Eat. Draw. Relax. Cat. Bear witness.

There’s a giant Julie Feied painting hanging in the stairwell between the first and second floors of the Honolulu Museum of Art School.

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Having such a piece staring you in the face can only mean one thing: It’s time for what’s become an otaku staple around these parts, the annual MangaBento exhibit on the art school’s second floor. Julie’s painting is the first thing that greets you when you go up the stairs to see the exhibit, and every year I marvel at how much detail she manages to cram into her work. This year’s piece is even more impressive, considering how I can recognize many of the MangaBento regulars rendered as caricatures.

The theme for this, the ninth annual show by this group of anything-goes anime- and manga-inspired artists, is “Eat, Draw, Relax.” The gallery aesthetic, with its sky-blue cloths, cloud cutouts and a hanging lawn chair, reflects this theme.

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Thing is, though … there are also cats.

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Lots.

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Of.

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Cats.

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Which is totally fine! We here at Otaku Ohana embrace almost everything feline, canine, avian, marine and, umm, bunny. *pyon*

But we’re also all about the anime inspirations. And there’s plenty of that in the exhibit. Take Tina Huynh’s polymer clay piece “Dango Park,” which reminds me of a bunch of Kirbies from Nintendo’s Kirby franchise. Which makes me think of the Facebook page, “The same picture of Kirby every day to help you feel better.” And I feel better.

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There’s also Kalani Holland’s “Brynhildr in the Darkness New Year’s,” one of several holiday-themed ink-and-Copic pieces he has in the exhibit …

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… Olivia Hansen’s Amazing World of Gumball/Pokemon-inspired “Pigeons and Sheep” …

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… and Yoko Kanemoto’s “Cat” (there’s that reference to cats again!).

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If you want to check out the exhibit for yourself, your best opportunity this weekend will be at a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday in the exhibit space. Normally I’d refer to this as an “opening reception,” except the exhibit’s been up since the beginning of the month and is coming down a week after the reception on the 18th, so things are moving pretty quickly going forward. If you can’t make it on Sunday, the gallery’s accessible from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. next week (except perhaps Monday, since that’s a holiday).

The Honolulu Museum of Art is at 1111 Victoria St.; for more information, visit facebook.com/mangabento.

It’s time to move, Ingress agents … to the potluck

Seemingly lost amid the shuffle of the ebbing/flowing hype machine that is Pokemon Go is the fact that developer Niantic’s other massively multiplayer augmented reality phone game, Ingress, is still happily chugging along a shade over 4-1/2 years. That’s a long time for noble Enlightened agents to be visiting local landmarks, represented in the virtual world as portals, turning those green and creating links and triangular-shaped fields among them, only to have all their hard work erased by those dastardly Resistance-blue agents. (I might be slightly biased. Then again, you probably already knew that.)

So it’s time for a nice little celebration. The local Ingress community is hosting a “First Saturday” event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Ala Moana Beach Park, featuring pointers on how to play the game, player-versus-player battles, contests, prizes, a potluck lunch, and, of course, a small batch of the legendary, much-desired, rarely-doled-out “lilypad” pizzelles made by a certain Face of Hawaii Ingress ™. (I understand that alone is drawing out players who haven’t been seen playing the game in months.)

You can find the First Saturday gathering at Picnic Area 12. Here’s a map, drawn (naturally) in the context of the Ingress intel map.

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Consider it a warm-up for the as-yet-unnamed anomaly event coming to Honolulu on Saturday, Dec. 2, where local agents will join agents in other cities in claiming territory for their respective sides in a global effort to reclaim the scattered pieces of something or someone. It’s very complicated.

For more information, visit plus.google.com/u/0/events/cp0c4jggq53260rkk7c34t33lck. And while you’re visiting that site, sign up to bring something to the potluck! Especially you Resistance agents out there … your side is looking a little … sparse. (Worst-case scenario, there’s a lovely Foodland Farms that’s a short walk across the street. Just sayin’.)

Getting Ghibli with it (Consolidated remix)

It looks like that cluster of Studio Ghibli movies screening at Consolidated’s Kahala 8 complex — first noticed a few weeks ago while I was looking into Regal Cinema’s Studio Ghibli Fest — has, indeed, blossomed into A Thing.

