Oni-Con scheduling and Ingress panel clarifying

Oni-Con Hawaii logoWe’re about 24 hours or so away from the beginning of Oni-Con Hawaii, close enough for my preview article — the same one that appeared in our print edition yesterday — to appear on Honolulu Pulse (and the Pulse version is free to read!). Over on Oni-Con’s Facebook page, the updates have been coming fast and furious for the past few days … so fast, in fact, that I can only assume it’s difficult for them to keep up. The scheduling grids posted there and on their website haven’t been updated with revised info since they were published on Saturday, and navigating through all of the updates to figure out what’s what may be a daunting task.

So for your planning convenience, here’s my version of the schedule, incorporating those changes and adding in columns for cosplay meet-ups and Marketplace hours. The URL is http://ow.ly/qnmT7, for those of you who want to store that in your smartphones.

Also for your reference, here’s Oni-Con’s most current panel description listing. It serves its purpose for the most part, save for one panel: the Ingress panel, scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, which has the following description:

Ingress ◊ Friday at 3:00pm, Panel Room 1 ◊ Jordan Silva and John Hyrne discuss about the android app game Ingress.

… which may be underselling the panel juuuuust a tad. Yes, it technically is an Android app game, but … well, here, have a Wikipedia blurb:

Ingress is a near-real time augmented reality massively multiplayer online video game created by Niantic Labs, a start up within Google, currently for Android devices [2] but expected to be available for Apple’s iOS in 2014. The game has a complex science fiction back story which Niantic is revealing in segments.

The gameplay consists of establishing “portals” at places of public art, landmarks, cenotaphs, etc., and linking them to create virtual triangular fields over geographic areas. Progress in the game is measured by the number of Mind Units, i.e. people, nominally controlled by each faction.

Leading the panel will be four of its local players. Yes, Jordan and John will be there. But so will Joyleen Kaiwi … and a certain friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger. Yes, this technically makes it the first con panel I’ve ever done from the presenter’s side of the room. Be nice, and ask really nicely, and maaaaaybe I’ll consider serving on another panel. Maaaaaaybe.

Ota-cool! October, part 4 of 3: No tricks, more treats

Here's the Space Battleship Yamato theatrical poster. It's being given away at screenings across the U.S. ... but not here in Hawaii. Boo, I say, BOO.Remember around the beginning of this month, when I said that the Ota-cool Incoming! calendar for October would be broken up into three parts because it was packed chock full of events? That proved to be underestimating things a bit. Thanks to the power of LAST-MINUTE EVENTS AHOOOOOY~!, this month has firmly staked its claim as the busiest month I can remember ever. Remember this as we head into November, because that month is looking pretty quiet after the 3rd, aside from the holiday craft fair season kicking into full swing.

Here now is yet even still more stuff going on over the next few days:

Space Battleship Yamato takes flight: Perhaps lost a bit amid all the Hawaii International Film Festival buzz was the announcement that the 2010 live-action adaptation of Space Battleship Yamato would have a limited-engagement run at Consolidated’s Ward Stadium 16 complex. Well, that screening window has finally arrived — it starts Friday and runs through Halloween — and so has the showtime schedule: 12:45, 3:45, 7:05 and 10:15 p.m. daily. Tickets are available via Fandango (not to be confused with this Fandango, and don’t forget, with him, you have to let the “a’s” breeeathe).

Here, have a synopsis from film distributor Eleven Arts:

Year 2199. A mysterious enemy from the stars has been decimating the Earth to unlivable and irradiated conditions for the past 5 years. Humankind now lives underground with only a few more months until extinction.

A chosen few Earthlings will be saved and the rest left to perish unless the last Space Battleship Captain, Okita, can journey to another galaxy in response to cryptic coordinates sent by a distant planet. The Captainʼs dark past comes back to haunt him when the quests success depends on the brother of a fellow Captain he coldly used as a shield in battle, to save himself and his ship. This epic journey through space to save their people from extinction will push the crew to the edge of survival, and with nothing left to lose, the Space Battleship Yamato dares the universe to try and stop them.

And here’s a trailer from Manga UK that serves as further proof that we here in the U.S. can’t have nice things as quickly as the U.K. anymore, considering they already have the movie licensed and on home video while we don’t:

Kawaii Christmas Capsule Drive: Kawaii Kon has a super-secret, super-special-awesome Christmas project coming up. It’s so super-secret, I don’t even know what it is, but I’m sure it’ll be cool. In any event, con staff will be collecting gently loved, complete anime figures and plushies (meaning no defects, please) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Campus Center, room 308, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Bring in three figures or more and you can get a free malasada, too, while supplies last. And for each figure/plushie donated, you can get a raffle ticket for a chance to win a free pass to Kawaii Kon X next year. Check out the event page at www.facebook.com/events/455877617861352/ (no Facebook login required).

