August on the road: Anime art and festival fun

For many local fans of anime (Japanese animation) and manga (Japanese comics), the social calendar is divided into two seasons: “Kawaii Kon” and “waiting for the next Kawaii Kon.”
Me, in my Taku Taku Matsuri preview from Friday

I love “waiting for the next Kawaii Kon” seasons like the one we’re in right now. We just wrapped up a busy August with the ’90s Anime Art Exhibit and Taku Taku Matsuri, and it looks like anime and manga fans will have plenty of opportunities to stay busy through November with the exhibit “Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii” at Windward Community College next month; Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library, Kawaii Kon’s Anime Day at Windward Mall and the Hawaii International Film Festival in October; and of course the inaugural edition of Oni-Con Hawaii in November. And those are just the big events.

I’ll have a new edition of the Ota-cool Incoming! calendar posted in a few days with all the details, but for now I have a camera full of pictures begging to be shared. So before we move forward, let’s look back at the two big events in August.

The ’90s Anime Art Exhibit

I’m still a bit hard-pressed to explain why this exhibit, at the Loading Zone gallery downtown, was called a “’90s” anime art exhibit. Sure, there were a number of pieces by artists Julie Feied, Dennis Imoto, Devin Oishi and Chanel Tanaka that showed influences from shows of that era (Dragon Ball Z! Sailor Moon! Crayon Shinchan!), but it wasn’t the be-all, end-all theme of the show that I was expecting. Heck, the reception I attended on Aug. 9 featured anime music videos with Madoka Magica footage in them. And then there was the improv troupe (they were good, albeit a bit out of place). There were a handful of cosplayers, but not enough for me to stick around for the cosplay contest later that evening. Besides, talking to Dennis and Devin, I got the sense that there was a much more vibrant crowd the previous week, during First Friday. Such is life, I suppose.

Taku Taku Matsuri

The brainchild of Yuka Nagaoka acquitted itself quite nicely its first time out of the gate. Aside from a tight parking situation and the fact that the sound system speakers were located near the dealer area, making it difficult to conduct transactions any time there was music playing or performances going on, it was a nice little festival with a healthier-than-anticipated turnout, and it seemed like everyone was having a good time. And yes, just as she mentioned in that article I referenced above, Yuka did, indeed, wear her bright red kimono. She even danced to Psy’s “Gentleman” in it … not an easy feat in the warm weather we’ve been having lately, I’d think. Other highlights included artists — including some of the Comic Jam Hawaii regulars! — at the MangaBento table, doing their thing; the Yu x Me Maid Cafe & Host Club dancers filling their recommended event quota of “Mune Mune Kyun”-ing; and (not pictured) me buying waaaaaay too much Azumanga Daioh swag for my own good (but those chibi figures were sooooooooo cute, I swear!).

There aren’t very many pictures mostly because (a) I had to leave before the Cosplay Chess Brigade got to do their thing so I could go to work and (b) as I grow older, I’m finding that I’m becoming more and more of a hopeless introvert and don’t feel comfortable asking total strangers to take their pictures. But still I soldier on. Somehow.

More Taku Taku talk-talk with Yuka Nagaoka

Taku Taku MatsuriThe first Taku Taku Matsuri is happening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu, and I’ve whipped up a little primer to it in today’s TGIF. You can read about it in the print edition (for all you classic-media types) or you can check it out over on Honolulu Pulse (bonus: since it’s in Pulse, it’s free to read!).

As is usually the case for something written for print, though, I ended up with about 95 percent of what I talked about with festival organizer/founder Yuka Nagaoka just … well … sitting here, all neatly transcribed and ready to go and with nowhere else to put it. Thus, it’s time for a nice little bonus feature here on Otaku Ohana.

After the jump, you can find out more about Yuka and her background, learn some more about the present and future of Taku Taku Matsuri, see some of the things she’ll be selling at her booth, and find out the answer to the question: Where are you going to park, anyway?

Continue reading “More Taku Taku talk-talk with Yuka Nagaoka”

Sebastian at your service: Oni-Con Hawaii adds voice actor Tatum

JMichaelTatumheadshot1024x768Until Sunday night, the guest list for the inaugural edition of Oni-Con Hawaii had a decidedly Japanese flavor. Nobuo Uematsu and the Earthbound Papas, Atelier Pierrot designer Yuko Ashizawa, voice actor Hiroki Takahashi and visual kei rocker Sana — all confirmed guests, all making the trip east from Japan.

It was inevitable that we’d get some talent heading west from the mainland, and that person happens to have quite a few notable Funimation productions on his resume. So a big aloha and welcome goes out to American voice actor J. Michael Tatum — that’s his mug on the right — who may be best known as the voice of Sebastian in Black Butler, Scar in the various Fullmetal Alchemist productions, France in Hetalia and Ryosuke Takahashi in the various Initial D productions. (Random aside: The major anime con season has come and gone with the end of Otakon in Baltimore over the weekend, and I’m still waiting for someone to license Initial D: 5th Stage. Sigh.) Since 2010, he’s co-hosted the “That Anime Show” podcast, an insiders’ look at anime industry life, with fellow voice actor Terri Doty. This will be his first visit to an anime convention in Hawaii.

