Youtube Debut: GenNext’s Response to Find Your Love in Japan’s “3 Questions A Japanese Guy Has For Black People in the US”

13 May

Hello readers!

This is GenNext letting you all know that I’ve opened a Youtube channel that puts my words to voice!

My Youtube Channel will not replace my blog at all. I feel the blog is more effective when it comes to getting my words across. However, it will be useful when I’m trying to respond to certain topics or when I feel something needs to be expressed vocally.

Lately, my first video posts have been to a Japanese man named Nobita from the Youtube channel Find Your Love in Japan. Several months ago, he posed THREE questions for black people. Being an African American myself, I felt that I needed to respond.

As a warning, his perception of black people isn’t very pleasant. I believe he’s reacting to some hate comments he’s received from prior videos about black people.

Even though I’m just now responding, I do feel that the delay was necessary. I feel that in order to change someone’s perception and to educate people on who you are and what you stand for, you have to think clearly and thoroughly about it.

As with everything I do, it’s lengthy. XD I felt that I needed to go into detail to answer his questions fully.

Here’s his video:

 

Here’s MY response:

My Comments Regarding His Thoughts on Black People and Racism…

 

Question 1: Why are [Black People in the US] So Obsessed with the Past?

 

Question 1 (Part 2): Why are [Black People in the US] So Obsessed with the Past?

 

Question 2: Why Do [Black People in the US] Avoid Facing Facts?

 

Question 3: Why Do [Black People in the US] Threaten People Who Disagree With [them]? Why Do [Black People in the US] Get Violent?

 

So let me know what you all think about this discussion. If you were able to read and listen, I thank you. You are free to comment and give your thoughts (but of course, I’m free to respond). Open thoughts are welcome!

I may not be able to respond to everyone right away (because of life), but I will eventually get to you, so hold tight!

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Weekend Movie High: Black Panther Movie Review

18 Feb

I waited to give this review until after the weekend, so everyone can watch it without having to be inundated with spoilers.

*The following article may contain a few spoilers.

Black Panther brought together many elements to the cinema experience this weekend, elements both familiar to the current cinema experience and new experiences. The movie combines Marvel’s larger-than-life heroism and story-telling, the movie magic and money-making design of Marvel Studios and Disney, the perfect team: Ryan Coogler, Kevin Feige, and Kendrick Lamar, and messages that fit with today’s social climate and rings closely with Black History Month—all combined to make a perfectly successful movie.

Breaking down everything I witnessed in this film, I have mostly positive things to say. I do have some minor critiques (which I’m certain I’ll get eaten alive for), but it’s not something that takes away from the film overall.

Usually, I’m not the type to be all over a movie just because of the hype. I support black representation in cinema, but I care more that the movies being produced actually PROPERLY represent black people.

I can tell you right now that this African American woman loved every moment of this film, for what it was worth.

Let’s break down what made this movie so fantastic.

Sense of Heroism

Even when the movie began, I could feel that this movie was leading us into the Marvel universe, a universe that focuses on drama, tragedy, strength, and ultimately victories. It was a superhero flick at heart. Yes, the very distinct fact being the superhero was black. But truly, it was a super hero movie. And because of that, I got there were many things one could expect in this movie. Don’t get me wrong, there were many plot twists to keep me interested. Yet, we knew who was going to win in the end and we knew how: through an epic showdown. Of course, this movie did break some Marvel traditions that usually come with the epic showdowns, but all in all, it did it in standard Marvel flavor.

Overall, it’s the traditional storytelling that works…and always will. Why? Because we all hope things work out in the end. No one wants to leave a movie sad and depressed, feeling as if there was no closure or feeling the movie was all for nothing. Some justice has to be served. So movies with this formula will always be successful. This formula is what keeps super hero movies breaking the Box Office. Despite any heavy themes or messages, the fact that the hero is always there to protect others and save the day inspires hope in people and brings them a sense of courage, making this a positive movie for the family overall. This is why having a black super hero is important for black youth. Having someone in cinema inspire the type of hope and courage no other figure can makes all the difference in shaping the mind. This is the power the cinema can have. But it’s important than the inspiration comes from a character that is generally deemed good overall, moral in character and just.

Marvel Heroism and the Black Panther

That sense of heroism is a staple of Marvel. Marvel brought about a black character who would fight honorably, without resorting to killing his brothers, something rare in films with black men as leads. The main character cares about people, is reasonable enough to admit his failures and where he went wrong, and is loyal enough to his culture, land, and tradition to defend it against all odds. This character is both tough and sensitive, making him an ideal figure for audiences. After all, heroes are expected to be ideal. They must live up to all expectations.

That weight was carried well by Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa). He was able to beautifully deliver the hero of heroes (as is common with Marvel). He conveyed inner strength more than brute strength, a sense of purpose, a clever mind, and the ability to reason and forgive. Marvel’s characters often have that effect. The characters always inspire their audience with heroic qualities combined with a sense of earthiness.

The best thing about the Disney/Marvel dynamic movie-making teamwork is that they can focus more on characters, not the stars who play them. With that in mind, we are not watching a film because “this famous actor is in it”. We are watching the film because this film has a great character and story, and these “stars” were the best fit to bring the story to life. That is the ingredient that creates great films.

A lot of news articles are saying that this movie broke Box Office expectations. I can’t see how the success of this was surprising or how anyone expected this movie to be unsuccessful. There really hasn’t been a movie about black super heroes from a major brand to even know how they would do at the Box Office. I suppose it’s the fact that Hollywood assumed black culture and people don’t sell well to people overseas, who have been European-washed and have come to see black people as “inferiors”. I suppose they assume that’s why the other movies didn’t sell very well. From my experience, it’s mostly been because the movies starring black people weren’t neutral in their content or were just bad overall. Other than that, I can’t see how anyone would think this would flop when Disney is in charge, the Marvel brand is lending a great character, and social media has the tools to promote any message and agenda it wants to.

Disney did mention they didn’t think a movie with a character that isn’t so familiar in the Avengers universe would sell in a stand alone movie, which is a reasonable doubt. However, I think having a stand-alone movie first is what made it better. After all, Spider Man, Iron Man, and Hulk all got that treatment, which was why we all were able to attach ourselves to the characters and their stories long before Avengers played on the screen.

A hero flick has the makings for success, especially when the production team and modern equipment are in place. How can the success of this movie be shocking? If Hollywood wasn’t full of old farts, they wouldn’t have been shocked. They would’ve been more in tune with today’s social climate and trends. They would’ve realized what was in demand. A black hero from the 21st Century has been in demand for a long time. Marvel is still in demand.

Girl Power

While we’re on the subject of Marvel and its sense of heroism, we can’t miss talking about the leading fierce ladies in this movie. Cinema really doesn’t have many black female heroes. And that became apparent when I saw how gracefully the women shined in this movie. Particularly, three ladies stood out the most.

Okoye (played by Danai Gurira) was definitely a stand-out character. A warrior and leader of her own group of female warriors, she was strong, fierce, and no-nonsense. She showed many different layers, though. She wasn’t just your one-dimensional “strong” female character. She could be humorous when she wanted to be, she could be sensitive, and then she could be loyal and graceful at the same time. Her strong loyalty to Wakanda and tradition was evident in her character. Still, she broke our very normal traditions, especially when it comes to her appearance. She was unashamed of the way she chose to wear her hair (really all of the women had the hair of their choice). Thankfully, she chose to wear her hair in a style honored by many African tribes.

Nakia (played by Lupita Nyong’o) served as the “reasonable one”, connecting Wakanda to the rest of the world. This character was a spy for Wakanda. She was also strong, but she had a sense of inner strength. She was loyal to her country, but she saw more of the world than other people in her kingdom and wasn’t afraid to present ideas that deviated from tradition. She had a lot of street sense. Her sense of compassion, her cleverness, and her diplomacy really helped save the day.

And then there’s Shuri (played by Letitia Wright). She is, by far, my favorite among the leading ladies. Shuri loved technology. Her lab was her playground. Yes, I’m happy that there were women in this movie doing many different things, from being warriors, lovely spies, to operating technology with powerful resources.  This character was cool, easy-going, funny, and intelligent. She brought in the humor and made the experience less intense. The actress herself is an example of how representation is important. She said that after seeing Akeelah and the Bee, she knew she wanted to be an actress. And look at her now! You never know how one person can inspire another person.

My only critique of this is one scene where all of the ladies, while climbing a mountain to escape, were trying to figure out who would take the herb to become the Black Panther (when they thought T’Challa was dead). I couldn’t understand for the life of me why none of those women stood up to take the responsibility, as strong and as powerful as they were. Nakia’s excuse was that she didn’t have an army…neither did T’Challa anymore! And yet, he still suited up and took down the kingdom. He dug into his courage. I felt Nakia showed a weaker spirit in that moment.

I’m not surprised Shuri didn’t step up. Shuri was obviously younger and weaker physically (no offense) and wasn’t a warrior. Nakia WAS a warrior. It would’ve made sense for her to take the herb.

Aside from that one bit, I fully connected with these ladies and actually would like to see more of them front-and-center.

The Movie’s Team and Magic

<> at Chivas House on May 18, 2013 in Cannes, France.

Everyone in the background who worked to make this movie a success has to be honored.

Director and writer Ryan Coogler delivered in really bringing this story full circle. He helped in properly portraying black people with a story that relates to black people. And based on the Box Office success, possibly a lot of other people too! I think we all can relate to the themes in this movie. Many people understand the damage of colonization, many understand the fight between holding on to tradition and becoming modern, and many more people understand the challenge of trying to overcome the damage done by one’s ancestors-something that can’t be undone so easily. Ryan seems to have a good sense of his own history as well as the people he is delivering his messages to.

Kendrick Lamar was the curator over the music. I was skeptical at first because…to be honest, I wasn’t all over “All the Stars” when I first heard it. But after seeing the movie, the song grew on me and I saw the relation. It sounded really good with the movie. The rest of the soundtrack though! My goodness. Kendrick really made this a film that fit with black culture overall. I really liked Erik Killmonger’s theme. It suited his wannabe-tough image and style.

The music gave us the feeling of this movie from the beginning. We knew it was going to be honoring the great black cultural aspects the audience was about to experience onscreen.

And I will give a nod to Kevin Feige. At first, I wasn’t sure what he added to this movie. Basically, he just funded it, as far as I was concerned. I had to research what a producer does to really get a good idea of what he contributed (to all the Marvel movies really). Time magazine says that a producer is someone who “finds the literary property (a novel, play or original script), shapes the idea into a viable film, raises the money, hires the director, chooses the cast, oversees production and post production, masterminds the marketing, negotiates the worldwide rights — be a movie’s begetter and first, demanding viewer.” With that being said, I would like to thank Kevin for seeing the value in this story enough to actually push it through. While other Hollywood producers have been sleeping on supporting proper representation, and haven’t had the guts to dive into a story with a black person as the lead, this producer decided to take a chance. And while it even took him too long to realize how needed this character was, the fact is he helped in funding this project and brought it to life.

I also want to give him a thumbs up on the casting. Everyone mostly delivered. I’m glad he realized a majority-black cast was needed to make this film a success, and he chose the right people for the job. I’m sure he worked closely with Ryan to make sure everything went smoothly.

Finally, the cast. These people really delivered their roles! Without them, this movie wouldn’t have been anything. Angela Basset was even a glorious goddess in her role, in the few scenes she was shown in. Everyone brought such fire and passion, humor and love, weakness and vulnerability, it really made the movie a gem. I was a little skeptical about Michael B. Jordan’s portrayal of Erik Killmonger at first. I liked his character, because I do believe many young black Americans have picked up that behavior, but later he was able to come out and show more depth.

The settings were awesome. Beautiful scenery in Wakanda. And then a trip to the modern city of Busan, South Korea, which is right on trend right now as a great destination spot. It definitely helped make this appealing to the Eastern movie market (which I’m thankful, because we know how they feel about darker skinned people over there…). It turns out this movie did really well in South Korea.

Message

Finally, one of the biggest gems of this movie is the messages it sends. It sends these messages in so elegantly and naturally, that one may overlook how powerful they truly are.

This movie was great because it wasn’t just a superhero flick. It was a super hero flick that meant something and said something important to many of the viewers who watched it, whether intended or not.

Representation

This movie has shown us why representation is so important. In other movies, usually, there are a handful of black characters in them. With so few black characters, the movie isn’t able to show a diverse range of people, with various interests, feelings, ideas, and abilities and gifts. In this movie, we see men of different backgrounds, feeling differently about life, offering many different versions of the black male experience. We also see women from various backgrounds, having different abilities and offering their own special gifts to their motherland. Having these different people represent black people around the world can be the start of people having a different view of black people (if the people of the world give this movie a chance).