“Haunted Harajuku Halloween”: Next Thursday is National Cosplay Recognition Day, more commonly known to the average layperson as “Halloween,” or to a certain subset of local fandom, “the day before Oni-Con Hawaii kicks off.” Con attendees ages 21 and older can get the party started early at this event at YuZu Hawaii in the Ala Moana Hotel. There’s a cosplay parade at 10 p.m., a costume contest at 11 p.m. and music and dancing throughout the night. Normal entry cost is $50 (includes heavy pupus and two drink tickets), but show proof that you bought an Oni-Con Hawaii ticket (the ticket, a badge or a PayPal receipt) and you can get in for $40. 9 p.m. Call 943-1155 or visit YuZu Hawaii at their website or Facebook page9 p.m. Oct. 31-1 a.m. Nov. 1.

Fire prevention a la Ghibli

About a month and a half ago — Sept. 7, to be exact — a bunch of artists gathered on the Civic Center grounds during the First Responders Fair to paint art boards for Fire Prevention Month, using the theme of “Prevent Kitchen Fires.” One of those artist groups was MangaBento, the anime- and manga-inspired young artist group featured regularly in this space.

Those boards have been up at Oahu’s fire stations this month. Probably will be up for a few more days, at that. And where did MangaBento’s board end up? At the corner of Leoole and Leonui streets in Waipahu, sitting near what’s formally known as Honolulu Fire Department Station 12, you’ll find … this.

Waipahu Fire Station

And here’s the board close up.

ghibli closeup

The Totoro cast plus Howl’s Moving Castle‘s Calcifer, advocating fire prevention? Yeah, that’s a message I can get behind.

Countdown to Oni-Con Hawaii

Oni-Con Hawaii logoPerhaps the one question I’ve been getting asked the most recently (after “Wait, youre actually still writing? … You have a blog?!?“) is “What is this Oni-Con Hawaii thing, and what do you expect from it?” It’s been easy to say, “Well, it’s an offshoot of an anime convention based in Galveston, Texas, that’s been running for 10 years” … but with less than two weeks to go to the launch of the inaugural edition, I’d be hard-pressed to find any sort of organizational influence from Texas that’s been visible to the public eye aside from some sort of “Tex-aloha” vibe to most con communications (“Howdy, brah! Mahalo, y’all!”) … and a dash of mainland-style con drama (you’ll need Facebook access for that link), which I can’t entirely dismiss because it is floating around out there and I’m pretty sure I’d get one or two comments on this post asking about it if I didn’t acknowledge it existed in some form. (If you can’t see that link and are really curious about it, hit me up in comments, and I can offer you a summary there.)

Possible behind-the-scenes issues aside, the fact remains: There’s some sort of anime con experience coming up shortly, so let’s make the most of it and have some kind of fun, shall we? For those of you who may still be on the fence about going, perhaps a three-hour Oni-Con Hawaii preview event, happening Sunday at Ala Moana Center, will help sway you. The event will be launching Shirokiya’s Ohana Sundays series, a series that will feature fun, family-friendly, free events at the store twice monthly. From 1 to 4 p.m. on the store’s mall level, you can buy passes and merchandise, and the crew from Yu x Me Maid Cafe and Host Club will be serving up orders from the nearby Kulu Kulu and Brug Bakery and playing games.

There will be cosplay showcases and other events going on as well; here’s the schedule:

  • 1 p.m.: “A Taste of Cosplay,” presented by Oni-Con Hawaii and Babel Entertainment
  • 1:10 and 2:30 p.m.: Cosplay Runway (attendees in family-friendly costumes invited!)
  • 1:30, 2:25 and 3:30 p.m.: PRIZE GIVEAWAYS WOOOOOOO
  • 1:35 p.m.: Cosplay Chess demonstration
  • 2 and 3:10 p.m.: Mini Masquerade Theater
  • 2:50 p.m.: Ninjyasize demonstration

Oni-Con Hawaii — the actual event itself — is happening Nov. 1-3 at the Hawaii Convention Center; you can get your tickets at MiniQ in Aiea or any Big City Diner location, or visit www.oniconhawaii.com.

