Ready or not, here we Kon

The banners are hung on light poles around the Hawai’i Convention Center, the schedule’s been posted online, and #KawaiiKon has been getting a fair amount of use on Twitter in recent days, which can mean only one thing: Kawaii Kon weekend is upon us, and we are … ready? Sort of?

It’s already proving to be a Kawaii Kon like no other. Con officials opted to maintain COVID-19 safety protocols, including mask-wearing and requiring either proof of vaccination or a negative test, which prompted some people to opt out. Not everyone willing to play by the rules is coming back, either; I know some of you out there are sitting out this year, not quite sure if now’s the time to return to large-scale events when the COVID threat never really fully went away.

But as they say, the show must go on. And for the 16th time since this con began in 2005, Wilma and I will be experiencing … well, not everything, since that’s been impossible since even year 1. But we can certainly give you highlights! (Also, be sure to swing by my Instagram page to see photos throughout the weekend.) Here’s just some of what piques our interest this year.

Nothing says “holy cats this con is totally real and it’s happening and it’s TOTALLY UNFOLDING AROUND ME” like watching artists set up their spaces during con setup Thursday. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

Artist Alley (yes, the whole thing!)
Friday: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Exhibit Hall

One of the advantages of going to an in-person con again is that you have a chance to chat with your favorite artists, catch up with what they’ve been up to, and perhaps even pick up whatever new things they’ve produced since the last time you saw them. There’s also a certain thrill that comes with finding new artists that have a print or a sticker or whatever that just hits you in those “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY” feels and establishing a rapport with them that ends up lasting years.

… or, of course, just throw Kirby on something, and I’ll buy it. Those of you who know me just know that’s A Thing with me. In any event, I’ll be browsing quite a bit this weekend. — Jason

Everything DEMONDICE
Panel: Friday, 2:45 p.m., Room 311
Concert with Teddyloid: Saturday, 9 p.m., Main Events

I’d not heard of this 25-year-old rapper/singer/animator/music video producer before she was announced for this year’s con. Apparently there are a good number of people who have heard of her, though. Consider that on Monday, three tiers of VIP meet-and-greet packages went on sale: 20 $200 packages, 55 $145 packages, and 100 $75 packages.

The packages sold out in less than 48 hours.

After listening to some of her music, I can see why she’s popular. Take her most popular video on YouTube, “Alkatraz,” which matches her rapping/lyrical/animation skills with a catchy electro-swing beat:

Here’s hoping there’s enough room for me to stop by and learn more about her. — Jason

Twitch Hawaii Presents: KyoItami
Friday, 3 p.m.

Of course Hawaii has Twitch streamers! Although I follow only a couple of local streamers, I try to support the community when I can. Combine that with the love that we here at Otaku Ohana have of speedrunning, and KyoItami’s “Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix” run is an event to watch.

It’s also a randomizer, which means that, depending on what settings KyoItami chooses, anything from items to abilities to entire towns will be in random locations. Randos add another layer of amazement and hilarity to speedruns and are always great fun to watch. — Wilma

The Princess Bride: Battle of Wits
Friday, 9 p.m.
Room 316

Certainly, I enjoy “The Princess Bride” the movie. However, this is the first I’ve heard of “The Princess Bride” the board game. Its seemingly simple yet tricky premise of trying to (figuratively) poison other players draws me into at least watching, if not participating.

(My lack of bluffing skills means I certainly would not go up against a Sicilian — or anyone, really — when death is on the line, haha.) — Wilma

Avatar Panel: Jessie Flowers, Jack DeSena, Grey DeLisle
Saturday, 11:30 a.m.
Room 315

The chance to see not one, but THREE voice actors from “Avatar: The Last Airbender”? Yes, please! Making their Kawaii Kon debuts are the voice actors for Toth (Jessie Flowers) and Sokka (Jack DeSena), accompanied by the return of the VA for Azula (Grey DeLisle). I’ve missed several past appearances by Dante Basco (who voiced my favorite character, Zuko) so I’m looking forward to what will be my first “Avatar” panel. — Wilma

Live Art Auction
Saturday, 1 p.m.
Room 311

Remember everything I said above about Artist Alley? Take that pretty art and then put it up for sale to the highest bidder for another in-person experience that has to be seen to be believed. You can get some pretty good bargains sometimes, and entertainment from the bidding wars that break out at other times. And then you get those “Yu Yu Hakusho”-tier bidding wars where two people are willing to bid hundreds against each other in an attempt to win a signed SOMETHING from that series. Fun stuff. — Jason

Adventures of a Blonde Geisha Podcast with Lisle Wilkerson
Saturday, 3:15 p.m.
Room 315

Nine years ago, Lisle Wilkerson made Kawaii Kon 2013 the Year of the “KYAAAH~!” She’s been back many times since as a translator for many of the con’s Japanese guests, and this year, she has a fresh creation in tow: her new podcast, “Adventures of a Blonde Geisha,” focusing on her experiences as a “TCK” (third culture kid) born in the United States, raised in Japan, and trying to navigate between the two cultures. I’m looking forward to hearing about another side to a longtime con fixture. — Jason

