Netflix Releases Death Note Film Teaser

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Earlier this week on Wednesday, March 22nd, the popular streaming service Netflix released a teaser trailer featuring an upcoming original film, based off the well-known Japanese manga and anime Death Note, set to be available for viewing on August 25th.

When I initially heard the news of Netflix taking on the project I was overjoyed. Death Note has been and remains today, as one of the few anime’s that rightfully occupy the top of my best anime ever made list. The concept and characters were refreshingly original and well played out from the very first episode and naturally attracted a large fan base in both Asia and overseas. A set of Japanese live action films were released in the UK and U.S. back in 2006, following the immense success and popularity of the anime series — adding significant international exposure to the story.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Death Note series I’ll provide a light overview: (chance of slight spoiling, fair warning!) The story is set in Japan and follows an extremely intelligent high-school boy Light Yagami, who often reflected on the purpose of life and his role in society. He was bored and saw himself above his classmates who wasted their hollow lives on short-lived pleasures without amounting to anything in the world. He comes across a magical black notebook with the power to kill anyone, as long as the notebook user has seen their face and written their full name in it’s pages. Light takes the chance to ‘cleanse’ the world of all criminals with the Death Note and further raise himself above the rest of society as a righteous god-like being that will rid the world of all evil.

The cast of the Japanese live action films were all of Asian descent, however the Netflix adaptation is composed of nearly an all-white cast, that has caused quite the stir on social media since it’s announcement. There was similar backlash to the American film adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, set to play in theaters on March 31st. Scarlett Johansson acts as the female lead, who has been previously portrayed as Japanese in all prior media production related to the franchise, which is similarly prominent in both Western and Asian audiences when compared to Death Note.

While some viewers have decided to essentially boycott Netflix’s Death Note after seeing the cast list and teaser trailer — I personally think it looks promising and will reintroduce one of the best anime series to perhaps it’s widest audience yet, and by the best method: home streaming. To reflect today’s consumer, who practically views cassette tapes and CD discs as archaic relics of the past.

To me, there would be a bigger concern towards the actor’s professionalism and accurate depiction of the character’s personality and internal qualities rather than basing everything on appearance. I’d recommend looking past the ethnicity of the cast members and judging their performance in the roles they’ve taken over. Because that’s truly what matters in the end, who they are, not what.

For first-timers to Death Note I highly encourage you to check out the teaser below and Netflix movie adaptation when it releases, but also to watch the anime series (conveniently on Netflix now by the way!) to get a perspective on the story’s origin. if you still aren’t sated after that, you should watch the live action Japanese films starring Tatsuya Fujiwara as Light Yagami and Ken’ichi Matsuyama as L.

Little Nightmares Looks Wonderfully Eerie

For those with a love for the creepy and unnatural not unlike myself, there’s a good chance you’ll find the upcoming horror-themed puzzle game Little Nightmares of great interest.

Developed by the Swedish gaming studio Tarsier Studios, who have helped with the Little Big Planet series DLC development as well as the Playstation Vita adaptation. Little Nightmares follows a young girl named Six’s quest through a dark and ominous world within a mysterious ship called The Maw. Armed with a mere candle and her own courage, Six struggles to avoid capture by the hungry, sinister creatures described as “corrupted spirits” that inhabit The Maw.

“The way we like to describe it is the place where childhood fears come to life.” — Tarsier Studios

For a bit of history, Little Nightmares was initially introduced with the name Hunger by Tarsier in May 2014. Bandai Namco took on the publishing role two years later and the name was changed. The idea for the title came about in 2012 from a tech demo with a ‘dollhouse’ as it’s base. Players could tilt, zoom in and out, and pan with the dollhouse camera through a number of interconnected rooms that made up the game. It was a simple idea but it conveyed an interestingly uneasy and whimsical feeling nonetheless. From there the development team began to explore different concept sketches of the characters and settings that ultimately led to Little Nightmares becoming a reality. Developing a prototype and trailer was possible with help from sponsors Nordic Game and Creative Europe. Nordic Game is a video game conference held in Sweden, while Creative Europe is an EU program with an aim of, “strengthening the competitiveness of the European cultural and creative sectors.” This allowed Tarsier the tools needed to provide solid representation to Bandai Namco and get the ball rolling even more on the project.

