#Bratz2018: What I Want to See Back and What I Don’t

14 Jul

Now I’ve added videos inspired from this article! If you don’t like reading, give them a listen instead! #Bratz 2018 “Dos and Don’ts!”

Generation Next

Greetings GenNext readers!

I am excited that Bratz are coming back this Fall! WOO! It’s really happening. We’ve been getting a few teasers on instagram that confirm it’s really happening. And of course, I have a few surprises up my sleeve to support the Bratz dolls’ return!

Ever since I started that 2018 article regarding Isaac Larian announcing the Bratz dolls’ return, I’ve been really thinking about the Bratz dolls’ career over the last 17 years. I’ve been reviewing pictures, my dolls, Bratz music, and even press interviews and such, just walking down memory lane. There was a lot about Bratz that just blew me away within that time!

I believe I’ve told people on my Bratz Quiz (How Well Do You Know the Bratz?) article a few years back that I’ve been into the Bratz since the website was under construction late 2000, early 2001-ish. So, I’ve seen…

View original post 4,007 more words

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Kingdom Hearts Orchestra Event @ Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre + NEW Kingdom Hearts 3 Toy Story Content!

14 Jul

Updates on the Kingdom Hearts event in Chicago!

Generation Next

I attended the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour Event this weekend!

If you haven’t attended the Orchestra event yet, and you’re a SERIOUS Kingdom Hearts fan, you still have plenty of chances to go.

I won’t give too much away. But I encourage all of you fans to attend the event if you can.

If you can’t afford to go, I will tell you that I believe all the trailers will be released after the last tour in October. Last year, the Orchestra gave us more footage from Hercules and the trailer was released afterwards.

We were not allowed to film, and I respect Tetsuya Nomura’s wishes because I want this event to to sell well.

But in case you can’t make Chicago’s event, and you’re curious about the exclusive content, just know there was exclusive Kingdom Hearts 3 footage from Toy Story at the one in Chicago! We also…

View original post 367 more words

Kingdom Hearts Orchestra Event @ Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre + NEW Kingdom Hearts 3 Toy Story Content!

14 Jul

I attended the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour Event this weekend!

If you haven’t attended the Orchestra event yet, and you’re a SERIOUS Kingdom Hearts fan, you still have plenty of chances to go.

I won’t give too much away. But I encourage all of you fans to attend the event if you can.

If you can’t afford to go, I will tell you that I believe all the trailers will be released after the last tour in October. Last year, the Orchestra gave us more footage from Hercules and the trailer was released afterwards.

We were not allowed to film, and I respect Tetsuya Nomura’s wishes because I want this event to to sell well.

But in case you can’t make Chicago’s event, and you’re curious about the exclusive content, just know there was exclusive Kingdom Hearts 3 footage from Toy Story at the one in Chicago! We also were treated to Toy Story’s world SONG and the battle song!

From talking to friends, it appears each city is getting different exclusive footage. So, it really doesn’t matter which you decide to attend. All are guaranteed to be worth your time and money! But everyone is going to miss out on something, so don’t feel bad.

The venue also had merch, of course. They sold Sora Orchestra t-shirts, the keyblade baton that the conductor uses during the orchestra, Kingdom Hearts wallets and purses, a list of the program, and, of course, the soundtrack from the Orchestra.

For those people who are 21 and OLDER, they had Kingdom Hearts SPECIALTY COCKTAILS!

Menu:

  • Kingdom Heart-It had vodka with Mist, a touch of Grenadine, with a cherry on top.  It was delicious!
  • Heartless-This was that Jack Daniels WHISKEY topped with pepsi, grenadine, and cherry on top. This one was strong. That Heartless was attacking people’s bodies with that taste.
  • Sora’s Mimosa- This was Voveti Prosecco with orange juice. It was strong at the top and sweet at the bottom.
  • Princess of Heart-Voveti Prosecco with cranberry juice. This was even sweeter than Sora’s Mimosa and tasted divine!

So, there’s a lot more to see at this event than just trailers and footage. It’s worth it.

Next Touring Cities:

  • Detroit (USA) – July 14, 2018 – Fisher Theatre
  • Pittsburgh (USA) – July 16, 2018 – Heinz Hall
  • Boston (USA) – July 19, 2018 – Wang Theatre
  • Toronto (Canada) – July 21, 2018 – Sony Centre
  • Atlanta (USA) – July 26, 2018 – Fox Theatre
  • Dallas (USA) – July 28, 2018 – Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
  • Philadelphia (USA) – August 2, 2018 – Mann Centre
  • Phoenix (USA) – August 4, 2018 – Symphony Hall
  • Las Vegas (USA) – August 5, 2018 – The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
  • Honolulu (USA) – August 12, 2018 – Neal S. Blaisdell Concert Hall
  • Sao Paolo (Brazil) – September 8-9, 2018 – Teatro Bradesco
  • Munich (Germany) – September 15, 2018 – The Gasteig
  • Milan (Italy) – September 22, 2018 – Teatro Dal Verme
  • Seoul (South Korea) – October 6, 2018 – KBS Hall
  • Mexico City (Mexico) – October 20, 2018 – Auditorium Blackberry

#Bratz2018: What I Want to See Back and What I Don’t

8 Jul

 

Bratz Sasha

I just want to take a moment of silence and thank the Bratz God:  Father Hayden Williams….We thanketh you for this sheer Bratz glory. Because of your greatness, you have snatcheth my wigeth! Amen and Awomen!

tenor.png

Greetings GenNext readers!

I am excited that Bratz are coming back this Fall! WOO! It’s really happening. We’ve been getting a few teasers on instagram that confirm it’s really happening. And of course, I have a few surprises up my sleeve to support the Bratz dolls’ return!

