Convenience Stores Are Calling Me

There is one Korean convenience store I know of in New York. It’s called H Mart, and I swear to you there have been many a times I have tried to find it to realize a block later I simply walked past it. I don’t know what it is, but Asian convenience stores are so easy to miss. There are no flashy signs, no markers that it is a store…hell now that I think about it the Sunrise Mart location downtown actually has this creepy (somewhat) marked elevator you have to jump in to get to the goods on the second floor. But what if I told you that I found a Korean convenience store, but I’m not sure I know anything else about it…Read on.

As I mentioned, I only know of one Korean grocer. I usually frequent Japanese grocers and convenience stores mainly because I know more about those foods and can read most labels. Thinking back, I’m not even sure if M2M is considered a general Asian convenience store. I’ve visited three different locations and each had a good amount of Japanese goods (i.e. an aisle of Pocky), one or two things in Chinese and tons of ramyeon.

Last night, I had a dream that I was in Korea. This was strange off the bat, since that country is fairly low on Asian countries I’d like to visit. Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, Cambodia, and Vietnam are a few places that rank highly on my mental list. I’ve studied Japanese language, history, and customs nearly half my life and it’s something I’m very passionate about. I appreciate traditional Chinese culture and took half a year of Mandarin – something that luckily has still stuck with me. I also learned simplified Chinese characters before studying formal Japanese, so it helped a lot with understanding Kanji.

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That being said, I would have a degree of language survival skills in Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. I know HK’s main language is Cantonese, but there is some crossover from what I’ve heard. Singapore has four official languages, English and standardized Mandarin being two of them. (Tamil and Malay being the others)

Macau is Portuguese, but I studied Spanish and Italian for a few years. I once heard Portuguese referred to as “drowning Spanish” by an old HS teacher which, unfortunately, has become my mental associate for it.  The last two countries don’t bother me language-wise, and I just feel like it’d be okay since I would most likely go by tour with guides. Aside from what I’ve picked up from watching Kdrama, Hangul eludes me.

The language barrier aside, I also don’t know much about the culture or its food. I’ve never had good experiences when I tried making Korean friends in the past so I’ve never really bothered to learn. That is to say, I didn’t really meet many Japanese people until I started work at the cultural center – but my (unsavory) encounters with Koreans over the years have stained my perception of their country. It’s terrible to have a forlorn attitude toward a country, but I do.  Just typing this is bringing back memories of a high school friend I had who was half Korean.

Her mom spoke the language but never taught her and I just thought that was really cool at the time. I wasn’t exposed to much diversity when I attended private schools, but when I went to a public high school I relished the opportunity to talk to anyone. I went over her house with a group of friends and the next day during the lunch period she told me I probably shouldn’t come back over. I asked why and she told me that her mom didn’t know everyone’s names. I sympathized, as I have a hard time remembering names myself. I’m much better with faces.  She continued to say that her mom called her best friends buddies (the entire group) Tiger’s friends and that she just called me “that black girl, the black one…” you get the idea. Obviously his name wasn’t Tiger, but you can infer my meaning.

That really hurt me and after that I told her I couldn’t be her friend anymore and never spoke to her again. It wasn’t her fault her mom felt that way, but she did nothing to stand up for me and why should I be involved in a situation like that? Why put myself in a situation like that, when there are so many more people in this world who won’t be complete idiots? I’ve tried making Korean friends all those years later, and similar things have always happened so I stopped trying.

So again, South Korea is very low on places I would willingly visit. I’ve never encountered such hostility with other Asian groups, and I usually get along with everyone. It just hasn’t happen yet with them.

In the dream, for some reason I was staying with a friend I’d never met at her apartment. I’d only been in the country one or two days. I realized I hadn’t visited a convenience store and I was leaving back to the states soon. The friend called a cab for me and gave instructions to the driver to bring me to the airport in Hangul. I wanted to ask if there was a shop on the way to the airport, and took out my phone and tried to use a translation app. He read it and then started speaking in English. I told him I wasn’t sure he spoke English and explained where I wanted to go. He agreed to wait for me and I went into this blue-green building that seemed to be under construction. When I walked inside there was a place for hot foods and the counter you could normally sit at by the window was covered due to construction.