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From the gameplay featured in trailers and released screenshots, the game seems to live up to its eerie reputation of touching on the things that scared us most when we were children. The dim atmosphere through and through resembles a dark room that harbors scary shadows and threats under the bed. Everything seems big and frightening. From a china doll’s glassy gaze resting on a dresser to the ever present creaks and groans of the house. This game will take you to a place where every sound and movement can set you on the edge. For the most part, you’re sneaking and you won’t (purposefully) have a clear view of creatures since they move around. Fumbling around and causing noise will attract unwanted attention and the sound of shuffling feet and grabby fingers will soon follow. Just like a child about to be gobbled up by the bogeyman, once detected, there’s only so far you can run with such small feet.

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Six is minuscule compared to her surroundings, giving the impression of an Alice lost in a kind of gothic, disturbing wonderland. The difficulty in navigating The Maw is in large part because of Six’s size. She will climb chairs, shelving, among other objects that appear built for a larger being. Not unlike a mouse, she can often be used to hide in nooks and crannies, and even manages to fit in tight spaces in order to avoid captors while solving puzzles in each area. Though Six is the main character and hero of this game, it’s easy to forget that she’s also a child that has playful inhibitions that can lead to her death or capture. She’ll jump from high places or make noise tossing around a ball or playing on a squeaky bed. Being aware of your surroundings and treading carefully is important in smoothly progressing and ultimately completing Little Nightmares. 

The game will be releasing tomorrow, April 28th. It’s single player and has around 13 achievements/trophies to earn. The storyline encourages open exploration, but with a straight playthrough expect to spend 5 hours on it. There’s still time to pre-order and receive in-game bonuses such as the scarecrow sack and the upside teapot masks to help Six blend in with The Maw inhabitants. For PC there’s the additional perk of a digital copy of the game’s original soundtrack as well as the choice between an exclusive PS4 or PC wallpaper.

It would also be a good idea to try out the browser-based interactive video demo here that Tarsier released late last year. It will give you a feel for the game beyond looking at pretty (creepy) screenshots and replaying and pausing trailers endlessly. You’ll also receive a DLC tengu mask in your game if you register below the video.

Comment below on what you think of Little Nightmares and whether you’ll be trying out the demo or straight shot purchasing the game (like me!). If you want to follow updates a good place would be the game’s twitter @LittleNights and Facebook page as well as right here on Techno Gurl Magazine of course. 😉

How to Avoid Burning out at Work

When you’re on the job it’s easy to get wrapped up in what you’re doing and forget to take a break now and then. However, not doing so and choosing to work excessively or skipping breaks can be harmful to your body and overall wellness to the point that your long-term performance suffers. That’s right. Overworking yourself often leads to less work getting done in the long run. Burnout is essentially a physical or mental breakdown caused by stress or overworking. It’s a social issue that has become a regular consequence to millions of workers long before and after it was coined back in the 1970s. Certain symptoms have been associated with burnout in the past such as exhaustion, reduced performance in everyday tasks, difficulty in concentrating, feeling listless, alienating oneself from others and becoming easily frustrated or stressed — it’s also possible to experience physical issues such as stomach pain or headaches.

I’ve personally had my own burnout struggles while working a demanding office job. I can understand the real strain it has on your career, your future and even your happiness. Because I felt burned out at my job, even after leaving my desk I couldn’t stop thinking about all the things I had to get done. There never seemed to be enough time in the day and that was my excuse for overworking myself. There should never be an excuse to push yourself past your breaking point — even a job.

Check out some of my shared tips below on how to avoid burning out at work, I also encourage everyone to share your own experiences in the comment section below this post.

Start the day off right.

Wake up to the time you set on your clock the night before. You want to have time to complete most morning tasks without feeling overly rushed or unorganized. Save yourself from a stressful morning by having an idea of what you would like to do before you sleep.

Will you eat breakfast? Will you shower? Do you know what you’ll be wearing? By knowing what you have in the fridge you can save time by picking something out immediately. If you like long showers and know you’ll be in there for awhile, set a timer for when you need to get out or wake up five minutes earlier. Set an outfit on the side to put on so you don’t stress over finding something or realizing you forgot to do laundry.