Even while watching, I found myself relating to so many characters, and it got me thinking how I haven’t seen so many black people with as much diversity in a long time.

Keeping that in mind, the success of the mind comes from the fact that it appeals to the core Marvel fanbase while it draws in an outside audience that just appreciates the cultural aspect associated with it.

Themes of Colonialism, Motherland

Obviously, this movie would have this theme. It’s well-known that Africa’s resources have fallen into others’ hands when Europeans arrived on the continent and took the resources for themselves. But overall, many African nations allowed this open trade, which proved to be their undoing. Wakanda, on the other hand, isolated themselves from the rest of the world, so they were able to maintain their wealth and technology. They never experienced colonialism or oppression. This serves as a central plot point between the main character and the villain. Because the villain’s story resonates so closely with the African American experience, it left most American audiences caught between the hero and villain. But more importantly, it made us ponder the greater effects of colonialism and how it has changed African Americans’ relationship with their own motherland.

Even though most African Americans are proud to acknowledge their African roots, most don’t know what those roots are. Even if they did, they would be disconnected from it. Erik Killmonger echoes that in the movie. His whole purpose was to get to Wakanda, the land of his father, but when he arrived in the kingdom, he almost seemed lost in a foreign country. The “challenge ceremony” that happened in the movie seemed to confuse Erik, and he hardly showed respect for the actual culture and tradition of a land he wanted to rule. This was a very sad, but real fact. And this mirrors the damage colonialism and the African Slave Trade brought upon African Americans.

The Complexities Between African Americans and Africans

Bouncing off from what I said, the movie brought to the fore a very complex issue among African Americans and Africans. Because African Americans have African roots and are black people living in a colonial society, they long to attach themselves to a rich culture and they are constantly searching to connect more with Africa. And yet, they are American, raised in a Europeanized society with Europeanized values. This almost puts them at odds with their roots and other people of Africa.

This creates a sort of divide between real African cultures and African American cultures. African Americans have adopted other cultures from England, France, Spain, and the various Central and South American countries. This makes their experience with life more complex.

The title character in Black Panther has a rich culture and history. He can be proud of himself and his resources. He can feel “diplomatic”. He has something to protect and fight for. Erik Killmonger has nothing to fight for or protect. He knows little about where he comes from, but he knows how his people are living now in the USA. This drives him to find Wakanda. This gives him purpose.

I am wrestling with Eric being written as a “villain”. Truly, is he a villain? It’s hard to say. I would say the way he went about getting what he wanted was bad for others, as was written, but his intentions (to share some of the resources with fellow black people around the world who lacked in resources and manpower, to avenge his father who was murdered) wasn’t really so bad. Of course, he was just a victim of a broken system. That complexity made his role as a villain very interesting. It challenged the viewers’ thought process.

Because I question Erik as the villain, I question T’Challa as a hero. Yes, he was kind and good and cared about his people. But why does he have to show more honor and normalcy than a black American? Yes, colonialism has done a number on black youth, but we aren’t all damaged goods. We still carry a sense of pride and honor, even if we don’t live on the continent of Africa.

At the same time, the way Erik was written, I find him mirroring some of the attitudes found in much of the rap out there. Erik does reflect a very real attitude in black communities, even if it isn’t a reflection of everyone. Erik himself, as a character, was ruthless in getting what he wanted, and that shouldn’t be honor. T’Challa sought to make up for his mistakes. As a character, he is just and the right fit.

But in reality, it’s not that simple. Africans overall aren’t truly more honorable than African Americans. African Americans aren’t as damaged as believed. If anything, they are most aware of the evils of the world, which makes them stronger and wiser. Both groups have their strengths.

But with this character, he was damaged. Just clearing the air here.

Homogeneity and Isolationism V.S. Multiculturalism and Open Trade 

Finally, I want to talk about this complex message. This is actually a popular topic in today’s social climate as well, with so many fighting for ethno-states and so many others fighting to maintain cultural and racial homogeneity.

The theme brought up some pretty controversial messages regarding it, and it’s hard to know which path is right.

Wakanda isolated themselves for years, which helped them maintain their homogeneous society. While this helped them maintain their beautiful land and culture, as well as their wealth and technology and resources, they continued to neglect the horrors of the world, even horrors being done to their own people. They withheld their knowledge, knowledge that could’ve helped many people around the world. The extent that even T’Challa’s father went to protect his kingdom, just because he didn’t want anyone to know about Wakanda, showed how fighting to keep a society free from the influence of the world can prove more disastrous than giving in and sharing what one has.

On the other hand, if Wakanda had been as open, they would’ve been like all the other countries, filled with racial tensions, cultural destruction, and a lack of resources. They would’ve been overpowered and oppressed.

Which is right? Can a balance be achieved? I certainly think sharing medical knowledge and some technologies wouldn’t harm the Wakanda kingdom. But they should find a way to protect and hide their manpower. They shouldn’t completely give up all of their resources and power. They could allow some people to enter and live in Wakanda, provided the individual assimilates to the culture and accepts the traditions of the land. At the same time, the process should be difficult. The visitor should prove their loyalty to the kingdom.

But this brings up a greater topic about immigration overall. What do you readers think?

In conclusion, the movie brought honor to the Black Panther comic and the Marvel brand overall. It hyped up comic book fans and tickled the ears and eyes of the inner African and African American soul. It left an impression, that’s for sure. It also poked a giant hole through that tired saying inserted with any minority “Well, [insert minority] just doesn’t sell well at the Box Office”. This movie has grossed $192 Million at the Box Office to date. It surprised people, people who thought this movie wouldn’t sell overseas, especially in Asia.

This movie proves that you don’t need a popular Hollywood star to drive a movie to worldwide success. All that’s needed is a good story line, themes people can relate to, action and excitement, and a popular brand. All that’s needed is a focus on characters and stories, not star power. If only producers and directors had been smart enough to understand this sooner. Maybe Ghost in the Shell and Gods of Egypt might have been saved, or at least would’ve been without backlash. If only they would’ve been more in tune with the social climate and trends they might have had a few more viewers.

Hopefully, we continue to see movies that depict characters as written, envisioned, and as they way they are meant to be presented. After all, Black Panther shouldn’t be looked at as the last good movie with a black-lead and majority-black cast. It isn’t the first, and it shouldn’t be the last. In fact, it is only the beginning of a new era in Black cinema.

 

Brand New Kingdom Hearts III Trailer @ D23 Expo Japan 2018! + New Utada Theme Song!

11 Feb

A brand new Kingdom Hearts III trailer just dropped…and I’ve been trying not to get over-hyped, but…this trailer snatched my soul.

Let me share the trailer with you all so you’ll get the feel of what I’m feeling right now.

Wow. There was so much to take in, I don’t even know where to begin. I’ll try to talk about everything. But at this point, Square, Disney, and Tetsuya Nomura can just take my wallet.

The following review will contain some spoilers. So if you haven’t played all of the in-between games, and you still want to play them, be cautious when reading or just enjoy the trailer above and all the trailers below the article. I can tell you right now that playing all the games are important if you don’t want to be confused playing this new game…Get the HD remixes if you have PS4!

If you want to catch up with the Kingdom Hearts timeline, click this article—> Kingdom Hearts Timeline Completed

Now, let’s talk about this trailer.

First, I want to talk about this long catchphrase or sentence that has become KH3‘s staple: “Don’t Assume Your Dreams Are Just Fantasy. If You Can Imagine a World, Believe In It and Dive In.” I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. I’ve been trying to see how this may relate to KH3, aside from all the sky-diving I keep seeing in the trailer. This catchphrase is longer than “You never know what will happen next” from Kingdom Hearts I. And in that game, we never knew what was going to happen…

Second, more Toy Story. I’m still in awe with how it looks. Read my last article on KH3 to see more. Click the link. Everything looks amazing in that world!

Third, THE RETURN OF MARLUXIA. I thought he was dead! Then again, I don’t know if he fell back into darkness after the organization regained consciousness again. Axel, I mean Lea, is back (as we saw in KH Dream Drop Distance). And just as it was left last, Sora doesn’t remember Marluxia because he has no memory of Castle Oblivion (Chain of Memories).

Fourth, the Monster’s Inc world! It looks fantastic! I’m so excited for this world. Just the way it’s set up is so cool. It looks like we’ll be running from helicopters, sliding down the doors, and fighting tons and tons of heartless, nobodies, unversed, and nightmares! And we have a monster form! Sora’s monster form looks awesome!

And the Dreameaters are back from Dream Drop Distance! I’m fine about that, just don’t bring “drop” mode back. With other people in our party though, how will the Dreameaters play a role? That’d be interesting to see…

Fifth, in the Tangled world, we’re going to be fighting with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider! And there’s an ARIEL (from the Little Mermaid) command move! Maybe a summon? Or it could be like the amusement park and teacup commands we used to see back in the other older trailers. I just hope we don’t return to that world. No hate, but I want to see something new. Though it would be cool to see Atlantica with the Unreal Engine. Maybe they can re-do all the games in the future, like what happened with Crash Bandicoot.

On a positive note, I see some similarities to Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Fragmentary Passage 0.2 when it comes to a lot of the commands. That game got me amped up for this game. Shotlock really got a makeover!

Fourth, it appears Vanitas (from Birth By Sleep) has returned! And yes, we all knew Ventus has been sharing a heart with Sora. That’s why Roxas looked the way he did and why he didn’t really have any memories, unlike the other Nobodies. That’s probably why Sora was able to wield a keyblade even though he wasn’t formally chosen like Riku.

Fifth, my only disappointment-no official release date. But it’s great just being reminded that the game is set to come out some time this year. It may be pushed back, but just having that release window there…it’s comforting to know that it’s coming soon.

Sixth, I’m just now noticing this, but the keyblades change as we enter the new worlds! So does that mean we don’t have to wait to complete a stage to use a keyblade relevant to that world? That would be pretty cool, as long as we can switch keyblades whenever we want. Sometimes, I didn’t like the keyblades specifically chosen for some worlds in older games, as some of them were weaker or didn’t have the best stats. But if we can get new keyblades as we switch worlds, and we can change keyblades when we want, great! And maybe customization will be back from Fragmentary Passage 0.2! It would be awesome if we could customize our keyblades!

Finally, UTADA IS BACK! We were worried for a minute. Remember that article I made about that dilemma? If you don’t, click me. I would like to think that articles like that really helped in pushing for Utada’s return. I’m so happy she decided to make a new song for the game in this saga. I don’t know how I feel about the song overall, as it doesn’t feel like the other songs and we haven’t seen it put together with the opening footage yet. It’s a modern-sounding song and it seems to be the slower version (considering there’s always two versions of her songs in the games). At this point, I’m just glad I’m not going to be hearing Simple and Clean and Sanctuary again. And I’m happy to hear her voice again.

And then that bit with Riku and Mickey at the end of that trailer? Why are they back in the realm of darkness? And what does he mean by “the other me”? Don’t tell me he has a nobody or some other form too! That’s just a theory, don’t quote me. So many questions!

So, those are my thoughts on the trailer and new theme song! What do you readers think about this new trailer? Did you notice anything new that I didn’t notice? Please share your comments with me!

Enjoy other older trailers that gave us amazing reveals!

American Girl’s Newest Girl of the Year Doll 2018, Luciana Vega, Takes Us Into Space!

1 Jan

Greetings readers!

American Girl has released a new doll for their annual Girl of the Year line! Her name is Luciana Vega.

If you don’t know what American Girl is, and what all the excitement is about, I will explain it to you.

American Girl is the name of a company that produces and sells dolls meant to relate and inspire girls through realistic fiction and toy models. They have produced several lines since the company was founded in 1986 by Pleasant Rowland, an educator from Illinois, who had a vision to give girls better role models through their playtime than what was offered at the time.

Since then, American Girl has produced a line of historical dolls, accompanied with books, now called Beforever, plenty of contemporary dolls and characters, one of them being the Girl of the Year line, custom doll lines like Truly Me, a line for those of 3 to 5 age called Bitty Baby, and a line for children of early grammar school age called Wellie Wishers. American Girl has had many other lines throughout the years as well.

One of the biggest traditions at American Girl is the unveiling of the Girl of the Year doll and book, along with her collection.

Lately, there has been a push for American Girl to include a more “diverse” range of characters into the brand. Girl of the Year has especially come under fire because since 2001, the Girl of the Year line had been filled with “white American” characters.

In 2017, an African-American character was introduced. Of course, the response was split (with half of the fandom excited that there was finally a Black doll and the other half being upset that her collection seemed rushed, stereotypical, and that her doll mold was released before as a Truly Me).

This year, in 2018, Luciana Vega will be Girl of the Year’s second Latina character (Marisol was released in 2005).