The Princess Bride: I Hate to Kill You
Saturday, 4 p.m.
Room 316

ANOTHER tabletop game based on “The Princess Bride”?! Clearly, I have been living under a video-game rock. This game has players re-creating various duels from the movie, but adds in dice and cards that could change the outcome of each battle. — Wilma

K-Pop Dance Workshop
Saturday, 4:45 p.m.
Room 318

Ever since the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction went from “Who’s this group on 99.1 now?” to “Now listening to #Jungkook of #BTS sing #StayAlive produced by #Suga also of @BTS_twt” over the span of the pandemic, I’ve been paying a lot more attention to the tight choreographies of K-pop groups. K-Era, a local K-pop dance cover group, will teach attendees a simple routine, followed by “K-pop Random Play Dance,” in which, as the panel description notes, “fans can come out to the middle of the floor and dance to a playlist of recent and/or old K-pop songs, without knowing the order or song that’ll play.” While I’m too much of an uncoordinated doof to think about taking part in the dance class, that random dance portion has me curious to peek in for a bit. — Jason

A Brief and Largely Fictitious History of eSports
Saturday, 5:45 p.m.
Room 311

The rise of esports has drawn its fair share of criticism, but there’s no doubt that it is a huge — and I mean HUGE — industry. I’m certainly not expecting to hear much in the way of accuracy, but I am looking forward to an hour of humor. — Wilma

NANO concert
Saturday, 7:30 PM
Main Events

Kawaii Kon has been a source of popular-yet-unknown-by-me musical gems, and it continues that tradition with the introduction of J-rock singer NANO. This hourlong concert also helps mark NANO’s 10th year as a musical artist, with a robust catalog of songs featured in various anime and video games. — Wilma

Screen capture via

Twitch Hawaii Presents: kekumanshoyu
Sunday, noon
Room 313

Remember what I said earlier about following only a couple of local Twitch streamers? Kekumanshoyu is one of them. Over the years, we’ve watched his channel and his reputation grow to being recognized by some of the world’s top “Metroid” series speedrunners. Keku will be putting his skills on display with a no-major-glitches run of “Metroid Dread” for the Nintendo Switch. — Wilma

All of these characters represented in the official 20th Anniversary artwork, and there’s still nowhere to place Lana Skye? COME ON, PEOPLE. Courtesy Capcom.

Ace Attorney: Turnabout Let’s Play!
Sunday, 3 p.m.
Room 315

Speaking of anniversaries, this year marks the 20th (or so) for the “Ace Attorney” video game series, which may not be as popular as other Capcom franchises, but has a devoted following nonetheless. Among other things, this panel promises to bring the games’ wacky hijinks to live action with some voice acting and improv. TAKE THAT! — Wilma

Hello from the other side

*clears out cobwebs*

*turns on flickering light bulb*

… Well. It’s been a hot minute, hasn’t it?

When last we posted something in this space … *runs quick calculation* … more than 700 days ago(!), we were beginning to coming to terms with the fact that we were dealing with the most profound health crisis to affect our generation. In the span of a few months, we went from this scene at Amazing Comic Con Aloha …

Artist Alley at Amazing Comic Con Aloha, Feb. 23, 2020. If I had known this would be the last in-person con I’d attend for more than 2 years, I probably would’ve gotten more pictures. And better ones. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

… to attending virtual online events, like this screenshot captured during the first of what would be several mini-cons hosted by Comic Jam Hawaii.

Michael Cannon and Jon Murakami offer opening remarks at the first Comic Jam Hawaii Online Mini-Con, May 29, 2020. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

Just like that, the Con-athon era gave way to the Great Introverting. It was the classic meme cry come to life: “INTROVERTS UNITE! … separately! … in your own homes!” … except everyone, from social cocooners to social butterflies, had to do it. 

It seemed like a good time to put the blog into hibernation for a bit. When to bring it OUT again, though, was another matter entirely. A peek into the Otaku Ohana drafts folder reveals a wasteland of abandoned posts resembling the environment of [fill in the name of your preferred post-apocalyptic wasteland-containing movie, TV show, book, or video game here]. There certainly wasn’t a lack of subjects to write about … it’s just that the time and desire to write about them just wasn’t there. Add in the grueling nature of pandemic news and the fact that pretty much ANY dialogue on the Intarwebz in recent years has a tendency to turn toxic at some point, and you can understand why I’ve had this image on file for use in group chats:

I’m not sponsored by Teeturtle or anything like that, but I must say their T-shirt designs capture how I’m feeling more often than not. I bought TWO shirts with this design! Image via

But nature is healing and we’ve been slowly emerging, albeit with masks on, several squeezes of hand sanitizer, a 6-foot radius of social distancing, and COVID-19 vaccination cards or proof of negative tests in hand. Large-scale events have been cautiously returning as well, starting with Maui Comic Con at the Maui Seaside Hotel and Geekcraft Expo at the Hawai‘i Convention Center last December. The “Pineapple Man and Friends” showcase of local comic artists has been running this month at The ARTS at Marks Garage, and next weekend brings the biggest test to date of the new normal: Kawaii Kon is BACK, BABY.