If you have Google Maps or the iPhone Map app installed on your smartphone you can check the traffic. Navigational tools will help you prepare for delays accordingly and ideally, you should arrive a few minutes early to work. This will allow you to start up your computer and other equipment, hang your things up, grab some coffee or use the lavatory down the hall if needed.

Arrive on time to work, leave on time.

Arriving exactly the time your shift starts will cause you to feel restrained and unorganized. If you leave your desk to grab a coffee or some other task, even if you feel it will only take “a few moments”, you risk your employer checking in on you and misunderstanding why you weren’t at your desk at the beginning of the work day. Arriving a few moments earlier to work will ultimately lower your stress level and help you mentally prepare yourself to start work when you’re scheduled.

When it nears the end of the day, you should start preparing at least a half hour before you finish your shift. Don’t start any projects or tasks that will cause you to stay past your work schedule, even if it’s a few minutes. If work ends around 5:00p or rush hour and you’d work a little longer before driving home to avoid traffic jams, stop working on your main responsibilities and switch doing something for yourself. You can check your phone or turn it on if it was off during work hours. The idea is to stop working and do something for yourself, being able to take yourself out of work mode is extremely important to feeling less stressed and eventually overwhelmed from working.

Unless you’re being paid to work overtime or compensated in some way by your company, you shouldn’t take it upon yourself to continue working past your billed hours. Doing so will not only harm you down the road health-wise but can also start a big legal issue for your employer. Companies who earn $500,000 or more annually are usually covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and are required to pay their employees overtime. If you feel that your company is mistreating you by restraining overtime funds you’ve earned, it’s important to consider reporting it to the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Depart. of Labor.

Take a lunch break along with several mini breaks.

Similar to working overtime to catch up on assignments and sacrifice time you could spend that time on yourself, you should never skip lunch or forget to take breaks when working a full day. Have you ever been stuck on solving a homework problem in school, or perhaps playing a popular app game on your phone and having trouble beating a level? Did you experience leaving the issue and returning to it, later on, to find yourself clearing it without much strife? Great. Treat lunch and breaks at work the same way. If you work nonstop for hours upon hours without reenergizing your body, you’ll eventually find it difficult to concentrate and might even (gasp!) break down. You’re only human, which means you have a physical and mental limit that you’ll reach before long if you go without proper nutrition or allowing your mind a chance to revitalize itself with a pause from the mental hustle and bustle.

If you work nonstop for hours upon hours without reenergizing your body, you’ll eventually find it difficult to concentrate and might even (gasp!) break down. You’re only human, which means you have a physical and mental limit that you’ll reach before long if you go without proper nutrition or allowing your mind a chance to revitalize itself with a pause from the mental hustle and bustle.

Prioritize before starting your week or day.

Track deadlines and make sure to communicate with coworkers or superiors immediately when you think or know you won’t be able to meet the timeline set. If possible, consult with someone on your team on what tasks need to be completed or prioritized above others. It helps to write due dates or important events on the company calendar (e.g. through Outlook or Google Drive) or tracking them through an online organizational tool like Toodledo. If possible, assign a daily or weekly goal. If you have a list of assignments to complete and strategies to do so you’ll feel immediately less burdened because you know what you have to do with a timeframe attached. You can prioritize tasks in any way you’d like. Whether it be by color labeling or using priority-level categories like, high, medium or low. When you receive new tasks throughout the week you can sort them into your list or schedule immediately so you don’t forget to do so later on.

Consider a career change.

One reason you might have for feeling burned out in your current situation is because you don’t particularly feel fit for it. Look back in time to when you initially accepted the position, how did you feel? Excited? Relieved? It can be difficult for anyone to find a job. It’s understandable if you took on the role in order to pay the bills, or believing it would be a good choice. Maybe it was a job you read about or imagined yourself doing and once you entered the specific field started having second thoughts or feeling unsatisfied in some way. You have no obligation to stay in a job you feel is hindering your ability to live a healthy and fulfilling life. There are always opportunities to explore out there and the sooner you focus on finding one that fits your wants and needs, the sooner you’ll avoid burning out due to a stressful job you’re unsuited to perform. A good way to start searching is to pick three things you like and connect them to jobs. For me I chose, dogs, reading, writing. With options such as a veterinarian, book publisher, journalist (or blogger!).

