A meet-and-greet with a mute, mouthless Sanrio character? Sounds good!

Who is your favourite Sanrio character? Is it the world’s laziest egg, Gudetama? Or maybe the eternally angry Aggrestuko? The Sanrio Character Grand Prix was held on June 9 where Sanrio fans in their thousands voted for their favourite character, and for a second year in a row, Cinnamoroll took the top spot, with Pom Pom Purin and Pochacco rounding out the top three.

To celebrate, the Sanrio Company offered fans an online meet-and-greet with the top ten most popular characters (the remaining seven of whom are My Melody, Hello Kitty, yoshikitty, Kuromi, SHOW BY ROCK!, Little Twin Stars, and Tuxedo Sam). This came as a lovely surprise to Sanrio Superfan and SoraNews24 Japanese-language reporter Mariko Ohanabatake, who immediately signed up for one of the available spots.

But how does an online meet-and-greet work? For 4,000 yen (US$37) you can video chat with your favourite Sanrio character one on one for two minutes. You may be thinking “4,000 yen? For a two minute video call? With a fictional character?!” but for hardcore Sanrio fans, this is a rare treat. In Sanrio themed amusement parks, such as Puroland in Tokyo or Harmonyland in Oita prefecture, you are rarely afforded time for more than a quick photo together. Compared to that, two whole uninterrupted minutes is a luxury!

▼ Mariko has usually only been able to chat to her favourite Sanrio characters for about ten seconds at a time up until now.

The character Mariko chose to chat with was Sanrio stalwart Hello Kitty. She was of course giddy with excitement; after all, she was about to have a personal chat with a worldwide superstar. But Mariko had not been to a meet-and-greet before, and was unsure of what kind of things she’d talk about. What do you say to a person you’ve been a fan of for so long?

▼ Mariko decided to make some pre-chat notes, so she could make the most of her time.

Of course, such a special event requires one to dress for the occasion, so Mariko dressed appropriately with a Hello Kitty headband and a Miracle Heart light stick.

Mariko had booked her timeslot in advance via an app called ‘Talkport’ and waited with anticipation for her call to begin. The screen showed a countdown timer, which made Mariko’s heart race even faster. It was almost time!

After the countdown hit zero, Hello Kitty finally appeared on the screen!

Mariko’s whirlwind two-minute interview began with a self-introduction, but by the time she’d finished 40 seconds had already passed. Time really does fly when you’re interviewing an international celebrity like Hello Kitty. Time for the hard hitting questions!

“You’re always doing a lot of unusual and surprising collaborations with other companies, but sometimes we women end up doing work that’s much different than what we want to do. What’s your motto when it comes to work?” Mariko asked.

“Agggghhh!! That question was way too long! I used up a whole minute already!!” Mariko thought to herself, but then Hello Kitty began to gesture, as if to answer the question. How cute!

“Hello Kitty says she is working hard to put smiles on many people’s faces,” said Hello Kitty’s translator. Of course, Hello Kitty doesn’t have a mouth so she can’t actually talk.

20 seconds left…

“We know that Puroland is closed, but do you have a message for all your fans?”

Hello Kitty gestured once more. “She says she’s looking forward to seeing everyone again.”

The video chat ended automatically as the time expired, and so Mariko’s two-minute interview with Japan’s most famous character mascot came to a close. The time had flown by, and Mariko was a little disappointed that she wasn’t able to ask more. She regretted not asking her friend, who is a pro at meet-and-greets, how to make the most of the time she had. Rather than just interviewing Hello Kitty, Mariko wished she could have shared her childhood memories and the impact Hello Kitty had on them. She wanted to thank Hello Kitty for giving her courage as a child and also as an adult. But two minutes is two minutes, and it couldn’t be helped.

For fans that missed out on the video call, the Infinite Greeting event is happening on June 20. 10 characters will appear on Showroom, an online streaming service. While the event doesn’t appear to be one-on-one this time, fishy Sanrio character Hangyodon, a fan favourite on Japanee Twitter, will also be making an appearance, so be sure not to miss out!

Photos © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

[ Read in Japanese ]