Celebrating Dave Thorne: The “Zoo” keeper’s legacy (part 2 of 2)

It was a few minutes after midnight Saturday — and about eight hours or so before I’d head over the Koolaus for the Dave Thorne Celebration of Life — when I was going through pictures that I was about to burn on a CD for the Thorne family. Some of them have or will in a moment see the light of day here in Otaku Ohana; others, only I and they will ever see.

I thought I had pretty much wrapped up deciding which photo would go where … that is, until I came upon one particular sequence of shots from Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library on Sept. 10, 2011. Dave wasn’t a featured “guest,” but he showed up anyway and … well, here’s one of those shots that caught my attention.


Mini Con 2011 also happened to be the debut gathering for Pen & Ink Works, another anime- and manga-inspired artist collective. That’s group leader Brady Evans up front, leading a mini-workshop. And sitting in the front row? None other than Dave himself.

It’s proof that not only was he a man who was willing to share with others the joy of drawing, but also someone who was willing to learn from and support the educational endeavors of other artists. Such was his bond with the global cartooning community, really. I was talking with nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi about this at the Celebration of Life, and she mentioned that a few years ago, when she and Jon Murakami were doing summer talks at various public libraries around the state, Dave made it a point to visit.

Continue reading “Celebrating Dave Thorne: The “Zoo” keeper’s legacy (part 2 of 2)”

Celebrating Dave Thorne: The “Zoo” keeper’s legacy (part 1 of 2)

IMG_4842This post has been in the works for a little over a year now.

It’s funny sometimes how the universe works. The first saved draft recorded in the system has the time-stamp “24 July, 2012 @ 21:31.” Worked on it for a few days, got busy, dropped it. I picked it up again on Sept. 9 before Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library, then got busy and dropped it again.

The first time stamp on this latest revival of this post? “24 July, 2013 @ 18:25.” Almost exactly a year to the day that I began trying to write it. I swear I never planned it this way — I just wanted to have something to contribute to the discussion as members of the local and global cartooning community prepare for a celebration of Dave Thorne’s life on Saturday. (If you’d like to come pay your respects and join in the celebration, it’ll be from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bay View Golf Park, 45-285 Kaneohe Bay Drive, with visitation from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and a short service at 10:30 a.m.) It’s just been a matter of finding the right words and digging out the best pictures that’s taken this long.

It’s hard to believe it’s already been that long since Dave died — July 22, 2012, to be exact, at the age of 82. I only knew him personally for the last year and a half of that time; of that, I only spoke to him in person on four different days, all of them in 2011. You don’t need a calculator to figure out that my time spent with him was a very small sliver of his life in the grand scheme of things. It was only during his hospitalization that I began learning that he was so much more than the man who drew “Thorney’s Zoo” for our paper, that his sphere of influence expanded to encompass not only local cartoonists like Audra Furuichi, Jon Murakami and Dave Swann and isle ex-pats like Deb Aoki and Stan Sakai, but also artists around the world — Phil Yeh and Greg Evans are the ones that immediately pop to mind, although I’m sure there are many others. Mark Evanier — whose work with Groo the Wanderer I’ve absolutely adored since high school, by the way — blogged about Dave’s death. Scott Shaw wrote a remembrance piece that appeared in the program book this year at Comic-Con International in San Diego. If you’re on Facebook, I’d highly recommend checking out the Dave Thorne Tribute Page … you could spend hours browsing that seeing how much of an impact he made on people’s lives.

And, of course, he did a lot of work over the years. This mini-exhibit at a drawing workshop he hosted at McCully-Moiliili Library shows as much.


Yet from the first time I met him, at the Kahala cartoon art mural jam in March 2011, it was like I knew him for forever. Warm greeting. Firm handshake. And, of course, drawing. Always drawing, always eager to share with others the joy of drawing.

Continue reading “Celebrating Dave Thorne: The “Zoo” keeper’s legacy (part 1 of 2)”

Taku Taku Matsuri hangs out “help wanted” sign


Nestled between Kawaii Kon and Oni-Con Hawaii on this year’s “major and majorly cool events that local anime and manga fans ought to attend this year” calendar is the inaugural edition of Taku Taku Matsuri, being held Aug. 25 at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu (1239 Olomea St.). If there was a checklist of things that you’d want at a summer festival celebrating otaku-ism, this event would pretty much hit all the highlights on that list: food, games, artists and vendors selling all sorts of cultural swag, photo shoots, live music, and the Cosplay Chess Brigade and Yu x Me Maid Cafe and Host Club holding court.