That Time United Airlines Beat up an Asian Passenger

Overbooking is a practice most if not all airlines utilize in which they book or reserve more passengers than they have seats for on a flight. They do this with the expectation that some people will cancel or not show up at all.

The United Airlines flight that David Dao was on, however, was a special case beyond the normal irritants of an oversold flight. The flight was bound for Louisville, Kentucky, a destination a number of United crew members needed to reach to work for another flight. Flight 3411, David Dao’s flight, was sold out with every seat filled, so United asked for volunteers to take a later flight the next day.

Dao initially seemed open to volunteering and leaving on a flight later that day, but when he realized he would need to travel the following day he refused. With no volunteers coming forward, United took action by randomly selecting passengers and booting them off. Most passengers grudgingly complied, but when Dao’s name came up he was adamant on keeping the seat he had paid for.

“No, I am not going. I’m a physician, I have patients I need to see tomorrow.” — David Dao

United Airlines called upon several Chicago Dept. of Aviation officers to assist them in removing Dao from the flight. He continued to persist in his refusal to disembark and after verbal coaxing failed, officers began to physically drag Dao from his seat, causing a struggle in which Dao suffered a broken nose, a concussion and the loss of two front teeth.

After being dragged out in that condition and laid out on the tarmac — Dao ran back onto the plane and latched onto a pole in a galley area. He repeatedly stated, “I’m not getting off, just kill me. I want to go home.”

Dao immigrated from Vietnam in the 1970s and described the experience with United Airlines as more terrifying than retreating from his home country when Saigon, the capital fell and North Vietnamese communists took over the city. Fellow passengers recorded the incident on video and took photos of Dao’s bruised figure which were shared through various social media channels.

David Dao Being Dragged from UA Flight 3411 departing Chicago’s O’Hare airport on April 9. Business Insider.

The situation swiftly blew up and received a broad reaction of outrage and concern from the general public toward United Airlines’ overbooking policies and their treatment of passengers. Not only was United’s public perception as a leading airline significantly damaged, but it caused great suspicion and growing distrust toward other airlines and in large part, the entire industry.

Some airlines recognized the opportunity to market certain “assurances.” Such as Emirates Airlines recent commercial playing off of United Airlines’ slogan, “Fly the Friendly Skies, But this Time for Real.” Others are making improvements to their policies. Southwest Airlines,  for instance, is rumored to cease overbooking on its flights starting May 8th, following the United fiasco. Delta Airlines has also made the move of raising the payouts offered to customers for giving up seats from $2,000 to as much as $9,000.

The incident occurred on April 9th but has dragged out in part because of United’s initial response to public concerns. United’s CEO Oscar Munoz’s first statement concerning the occurrence suggested Dao was at fault for creating a disturbance and disobeying instruction from law enforcement. He quickly changed his stance when his comment stirred an even bigger PR scandal, stating, “a system failure” as the cause of Dao’s treatment. Shortly after, United revealed a new policy plan, forbidding the use of law enforcement when removing overbooked passengers.

“We breached public trust, and it’s a serious breach.” — Oscar Munoz, United Airlines CEO

An unexpected development that also factored into the longevity of this story, was some unfavorable aspects of David Dao’s character and background coming to light. After some deeper digging into Dao as a person rather than a helpless passenger, it was revealed that his physician’s license was revoked in 2005 in Kentucky, following the discovery of him committing drug crimes as well as giving out prescriptions in exchange for sexual favors. Dao has severe limitations on his license from the Kentucky state medical licensing board and can only practice in an outpatient facility once a week.

I can only imagine how ashamed and embarrassed Dao must feel after this intrusive and unrelated probe into his personal life by the media. From this point on he might face negative recognition and judgment from friends and family members to strangers with disregard to United’s ill treatment of him, one that closely resembles how you might punish a thief or criminal. Dao merely stood up for his right as a customer and passenger of United Airlines. He exposed himself by showing courage, now I can’t help wonder what the next person will think when they stand up to something they believe is wrong? Will they have their deepest and darkest secrets exposed to the world within a matter of hours as well?

As of yesterday April 27th, Dao has reached a settlement with United Airlines for an undisclosed amount. Dao’s lawyer complimented Munoz on “doing the right thing.” The matter is finally starting to resolve with Munoz’s public apologies and assurances notable policy changes that are intended to promote the main focus of United as an airline which “puts customers at the center of everything they do.”