And now we’re back, too. (Well, Wilma is, anyway; Lancen is off teaching kids in Japan, and we hope he’s continuing to do well with that.) 

Granted, things will be different. In ramping up to write this post, I realized that Wilma and I have been writing about this scene for around 20 years now. Back then, we were eager young 20-somethings who wanted to share everything we could about the anime/manga scene and what was happening locally. Now, we’re in our mid-40s, solving our Wordles, calculating permanent partial impairment ratings of the left shoulder based on range-of-motion limitations, harassing lawyers to get that missing MRI report to help in doing said calculations, and deciding whether to get the Lego Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block or apply the money toward our 401(k) accounts instead. Adulting!

We understand our roles as leading-edge “influencers,” as I think the younger folk call it, are greatly diminished these days. Heck, I’d be happy if this post gets more than 20 hits over the next few days. We also know there are SO many more outlets where you can get your fandom news, both locally and on a grander scale.

So we’re not going to attempt to be the first with any news, or to be the most comprehensive source out there. We are, however, going to share whatever catches our attention … definitely on a more frequent schedule than 700+ days between posts. And if I break that promise, you can pelt me with Kirby merchandise whenever you see me in person to get me to write more. I’ll be sure to send Wilma occasional steaks, bowls of ramen, and shoyu chicken to encourage her as well.

Welcome back to Otaku Ohana. We have a lot to talk about. 

We’re back! We’re sequestered! Let’s watch stuff.

If you’re reading this, congratulations! You’ve managed to survive the first four months of one of the most cursed years in the history of humanity, AND yet another extended stretch between Otaku Ohana blog posts. I’d offer you a cookie, but it looks like the term “social distancing” is going to be part of our lives for a while longer, so to reward yourself, go support whatever local businesses you can instead, if you’re able. They could use the help.

So why have I been gone for so long? It’s a long story, and one that’s been sitting in my “drafts” folder for several weeks now. Maybe I’ll finish writing that and publish it some other time. Or maybe we’ll go another eight months between posts. I don’t know. The world’s gone crazy. KYAAAAAAAAAH

… umm. Ahem.

The point is, how are you coping with life these days? We’re entering another month of mandated sheltering in place; a month where we were supposed to have Free Comic Book Day and Kawaii Kon at that. The former is off the calendar for this year, while the latter is, for now, scheduled to do the Dragon Ball Z Fusion Dance with Comic Con Honolulu and take place Aug. 7-9, although we realistically could just be waiting for a legal “act of God” to kick in at some point.

There are a few ways to fill in those holes this weekend, though. Serving as a replacement for Free Comic Book Day is Alt FCD, a Facebook group that’s hosting streaming panels, comic creator Q&As, and — perhaps the biggest draw of all — a repository of dozens of free independent comics. The catch is that the group only exists for two days, today and tomorrow, May 1-2. So grab those comics quickly.

If you’re missing Kawaii Kon, there’s a virtual anime con, Anime Lockdown, taking place this weekend, with special guests Veronica Taylor (the original English voice of Pokemon’s Ash) and Kyle Hebert. Here’s their programming schedule; here’s a list of panel descriptions. They’ll be broadcasting live at until around 12:30 p.m. Hawaii time Sunday.

And then there’s Concellation 2020, the 32,000-plus-member Facebook group from which I bought the lovely con badge that you see at the top of this post. The tongue-in-cheek creation of Christopher Ambler, Concellation bills itself as “The SF&F con that’s always cancelled. Celebrate the con that never was – cancelled before it was even announced, Concellation 2020 is the event you wish you could have pre-opposed!” It’s been a great online venue to celebrate con culture and the various fandoms under its umbrella, and, for me at least, a nice way to break up a fair amount of doom and gloom that’s been constant on my Facebook timeline.

There’s so much more going on to keep people entertained in down times, but I’ll leave it at that for now. I just wanted to prove to myself that, y’know, I could still churn out one of these posts after so long. And apparently I can! Small victories. Hope all is well with you all, and hope to be back here again with another post sometime somewhat sooner…ish.

Ten years of Mini Con? TEN YEARS?!?

I’m not going to make any excuses — things have felt different around Otaku Ohana Central for the past few months.

It’s certainly not for lack of content. So much has come and gone since I last wrote anything in this space. There are many fragments of posts about various events sitting in the “drafts” folder and photos sitting in my phone, but I just haven’t been motivated enough to see any of them through to completion and publication. Lancen went off to teach in Japan as part of the JET program, and tag-team partner in fandom Wilma W. and I haven’t had much mental energy left to spare after work to write much of anything after we both left the paper.

It’s one thing to re-share various announcements on the Otaku Ohana Facebook page (still very much a thing!) or to post pictures from various events on my Instagram feed so you can live vicariously through what I experience (also still very much a thing!). It’s another matter entirely, particularly these days, to generate a few hundred words about things that I really care about and want you, dear dedicated reader who’s actually stuck around this long waiting for new content, to know about as well.

But hey! Guess what! Something’s finally motivated me to write something again! So here are a few hundred words about a thing etc. etc. etc.: Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library, an event I’ve covered for the past …

*checks notes* …

*rechecks notes* …


Photo courtesy McCully-Moiliili Library.