There was a spot in the corner that sold these novelty items, some sort of cutesy characters on mirrors and other similar things. They were a brand but I couldn’t read the characters. The store also had snacks around and a lot of baked goods. I grabbed cream puffs and a variety of other similar pastries – one of each. I knew the brand when I was asleep, but upon waking I can’t for the life of me remember what I saw. It was an English name.  I struggled to pay but I got the goods and took a last look around before leaving. People were eating in a corner and other people were just doing their own thing paying me absolutely no mind. No foreigner stares. It was nice. I went back to the taxi driver and he drove me another ten minutes (maybe a thirty-minute walk) to the airport. Then I woke up.

I felt strange after that dream. It made me want to visit Korea even if for a day to try convenience store foods. There are also some really beautiful neighborhoods and I am a sucker for historical building.  I felt comfortable there, and that is what is really messing with me. Maybe I should keep an open mind regarding things like this?

I didn’t plan on writing about some of the things I did. I guess writing is magical in that way, you go in with one idea and it evolves into something else. I graduated high school in 2010, and the incident I spoke of happened when I was in 10th grade, so 2008. Almost ten years ago. Literally something I hadn’t thought about in years just randomly came out and fit itself into a blog post. It was cathartic to pen it out to all of you reading.

I probably won’t post about these situations much, as I thankfully don’t have many bad experiences to share. But if I do, know that I hesitated greatly before posting it. I never want to dissuade anyone from visiting a place based on my experiences. I’m sure South Korea is a really great place to visit, but I’ve just never had good experiences with its people in America.

That was years ago, and things can always change. This blog is also named “In Asian Spaces” because I enjoy all Asian cultures, even if I mainly focus on Japan. If you’ve visited South Korea before, what was your favorite food you tried while there? Do you have an experience you would like to share – good or bad? Leave it in the comments, I would love to hear from you! Be sure to follow us for more stories and coming conversations about snacks!

 

 

Cowboy Bebop will return at Quad Cinema in NYC | Anime Culture

There is something about enjoying your hobbies and passions with a group of like-minded individuals. Conventions are great for this, but cinema is even better. The raw emotion charges the air, and you become even more invested in the stories being shown on screen. I assume this is why people love things like Broadway (I say people because I just can’t handle musicals unless it’s Disney). In the past few years, New York has upped its anime game. Theatres now offer animated films, show anime season marathons and even film festivals (The Complete Studio Ghibli Fest at the IFC Center and countless others). If you like Cowboy Bebop and would like to see it in theatres, read on –

Samurai Champloo, Michiko to Hatchin and Gurren Lagann are always lumped together. Mainly because they have some of the same production crew working across the shows. This causes similar signature aesthetics and of course, Samurai Champloo has Nujabes. I’ve constantly heard about Cowboy Bebop in the same conversations, but always as an afterthought.  Out of curiosity, I looked up who directed and wrote it, which happens to be Watanabe Shinichiro. He has also worked on a ton of other anime in varying degrees of positions. Of his works, I’ve seen Death Parade, Michiko to Hatchin, Samurai Champloo, and the ethereal torment that is Zankyou no Terror.

(Torment as in I adore every piece of it to bits and each time I re-watch I have this indescribable sense of longing. I also make a mental note to learn how to play chess. It’s been almost four years and I still haven’t learned how to play chess. Thinking back, I also thought about learning after that (kinda?) epic scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone where Ron is on the chess board and (kinda) almost dies then Dumbledore gives the House Cup to Gryffindor when Slytherin would have actually won. I mean, maybe my opinion is colored because I’d be a Slytherin through and through…but me thinks the headmaster was a wee bit biased. Almost as biased as my spellcheck recognizing every single HP word except Slytherin in this paragraph…haha, spellcheck. Anywho, back to anime…)

If you’ve ever heard about Cowboy Bebop but never checked it out, now here is your chance.

Anime NYC and Subway Cinema are holding a special event at Quad Cinema on April 22nd from 12 pm – 12 am. Cowboy Bebop: The 20th Anniversary Binge Sessions! Will show all twenty-six episodes of the series in Japanese with English subs.  I’d love to go, but instead I plan on attending every single Japanese cultural event I was not able to appreciate last year due to work and other general circumstances. This includes Japan Day at Central Park, JapanFes events (ramen contests, Okinawa Music Festival) and the upcoming Sakura Matsuri at Brooklyn Botanic Garden in April. I will also be sharing photos and stories of the events with all of you, so essentially we will all be going! =)

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More info about the anniversary festival here: http://animenyc.com/cowboybebopbingesessions/

There seems to be a cosplay contest as well where you can win cool prizes. There is a fee to get in, but you seem to get a lot for your money’s worth. If you go to the event, be sure to come back and tell me about it! Have you seen any of the anime I mentioned? Leave your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us and tell your friends about the community we are creating!