Layton in another light: Enter the “Mystery Room”

Layton Brothers Mystery Room title screen

Today’s profile: Layton Brothers Mystery Room
Publisher: Level-5
Platform: Apple iOS (reviewed), Android
ESRB rating: N/A (but suitable for ages 12 and up)

By now it’s pretty well established that we — and by that I mostly mean “I,” although tag-team partner in fandom Jason Y. is certainly no stranger to the games, either — are huge fans of the Professor Layton and Ace Attorney (aka Phoenix Wright) series of games. So much that there was much crying (on my part) when the second Miles Edgeworth Investigations game was not released in the U.S., and much disdain (on many fans’ parts) when gaming website Kotaku revealed the reason for that. There was equally much tearing of hair as Capcom remained noncommittal about the release prospects for Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, the Nintendo 3DS game that pretty much is what the title says.

Fans such as myself might be eased somewhat in their pain with the recent release of the game Layton Brothers Mystery Room. As I commented to Jason while I was immersed in the first case, I felt like I was indeed playing a crossover of Layton and Ace Attorney. The caveat? It’s only for the iOS. Yes, only for Apple mobile devices, only for the iPhone and iPad.

(At least, it was so at the time I wrote this part of my review, which, admittedly, was back in July. Now, however, being that Mystery Room was recently released for Android devices, that’s kind of a moot point. But bear with me and my fangirl pain for at least the next few paragraphs.)

I will skip over the many exclamations of disbelief I used when I was made aware of that fact. Because, sadly, I have no such device. And I have no plans to buy one. Although, being as Layton- and AA-starved as I was, I had to admit I was teetering dangerously toward getting one. So much that I had to warn my husband (who is a rather staunch non-Apple user, but please don’t comment on that) of the possibility.

So how, one may ask, could I have been playing the game if I don’t have an iOS device? Simple: I had to beg Jason to borrow his. (I had actually been borrowing it for a different game; the release of Mystery Room was unexpected and caught me off guard. And I’m sure my fevered, delirious chats to Jason once I found out about it caught HIM off guard, as well.) He walked me through the steps of downloading and installing and BAM! I was soon back in the world of Layton.

Well, not really.

Continue reading “Layton in another light: Enter the “Mystery Room””

Ota-cool! October, part 3: Kickstart-a-gogo

Crowdfunding, the Internet-connected notion where people contribute to a big pot of money to help a particular project go from someone’s idea to reality, has really become popular as of late. Local otaku-centered events have been become more popular as well, with events from traditional anime conventions like Kawaii Kon and Oni-Con Hawaii to what I’m calling “micro-cons,” convention-like experiences on a smaller scale like the recent Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library, Kawaii Kon’s Anime Day at Windward Mall and Taku Taku Matsuri, dotting the calendar.

But is there room for a crowdfunded micro-con in Honolulu? The University of Hawaii Anime Manga Society thought so when they launched a Kickstarter campaign for M.O.E., the Manoa Otaku Experience, on Sept. 4. And with a little over a week to go before the funding campaign ends, the answer is: Yes. Yes, there is. At $2,066, the total raised so far is a shade over the fundraising goal of $2,000, which means there will be an event on some Saturday down the line.

MOE Matsuri logoSo tomorrow’s MOE Matsuri, a collaboration between UH AMS and Taku Taku Matsuri meant to give an extra promotional/funding boost to the campaign, has turned into a celebration of sorts as well. Appropriate, because when you look at elements of the M.O.E. proposal and compare them to what happened a few months ago at Taku Taku Matsuri, the two events share similar traits. MOE Matsuri will feature a cosplay cafe, vendors (including friends of the blog Jon Murakami and idkwhat2wear, along with annastetic x candy, CAS Crafts & Collectibles, The Rambling Scholar, Bryan + Pueo, Studio Mind Ore, By Thought and Sydney & Max), games and Taku Taku Matsuri organizer Yuka Nagaoka rocking a schoolgirl uniform. (Yes, that won out over “cross-dress,” “Lolita” and “nekomimi maid” in a recent poll of … umm … one person, it would seem.) That’s all happening on the third floor of the UH-Manoa Campus Center, rooms 307-310, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Manoa Otaku Experience logoAs for MOE itself, here’s what else the organizers are hoping to incorporate:

  • Cosplay events — contests, a fashion show and Cosplay Chess
  • Karaoke contest
  • Video game room
  • AMV (anime music video) contest

Admission to MOE won’t be free, but if you contribute to the Kickstarter campaign, you can pre-register for $8-$10. (There are 95 slots available at the lower price, so best get in on that now if you want to save a few bucks.) If you’d like to have a meal at the Cosplay Cafe as well, there are still 39 $30 funding packages up for purchase. Other funding options are also available. And let’s not forget about stretch goals that include T-shirts and more days for the event (which admittedly seem out of reach at this late date, but who knows, maybe the several dozen of you who still read this blog will surprise me somehow and really push this thing higher). You have until 10:37 a.m. Oct. 19 to contribute, so visit ow.ly/pJYNF if you’re interested.

