baby stuff / mom culture / stuff we like

Happy Birthday, Miffy!

i hope my face is that smooth at 58.

typically i keep my almost-one-year-old daughter away from the TV, but one rare exception is Miffy and Friends on Kids Thirteen. it’s age-appropriate, the stories are sweet, the characters virtuous, and it’s visually beautiful. but perhaps what i like best about this program is what sets it apart from most of the other children’s programming out there: the pace is S L O W.

Miffy and Friends is a gentle program in both content and presentation. it is bright and eye-catching, but not flashy. the images and colors are crisp and clean, and the backgrounds are neither busy nor distracting. the stories are cheerful and upbeat without being ADHD- or seizure-inducing. the narration and characterization voiceovers are all done by one woman with a pleasant voice who speaks slowly and clearly. the characters do not screech, scream or yell (put your hand down, Dora). even when presenting a vignette wherein the characters are excited, the overall tone of the show remains calming and relaxing.

SONY DSCmy little bunny enjoying her Miffy doll – a limited edition Amaou Strawberry Miffy from Fukuoka, Japan.

Miffy – or Nijntje as she is called back home in her native Netherlands – was created 58 years ago by Dutch artist Dick Bruna. although she is a global icon, her books have never been widely available in the United States.  in fact, it wasn’t until 1996 that Kodansha, a Japanese publishing company, released a Miffy book for the first time in the US through their American division.  although they released more titles and did a marketing push in the late ’90s, Miffy fever never really caught on here, and the American titles are now out of print.  i first met Miffy and learned about Dick Bruna in Japan, where she is (やっぱり) a Kawaii Superstar, and equally as recognisable as her (much younger) imitator, Hello Kitty.  to this day, Miffy’s popularity in the Anglosphere is primarily concentrated in the UK and elsewhere.

speaking of Hello Kitty, et. al., a few years back, Sanrio began to market a character who looked a little TOO much like Miffy.  in 2011, Mercis – Miffy’s parent company – and Sanrio reached an out-of-court settlement that Sanrio must stop making and marketing their cheap knock off, named Hello Kiffy.

psyche, that wasn’t really her name.  but STILL, you guys:

sanrio cathy
yeah . . . no.

rather than continuing to battle in court, both companies agreed to donate their court costs to the victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. no hard feelings?

more about Miffy and her creator, Dick Bruna:

Official Miffy website (in English, Dutch and Japanese)
The man who made Miffy (Financial Times)
Dick Bruna, creator of the Miffy books, talks about his life and work (The Telegraph)
Official Miffy YouTube channel
Official Nijntje YouTube channel


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