Are You Living a Rose Colored Life? | Anime Episode Review

The Springtime of Youth. A Rose Colored life. These are phrases that are meant to encourage and inspire at their core. Usually found in high school anime, characters wish to write their own stories – create memories before their lives shotgun into the unknown. The Springtime of Youth also reminds me of Rock Lee’s ridiculous Naruto Spin-off show, but today we’ll discuss something different. Another show that takes this philosophy to the next level. Read on, and be inspired.

Oh, it really has been too long. Taking a break from anime for over a year makes you somewhat forget exactly why you watched in the first place. It all blends together, a huge amalgamation of jumbles in your mind. Then you see something, cliché or cheesy as it is – and deep down you feel it. “This is why I watch” you say out loud, suddenly self-conscious sitting in your room; in the library at school; on public transit.

The Springtime of Youth is something always covered in anime. Or to live a “rose coloured life” is the goal of an apathetic high school student who you know is the main character because they have a window seat in the classroom. That feeling when you’re young that anything is possible and that you only have a certain amount of time to achieve it before it all slips away. Before jobs, college and other things where suddenly it’s no longer acceptable to have fun. To be curious, to laugh, to do something crazy. It’s a common fear of working years towards a goal, only much later in life to realize it was all for naught. Regret, not taking the chances you wished you had because of fear. I felt all of this with a cliché shot of two characters who do not know one another sharing the same space. One character is preoccupied with their current task, and the other character stops to look at them. This is where I got hooked.

A Place Further Than The Universe [ 宇宙よりも遠い場所], Uchuu yori mo Tooi Basho is aptly named. The episode begins with our main character, Tamaki Mari, having a dream that illustrates her fears. In the dream she is a child, playing with a boat in a basin of water.  She’s in an empty plane of what looks like an endless, colorless beach; alone and engaged in her activities. Later on in the episode she explains that she wants to live a fulfilling life, but she is utterly afraid. Tamaki finds an old notebook of things she planned on doing once reaching high school and cries that she hasn’t completed them yet. The next day she tries to go on an unplanned adventure by ditching school and “walking opposite the usual way”, but she chickens out and goes to school. Her close friend supported her, but it just wasn’t enough.

After she chickened out, she happens to run into the girl who is about to change it all for her. The girl with the long black hair and 1 million 円. Some circumstances work out under what I’d like to think of as fate, and Tamaki is able to return the money to the mystery girl because they attend the same school. We never get the mystery girl’s name or a proper introduction, but we learn her life story. Her reputation proceeds her.  Kobuchizawa Shirase’s mother was some sort of Arctic researcher and went missing when she was younger. Kobuchizawa saved up money working part-time jobs to go to Antarctica to find her, and even tried to start a club to find support. In most school anime we find that you need at least four club members for it to be official (Free! Iwatobi Swim Team, Hyouka, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Charlotte, Doki Doki Literature Club….etc.)

 

No one supports this girl. She is a second-year student who doesn’t seem to be interested in preparing for entrance exams, has no friends, and seems too eager about going off to the end of the known world. Everyone thinks she’s crazy. She is almost bullied into giving some of her money away, but Tamaki comes along at the right time with a distraction. Kobuchizawa thought that the teachers really did find out she’s walking around with a million yen and got scared.

In Japan, many high schools see their students as a reflection of their reputation. Some schools even enforce the uniform dress code outside of the classroom. If a student, say does something unsavory like get into an argument with a jerk from another school – a person of authority (let’s say a restaurant manager) could step in and reprimand them by reporting it to their school. The school would discipline the students as would the parents most likely. I’m not sure if Kobuchizawa lives alone (we haven’t heard anything about her dad yet) or with relatives, but in a Japanese societal context you can begin to understand why she is such an outcast. Her (parentless) situation could also explain why she has the freedom to do this. This is not to say that all Japanese parents are stuffy and care about what others think, but it seems to be a dominant cultural trait to not “cause trouble” for yourself or your high school. (College I believe is much different.)