Seriously, though, double-digit lifespans for pop-culture events are difficult to come by in this town. Only Kawaii Kon, which kicked off the modern era of such local events and held its 15th annual show earlier this year, has lasted longer.

Here’s what I wrote about the event in Cel Shaded (remember when that column was still A Thing?) in October 2010:

Mini Con, running from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the library, is being held in celebration of Teen Read Week, the Young Adult Library Services Association’s annual initiative to encourage literacy.

When I heard about Mini Con’s venue, I knew there was one person I had to get in touch with right away: Hillary Chang, the library’s young-adult librarian and acting branch manager. Those of you who stopped by the Hawaii State Library table at Kawaii Kon’s Artist Alley earlier this year might remember Chang as the librarian cosplaying as Yotsuba Koiwai, the eternally cheerful green-haired child star of must-read manga series “Yotsuba&!”

Chang is bringing in three local artists for a meet-and-greet:

» Audra Furuichi, co-creator and artist of the popular plush pup Web comic “nemu*nemu.”

» Jon J. Murakami, Star-Advertiser cartoonist, illustrator and creator of the “Gordon Rider” comic series.

» Kevin Sano, a T-shirt designer with Crazy Shirts who’s also done some designs featuring Kikaida and Kamen Rider.

“It’s more like a ‘Mini Artist Alley,’ but ‘Mini Con’ is so much easier to say!” Chang told me via e-mail.

By Hillary’s estimate, around 60 people attended Mini Con that first year. Last year, around 400 showed up. Other things changed over the years as well: Audra’s now the artist of the popular plush pup Star-Advertiser comic “nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii”; Jon’s added the Ara-Rangers, Edamame Ninjas, and Wasabi Magazine’s “What’s Up, Wasa*bee?” comic to his repetoire; and Kevin’s moved from designing shirts to selling comics at Idea’s Music and Books in Kakaako.

Brady Evans sells prints at Mini Con. Photo courtesy of McCully-Moiliili Library.

All three of them will be back for Mini Con 10, happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the library at 2211 S. King St. Joining them are several other repeat guests — Brady Evans, Tara Tamayori, and Derick “7Sketches” Fabian — and this year’s new-to-Mini Con invitee, the Hawaii Saber Academy, taking Star Wars lightsabers and turning them into tools for a pretty good workout. Instead of Teen Read Week, they’ll all be helping celebrate a bigger milestone: McCully-Moiliili Library’s 50th anniversary.

You’ll want to go around and meet everyone, too; back for another year is the stamp card rally, where you can get a free comic book in exchange for a filled card. You can also enter to win a giant gift basket, and bid on original artwork, books, and other items in a silent auction.

Normally this is the part where I would recommend arriving early for the best parking spaces, carpooling, or taking public transportation, but there’s an additional option this year: The library’s giving out passes for free parking at Ross Dress For Less across the street (top level unreserved stalls only, second level away from entrance), so there’s that.

Questions? Call 973-1099.

Pop Culture Expo is a Go!

Meanwhile, in the rapidly expanding Mini Con-esque event category, both sides of Pearlridge Center — Phase 1 Uptown Mauka and Phase 2 Downtown Wai Makai — are hosting the Pop Culture Expo during business hours Saturday and Sunday. A number of fan-favorite artists and vendors from local convention Artist Alleys will be there — off the top of my head, I can think of Kawaii Mono, Trinigrafx, Roy Chang, Mana Comics, Headshot Heroes, and Michael Cannon. Cosplaying is encouraged, too! Admission is free.

The Otaku Ohana Best-to-my-Knowledge Local Guide to Free Comic Book Day 2019

Free Comic Book Day is on Saturday, and … well, there’s a lot to talk about. This format worked pretty well when I used it last year, and I’m all about keeping intact what isn’t broken (and perhaps even improving on it a bit), so let’s get straight to it, shall we?

The concept!

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 event is tied in to the sequel to that little art film about a big bad giant purple dude, the aftermath of him wearing his pretty sparkly glove, and those guys who didn’t start the fire fighting him over it. You might have heard of it. It snapped its fingers and made pretty much every other movie playing in theaters disappear.

FCBD 19 bookmark sample 4
Bookmarks drawn by Alan Low. (Courtesy Comic Jam Hawaii)

The comics!

There are 53 of them in a variety of flavors, from A Sheets Story to Zagor: The Alien Saga, with a bunch of mainstream properties and indie darlings and yes, even manga in between. You can find a complete list on the Free Comic Book Day website.  If you need help choosing — can’t expect to pick up all 53 comics at one place, after all! — Glen Weldon at NPR has his annual handy guide on what to seek and what to skip.

Oh, and while you’re picking up your free comics, don’t forget to buy something from your store of choice as well, While the books may be free for you, they cost the stores money to pick them up. And shop owners kinda need all the help they can get.

The participants!

There are giveaways and events on five out of seven populated islands in the state (sorry, Molokai and Niihau). Many locations will be giving away bookmarks from a 210-bookmark(!) set drawn by Comic Jam Hawaii artists, samples of which I’m scattering throughout this post. Here are each island’s highlights.