Ever since I started that 2018 article regarding Isaac Larian announcing the Bratz dolls’ return, I’ve been really thinking about the Bratz dolls’ career over the last 17 years. I’ve been reviewing pictures, my dolls, Bratz music, and even press interviews and such, just walking down memory lane. There was a lot about Bratz that just blew me away within that time!

I believe I’ve told people on my Bratz Quiz (How Well Do You Know the Bratz?) article a few years back that I’ve been into the Bratz since the website was under construction late 2000, early 2001-ish. So, I’ve seen a lot come out of the Bratz. I was among those in the target demographic back during the Bratz’s debut, and I’m so glad that I was able to support Bratz for so many years.

There’s a lot that I really loved about Bratz, and of course, I want to see it come back in 2018. So far, I’ve mostly heard good news (like Hayden Williams, a fan favorite designer and illustrator, at least designed one of the Bratz’s lines).

Hayden Williams illustrations

Isn’t Hayden Williams amazing? I can’t wait!

Still, there were a lot of things that bothered me, too.

While there’s a lot of things in more recent years that disappointed me (Bratz 2015 to be exact), there were some things during Bratz 2k that I don’t want to see anymore, either. That’s right. You read right. Let me repeat. There were some things that occurred from 2001 to 2009 that I don’t want to see AGAIN.

Let me break down my “Dos” and “Don’ts” for the Bratz 2018. Many of you might not agree with them, but I’m still going to say it.

If you don’t like reading, skip down and listen to my videos: Skip

 

DOs

 

Passion for Fashion

Okay, we all know the Bratz girls were developed with other interests. But let’s be real, we love the Bratz because they have a passion for fashion! The dolls showcased bold and fashion-forward style and that’s what I want to see return.

I don’t care what the radical feminists and soccer moms say about them wearing too much makeup. I say BRING IT! I don’t care if they slut-shame them. I say BRING IT!

Though we know designer Hayden Williams is going to deliver that “Passion for Fashion” for an exclusive line, we don’t know how the other Bratz lines are going to turn out.

What I hope to see is Bratz’s urban 2001 sass and design combined with their avant-garde punk attitude. There can’t be one without the other. Bratz should bring a little bit of both.

Four Core Girls and Two Core Boys

I understand why people made a stink about MGA adding Raya as the “fifth core girl” in 2015. After all, it was the original four that made the Bratz brand. Raya was also another blonde character, uninteresting, and just not necessary.

Still, I find it ironic that the same people that hated Raya being added as a core girl keep asking for Meygan and Dana to come back along with the core four. So why even be mad about Raya when Raya was not the first character to be the “fifth” core girl? MGA has been adding “fifth” core girls since Meygan was released in 2002 and Dana released in 2003.

For me, I wasn’t having it then, and I’m not having it now. Stick to the core four. There’s just enough dolls to express solid fashion passion. Too many characters drown out the individuality.

It’s okay to add these girls in there sometimes, but overall, the core girls (and boys) should be the main focus. And they should be in almost EVERY line. The CORE characters should not be replaced by other dolls (which in Raya’s case, at least she wasn’t a replacement, like Meygan and Dana have been in many of the Bratz lines).

I also want to see Dylan return. While it was cute that MGA announced CAMERON on instagram, where’s Dylan? He was one of the few boys of color in the Bratz Boyz line. He NEEDS to come back. They better not think of having a comeback without Dylan.

All the other side characters should be an afterthought.

Bratz Music

You can say what you want about anything else regarding the Bratz dolls, but you can’t deny their albums were filled with BOPS.

I was just going back through their music the other day. From Rock Angelz to Forever Diamondz, they had some cuts. I’m not ashamed. I dance to their music at home, in the car, on the street. I’m ready for it.

This is the one thing they didn’t mess up in 2015. Skylar Stecker did a pretty good job with the theme song “What’s Up?”

Still, I hope they can get Universal back on board for the project. The music sounded polished. All they need are some decent songwriters, and we’re good to go.

A Good TV/Netflix series

Whether it’s live action (like what MGA’s Project MC2 has), Stop Motion (like what they had in Japan in ’03, not Stoopid Studios’s garbage), or CGI animation like what the Bratz had before from 2005-2008, it should be well-written, engaging, and should promote the Bratz characters’ individual charms and styles (unlike the TV series, some of the movies, and the live action movie back in the day, which I’ll talk about later…).

I have a good script going actually, if anybody is interested in picking it up. It’s juicy, and follows the Bratz’s “actual” life. Basically, it’s focused on the “real” story behind the Bratz dolls’ life and career. I aim to make it sophisticated enough for the target demographic (which should be 10 to 14, as it was once before), and fun enough for everyone.

But even if no one is biting for my TV/Netflix script, I really think a future series that highlights all of the characters’ strengths and weaknesses, focuses on things real tweens and teens experience, and has a little drama and adventure would be nice.

Jade’s Original Personality

This is the only thing the 2015 Bratz stop-motion series got right. They brought back Jade’s “extreme” personality traits. In 2001, Bratz dolls weren’t extremely developed back then. We learned a little about them from their profiles about their fashion sense and from the main website, where fans could get a glimpse inside the Bratz girls’ rooms.

Many Bratz fans who got into the fandom in 2002 and beyond didn’t know about the Bratz rooms set up on the main website because the website was changed as soon as Meygan was released. In Jade’s room, she had a skateboard and green alien. This was a sign that Jade was supposed to be a sporty character. You can even look at the 1st Edition Bratz and gather that she’s pretty sporty.