To Tamaki however, Kobuchizawa is a dream. A chance to change her life. A chance to support a fantasy that involves everything in her vague sense of adventurism. Kobuchizawa mentions that she is used to people disappointing her and letting her down, but still hands Tamaki a flyer for a boat show. It’s in Hiroshima and they live in (I’m assuming) rural Gunma prefecture.

When it’s shown that although scared, Tamaki decides to take the step forward and runs into Kobuchizawa while she’s entering a train car to look for a seat…her smile was everything. I literally felt like jumping up and cheering. They tried taking pictures of Mount Fuji and ate onigiri on the ride to Hiroshima. I’ve heard that bento are best on long train rides (they couldn’t afford the expensive ones on board), and that you should buy one before boarding.

Many bigger stations in Japan also have vending machines and sometimes small food stalls where you can purchase sustenance before your ride. I imagine that when I finally do get to Japan, I’d like to do as they did. I’d buy my bento beforehand however, with a drink from a vending machine and I’d ask a conductor which side fuji-san would appear on our ride.

The episode ends with the two girls in Hiroshima, looking at the Shirase. I wonder if Kobuchizawa was named after the ship, or vice versa. Either way, I will continue watching this show and give a review of my final thoughts in a post at a later date. It seems that the girl working in the konbini, Miyake, will join the group next episode. There was a No Game No Life poster in the store and it seems Ishizuka Atsuko directed that show as well as this one.

I feel very hopeful and inspired after watching this episode, so I wanted to share my first impressions. Too many times in my life I’ve gotten scared to try something new and later came to regret it. Or I tried something and it didn’t work out because I didn’t try hard enough. I once had a YouTube channel I loved that didn’t work out. For a very long time I thought I just wasn’t good at it, and I stopped making videos about things I loved. Now I started this blog, and sometimes I doubt myself but I want to make this work and create a fun place where people can talk about their passions and build a community. It’s going to be a lot of work, but sometimes even the smallest things can keep you going. Small things like A Place Further Than The Universe.

Have you seen this anime yet? Did you watch No Game No Life? One more question – If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? Tell us about it in the comments, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to share the article & follow us for more inspiring anime!

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(I would go to Iceland btw. I’ve always wanted to see The Northern Lights. Maybe I’ll go soon…)

Understanding Japanese Paying Etiquette | Anime Culture in America

During my time working at a Japanese Cultural Center, I frequented any and all Japanese grocers nearby. It was the “Japanese” part of town and fresh, authentic places were readily available. Through watching anime, I learned a lot about paying etiquette and social rules that one should follow. Of course, gaijin are held to a lesser standard than a Japanese, but if you’d like to impress someone with your cultural sensitivity skills – read on.

During my time working at a Japanese Cultural Center, I frequented any and all Japanese grocers nearby. It was the “Japanese” part of town and fresh, authentic places were readily available. Through watching anime, I learned a lot about paying etiquette and social rules that one should follow. Of course, gaijin are held to a lesser standard than a Japanese, but if you’d like to impress someone with your cultural sensitivity skills – read on.

Welcome to our first article on the Anime Culture series – where we cover Japanese culture topics and how the average anime viewer is probably privy to more culture than they consciously knew!

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There are a lot of social nuances in Japan. Luckily if you’ve watched anime during any time in your life (which I am sure you have – consciously or not) you may have been introduced to a few. Taking your shoes off indoors, bowing, slurping loudly when eating noodles are just a few.  Did you know that there are unspoken rules that you should follow once you are in a restaurant or shop? Let’s focus on what to do after you’ve grabbed a bunch of cheap snacks and are standing in line to pay.

Most publications or websites talk about Japan’s queue culture. Standing in line is important, but it’s also important where I live, New York, so I’m not sure I could add anything to that argument that would be prudent. I’ve read that when using escalators or stairs in Japan, one should stand on the left side idly or shift to the right if they would like to move quickly. (Other prefectures tend to differentiate this, so be sure to check up on local prefectural norms before your visit). This is essentially reversed in New York. A good way to remember this is to think of traffic rules – Japan uses the left side of the street and America uses the right. People take this seriously, and they will yell at you or politely call you out if you do not follow this unspoken rule.  In the land of the rising sun they will not yell of course, but the culture relies heavily on non-verbal cues; so if someone is staring at you and it’s not just because you are a foreigner….please take notice. You will find out what is taboo in Japanese culture simply by being very aware of your own space.