There are other things that make Luciana Vega special. Her story is the first to completely center on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), particularly space science. Luciana Vega’s dream is to lead a team to Mars! The only other American Girl that showed interest in anything close to science was Lanie, Girl of the Year 2010 (Earth science particularly).

In our social and political climate, where there is a push for girls to have the best role models, models that encourage girls to be strong, intelligent, and to reach for their farthest dreams, Luciana is certainly a reflection of the times. This makes her fitting to represent the girls of 2018. Our girls are growing up in a time where they are allowed to be as courageous as the boys!

Let’s get inside her story!

Book 1 synopsis for LUCIANA- In this first book of her series, Luciana is over the moon—she’s going to Space Camp! But when she’s picked to lead her team in a robotics challenge, instead of rocketing her crew to success she steers them straight into trouble. After that, her teammates don’t trust her. In fact, Luciana’s pretty sure they don’t even like her. It’s great to be good at science—but Luciana learns that it’s not enough. If she’s ever going to make it to Mars, she has to be someone her crew can depend on, no matter what. 

Book 2 synopsis for LUCIANA: BRAVING THE DEEP- In her second book, Luciana can’t wait to take off for youth astronaut training camp. She hopes to be chosen to dive to an underwater habitat where real astronauts train for life in space. But when Luciana accuses her diving partner of sabotage, no one believes her and her chances of making the diving team sink fast. Things hit rock bottom when Luciana has an underwater crisis. Suddenly, making the dive team isn’t her biggest worry. She’ll have to conquer her fears if she ever wants to make it to Mars. If she can’t, will she have to kiss her dreams of becoming an astronaut goodbye? 

A third book is due out in March!

Luciana

Book 3 synopsis for LUCIANA: OUT OF THIS WORLD- In her third story, Luciana and her family are headed to Chile for winter break. Luci can’t wait to see her cousins — but the reunion doesn’t go as planned, and Luci feels like an outsider in her own family. Just then she receives a surprise invite from Claire Jacobs, her frenemy from astronaut training camp, to join her at the Mars habitat in the desert and watch NASA scientists at work. It’s an offer too good to refuse, so Luci decides to leave her cousins and give her friendship with Claire a second chance. But what if Luci has made the wrong decision? What if she still can’t trust Claire? When disaster strikes in the desert, Luci finds out the truth.

This article will be updated as more books are released. Girl of the Year has recently had several books introduced with the line. More stories are expected to be released for Luciana as well. And crossing fingers for a movie release!

Now, let’s examine her collection!

As new items are released, I will update this article!

The Girl of the Year is usually only around for one year or while supplies last. American Girl has stated since GOTY of last year that the dolls will be available beyond their year of release, but there won’t be much produced.

Review

Pros

For the first time, in years, I have very little negative to say about American Girl’s product! This is my dream doll, the doll that I’ve been hoping would come out of American Girl! Finally, there’s an American Girl that steps outside of what is deemed normal for little girls! I’m so impressed with this bold move from American Girl. I will list the pros in order and give details:

Space Concept

Last summer, I visited the Adler Planetarium (which I hadn’t visited since I was a child), and my fascination with space grew from there. As a child, it was cool, but as an adult, I was really able to take everything in! Then, I happened to join a NASA employee when welcoming the solar eclipse! I had many outer-galactic experiences last year.

So when I found out Luciana was going to carry the space theme and launch this year, I was over-the-moon!

And have you seen Luciana’s website? Go on over to the website! It’s just so cool! http://play.americangirl.com/play/girl-of-the-year/luciana/

Luciana’s world is mysterious, exciting, and next-gen. I love it.

Maybe it’s a little cliché for some people (Star Wars was one of the biggest movies last year, and it was driven by a female lead). But for me, I’m just excited for the fact that American Girl is releasing a doll that encourages children to think beyond the norm and step out of the boundaries of their gender, race, and human existence entirely! That’s something to applaud.

I even like the space suit, even if I think that it is the most cliché item in the collection. I can imagine being a geeky space nut child and wanting for once, just once, to try on a space suit. Don’t know how it connects to the book, or if it’s even realistic, but it’s just so awesome and mesmerizing, I want it anyway! I just want to see the design.

And maybe the dress is a little too “galaxy-ready”, but what can you expect from a character that’s supposed to be obsessed with space?

It feels a lot more time, care, and energy went into this concept this year. Not sure about the quality just yet, but so far it looks good.

Doll of Color

We’ve got another doll of color this year! That’s something to celebrate! We have the second Latina character, and she’s from a family of Latina immigrants. What makes this all even better is that her concept isn’t stereotypical (as has been the case with other Girl of the Year characters of color, just from comparing her to the few they have had). Though Latinas can be any race, they do carry a strong distinctly unique cultural history in the USA.

One small step for women, one large leap for all the Latina women!

Cons

As with everything I write, I try to objectively see the pros and cons, though there are very few cons this time around.

The Book Cover

I’m bitter-sweet about the book covers. If you’ve been following American Girl, you will obviously see that Luciana’s book covers just don’t fit with the other realistic fiction titles that have come out of the company.

As a lover of artwork (look at my background), I love the more cartoon-ish look in its own right. But the American Girl fan in me can’t totally get on board. One of the most appealing things about the books have been that they depicted real girls doing real and important things. It inspired girls to look at themselves and imagine what they can do in their own real worlds.

Sure, American Girl books are fiction, and we don’t want girls to totally imitate all of the behaviors present, but American Girl used to have the goal of at least inspiring admirable qualities like bravery, intelligence, kindness, and sacrifice. American Girl characters were always faced with realistic circumstances, and having realistic portrayals made them come more alive for girls.

I know my own kids, the kids I work with, love American Girl for how realistic it seems. They always asked “Are they real girls?” In their minds, there was something very real about them, not just from the story, but the look, too! Of course, we can’t judge a book by its cover, but it still would’ve been nice to see some artwork depicting the actual Space Camp on the front cover! Maybe it might have looked too boring for these girls? I don’t know. I think the angle of the pictures mean everything. American Girl has removed illustrations from the books, so I’ve mostly held on to the cover illustrations to gather the gist of what is happening in the books. I can understand that realistic portraits might cost more and it would require American Girl to find a model for the cover. Maybe money is an issue?

Another Character in a Dress?

With the new Boy World line out, I have higher expectations for American Girl. Now is the time to show the world that girls are diverse, with a variety of styles.

Unfortunately, only a few Girl of the Year characters have come with pants as their “Meet” outfits. It’s bitter-sweet that Luciana doesn’t come with pants. On one hand, it does give her a balance of masculine and feminine energy. It could help her line appeal to many different types of girls. On the other hand, I think it’s important for girls to realize that pants aren’t just for “boys”. I feel like the production of the boy dolls will cause American Girl to do their best to try to make distinctions between the boy characters and the girls (considering the boys are sharing face molds with the girl dolls). Will that distinction be gender-restrictive? Basically, will all the girls end up with the long hair and dresses, and the boys with the short hair and pants?

I’ve heard through the grapevine that not too many girls seemed excited about Luciana’s concept. I can’t see why not, but considering I was never a normal 9-to-11 year old girl, maybe I just don’t understand with these girls like.

Hopefully, her space concept is as inspirational for little girls as it is for me!

Well, that’s my review on Luciana Vega! What do you think of the new Girl of the Year? Does she inspire you to look beyond your everyday world? Or does she bore you? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

American Girl Dolls’ New “Boy World” for the Truly Me Line: Should We Be Concerned?

29 Nov

Hello readers! Welcome back! This is for my fellow American Girl fans out there!

Rumor has it in the American Girl community that American Girl is planning on releasing boy dolls as an option in their Truly Me line. This group of boys will be in a section called “Boy World”. These dolls are said to be scheduled for release sometime in 2018. Some say they will arrive as early as December 26, 2017.

As we’ve seen with ALL the releases American Girl has had so far, we know that most of the rumors in the American Girl community turn out to be legit. Either American Girl is secretly reading all the suggestions made on social media and in message boards, or these people who have started these rumors seriously do have connections. Nanea was just a rumor last year, and come to fruition. Maryellen was a rumor, and was released. Back in 2001, Rebecca was a rumor, and was released in 2009. Yes, it’s safe to say there aren’t really any rumors in the American Girl circle. Most of the information we get are LEAKS.

So, when I heard this rumor, and saw the receipts, I froze. I wasn’t shocked. I wasn’t surprised. But I felt odd; I felt this sudden wave of FEAR. Yes, I’m very much intimidated by this supposedly small fraction of Truly Me dolls that includes a section of BOYS. My feelings towards a boy line are bittersweet overall. The fears I have about it keep me bitter, the children who are excited for this keep me sweet.

For the last couple of years, since AMERICAN BOY was trademarked back in 2012 (?), I thought I could just ignore it. It wouldn’t affect me. In fact, I was pretty excited about it back then. In my mind back then, I just didn’t have to buy it if I didn’t like it, right?

Later, I began talking with other American Girl fans who opened my mind to some of their thoughts on the matter. I began to question whether it truly was a good move…Read my article ‘Should American Girl Sell Boy Dolls?’

When Logan was released, the best friend to Contemporary character Tenney and the first boy doll from the brand (well if you don’t include the Bitty Twins), I thought maybe this would just be a one-time thing or, at the least, even occasional. I had hoped it wouldn’t become very popular. I expressed why during the release of Tenney and Logan. Logan, for me, was a disappointment in many ways, so it really didn’t make me very excited for future boy doll releases.

But now that it’s happening…Now that my worst fear is happening, I realized that I can’t sock it at Mattel through my wallet, like I thought I could. No, that’s no longer enough. It’s not enough because there are too many people who support the inclusion of boy dolls in the American Girl brand. And that fact makes me completely petrified at the future of this doll brand. What is now the culture of the American Girl fandom? Is the fandom no longer filled with the same people who fought for a “girl’s space” in a world where we didn’t have many female heroes or honorable mentions in history? In a world that still finds males more interesting than females in much of the storytelling written and told? In a world where men still don’t understand why we have female lead characters in movies like Star Wars: Rogue One because they just “can’t relate to a girl”?

Fans upset at another female lead in Star Wars: Rogue One

What are they trying to accomplish by releasing a boy doll, let alone a whole line, to a brand that was supposed to empower girls?

It’s obvious to me now that Logan must have been selling well. In fact, Logan has pretty much out-shined his own “best friend” in most of the press releases. He was sold out in Washington D.C.’s American Girl store throughout much of 2017. It seemed like every time I called to inquire about him, he was sold out.

In fact, Logan took the place of Gabriela, 2017’s Girl of the Year, and the first African-American Girl of the Year at that, in the front display windows of most of the American Girl stores. I’m sure his sales are higher than hers as a result. Not only is she at a disadvantage because she’s black, but gosh, she’s also a girl. Her mold has been used and done before in Truly Me. Logan has Kaya’s mold, but in a “whiter” color, which makes it, I guess, a little more unique. It must look cuter on a boy. Being a girl in this brand is just not as unique as being a boy. Being black just makes Gabby…well, ugly. She couldn’t stand a chance against this hunky brunette boy named Logan. I mean, Logan gives girls the opportunity to ship cutie Tenney with a boy for once (not that no one wasn’t it doing it with Felicity and Ben, but you get the point).

If you can’t smell my sarcasm and cynicism by now, you never will.

Just like in the real world, life is not driven by Black American girls. They are driven by White American boys. American Girl has suddenly become a reflection of just what we see in our very real world…

For the last couple of articles about American Girl, I really haven’t said too many positive things about American Girl lately. My praise of American Girl has declined since the transformation of American Girl’s historical line to “Beforever”. And it’s then when I began to see all the little flaws that irked me tremendously.

So far, I’ve tried to be fair, even if I didn’t agree with the directions American Girl has taken over the years. I’ve tried to be understanding. But every year I feel that disappointment, more and more of it, and it drains any passion I’ve had for this brand. I’m seriously at the point where I’ve been excited for a doll’s retirement because it meant that American Girl didn’t have the opportunity to screw whichever doll’s collection over.

I have always respected this brand, and I held on to this brand because I believed in its message. I believed that history was important. I believed that girls should know what they have done to help the world or should at least have role models that inspire them to do more. American Girl inspired me when I was a little girl in the 1990s.

Now, I’m adult. As an adult, really, I shouldn’t have any say on what a doll line is supposed to be. After all, these toys are for this generation’s children. Still, as an adult collector, and a true lover of American Girl dolls, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed after the latest news. I’m not disappointed with American Girl, LLC, not with Mattel, but at the fandom who drove the company to even consider creating this line of boy dolls.