For some reason, those personality traits were given to Cloe in the movie and TV show adaptations. To me, it just didn’t fit Cloe’s “ethereal and angelic” image. Those qualities were clearly meant for Jade. However, because Jade’s personality was considered more empowering, maybe writers thought it would be better to give the BLONDE girl those traits (instead of Cloe’s “head always being in the clouds”, which would’ve made her fit stereotypes).

Or those involved with writing for the Bratz didn’t do enough research.

Though I’m glad Jade maintained her edgy fashion sense in the movies and TV show,  and I like that she had that “geek chic” thing going on in some of these adaptations, I don’t feel that any of the writers, producers, and directors really knew about Jade’s characterization throughout her entire doll career. I really liked that she was developed as both smart and sporty. Why can’t she be both?

I’m hoping that MGA returns Jade back to her original self.

Bratz Video Games

I loved the Bratz video games for the Playstation 2 and I hope there are games released on the PS4 and Xbox One. Those games were entertaining for me. I also think it helped more girls get into video games. This time, though, I hope the UnReal Engine is used for future games. It would be awesome!

Make the Characters SINGLE Again

Cloe and Cameron are cute and everything, but their relationship kind of made playtime limited. Kids couldn’t put the characters they wanted together. People couldn’t take photos of Cameron with Yasmin, Cloe with Eitan, or Cloe with Yasmin and post them online without someone saying, “No, their boo is ___.” I think “shipping” should be open.

I also really liked the line Secret Date. Unfortunately, with Cameron being so heavily shipped with Cloe, lines like that are impossible now.

Still, I would like the Bratz to be single, available, and just dating and having fun in their Teen or young adult lives. I hope it returns.

It should be open so people can see any Bratz character with any Bratz Girl or Boy they want to see them with. I mean, you can do that already without regard to the adaptations, but the “fixed” coupling would make it harder to post pictures with your favorite couple without people making comments about who should be together.

Movies Like Bratz Passion for Fashion Diamondz, Bratz Genie Magic, and Bratz Fashion Pixiez

Even though these movies weren’t realistic, they were fun. There was a spirit of adventure and magic that made them fun to watch. I especially liked the suspense and mystery in Passion for Fashion Diamondz, even if the ending was a bit predictable. Movies like this also made the lines themselves more appealing.

These movies also included the soundtrack songs in them.

I still do think that adaptations should be a little more realistic and should focus more on trials real teens are going through, but I would also like more adventurous movies. With a movie, you have to entertain an audience for an hour or two.  You might as well make it fun.

 

DON’Ts

 

Closmins

If ya’ll thought the Tweevils got on your nerves on the Bratz TV series, the Closmins irked me more. Since 2003, we started seeing how blonde white Cloe and racially ambiguous Yasmin (though in reality, we all know she was meant to be Iranian but whateva, they used the “Hispanic” thing to get her to sell better) started getting all the love. And I know these two are a lot of your faves, so you may not like what I’m about to say.

But the rest of us Sasha and Jade fans were incensed. How dare they kick out the real dolls of color?

That isolation grew and grew until we hardly saw Sasha and Jade in major lines.

Don’t believe me? How about I bust out a list:

  • (2003) Big Bratz (Limited Collectors’ Edition)-Cloe, Yasmin, Meygen (where’s Sasha and Jade?)
  • (2004) Wild Life Safari – Cloe, Yasmin, Meygan, Nevra, Fianna (Don’t let that TV series fool you. Jade and Sasha would’ve OWNED this line. Screw Nevra and Fianna. They look alike anyway!)
  • (2005) Birthday Bash– Cloe, Yasmin, Sasha, Phoebe (No Jade)
  • (2005) Campfire – Cloe, Yasmin, Dana, Phoebe, Felicia (I love Felicia and everything, but why couldn’t we have two black dolls in one line? Ya’ll don’t care to add Nevra and Fianna in the same freakin’ lines, and they look more alike)
  • (2005) Dynamite – Cloe, Meygan, Nevra (We don’t even have Yasmin in this line. Cloe is the only one in the line from the core Bratz. You trying to give us a “Barbie” type of tease?)
  • (2005) Fabulous Las Vegas – Cloe, Yasmin, Sasha, Tiana (Jade? Jade? Where are you?)
  • (2005) Hollywood Style – Cloe, Yasmin, Dana, Phoebe, Katia (Wow, no Black girls belong here, huh? No Black girls in Hollywood?)
  • (2005) I-Candy – Cloe, Yasmin, Phoebe (More Closmins)
  • (2005) Midnight Dance – Yasmin, Meygan, Fianna (Yas is the only girl from the core here)
  • (2005) Ooh La La Paris – Cloe, Dana, Kumi (More Cloe)
  • (2005) Play Sportz – Cloe, Yasmin, Sasha, Meygan, Fianna, Roxxi (Where’s Jade again?)
  • (2005) Wild Wild West – Cloe, Yasmin, Meygan (with horse), Fianna, Kiana (Closmins)
  • (2005) Pretty N’ Punk – Cloe, Jade, Yasmin, Meygan (See the Bratz Rock Angelz movie gave you the illusion that Sasha was involved. Nope. So what, MGA? Sasha can’t be punk? A Black girl can’t be punk?)

2004 and 2005 were Bratz’s biggest years, and yet Sasha and Jade didn’t get to enjoy the limelight. One can argue that maybe the years were bigger because Jade and Sasha weren’t in the lines, but based on online polls, at least Jade was considered the second most popular Bratz doll. Why was she omitted from all of these doll lines?

This isn’t even adding the fact that Cloe dominated all the solo “special editions” and the fact that only Yasmin and Cloe got outfits from the live action movie made for the dolls! So Cloe and Yasmin were the only ones meant to have that Bratitude?

Sasha and Jade only showed up for the “flagship” lines, the ones that were being highlighted in movies. They showed up just to confuse us. But they weren’t fooling petty fans like me. I didn’t miss a heartbeat.