When in line in both Japan and any Japanese store in America, try your best to assemble your money beforehand. In both contexts (especially if you are in a long line) you will slow everyone down and waste their time – even if you do not mean to. Give others the same respect that would most likely be given to you. In Nihon there will sometimes be little plastic trays where you are meant to place your money. You are to place your yen in this dish, do not hand the money to the cashier. Pertaining to yen, usually anything under 1,000円 (Equivalent to around $10.00) will most likely be coins. It is acceptable to use a 5,000円 note (equivalent to around $50.00) when paying for meals in restaurants. In America, generally big bills are frowned upon due to high volumes of fraud. With this in mind, I have never used anything over $20 in stores.

After you have placed your money and/or coins in the plastic container, the cashier will count the money in front of you before handing it to you. Don’t recount it, it was counted in front of you for this reason. Simply slip it in your wallet and move away for the next person to have their turn. In local stores there is no plastic tray, but there is a way to be polite when handing the money to the cashier. If you have time, you can order the bills from largest to smallest, if not its fine. When it’s time to pay, hold the money with both of your hands stretched outward, with the bills facing the cashier. Usually you will be met with a look of surprise or a smile, and a bow. If you are bowed to, bow back (deeper if they are a bit older or slightly higher ((a noticeable nod)) if they are younger) and if you don’t it is okay! You will then usually receive the money as you handed it with a smile. It’s not a mandatory thing to do, but it is a nice gesture of respect that will be appreciated and remembered if you start frequenting the establishment.

Same rules apply to leaving, the money will not be counted for you but please step away and discretely count it. Then leave the store as you normally would. If you’d like to speak some phrases of Japanese (such as おはようございます) do so during the interaction – but make sure the person is actually Japanese and not from a different Asian ethnic group. It will embarrass both of you and it’s just not cool.

So that’s it, for now. If you are in Japan, read up on local customs and look out for the money trays. In America, remember to be respectful and if you’d like to add a bit of pizazz to your interactions with Japanese people – show some respect and use both hands. Little gestures go a long way, and it will definitely give you more confidence if you are studying Japanese or planning a visit soon.

Do you have any tips for paying in Japan or an experience you would like to share? Leave it in the comments below, I would love to hear about it! Also be sure to follow the blog for more updates on our Anime Culture series.

Do We Take Anime Culture in America Seriously?

Do you actually take Anime Culture seriously? Anime Culture as in watching anime, reading manga, studying Japanese language, going to cons, buying figures, etc. Do you see it as something cool and foreign or as actual stories told by Japanese people using the medium of animation?

Just some background on why I am asking this. I’d been into anime since middle school, staying up late watching Adult Swim because I was bullied and could never sleep. I gradually started watching fansubs online when my mom brought us a computer. Switched from dubs to subs, I started buying books on Japanese culture and studying the language. A few years later I created a YouTube channel doing reviews of niche anime and manga, but it wasn’t popular. Due to the fact that the standard channels were talking about whose waifu is trash, fmk, who had the best teet-hair color combo. I refused to do that, plus in hindsight I didn’t promote the channel well enough. I was in film school at the time (I finished btw) but I would actually talk about character growth and development, plot events context in Japanese society and customs, etc. and it was dirt compared to people who squealed about mainstream show episodes by saying “the pacing was good, the animation was on point, the music – OMG – I was so hyped” to the crowd they catered to.

After college, I got a job at a Japanese cultural center for a year where I continued to take language lessons (I’m currently intermediate level and I will be trying for the JLPT N4 in December) and I had a good time there. I didn’t watch any shows, mainly because I didn’t have time but also because I felt like I was living in a Slice of Life. I knew a lot of customs (meishi koukan, correct amount of times to bow and the degree, how to accept or give items, how to be conscious of my body language i.e. not a lot of hand gestures, even nuances like how to refer to myself by pointing to my nose) and I knew literally all of that shit from watching anime and glazing older cultural books. My colleges were always impressed and I received a lot of respect. I had no problem surviving in the thick Japanese atmosphere where I heard Japanese spoken each day and dealt with businessmen and workers from well-known international brands. I had friendly convos with the older ladies in Japanese at local grocers by my job, could find my own non-English manga at book stores; I never felt out of place going to summer Matsuri or other ceremonial things. I didn’t feel like a total gaijin, even though we were still here in America.