While I’m talking about crowdfunding campaigns, there are two others of note going on at the moment:

  • The Chalk Twins, sisters from Florida who have drawn chalk art at conventions nationwide, is running an Indiegogo campaign to fund trips to 16 anime cons next year … and Kawaii Kon is on that list. Perks include bookmarks, signed prints, T-shirts and original sketches and artwork. The funding period runs through Oct. 31; visit ow.ly/pJZSn.
  • Here locally, 11-year-old Mariana Agena, daughter of Twitterite Lance Agena, is selling her manga, Code: Flower Fairys, as a fundraiser for a trip to this year’s Pop Warner National Cheer Competition in Orlando, Fla. $6 gets you a 110-page PDF, and while it may not have a professional sheen to it — it’s basically scans from a sketchbook — it’s still incredibly cute. Besides, buying it gives you instant karma points for helping nurture the artistic and literary creativity of an 11-year-old girl. The campaign is ongoing at gumroad.com/l/POUq.

More for the month

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 202). Visit www.manga-bento.com. Meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday and Oct. 27.

Kawaii Kon volunteer meeting #2: You’ve seen that there are going to be a number of great guests coming to next year’s show, and you know there are going to be thousands of people who are going to show up to see those guests. So why not help out a bit? It’s time for the second of several volunteer staff meetings over the next few months. Prospective volunteers must attend two meetings, so why procrastinate? Start now. Learn more about volunteering and download the proper forms at www.kawaii-kon.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=7788; the meeting, at Kakaako Waterfront Park, will be from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 19.

Aiea Library Anime Club: Young adult librarian Diane Masaki will be screening episodes of I Don’t Know What My Young Adult Librarian Will Be Showing At Club, But I’m Sure It’ll Be Really Neat! at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. Never heard of that series? It’s a romantic comedy featuring an awkward teenager surrounded by a bevy of moe-blob girls. Or I may have just made that up on the fly because the actual series has yet to be determined. But anyway. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Oct. 19.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center; locations within the mall may vary. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 20.

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; Sana, visual kei musician; and J. Michael Tatum, voice of Sebastian in Black Butler and France in Hetalia. Also featuring the Cosplay Chess Brigade and Yu x Me Maid Cafe & Host Club. Preregistration open now; $45 for a three-day pass, or buy a la carte: $20 for Friday, $30 for Saturday, $25 for Sunday. Three-day passes are also available at MiniQ (98 Kauhale St., Aiea) and all Big City Diner locations. Hawai’i Convention Center, Nov. 1-3.

Ota-cool! October, part 2: The “Wind Rises”-less guide to HIFF

"The Wind Rises" may be sold out, but this part of the post looked a bit gray without a picture here, so here you go.Let’s get the lead item out of the way: The Wind Rises, one of the Hawaii International Film Festival’s showcase Opening Night films and the Studio Ghibli production that is purportedly Hayao Miyazaki’s filmmaking swan song, is sold out online.

That’s not to say that you’re completely out of luck. It remains to be seen how many “rush,” or standby, tickets will be available, or whether there will be any encore screenings later in the festival. There’s also the prospect of sometime around next February, when Disney — picking up Ghibli film distribution again after letting From Up on Poppy Hill go to GKids — will likely send the film to theaters in wide release. (Just, y’know, prepare yourself for the two leads, Jiro and Naoko, to be played by the young stars or relatives of stars from current Disney Channel programming, like Noah Cyrus and Frankie Jonas in Ponyo or Bridgit Mendler in The Secret World of Arrietty.)