And it wasn’t cute. If you are going to bring back the Bratz, don’t cater to the colorist side of the Bratz fandom. Please allow people to enjoy Sasha and Jade’s individual colors and unique physical traits. If Sasha isn’t outselling the other girls, give Sasha bomb outfits you can’t find on Yasmin or Cloe. Make her appealing. But don’t take her out completely because she isn’t white or “mixed” enough. That’s not 2018-ready.

And I know you think Jade can just be replaced by any brunette that looks similar, but you’re absolutely wrong. We need more Asian representation in media and entertainment. It’s bad enough they get “white-washed” out as it is. Bratz is supposed to be a line celebrating diversity. Show us you aren’t like Barbie by doing that.

If I see it again, MGA, you and I are going to have a nasty exchange. Well, not too much of a nasty exchange because I do love MGA, but I will have some words.

The Closmins reveal the fact that these “fifth core girls” did nothing but divide up the main four core girls. This is why I don’t want anymore core girls. These other characters should either be an extension of the four core or not in the line at all.

Bratz TV Series

I know what you 2005 Bratz fans are thinking: “WHAT? I LOVED the series! It’s what brought me into the Bratz! And I ship Cloe and Cameron and want to see what happened next!”

That’s where I clash with the fandom. That’s why I’m scared. Most of the fans want to see this series actually return.

Most of the people who fell in love with the Bratz through the Bratz series were probably way younger than me when that series came out. A lot of people say “The series was my childhood”. By the time that series came out, I was a teen fan of Bratz and a collector rather than player. Maybe I was too old to be into Bratz in some people’s eyes, but I still loved the dolls and wasn’t ashamed.

While I loved that the animation sort of brought the dolls to life and promoted the brand, there were a lot of things about that series that bothered me, and it wasn’t just the plot holes, lack of wardrobe changes, and corny script. In fact, that’s what I actually liked about it. All of those things gave it a cartoon-y charm.

The bad part, to me, is that I believe the series is the reason we even got the CLOSMINS in the first place.

The first thing I hated about that series when it first began is that it took the Bratz Rock Angelz model (yes, I hated that movie, too) and made Cloe the narrator and lead character. Mind you, Bratz was originally a line meant to differ from Barbie, where the blonde chick got most of the shine.

Yasmin was the first Bratz doll and the original darling of the brand. So why Cloe?

Fox Entertainment, the distributor of the series, put more emphasis on ditzy and dramatic Cloe, giving her a beautiful steady love interest and an empowering personality (a personality stolen from Jade to make her more appealing, by the way), and less emphasis on the viewpoints of the other characters.

Though Yasmin was dethroned as the lead, she did get the best treatment in the series, being designed as this sweet and loving animal lover. The change didn’t really hurt her popularity.

What did Sasha get written as? A loud-mouthed, selfish control freak who wasn’t attractive to anybody but herself. I believe Sasha’s character in the series is why she was always voted as the least popular Bratz among the core in polls back in the day (and this is aside from the fact that people already have a negative opinion about dark skin, especially overseas).

And Jade just got all the leftover personality traits.

In fact, they completely changed Jade’s character. It’s not really the series’ fault. I blame Bratz the Video: Starrin and Stylin. Still, they took from that movie, which made me dislike the series even more.

I do not EVER want to see a Bratz series like this again. You all can come at me for it. I’m ready.

If it does return, I hope the wrinkles are ironed out.

Bratz Movies like Bratz the Video: Starrin and Stylin, Bratz Rock Angelz, and Bratz the Movie

I didn’t hate these movies overall, but there were some things that bothered me. The reasons I dislike these Bratz movies are the same reasons I disliked the Bratz TV series.

First of all, I did not like some things in Bratz the Video: Starrin and Stylin. I know many people didn’t like the movie overall. At the time of release, some people felt the animation was outdated and cheap-looking. For me, I actually liked the animation because it reminded me of the commercials. I truly like 2-D animation. I liked the story-telling, too. I think it was more realistic than the other movies.

What I hated about it was how the characters were written. This was the beginning of the destruction of the Bratz characters in my opinion. When the Bratz dolls were first released in 2001, they weren’t developed with any particular personality traits, just “fashion passions”. These “fashion passions” sort of highlighted their personalities, but not directly. So, anyone could kind of make-up their own personalities for the characters. However, there were other signs about the characters’ personalities on the main website, which apparently many Bratz fans (and these writers and developers) never visited. If you looked in their bedrooms, you could see their different interests. I wish I could show you all, but you can’t even get into this website now, not even on Wayback Machine.

Okay, I admit, I was one of the main people begging MGA to make a movie for the Bratz characters to flesh out their personalities. Stupid me.

Starrin and Stylin and the book series that inspired the movie didn’t consider the website. I personally was looking forward to a sporty and edgy Jade with a passion for fashion. Basically, a non-typical fashion girl. That’s not what Starrin and Stylin gave me. In fact, her whole sporty appeal was wiped from existence.

What’s more? Sasha was given the worst personality in the group. She was characterized as a “control freak”.

Bratz Rock Angelz bit off a little bit from the original movie. They brought back the relationship between Cloe and Cameron (only they made them childhood friends, when technically Yasmin and Cameron were, but we’ll talk…). Sasha was still a control freak, and now was also selfish and pushy. They brought back Jade’s “ultimate fashionista” persona, which I already didn’t like.

But what really killed me is that Bratz Rock Angelz COMPLETELY SWAPPED Jade and Cloe’s lives. And when I say literally, they even switched their OUTFITS. You know why this angered me? Because Jade’s outfit was actually one of the best sold in the line. It appealed the most to punky tomboys like myself. It gave Asian persuasion Jade an image that could help her become more popular.