Any event of this scale, though, is going to need volunteers to help it run smoothly. To that end, Taku Taku Matsuri is putting out the call for volunteers for both night-before setup on Aug. 24 and day-of event staffing. You’ll need to be over the age of 18 before Aug. 25 and, if you’re interested in working on the day of the event, attend at least one training session. And that’s why I’m bringing this up now — the first two training opportunities are happening on Sunday. Here’s the full list of training days and times:

Sunday: 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m.
Aug. 3: 1-3 p.m.
Aug. 18: 10 a.m.-noon, 1-3 p.m. and 4-6 p.m.

Interested? Email taku2matsuri@yahoo.com for the appropriate forms.

Also, a reminder for those of you who may not have seen the last Ota-cool Incoming! calendar: The Mini Mini Taku Taku Water Gun Fight is still on for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Ala Moana Beach Park … and now, because any good water gun fight can work up quite the appetite, there’s going to be a potluck as well. You bring the food; they’ll supply the water and juice. I’m not sure at this point which part of the park they’ll be setting up shop, but I’ll update this post with that info if/when I hear back from people in the know about such things.

Update 7/27: Meet at the tennis courts at 10 a.m.! There also will be watermelon smashing! And a Taku Taku Matsuri prize raffle at 4 p.m.! Exclamation points!

Hadouken, y’all: Oni-Con Hawaii lands Ryu voice actor

Oni-Con Hawaii logo

We’re more than halfway in the news cycle for the new kid on the local anime convention block, Oni-Con Hawaii — a little over five months since they formally announced they were a thing, about 3-1/2 months before the inaugural edition kicks off at the Hawai’i Convention Center.

Ryu, Street Fighter IV edition. Image courtesy Capcom.The news has dripped out since then. It took 1-1/2 months from their initial announcement to announce their dates (Nov. 1-3, for the record). We’ve also learned that Nobuo Uematsu and his band, Earthbound Papas, are guests, as is Atelier Pierrot designer Yuko Ashizawa. Cosplay Chess Hawaii and Yu x Me Maid Cafe & Host Club are hosting events. Registration for general attendees, vendor booths and The Alley (the show’s Artist Alley) opened, as did volunteer recruiting efforts for Team O.H.A.Y.O. (that’s the Oni-Con Hawaii All Y’all Ohana, a reflection of the con’s Texas-Hawaii roots, pardner).

And that’s been pretty much it … until late Thursday night, when a pair of guest announcements made its way to Oni-Con Hawaii’s Facebook page.

Making (as far as I can tell) his first appearance at any U.S. anime convention will be Japanese voice actor Hiroki Takahashi, the voice of Ryu in the newer Capcom fighters (Street Fighter IV, Street Fighter X Tekken, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, Marvel vs. Capcom 3). Fangirls have swooned over him as the voice of Eiji Kikumaru in The Prince of Tennis and Japan in Hetalia: Axis Powers; his other major roles include Kenji Harima in School Rumble and Hisoka in Hunter X Hunter.

Joining Takahashi will be Sana, the visual kei musician who will be making his second visit to Hawaii in two years following his appearance at HEXXP last year. As I’ve mentioned before, he continues to be the guitarist for Kain, former guitarist for Mask and someone who still doesn’t have much English-language material written about him. I did record that joint panel he did with Kazuki Yao (though lord knows when I’ll actually get around to doing a transcript of that);  here’s a picture of him as proof.

Sana at HEXXP 2012

More news likely will come as we barrel ahead toward November. Preregistration rates currently stand at $45 for a three-day pass; if you’re an active member of the military and have the ID to prove it, you can snag a pass for $30. Visit www.oniconhawaii.com.

“Tomo-e-Ame” part 3 + Ota-Cool Incoming: The return!


As I promised a few days ago, it’s time now to delve into the most substantive part of Tomo-e-Ame, this year’s MangaBento exhibit: the 2-D artwork posted around the gallery. Missed my earlier posts? Here’s part 1, featuring the gallery layout, and part 2, with the 3-D pieces.