But Wind Rises aside, there are other films to keep local otaku happy, some with anime/manga roots, others that just seem … interesting. Here’s what’s on my list of highlights. Tickets are still available for all of these; hiff.org has information on how you can pick them up, whether online or in person. Unless otherwise noted, all films will be screening at the Regal Theatres Dole Cannery 18 complex:

Animation Maestro Gisaburo: Gisaburo Sugii has worked in the anime industry for longer than many (if not all) of you reading this have been alive. Consider this: He was an in-between animator for Hakujaden. Hakujaden, which was released in Japan in 1958, was the first Japanese feature-length animated film in color. And when Globe Pictures localized it as Panda and the Magic Serpent in 1961, it became the first anime to be screened for American audiences.

So yeah, he’s been around for a long time. He’s had a hand in directing installments in a number of notable franchises over the years, including Captain Tsubasa, Lupin III, Glass Mask, Street Fighter II and Touch. His latest movie, Guskou Budori no Denki, was released in Japan in July 2012. And this movie chronicles all of his career highlights. If that doesn’t make for a fascinating documentary, I don’t know what does. (Pair it with Night on the Galactic Railroad for the optimal Gisaburo weekend experience.) Screening Oct. 20 at 4 p.m.

The cover to Dark Horse's "Evangelion: Shinji Ikari Raising Project" vol. 1. Also an accurate visual portrayal of the popularity of Eva characters.Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo: Shinji, NERV and the Angels are back in the third of director Hideaki Anno’s planned quadrology, and they’re doing what they do best: giving fans reasons to buy more variations of Rei, Asuka and Makinami toy figures fueling another round of Shinji x Kaworu yaoi fanfics bringing us one step closer to finding out if this version of Evangelion will give fans the definitive ending they’ve been looking for since 1996. Looking at HIFF’s promo images and this line of the synopsis:

Trapped in a harrowing cycle of death and rebirth, Shinji continues to courageously battle the angels, even as the world hurtles towards what could ultimately be its tragic end.

… it looks like we’re firmly in original-canon Evangelion: Death and Rebirth territory. You know, the movie that a Newtype USA reviewer once summarized as “Asuka goes crazy, Rei gets big, everyone dies.” And there’s still one more movie to go! Monday at 9 p.m. and Oct. 20 at 1:45 p.m.

The God of Ramen: Stick a steaming-hot bowl of freshly made ramen in front of tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J., and she is one happy gal. Stick a Japanese documentary about food in front of me — see Jiro Dreams of Sushi — and I’m definitely up for seeing it. So a film about a longtime ramen shop owner which plays out, as HIFF’s synopsis says, “like a 90-minute episode of Soko Ga Shiritai“? Yeah, we’re in for that. (It also helps that our schedules are such that we can actually clear time to watch it.)

I’ve also included this film in this guide because it’s the only one that’s screening for our neighbor island friends on Kauai and Hawaii island. (Yes, Parv, I saw your lament in the Ota-cool! October part 1 comments. I feel your pain.) Tuesday at 6:15 p.m., Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. at Consolidated Koko Marina, Oct. 19 at 5 p.m., Oct. 26 at 11:30 a.m. at Waimea (Kauai) Theater and Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. at Palace Theater in Hilo.

Harlock: Space Pirate: When director Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed, “The Package” in Halo Legends) was a guest at Kawaii Kon in 2010, he screened some super-spiffy CGI footage of this movie. Three years later, we’re finally getting to see his take on Leiji Matsumoto’s iconic intergalactic pirate and crew and their quest, aboard the battlecruiser Arcadia, to restore humans’ rightful place on Earth. But will he be able to overcome the corrupt Gaia Coalition standing in his way? Friday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m.

Hentai Kamen: Forbidden Superhero: It’s been about 10 years since I first began writing about anime and manga for what was then the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. I’ve seen a lot of weird things in Japanese live-action movies along the way — killer sushi, murderous baseball teams, giant wrestling cephalopods, a Lolita and a biker befriending each other, Hibari Misora appearing in a musical about a tanuki princess 16 years after her death, mecha-geisha assassins, stuff like that. And yet, taking all of that into account, here I am, marveling over how I never thought I’d ever be writing something about a sadomasochistic superhero who wears women’s panties as a mask and thong suspenders as a costume. Yup, this is Hentai Kamen. It’s based on a six-volume manga by Keishu Ando, published by Shueisha in Weekly Shonen Jump(!) in 1992-93, never formally translated for U.S. audiences (probably for very good reasons). Just … hide the children. Oct. 19 at 9:30 p.m. and Oct. 20 at 4:30 p.m.

night-on-galactic-railroad-2Night on the Galactic Railroad: Back in 2001, Central Park Media released this 1985 Gisaburo Sugii-directed film on DVD. You probably missed it, because, well, if CPM stuff actually sold at retail in the early 2000s, they’d probably still be around today. Besides, CPM stuff didn’t exactly have visual pop sitting on retail shelves — have a look at that cover at right for proof. I certainly missed out on it. Which is too bad, because the concept behind it — boy with a fractured family life and a tough social life is invited to come aboard a universe-traversing train — certainly sounds interesting. Almost Galaxy Express 999-ish, if you will, just without Maetel. The film has a fresh remastering sheen to it, too, so if anything, it’ll probably look better than that DVD release. Oct. 19 at 1 p.m.