What did Fox Entertainment go and do? They gave it to CLOE. And it was weird. It looked like Jade was talking with Cloe’s voice.

Yes, I’m a petty fan. I do not like when adaptations deviate from the source material. I hate this because everything that I like about something can be altered in-brand because of these adaptations. It overall affected the brand.

The worst part is the Rock Angelz movie is actually popular among the fans. Ugh.

To add insult to injury, Bratz Rock Angelz took away the emphasis on Yasmin, the original lead character, and decided they would tell the story through the eyes of the BLONDE. Why did I ever think Bratz could be different from Barbie when Fox pulls this crap with the Bratz?

Bratz Rock Angelz eventually spun into that wack-attack TV series that highlighted all of the negative changes.

Why did I even watch it? The Bratz Rock Angelz album was released before the movie. After that amazing album, I thought the movie would touch on all the subjects covered in the music, which actually would’ve made a compelling story. Not only did the movie completely miss everything in the album, only ONE song from the album was present in the movie.

And if those movies weren’t bad enough at jacking the Bratz up, here comes Bratz the Movie, the Raspberry-award winning live action based off of the dolls. While I loved most of the actors in the film, the film was obviously designed to capitalize off of the High School Musical craze. We’ve got a Sharpay look-alike, plenty of musical numbers, and friends torn apart because they belong to the wrong clique.

But the worst part about the movie is the white-washing of DYLAN. Dylan was clearly meant to be BLACK (at least bi-racial). This Bratz Boy has come with braids and dreads in his hair! He has been released with dark brown skin at many times. Even former characterizations of him, such as in the first Bratz movie, highlighted him as BLACK.

What did the live action movie do? They cast a white boy for his role. I took issue with that.

Overall, MGA would do us all a favor if they avoided white-washing the Bratz brand to appeal to colorist fans (and you know who you are).

2015

Don’t do this again. Don’t. Do. It. Again.

There is no room for goo-eyed, tacky, uninspired, and sweet-faced Bratz dolls. Not now, not EVER.

Lawsuits

We all know that once the Bratz dolls come back, there will be a lot of copy-cats. We know all the doll companies want to create dolls that make a statement like the Bratz did. We need to just accept that there will always be imitations.

What we don’t need are more lawsuits coming from MGA. Really, because of all of those lawsuits from 2004 to 2009, MGA wasn’t able to really focus on the Bratz, and that affected the dolls. It affected the quality of the brand and Bratz were almost legally removed from shelves because of those lawsuits.

We need to leave the confrontational attitude back in 2k. Moving forward, we need to focus on making this brand the best it can be. I really don’t want another issue to rise up where we’re losing some of our MGA team because they all work hard to make their dolls successful.

So that’s my list of Do’s and Don’ts. What are some things you Bratz fans want to see return? Do you agree with my list or not? Leave me a comment and we can get the discussion rolling!

Take a look at a Bratz Yasmin Sneak Peak!

Surprise—here’s a peek at Cloe’s angelic look! #Bratz #BratzCollector #PassionForFashion

A post shared by Bratz (@officialbratz) on

Check out my video versions:

Want to create translation for your country or want to make adjustments to the above videos? You can!

http://www.youtube.com/timedtext_video?ref=share&v=XyoNDr1GOno

http://www.youtube.com/timedtext_video?ref=share&v=XQYyVtf8TvQ

MGA’s CEO, Isaac Larian, Said, “Bratz Are Coming Back the Fall of 2018!” Can the Bratz Deliver This Time?

30 Jun

 

 

Greeting Readers! This is Gen Next!

I know I haven’t talked about the Bratz in eons. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping up with my Girls with a Passion for Fashion!

In fact, I have been hard at work preparing for their return. I intend to have a strong hand in the comeback this year. Why? Because I see that the Bratz dolls still have the potential to make their mark on the toy industry. I’ve got quite a few things in mind.

Three months ago, I sent MGA’s inventor team a 13-page proposal stating all of the things I feel the Bratz brand needs. That may have been overly-ambitious, and possibly overstepping my boundaries, but I feel better now that I’ve said what I wanted to say.

So, I’ve been busy with Bratz, don’t you worry.

I’ve had some readers ask me if I’ve heard about the Bratz’s comeback in 2018, and I have.

Why have I been silent? Two reasons: 1) I wanted to wait to do a major article on the brand when the comeback officially releases. 2) I didn’t want to repeat rumors and over-hype the brand just to let myself and others down. 3) I have several concerns regarding the comeback, and I didn’t want my negativity to rub off on the hopefuls.

As for number 2, I have this tendency to get super excited about a brand, to place all of my ideas out there, and I try to get others on-board, too. In the end, my expectations soar way too high. In 2015, I was really let-down by the Bratz dolls.

Read my article: Bratz Are Back Again in 2015: What Happened to the Bratz?

Honestly, I wasn’t sure the Bratz truly WERE going to come back this year. Companies often say one thing, it doesn’t mean that’s what’s going to happen. Delays happen, too. The toy industry has been suffering. Even Toys R ‘Us took a hit. I wasn’t sure if Mr. Larian could make this happen and I didn’t want to recklessly post my thoughts on it too quickly.

What changed my mind now? Well, I’m starting to see some extremely promising little updates happening.

We all should know by now that Isaac Larian has been hinting at the Bratz comeback since last year. He basically said “Bratz are scheduled to release this fall”.

The fall quarter is basically around the corner now.

We’ve also got some teaser Instagram posts lately:

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Happy 17th birthday to the Bratz!

A post shared by Bratz (@officialbratz) on

Exciting things are coming.

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Keep being patient… it takes time to look this good.

