- Hello Kitty
Common for all of the above is that they are all more than just a merchandising decoration even if their origin differs (e.g. Doraemon was a comic from the start, Hello Kitty was invented as a "cute" mascot, Pokemon started in the video game series). But you can find everything from toys, cartoons, comics and video games featuring these popular mascots these days.
Although you could likely segment most of the above according to popularity in age, boys vs. girls, tweens, "grown" people etc. there is one of these who have a unique position in the Japanese market. Of course I'm talking about the one and only Anpanman. Anpanman and his stooges completely dominate the character market for the younger ages (say 2~5 year old toddlers). I find the character disturbing in many ways and for a grown person it is hard to see the appeal this surreal character and his buddies hold for the toddler, but his grip is extremely strong. In fact, on of our neighbors have a daughter around a year old, who has yet started to speak except for one word; "Anpanman!", which came before "mommy" or "daddy".
I fear for the time when Anpanman will casts his spell on Baby Sunshine...