Nuiglumar Z (Gothic Lolita Battle Bear): I’ve repeatedly said in my HIFF mini-previews that it takes a lot for a movie from Noboru Iguchi — the man responsible for those killer sushi and mecha-geisha assassins I alluded to above — to be upstaged in my pantheon of what-the-heck-ery. Yet Hentai Kamen managed to do just that this year. Still, a movie about a gothic Lolita superhero — played by cosplay/singing idol/blogger Shoko “Shokotan” Nakagawa — battling hordes of zombies with her teddy bear is still a pretty wacky concept, even if it doesn’t seem to reach the pulp-fiction heights of Iguchi’s previous works on the surface. Oct. 18 at 9:30 p.m., and Oct. 19 at 9 p.m. at Consolidated Koko Marina.

Rurouni Kenshin: The anime and manga versions of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s story of a former assassin-turned wandering protector is fairly well-known among longtime fans. And if you loved those, you’re probably going to head out to see this regardless of what I say about it, just for the sheer curiosity factor to see how well Takeru Sato and Emi Takei pull off Kenshin and Kaoru. So here’s my Rurouni Kenshin story: Whenever I think of the anime, the Judy & Mary song “Sobakasu” always pops to mind, mostly because I learned of its existence after the Tiggy song “Freckles,” part of the DDR MAX soundtrack. “Sobakasu,” as I learned, translates into “freckles.” The translated lyrics of the former are quite different from the English lyrics of the latter, though. Saturday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at noon.

Kawaii Kon, the “I Love the ’90s, the ’00s, and Anime” edition

kawaii-kon-logoIf I wasn’t writing this blog for a respected media outlet like the Star-Advertiser, the following would likely have been my entire post about the flurry of Kawaii Kon guest announcements for next year’s show, made over the course of a little over an hour on Friday:





… and that would have been it.

That wouldn’t be much of a post, though. The several dozen of you who have stuck around this long to read this blog expect a certain degree of quality and analysis along with our blinding fanboy/girl-ishness, after all.

Looking at this batch of guests, one thing that stands out right away is that half of them are more known for their voice-acting work in mainstream cartoons than anime. Before you start lamenting the tainting of the sanctity of an anime convention, though, relax.  “Anime” is just the Japanese way of shortening the word “animation.” Besides, it seems like anime cons in general are trending more toward anime-with-a-healthy-dose-of-other-animated-series cons — just look at the influx of Adventure Time, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Homestuck fans that have shown up at these events.

It should also be noted that, as someone pointed out on my Facebook page, all of the guests have some kind of “otaku connection,” something that actually links each guest to our beloved anime and/or video game worlds. To that end, I’ve included a guide with each guest bio pointing out that link (or, in the case of the Japanese voice actors, some sort of non-otaku-based role they’ve had in the past, just to keep things interesting).

Jim Cummings: You want accomplishments? Cummings probably has enough to coat your entire cartoon-loving childhood. He’s the voice of Darkwing Duck, the terror that flaps in the night, pin that will burst your bubble, current of vengeance gurgling through your sewer, rhinestones on the jumpsuit of justice, etc. He was a pretty big part of the 1990s Disney Afternoon cartoon block, as he also voiced Officer Bonkers D. Bobcat in Bonkers, Don Karnage in TaleSpin, and Monterey Jack, Fat Cat and Professor Nimnul in Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers. Shredder in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? That was him, too. He’s also had roles that have lasted for years; he’s been the voice of the Tasmanian Devil since Taz-mania aired in the early 1990s and Disney’s voice of Winnie the Pooh (since 1988), Tigger (since 1990) and Pete (since 1992). And if you knew that he was the voice of Professor Otto von Schnitzelpusskrankengescheitmeyer in the Animaniacs episode “Schnitzelbank,” you’re either really sharp on your ‘toon trivia, or you’re an anime/manga blogger who happened to unearth that little trivia nugget while researching Kawaii Kon’s new guests.