It’s not all bad though. Don’t get me wrong. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I understand all the reasons why American Girl has created a boy doll and why they want a “Boy World”, and those reasons alone make me feel more positive about this new idea. The intentions are pure.

For one,  I am interested in the idea behind including boys in the world of dolls, especially in a high-profile doll brand such as American Girl. Introducing these boy dolls into the lines offered can help girls understand boys better. It’s different liking what boys do (like girls may with male Marvel superheroes) versus understanding boys. If done correctly, boy characters and dolls in a brand like this, a brand that focuses on the thoughts and feelings of everyday children, could open a gate for teachable or educational moments, moments that help girls understand the world of boys. It can introduce girls to a different type of world for boys, other than the violent and rough one. Of course, this is IF IT’S DONE CORRECTLY.

Unfortunately I don’t have much faith that American Girl, LLC, and overall Mattel, can do this correctly. But we shall see.

A second pro to the inclusion of boy dolls is that this could be a stepping stone to getting boys interested in dolls, or at least not being ostracized or bullied when they are interested. There are actually quite a few boys already interested in the American Girl characters and dolls. If more companies began offering boy dolls, people wouldn’t see “dolls” as a girl thing. Of course, having the Ken doll didn’t stop dolls from being seen as a “girl toy”. But again, IF DONE CORRECTLY, American Girl could truly make a gender-neutral brand of dolls, which would be ground-breaking on many levels.

The third pro is that boys who are interested in American Girl will now have a doll that at least resembles them. Though sure, a boy shouldn’t need a “boy doll” to be interested in a brand that appears directed to girls. But just having a face, just having that representation can be important for some little boys who want a doll that looks like them. It’s important when they are playing with their little friends or their siblings or their cousins. It helps them relate to the toy better.

Having it in Truly Me is probably the best step forward, and personally it’s where I think the boy inclusion should end (though I’m not against a separate Beforever or Boy of the Year line for boys). Truly Me allows children and collectors to pick any doll they want, to dress them any way they want, and to decide their story. These boys don’t have to be just modern boys. If someone wants to make them historical, they can be. Of course, American Girl isn’t offering any male historical fashions yet, but Kit had a cute pair of overalls in her collection and Felicity had some breeches that could work on a boy doll from the past, if anyone is interested in the secondary market, like eBay. Besides, you can dress your boy dolls in any of the outfits available if the child prefers a non-binary look. And custom outfits at home are an option, too. It seems American Girl wants to jump on the boy doll market, especially since people were already making custom boys out of their dolls anyway.

custom American Boy doll

One more positive thing about this is the fact that there will be many molds and hair textures, creating a diverse range of options. Boys of color don’t really have that many super hero action figures in their image. In fact, few toys directed at boys are black, brown, yellow, or any other color but the pinkish-white that’s often considered the default. The Truly Me line is offering something rare in the 18″ doll market, though the My Life dolls beat American Girl to it.

I imagine this whole release is to compete with the My Life dolls…and personally, I believe American Girl’s future decisions will be based on their competition. After all, My Life dolls are cheaper, which makes them more appealing and affordable to parents during the holiday season.

Despite all the good that this boy line could do for the toy industry, both originally and socially, I have many concerns with it.

I am a skeptic by nature, I’ve come to accept this part of myself. I worry and question everything. When it comes to things I like, I am hesitant when people decide to implement changes that I’m not comfortable or familiar with. I worry how the changes will affect the brand.

Concern 1: Will introducing Boy dolls take boys away from relating to girl dolls and characters?

Sure, I understand American Girl’s mindset, the fact that they want to encourage others to recognize that boys can play dolls too, and so it seems that the logical thing to do would be to introduce boy dolls into the brand. But should a boy need a “boy doll” to get interested in the American Girl brand?

Girls don’t need a girl character to get interested in Marvel’s superheroes (though they’ve released girl dolls, but it wasn’t necessary to get girls interested in Marvel). Plenty of girls loved Harry Potter books, even though the story is male-driven. So why should boys need a boy character to relate to American Girl?

Boys should be encouraged to admire toys of all kinds, art of all kinds, even if the image on the cover is that of a girl. Boys should be encouraged to admire any character’s strengths, regardless of their gender. Why can’t boys admire and look up to girls as much as girls admire and look up to boys?

And let’s be honest, girls do look up to boy characters a lot. Women will deny being into dolls before they’ll deny being into action figures because boy toys are considered “cool” while girl toys are considered “weak” or “lame” or “babyish”.

I think it’d be great if a boy can find a girl doll or character that relates to him. Kit is pretty popular among boys because she does just that, but she doesn’t have to be a boy to relate to boys. When boys read stories like hers, they can connect and discover that girls don’t feel any different from them. And isn’t that more of American Girl’s goal? To put girls out there more? To help the world understand girls? It shouldn’t be to help girls understand boys. There’s plenty out there that can help girls understand boys. But few stories do what American Girl stories do, and few dolls represent the message that girls can do important things and inspire others with their positive actions. How many stories give such realistic portrayals of girls in ways all children can understand?

For this reason, I fear that American Boy dolls will give boys a reason to overlook the girl dolls, as if they don’t have anything valuable to offer or teach boys.

Concern 2: What would happen if the success of these boy lines encourage American Girl, LLC to start creating more boy characters in the brand? Should the boy dolls be treated as accessories to the girls or should American Girl seek to give them their own lines?

This is a trickier question, one that I proposed five years ago when AMERICAN BOY was first trademarked. So far, American Girl has already decided to go the “best friend” route, the route I was especially against when it came to American Girl. It seems they also might try some customization with the boys in Truly Me. Which I’m okay with.

I’m not against the boys being in Truly Me. I’m happy with them right there.

I won’t be okay if American Girl starts making boy friends for the Beforever characters or the Girl of the Year. My issue is that the boys may steal the attention from some of the girls in the brand, like what Logan has done to Gabriela and his “friend” Tenney, even if they are just accessories. The girls of color would be at the greatest disadvantage, as they already struggle for attention against the white American Girl dolls. Now, they would have to compete with the boy dolls, too!

And yet, with the success of Logan, I believe the best boy friend concept will be reintroduced in the near future. It won’t stop until the novelty of boy dolls stop.

I also don’t like the shipping. It’s not that I don’t think childhood romances aren’t cute, but American Girl has always encouraged girls to strive for more than the typical. Romance is a typical subject among girls, and traditionally was considered the only thing they should be concerned about (since women were only expected to strive to be good wives and mothers). I don’t like the idea of my favorite characters getting characters that they could be shipped with. I don’t like it with Tenney, no matter how hard American Girl insists “they are just friends”.

I would personally like the boys to have their own separate lines in a completely different section called AMERICAN BOY, as trademarked. I’ve talked to many fans that don’t like this idea. I’ve asked them why. Most just don’t want the boy line to compete with the girl line. They don’t want the American Boy books to show more history with male-driven characters, as it’s so often portrayed that way. They feel it would take away the symbol of American Girl. Truly, it wouldn’t be American Girl anymore, in their opinion.

I agree that the competition for importance would be a factor. However, I believe that having a separate American Boy line, with maybe a variety of different characters and outfits, but not so extravagant like the girls, would be a good way to implement boy dolls without them outshining the girl dolls. After all, most of the little people who walk in the AG stores are little girls, and little girls tend to be drawn to little girl dolls.

Of course, there would still be the issue of honoring boys in “women’s spaces”, a space set aside to honor girls that never had a place in history books, on movie screens, in literature, and in the present working world.

Concern 3: Will having “gendered” outfits limit the fluid fashion expression of the girl characters? Are boys the only ones capable of having short hair and wearing baggy pants? What clothing and accessories will define the “boys’ line”?

As someone who loves androgynous fashion, I couldn’t help wondering why Logan couldn’t be a girl. And hard as I’ve tried to pretend that Logan is, after reading about his story, I just couldn’t put that into my imagination. I guess I’m not that creative?

There doesn’t seem like there will be any stories with the release of these new “Boy World” dolls. Still, how is it going to be defined separately from the girls? For me, I don’t understand why the first dolls we get with bowl cut or pixie cut hair dos have to be boys. This just made me realize how much American Girl lacks in terms of diverse gender expressions. Sure, we have tomboys like Felicity and Kit, but few modern characters have the same expression they do, and even Lissie and Kit wore dresses and such most of the time (considering the time, it wasn’t their fault).

In our modern world, we have all kinds of ways to express womanhood, and not all of it is in a dress, ballerina flats, and pink hair streaks. Some of us like to wear our hair really short. Some of us like our clothes baggy instead of hugging us. Some of us like bland colors like brown and black and green.

With this new “Boy World”, will the lines between what is boy and girl be set? With the boy dolls now, there’s no chance a true tomboyish character could be released. They’d be associated with the “boy’s collection”.

And how are we going to define this boy line when it comes to items and accessories? With basketballs? STEM items? Items it took years for the girls to get?

Are we going to stereotype the boys by shoving them with most of the sports attire or the science attire? Truly, what defines a “Boy’s World”?

I’m curious to see what that will mean in the American Girl brand.

Concern 4: Is it necessary to “create diversity” by adding boy characters, especially when we don’t even have a diverse range of female characters yet?

As mentioned before, American Girl doesn’t even have a diverse range of gender expressions among girls yet. How can they seek to bring representation to boys when they haven’t even represented all the girls yet?

How revolutionary it would’ve been if Logan had been a girl! I would’ve been more tempted to buy Logan (it’s the face mold that still turns me off). I guess I can buy him and still pretend, but the fact that he comes with a back story and everything kind of kills the imagination for me.

It’s more necessary to make more characters of color, something American Girl is also seriously lacking. They don’t have any Asian American Beforever characters with their own line and series (Ivy was a sidekick, and so was not important in my honest opinion). They’ve only had ONE African-American Girl of the Year character. They don’t even have any Muslim characters (Leyla, from the Girls of Many Lands, was the last one from the brand, and she wasn’t an 18″ doll). They’ve only had one 18″ Indian doll, none from Pakistan or Iran or any other group. We don’t even have a Native American, or indigenous, Girl of the Year!

And yet, Logan gets his chance to shine? Nu uh. There are far more role models out there for boys. American Girl doesn’t have to offer boy dolls for boys to have options. They find these options in toys, video games, literature, history books, and in LIFE. I just finished watching the Hey Arnold movie. He’s a pretty good role model for boys, and American Girl didn’t have to be around for him to exist.

Concern 5: Is it okay for the boy dolls to share the same mold as girl dolls?

This might seem like a silly concern (well my whole rant about a bunch of dolls might seem silly to most of you), but I believe having boys carry on some of the girls’ molds would hurt the sales and perception of the girls. A lot of times, what is considered masculine is considered “ugly” on a girl. But if it were placed on a boy, it might be deemed more “attractive”.

Take the Addy mold for example. There are a lot of people who don’t like the Addy mold and they think she looks masculine. That’s people’s perception of black women anyway, but they will project that perception off on the doll. If a male were to have that exact mold, they might find it looks “better” on him.

I’ve heard some people say that Kaya’s mold looks better on Logan than on her! It’s not fair to her. She was designed with that specific mold because it fit with her culture and time period. For Logan to appropriate her mold is just an outrage!

My other concern is that these dolls would end up being considered ugly by girls because they share the same mold as the boy dolls. Though it shouldn’t matter, the opinions of these girls can greatly affect the success of the dolls. I mean, we shouldn’t think anyone is ugly, and so we shouldn’t find characters’ dolls to be ugly, just because they have more masculine faces. But how can anyone really change the way a kid feels?

Black girls already get called masculine and ugly by some of their peers. Do they really need to see that Addy shares a mold with a Truly Me boy doll?

I know this is a lot to talk about, and all just for some child’s plaything. I guess it bothers me because American Girl dolls have always meant a lot more to me than the average doll line. I’ve collected a lot of dolls, but American Girl was always the diamond in the rough. This brand brought a new kind of representation to the toy industry, and changed my perception of what a girl could and couldn’t do. I believe it’s why I’m able to be so independent to this day. I know I don’t have to follow the crowd. I know I don’t need to be married by 30. I know my role is not just to be a loving wife and mother. I know there’s more for me out there. And American Girl dolls, among other things, helped me discover that at a young age. I can’t deny that it was a contributing factor.

Perhaps we shouldn’t politicize toys, or make them into a social issue. But some toys can be great tools for promoting positive and encouraging messages. I think it’s important to create toys that have a purpose than to just have kids play with toys meaninglessly. But when we do create toys with a purpose, it’s important to remember the message sent when selling them.

This is why the imagery this company dishes out is so very important. These images really do influence the little girls who play with them, especially because there are books that accompany the dolls. That’s why American Girl has a responsibility to make sure the images they produce really do bring honor to girls.