The hotbed of local FCBD activity, as it has been ever since the store moved to Iwilei, is Other Realms (1130 Nimitz Highway, suite C-140). Festivities there run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Other Realms is hosting so many artists, I need to go into bullet-point mode to properly list them:

  • Marvel colorist David Nakayama (10 a.m.-3 p.m.)
  • Contraptor artist Free Isabelo
  • Cacy & Kiara/Highball & Pepe artist and Boudin sourdough aficionado Roy Chang
  • Game of Thrones illustrator Mog Park
  • Anh Vu and Josh Villanueva, two West Oahu artists being mentored by Mog who are really, really good. Seriously, here’s Anh’s Instagram feed, and here’s Josh’s. Soooooo much pretty pretty artwork. *grabby hands*
  • Mysterious Things artist Napua Ahina
  • Exillion artist DJ Keawekane

The first 50 customers through the door will receive an Avengers button pin. There will also be door prizes (must be present to win), and loyalty program members will get double points on their purchases.

Since it’s also Star Wars Day (May the 4th, get it?), Ludosport Hawaii will hold lightsaber combat demos  at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and there will be demos and pick-up games of Star Wars: Legion.

Oh, yeah, and don’t forget: You still can’t spoil the Endgame there.


Dragon’s Lair (95-1840 Meheula Parkway, suite E-10, Mililani) has its own set of artists offering artwork and free sketches from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Gordon Rider/Ara-Rangers/Star-Advertiser “Calabash”/Wasabi Magazine “What’s Up, Wasa*bee?” artist Jon Murakami, Bandit artist Kaci Horimoto, Dwayne Acoba, and Reid Kishimoto. All comics and graphic novels will be 25% off.

Collector Maniacs (3571 Waialae Ave., suite 102A, Kaimuki) is offering a bundle of comics worth at least $30 for free when you buy at least $25 of merchandise.

And finally, technically this isn’t really a Free Comic Book Day event, but Mana Comics will be represented there, so I’ll count it: City Square Shopping Center in Kalihi (1199 Dillingham Blvd., Kalihi) will be hosting the Star Wars Day-themed May the 4th Be With You from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Stop by From the Heart Hawaii for discounts on neat nerdy collectibles, too! A portion of all sales will benefit Special Olympics Hawaii.

Other participants (public library category):

  • Aiea Library, 99-374 Pohai Place (where there’s still plenty of parking and a big horking sugar molecule out front)
  • Aina Haina Library, 5246 Kalanianaole Highway
  • Hawaii Kai Library, 249 Lunalilo Home Road
  • Kailua Library, 239 Kuulei Road
  • Kalihi-Palama Library, 1325 Kalihi St.
  • Kapolei Library, 1020 Manawai St.
  • Manoa Library, 2716 Woodlawn Drive
  • McCully-Moiliili Library, 2211 S. King St.
  • Mililani Library, 95-450 Makaimoimo St.
  • Nanakuli Library, 89-070 Farrington Highway
  • Salt Lake-Moanalua Library, 3225 Salt Lake Blvd.
  • Wahiawa Library, 820 California Ave.
  • Waikiki-Kapahulu Library, 400 Kapahulu Ave.
  • Waimanalo Public & School Library, 41-1320 Kalanianaole Highway
  • Waipahu Library, 94-275 Mokuola St.

Many of these libraries will have cosplayers stopping by for photo ops throughout the day.

Other participants (non-library category):

  • Choice Comics, 98-1268 Kaahumanu St., suite 104, Pearl City: 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Gecko Books, 1151 12th Ave., Kaimuki: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
  • Westside Comics and Games, 590 Farrington Highway, #538, Kapolei: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

FCBD 19 bookmark sample
Bookmarks drawn by Robert Jacob. (Courtesy Comic Jam Hawaii)


Maui Comics & Collectibles (Queen Kaahumanu Center, 275 W. Kaahumanu Ave., Kahului), open from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., will be hosting a quartet of creators throughout the day: Fields of Eleria card game creator Aaron Nakahara from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Kukui Project artist Todd Bernardy starting at 10 a.m., cosplayer Night Darling from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Disney artist James Silvani starting at 2 p.m. Cosplayers from Imagination Reality will be stopping by from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m.

It’s been almost a year since Game Over Comics (277 Wili Ko Place, suite 233, Lahaina) debuted on Free Comic Book Day, and they’re back with more fun events from noon to 6 p.m., including 20% off everything in-store and raffle prizes every 30 minutes. Video gamers will want to come for the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament starting at noon, and Tekken 7 play via Maui Gaming at 2 p.m. Star Wars Day tie-ins, hosted by Imagination Reality, include cosplay pictures at 4 p.m. and Jedi Training at 5 p.m.

Library participants:

  • Kahului Library, 90 School St. Learn how to transform old comics into neat accessories from 1-3 p.m. You can also bring in items like notebooks, pictures, and shoeboxes to cover in comic pages, too, in the art of decoupage.
  • Kihei Library, 35 Waimahaihai St. You can also meet James Silvani from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Lahaina Library, 680 Wharf St.
  • Makawao Library, 1159 Makawao Ave.