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Surprise—here’s a peek at Cloe’s angelic look! #Bratz #BratzCollector #PassionForFashion

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Sasha just loves the hip-hop thang! #Bratz #BratzCollector #PassionForFashion

A post shared by Bratz (@officialbratz) on

With all of this, I have every reason to be excited… but concerned, too.

I’m excited because it’s time for a doll brand like Bratz to come back to shelves. I’ve been through toy shelves recently to find inspiration, and diversity is seriously lacking. Even Disney’s dolls and brands are so white-washed.

Dolls are so….boring nowadays, too. They don’t have flash. Most come with cheap clothes, one outfit, and no accessories. Everyone is afraid of makeup. They are so busy trying to appeal to feminist social agendas, they fail to actually interest anyone.

The last time Larian said the Bratz were “coming back better than ever”, we got 2015 Bratz, the goo-goo eyed dolls with a sweet touch.

One of my concerns deals with retailers. Since Bratz’s debut, retailers have had so much control, they managed to alter many of the Bratz dolls’ older lines. Carter Bryant, the original designer of the Bratz dolls, mentioned that retailers’ opinions, especially the Market buyers at Walmart, are what led to the alterations of Bratz Fashion Pixiez (and I’m certain other lines as well). They couldn’t handle Bratz being so edgy, sassy, and fierce.

Now, retail chains are suffering. With the closing of Toys R’ Us, and the power of Walmart and Amazon, what will be sold has completely gone into the hands of these major retail giants. Without their approval, Bratz can’t return to the shelves. Does that mean Bratz may have to sacrifice some original ideas in order to be marketable to these giants? And can Mr. Larian sell the Bratz to these “family-friendly” retailers?

I did offer a different suggestion in my 13-page proposal, but I’m not sure they will really consider these ideas, and I’m not expecting them to. I’ve offered different ideas before the release of the last “re-launch” in 2015. None of those ideas were used, though all of my ideas were given a “thumbs up” when I posted them on Facebook. I have no doubt they tried to implement my ideas, but if retailers didn’t like it…Well, that’s that.

Talking to Carter Bryant back in 2015 has given me a lot of insight and has taught me one thing about the doll industry and creative property in general: You can create what you want, it doesn’t mean you have power over what you create.

Carter Bryant has helped me realize how powerful retailers are in the posts he made on my blog:

Carter Bryant has shown us that Walmart buyer Lori was responsible for a lot of the edgiest lines being dumbed down significantly. Walmart is one of the leading supermarket chains in the USA. Their buyers decide what gets sold on their shelves. They buy the product, sell it at their stores, and get a percentage of the profits.

She’s an older lady, and to me, she seems to favor Barbie. I mean, it’s not unexpected. She probably grew up with Barbie. Bratz probably rattled her cage. I’m not sure if she is still a toy merchant with Walmart, but whoever is will decide what happens with Bratz, and if she is still the primary girls’ toy merchant, we are in trouble.

So, despite the fact that Isaac Larian wants to bring out a doll line that’s “like no other”, would he really have the power to do it? I do have one solution to this problem, but will Bratz’s marketing team consider my idea a good one? Will that idea be enough?

Then, there’s the issue with the generation itself. Do girls even play with dolls anymore? Would they even BUY the dolls? Girls today have shown some interest in toys, but far more interest in technology. Children are more sophisticated than they were 10 years ago, and more girls reject traditional femininity than they used to ten years ago. Will they see Bratz as an outdated brand? Will they see Bratz as a brand that promotes superficial values and reject the brand as a whole?

Last, I’m concerned about feminist and mommy bloggers as well. Will they tear the brand down and influence their “soccer mom” supporters to help them?

There’s a lot to be concerned about.

Despite how negative I might sound, I am fairly optimistic about TWO things.

For starters, I’m optimistic about the Bratz brand’s quality. Lately, Mr. Larian seems to have come across some cash, which might be good for the overall quality of the Bratz brand. He offered to buy Toys R’ Us AND he’s offered to merge with Mattel, his original competitor! He seems well-equipped to polish the brand this time.

Article on MGA’s ambitious desire to merge with Mattel

He’s seen some success from his LOL Surprise brand. Project MC2 seems to have a steady beat. And both of Isaac Larian’s children have invested in their own brand, Cult Gaia, which brings the family more wealth. He seems pretty confident that he will reap even more profits from his planned Bratz return. So, who knows what he has up his sleeve.

Hopefully, this businessman has hired the right team and is ready to bring Bratz into the future full-force! But until then, I won’t be posting some of my ideas or hopes for the brand. I’m literally “cleansing palates of expectations”. For now, I will just sit back and wait until it all unfolds.

Second,I’m also excited to learn that Hayden Williams, a fashion designer and illustrator who was rumored to be hired to assist with the design of Bratz, actually WAS hired. This means MGA is at least considering the fans’ expectations for the brand. Hayden Williams has officially tweeted me to confirm that he is one of the Bratz designers!

Hayden Williams Response

At one time before this update, I wasn’t sure Hayden wouldn’t be interested in being a designer for MGA because it might mean he would lose his freedom as a designer.

Turns out, he’s doing a collaboration with MGA, so he will be free to work as he pleases. His dolls will be Amazon collectors’ exclusives available this fall!

I’m excited to know that MGA recognized his talents and vision.

Have you all SEEN his work? Check him out on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hayden_williams/?hl=en

The best part about the release of these dolls is that they will be available ONLINE ONLY (for now). One of my other concerns was that I wasn’t sure Hayden would really be on-board with designing (despite most Bratz fans’ desire to have him design for the dolls) because I was afraid retailers would try to restrict his freedom if the dolls came out too edgy. I was afraid retailers might be skeptical to buy the Bratz because of their reputation, and that Hayden would have to curb the Bratz’s stylishness. One of my suggestions in my 13-page proposal was for Bratz to be sold online if retailers got funky. Glad to know MGA got the same idea.

