Why are the Japanese so into ”kawaii” (cute)?
As long as it is socially acceptable, there is no reason why having a picture of a kitten should not make you feel warm inside. Being around cute stuff makes you feel good. And anything that makes you feel good can be addictive. It should also be noted that “kawaii” is also used by some people with such a wide range of meanings it could even be translated just as ‘good’ rather than ‘cute’.
Why has Hello Kitty outlived all the other cute icons?
There is a whole book I read on that question. As far as I remember (which is not very well, I should have started this blog before the Alzheimers started), the theory is that something about her makes her like a blank slate all kinds of people can put their own ill defined fantasies into.