There's this brand of characters from 2 guys called Aranzi and Aronzo that seem to be gaining popularity here. This Saturday my friend Atsuko showed me the Tokyo store for their stuff. Though you can find their stuff pretty much anywhere in Japan the store of course has way more than usual.
If you check out the site, stick to the Japanese pages, and click Shopping, all the links along the left will bring up pictures of all the stuff they sell.
According to that site, Aranzi is half Mexican, half Japanese living in America. Aronzo is Indian as in from India with some Vietnamese mixed in too.
I originally thought it was all pretty cute. Especially the books which I first saw several years ago where they made several stuffed animals, put them in interesting situations, and took pictures of them. Here's a fan page with way too many pictures on it of stuff.
I still think it's all pretty cute but I wonder, would it really be that hard to duplicate? By that I mean, do Aranzi and Aronzo have some special talent or could pretty much anybody pump out similar stuff as long as they put a ton of effort into it. Maybe it could become the next Hello Kitty. I suppose the biggest hurdle would be getting the books published and prominently placed.