This is why what American Girl produces is important to me. This isn’t just some flimsy underground brand. American Girl is a brand that has the power to influence girls. I just hope that American Girl uses that power wisely.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the new rumored “Boy World”! Are you for it or against it? Are you concerned? If you are, do you share my same concerns or do you have some of your own? Let’s discuss!

Youth Talk: What Makes a “Good” Friend? (Inspired from the Kenneka Jenkins Story)

17 Sep

This article is inspired from the Kenneka Jenkins Story. 

For those of you who don’t know about this story, Kenneka Jenkins was a 19 year old young lady who was found last Sunday, September 10th, in a hotel Freezer in Rosemont, IL (Chicago Metro Area) dead. Miss Jenkins was attending a hotel party with her friend where drinks and drugs were served. The friends claimed that they were bringing Kenneka to the hotel lobby when Kenneka asked for her items (phone and keys). As all of the friends went back to the room to retrieve her items, she wandered off by herself.

Prior to the release of surveillance footage, many people suspected foul play. Due to the heavy weight of the freezer door, many people suspected (and continue to suspect) she was locked in it on purpose and that her friends may have had some involvement in her death. It was suspicious that the friends didn’t call the police when they first discovered she was missing (possibly they didn’t want to get busted for having illegal drugs and alcohol in their system, and in the hotel at that). It was also suspicious that none of her friends stayed with her when she was drunk, which allowed her to wander away (though the friends claimed they were drunk too and possibly didn’t realize that they left her).

Some people on social media who claimed to be her friends claimed that she was “set up” for $200 to be sexually abused. Other friends have been making other accusations.

Teresa Martin, the mother of Miss Jenkins, said that Kenneka’s friends lied to her and told her that they were taking her daughter “to the show and then bowling”. She also said their stories changed up every time after this incident happened.

But most of her friends, especially Monifah Shelton, just seem to be overcome with grief and guilt, according to their Facebook posts.

With new evidence (and more to come), it appears that Kenneka staggered down the hallway, onto an elevator, and to an empty kitchen (said to be under renovation by the hotel) by herself.

But even with this evidence, some people still suspect she was murdered. Some people claim to see shadows of two people following her. Others aren’t convinced she locked herself in the freezer because there hasn’t been any video footage actually directly showing that she locked herself in. Some people believe that the videos were tampered with because minutes are skipped (though this is common with sensory cameras that only pick up movement; they do this to save on memory space).

A lot of people are suspicious of the hotel and hotel staff. One of the most appalling things about the case is the fact that hotel staff refused to search for the girl until a missing persons report was filed with the police. Even though the policy says video footage has to be released to police, no one ever said they couldn’t at least search for her or at least call the police themselves. Some people suspect that hotel staff had a hand in her death.

People are also suspicious of the police involved in the investigation. When the mother of Kenneka, called the police at the hotel to file a missing persons report, she was told to wait a few hours to see if her daughter showed up. This allowed too much time to lapse, time someone could’ve been searching for Miss Jenkins. The police and hotel staff searched for her but were unable to find her the first time and gave up. The family resorted to knocking on guests’ doors to find her. The hotel then finally decided to call the police back because “their guests were disturbed”. A police officer decided to go ahead and look at the footage again. A search party went out until she was discovered in the freezer.

Many people suspect the police of not looking for her because “she was a girl of color”.

But overall, so far, we know that she staggered down a hallway towards the freezer. She was under the influence of alcohol (and possibly drugs). More information will be revealed after the rest of the footage and the toxicology report is released throughout the weeks.

This incident has raised many questions about how much we can trust social media, how far people will go with their theories, how competent hotel staff are, how much we can trust police officers to find missing persons, and how much young people can be trusted with their friends.

Kenneka Jenkins Update

Five Facts about Kenneka Jenkins’ case

 

While everyone was playing Sherlock Holmes with this case, I decided to take a step back and look at the whole picture. Kenneka may have been set up. Someone may have locked her in a freezer. Perhaps she was in there, and a hotel staff member shut the door and turned the freezer on, not knowing she was in there. Perhaps the hotel staff are trying to cover things up to save the hotel’s reputation and everyone’s jobs. The police may have been racially motivated to ignore her. All of these factors should be considered, and if there’s evidence to support it, those people should be held accountable.

But let’s fast forward everything. Arguably, we can all say that Kenneka herself made some poor choices before she met her demise. The poorest choices she made was choosing some of these girls at the hotel party as friends. The real thing that killed Kenneka was her choices in friends.

I’m not saying her friends were not real friends to her. They probably really loved her and supported her. I’m sure they didn’t intend for anything bad to happen to her (well, I’m hoping). Still, there is a difference between a real friend and a good friend.

What makes a real friend? A real friend is someone who loves and supports you. A real friend understands you and is always there when you need them. A real friend seeks to make their friend happy. A real friend may always support you, but this doesn’t mean they won’t lead you in bad situations.

What makes a good friend? A good friend could be a real friend, but also is someone who brings out the best in you. They seek to lift you up, not tear you down. They don’t bring drama and dangerous situations to their friends. They try to steer their friend in the right direction because they want nothing but the best for them.

Young people who have heard this story should learn from this. It is sad that we can’t save Kenneka, but we can save our young people from meeting the same consequences (or similar) by encouraging our youth to make the right decisions for themselves regarding their own lives and who they choose to associate with.

There’s even a difference between a fake friend and a bad friend.

What makes a fake friend? A fake friend is someone who isn’t supportive, who allows you to feel isolated and humiliated, and who puts you down constantly in front of others or behind your back. It is difficult to communicate your concerns with them without you feeling they won’t be your friend anymore.

What makes a bad friend? A bad friend may also be a fake friend, but they also may put you in dangerous situations. They may be toxic, constantly bringing problems to you, and may hold you back from achieving your goals. These people may seem to care about you sometimes, but they care about themselves more.

So much of American media promotes young people partying and making poor choices. Movies and music promote living a wild lifestyle. America’s youth are impressionable. Some of them aren’t mature enough to make the right choices for themselves and some don’t know how to regulate just how much “fun” they should be having. Top this off with peer pressure, and something as light as a party could lead to severe consequences.

Now is the time for young teens and adults to examine whether their friends are real friends, good friends, or no friends at all.

Parents can also help discover more about their child’s friends by asking questions. But let’s be honest, as a child grows older, they will have more freedom and meet more people. Have you, as a parent, prepared your child to make the best decisions for themselves, even when you are not around to monitor them?

I have created a questionnaire/quiz that can help teens, their parents, and young adults analyze their lives/their child’s lives and reflect on who they associate with. Reflect on these questions, answer them honestly, and really think about whether these kind of friends are really the type of friends you’d want to be around or you’d want to be around your child.

At the end of the questionnaire/quiz are “answers” that help you better reflect on your answers so you can better understand the adjustments you might need to make.

 

1) Your friend is about to attend a “lit” party and invites you to come with them. You attend the party and notice that liquor and several types of illegal drugs are being served there. You’re underage (10 years of age to 20 years of age in the USA). You confront your friend about it, who didn’t tell you beforehand. What would your friend say/do?

a. My friend would say, “I knew they would serve it. Come on. This party is lit! You need to loosen up. I’m here to help you have fun” and would proceed to pass me a drink and a blunt.

b. My friend would say, “I knew it was going to be here, but I thought we could have fun without doing it. We can still have fun at this party, we just won’t drink and smoke” and they would lead me to the center of the room to dance.

c. My friend would say, “I didn’t know alcohol and drugs were going to be served, but I just don’t think it’s a big deal anyway. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, we can leave.” They would wait for my decision, but would return to the party no matter what.

d. My friend would say, “I didn’t know liquor and drugs were being served here. Let’s get out of here and do something else fun”. We would do something else.

 

2) You are not feeling well after a party-gone-wrong. You either ate or drank something that just didn’t sit right with you. You feel like you want to go home, but you came with your friend in their car. What would your friend do?

a. My friend would laugh at me, tell me that’s part of partying, would insist that they want to stay longer, and would tell me to wait awhile or hitch a ride with someone.

b. My friend would call me an Uber or taxi and tell me to go outside and wait for it.

c. My friend would ask me if I could call someone to pick me up and would wait with me until they arrived.

d. My friend would drive me home immediately.

 

3) Your friends want to invite you to a college party at someone’s house across town, a college where you know wild things happen. But you are still living with your parents, using their car, and you know your parents won’t allow you to go. What would your friend suggest?

a. My friend would tell me to go anyway. They would tell me that I’m old enough to make my own decisions. They would offer to help me sneak out.

b. My friend would help me come up with an excuse to leave the house or would help me come up with a lie.

c. My friend would help me come up with more ways to convince my parents to let me go. They would offer to speak to my parents for or with me.

d. My friend would just let it go and would think of something else we could do.

 

4) Your friend drove you to a party that served drinks and she drank a little bit. But she was the one who drove you to the party. You need to get home by midnight. What would your friend suggest?

a. My friend would insist that they aren’t drunk and can hold their liquor. They would insist that I hop in the car.

b. My friend would suggest we stay at the location until they get the liquor out of their system.

c. My friend would suggest that I drive us back home in the car.

d. My friend would suggest we call a trusted relative or friend to pick us up. My friend would come back for the car later. If not, my friend would call a taxi to get us home.

 

5) You decided to leave a party because people were acting wild and crazy. Some other party-goers begin making fun of you as you leave and they start talking trash about you. What would your friend do?

a. My friend would laugh with them and agree that I’m lame and embarrassing.

b. My friend would tell the others to leave me alone, but would agree that I need to loosen up.

c. My friend would stand up for me and tell them that I can do what I want to do. My friend would see me to the door, but they would stay for the party.

d. My friend would leave the party with me.

 

Did you get your answers together?

If you chose mostly “a”, your friend probably seems like a lot of fun. Sometimes, they seem to have your best interest at heart because they often worry about you not having enough fun in your life. They are attractive people to be around because everyday is always an adventure. But ask yourself this: Do they really care what happens to you when they drag you out on their “adventures”? If something were to happen to you, would they really be there for you? Do they respect, not just you, but your family and other friends? Does your safety come before their need for “fun”? Do they consider what you’re comfortable with without judging you or thinking less of you?

If you chose mostly “b”, your friend is considerate and does care what happens to you, but they won’t let anyone stop them from having a good time. They seem like good friends because though they are fun, they let you be you. But ask yourself: If they get in trouble, will you be dragged along with them? Do their choices in life affect you negatively? Do they care enough about you to consult with you about dangerous situations before you enter them? Do they have enough sense to recognize a dangerous situation? Do they listen to your fears and support your decisions? Would your friend protect you if your safety was threatened?

If you chose mostly “c”, your friend actually really seems to care about you and wants you to be able to hang out with them with few problems. They may always seem to find a way to get you to have a little daring fun while still making sure you’re okay. But ask yourself this: Do they really make the right decisions? Will you be stuck cleaning their mess up after every event? Do they place you in uncomfortable or awkward situations all the time without apologizing or realizing their error? Do they cause you to worry or question their decisions when with you? Do they always seem to get you in trouble? Are they responsible when dealing with other people? Do you feel safe around them?

If you chose mostly “d”, your friend always seems to have your back. When you don’t like a situation, they don’t like it either. They seem to consider your feelings, they respect your parents and household, and they want you to both have a good time without feeling uncomfortable. Ask yourself this: When they respect your parents, does it mean they don’t want you to have fun? Are they less attractive as friends because they don’t want to do anything too dangerous that will hurt you?

Now, I’m not here to tell anybody what to do. I’m nobody’s mother. I’m not here to tell you to drop your friends. I’m not here to act like I’m an expert on friendship. The purpose of this questionnaire is simply for reflection.

But I do have experience with these types of situations. As a young woman in her 20s, I understand how hard it is to fight peer pressure. However, part of being an adult is sifting through life and discovering the things and people who are and aren’t good for us. Part of growing up is learning to bring into your life the things and people that improve the quality of it. If you know, in your spirit of spirits, that someone is not good for you, YOU have the power to change that. You can’t change another person. You can only change the choices you make.

Parents should always be aware of who their child is socializing with and should do their best to steer their children in the right direction, but we all know they can’t control everything that goes on at school or at parties with friends. It’s very important to teach children ways to be safe when out with others because we just never know in this world.

If you’ve reviewed the following questions above, and YOU feel you might be a toxic friend, maybe this is a step towards self-evaluation. In what ways can you become a better friend? No one wants to be left with the mess they made after making poor decisions, and no one wants to live with the guilt for the rest of their lives.