I don’t think Amazon will restrict the design of the dolls as bad as other retailers (considering they don’t seem to be biased in what they allow to be sold on their website). Hayden said on his own Twitter:

Hayden Williams Tweets

MGA gave him the freedom to really give his all to these dolls. That’s all us Bratz fans really want!

Still, I hope all retailers recognize this brand’s ability to bring back consumers’ interest back to toy aisles and don’t try to change the image of the dolls to get them there.

Now, here’s where I’m uncertain again. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear Hayden Williams is going to be designing all of the Bratz lines. If they do hire others, they better be on par. I believe that Hayden understands the original “Bratz” design best. He said he has been into the Bratz since 2001. We need fans like him that understand what the Bratz were. No offense to fans who came with the TV series, the movies, or when Meygen jumped in ’02, but you have to have known the Bratz their entire career to understand their image and message FULLY. If you believe you can be on par, do thorough research on the brand, backwards and forwards. I believe that’s why the other designers struggled. The TV series and movies changed a lot about the Bratz, which I don’t appreciate (Read or listen to Bratz 2018: What I Want to Return and What I Don’t)…and some of the people who are fans of the brand mostly remember the media entertainment portion of the brand. While it is one part of the brand, there’s more to it.

I really hope they don’t get Project MC2 designers on-board for the Bratz. If they do, we’re going to have another Moxie-Bratz 2010 problem.

Oh, you don’t know? Remember when Cloe’s leggings were recycled from Moxie Teenz? Yes, that problem.

We’ll also get cute, because that’s what Project MC2 is. They’re cute.

The Bratz are not meant to be “cute”. We don’t need designers who think “cute” will make the Bratz better. N-to-the-O.

So far, I have so many mixed feelings about this comeback now. I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m happy, I’m nervous. I just don’t know what to think anymore!

Readers and fellow Bratz fans, what do you all think of the Bratz’s upcoming “return”? Do you believe the Bratz will deliver this time? Or do you think retailers and critics will find a way to ruin the brand once again? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Read up on some of my other articles:

How Well Do You know the Bratz? Quiz

A Walk Down Memory Lane: Bratz Music

Bratz Dolls Say Good-bye to the Toy Industry

In case you couldn’t find it above: Bratz 2018: What I Want to See Return and What I Don’t

 

Question: Do these girls look like Bratz dolls or what?

Kingdom Hearts III @E3: New Trailers, All-New Worlds Revealed, and the Official Release Date! + Pre-Order The Bundle

12 Jun

Hello Gen Next readers! It’s been a while since I’ve posted! I appreciate your patience. I’ve been wanting to get in on Kingdom Hearts since we’ve been getting a lot of information about the game lately. Even though I’m sure most Kingdom Hearts fans have seen everything, I had my own comments and concerns.

The E3 event this weekend was a big weekend for Kingdom Hearts information! After a few “chosen” people were able to play a demo of Kingdom Hearts III, I didn’t think it could get anymore exciting. It turns out everyone who attended the E3 event ALSO got to play a demo! Lucky dogs!

Of course, with the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra in full force, I’m certain there’s more to be revealed and more excitement along the way!

I will be attending one of the orchestras. 😉

Back to E3…

So far, we got 3, yes THREE, new Kingdom Hearts III trailers! And that’s aside from the Classic Kingdom Kingdom Hearts III trailer that released a month ago.

Let’s do a run-down of everything, shall we?

 

I’ve been meaning to talk about this trailer. First, I just want to remark on Twilight Town…This must be Twilight Town because we see the familiar characters. I must say it looks way better than I expected. We’ve been teased with Twilight Town before when it was just in its development stages. But man!

And the fact that Tetsuya has already stated that the worlds are massive? That gets me wondering how much we really will get to see of this world…Maybe it will finally start to look like a city, instead of just a neighborhood within a city.

The mini-game in this trailer brings me back to the Steamboat Willie world in Kingdom Hearts II. It looks like fun. It has an old-fashioned feeling that I really like. I get the feeling some people will complain about it, especially if it turns out to be really important to the game, but I look forward to it. And Sora is playing his own Nintendo Switch….Does that mean we might get this game on the Switch? I hope that’s a hint…

First thing…ENGLISH SUBS. That pretty much tells us the game is about finished. Tetsuya and other developers and marketers have stated that voice overs are the last stage in the process.

Second, we’ve got FROZEN. Now, I did not like the movie too much. You can tell from two of my reviews on the movie that it’s not my favorite. However, I did always feel the story would weave in well with Kingdom Hearts. First off, the character Elsa struggles with her own darkness. She’s not completely of the light, but she’s not darkness either. Then, I always thought the setting would be interesting as well as the fighting.

It’s interesting to see Sora’s sudden realization of the cold. In both the Halloween Town/Christmas Town world and the Land of Dragons world, Sora encountered snow. But he never once talked about how cold it was. Then again, since the end of KH2, he’s been back on Destiny Islands for most of his time. And Arendelle is frozen over and probably much colder than the other places. Not to mention, there are no warm spots like in the other two worlds.

Already, I’m liking the heartless or whatever they are. Unversed? The reindeer heartless particularly. That was a creative touch.

I like the disc sled. It’s amazing how we’re going to be able to use the weapons in such versatile ways in this game.

Even though this is the Frozen trailer, we got a few extra surprises.

Wreck it Ralph looks like he’s making an appearance. So far, it just looks like he’s a ” summon link”. I’m not sure if his world will be playable. I wish it would be.