When we had events for anime and those in the community showed up, they were looked down upon. It wasn’t fair, but it’s not a secret that Japanese don’t put a lot of stock into any sort of subcultures. The fans showed up in their Black Butler T-shirts and Shingeki no Kyoujin backpacks (which was fine) but didn’t even try talking to some of the Japanese people who were also there. There was such a clear divide between people with similar interests, where the Japanese were probably “too foreign” despite Americans consuming their media that does have a lot of traditional aspects in it. The Japanese were probably intimidated by the language barrier and thought it was a pain to try to speak to them.

Do you watch anime consciously knowing these stories are told by actual Japanese people, or do you just enjoy the aesthetic and don’t really care about the culture behind it? There are so many reasons why anime has educational value and why it is so popular. The bridge can definitely be crossed I think. I just don’t know if each side is ready.

Solarpunk and Capitalism – Who Decides the Worth of the Land?

I have been into the Solarpunk movement for a while now. Solarpunk is the hope of a green, sustainable future that relies on solar power, community gardens and living within our means. It is utopian in ideals, equality and a decentralized government. Heavy emphasis on agriculture and community bonds.

It’s so beautiful.

Who decides the worth of the land? Who decides which area is deemed “beautiful” and deserving of a multi-million dollar price tag while vistas of equal beauty in ‘third world countries’ remain free and open to the public?

What is the point of taking water, a natural occurring mineral liquid necessary for life sustainment, and putting a price tag on it? Why are the Coca-Cola Company and Nestle trying to privatize the largest water reserve within South America? Why is tap water that we pay for in-home or apartment utilities filled with fluoride and other unhealthy chemicals? Why is wanting clean water being criminalized? I think of Standing Rock as I write this.

What is the point of raising prices for national parks, such as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone? I know it’s apparently for infrastructure, but if the average person cannot pay to visit…what happens to the park then? Will the big companies have the privilege and honor of ravaging these scenic oases of the senses for profit? Steal all of the natural resources and then move on to the next?

Watching Hallmark movies on the Hallmark channel, I keep seeing commercials for ‘BuyBelize’. Promoting the sale of land in Belize to presumably upper middle class or wealthy Westerners. Do the people of Belize know that parts of their country are literally being sold in commercials like trendy sneakers? Is this their government allotting land that is being deemed unusable? Are Western countries lobbying for more space to utilize, destabilize, and destroy for consumption?

I have been into the Solarpunk movement for a while now. Solarpunk is the hope of a green, sustainable future that relies on solar power, community gardens and living within our means. It is utopian in ideals, equality and a decentralized government. Heavy emphasis on agriculture and community bonds.

It’s so beautiful.

Solarpunk ideals would also fit swimmingly into the Afrofuturism movement. Afrofuturism reclaims people of African descent’s place in sci-fi and the future. Because for some reason, it seems sci-fi is determined to erase the presence of black people and make them somehow alien. Along with sci-fi, it combines historical fiction, Afrocentrism, magical realism and fantasy to define the black future and black experience.

I’m so thankful for the movement Marvel’s Black Panther has reinvigorated.

It has surged people’s interest in the future of the African diaspora, and what can truly be achieved and brought into our collective realities.

There are also a lot of great resources and books on the subject of Afrofuturism.

Octavia E Butler wrote Afrofuturism themes in many of her work. Seed to Harvest is a series I’ve heard great things about! You could start there on your literary journey, as I will begin here as well.

Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture by Ytasha L. Womack is also a great read from what I’ve heard.

Black Quantum Futurism by Rasheedah Phillips also seems to be an interesting read; focusing on methodologies and theories in the genre.

Maybe I will do a review of these works here once I am able to purchase them.

Sun Ra made music to elevate the African diaspora to another plane of existence.

Solarpunk and Afrofuturism are ‘newer’ genres, but I believe they can change our future and our realities. They truly give me comfort in these troubling, disjointed times.

Also

I have been working on several novellas and graphic novels. They have mainly African-descended protagonists and heavy Solarpunk and afrofuturistic themes. I use the term “African-descended” and not just “Black” because in my stories I am trying to fill the gap between Black American/Black – ____ and the continent of Africa. I write about people who know they have African ancestry, but like me…it’s jumbled and lost. I want them to feel a connection to their mother continent, and not a connection to a term that like negro, coloured, etc before it – has been placed upon them by their oppressors. Connections to a term that evokes images of land, seas, skies, cultures, and foods…not a color found in a fucking crayon box. We are so much more than that.