Last Monday, Consolidated Theatres promoted Facebook events for two movies — Ponyo and Whisper of the Heart — branded with a “Studio Ghibli Summer Festival” logo. Events have since been created for all the movies screening through June. It isn’t related to the Studio Ghibli Fest, and it still isn’t as comprehensive as Consolidated’s all-theater-encompassing Studio Ghibli Festival last year, but the 11 movies being shown are key pieces of Ghibli lore … with, of course, Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro included. We’re probably at the point where you’re either really tired of seeing these same movies over and over again or just can’t get enough of seeing them on the big screen. For those of you who lean toward the latter, welcome back.

Your starting lineup:

  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: May 31 and June 1
  • Spirited Away: June 7-8
  • Ponyo: June 14-15
  • Whisper of the Heart: June 21-22
  • Princess Mononoke: June 28-29
  • The Cat Returns: July 5-6
  • Howl’s Moving Castle: July 12-13
  • The Wind Rises: July 19-20
  • My Neighbor Totoro: July 26-27
  • When Marnie Was There: Aug. 2-3
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service: Aug. 9-10

The English-subtitled versions of each movie will screen at 7 p.m. on the first day of their runs, followed by the English-dubbed versions at 2 p.m. on the second day. All of them are screening on Wednesdays and Thursdays, which makes it great for friendly neighborhood otaku bloggers who just happen to have those days off, perhaps not so much for people who have traditional weekday work shifts. Find out more and order tickets by visiting consolidatedtheatres.com/programs-and-events, clicking on a month and “Studio Ghibli Festival,” and proceeding from there.

A few final notes on the Regal Ghibli festival: You have until Wednesday to order Regal’s $60 series pass; the link changed since the last time I wrote about it, so you can find it here. Also, Hilo finally has confirmed screening dates! Yay!

Get your comic on with freebies statewide

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a movie based on a comic book series, is now out in theaters on this, the first weekend of May. And you know what happens when movies based on comics get released around this time of year: It’s time to promote the heck out of comics. Woo hoo!

On Saturday, various comic shops and libraries will be giving away a wide range of comic books as part of Free Comic Book Day. Some will even be hosting special events. It’s a tradition that’s run annually since 2002, and while some of the stores locally have changed over the years, the concept remains the same: give away comic books; expose readers to a wide range of series; get people into stores to peruse their stock.

This year’s manga-related offerings include excerpts from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess, Dragon Ball Super and Boruto from Viz, and excerpts from Attack on Titan from Kodansha Comics. Here’s this year’s list of what’s available; keep in mind that not all titles will be available at all locations. And try to buy something, will ya? While the books are free for customers, they aren’t for the retailers ordering them, so a bit of paid patronage certainly goes a long way in showing your appreciation for what they do.

Anyway! To the giveaways and events!

Comic book store events

Dragon's Lair flyerDragon’s Lair in Mililani (95-1840 Meheula Parkway, space E-10) will feature five, count ’em, five artists doing free sketches: Dwayne Acoba, Andrew Gutierrez, Kaci Horimoto, Reid Kishimoto and Jon Murakami. All current comics will be 25 percent off, with trade paperbacks and hardcovers going for 15 percent off. They open at 10 a.m.

Other Realms FCBD flyerOther Realms in Iwilei (1130 Nimitz Highway, suite C-140) will feature Free Isabelo, Roy Chang, Dowyne “DJ” Keawekane and Napua Ahina doing free sketches and paid commissions. First 50 people through the door will get a free button pin featuring the Tick and his trusty sidekick Arthur. There’s also going to be keiki face-painting (featuring SkinWars season 3 contestant Kyera Dalesandro), hourly door prizes, appearances by Legion of Shadows Hawaii cosplayers … and, of course, comic specials, with double points for Member Rewards card holders. They open at 10 a.m.

As far as I can tell, Choice Comics in Pearl City (98-1268 Kaahumanu St., suite 104) has the most liberal giveaway terms: a 10-comic limit per customer. They open at 10:30 a.m.

