Ani-Mele Kalikimaka from Honolulu Hale

Ahh, Honolulu City Lights. Now in its 29th year, the sights of the city’s annual Christmas display have become familiar to anyone driving through the government district on King and Beretania streets during the holiday season — Shaka Santa and Mrs. Claus dipping their toes into the fountain, the giant Norfolk pine sitting in front of Honolulu Hale, the snowman family, giant blocks spelling out “MELE KALIKIMAKA” (Merry Christmas) on one side and “HAUOLI MAKAHIKI HOU” (Happy New Year) on the other, the Board of Water Supply’s animated light displays hanging between palm trees. If you’re interested in getting a sense of what those look like, we have a whole bunch of pictures shot by Kat Wade over at our sister site, Honolulu Pulse.

Tucked away from the drive-by sightseers, sitting in the courtyard of Honolulu Hale, is a festival of trees, each one decorated by a city agency and following a general theme. That, along with the display of entries in the city’s holiday wreath contest, would be worth the extra effort to walk through every year on its own merits. But there’s something about this year’s theme that makes it particularly appealing to us here at Otaku Ohana. A few weeks ago, tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. nudged me to read a section of this preview by Stefanie Nakasone:

The annual display, consisting of trees decorated by different city departments, this year has a theme of anime.

WILL WE see some Pokemon, Naruto or maybe even Sailor Moon?

“The departments are pretty hushed about that,” Kaji­wara said of this year’s designs. “We’re excited to see what people put together.”

Now, I have to admit, I was a bit guarded in my enthusiasm about the news. Sure, an “anime” theme is great, but at the same time, if it ended up being a bunch of trees with all 718 Pokemon and generic big-eyed caricatures, I probably would’ve lamented the missed opportunities.

As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. There was a truck with Anpanman, Goku, Hello Kitty, Badtz-Maru, Totoro and Pikachu in the opening night’s electric light parade, after all — if any other American city has ever featured something like that in a parade, I’d love to see a picture of it. There is, indeed, a thrill about stepping inside and having this as one entryway view.


And from another entryway, this view.


And if you go during normal government business working hours, you could also go upstairs and get this view.


Of course, you know what all that meant: I had to go down and get enough shots for the customary embedded Flickr gallery. Before I get to that, though, here are some fun tree display facts:

  • Twenty-two city departments and agencies are represented. Of those, five — Enterprise Services, Information Technology, Design & Construction, the Board of Water Supply and Customer Services — don’t have any direct ties to anime. (Still nice trees, though.) The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit’s display technically isn’t anime-related, either, but their characters do look somewhat sorta anime-ish, so I’ll let that slide.
  • All of the trees are artificial due to city fire codes.
  • Five trees, a giant Pikachu and a firefighting Pikachu sitting next to the Honolulu Fire Department’s firefighting-themed tree testify to the mainstream appeal of Pokemon.
  • Three trees are Totoro-themed — add in Transportation Services’ Ponyo-themed tree, and you have four inspired by the work of Studio Ghibli.
  • Some other anime characters making appearances: Goku, Naruto, Tony Tony Chopper, Doraemon, Hatsune Miku, Astro Boy, Mokona (black and white!) and Asuna from Sword Art Online. There are also a few boxed Gundam model kits.

It’s been a while since I last gave these instructions on viewing Flickr galleries, so here’s a refresher. 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: And if you want to see the display in person, the trees will be up at Honolulu Hale through the end of the month. Check it out any time between 7:45 a.m. and 11 p.m. daily.

Enough of my gabbing … here’s the gallery. Merry Christmas!

“Anohana”: The flower we’re seeing on Maui

anohanaIt’s been a while since tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. has raved to me about wanting to see any anime, so when she does, you bet I’m going to perk up and take notice.

In this particular case, it’s Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, an 11-episode series that aired in Japan in 2011 and is currently available for free on Crunchyroll. In the series, a girl’s death ends up being the wedge that drives a group of childhood friends apart, but her ghostly return — and her haunting of the group’s leader — could end up being the key to them coming to terms over the guilt they felt about that tragic day. And a flower is probably involved. (Hey, I only saw the first episode of Kill La Kill on Wednesday. I have a lot of anime series catching-up to do.)

A feature-length film retelling the story was released in Japan in August; a few months later, in November, Aniplex of America announced it would be bringing the film to U.S. theaters, with Eleven Arts distributing. If you remember my first post on Evangelion 3.0 a few weeks ago, your sixth sense should be tingling right about now, considering that I said that pretty much anything with Eleven Arts attached to it has shown up locally as of late.