  • Otaku connection: He played a general in Castle in the Sky. And, of course, any appearances by Pooh, Tigger and Pete in the Kingdom Hearts series were his work.

Grey DeLisle: While Cummings rose to prominence with the cartoons of the 1990s, DeLisle’s signature roles started piling up in the 2000s. Vicky the twisted teen babysitter in Fairly OddParents, Mandy in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. Azula in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Francis “Frankie” Foster in Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. She’s also been the voice of Daphne Blake in the Scooby Doo franchise since Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase in 2001.

  • Otaku connection: She was Yumi in the *taptaptaptap* *1! 2! 3! 4!* Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Show! Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Show! Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Show! Anything is possible! She’s also had roles in Afro Samurai and Afro Samurai: Resurrection, as well as Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Final Fantasy X-2.

Ayumi Fujimura: Perhaps the lesser-known of the two Japanese voice actors announced in this round of guests, Fujimura nevertheless has several notable roles in her resume, including Chiharu Harukaze in Hayate the Combat Butler, Ibuki in Super Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter X Tekken, Haruka Uehara in Lagrange — The Flower of Rin-ne, and Misaki Ayuzawa in Maid Sama! Kawaii Kon will mark her second U.S. anime con appearance; she appeared at Sakura-Con in Seattle this year.

  • Non-otaku connection: She was the voice of Katie Bell in the Japanese dub of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Quinton Flynn: As the saying goes, you can’t have a Kawaii Kon without a kawaii Kon … you know, the Modified Soul who inhabits a stuffed lion in Bleach. Sure, there’s been that giant Kon cosplay wandering around the con and related events in recent years, but this is the first year that the man who is Kon’s English voice will be in attendance as well. But Bleach isn’t the only fan-favorite series in which Flynn has played a prominent role; he’s also the voice of Iruka in Naruto, Axel in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, Reno in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and Crisis Core and Raiden in the Metal Gear Solid franchise.

  • Otaku connection: Duh.

Richard Horvitz: Back in 2008, Rikki Simons, the voice of Gir in Invader Zim, came to Kawaii Kon. Six years later, those of you who got stuff from that series signed by Simons finally have a chance to get it signed by the other half of the quirky duo, Horvitz, who was the voice of Zim himself.  He also was the voice of Alpha 5 on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Billy on The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy (hello, likely panel with Grey DeLisle).

  • Otaku connection: He’s the voice of Kanchome in Zatch Bell and also had some minor roles in Pom Poko, Howl’s Moving Castle and From Up on Poppy Hill.

Tetsuya Kakihara: Natsu in Fairy Tail. Simon in Gurren Lagann. Those are two of the signature roles Kakihara has had in his 10-year career so far, and those are already two pretty big deals in the world of anime fandom. He’s also Mercutio in Romeo X Juliet, Shima in Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan and Koichi in Linebarrels of Iron. He has one prior U.S. anime con appearance, at Otakon in Baltimore in 2012.

  • Non-otaku link: Remember the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series in 2003? He was the voice of Leonardo in the Japanese dub.

These six voice actors join three previously announced guests: voice actors Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh and cosplayer Leah Rose.

The 10th anniversary edition of Kawaii Kon is happening April 4-6 at the Hawai’i Convention Center. Three-day adult passes are $47 through Nov. 1, while three-day passes for children ages 5-12 are $37. Visit www.kawaii-kon.org.

Ota-cool! October, part 1: Petite con love

Mini Con 2013 posterWelcome to October, the month where, if you can’t find some event that interests you, you have to start questioning whether your heart’s really still into this anime/manga fandom.

A bunch of major players are hosting events this month: Kawaii Kon. The Hawaii International Film Festival. Taku Taku Matsuri. Oni-Con Hawaii (yes, I’m counting them now even though it’s a November event, because I’m checking in to my hotel Halloween afternoon and will probably be too busy covering it to be able to write them into the November Ota-cool! calendar, so yay). McCully-Moiliili Library manager Hillary Chang. That’s not even factoring in regular meetings of groups like Comic Jam Hawaii and MangaBento, or the Space Battleship Yamato live-action film from 2010 screening at the Ward theaters toward the end of the month.

There’s something going on pretty much every week — so much, in fact, that I ended up breaking up my customary beginning-of-the-month Ota-cool Incoming! post into three parts, for easier reading. And part 1 focuses on the big-bang kickoff to the month, what I saw as one crazy busy day several months ago: Saturday.