I believe that as a community we need to work harder to protect our youth and improve our young people’s morals so that situations like this won’t happen. When I see what happened to Kenneka, I often think to myself:

1. Why would her friends allow her to get that drunk? Why would anyone at that party serve her a drink when she is underage? No one seems to want to address this point because so many people are okay with underage drinking and make excuses for it. It’s even considered acceptable now. But how much damage can underage drinking do to an impressionable teen or young adult? That’s what we should be thinking about.

2. Why would they lie to her mother about where they were going, jeopardizing her safety? By lying to her mother, they have hurt their relationship with Kenneka’s family. Did they think they would get away with it? Even if she were alive, she’d be stumbling in at home drunk.

3. What if Kenneka had managed to get her keys and drive. Would she have died in a car accident? Did her friends even suggest that she get another ride home, or were they too drunk to make the proper decisions too? They did not show that they were responsible.

All of these questions, and yet what’s done is done. I often feel powerless in this situation because all I can do is try to help protect other teens and young adults from meeting the same fate. Let’s all hope for healing for everybody and let’s hope that something like this never happens again.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about this situation.

American Girl’s Native Hawaiian doll, Nanea Mitchell from the 1940s, Has Arrived!

5 Aug

For those of you who don’t know, American Girl is a brand that produces a line of wholesome and family-friendly dolls centered on encouraging girls to be the best they can be and to make their mark on history. Pleasant Company originally produced the American Girl collection in 1986 with their line of historical dolls as the focus, now called Beforever. Soon, the brand was sold to Mattel, creators of the Barbie doll, and it has expanded since then to include Bitty Baby, Wellie Wishers, Girl of the Year, and other contemporary and historical lines throughout the years since it’s been around.

Lately, American Girl has been pushing for “diversity” in their brand of dolls. Earlier this year, the first African American Girl of the Year  , Gabriela, was released followed by American Girl’s first boy doll. Z Yang, a young Korean filmmaker, was also added to the group.

And finally a new doll was added to the Beforever lineup: Nanea Mitchell, a native Hawaiian girl from 1941, during the early WWII era.

I’ve done write-ups on the dolls before, if you want to check those articles out. –>Check it out here.

To promote the new 1941-1942 Native Hawaiian American Girl doll, American Girl has allowed all of their “Rewards” members early access to the doll! That’s right. Instead of waiting until the end of the month, AG Rewards members will receive their Nanea as early as this week!

Many AG Rewards members received their Nanea on August 1st, and already there are reviews everywhere of her. American Girl fans who have been excited for her arrival were surprised when American Girl bumped up her release for their active consumers.

And Reward members weren’t just getting a doll. Oh no. They received a collection.

What is AG Rewards?

 

It is just like any rewards membership you get with any retail store. The more you buy, the more points you get. Attending American Girl events can also give you points.

It’s free to join.

It’s kind of difficult to find on the main website. But you can access it by going to the “Shop” page, clicking “Sign in/Register” at the top right-hand corner of the screen. Or you can access it by going to the “Shop” page or “Stores” page, scrolling all the way to the bottom, clicking “About American Girl”, which then gives a drop-down menu that includes “AG Rewards”.

You must be 18 years or older to join, so kids should ask their parents first.

Other F.A.Q.s are listed on the page if you scroll down.

But don’t expect to get Nanea just because you decided to be a member today. You had to have accumulated 350 points or more (Gold status and Berry status) to be able to get the doll and her collection.

The doll and her collection run about $216 for pre-order. Nobody over my way can afford that right now, but happy days to the rest of ya’ll who can.

What was included in the Nanea collection?

Included in the collection are the doll in her Meet outfit, some accessories that go along with it, a hula outfit with some floral accessories, her Pjs, and her cute little dog.

There are videos out now from people who received their collection. I haven’t gotten anything yet. :/

One of the best videos I’ve seen has been lead by a very intelligent and bright child.

 

Another great video is by the Youtuber American Girl Ideas.

After watching the videos, I have my own review.

My Review

Nanea’s Meet Outfit and Accessories

I’ve already seen it a thousand times already. But I never really gave my opinion on it until now.

Nanea’s Meet outfit comes with a pake “Teatimer” blouse that became really popular in the 1940s and 1950s.

More searches on “Teatimer” blouses

She also arrives with sailor-inspired moku shorts. She has crisscrossed strap sandals. She has a bag/purse that can turn inside-out to match her outfit. And she has a blue-white shell necklace to tie it all together.

I love the color and style of the “Teatimer” top as well as the cute little shorts. But I’m not sure I like everything together. For some reason, it just seems like the jewelry and handbag are off with the outfit. The red in the shirt is the only color that pops. The blue with it isn’t doing it for me. The blue is nice too on its own. But it doesn’t seem like there’s enough to go with the red in her shirt.

But separately, everything looks really appealing. The doll itself looks stunning. Yet, I don’t know why they saw the need to paint the ends of her eyes. Was that to make it look more slanted than it was supposed to look?

Regardless, I personally appreciate the historical emphasis put into the wardrobe. I was especially interested in her Meet items.

Some other Meet items include a letter from one of her best friends, Donna, and an envelope. I read a bit about Donna, but there will be no spoilers from me. 😉 We can see Nanea’s address on the front of the envelope. This friend Donna lives in California …I’m assuming Donna’s family moved after the events of Pearl Harbor, December 1941.

Nanea’s Meet accessories also come with two $1.00 bills with HAWAII printed on the back. This is a very historical detail. Right after the Pearl Harbor attack (so these accessories have to have been related to events that took place in 1942), dollar bills were issued with a Hawaiian print. This was so the US could distinguish the money during a Japanese invasion, if such were to happen. If an invasion were to happen, the Japanese could seize millions of dollars from institutions on the island. But with the Hawaii print, the USA could easily declare the money useless since the notes weren’t actually the legal currency of the nation. It was like making a bunch of fake dollar bills for people so the Japanese wouldn’t still the real ones.

All  “bank notes” that were not stamped had to be turned in. Hawaiian residents were not allowed to use any other form of currency unless they had permission.

History on the Hawaiian Bank Note

So far, the most interesting parts for me about the Meet stuff are the accessories. I like everything else, but the other items just adds to the overall historical and story experience, which is something I appreciate about American Girl. The letter in its envelope kind of reminds me of the American Girl’s “adventure” books. You know, like Kit’s Railway Adventure? Samantha’s Ocean Liner Adventure? Molly’s Route 66 Adventure? I loved those books so much.

The Hula Outfit and Accessories

Sigh. I am not shocked, but mildly disappointed. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from Nanea. It’s an era I’ve already collected so much for (because I’ve had Molly, one of the original dolls, since 1997, and have shopped around for off-brand WWII items for her). The things that make her different from Molly deal with her culture, the unique setting, and the extra floral prints.

But I was sort of hoping for maybe a more authentic Hula dress that was less…I don’t know…stereotypical?

I thought it was bad enough that Molly’s perception of Hawaii was the grass skirts (to add Molly’s mom thought it was a good idea to be a hula dancer for Halloween, but this was the 1940s).

But having a “native” Hawaiian girl perpetuate the same stereotypes as Molly almost gives off a worse vibe. This doll could be a gateway for little girls to learn more about Hawaiian culture and history.

When girls see Molly, they know she is just an ignorant white girl who doesn’t know any better. But when they see Nanea, they will think that she really is what she’s advertised as: a “Hawaiian” girl.

So, something a little less stereotypical would’ve been nice. Where was the advisory board when this was designed?

This is not to say there were no hula outfits with ti-leaf skirts being designed in the 1940s. The ti-leaf skirts may have been more common in the late 1800s and early 20th century, but they had them in the 1940s, too.

Before more hula skirts were being made with cotton, hula skirts were often made from raffia fibers. But originally, in the 1800s and before, Hawaiian ladies would just wear the skirts-and nothing else.

Because white missionaries wanted to spread their morality and religion, the style of clothing for the hula changed. It had to so it could fit the current “moral codes”. The dance was banned sometime before the 1940s because of the movement of the dances, the different spiritual undertones, and how “scantily clothed” the dancers appeared.

But by Nanea’s time, hula had moved beyond a traditional spiritual ritual and had become more of an art form. Girls by the 1940s wouldn’t have flounced around in grass skirts all the time. They often wore colorful skirts that may have been made from simple cotton. Then again, if they were trying to appeal to tourists in the 1940s, they may have used the grass skirts instead. Still, there were other styles that I wish had been made for Nanea.

The true evolution of the hula outfits have yet to be elaborated on by any entertainment mediums presented to children. And American Girl joins the other bulk of companies that fall into capitalizing off of the stereotypes.

Perhaps someone should’ve looked up the various different outfits hula dancers wear. Even girls today could provide better and more accurate examples of what is appropriate for hula. And it’s certainly not always grass skirts. Maybe they didn’t want Nanea looking so close to Kanani, but Kanani’s Luau outfit looks more unique than Nanea’s “hula” outfit.

Kanani Luau dress

Today, the hula is mostly done for entertainment and to embrace Hawaiian heritage and culture. Many Hawaiians do still wear the raffia skirt. But wouldn’t it have been refreshing if American Girl had gone a little deeper?

But no. I wasn’t shocked they didn’t. It was exactly as I expected. Still, I was disappointed that they met my low expectations with this outfit.

I prefer the Holoku dress on the cover of her second book.

And from the look and feel of the hula outfit and the accessories, it just seems cheap and lazy. I know doll companies are struggling, but come on. Any time the lei and floral accessories and outfit are worse than Kanani’s, we’ve got a problem. Even the kid in the video can feel it!

The historical line of dolls should be of higher quality than the contemporary dolls. People can get away with wearing plastic everything nowadays. Nanea’s outfit is supposed to reflect the 1940s. Plastic was rationed! I understand the floral accessories can’t be too real because then the flowers could wither and die without proper care. But it should at least look and feel real. It’s just unacceptable.

Sure, Kanani’s doll came out years ago when American Girl could afford to make high-quality items. The doll industry is really suffering nowadays. Mattel might be losing two of its biggest doll lines of the decade (Monster High and Ever After High) and may not be able to bounce back from that. But it still would’ve been nice if there was some effort to be original or different.

The top that goes with the skirt is nice, but Nanea has enough red in her Meet outfit to go around. And it kind of makes it look like a tropical version of Molly’s “costume”.

The “strapless” look of the hula top kind of reminds me of Disney’s Moana, but okay.

Overall, again, Nanea looks good in the hula outfit once everything is put on her. But the look of it is better than the overall quality. It’s like having food on the table that looks better than the taste.

Nanea’s Pajamas and Mele the Dog

The pajamas are cute. They kind of seem to relate to modern fashion styles. This isn’t to say this style wasn’t popular in the 1940s, but I can see how it can be pretty trendy for today, too. American Girl presenters said on facebook that Nanea’s outfits were sort of designed to be “timeless” where girls could mix and match some of her 1940s outfits with modern outfits.

Presenters

While that’s thoughtful and all, I’m not too on board with the idea of mixing the contemporary styles with those of the past. I enjoy the authenticity of the historical line, and quite frankly I find the modern outfits to be something I can find at my local target from another popular 18″ doll line.

But overall, I find the pjs to be okay. They look soft and comfy and I would like a pair for myself.

Mele is cute as a button. I love that doggy!

Overall, her collection seems okay. I’m not as into the outfits as I am the accessories this time around. But I’m glad this dress was released!

Some fans have gotten hold of Nanea’s family market!

1.Once again, the items are the most interesting part of Nanea’s collection for me. I’m seeing some Victory Garden stickers. XD Flashbacks of Molly comes to mind.

2.  I do see a sticker asking people living in Hawaii to donate their empty bottles. TRIVIA: The war brought a shortage of bottles on the island. This is probably when “recycling” really took off the ground. People were encouraged to bring their empty bottles, which were often glass, back for further use. Milk bottles used to be delivered to people by a milkman in glass bottles instead of people going to the store to purchase them in cartons.

3. Did you see how cheap stuff was in the 1940s? Jello….5 cents!

4. The first edition of the Honolulu Star newspaper!

5. The canned spam and the rice bags are two of my favorite items. Canned became a favorite in Hawaii when the army men and air force, the GIs, fell in love with it. It didn’t require refrigeration and had a long shelf life. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/Menuism/why-do-hawaiians-love-spam-so-much_b_1901306.html

Hormel shipped over 100 million pounds overseas.

6. There’s beautiful fabrics! I wonder if any are truly long enough to make doll clothes with…

 

 

Check out the rest of Nanea’s items!

I love the rest of Nanea’s collection. Really time-period ready!

Learn more about her at americangirl.com!

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I hope I don’t sound too disturbed in some parts of the article. But I’ve been put-off from her since I found out I wasn’t going to be learning about a new era and was revisiting the 1940s. Forgive my skepticism. I’m trying to be fair.