At Westside Comics and Games out in Kapolei (590 Farrington Highway, unit 538), you can get a maximum of three books … or you can sub out books for limited-edition Funko Pop and Heroclix figures. They open at 10 a.m.

Other stores on Oahu hosting FCBD giveaways include Collector Maniacs (3571 Waialae Ave., suite 102A) and Gecko Books & Comics (1151 12th Ave.), both in Kaimuki.

Two of the biggest players in comics on the neighbor islands are bringing their A games as well. Maui Comics & Collectibles in Kahului (333 Dairy Road, suite 102), celebrating its second anniversary, will feature James Silvani, author of Draw-a-Saurus and a comic artist whose series include Darkwing Duck, The Muppets, Ducktales, How to Train Your Dragon and Animaniacs, and Todd BernardyKukui Project artist, doing free sketches and signings. Also part of the festivities: the Second Annual Bruce Ellsworth Memorial Charity Auction. You can get some free samples at Mr. Pineapple next door, too! The festivities get underway at 10 a.m.

Finally, over in Hilo, Enjoy Comics (45 Pohaku St., unit 201) will have free grab bags with comics and other goodies for the kids, as well as giveaways throughout the day, starting at 10 a.m.

Library giveaways

20170503_162206Fifteen libraries on Oahu and nine on the neighbor islands will be participating this year; just show them your library card and you can get a comic (or maybe even two at some libraries!) for free. They’ll also have bookmarks (drawn by Michael Cannon this year), and most of the libraries will feature appearances from cosplayers from the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Imperial Legion, Rebel Legion Hawaii and the Costumers Guild of Hawaii.

Your starting lineup on Oahu: (deep breath in)

And on the neighbor islands: HiloKailua-Kona and Thelma Parker Memorial Public & School Library on the Big Island; Kahului, KīheiLahaina and Makawao on Maui; and Princeville on Kauai. Lanai Public & School Library will be represented at the Saturday Market from 8 to 10 a.m. at Dole Park.

Special events

nemu*nemu cartoonist Audra Furuichi will be signing and sketching at McCully-Moiliili Library from 10 a.m. to noon…ish. She’ll also have copies of nemu*nemu books available for the taking. Don’t feel like driving all the way out there? Her books will also be part of the FCBD assortments at — deep breath in again — Aiea, Aina Haina, Kailua, Kalihi-Palama, Kapolei, Liliha, Manoa, Mililani, Salt Lake-Moanalua, Waikiki-Kapahulu, Waimanalo, Waipahu and Wahiawa libraries on Oahu, and Hilo and Kahului on the neighbor islands. There’s a limited supply, so get them while you can. Distribution methods also may vary; Aiea’s young adult librarian/Face of Hawaii Ingress ™ Diane Masaki tells me she’ll be raffling off sets throughout the day.

Mililani Library will be hosting a free screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story starting at 2 p.m. We are the Force, and the Force is in us.

James Silvani will be signing and sketching from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Kihei Library on Maui. Looks like he’ll be stopping here before moving on to Maui Comics & Collectibles in the afternoon.

Local artist, storyteller and educator Keith U. McCrary will be hosting a cartooning workshop starting at 10 a.m. at Makawao Library on Maui. The program is geared toward ages 6 and up; children must be accompanied by a parent or adult caregiver.

Kailua-Kona Library will be hosting a cosplay contest in their Young Adult section, open to students from the 4th through 12th grades. Cosplay from any source is welcome! Registration runs from 10 to 10:30 a.m., with the competition (featuring audience participation!) running from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Two winners will each get a $25 Regal Cinemas gift card, perfect for seeing selections from the upcoming GKids Ghibli Film Fest.

Getting Ghibli with it

It’s been an … interesting past few weeks since I last posted something here on the Otaku Ohana blog. The first half away was spent working on a profile of Hitbox Music Ensemble (here’s the link for you subscribers out there) in advance of Kawaii Kon. The second half has been spent a) taking time to recover the introvert life-hearts I drained socializing at Kawaii Kon (trust me, it takes a lot out of me), b) finally seeing Your Name with the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction on Wednesday, and c) rigging up what I had intended to be a travel netbook computer as my primary computer after my former primary computer died a horrible, meltdown-y death … on the day before Kawaii Kon began. Fortunately, I’ve kept multiple backups of my archive of photos from events I’ve attended throughout my blogging career, so those are safe. But it’s probably going to be slow going for a while until I get things up to speed and pull enough pennies from my couch to get a new computer.

