those Sanrio Boys.

We feel kinda bad for the less popular ones. The way less popular ones… The first ever winner, in 1986, was Zashikibuta. Anyone know which pig that is? He is, at least, on the 2018 voting list (entry #48).

Remind yourself how kawaii all those other Sanrio trademarks can be. None of the characters listed below can be voted for in the 2018 ranking, so let’s give them some love!

Small People (1976)

‘Sweet Candy’ is a cute and cheerful girl who loves candy. She’s joined by Lou, Tammy, Joy, and Lee. They all look pretty similar. Even Lee, the only guy in the group. And they’ve got a dog, Palo, who’s real easy to recognise.

Everyone – including Palo – rocks that 70’s illustration vibe. Back then, Sanrio hadn’t thought up 20 characters yet. It was the first time they’d tried launching 5 at once. No wonder the kids are nearly identical – way less effort. Simple face, lines for hair, super round feet.

The Small People got their own official Sanrio merch with classic style. Even the stuff made in the early 2000’s.

Cinnamoangels (2005)

Cinnamoroll’s music-loving friends: Mocha, Chiffon, and Adzuki. 3 characters from the huge Cinnamoworld who got their own spinoff brand. Shows how big that world is now. Cinnamoroll seriously rivals Hello Kitty for overall popularity.

Mocha’s the trendy leader and ‘big sister’, who started the Cinnamoangels group ’cause she wants to be like idols on TV. The ‘genki’ one’s Chiffon – a mood maker, and a troublemaker. Then there’s Adzuki. Enthusiastic and all, but kinda bad at following the rhythm.

Together, they’ve released a bunch of catchy cute songs. Check the Cinnamoangels out on Sanrio Japan’s YouTube channel.

Culture Shock (1985)

Old-school Japanese guys – Tetsunobu and Yumenosuke – who went to Paris together to learn Western culture. Can you hear that? That’s the sound of civilisation expanding! (Sanrio’s words, not ours…)

Okay, so there’s a thing called ‘Paris Syndrome’. It seems to mainly happen to Japanese people. They have this idea of beautiful, romantic Paris in their heads for ages. Then they go there, after all that dreaming, and it’s… a normal city. So normal, it shocks them into a mental breakdown.

Sanrio making characters out of a syndrome makes us laugh. The ‘Culture Shock’ name’s perfect. Although these 2 don’t show any symptoms, which is for the best.

Spunky Burro (1974)

There’s a farmhouse out next to the forest, where a kind-hearted donkey called Burro lives. There are things he doesn’t know about the world yet, but he’s curious and doesn’t give up easy. See? Spunky as hell.

Burro-kun’s made friends with the other farmhouse animals, like Speedy the mouse and Cassie the cute kitten. And you know what more characters means… yep, more opportunities for merch!

How come this donkey’s never won the character ranking? How? Should’ve taken the prize on name alone. We’d buy everything with the words ‘Spunky Burro’ slapped on the front.

Sugar Cream Puff (1991)

This boy bear lives in a quiet shop in Northern Europe, and loves collecting ribbons. That name’s gotta be based on how he looks. And maybe his insides, too – bears are full of fluffy stuffing. Light as a cream puff, white as sugar.

Sugar Cream Puff’s meant to be good at making milk tea. We’ve got no idea how, with those paws. And we’re not keen on the idea of a bright white, cute bear spilling hot tea down itself. That’ll never come out.

He’s cute, though. Drawn in a softer style, compared to the thick black line art on other Sanrio characters. If he offers us a cup of tea, we won’t say no.

Quiquaks (1979)

Papa Duck and his 3 duckling sons. They’re a kinda crazy family. The kids inherited their cheeky playfulness 100% from Dad. ‘Qui-quacks’ is written in Japanese to sound like ‘quick wax’ – that’s for the car, right?

So, we figure this is the Sanrio version of Ducktales. Without a money-grabbing uncle on the scene, or a catchy theme tune. And it’s best you don’t ask where Mama Duck is.

Guess this family loves roadtrips and surfing, huh. We think it’s great that Papa’s teaching those kids how to swim. Waving both arms outside the car like that… not such a good role model.

Bogo The City Boy (1980)

Bogo’s born and raised in the city – that’s a good start. But which city? Is it Hot Pop City, like in his logo? Nobody knows. Same as nobody’s sure which species Bogo belongs to.

The Hello Kitty Wiki says he’s ‘a character from the Japanese company Sanrio who is probably a gorilla.’ Probably. Wouldn’t surprise us if Sanrio announces Bogo The City Boy’s a real human boy with a real unfortunate face.

He loves music, and catching the latest fashion trends. That explains the retro neon disco-style, the oversized colourful bow tie, and the wireless DJ headphones.

Pankunchi (2007)

Wait, someone abandoned a baby panda in the Panda Forest? Jerks. At least take him to an animal shelter, or something.

Because of his backstory, Pan-kun’s one of the rare Sanrio characters that doesn’t have an official birthday. His fave things are the mittens found in the cardboard box he was left inside. This story gets sadder and sadder… Maybe that’s the point. Think of the sympathy votes!

It’s not all bad – Pan-kun’s got friends. Shokupan the slice, and Koppepan the roll. Awesome. Except they’re both made of bread, and that panda’s a hungry growing boy. We spoke too soon.

Okigaru Friends (1997)

Need more friends? Done. This bunch of happy, positive types could be the ray of sunshine we all need in life.

Hello Kitty Club named each animal buddy, and the group as a whole. They’re called: Oh-chan (dog), Ki-chan (cat), Gan-chan (bear), Run-chan (rabbit), Furen-chan (penguin), and Zun-chan (panda). O-ki-ga-ru-furen-zu. Talk about fudging to make things work.

And only in Sanrio’s world could these animals get along. We’ve already seen that bears are harmless, that bit’s no big deal. Somehow creating a cat and dog to be friends is Nobel Peace Prize level.

Sengoku Prison (2013)

An alternative cat-filled version of Japan’s – sorry, Nyapon’s – Sengoku era. One day, they were caught by a UFO who loves cats. We have to join forces and rescue the nyanja warriors. By buying merch and playing their game apps.

Are we sneakily being taught Japanese history via cute animals? The 15 characters are based on real people: there’s Nobu-nyan (Oda Nobunaga), Date-nyan (Date Masamune), Kenshin-nyan (Uesugi Kenshin), and Iepon (Tokugawa Ieyasu).

Sengoku Prison has the honour of ‘simplest game sequel story ever’. In the first game, players rescued all the cats and saved the day. So why did another game come out? They got captured again, by a different alien. It’s a good thing cats have 9 lives.

Which Sanrio characters get your vote?

You could pick a different character every day for a year, and Sanrio’ll be waiting with more of them.

Whether your faves are in the Sanrio Character Ranking or not, show your support. DEJAPAN’s got merch for loads of Sanrio characters, direct from Japan.

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