I was also put off when I found out she isn’t really fully “Native Hawaiian”. She’s also not really fully a “doll of color” because like all the other Asian/Pacific Islander dolls from American Girl, one of her parents are white. I supposed that’s to make her “prettier”.

But it is more realistic for a Hawaiian girl to be mixed in the 1940s. Few islanders were fully Hawaiian by the 1940s. And even fewer are today.

Oh well. I guess it’s better we get some history on Hawaii now than not at all.

That’s my review of Nanea’s collection. What do you all think? Do you like everything you see? Are you impressed? Are you disappointed? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

 

Why I Can’t Seem To Grasp My Favorite Childhood TV Characters Grown Up (Raven’s Home Reboot, Following Fuller House and Girl Meets World)

23 Jul

Hello ya’ll!

So, recently I was one of the nostalgic adults who tuned in July 21st to watch the premiere of That’s So Raven‘s reboot now called Raven’s Home.

That’s So Raven was a comedy sitcom, possibly Disney’s first, made officially by the channel, about a teenage psychic who often sees something happening in the future and tries (mostly unsuccessfully) to stop the vision from coming true or to help a good vision come true. This obviously left room for a lot of humor, gags, and delightful slapstick. The three lead characters, Raven, Chelsea, and Eddie, really brought the show to life. They all had excellent comedic timing, great chemistry, and plenty of great actors to back the characters up, which helped to make this “kid’s show” into something for the whole family.

But there is something extra special about watching the show through the eyes of an on-screen teenager. Teenagers are not too young, but they aren’t too old either. They are usually free agents with their whole life ahead of them. They don’t have kids, so they can be as independent and fun as they like. At the same time, they aren’t so young they lose touch with adult issues. And yet, it’s fun to watch them live for the moment.

Even as adults, we long for the days of our youth, when life was simpler. It has been great to return to old re-runs of That’s So Raven on Disney Rewind just to re-experience that magic. It’s great to go back to a time when there were no smart phones, and fidget spinners, and when we had those flamboyant sparkly clothes and feathery jackets.

And, for me, that really doesn’t seem too long ago. For me, I’m still the teen I was 10 years ago. I can’t imagine even being an adult…And yet, I am. I have adult problems and issues now. I worry about my future. I worry about getting older and sicker. I no longer have that confidence in my youth.

Yet, in some ways I’m more confident and more successful and happier, too. It’s weird.

Sure, I’m still in my late 20s. But I’m not getting any younger. My friends are married with kids. They no longer can enjoy the same fun pastimes we used to enjoy as teens, like Laser Tag, ice skating, and horseback riding (though I still enjoy all immensely). We all have bills to pay and homes to pay for. It’s just not the same.

Of course, there are some perks to being an adult. Sure. But whenever we wanted to return to the past, shows like That’s So Raven was there.

Now, with the reboot Raven’s Home, Raven Baxter, the wacky psychic teen we grew to love, is older and is now a MOM. Wrapping my mind around this has been challenging, I must admit. The teen that used to make fun of her parents for being embarrassing, the teen that used to trick her parents or try to get out of sticky situations regarding her parents, is now that parent.

She now has two twin children, one of which is also psychic. So, she isn’t the focus anymore.

Trust me, I knew what I was getting into when I watched this show. But I didn’t realize how much it would hit me until the episode ended into the credits.

I’m old.

This is probably how many fans felt after watching Girl Meets World. I didn’t truly understand because Boy Meets World was popular even after the teens went off to college and even after Cory proposed to Tapanga back then. I was still pretty young during that episode. Fuller House may have had the same effect on fans. To us, 10 years or 20 years was not that long ago, but with many kids reminding us that they’ve never heard of these shows, we begin to think, “Am I really that old?” And now our favorite characters are parents, too? And trying to appeal to kids that know nothing of their greatness?

Girl Meets World

I think the shock for our generation (or for me rather) is because maybe we feel like we’ve grown up too fast. Our time seems to have sped even faster than our parents’ time. We’re also mostly at a standstill, still struggling to build careers, and not really settled financially, physically, politically, and socially (according to some experts).  We’re just not following the “rites of passage” to the letter like former generations. Even the two lead actresses, Raven and Anneliese van der Pol, don’t really have a family with kids and seem like real-life bachelorettes, even though they are in their 30s.

I think the two are playing really empowering roles as two single moms raising their kids on their own. I admire that aspect. They are bringing new kids along to help them navigate this new generation. We, as adults, are also navigating in this new generation’s world. These kids were born in the 2000s. We were not.

And yet, we just can’t see ourselves as adults because we kind of grew up in the Y2K era too.

I think what makes Raven’s Home particularly hitting is that the original show was even newer than Boy Meets World and Full House. It just ended in 2007, near the end of the last decade. Anything “2000s” doesn’t sound old. Hannah Montana and High School Musical had come out before the end of That’s So Raven (and we know how iconic those still are). The generation that followed That’s So Raven aren’t just in their 20s and early 30s. Some of the demographic is in their TEENS. My younger cousins were 6 and 7 years old watching That’s So Raven. Now, they are 16 and 17 watching Raven’s Home, and they’re just like, “She’s a mom now?”

Even though Raven was always older than my cousins were back then, she was still pretty young and really cool to a kid who admires their teenage older sisters and cousins. She wasn’t a mom. That generation is still looking for that youth in Raven, for someone who is figuring out their life as maybe a young college student or as a free bachelor seeking to live a glamorous life (like what we have seen with Sex and the City or Friends, only in a kid-friendlier version). The glam factor goes out the window when our favorite characters become parents themselves. I don’t know why that’s so. Maybe because we don’t like glamorizing parenthood to young impressionable children, I don’t know. Maybe because it’s less sexy. Maybe because kids don’t want to think about having kids. I can think of hundreds of reasons why people prefer single and childless characters to those bogged down with a family, even if none of the reasons are rational. It’s just not appealing to watch the parent and everyone falls more in love with the kids (if these kids can act and charm a crowd).

Even Spider-Man got more praise when they brought his character back to high school in the newest Homecoming Warrior. And it seems Spider Man has always been more popular as a teen than he was depicted as an adult.

The adult characters that do make it into shows or cinema are usually more popular when they are single without a family. Possibly because this helps to give the effect to the audience that the characters need to grow, learn, and experience throughout this show or movie, which creates all kinds of story-telling and fantasies for fans. But none of it actually is final, and that’s what makes it great.

With Raven’s Home, with her having her family, it almost seems like her life as a teenage psychic, that chapter, is over. And that’s what makes me so sad about it all.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the kids in the show. Chelsea’s “son” Levi (played by Jason Maybaum) is a showstopper. He’s cute and can manage to land excellent comedic timing. But am I alone in wishing there had been no kids? When I thought of a “reboot”, I thought of them being older, but maybe the focus. I also didn’t imagine these children as really theirs. Maybe they were kids who lived in the building and came to cause mischief (like Cory, Stanley, and Devon’s sister have done in the original show). But theirs? I wasn’t ready.

Then there’s the problem with “modern acting”. The era of the child star, where movies used to set a high standard for what a good little actor was, has gotten more lenient. These kids just don’t have the same star factor as kids from the 1980s and 1990s (though it made those kids’ lives miserable).

And so, I’ve come to realize that I don’t really like reboots like this. I do often long for the old days, but the actual “old days”. Not reboots, not remakes, and not spin-offs. I like shows better as re-runs. There are some reboots that have done really well, especially in the cinema area. But on TV, I haven’t seen many great reboots.

Raven’s Home actually was the best I’ve ever seen. It’s actually funny and I want to see how it goes in the future.

I was not as impressed with Girl Meets World. The characters we watched the show for brought little to the show besides some throwbacks here and there. And I was less interested in their daughter and her more cliche teen story. Most of her drama dealt with relationships, which was just corny. I know it was Disney doing it this time, but it shouldn’t have been done.

After seeing these reboots, I think I’ll pass on asking for reboots in the future. Some people are happy to see their favorite characters return, and they don’t care in what fashion.

But here’s some reasons why I can’t grasp this concept, the concept that makes our favorite characters grown up with kids:

It’s Different

It’s not just different in the sense that it’s a different show. When reboots happen, certain characters are replaced by new actors (which I heard is happening to Orlando Brown’s character Eddie), characters are omitted, and new characters are added. The theme song changes (sometimes to a less likable one because the popular styles have changed). The demographic shift changes the tone of the show. And the overall product is usually quite the opposite of what fans really wanted when they asked for a reboot in the first place.

This “difference” can make or break the show. Most times, the show is broken by the shift in focus. When people fall in love with a show, they just don’t fall in love with some characters and the concept of the show. Everyone on that set worked to make that show a success. Everyone from that show brought a different flavor. Without even one of those key characters, a reboot can feel stale or empty. It just doesn’t have the same fire. It’s even worse when the original MAIN character is no longer the main.

Sure, we know some people will make an appearance. But we know that those appearances will be temporary mostly, not key. If the characters were single without a family, we could kind of see them attaching to new people as well as adding older people, which could help the characters grow as if they are still the same people they were 10 years ago, still navigating life and trying to find themseles. We could even see a more adult show, a show that connects to the demographic that will mostly appreciate the reboot. We would actually have gotten a continuation.

But with a reboot comes a new focus, like in Raven’s Home‘s case. They basically have a new lead character (though we know Raven is the real character driving the story home). The child is the focus and is the one supposed to be bringing the humor to the new audience. But the younger child doesn’t have the same star power, and that’s what makes this concept weaker than the original. They’re going to have a lot to live up to. Stories about kids are also not as appealing as stories about teens.

But having the kids play as a focus kind of works in Raven’s Home‘s favor too because then we get to see how the psychic gene works. We get to see how a child could inherit these abilities. Still, it’s just weird to see Raven walking around with babies. Raven and Chelsea in the show haven’t changed personality-wise, and they just seem like they would be better as big sisters than mommies. But maybe that’s a new approach? I don’t know. I’m skeptical.

Nickelodeon is doing right by Hey Arnold! by continuing his story this fall with the long anticipated Jungle Movie. Most of the old cast is back, key characters are back, and the story is borrowing inspiration from the past. It’s the perfect way to go about bringing back old characters. The designs have only slightly changed, but not really. I wish Powerpuff Girls had come afterwards so they could learn how a reboot should be done. I hope the Rugrats reboot brings the same old characters back and doesn’t try to grow them up again (Remember All Grown Up anyone?).

Reboots can completely change everything. And that’s just not what I want or what I’m ready for. I just don’t like when something is fixed without being broken to begin with. I want the original. Bringing in a new focus means bringing in a different story and show, not the show I loved.

The one thing that makes me happy about Raven’s Home is that the lead character is a boy. When was the last time Disney Channel had a male lead character? Even Stevens? Phil of the Future? The Suite Life of Zack and Cody? Disney XD has kind of taken over for the boys, but Disney Channel is the oldest and has the strongest fanbase. It’s about time. Having a young male psychic will be an interesting contrast to a young female psychic.

I know a lot of people will say “Well, Disney is trying to bring this to a new audience. That’s why they brought kids along”. Of course, that’s true. But they didn’t have to make Raven and Chelsea moms to do that, and they didn’t have to make them “B-story” characters either.

Look at the success of Jessie starring Debbie Ryan. She was the lead character, not the kids. She played an adult nanny. And it turned out successful. I don’t think shifting the focus on Raven and Chelsea would’ve made this show any less interesting to kids. In fact, I think more people would find it interesting. But the show itself is still working and so far I’m surprisingly enjoying this more than I thought I would.

There are people who claim Girl Meets World didn’t hit it off with the primary demographic because “kids aren’t familiar with Boy Meets World“. I’d say the real issue is that there wasn’t enough focus on the people we learned to love in Boy Meets World, the people who really brought the comedy, fun, and depth. And when they did show up, they were corny, overly involved in their daughter’s life and didn’t seem to have lives of their own. And their daughter’s life wasn’t as interesting as theirs in their own series. Her trials were, quite frankly, stupid and over dramatic. There were hardly any funny moments either.

Sabrina Carpenter’s character Maya would’ve made a more interesting offspring than Rowan Blanchard’s character Riley (Cory’s daughter). But I guess with a now-preachy father like Corey and a corporate mom like Tapanga, Riley was the best they could come up with out of the union.

Sure, Boy Meets World had teachable moments, but ’90s comedies knew how to balance that with comedy well. Properly, shows back then touched on sex, violence, gangs, drugs, and peer pressure. Girl Meets World mostly touched on shallow cliche tween subjects like boyfriend issues and finding your own individuality. Then it had no “realism” about it. Sure, Boy Meets World had some out-of-the-box parts, but there was a slice of realism and life about it.