FCBD 19 bookmark sample 2
Bookmarks drawn by Megan Enos. (Courtesy Comic Jam Hawaii)


Enjoy Comics (Prince Kuhio Plaza, 111 E. Puainako St., suite 715) will be giving away swag bags with hidden-ticket prize giveaways and feature cosplayer appearances throughout the day, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Library participants:

  • Hilo Library, 300 Waianuenue Ave.
  • Kailua-Kona Library, 75-138 Hualalai Road. Artist/illustrator Wayne Lo will be drawing chibi art from 10-11 a.m. in the children’s room, followed by a workshop on drawing comic faces for teens in the young adult room from 11 a.m-noon.
  • Thelma Parker Library (Waimea), 67-1209 Mamalahoa Highway

FCBD 19 bookmark sample 3
Bookmarks drawn by Michael Cannon. (Courtesy Comic Jam Hawaii)


Kauai library participants:

  • Hanapepe Library, 4490 Kona Road
  • Princeville Library, 4343 Emmalani Drive

Finally, representatives from Lanai Library will be at the Saturday Market at Dole Park from 8-10 a.m.

Good luck and stay safe getting those comics, folks.

Kawaii Kon 2019: Don’t worry, be app-y

We’re two weeks away from local con sempai Kawaii Kon kicking off at the Hawai’i Convention Center for its 15th year of ani-mayhem and manga madness. Many of you may be running around like headless chickens as I’m typing this, trying to finish up those last pieces of artwork, hemming those last seams for your weekend cosplay, and wondering when the powers that be will release a schedule so that you know when you can tell your friends, “Sorry, can’t go to lunch now, Aya Hirano’s speaking in Room 315.”

Well, I can help with that last part, at least. Because the Kawaii Kon 2019 smartphone app has quietly gone live on an app store near you, in both iOS and Android flavors. Here, have a spiffy-looking opening splash screen.

KKon app

The app’s debut also marks the debut of this year’s schedule. It’s not the complete schedule — more events will be added in coming days — but there’s certainly more than enough to get started on your custom agenda (which you can also build within the app). Want to learn more about a panel? Click on it to pull up a screen with more information.

KK app 2

(Shout-out to Hitbox Music Ensemble, by the way.)

It should also be noted that the app seems like it’s a work in progress. Profiles of this year’s guests have been posted, as well as lists of artists in Artist Alley and vendors in the Dealers Room, but as of now, there’s no easy way to cross-reference where everyone’s going to be at a given point in time. If you’ve downloaded previous years’ versions of the app, you may have to re-register an account; I didn’t have a prior version on my phone to test this out, but it seems like this year’s app is a fresh download built on new infrastructure, rather than an updated version of last year’s app.

There’s still plenty to play with, though, and there’s plenty of time for new features to be added. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go cancel any lunch plans I had for con Sunday. Because, you know, Aya Hirano. *squee!*

Aloha to a friend of local comics journalism

We’re sorry to report the passing today of author, musician, journalist, historian, artist, and all-around great guy Burl Burlingame. That’s him in the red shirt above, in a photo I took from the last time I saw him: performing as lead singer of Motley Uke, a local ukulele rock band, at Anna O’Brien’s last August.

Burl’s death is worth noting in this space because of how much he meant to the local comic scene. As tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. reminded me while we were chatting online this morning, “If not for him, we wouldn’t have been able to grace the pages of a major metro paper with our anime/manga/game obsessions.”

Indeed, he was a key figure responsible for two developments that resonate to this day. The first was the creation of “Drawn & Quartered,” the column in the Sunday edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin where Wilma and I wrote much of our early material for the paper. As Burl wrote in the inaugural column:

There are two wholly American art forms: jazz music and the “comic” or graphic-based literature. Both are about a century old. There’s not much we can do about jazz around here, but we can take the comics medium seriously. It was born in the newspaper medium, after all, and the Star-Bulletin has always taken the lead in presenting groundbreaking strips, with “Mutt and Jeff” even before the Star married the Bulletin in 1912.

Which, in a single bound, brings us to this column. “Drawn and Quartered” will run every Sunday and deal with the graphics medium and its assorted spinoffs, byproducts and fallout, such as anime, video games, animation, comic books, collectibles, manga, cartooning, comics-influenced movies and television, and whatever else appeals to our glazed eyes.

“Drawn & Quartered” was one of the factors that led to the birth of my weekly anime/manga column, “Cel Shaded,” in 2005, which in turn led to the origins of the blog you’re reading right now. I’m also convinced that it was on the basis of what we wrote for “Drawn & Quartered” that an editor at Rough Guides saw fit to pitch to us an idea that eventually became my book, The Rough Guide to Manga.

The second development: locally sourced comic strips published in the Sunday paper. That started in the Star-Bulletin in mid-May 2001 with a comic drawn by a man Burl called “Hawaii’s jedi master of cartooning,” Dave Thorne, and continues to this day, with Jon Murakami’s “Calabash” and Audra Furuichi’s “nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii” alternating spots in the Sunday Star-Advertiser.