I am so excited to share them with the world but also very scared. But I feel like I need to share them. Please look forward to reading them when I finish them! (=

 

 

Will Kingdom Hearts III Disappoint Us?

I would consider myself an avid Kingdom Hearts fan.

I would consider myself an avid Kingdom Hearts fan.

Not a hardcore fan, as I could not afford it. It was most likely 2003 when my mom purchased the game for 9 or 10-year-old me. About three years later the second main story game came out in the series, and I was able to play that as well. There was a slew of spin-off games that no one asked for. All of these games for some reason were on various different platforms, another thing no one asked for. I played Chain of Memories, as I owned a Game Boy Advance SP but that was the last game I played.

In my last lengthy article entitled “The Importance of Chopsticks” I delve deeper into my relationship with Japanese media and subculture. Kingdom Hearts was the first game I played where I knew it was consciously Japanese. Sure, Mario 64 and the like were Japanese but I found that out later on in life.

Utada Hikaru’s “Simple and Clean” could send any fanboy or girl into a dancing frenzy. I played Kingdom Hearts and felt a shift in my consciousness. I started using forums for the first time posting my own fan theories surrounding the many mysteries the game left us at the time. I created my first email address with my favorite character’s name in it – Riku. I used almost all of our home computer’s printer ink printing out a high-resolution image of Kingdom Hearts 2’s CGI ending. The gang was reunited once more.

Talks of the third game were on the horizon, and the hype was at an all-time high. Every trailer for the main story was analyzed with scrutiny.

But as the years passed, the whisper of “Kingdom Hearts 3 Now in Development” was not enough.

And people gave up.

Sora 1
Sora, Kingdomhearts.com

People slowly stopped talking about it, the fandom slowly decayed on Tumblr.

There was some excitement when Japan decided to export a Final Mix game, and I eagerly brought KH Final Mix 1.5 and 2.5 to watch the stories of the games I could not afford to buy in the past.

Timeline explanation videos began popping up on YouTube. Trying to make sense of the entire series, just in case we actually got KH3.

It became a running gag. KH3 would be released with Half-Life 3. Our grandkids would love KH3. KH3 would be the launch title for the PS7.

No one expected anything.

It made it worse that Nomura Tetsuya was more occupied with the Final Fantasy series than his own series. The hodgepodge series of Disney characters and Final Fantasy characters we adored. The characters with awkward oversized boots and zippered pants that would make any Hot Topic goth mad.

Is Hot Topic even a thing anymore? The store in my local mall closed years ago.

Nomura not working on Kingdom Hearts 3 is akin in my mind to George RR Martin working on Wild Cards instead of finishing the A Song of Ice and Fire series books.

In retrospect, Nomura was working on Final Fantasy games before Kingdom Hearts, and George worked on Wild Cards before ASOIAF. These simple truths, however, do not quell the salt in my heart.

February 10th, 2018.

Disney’s D23 Expo in Japan drops the Kingdom Hearts III ‘Monster’s Inc’ trailer. Utada Hikaru has signed on with a new song. Riku has a new outfit. He somehow broke his keyblade and is going to leave it in the darkness for his…heartless? His nobody? Xehanort? The real Ansem the Wise? Aqua? A member of Organization 13? Didn’t they all die in the second game?

But then in the new trailer Marluxia says it’s good to see Sora again, but Sora also forgot the plot and has no clue who he is. Unless that duel to the death in Chain of Memories was against Marluxia and Riku – my chain of memories is weak. Then in a cutscene, Sora recognizes Vanitas – except it’s not Sora- it’s probably Terra inside of Sora’s heart…who is different from Roxas who was Sora’s nobody that was created when he lost his heart in Hollow Bastion in KH1 to release Kairi’s heart.

Speaking of Kairi, maybe she’ll actually have a role in this game. Other than being Sora’s ethereal emotional support in KH1 and running around a beach before getting kidnapped and literally dragged into the story in KH2.

Bottom line: I am happy we got a substantial trailer. I am not happy that we have a release date for the release date, which is this summer’s E3 convention.

Whatever may happen, I’ll reserve any further excitement and anticipation for this summer. It will determine whether or not I’ll go out and buy a PS4 for the game that may never truly be.