Wednesday, February 8, 2017

An Email from Suzie
The Tokidoki Connection
A Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

Part Seven

The Journal of Norinko Hanasaki
Featuring SANDy, Bastardino and Friends


As promised, our correspondent and contact, Suzie, friend of Norinko, has provided some information about the journal of her classmate. The company that made the notebook is called Tokidoki; it makes figurines, clothing, and school backpacks with characters from the Cactus Friends & Pets series. Earlier this year, I visited the "PUFF MONKEY", a store that carries the product in addition to "Hello Kitty", Marvel and DC characters, and the new Ju Ju line, to learn more about the characters. What I learned I've added to Suzie's email as photos of the various Tokidoki products.

Ciao Ciao & Adios (note no Cactus outfits, 
as they are always after the Cactus Friends)

However, it would be remiss of me to ignore the darker side of these figures. For instance, one character is Death, called "Adios" and another is Death's girlfriend, "Ciao Ciao". But I get ahead of myself. The Cactus Friends & Pets are children and their pets who wear cactus suits to protect themselves from the evils of the world and prevent Death from touching them. The characters are in constant bliss and joy in their perfect world. But the artist behind the Tokidoki figures, Simone Legno, an Italian artist, always blends a creepy side to the blissful surroundings. The logo for the line is itself a contradiction of opposites: A "heart and crossbones", a mix of a Valentine's symbol and a pirate's symbol. It is this contradiction that seemed to appeal to Norinko, and I must say, even to your host as well. I have become the avid collector of Tokidoki characters in plush dolls and ceramic figurines. It is not an inexpensive hobby. But enough about me. Let's get to the email. 

(Anthony Servante). 

The Heart & Crossbones (Life and Death together)

The Email:

From Suzie (2-8-17: reedited to include my photos).

Dear Mr. Servante,
I wanted to send you this email about Norie's love for her Tokidoki Friends. But first I wanted to share this poem that she wrote the last time we were shopping for Cactus Pets, the day she disappeared.

What will follow
Come tomorrow
Are the ashes
Of yesterday's lashes.

Norinko wrote this poem when we went shopping for Cactus Friends. She loved to buy Blind Boxes. Those are boxes that are completely sealed so you can't see what figurine you're getting till you open it. Inside the box is an aluminum packet, and inside the packet is your figurine. They cost around $15.00. And there are dozens and dozens of characters. While all the girls at the school were buying clothes or shoes, Norie was buying Cactus Friends and other Tokidoki stuff. She always paid with a prepaid card. Her allowance card. Her parents put in money in the card for her every week, usually on Monday. So, Monday, after school, we'd go straight to the shop at Santa Monica Place for more stuff. But we had to hurry so we wouldn't miss the bus.

A Tokidoki Blind Box

Cactus Pet "Notte" 
(Naughty? Notte, Italian for "Night"?)

The last time I saw her, I asked her if she wrote anymore poems. Strange but she said she didn't write poems. Other people did. She only copied what they said. Then she looked around as if she were looking for someone. I remember she shrugged and said no one was around to copy from. She bought a Bastardino figure that day. He's a little dog wearing a cactus suit that protects him from evil and death.

Bastardino Takes a Bite Out of Death

She said she liked that Bastardino wasn't afraid of Death with a capital "D". He chewed on Death's bones. Then she giggled and said, "I can't write that." The other girls in the shop giggled and pointed at Norie who was clutching Bastardino and staring at the door. The bell above the door sounded but no one came in or left. I pulled Nories sleeve and told her we can't miss the bus.

Norie disappeared June 13th, 2016, a Monday. We had just finished shopping for the Bastardino figurine. She didn't know she was going to buy that. That was just what came out of the Blind Box. She thought it was a sign of good luck and put the box in her backpack. But in my religion, they teach us that "luck" is not good or bad. It is both at the same time. You pray to avoid luck, because you take the good and the bad together when you're lucky. I said a prayer for Norie when we got on the bus. I didn't know that that would be the last time I would see her.

The Cactus Friends Notebook (front)

The Cactus Friends Notebook (inside)

I think I should tell you about Norinko's notebook. She came to school that day with a new copy of a Tokidoki Notebook. It came in the mail, she said. It was for her poetry and drawings of her version of the Cactus Friends. She called her characters the Plumage Pvnks. Yes, Pvnks with a "v", not a "u". They were kids and adults too that wore bird outfits that let them fly from danger. The Cactus Friends are kids and pets who fear the cold and scary world. They believe Evil with a capital "E" is everywhere and looking for innocent children and puppies and kittens. Death with a captial "D" looks for everyone young and old, guilty or innocent. Once Death touches you, it's adios and ciao.

To protect themselves, SANDy, the leader, wears a suit of cactus. Its sharp needles keep Death and Evil away. All SANDy's friends and her and her friends' pets also wear cactus suits. SANDy represents water and life, strong and weak. She knows that without the cactus suit, she will be killed, but as long as she wears it, she can protect the water that gives life to kids and plants. The Plumage Pvnks are kind of the same thing, but they can fly away from Evil and Death with a capital "E" and a capital "D".

Next time I'll send you some drawings that Norie gave me of the Pvnks. So stay in touch with me. Me and Bridget are the only ones who are talking about this.

The other kids on the bus that day don't want to talk about it, but if they change their minds I will tell them to email you. I told them about your blog. I know they look at it. They just won't talk about it.

Next month is one year since Norie disappeared. Her parents and mine and Bridget's are getting together at our Temple in Santa Monica. I know in my heart that Norie will come back to us by then, I pray for it everyday, but with luck, you accept the good with the bad, the hope with the despair, so I want to invite you to the Temple, June 11, 2017. Send me your home address and I'll send you a paper invitation that you'll need to get in. Thank you again for keeping the memory of Norie alive.

Please please stay in touch.
Your friend, Suzie


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