Our sympathies and hugs go out to his wife, Mary, and their daughters, Amelia and Katie.

Kauai getting its first comic con this year

Con-athon 2019 just gained a new entrant.

On Sunday afternoon, Blood of the Samurai director Aaron Yamasato formally unveiled his latest project: the Kauai Comic Convention, a single-day event to be held June 8 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Kauai Marriott Resort in Lihue.

The first batch of announced guests include:

  • Carl Potts, comic artist and former executive editor at Marvel Comics
  • Sifu Mimi Chan, martial artist and model reference used for Disney’s Mulan
  • Hiroshi Kanatani, manga artist known for his work in Shonen Sunday and his illustrations of famous kaiju (including, of course, Godzilla)
  • Zavier “Howsdisguy” Cummings, Kauai-area comedian and YouTuber
  • Stacey Hayashi, screenwriter/producer of Go For Broke: An Origin Story, about the origins of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service in 1941
  • Sam Campos, creator of Hawaii’s own superhero Pineapple Man, whose latest work, Hawaiian Avenger Kanaka, debuted last weekend at Amazing Comic Con Aloha
  • Russ Ogi, local artist who’s used 3-D printing to create some really neat-looking samurai helmets

This is the sixth major pop culture convention planned for the state this year; the third to be held on a neighbor island; and, of course, the first one for Kauai in this modern con era.

Details are still sketchy, but keep checking the official con site,, for more information as things develop. Potential exhibitors can apply for space there, too. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing about more.


The biggest little event that could is bigger than ever

Nine months in to my newfound freedom to attend pretty much ALL THE THINGS~! when it comes to local otaku culture, I’m finding the experience both exhilarating and exhausting. And that’s just counting the major con circuit. Here, for instance, is the bulk of my coverage of HawaiiCon, the fourth stop of Con-athon 2018 that happened a few weekends ago at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows on the Big Island.

I really did attend the con in spurts, though! The five pages of original Archie comic artwork I won at the art auction will attest to that. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

I needed that bit of R&R. For while there may be only one more stop for the Con-athon circuit this year — Maui Comic Con, Oct. 26-28 at UH-Maui College — the schedule of special events going forward may be one of the busiest fall seasons I’ve seen in the past few years.

It’s fitting, then, that the season kicks off from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday with one of the longer-running events of the modern otaku era: McCully-Moiliili Library’s ninth annual Mini Con. This year’s edition was already shaping up to be the biggest one yet even before the surprise news hit Wednesday evening of a Super-Secret Special Guest of Honor: Usagi Yojimbo creator (and, of course, Groo the Wanderer letterer) Stan Sakai. He’ll be signing books and drawing sketches in exchange for donations to the library, something he also did last November after a talk there.

Stan Sakai at McCully-Moiliili Library
Those are a bunch of original scripts and sketches in the foreground, too. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

Returning for another go-round are event mainstays Jon Murakami, Audra Furuichi (in a rare-these-days appearance!), Brady Evans and Kevin Sano. Here are some previews of what they’ll be debuting at this event:

Kevin Sano has been working on these original sketches on comic backing boards. Photo courtesy of Kevin Sano.

Audra Furuichi has these original nemu*nemu sketches, as well as some new prints, available for sale. Photo courtesy of Audra Furuichi.

Joining them this year is rising art star Derick “7Sketches” Fabian. He’s best known for his original sticker art, or “slaps,” that mash up characters from cartoons, anime, and comics with hip-hop and local culture. He even contributed a mural to this year’s POW! WOW! Hawaii jam in Kakaako. He has a trio of designs debuting on Saturday.

Also on hand will be representatives from the next mini-con event coming down the pipeline, NEET, which recently announced its autumn event will be held Oct. 12 at the nearby Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii; and Wasabi Magazine editor-in-chief Antonio Vega, who’ll be talking about the publication’s focus on Japanese culture and island life.

05 Hillary,Jason,Alyssa
Not to mention a certain Kirby-obsessed friendly neighborhood otaku blogger, shown here with McCully-Moiliili Library branch manager/Mini Con chief Hillary Chang and volunteer Alyssa Au. Photo courtesy McCully-Moiliili Library.

You’re going to want to meet everyone, too. Back for another year is the stamp card promotion, where attendees can go around getting stamps from the exhibitors, then turn in completed cards in exchange for free comic books and other stuff. Other activities, like showing volunteers your library card and filling out a program evaluation form, will net you a set of three Mini Con 9 pins.

Mini Con cards
Photo courtesy McCully-Moiliili Library.

Cosplay, as always, is encouraged, and a variety of anime, including Boruto and Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, will be screened. There also will be a number of craft activities and talks throughout the day.

Mini Con 9 is brought to you by the Friends of the McCully-Moiliili Library, Collector Maniacs and Hawaiian Graphics. The library is located at 2211 S. King St.; parking can be a bit tight, but it is possible to find some if you look hard enough. Any questions? Call 973-1099.

