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YumeTwins Kawaii Culture BlogWho is Badtz-Maru?

Who is Badtz-Maru?

By Devon Lord-Moncrief
July 07, 2023
Badtz-Maru (black penguin with spiky hair and a yellow beak reading a picture book with his face on it.

Badtz-Maru (バッドばつ丸, Baddo Batsu Maru) is a black penguin that is all attitude, all the time. Though he isn’t necessarily a bad penguin, he sure has a lot of baddie friends!

In addition, he dreams of becoming the boss of everything when he grows up and likes to collect pictures of movie stars that play terrible guys. This plucky little penguin has it in his head that he’ll be the best bad guy someday.

Where did he come from?

Badtz-Maru was born on April 1st in Oahu, Hawaii, and lives in Gorgeoustown with his mom and dad. His dad is famous for really loving to play pinball. Additionally, he enjoys pretending to play the piano (learning an instrument is hard!) 

A black and white picture of Badtz Maru with his friends, a panda and a seal.
The penguin’s got an excellent crew. Image via Wallpaper Cave

When he’s not at home, Badtz-Maru likes to spend time with his friends Kahme, a blue turtle; Iruka, a white dolphin; Sameo, a blue shark; Goro, a white bird, Anko, a black fish, and Kobun, a henchman of his dad’s. Seeing how a mischievous penguin spends much of his time with other aquatic animals like fish and turtles is cute.  

With his two other friends, Pandaba and Hana-Maru, Badtz-Maru runs the “XO” clan. In Japanese, “Badtz” is similar to “batsu,” which represents an “X” or a wrong answer, while “Maru” represents a circle or an “O” or a correct answer. A straight translation of Badtz-Maru’s name is “wrong-correct,” which can be seen as “XO.” This makes it silly and fitting that the clan he leads is known as the “XO Clan.”

When Badtz-Maru officially debuted in 1993’s Strawberry News, he was called Sanrio’s first “not nice” character. This certainly doesn’t mean he’s a mean bully, but he has a punky streak not seen in other characters. His ultimate dream is to become “the boss of everything”!

When did Badtz-Maru make his TV debut?

He made his big jump to TV in 1999’s Kitty’s Paradise (キティズパラダイス), or KittyPara (キティズパラ). Kitty’s Paradise was a variety show with live-action characters and animated segments. Many of Sanrio’s characters would appear throughout the show as they sang and danced with fans!

Badtz-Maru painting on a box in the street.
You can find him anywhere! Image via Let’s Enjoy Tokyo

In 2020 Badtz-Maru also starred in Fun Fun Kitty! (ファンファンキティ!), an animated show that starred many other Sanrio characters. Much like Kitty’s Paradise, Fun Fun Kitty! featured plenty of dancing and singing for fans to join in with. Badtz-Maru fits right in with the rest of the Sanrio cast.

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Is Badtz-Maru popular?

He sure is! It only took him three years to become the number one most popular character according to Sanrio’s official Character Popularity poll in 1996. It took him some time, but he proved that being a bit naughty can have fun benefits (like being more popular than Hello Kitty herself!)

A Badtz-Maru popup store in Singapore.
People all over the world love hisImage via Shout Singapore

This is especially notable when you consider how most people think of Sanrio; they think of sweet, cuddly characters! But Badtz-Maru is proof that whether you’re naughty or nice, you can still have many fans as a mascot!

Badtz-Maru’s name is also a play on his personality. He isn’t an evil little penguin through and through, but he likes to make fun of things that he thinks are dumb. He also has a funky streak, but there’s also a little good; otherwise, he wouldn’t have any friends.

Badtz-Maru’s attractiveness as a Sanrio character lies in how they market him to girls and boys. While many of Sanrio’s characters, like Hello Kitty, primarily appeal to girls, this penguin appeals to all genders.

People have compared Badtz-Maru to another famous (but mischievous) animated character, Bart Simpson, from The Simpsons. Badtz-Maru and Bart enjoy causing good-natured mischief whenever they can and even share the same birthday of April 1st.

Badtz-Maru and Cinnamoroll at Sanrio Puroland.
You can even find him at Sanrio Puroland! Image via Pinterest

Badtz-Maru, a mischievous penguin, adds an extra dose of fun to the enchanting world of Sanrio. With a vast array of characters, Sanrio offers something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or young at heart, introverted or outgoing; their characters cater to diverse personalities and aesthetics.

From the iconic Hello Kitty to the adorable Pompompurin, each character has a unique charm that resonates with fans worldwide. The Sanrio universe celebrates the joy of imagination, encouraging people to embrace their inner child and find comfort in these lovable characters. Their timeless appeal creates a magical connection, uniting fans across generations and cultures. Do you like Badtz-Maru? Let us know in the comments below!

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Devon Lord-Moncrief

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