Throughout Girl Meets World, classrooms were interrupted with Riley’s personal life. Everything was forced to teach her lessons, she didn’t gather her lessons from “real” classroom lessons or real life, like Cory did in the original. And unlike Mr. Feeney, Cory’s teacher (and eventually his principal), Cory couldn’t seem to tell the difference between his classroom and his home. He showed so much favoritism towards his daughter and her friends in the classroom, I’m surprised none of the other students reported him (which actually would’ve made an interesting episode). Her father would literally change his classroom subjects to surround the topics on her and her friends. I understand this is her world, but it made the show really unrealistic, especially in comparison to the original. Scenes changed awkwardly and each story was just over-the-top for little reasons. This show had moral lessons, but for things that weren’t really deep at the core. Conversations felt awkward and jarring as a result.

Cory and his wife Tapanga were once dorky and likable kids that blossomed into successful and attractive adults in the original show. Riley and her lover Luke, on the other hand, are perfect and popular. They are one-dimensional in comparison. And this is because they had a good foundation with the already fleshed out characters from Boy Meets World. How complex could their lives be? We didn’t really need Riley’s perspective at all. Again, this is why Maya would’ve been the more interesting title character. Her “world” would’ve been completely different from her parents’ world. They could’ve woven a different interesting explanation for Maya’s behavior besides her complicated relationship with her father and her hardworking but mostly absent mother.

Fuller House is better because Full House never gave us the illusion that the show centered on kids and teens. It centered on the family. This show is more like a continuation than a reboot. The show always focused on adults and we’ve watched the Tanner kids grow up into adults throughout the original.

The good part about the show is some of the key characters are still the key characters, if not more important than they were originally. The kids are now the main characters, but their father and uncles are pretty important, too.

Still, all the characters we felt were cool kids back in the day are now lame adults, and there are new less memorable kids to replace them. I feel bad for the new kids.

Different isn’t always bad. But in the case of a reboot, many times it just feels so different, it doesn’t feel as good.

So far, Raven’s Home brings enough comedy to keep my attention for awhile. Hopefully, it maintains the same level of humor as That’s So Raven. Still, it just feels different. Different can be good though.

The Actors Have Changed

And I don’t mean changed as in they switched actors for a role. I mean the actors themselves usually have changed by the time of a reboot. Some haven’t been acting in years, which makes things a little hard for them and also makes it noticeable to the audience.

Actors who have had other acting experiences or other life experiences end up changing their character’s aura, which can always bring depth to a character but can also make the character seem like a stranger to the audience. Especially when that character is now nothing like expected or isn’t as likable as they once were.

With re-runs, the fun never dies. With reboots, sometimes we are left saying, “They’ve really let themselves go” or “Were they really this annoying?”. Public opinion of actors can tarnish their reputation and color people’s perceptions of a show, too.

Because of all that, many reboots are destined to fail at some point.

However, I see a lot of promise with Raven’s Home. Both Raven and Anneliese have become seasoned as actors over the years, which actually helps them get back into the swing of things naturally. This is more than I can say about Boy Meets World‘s Ben Savage.

We Feel Old

I believe I mentioned this before, right? Yes, because it keeps circling in my mind over and over again.

When a show makes a reboot years after the original, we are often seeing the inclusion of newer technology, newer slang, and older (sometimes older-looking) characters. I mean Raven and Chelsea in Raven’s Home are sporting “old lady” clothes, not the at-the-time fashionable, trendy, and flamboyant styles they once did. That makes us feel old, which makes us feel lame, stiff, and irrelevant. For some reason, we have been taught that being older means we’ve expired, and it’s not a good feeling to find your favorite childhood show suddenly verifying that. I don’t know about ya’ll, but I watch television to get away from the stresses of the world. I think I just realized Disney Channel is just no longer for me. But that’s exactly what makes me worry about Raven’s Home.

Watching re-runs doesn’t give me the same feeling of being “old” for some reason. It just feels like I’m young again.

My favorite book series as a kid, The Babysitters Club, is still really awesome. It’s not just because it’s about a group of kids starting a business. It’s also cool because it came out of the 1980s and 1990s. When I read it, my era comes alive again and my generation is relevant to me again.

Watching the New Edition biopic gave me that feeling. It made me think, “Yea, that was awesome. Our generation was cool. We still got it.”

Reboots with the main characters as parents and their kids set up as the main characters give me the feeling that our time has passed, that a new generation is taking over our lives, and that our chapter is closing before we’ve even established ourselves. It’s a somber thought, but one that I had when watching some of these reboots.

The positive thing about Raven’s Home is that Raven is so youthful and fun, I can still enjoy her with kids while also enjoying her as an adult. I think it is one of the best reboots to come out so far.

What We Don’t Know Can’t Hurt Us

At the end of our favorite show, there’s normally a solid wrap up that let’s us know the journey has come to an end. Sure, there may be some unresolved conflicts or hanging relationships, but anything else is left up to the imagination or left hanging in the air.

Fantasies about the future of the characters can be a lot of fun, but fantasies are fantasies. Only we personally can enjoy them fully.

We can imagine that Raven Baxter has a happy marriage with her handsome boyfriend Devon. We can imagine her becoming a fashion icon, famous and fierce. Or we can imagine that fleeting relationship between Raven and Eddie getting off the ground. Whatever we imagine, at the end of That’s So Raven, the sky was the limit. Ironically, in a show about the future, That’s So Raven left the future possibilities endless. There is a certain amount of joy and excitement when there is a little mystery. This mystery might have still been there if her life still hadn’t been quite “there”, even with her being older now.

But with a family, a job, and a new start from her old relationship, Raven Baxter seems to have achieved what most in her generation actually haven’t achieved. And that means she seems to have her life set. This means, as a character, she no longer has anything to aspire to. She doesn’t seem to have any goals or dreams beyond living for her kids and reaching back in the past for things she’s lost. This is where she disconnects from the audience and becomes something we not only can’t relate to anymore, but also something we actually fear. Our generation actually has an issue with following the rites of passage (particularly when it comes to marriage and kids). There are dozens of articles showing that this generation just isn’t living like Raven on television. And of course, it’s TV, it’s not real. But That’s So Raven was just more relatable to us at the time it arrived on the scene. Even Raven Symone herself said she’s “learning to be a mom” with this show because, again, even she doesn’t have kids.

In the show, Raven Baxter might develop some long-forgotten dreams she’s had, but they will have to yield to her new role as a mom. That’s just not the same.

While we’re also peering into Raven’s new life, there are some dreams or fantasies that have already become crushed and will continue to be crushed. Any imagination we may have had about the characters have been written for us. And that’s just not as fun as leaving the end to the imagination.

Anyway, overall, I did enjoy Raven’s Home for what it was, just as I had the other reboots, but I’m just hoping it can continue to capture its audience’s attention, despite the shift in focus from Raven to her kids mostly, and despite the fact that it just isn’t That’s So Raven.

Raven Symone herself is just phenomenal in her role! She just merges so naturally with her character! Nothing feels awkward and forced! Anneliese is the same! On set and off-set during interviews, they’ve continued to entertain me. I do look forward to seeing more of them.

I just know eventually this show has to become an independent property.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think! Did you enjoy the show? Were there things you didn’t like as much? Did you get the same feelings I got? Let me know!

 

 

Kingdom Hearts III Due for Release 2018! + D23 New World and Trailer

15 Jul

Last month, Square-Enix dropped a random trailer at one of the Kingdom Hearts Orchestras.

Yes Kingdom Hearts fans! Yes! This game will be released next year, 2018! We don’t know if it’s a worldwide release or the Japanese release date (as they’ve broken up release dates before), but we know something is coming out as soon as next year!

People, we have waited more than 10 long years for this game to drop. It has been 15 years since Kingdom Hearts I dropped, 12 years since Kingdom Hearts II was released, and years between the side games. We’ve been ready for this. A lot of us are older now (but we’re still into this game). We have more responsibilities, and can’t really focus on this game as much anymore. However, we also now have the money to buy this game. We just need it in our hands.

Tetsuya Nomura showed up at D23 Expo this year, all cool and collected like his character Riku, and expressed how much pressure he felt after the Kingdom Hearts III Orchestra. He felt how much we’ve been anticipating this. We were tired of all the teasing trailers with no release date. Even though we still don’t actually have a date, and things could be moved back, we know they are aiming for 2018.

The “brand new world” happens to be a Pixar classic and fan favorite. Many Kingdom Hearts fans have asked if we could enter a Pixar world. Toy Story, I know, was among the most asked for. It translates really well into this game. So far, most of my dreams are coming true.

All I need is confirmation from Utada Hikaru that she is returning to help with the theme song, and I am good to go.

New things I noticed:

  1. You can actually have more than THREE party members! In the original trailer, we saw that we had three. In this trailer, we had FOUR!
  2. New Keyblade transformations and attacks!
  3. New keyblade!
  4. This Toy Story seems to take place after the first movie since we see the aliens from Pizza planet in Andy’s room. We don’t see Jessie or Bullseye (yet).
  5. We are fighting Heartless and Nobodies in this game.

So, leave me a comment and let me know what you thought about D23 and what you think about it coming out next year! Do you think it might be rushed because of the hype? Or are you just happy the game is coming? Let me know!

To see a timeline of all the Kingdom Hearts games, click here.

Check out a video regarding Kingdom Hearts 3 HATE already!

Another Kingdom Hearts 3 Trailer + New Trailer and World At D23 in July!

18 Jun

There have been three Kingdom Hearts teaser trailers since 2013. Now, Square-Enix has given us a fourth. Now, things seem to be moving towards better development. For me, though, these teasers make fans even more hyped up, which can be good and disastrous at the same time (if the game takes too long to be released or if the game doesn’t meet expectations). Fortunately, we’ve been told that Tetsuya Nomura is a “perfectionist” and won’t release the game until it is perfect. Unfortunately, Nomura has also said they had to cut certain things out of the game to push up the release.

It has been more than 10 years since Kingdom Hearts II came out, and mostly the loyal fans (and the fans who can afford to) have played the side games (the most recent one being Kingdom Hearts 2.8). After looking at the reactions to this trailer, I was shocked. The fans really are still around!

Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Coming December 2016 + Complete Kingdom Hearts Timeline Finished!

This new trailer was so popular, in fact, even among everything happening at E3’s event (and outside of it) a little over a week ago, Kingdom Hearts was the top story in the gaming world among stories missed, according to IGN!

Most Kingdom Hearts fans were expecting to see information about Kingdom Hearts III at E3. But, surprise! A new trailer was dropped at the Kingdom Hearts ORCHESTRA tour.

Of course, as a Kingdom Hearts fan, I was super excited about the trailer.

Let’s review the trailer, shall we?

1) We’re seeing more from the Olympus Coliseum “Hercules” world.

2) The Command Style from Birth By Sleep Fragmentary Passage 0.2 seems to be adopted.

3) Party member combination attacks seem to be back, but better than before.

4) Hercules is now a party member.

5) Hades, Maleficent, and Pete are back.

6) The “black box” was mentioned. All my fellow fans who watched the Kingdom Hearts Unchained X Back Story cinematic know where that line is going…

7) The magic has taken on the style from Birth By Sleep Fragmentary Passage 0.2. Awesome.

8) We see the drive forms have returned, along with the Sonic Blade command.

9) Sora is trying to bring Roxas back. Dream Drop Distance comes to mind. Sora made new revelations about the Nobodies, so I figured Roxas would come up sooner or later in KHIII.

10) I’m not seeing the “amusement park” attacks here. I hope they weren’t scraped.

11) Keyblade transformation seems awesome.

12) Shotlock has returned.

13) It looks like there will be a dive mode similar to what we had in Dream Drop Distance. Are they discarding the gummi Ship? I really liked the upgrades for the gummi ship in Kingdom Hearts II and was hoping to see better upgrades in the new game… Then again, it got annoying at times. Maybe the dive mode is back because Sora is trying to become what he couldn’t become in Dream Drop Distance… Ya’ll fans know what I’m talking about.

14) Aerial Finish is back!

15) Flowmotion has returned.

16) D23 Expo July 15, 2017 will reveal the trailer and a NEW WORLD. We already got the word that Big Hero 6‘s world will be in the game. I wonder if the new trailer will show a bit of it. This makes me excited, but I’m afraid of spoiling the game for myself. XD I’m so weak to these teasers.

I’ve been watching quite a bit of reaction videos, too. It’s strange when I watch reaction videos that question “the black box” and are confused about certain commands. The fan’s overall Kingdom Hearts experience is exposed when watching these videos, and it’s obvious when a fan hasn’t played the game since Kingdom Hearts II. XD The fans who have really been keeping up with things not only understand what’s going on, but they are creating solid theories.

 

There are many other reaction videos out there! It’s quite entertaining.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the Kingdom Hearts III trailer!

 

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