I’m finally back, though! And I come bearing news that there’s going to be another Studio Ghibli film festival rolling through our fair state. Here, have a trailer.

(By the way, is it just me, or does it sound like the voice-over guy says “Hi-yo Miyazaki?” Hi-yoooooooooo~~~! Ahem. Sorry. Pronunciation pet peeve.)

Ghibli logoGranted, the lineup for the GKids Studio Ghibli Fest isn’t nearly as comprehensive as Consolidated’s screen-all-the-things Ghibli Film Festival last year, but it’s still a chance to catch six favorites from the studio’s vault on the big screen. My Neighbor Totoro leads off on June 25-26, followed by Kiki’s Delivery Service July 23-24, Castle in the Sky Aug. 27-28, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Sept. 24-25, Spirited Away Oct. 29-30, and Howl’s Moving Castle Nov. 26-27. Those are all Sunday-Monday date combos; the English-dubbed versions will be screening locally at 12:55 p.m. on the Sundays, with the English-subtitled versions screening at 7 p.m. on the Mondays.

Three Regal theaters will be hosting the festivities this time around: Dole Cannery Stadium 18 in Iwilei, Makalapua Stadium 10 in Kona, and the lusciously luxe Kapolei Commons 12, with its reclining plush seating, upscale food offerings and Eating House 1849, La Tour Cafe and Gyu-Kaku just outside. Yum.

(It should be noted that Regal’s theater list includes a fourth venue, the Prince Kuhio 9 in Hilo, but no tickets are listed for sale there on Fandango for any of the series films. It’s not listed in the GKids site listings, either. Curious.)

Tickets are $12.50 each, but if you really want to go all in and commit to seeing every movie, Regal’s offering a $60 series pass that comes with what they’re calling “an exclusive decommissioned Spirited Away 35mm film cell,” plus 6,000 bonus points for Regal Crown Club members. There is a shipping cost involved; the cheapest that I can see is $2.50 for USPS first-class shipping, which keeps the cost per ticket lower than buying each show individually.

For more information or to buy individual tickets, visit gkidstickets.com/movies/.

That would be the end of the story if not for an anomaly I stumbled upon while I was poking around to see what was up with the Prince Kuhio listing: Tickets seem to be available for another Ghibli fest, this one at the Consolidated Kahala 8 theaters. Screenings of the English-subtitled movies begin May 31 and run most Wednesdays after that through Aug. 9 at 7 p.m., and include:

  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, May 31
  • Spirited Away, June 7
  • Ponyo, June 14
  • Howl’s Moving Castle, July 12 (with the dubbed version screening July 13 at 11 a.m.)
  • The Wind Rises, July 19
  • My Neighbor Totoro, July 26
  • When Marnie Was There, Aug. 2
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service, Aug. 9

The inclusion of Ponyo thrills me, because now I can stick this picture into the post. Call it a tradition of sorts around here.

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For tickets, visit ow.ly/utmN30bh0hR. Open the “pre-sale tickets” column on the right for the full listing of movies.

Keep an eye on that page and Consolidated’s social media in general, too … call it a hunch, but you’ve got to think some kind of formal acknowledgment of this is coming down the line. More theaters, perhaps? Are these the first shards we’re seeing of Consolidated Ghibli Film Festival 2017? And why is there almost a one-month gap between Ponyo and Howl’s Moving Castle? I can’t wait to find out …

“nemu*nemu” creator charts con-less path

Kawaii Kon released the first edition of its schedule for this year’s show on Friday, along with a spiffy new app (in both iOS and Android flavors!). Whenever big, juicy chunks of information like this drop in front of me, my friendly neighborhood anime/manga/Con-athon blogger instincts immediately kick in and I try to soak up every last newsworthy tidbit contained within.

And boy, was there something newsworthy in there. More specifically, there was something newsworthy in what wasn’t in there — a longstanding presence at Kawaii Kon, one that’s been around since 2007.