Netflix’s April Highlight Releases

Netflix is known as one of the most popular streaming services today, alongside Hulu and Amazon Instant and many others. I personally use Netflix and Amazon Instant because between those two services I can usually access most shows or films that I’m interested in. Netflix offers popular shows and movies regularly but has also started this steady stream of high-quality original productions that easily stand on their own. Amazon Instant was a useful add-on with a Prime membership, I used it predominantly to purchase and stream recently released movies I hadn’t had the chance to watch in theaters. Out of the two, I prefer Netflix and eagerly monitor monthly additions to the service. I decided to skim over the April Netflix releases and share the new titles I’m most excited about watching, (over my popcorn substitute — a warm and comforting bowl of ramen).

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Kevin Hart: What Now? – Available April 11th

I’ll admit two years ago if you’d asked me who Kevin Hart was, I couldn’t tell you. Fast forward to today and he’s top on my list of stand-up comedian favorites alongside Louie C.K. (spoils, he’s also on this list with Netflix special release this month), Russell Peters, Stephen Merchant, Simon Pegg and Eddie Murphy. After watching his 2008 documentary “I’m a Grown Little Man”, I took in the brilliant almost painful honesty of his jokes and became immediately absorbed in the relatability of who he was. The difference between us was that Kevin Hart wasn’t embarrassed to talk about his insecurities (mainly his low height). He’s come a long way, not only as a comedian but an actor and overall entertainer. I frequently see him on talk shows promoting either a tour or a special… or several movies at once. He’s worked incredibly hard in a short period of time to hone his own comedic style that viewers can’t help but notice. Hart has rightfully earned numerous entertainment awards and a seat among the ranks of the most relevant stand-up comedians today. What Now? is a comedy film that is split into a spy tale and a comedic performance, the prior being filmed at the Philidelphia Lincoln Financial football stadium, historically marking a first for a comedian to fill out an entire stadium.

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Louie C.K. 2017 – Available April 1st 

I’ve been a fan of Louie C.K. ever since I came across his Live at the Beacon Center (complete!) stand-up special on YouTube. What immediately drew me to his humor was something I’m still fighting to comprehend about myself. Imagine the darkest, most uncomfortable and unmentionable subjects or thoughts you ever could about societies norms or expectations and you have Louie’s favorite material. From casually spouting out racial slurs, to diving head first into sensitive topics such as rape, suicide, and pedophilia. There seems to be no topic black-listed, no boundary to cross in Louie’s world, and that’s exactly what makes him one of the best comics out there. He skillfully projects this image of being this lazy, 40-something, slightly perverted and helpless member of society that can be seen as the very definition of mediocrity. Don’t let him fool you though — Louie C.K. plays a major role in his productions, often directing, writing and editing material while also starring in them. His latest special 2017 follows his trend of honing in on uncomfortable and controversial topics, remarking on the worst prospect or thought related to them and coaxing us to question how we truly feel about them. For example, how do you really feel about abortion?

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Tropic Thunder – Available April 1st 

Tropic Thunder was originally released in 2008 and boasts a considerably reputable all-star cast that includes Jack Black, Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., (young!) Matthew McConaughey, Tom Cruise and more. I didn’t have a chance to watch the entire film when it was initially released, but thanks to Netflix I now have the chance to watch it through! If you haven’t seen it, the basic plot of Tropic Thunder involves a variety of fictional actors hired on to star in the most expensive war film ever produced. The actors are flown out to Asia believing they’ll be filming in an authentic jungle-like environment that resembles a war zone Vietnam. Due to circumstances, the film loses it’s director and the actors navigate dangerous terrain all whilst believing they’re on set, filming. It makes for an amusing series of events with Stiller’s over-the-top character as the troop leader, Robert Downey Jr. playing as an African American as well as an Australian, and Jack Black as the comic relief that manages to shine in an already comical environment. The cast is what made this film memorable for me, considering that Ben Stiller both directed and produced it, you get the sense that he assigned cast members according to his friend’s list.  Not unlike an Adam Sandler movie that always includes Kevin James or Rob Schneider. It works because of the chemistry between cast members, you just know they’re goofing off both off and on camera and it just adds to the appeal of such a silly, action-packed movie.