Well, an Aniplex press release announcing that a theater list was now available rattled into my inbox this morning … and there’s good and bad news. The good news is that the Anohana movie is, indeed, coming to Hawaii. The bad news? As of now, if you’re reading this somewhere that isn’t Maui, it’s going to cost you, at a bare minimum, round-trip airfare, a round-trip cab ride and a ticket to see it. That’s because, for the first time that I can remember this happening in all my years on this beat, Anohana is skipping Honolulu entirely and screening exclusively at the Kaahumanu 6 theaters in Kahului.

So here’s the deal, Mauians: There will be two showings, one at 2 p.m. on Wed., Jan. 22, the other at 7 p.m. Sat., Jan. 25. Fandango ticket links are embedded in that last sentence; tickets cost $15 each. Ticketholders will have an opportunity to score cool gifts, including “Letters From Menma” replicas and movie posters. And in case you’re still on the fence, here, have a trailer.

For more information on the movie, visit In the meantime, I’ll be sitting over here, alternating between being jealous of those of you on Maui and seriously contemplating whether I should hop over for a day and indulge in Komoda Store cream puffs, guri guri from the Tasaka shop, and pretty much everything Sam Sato’s in Wailuku serves up. That’s good eatin’.

Evangelion 3.0, update 3.0

eva3_posterB_B1_org_OK_RGBWhile I was poking around on Fandango, I decided to check in on whether the Eva 3.0 screenings for the Kaahumanu 6 and Ward Stadium theaters finally materialized. And they have! Ticket links and prices are below. (Note: “Seniors” refers to anyone ages 60 and older; “children” refers to anyone ages 3-11.)

Those screenings are more than two weeks earlier than the Doris Duke Theatre screenings at the Honolulu Museum of Art that I’ve written about before, so if you’re really itching to see Eva 3.0 sooner rather than later, here’s your chance. If not, tickets are still available for all those screenings. As far as I know, tickets are also still available for the Kawaii Kon screening at 7:30 p.m. Thurs., Jan. 30, for free to those who have a three-day badge from 2013 or who already preregistered for 2014. Details for that offer are in this post.

Ota-cool incoming!

Unless some major news breaks in the next few days, I expect this will be the last Ota-cool Incoming! update for 2013. It’s been a very fruitful year for the local anime/manga fan community … and the first few months of 2014 are already shaping up to be fun ones as well. So let’s get to it!

journey of heroes 2Honolulu Gift Fair: We already knew that Stacey Hayashi, author of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team graphic novel Journey of Heroes, would be one of the vendors in attendance. Now comes word that she’ll have copies of the fresh-off-the-press second printing of the book as well. The new edition contains four additional pages — featuring letters from veterans and a list of donors to schools — and a redesigned cover. Well, okay, so the title bar just changed from red to blue, as you can see in the picture to the right. But hey, it’s something. Stacey will also have shirts featuring the chibis and buttons available for sale as well. Admission is free. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall; 3-9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Aiea Library Anime Club: This month, librarian Diane Masaki is screening … well … something holiday-themed, that’s for sure. Could be polar bears. Could be something about three homeless friends and an abandoned baby. Just show up and act pleasantly surprised, okay? At the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail 3 p.m. Saturday.

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. Sunday.

Future attractions

New Year’s Ohana Festival: Kick off 2014 with the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii in an event guaranteed to be filled with food, games, entertainment, cultural activities and a Kawaii Kon booth, where preregistrations will be taken and Eva 3.0 tickets will be given away. At the center (2454 S. Beretania St.) and nearby Moiliili Field. Jan. 19, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Honolulu Festival: It’s the 20th anniversary edition of the festival promoting harmony between Hawaii and the Asia-Pacific region; the theme: “Jubilation, One Heart, One Pacific, One World.” Just as in previous years, Kawaii Kon will have an exhibit, and the Nagaoka Fireworks display will put a bow on the proceedings. Hawai’i Convention Center and other venues around Waikiki, March 7-9.

Kawaii Kon 2014: Guests for the 10th anniversary edition include voice actors Jim Cummings, Grey DeLisle, Ayumi Fujimura, Quinton Flynn, Richard Horvitz, Tetsuya Kakihara, Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh; professional cosplayer Leah Rose; and local comedian Augie T., serving as emcee. Preregistration open now; $37 for a three-day pass for children ages 5-12, $42 general admission. Hawai’i Convention Center, April 4-6.

Next time in Otaku Ohana


Indeed, a Kawaii Christmas is the only Christmas for me.

And there are a lot more pictures from where that came from, too.

Evangelion: Death and rebirth … of a screening

eva3_posterB_B1_org_OK_RGBThe most intriguing mystery hovering over January’s screenings of Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo at the Doris Duke Theatre has been solved.