About a 30-minute, 14-mile drive separates the Kawaii Kon-hosted Anime Day at Windward Mall and Mini-Con at McCully-Moiliili Library. That information will come in handy for the truly hard-core fans among you, as both of those events are happening at roughly the same time — Anime Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mini Con from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Nemu *loves* the library. Cute Audra Furuichi art courtesy of Hillary Chang.If time and/or parking are your priority, perhaps Mini Con, sponsored by the library, Collector Maniacs and the Ross Dress for Less across the street (in the old Longs building!) ought to be your first stop. Now in its fourth year, Hillary Chang has invited her by-now standard roster of all-star artists ready to meet and greet patrons — Gordon Rider / Ararangers artist Jon Murakami, nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi, Crazy Shirts designer and Kikaidaverse fan artist Kevin Sano, and Brady Evans and Tara Tamayori with their dual Pen & Ink Works / Hachi Maru Hachi attack. (It’s super-effective!)

Jon, Audra and Kevin will all have stuff for sale — Audra in particular will have another lineup of I-wanna-buy-them-aaaaaaaaaaaall original artwork — and Pen & Ink Works will host a workshop at 11 a.m. There also will be free swag to collect (bookmarks! pencils!) and free anime screenings throughout the day. Cosplayers also will receive special prizes just for cosplaying, so go for it! Besides, Hillary’s always unveiled a costume of her own every year. You wouldn’t want her to feel all alone in her creative endeavors.

Weird (but given my recent history with covering such events, totally not expected) thing: I don’t think I ever posted a Flickr gallery of last year’s Mini Con. So if you want a taste of what this year’s event will probably look like, here you go:


Anime Day 2013 logoThe larger of the two events is Anime Day, which took over a bunch of empty storefronts and the centerstage area of Windward Mall last year. Most of the accoutrements from last year’s event are back this year: cosplay contests, free anime screenings and a dealers room / Artist Alley hybrid (where one of the vendors, I understand, will be a certain beading enthusiast who also writes a popular Star-Advertiser business column, selling anime- and video game-themed jewelry). The Comic Jam Hawaii gang will be hosting the Art Wall and sketching stations as well. The only thing that’s missing is that giant Christmas tree that regularly spewed out artificial “snow” in the centerstage area, but that Anime Day was also held in early December, so there’s that.

There’s also the promise of a “few surprises.” If you’ve been keeping track of the Kawaii Kon Facebook page in recent weeks, for starters, there has been that whole “here’s a picture of a particular character … what does this all mean?” running bit … I’m only speculating here, but could we finally be getting some confirmed answers to that question? And will it be, as your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger thinks, the announcement of the voice acting trio of Rob Paulsen, Grey DeLisle and Quinton Flynn as guests for Kawaii Kon 2014? We shall see, I suppose.

Weird (but given my recent history with covering Mini Con 2012, totally not expected) thing: I don’t think I ever posted a Flickr gallery of last year’s Anime Day, either. So if you want a taste of what this year’s event will probably look like, here you go:


And that’s still not everything going on this weekend. Some other events of note:

Star Wars Reads Day: May the force of literacy be with you! Eight libraries — Aiea, Aina Haina, Hawaii Kai, Kahuku, Kapolei and Mililani on Oahu, Makawao on Maui and Princeville on Kauai — will be hosting Star Wars-themed giveaways and activities. Aiea will host members of the 501st Imperial Legion and the Mandalorian Mercs, as well as offer activities for the kids, between 10 a.m. and noon. Kapolei will also have 501st members and kids’ activities between 10 a.m. and noon, while Mililani will have a bunch of giveaways between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Cap it off with a screening of Star Wars: The Clone Wars from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at Hawaii Kai.

Visual Kei Dark Castle: A Halloween Party: To get a sense of the vibe this regular visual kei club event is going for this month, please watch this video.

And then watch this locally produced homage.

Got it? Awesome. Be a v-kei creature of the night and come out to play at Nextdoor (43 N. Hotel St.) from 9 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This Sunday is the first one of the month, which means it’s time for another Pearlridge sketch session. Join this group of collaborative cartoon artists from 1 to 4 p.m. and draw to your heart’s content. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii.

Keep in mind, this is just what’s happening on one weekend this month. Next time, there’s a whole film festival’s worth of material to delve into. And then after that, there’s the rest of the month to cover.

It’s going to be a wild ride, folks. Strap in and enjoy.