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After 10 straight years, there’s no sign of a nemu*nemu booth in the dealers room.

For artist Audra Furuichi, to not be a part of Kawaii Kon 2017 meant either that there was a mistake somewhere in the grand scheme of scheduling things, or she was shifting her resources elsewhere.

20150509_104733_editSadly for fans of Audra’s work, the latter is true. Unbeknownst to many of us at the time, the nemu*nemu appearances at the Hawaii Collectors Expo last month and the Mid-Pacific Institute Hoolaulea on Friday were the last we’ll be seeing for the immediate future. In addition to Kawaii Kon, that rules out appearances at other Oahu Con-athon events  — Comic Con Honolulu, Amazing Hawaii Comic Con and Anime Ohana — as well.

“No hard feelings to any of the shows — it’s just progressively gotten physically harder to do shows,” Audra told me via Facebook chat on Sunday. “Kinda lacking the endurance I used to have. I also don’t have new merchandise at the moment, so it was a good time to bow out.”

She also cited an evolving audience as a factor. The nemu*nemu online comic has been on hiatus since last July as she’s worked on other projects, and not as many people know about the plush pup duo as they did in the comic’s early years.

“Thought about doing the (Artist Alley), but the long hours and EXTREME COMPETITION OMGWTFBBQ … are big deterrents for me,” she said.

This doesn’t mean the end of all things nemu*nemu, though. Audra’s exploring swinging by Kawaii Kon for a day to drop off something for the art show. The nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii comic strip is still chugging along in the Star-Advertiser. And she’s been posting some pretty non nemu*nemu artwork at audrafuruichi.com.

audra patreonAnd then there’s Audra’s Patreon account, where she’s been sharing sneak peeks at Blue Hawaii strips, digital desktops and other artistic works since January 2015. It’s a way for fans to show their continuing support for her work; it can be difficult to focus on creating art and tending to the business side of things, after all. As of this writing, 61 patrons are contributing $522 a month. (Full journalistic disclosure: I’m one of Audra’s $25/month contributors.)

There’s now an added incentive for people to jump on board: If contributions reach $550 a month, she’ll start regularly drawing a one-shot nemu*nemu comic again, once a month. It’s a perfect incentive for the comic’s 11th anniversary coming up April 1, and all it’ll take is one person contributing $28 a month, or 28 people contributing $1 a month, or some happy medium in between.

Remember the Titans. Remember Your Name. SO MUCH TO REMEMBER.

It’s Stream-of-Consciousness Day here at Otaku Ohana, where I try to keep track of all the news that’s poured into Otaku Ohana Central these past few days or so and share it with y’all before the next wave of news washes in. On the road to Kawaii Kon and the beginning of Con-athon 2017, we’ve definitely hit rush hour. Set up your calendars accordingly.

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Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale in review

“O. M. G. That. Was. AWESOME!” the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction fan-gushed to me last night after we saw the big-screen adventures of Kirito and Asuna and their friends, and how yet another video game they’re playing goes rogue and threatens to kill all the players for realsies. (It comes complete with that buzzworthy end-credits teaser, too.) “You’re going to write something about it, right?!?”

Since I’m already writing up all these other news items, I suppose I will touch on it for a bit. If you’re a fan of video games, augmented reality games like Ingress or Pokemon Go, and/or action-adventure-dramas in general, you’ll want to watch this movie. It was $15 well spent. This applies even if you aren’t that familiar with the Sword Art Online franchise to date, and you’ve seen only a five-minute summary of season 1 (warning: the link’s a humorous commentary peppered with NSFW language and situations) like me or fewer. Also, I want a copy of the soundtrack, composed by the always-awesome Yuki Kajiura, nownownow.

If you missed last night’s screening, you have one more chance: 11 a.m. Saturday at the Consolidated Kapolei theaters. There’s also a screening at the same time at Consolidated Ward, but that’s already sold out, so get those tickets quickly. Will there be another chance to see it after that and before it inevitably ends up on home video? Hmm …

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Hawaii lands rare Attack on Titan compilation screenings

This story began as most about anime being screened theatrically do: an article from Anime News Network crossing my social media feeds.

