TOKYO - A year ago, Siobhan Stollznow would have scoffed at the idea of using cartoon characters instead of words to chat with friends on her smartphone - until she got hooked on messaging app Line. The Australian student is now one of millions of converts to Line's huge assortment of animated "stickers", which some too-busy-to-text fans rely on to express their feelings - a kind of animated language.

"I was surprised at first. How can you have a conversation through stickers?" said the 22-year-old at a store in Tokyo's Harajuku district which sells mugs, t-shirts and other merchandise decorated with Line's cutesy characters. "I guess it kind of grew on me...Each (character) has got their unique personality."