Megumi Hayashibara, the long-time voice actor for Hello Kitty, has announced her departure from the role.
Goodbye, Kitty: Hayashibara’s announcement on Wednesday coincides with Hello Kitty’s official 50th birthday.
“Looking ahead to the next 50 years, the next 100 years, I have come to the decision to step away from Kitty’s side. In worldly terms, it’s a ‘graduation,’ you could say,” she wrote in Japanese on blogging site Ameba.
Embracing the future: Hayashibara, who had voiced the fictional character for 33 years, explained that Sanrio, the company behind Hello Kitty, informed her of their decision to change the character’s voice. The move is reportedly part of the company’s plan to enhance the character’s global appeal while “cherishing the future and AI,” according to SoraNews24.
About Hayashibara: The 56-year-old actor has been the voice for Hello Kitty since 1990. During her tenure, she voiced the character in numerous anime films, original video anime projects and television series, totaling 16 separate anime works. She is one of the most prolific voice actors in Japan, known for her contributions to the industry in the ‘90s and early 2000s.
Although Hayashibara felt that Sanrio’s decision was sudden, she felt that it was “extremely natural” after discussions with Sanrio about their marketing plans. All videos featuring her voicing the character on the official Hello Kitty YouTube channel have now seemingly been removed.
Other voice actors’ departure: In addition to Hayashibara, Miina Tominaga and Go Takahashi, the voice actors for Hello Kitty’s twin sister Mimi and boyfriend Daniel, respectively, will also be leaving their roles.
Despite the changes, Hayashibara remains positive about the transition, likening it to a family member getting married. She expressed support for Sario and plans to continue being a Hello Kitty fan even after another voice takes over the character.