“English-dubbed screenings scheduled for 19 theaters,” a sub-headline noted.

Whenever I hear about ultra-limited runs like these, my mind automatically starts going through the usual suspects: Somewhere in Los Angeles. Somewhere in San Francisco. New York. Funimation’s hometown of Dallas, of course. Probably a bunch of Alamo Drafthouse theaters. Hawaii? Probably an afterthought.

Well … surprise! Hawaii made it on the list, landing two of what’s since grown to 22 theaters nationwide — Consolidated Ward and Kapolei, specifically. That’s more than New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco combined (one in New York, none in the other two cities). Because we rock.

So here’s the deal: The English-dubbed movies will be screened over two days — part 1, Guren no Yumiya, on Monday, March 28; part 2, Jiyuu no Tsubasa, on Tuesday, March 29. Both of them recap the events that took place in the first season of the series and offer a preview of the second season. Tickets aren’t available yet, but I’ll try to keep you updated on when that happens. Tickets are available for Kapolei now! Here’s part 1, and here’s part 2.

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Your Name screening update

When last we left our coverage of Makoto Shinkai’s Oscar-ignored masterwork about two strangers whose lives are suddenly intertwined by fate, we knew that screenings in Hawaii were being set up in direct competition with Kawaii Kon weekend as part of ALL THE THINGS April. Even more details have emerged thanks to a Funimation Films update and new ticketing links, and … well, it’s looking more like you’re going to have some serious scheduling conflicts if you’re interested in seeing this movie and attending con. Consider:

  • Consolidated Kahala’s site has been updated with screenings listed from April 7-9 only — English dubbed at 11:40 a.m. daily; Japanese with English subtitles at 2:10, 4:40, and 7:10 p.m.; and a 9:10 p.m. show April 7-8.
  • Updated 2:30 p.m. 3/10! Consolidated Mililani screenings are available from April 7-9 — English dubbed at 11:20 a.m., Japanese with English subtitles at 1:45, 4:30, 7 and 9:30 p.m. daily.
  • Updated 2:30 p.m. 3/10! Consolidated Kapolei screenings — the first weeklong run confirmed, April 7-13! — are as follows: English dubbed at noon daily, Japanese with English subtitles at 2:25, 4:50, 7:15 and 9:45 p.m. daily.
  • Consolidated Ward and the Regal Dole Cannery theaters are also listed, with April 7 opening dates.

The Honolulu Festival’s otaku connection

Honolulu Festival logoIt’s Honolulu Festival time this weekend, which means it’s time for all of the usual events that come with the annual celebration of Asian and Pacific Rim culture, including:

  • Entertainment on stages at the Hawai’i Convention Center, Ala Moana Center and Waikiki Beach Walk on Saturday (here’s a schedule!)
  • A display of mikoshi, decorative floats unique to various prefectures of Japan that are hoisted by celebrants during festivals and parades
  • A craft fair and children’s games in the Ennichi Corner at the convention center
  • Kawaii Kon representatives on hand to sell three-day badges to next month’s convention (your last chance to buy them in person before the con!)
  • MangaBento hosting activities in the Kawaii Kon space
  • The Grand Parade down Kalakaua Avenue Sunday afternoon
  • The spectacular Nagaoka fireworks display Sunday night

And then there’s this guy.

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No, not Mad Moxxi from Borderlands on the right. We’re more concerned with Jibanyan, the spirit cat and one of the main characters from Yo-kai Watch, on the left. He’s been appointed by Hawaii Tourism Japan as children’s ambassador to Hawaii, so he’ll be making his way down to the convention center for the festival. He’ll be available for photo ops from noon to 12:30 p.m. and 3 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Cosplay 101 seminar at Pearl City Library

Do you have cosplay questions? Pearl City Library has cosplay answers for anyone interested in dressing up as their favorite characters, whether for Con-athon 2017 or beyond. Learn how to plan, modify and create your cosplay, and get some tips and tricks for a successful cosplay experience.

Interested? The seminar’s from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday at the library, 1138 Waimano Home Road. Call 453-6566 if you have any other questions about the event.