Also on the otaku calendar


Hawaii’s first UNIQLO opens: The Japanese clothing retailer renowned for comfortable, cheap attire and otaku-friendly T-shirt designs has been teasing local customers for several months now with a pop-up store near Ala Moana Center’s Centerstage. That experience is about to expand quite a bit, as the full-service store is scheduled to open on the third floor of the mall’s Ewa Wing at 9:28 a.m. Friday, 9/28. (Get it?) I understand some friends of the blog are members of the store’s opening-day staff, so lotsa luck and good fortune to you all.

Shirokiya Matsuri

Shirokiya Matsuri: The fourth monthly edition of the showcase for local crafters and entertainers hosted by emcee extraordinare Remy Zane is taking place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk complex, street level on the Ewa end of Ala Moana Center. It’s also Kids’ Day at JVW, so children ages 12 and under can get a free token to spend at one of the complex’s 100 bazillion gachapon machines. Seriously, look at how many there were in August:

You haven’t really lived until you’ve seen this many gachapon machines in one place. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
It’s GachaponCon, yo.


My Neighbor Totoro in theaters: Chew on this for a bit: This story of two girls and the gentle forest spirits they befriend has been around for 30 years. Feeling old yet? Playing at 12:55 p.m. Sunday (English dubbed), 7 p.m. Monday (subtitled), and 7 p.m. Wednesday (dubbed) at the Regal Dole Cannery 18 theaters, 735-B Iwilei Road. Get your tickets here.

Con reschedules; community regroups

A little more than a day after Amazing Comic Con Aloha postponed its show scheduled this weekend. organizers have already announced replacement dates … as well as the first batch of guests. Set aside Feb. 22-24, folks, because Amazing’s now kicking off Con-athon 2019, with legendary artist George Perez and Power Rangers actor Jason David Frank among the first guests announced.

The official statement:

Amazing Comic Con Aloha! in conjunction with Collider is thrilled to announce that their show from this weekend that was postponed due to Hurricane Lane will be rescheduled to February 22nd to 24th 2019! They are also excited to announce that some of their scheduled talent from the postponed show will return to Honolulu, HI along with all new guests to be announced in the coming months. Avengers Infinity Gauntlet/Thanos creator Jim Starlin will return and will be joined by original Infinity Gauntlet artists George Perez and Ron Lim, appearing together in one place exclusively for the first time in several years at Amazing Comic Con Aloha! They will be joined by legendary DC/ Batman artist Neal Adams. Also, in a triumphant return to Amazing Comic Con Aloha!, Power Rangers star Jason David Frank will join us to celebrate 25 years of Might Morphin’ Power Rangers.

Further guest announcements will be coming over the next few weeks. Stay tuned to Amazing Comic Con website and socials for all the latest news.

” We were disappointed to cancel our original dates due to circumstances beyond our control but we are happy to be able to announce replacement dates expeditiously. Hawaii has been great to us and we can’t wait to come back in February 2019 with some of our original guests and all new talent to share their Aloha spirit with the people of Hawaii!!” said Jimmy Jay, Founder Amazing Comic Con.

Attendees who purchased tickets and packages for the original show will be able to use their already purchased tickets for the rescheduled dates including those who purchased tickets through groupon. Further instructions and alternatives will be posted to the Amazing Comic Con website in the coming days. Tickets will go on sale beginning after Labor Day starting at $25.

While Amazing may not be running this weekend, there are a number of activities and sales that have popped up around the island in case you have a con-shaped hole in your schedule that you’d like to fill. (The con’s Facebook page has even been resharing some event notifications as they come in.) Some highlights:

  • Shirokiya MatsuriThe third edition of the monthly Shirokiya Matsuri will be taking place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow at Japan Village Walk, the street-level food court on the Ewa end of Ala Moana Center. This celebration of local and Japanese culture features crafters, an entertainment stage hosted by Remy Zane, and family-friendly activities. (That’s a picture of the first Shirokiya Matsuri at the top of this post.) As a bonus, there are plans for an impromptu Comic Jam in that venue as well, so you can fellowship and draw with a bunch of local artists if you’d like.
  • Artist Neal Adams has been popping up around the Rainbow Tower of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, taking and delivering commissions, signing autographs ($50 each) and selling art. Check on for details.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman will be making an appearance tomorrow at Other Realms, 1130 N. Nimitz Highway, suite C-140. Keep watching Other Realms’ Facebook page for details on that.
  • Kevin Sano of Sanoevil Collectibles has a bunch of comics that he was going to sell at the con this weekend at Ideas Music and Books, 670 Auahi St. The store’s open until 7 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow.
  • Fans of gunpla (Gundam models) can swing by Animeya and Collectibles (98-027 Hekaha St., Bldg. 3, Unit 19) for the August Gunpla Meet-Up from 3 to 7 p.m. tomorrow. Bring your favorite kits, show off your completed work, and get some tips from fellow fans.
  • Finally, Dragon’s Lair Comics in Mililani (95-1840 Meheula Parkway; take the Mililani Mauka offramp from the H-2 Freeway to get there) has a weekend sale going on, with 20 percent off all current comics, board games, and trade paperback/hardcover comic collections, and 50 percent off the back-issue bins. The store’s open until 7 p.m. today and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. tomorrow; artist Michael Cannon will be hanging out and drawing sketches for a little while today as well.