My Melody: Sanrio’s Little Red Riding Hood

Maybe you’ve heard of Hello Kitty, and how she’s actually a British schoolgirl (if not then read that article & prepare to gawp with incredulity for at least 10 minutes). But what about Sanrio’s other characters? There are many of them, each with their own stories. In the case of My Melody, her origins are entwined with a well-known fairy tale.

My Melody is a little girl bunny, who was released by Sanrio in 1975. According to her character bio, she was born in a forest. She is often depicted playing amongst trees with her woodland animal friends. She also wears a hood, which nowadays is usually pink, but when she was first introduced it was red. This hood was made by her grandmother.

In 1976, a children’s book was published in Japan featuring My Melody as Little Red Riding Hood. It was reprinted in 2015, and I was lucky enough to find a copy of this edition.

My Melody Little Red Riding Hood
Image my own

The title reads ‘My Melody’s Little Red Riding Hood.’ The text in red literally translates as ‘Akazukin’ which is the Japanese name for ‘Little Red Riding Hood.’ The text at the bottom translates as ‘Little Red Riding Hood! Be careful of the wolf!’

Here are some of the inside pages:

My Melody and her mother pack a basket for granny. Image my own.
My Melody sets off into the woods. Image my own.
The wolf disguises himself as granny. Image my own.
The wolf eats granny and she is saved by the woodcutter. They stitch the wolf up, and he runs away (into a tree, silly wolf!) Image my own.

I find it interesting that Sanrio decided to use My Melody for this fairy tale. Rabbits are prey animals, so in this story the wolf is taunted by having its meal turn on it. Also, this is a good example of how fairy tales can travel and evolve for different audiences. For Japanese children, Little Red Riding Hood is a foreign fairy tale. Perhaps attaching it to a familiar character makes it more appealing to them.

My Melody is very popular in Japan. Now that I live here, I am taking full advantage of this. Many people who know me will say that I like Hello Kitty. Whilst this is true to a degree, in England I grew to like her out of lack of choice. But I’m sorry everyone, I have a confession: My Melody is actually my favourite! Whenever I’ve needed something, I have found a My Melody option. Here are some of the more obscure ways in which she is taking over my life, filling it with her little pink ears one thing at a time…

All images my own.

Cleaning Wipes

My Melody cleaning wipes
So my apartment is cute as well as clean!

Chopsticks

My Melody chopsticks
Because obviously food tastes better if the implements for eating it with are adorable. Also, it’s not shown in the picture, but written on the side of these it says ‘once upon a time, there lived a little rabbit who always wore a red hood.’

Nail Files

My Melody nail files
My Melody and her friends do a fantastic job of smoothing my snags!

Duvet Cover

My Melody duvet cover
Warm, cosy, and almost as soft as a real rabbit!

Bottle Holder

My Melody bottle cover
Keeps my water cool, my bag dry, and my bottles pink!

My Melody’s Little Red Riding Hood is a cute fairy tale bridge between cultures, and I hope to encounter more of her stories in the future.

 

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Amelia Starling is a writer and folklorist. She graduated from the University of Winchester with a degree in Creative Writing, and is Senior Editor for Folklore Thursday. She loves travelling and collecting stories, and spent 15 months living in Japan doing this alongside teaching English. Currently she is studying for a masters degree in Ethnology & Folklore at the University of Aberdeen. Amelia blogs about folklore and fairy tales at The Willow Web. You can follow her on Twitter @amyelize.

5 thoughts on “My Melody: Sanrio’s Little Red Riding Hood

  1. I see the images used in that book you got came from an actual animated film that Sanrio released in 1989 of the same name. I thought the wolf in it was pretty well-designed for such a goofy looking character (I thought he stepped out of an American cartoon like Tiny Toon Adventures).

    You can see this film here… http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x11klgd

      1. Who knows what Sanrio thinks in all this. I suppose the same argument could be made for any story that uses animals in place of humans (like Art Spiegelman’s “Maus”). One cartoon that always comes to my my when it comes to animal anthropomorphization being taken to extreme levels might be TMS’ classic “Sherlock Hound”, where the characters are practically human beings with animal heads for the most part.

        While I don’t see a prob. with Kitty White being British given the nature of his character and setting (even if most times I’ve heard her speak, it’s always some neutral American accent anyway), it’s interesting they’d go for this human thing as if we’re seeing these characters through rose-tinted glasses of sorts.

        One film in that nature I thought about that might also follow Sanrio’s logic in that regard was a animated effort form 1985 called “Penguin Memories: Shiawase Monogatari” (A Penguin’s Memories: A Tale of Happiness), a drama in which it’s main cast are cute super-deformed penguins and a story of a war veteran trying to find his way in a new town and a new girl he meets. It’s rather fascinating how this came out at all, but it sorta makes some sense when you see this was a vehicle for a particular brand of beer popular in Japan at the time.
        http://collectr.blogspot.com/2017/04/a-penguins-memories.html

      2. Thanks for the informative comment! It is interesting to see animals taking on human roles in stories. For Sanrio especially, since as a brand it seems to bridge the gap between children and adults. Personally I think it’s just part of them giving each of their characters their own identity, which also makes them more appealing to consumers. Hello Kitty is the stylish city girl, whereas My Melody is more of a quaint forest tea party girl.

        I had not heard of A Penguin’s Memories before, but I checked out the link you gave and it definitely looks interesting. Maybe using animals to explore such distressing issues is comforting, since it’s a safer environment to play them out and explore solutions in cartoons/fiction? I also found the My Melody film, too – the wolf is very reminiscent of Tiny Toons!

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