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Gremlins – Available April 1st 

There are certain films that you are expected to know and love from your childhood, Gremlins is one of those films. Released two years after E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, it comes as no surprise to me that Steven Spielberg, creator of E.T. acted as an executive director. Gremlins starts off with the same basic idea of a strange alien creature falling into the care of a young character. The creature comes off as harmless, but before long starts to exhibit signs of becoming a threat to not only its young caretaker but the community it’s found itself in. Unlike E.T., Gremlins is less sci-fi and more horror in its portrayal of the strange creature and its ability to wreak havoc on the world and its inhabitants. For those nostalgic of the scary but comedic style of the 1980s, take the chance to relive them in a great watch for the family.

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Kubo and the Two Strings: Available April 8th

When I first saw the preview for Kubo and the Two Strings I immediately thought of animated favorites such as Caroline and The Nightmare Before Christmas that also featured unique animation styles. The plot follows a young eye-patched, Japanese boy named Kubo who lived in a cave with his sick mother near a small village in the mountains. He visited the village during the day to perform magic stories, acted out by using colorful paper sheets that resemble those used in the art of origami. When the sun fell, Kubo would return to the cave he occupied with his mother, heeding her warning to never stay out at night, for fear he would be found by his aunts and have his remaining eye stolen. Kubo soon finds himself thrown into a quest in searching for his father’s armor to guard against his aunts and grandfather, who seek to steal his eye, which seems to act as the origin of his magical abilities. Because of the unique art style and feudal Japan setting, I felt like the animations incorporated ancient Japanese puppet shows — especially with the character’s heads projected as more detailed and larger than the rest of their bodies and their hands often being the source of most movement and expression. Kubo and the Two Strings is a family film but is definitely darker than most Disney films these days, so be warned for young viewers. The story touches on mental illness, loss, death and physical impairment as the main character is partially blind. I have to admit I didn’t expect the film to conclude the way it did but it was still enjoyable for its original concept and flawless art style, it’s a refreshing change from what we commonly see in animations today and has been recognized as the 2016 Best Animated Film by the British Academy Awards and won the Academy for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Visual Effects.

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Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey – Available April 15th 

I rarely watch films more than once, but one of the few that I’m happy to watch every year is none other than the heartwarming tale of three pets, Shadow the Golden Retriever, Sassy the Siamese cat, and Chance the Pit Bull, who set out on a perilous journey to find their owners. As a pet owner (specifically of a Golden Retriever) I feel the immediate pull on my heartstrings when Shadow decides to take initiative in finding his owner the eldest child of the family, Peter. He fears for his safety when the farm owner who acts as their host leaves to work the fields on her farm, deciding to follow his senses to find Peter and the rest of the family. Sassy and Chance, not wanting to be left alone on the farm, follow Shadow. Before long you can see they clearly have the same dedication and selfless love for their owners as Shadow displays. Originally released the same year I was born (1993!), Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey will continue to be a timeless classic for any viewer, whether they be a pet lover or not or happen to be an adult watching with an adult, this film will offer an astonishing, charming story for anyone.

YouTuber Reggie Alarm’s Favorite Video Game Series of All Time

 On the eve of the release of Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD remix for PS4, I’m hardly able to sleep.  I’m so excited to revisit and relive some of my favorite memories from the series.  I shared with my significant other today that I have a slight obsession with the Square/Disney mash up.  I remember when I was just barely through my freshman year of high school when a 4-minute Japanese trailer for Kingdom Hearts 2 was released to the public.  It showed off some fast paced and stylish gameplay putting an emphasis on the combat.  It certainly had evolved from the previous game and I was loving it!  I gawked at that trailer for what must have been a whole year.  I dissected every second and frame with my brain trying to imagine how amazing it would be to fight Heartless once more.  After sharing that slightly embarrassing piece of life to my best friend, I had to ask myself, “Why do I love Kingdom Hearts so much?”

Let me start off by informing the reader that I have purchased every Kingdom Hearts game.  I even bought handheld consoles that I wouldn’t have bought otherwise.  If you are looking to try the game out, the best way someone described it to me is it’s like Zelda with deep RPG elements.  If you like Final Fantasy and don’t get put off by Disney cartoons then it’s worth a peek.

