TOKYO - Square and loud, SpongeBob wasn't supposed to have much chance for success in Japan, a nation famous for its love of more cuddly characters like Hello Kitty and Pikachu.
But the perky, bucktoothed American cartoon is proving the skeptics wrong. "SpongeBob SquarePants" attracts nearly 1.9 million Japanese households to his TV show daily and is raking in a growing share of the $5 billion in annual retail sales for Nickelodeon, the Viacom Inc. unit behind the show.
And he's doing it by capturing the hearts of Japan's young women — not children, his most loyal fans in the U.S.
"I started collecting Bob because I think he's cute and he stands out," said Mayu Takahashi, a 21-year-old student, shopping in Tokyo's fashionable Harajuku district holding a SpongeBob tote bag. "Some of my friends say he's a creepy kind of cute."
5 years ago