It also seems like they gave us a gummi ship preview! Which looks awesome! It looks like the gummi ship will be returning!

And Larxene is back! It looks like all the organization members will be back in the game. But it appears not all of them returned back to darkness. Larxene and Marluxia were hopeless cases…Still, I would like to know Larxene’s backstory…

Finally we have Aqua…It looks like she succumbed to the darkness in her heart. But what could we expect? She’s been roaming there for years and she’s had a mirror talking to her, feeding her darkness every time she visited that part of the Dark World (if you played Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep 0.2 Fragmentary Passage, you know what I’m talking about. I hated that thing.)

Simba returns! I heard there are no summons in this game, only “links” that function like summons. They might as well call them summons.

And it looks like Ratatouille will make an appearance! He might just be a summon “link”, but that’s fine with me.

The more I see of the Gummi Ship, the more I want to play this game. It looks phenomenal! I’m itching to get my hands on this!

Even Yensid’s tower looks amazing! It’s sexy even! Angelic even!

I’m really liking the words don’t seem so hollow. In Dream Drop Distance, the worlds didn’t have any “people” in them, so they didn’t feel alive. There seem to be far more people in this game, which will actually make them feel like worlds.

It looks like Sora is finally, FINALLY, doing some investigation on Roxas. He’s down in the computer room in the Haunted Mansion (I wonder if we’ll learn more about that place…Like, who used to live there?).

Zexion, or rather Ienzo, decided to show up to the party. But this time he seems to be on the good side. Where he’s speaking in the trailer looks like the computer room in Radiant Garden, and the doorway to Tron’s world. Will we return there? Radiant Garden is starting to look far superior to what it looked like in KHII. It’s interesting that we haven’t seen much of that world or any other in-game worlds.

Finally, we’ve got Kairi and Axel. More on this later…

Pirates of the Caribbean is making another appearance! Only this time, it isn’t a small set of islands in one world. It’s massive. It appears to be based off of the sequel. I heard that Johnny Depp voiced Jack Sparrow, which is pretty cool. Everything seems to be fitting right into place.

I did not expect to see this world, of all worlds, return. And I wasn’t sure I even wanted it to return. I was a bit disappointed with the KHII version, as it seemed I spent most of my time on the ship. After the world was defeated, some locations were even closed off, which made the world seem even smaller.

This time, they aren’t playing around with us. This might actually end up being my favorite world.

The boat-battle scene is fantastic. It hardly even looks like the same game.

And Sora’s new get-up though! Looking sexy!

The heartless are so interactive! The Power Wild heartless is literally climbing the vines! Playing the games, you used to be able to escape the ground heartless by jumping up the vines (with the exception of the flying heartless). No more!

The underwater function is unbelievable! It isn’t just “water” anymore. It literally looks like an ocean.

Luxord is back, and it seems he’s back with the organization, too. What is so appealing to this organization? What is Xehanort doing to their minds? He’s like…controlled opposition. He’s got the “Jim Jones” effect.

We see more of Olympus Coliseum. I’m glad we have all the other Titans. We might even get to fight the others too, not just Rock Titan.

And finally….Why is Axel moving in on Kairi? Boy goes away for awhile, and these two start cozying up!

JK. 😛

But it’s great to see that Kairi has a new look. I was wondering about that.

 

So that’s my spin on the new trailers.

 

The official released date is : JANUARY 29, 2019 Worldwide.

No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. We finally got the official release date.

But some of you may be like “What? They said 2018! Delayed! Delayed again! Who’s to say it won’t be delayed again?”

Well, I had the same reaction when I first heard the release date. But then I thought about it. What could have caused the delay? The game is pretty much finished, to the point we have the English voice-overs.

Tetsuya Nomura mentioned in an interview that there wasn’t an issue with development but that they wanted to aim for the “worldwide release” that fans have been asking for.

“The timing of release that we were actually looking at, we were told by many people, including hardware manufacturers, marketing teams, sales teams that it just wasn’t a good timing in the year,” Nomura said via translation, explaining that the differences in holiday lengths and how stores behave in different regions were a note of concern.

“…For Kingdom Hearts 3, the [Square Enix] western offices had requested to release the game as simultaneously as much as possible between Japan and America, so we were no longer able to just think about Japanese issues and retail situations,” Nomura said.

Click me for the full article

At first, many fans suspected that the “fan event” back in April (an event where a select few of Kingdom Hearts content creators and promoters) were invited to play the game. Tetsuya listened to some of the fans’ concerns during the event.

But now we can rest easy. Tetsuya just wants to make sure everybody gets it, which is good for me because I won’t have to worry about spoilers.

Anyway, I’m not too disappointed with the delay. After all, this does give me time to get my finances in order so I can start making my Kingdom Hearts purchase. I also have something to look forward to next year. Just one more reason to live.

In better news, the Kingdom Hearts III BUNDLE is up for pre-order! It’s a special edition bundle that won’t last long so get it while it’s available!

The price is running up into the $230 range…Yikes. But it might be worth it. For me, that’s a car note.

Kingdom Hearts III Bundle PS4

Kingdom Hearts III Bundle XBox 1

The Deluxe edition is cheaper and still comes with cool collectible items.

Kingdom Hearts III Deluxe Edition PS4

Kingdom Hearts III Deluxe Edition XBox 1

But I might wait around for the Collectors’ edition.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought about all of the Kingdom Hearts trailers and the release date! Are you happy Tetsuya is working to improve the game or do you wish he would just release it already? Let’s get the discussion going!

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?

* Youtube decided to TAKE DOWN my video. Apparently, defending oneself against other people who mean to incite hatred towards black people is “hate speech”. 

 

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!

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!

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