This, however, is where things get a little tricky. If you delve into the actual gallery hosted on Flickr and look at the captions (which I must admit is a more difficult task ever since the site was redesigned a few months ago), you may have noticed that the information I have is either vague or nonexistent. If you or anyone you know has any additional information on those pieces, please let me know! I’d love to give credit where credit’s due.


You have through Saturday to see the exhibit in person at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, 1111 Victoria St.. I’d definitely recommend stopping by if you have a chance. If you can’t make it, though? There are more art events in store in coming weeks. Which brings us to the return of …

Ota-cool incoming!

The eagle-eyed readers among you may have noticed that the last Cel Shaded Report, along with Ota-Cool Incoming!, came almost a month ago. Truth be told, there really hasn’t been all that much over the past month or so to talk about, and it just seemed like I’d be forcing myself to ramble about that not-much-of-anything every week. And that wouldn’t be fun for any of us.

So the Cel Shaded Report is in semi-retirement — maybe it’ll come back someday; we’ll see how I feel — but the Ota-Cool Incoming! calendar has been refilled with a fresh batch of upcoming events, plenty to keep local anime and manga fans busy in coming weeks.

Anime Manga Society at UH-Manoa: Meetings during Summer Session 1 are Fridays through Aug. 9 in Kuykendall Hall, room 306. Screenings TBA. 5:30 to 7 p.m.

MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists usually meets every second and fourth Sunday of the month at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St., room 200). Visit www.manga-bento.com. Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

pen and ink works logo

Pen & Ink Works: Time for a summer Sketch Meet! This one, at Kaimuki Library (1041 Koko Head Ave.), will feature a short tutorial by the Hachi Maru Hachi artists, and copies of the local manga anthology also will be available for sale. A portion of the sales will benefit the Friends of the Kaimuki Public Library, so buy multiple copies. Because, y’know, we love libraries around these parts. Paper and pencils will be provided; parental supervision is advised for children under 12. Visit peninkworks.wordpress.com. 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Dave Thorne Celebration of Life: Remembering the life and work of the “father of Hawaii cartooning” with a gathering at Bay View Golf Course (45-285 Kaneohe Bay Drive). I’ve been monitoring the buzz on the Dave Thorne Tribute Page (Facebook login required), and it looks like a fair number of cartoonists worldwide will be attending. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. July 27.

mini mini taku taku

Mini Mini Taku Taku Water Gun Fight!!!: Somehow my mind wants to read this as “Mini Mini Taku Taku Water Gun Water Gun Fight!!! Fight!!!” My mind also works in really weird ways sometimes, because that revised name is also unnecessarily long. In any case, it’s a water gun fight at Ala Moana Beach Park, brought to you by the people who are organizing Taku Taku Matsuri in August (see Future Attractions). It’s also scheduled for a six-hour block of time. Better bring lots of waterproof sunscreen. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 27.

’90s Anime Art Exhibit: The Loading Zone (47 N. Hotel St.) in the Chinatown art district is hosting this artistic tribute to the days of Evangelion, Escaflowne, Sailor Moon, Cowboy Bebop and countless other series that I’ve loved that now officially qualify as “vintage” anime. Sigh. Tomo-e-Ame participating artists Julie Feied and Dennis Imoto will have work in this exhibit, as will artist Chanel Tanaka. From 7 to 11 p.m. Aug. 2, as part of First Friday, there will be music by VJ Christian Berg, a dance performance by Blank Canvas, a fashion show presented by Visual Kei Dark Castle at 9 p.m., and Aloha Beer Company specialty beer on tap. From 7 p.m. to midnight Aug. 9, you can meet the artists and enjoy an improv show by Mr. Aaron Presents from 8 to 10 p.m. and a cosplay contest at 10 p.m. Both events will feature caricatures by Andy Lee and an art workshop; cover at each event is $5. And if you can’t make either event, the exhibit itself will be up Aug. 2-26. Gallery hours are 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, or by appointment. Visit www.facebook.com/events/205760262908791 (no Facebook login required).

Aiea Library Anime Club: No meeting this month, but next month librarian Diane Masaki will be screening episodes of Hetalia at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. Stockpile your supplies of celebratory pasta until then. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Aug. 3.

Kawaii Kon Beach Day: Watermelon smashing! Sand-castle building contests! Watermelon smashing! The Cosplay Runway! Watermelon smashing! A game of Capture the Flag! And did I mention the watermelon smashing? Indulge your inner Gallagher and have some fun in the sun at Magic Island Beach Park. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 3.