Oni-Con Hawaii is Nov. 1-3 at the Hawai’i Convention Center; preregistration rates remain at $45 general, $30 active military with valid ID. Visit

HIFF snags “Captain Harlock,” “Rurouni Kenshin” for fall

As far as I can remember, early August traditionally hasn’t been the time to start thinking about the Hawaii International Film Festival. We usually got a few showcase film teasers followed by a big horking roster reveal sometime in September, leaving us to soak up the final few weeks of the summer season and ponder countless “what-ifs” and dream selections in the meantime.

The 33rd annual installment, slated this year for Oct. 10-20, is shaking up that thinking in a big way. For the past two weeks over on the HIFF blog, Christopher Hall has been releasing information about this year’s film roster in blocks of 10 films. (It looks like the reveals will be continuing Thursdays through the month.) And among this week’s films is quite the eye-opener: the CGI-animated 2013 revival of Space Pirate Captain Harlock.

Harlock, based on the classic Leiji Matsumoto manga and directed by two-time Kawaii Kon guest Shinji Aramaki, will be appearing a little over a month after it premieres in Japan on Sept. 7. A quick check online finds only one other international venue screening this film at the moment — the Venice International Film Festival in Italy, being held from Aug. 28 through Sept. 7, according to this Anime News Network post — meaning HIFF may well mark Harlock’s U.S. premiere. We’ll see if that distinction holds. Here’s the film’s official website (in Japanese), and here’s a trailer:

Last week’s reveal wasn’t lacking for otaku-magnet material, either: Rurouni Kenshin, the live-action adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s wandering swordsman manga starring Takeru Sato as Himura Kenshin and Emi Takei as Kamiya Kaoru, will also be screening at HIFF. It’s been making the global rounds ever since it debuted in Japan last August; it has been licensed for distribution in more than 60 countries, after all. Here’s another trailer.

Exact screening dates and times for these films will be released around Sept. 1; ticket sales for members starts Sept. 20, with general sales starting on Sept. 24. Keep an eye on in the meantime … this year’s shaping up to be another exciting one, methinks.

Ota-cool Incoming! for August 2013

Surprise! It’s August already, and 2013 is just whipping on through. Seems like only yesterday that I was pondering whether to start marathoning all of the Marvel Comics movies that I haven’t seen to prepare myself for Iron Man 3 (for the record, that’s Iron Man 2, Captain America, Thor and The Avengers … yes, I’m just as behind on my live-action movie watching as I am with my anime watching and manga reading, sigh) … and before I realized it, I had missed the theatrical run of not only that, but also Star Trek: Into Darkness AND Man of Steel. AND I’m going to have to hurry to catch Monsters University, too. I did manage to catch Despicable Me 2 (human characters were okay, Minions were awesome) and Pacific Rim (human characters were okay, Jaegers versus Kaiju were awesome), though, so at least there was that.

The summer movie blockbuster season may be winding down, but it seems like the Ota-cool Incoming! calendar is heating up, with no less than five, count ’em, five events taking place over the weekend starting on Friday. I think this pretty much covers all the high points for the next few weeks; of course, if anything new worth noting arrives here at Otaku Ohana Central, I’ll try to let you all know as soon as my schedule allows.

To the calendar!

Close-up detail of Julie Feied's "Tomo-e-Ame," which will be part of the exhibit. Yes, if you've been paying attention, this was part of MangaBento's exhibit as well.

’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. MangaBento Tomo-e-Ameparticipating artists Julie Feied, Devin Oishi and Dennis Imoto will have work in this exhibit, as will artist Chanel Tanaka.

From 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, 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 through Aug. 26. Gallery hours are 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, or by appointment. Visit (no Facebook login required).

Aiea Library Anime Club: Young adult librarian Diane Masaki will be screening episodes of Hetalia Axis Powers at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail 3 p.m. Saturday.

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. Saturday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: They’re baaaaaack! After a one-month break, this group of collaborative cartoon artists is back at Pearlridge Center for their regular first-and-third-Sunday-of-the-month gatherings at Pearlridge Center. As usual, locations within the mall may vary; visit (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

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 (no Facebook login required). Sunday.

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 Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 11.

Taku Taku Matsuri: A summer festival with an anime/manga slant featuring 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, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 25 at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu (1239 Olomea St.). Volunteers also needed; training sessions are at 1-3 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m.-noon, 1-3 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. Aug 18. Meet at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu for that, too.

Future Attractions

Mini Con 2013: The comic con in the handy petite size returns for its fourth year at McCully-Moiliili Library, 2211 S. King St. nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi has already confirmed her participation … and the date also happens to coincide with Star Wars Reads Day, so could a tie-in with that be forthcoming, too? Hmm. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 5.

Oni-Con Hawaii: Guests include Yuko Ashizawa, a fashion designer with Atelier Pierrot; Final Fantasy series composer Nobuo Uematsu and his band, the Earthbound Papas; Hiroshi Takahashi, voice of Ryu in the later Street Fighter games, Eiji Kikumaru in Prince of Tennis and Japan in Hetalia; and Sana, visual kei musician. 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.