A brief recap: As I noted in my last post, online ticket sales for Eva 3.0 went on sale in the past few days, but with one notable gap — the screening scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 (one of three to be in Japanese with English subtitles, one of five overall) had already sold out. To thicken the plot, when I posted a link to that post in my usual social media circles, I got a response from Brady Evans, who works at the Honolulu Museum of Art. He told me that the screening was sold out before he even posted the ticket page on the museum’s website.

Question is, who would buy out the entire theater like that? Industry staff, looking for a Hawaii vacation? Overeager fanboys, with their shrines to Asuka, Rei and Mari? Overeager fangirls, hoping for more story shreds to fuel their Shinji x Kaworu boys’ love fanfics? And were some combination of all those factions camped out in front of the theater box office, waiting for the second someone hung out an “ON SALE NOW” sign?

Turns out the explanation is a lot simpler: Kawaii Kon bought out that particular showing. And as their just-released December newsletter points out, they’re opening the doors and letting in any three-day badge holders from  Kawaii Kon 2013 and/or already preregistered for the anime con’s 10th anniversary edition next year at no additional cost. (First come, first served, of course.) Here’s how attendees can claim their tickets:

  • Email; include your full name and a picture/scan of your 2013 badge or 2014 registration confirmation.
  • Bring your ID and badge/confirmation to the theater on Jan. 30 — again, for the 7:30 p.m. screening only.

That’s it! Easy peasy. I should note that the Doris Duke Theatre has a listed seating capacity of 280, so you’ll want to get on that sooner rather than later.

Not registered yet for 2014? Current three-day pass rates are $52 general admission (ages 13 and up), $42 children ages 5-12. If you really want to splurge, VIP packages for singles and couples, including a three-night stay at the Ala Moana Hotel, T-shirts, special 1oth-anniversary lanyards and priority in seating and various queues, also remain available ($655 singles, $752 couples). There also will be opportunities to win tickets at the various Madoka Magica: Rebellion screenings later this month and the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s Ohana Festival on Jan. 19.

For all things Kawaii Kon, keep watching this space or visit

Evangelion 3.0: You can (now) buy tickets

It seems these days that if a theatrical screening that may be of interest to local anime fans has Eleven Arts attached to it, it’s a reasonably safe bet that it’ll be making its way to Hawaii eventually. That’s proven to be the case with features including The Mystical Laws, the Madoka Magica trilogy and the live-action Ryujin Mabuyer and Space Battleship Yamato.

The cover to Dark Horse's "Evangelion: Shinji Ikari Raising Project" vol. 1. Also an accurate visual portrayal of the popularity of Eva characters.The latest movie to follow this trend: Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo, the third of four films designed to sell more Asuka/Rei/Mari merchandise refresh the story of Neon Genesis Evangelion, perhaps this time with an ending that makes more sense and/or doesn’t leave Asuka to go crazy, Rei to get big and everyone to die. Here’s the official synopsis to recap where we are in the saga:

Fourteen years after the third impact, Shinji awakens to a world he does not recognize and his body has not aged a single day. Earth lies in ruins and those he once fought valiantly to protect have cruelly turned against him. Nerv is nothing but a distant memory. Trapped in a harrowing cycle of death and rebirth, Shinji continues to courageously battle the angels—even as the world spirals down towards what could be a tragic end.

After a brief, two-screening run at the Hawaii International Film Festival in October, Eva 3.0 is back for more, beginning with a three-day run at the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Doris Duke Theatre next month. Tickets for that Jan. 29-31 engagement recently went on sale, in fact.

… aaaaaaaand the screening at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 promptly sold out.

It’s definitely a downer for people who wanted to see this movie in Japanese with English subtitles and can only see movies on weekday evenings, to be sure. The only other subtitled screenings are at 1 p.m. Jan. 30 and 31, while both screenings on Jan. 29 — at 1 and 7:30 p.m. — will introduce the English dubbed version to Hawaii audiences. Perhaps it isn’t an optimal situation for fans who prefer their anime subbed, but, well, it is what it is. Tickets are $12 general admission ($10 art museum members) and can be purchased at

If you can’t make any of those screenings, don’t despair just yet: There are screenings planned for Consolidated’s Ward Stadium 16 theaters and, for those of you who may be reading this blog on Maui, Consolidated’s Kaahumanu 6 theaters in Kahului. Those times and dates have yet to be determined, so just sit tight.

While we’re talking about movie screenings, there are still tickets remaining for all screenings of Madoka Magica: Rebellion, in both three-film marathon and single-film servings, at the Doris Duke Theatre. For Madoka fans who may still be on the fence, there’s a little more incentive to lure you out: There will be drawings for replica shikishi, or autograph boards, with artwork from character designer Ume Aoki at every screening. You can get a closer look at some of the designs — and marvel at how much people are willing to pay for what are supposed to be giveaway items! — on this eBay page.