 I really enjoy playing through the games regardless of the convoluted mess of a narrative.  A friend from Montana recently asked me to try and clear up some of the story for him and I replied politely with, “Let me first explain the ending of Lost.”  I’m not confident that I understand the finer points of the Kingdom Hearts story and I’m not ashamed to say that.  I was ready every time a new game came out to jump right back in.  I am going to make a valiant effort to understand it a little better by playing the games in order of the timeline this go around.

The Disney worlds that Sora, Donald, and Goofy travel to are visually pleasing with each world adding it’s own unique flavor (exceptions being the Atlantis zones).  The most memorable worlds, for me, are Space Paranoids, Halloween Town, and Pride Rock because the characters look different in those areas.  Having Sora as a lion cub was a nice touch especially when he was breaking his neck swinging the Keyblade from his mouth.

Speaking of Keyblades, I always felt like Sora was progressing each time he got a new and better keychain.  I always tried to go for the Ultima-Weapon before taking on the last boss.  I remember the very first key chain I received after sealing the keyhole in the Tarzan world.  I still believe that it’s the perfect transition from the default Keyblade.  It rewards the player by giving them a taste of how strong and customizable the weapon can become. So satisfying!

I’ve discussed just a few of things that I appreciate about the series on a surface level. Why do I love these games so much?  Kingdom Hearts is more than just a game. Everyone experiences it differently. Maybe it’s a guilty pleasure or it’s like a bowl of chocolate ice cream on bad day. Kingdom Hearts was there to cheer me up when I was feeling lonely or out of place.  We all have our personal darkness that can be overwhelming at times. Sora, Donald, and Goofy remind us that we never have to face a challenge alone.  Though the darkness can be unyielding, a shimmer of light always makes it through.

Do you like Kingdom Hearts? Has it ever helped you through some rough patches? I want to hear your story. Please feel free to comment. I’m anxious to read your posts.

-Reggie Alarm

This has been Reggie Alarm’s second guest post on TGM. You can find more from him on his Twitch and YouTube channels. Look forward to more guest posts from Reggie in the future. Don’t forget to give us your opinion on the comment section below!

Apple’s New iPhone 7 Color Supports a Great Cause

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Photo by Apple: CC BY

For those out there who share my unspoken wish and hope of a greater color selection when it comes to your iPhone design, count your lucky stars because Apple has announced earlier this month that the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will be offered in a special edition (PRODUCT)RED finish, it’s now available for purchase in stores and online as of March 24th, 2017. You can see a sample of the red shade’s appearance with the iPhone 7 & 7 Plus build in the image to the left.

Besides providing iPhone users with a fun new color to use, all Apple (PRODUCT)RED merchandise sold will contribute to the non-profit, charity organization (RED)’s goal of ending AIDS in Africa. Apple has a history of supporting the (RED) organization in the past with a (PRODUCT)RED line that includes iPad Nano’s to Beats products and various accessories for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. (RED) CEO Deborah Dugan has confirmed that Apple is the most significant contributor to the fund, totaling over $130 million as of 2017. The funds will help provide meaningful Antiretroviral medication (abbreviated as ARV) to patients in Africa. A combination of ARV drugs can suppress and even cease the HIV disease in those infected. The official (RED) Facebook page states,”90 million cases have been impacted” thorough their program.

Apple claims, “100% of the profits raised by (RED) goes to the global fund that supports HIV/AIDS grants that provide testing, counseling, treatment and prevention programs.” Which initially sounds reassuring that funds from the (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 7 release will go directly to the cause — however the multi-national tech company failed to specify a contribution amount. It raises some concerns that Apple may not be as charitable as they’re acting out to be. With their steep projected earnings from the (PRODUCT)RED line they could easily outweigh their contributions to the cause they’re using to market a new product. Especially if their unnamed contribution numbers are minimal, to say the least.

iPhone 6

There’s a reference of iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 colors above that you can compare. It’s undeniable that Apple has nearly doubled it’s color choices with it’s latest iPhone release. The (PRODUCT)RED color is the first bold choice they’ve offered thus far and I’m excited to try it out when I upgrade from my iPhone 6s Plus soon, just in time for the colorful Spring season. As for measuring how far my purchase will go towards saving lives — I’ll have to wait and see if Apple will ever tell.