Summer Smash 2013: It’s the island’s biggest Airsoft shoot-em-up event of the summer, presented by Impact Games and Ash Bash Productions at Hawaii All-Star Field off Nimitz Highway (someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that’s the patch of land just after the entrance to the Disabled American Veterans Hall). So how did this make it into Ota-cool Incoming!? Kawaii Kon will be there, preregistering attendees for the 2014 convention (preregister at Summer Smash, get an exclusive patch!) and hosting a cosplay contest, to boot. (I’m kinda hoping one team shows up as Social Welfare Agency Special Ops Section 2. Just because.) For more information on the event and where to register, visit www.facebook.com/events/357207584390708/ (no Facebook login required). Aug. 4.

Future Attractions

Taku Taku Matsuri: A summer festival with an anime/manga slant at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu. Aug. 25.

Oni-Con Hawaii: With guest Yuko Ashizawa, a fashion designer with Atelier Pierrot. Also featuring the Cosplay Chess Brigade and Yu x Me Maid Cafe & Host Club. Preregistration open now; $45 for a three-day pass. Hawai’i Convention Center, Nov. 1-3.

Kawaii Kon 2014: Guests include voice actors Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh and professional cosplayer Leah Rose. Preregistration open now; $37 for a three-day pass for children ages 5-12, $42 general admission. Hawai’i Convention Center, April 4-6, 2014.

MangaBento’s “Tomo-e-Ame”: The second handful

MangaBento fans

You remember the drill from last time — this week we’re looking at MangaBento’s Tomo-e-Ame exhibit; part 1 is here — so let’s jump right back into things with a look at some of the 3-D pieces in the exhibit. They’re certainly outnumbered by pieces done in 2-D media, but they have their charms.

Here’s the Flickr gallery. Watch for part 3 … mmmmm, probably around Friday morning at the latest.


MangaBento’s “Tomo-e-Ame”: The first handful

Tomo-e-Ame through the eyes of Cait Sith. Or someone behind Cait Sith with a camera, anyway.

It’s summertime, which means it’s time for what’s become an annual ritual of sorts for me: visiting the Honolulu Museum of Art School and its second-floor gallery to chronicle MangaBento’s exhibit and share what this group of anime- and manga-inspired artists created with the Intarwebz at large.

This year’s exhibit, Tomo-e-Ame: Friends-Drawing-Candy, is up through the end of this week at the art school, located at 1111 Victoria St., just around the corner from the museum proper. In case you can’t make it out there by then, though, no worries — your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger is here to showcase all the exhibit highlights. And just like last year’s roundup, it’ll be presented in three parts. Part one, featuring the gallery layout itself, is in this post; parts 2 and 3, spotlighting the 3-D and 2-D pieces, respectively, will arrive later this week.

So! Let’s get Flickr-ing! To start the slideshow, just press the “play” button in the middle of the frame below. Pause and restart using the button on the lower left. If you want a larger view, click on the icon on the lower right; in that full-screen view, you can also see the captions I’ve written for each picture (using the “Show Info” link) or slow down the automatic scrolling (using the “Options” link). Finally, if you’re viewing this blog on an iOS device (iPad/iPod Touch) and can’t view Flash plug-ins, or if you just want to skip all the slideshow fiddling and go straight to the gallery, here’s the direct gallery link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sumiyoshi/sets/72157634422614006/with/9099046928/


Tezuka’s “Barbara”: Much madness makes divinest sense

barbara cover

Today’s profile: Barbara (one volume, complete)
Author: Osamu Tezuka
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing
Suggested age rating: Mature 18+
Availability: In print & readily available

Like many manga artists, Osamu Tezuka is enjoyed in the U.S. mainly for his lighthearted fare. And once artists become known for one genre or another, it becomes exceedingly difficult to publish others of their works that don’t exactly fall into that widely accepted category.

Barbara is one of those Tezuka works that U.S. publisher DMP wanted to take a chance on. So using the crowdfunding website Kickstarter, the company garnered a good bit of support to bring out the 430-page manga in English.

After I finished the book, it was easy to see why DMP needed to go the crowdfunding route. On the back cover, the description reads, in part, “Barbara may be Tezuka’s most psychological and unsettling work, shattering the fine line between art and madness with masterful precision.”

Short response: It is.

I must admit I am not familiar with the bulk of Tezuka’s work. I did watch Metropolis, the feature-length anime based on one of his more serious stories, and is a movie I didn’t particularly care for. I also know he’s done Astro Boy and Atom Cat and Unico and Black Jack, and if those are any yardsticks to measure Tezuka by, then Barbara is certainly a wide deviation from his norm. To give you an idea of how unique this manga is, DMP even released a separate digital companion to Kickstarter backers with an essay dissecting the work, as well as a foreword in the actual book explaining briefly the political and social situation in Japan at the time the manga was originally serialized.

Barbara tells of a famous writer, Yosuke Mikura, who comes across the title character in Shinjuku station. The woman is a stinky, dirty alcoholic, but something about her prompts Mikura to take her home with him. She decides that his apartment isn’t such a bad place to hang out, so she settles in and makes herself at home — especially with the liquor cabinet.

Over the course of the book we see the ups and downs of their strange relationship and the many times Mikura kicks her out for her slovenly ways, then just as readily accepts her back when she predictably shows up at his door again. Even he can’t explain why he doesn’t give her the boot, considering all the times she’s messed something up or how much she’s costing him.

The manga is psychologically interesting at first as it delves into the queer mind of Mikura. From the beginning, he can’t seem to distinguish between one thing and another, which leads to several bizarre but not completely unexpected twists — most times Tezuka cleverly provides hints that could point one way or the other depending on how he would have wanted the story to end, or even could have left the ending wide open to discussion. Other times, Tezuka leaves things blatantly ambiguous. It’s certainly not a new plot device, but it’s always highly effective in dealing that mental blow to the reader.

But then Mikura’s obsessions coalesce and center on Barbara, and the manga starts getting less interesting and more just simply crazy. It all comes to a Matrix-like ending that is expectedly a bit sad, but satisfying.

It’s the roller-coaster feeling of Mikura and Barbara’s relationship, and of Mikura’s life overall, that makes this manga difficult to enjoy. And that’s not even including the famed author’s psychotic-ness in general, with or without Barbara. Many chapters are the same: They start off with a seemingly normal (or at least tangible) situation, then devolve into an insanity that eventually bursts, leaving Mikura to deal with the shock of returning to reality … or with the haunting realization that he does not know what the reality is.

Add in the drunkard’s aggravating personality and deeds that would drive even a saint to slap her upside the head as Mikura often does, and you have a story that’s so peculiar that it takes great effort to keep reading — but at the same time, it drives you to continue on to the end.

Mikura is obviously a tragic character, one for whom a kind of happiness (and perhaps even a bit of sanity) seems as though it could be within reach but then slips from his grasp, one who struggles constantly to chase his desires but never achieves them. And Barbara is the one thing he wants but never truly possesses.

We don’t find out what is behind his misogynistic personifications; he just is like that, and in some way that lack of knowledge adds to the tragedy of his life.

The one thing that is sort of explained is Barbara’s background, although even that could be just another pretense. That revelation — and the story’s eventual dependence on it — both add to and take away from the enigma of Barbara herself, even as the story tries maintain her mystery. It also needlessly gives Mikura a reason for going mad, although by that time even we aren’t certain what might be witchcraft and what might be the hallucinatory product of Mikuru’s fevered brain.

But then, that is probably what Tezuka was aiming for, and in that sense, he’s definitely achieved his goal and shows how unhinged Mikura’s mind has become. Nearly every chapter had me thinking, “Wow, these people are really messed up.” But it also begs the question: Must an artist such as Mikura necessarily go through such madness to create great works?

In many ways, Barbara is not much different from other demented stories. The key to remember is that this manga originally came out in the early 1970s, when far more people would probably have been appalled at the scenarios depicted.

Nowadays, it’s not so much the shock of the supposed deviant life of artists that makes this book so disconcerting and fascinating at the same time. What still resonates after all these years is the mental trauma that Mikura is clearly experiencing. For the reader, the true pain is not only seeing Mikura’s descent into madness, but also recognizing the inevitability of it.

Still, this is the kind of story that makes you incredibly glad you are sane — or at least much saner than Mikura — and, when it’s over, immensely grateful that you are merely reading about it from the outside rather than experiencing it firsthand within your own life.

Barbara is a bit too extreme for me, but it is moving and powerful in its portrayals in a disturbing way.