The great cat-alog of Oahu’s Doraemon statues

It was Jan. 20 — around when word was just starting to trickle out about “Meet Doraemon: Japan’s Time-Traveling Cat” opening at Bishop Museum a little less than a month away — when MidWeek cartoonist/Aiea Intermediate art teacher Roy Chang posted this picture to his Facebook timeline.

Where a cat and a dog can coexist together.

Random life-size Doraemon statue at Ward Warehouse was truly random! And there was nothing around at the time to indicate what it was for, who put it there, or why Doraemon was hanging around with a determined-looking dog under the escalators to and from The Old Spaghetti Factory. Since I was working on the museum exhibit preview with tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J., I asked my contact at the museum whether they had anything to do with it; she replied that they did not.

A few days passed before a picture of a second Doraemon statue popped up on my Facebook timeline, this one at Kahala Mall … along with a sign explaining that it was part of something called the “Doraemon Wakuwaku Stamp Rally.” I knew right then that I had to pay that statue, along with the Ward statue, a visit.

What I learned on that trip was twofold. First, that Kahala statue was really tucked away in a corner.

002-Kahala Mall C

That’s the stairwell in the theater wing of the mall, next to Kuru Kuru Sushi. You’ll note that to the right of the statue, there’s a black table with something on it. Here’s what it looks like close up:

002-Kahala Mall B

It turned out that this statue, along with the Ward statue, were both part of the aforementioned “Doraemon Wakuwaku Stamp Rally,” a promotion hosted by HIS Hawaii’s Lea Lea Trolley. As  I understand it — sadly, I haven’t been able to get anyone from HIS to formally comment on what’s going on — Japanese visitors who sign up for a certain tour package get a stamp card and go around town collecting seven stamps at various locations. (That’s one of the stamp pads on the table.) Here’s what some of those stamps look like.


They can turn in the stamp card for some cool Doraemon-themed prizes, as seen on a table at the HIS Hawaii office at the Waikiki Beach Marriott. (For the record, I REALLY wish I could have a box of Doradamia Nuts. I know they’re just regular Hawaiian Host chocolates, but still! That box!)


Sadly, I don’t think we regular folk are eligible to win these prizes, but HIS is currently running a contest via social media: Through April 30, you can post pictures of the statues around town to Instagram and use the hashtag “#doraemonhi” to be eligible to win gift certificates to Ruth’s Chris Steak House, the Prince Court Restaurant at Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki, and the Magic of Polynesia.

It took me a few months (and repeat visits; you can’t imagine how I felt when I learned that (a) some of the statues later had informational placards added to them and (b) three more statues had appeared when I thought I had found all of them), but I’ve managed to track down the locations of at least 13 statues that are part of this promotion, placed between downtown and Kahala Mall. They really are all over the place, next to information booths …

010-Ala Moana C

…tucked away in shopping malls …


… and, of course, in HIS Hawaii offices.

009-HIS DQ Kaheka B


Add in the 10 that will be on the Bishop Museum campus through Sunday, and the number of Doraemon statues on the island rises to 23. Without further ado, here are the Doraemon 23; while each Doraemon is holding a different gadget, they aren’t always identified or explained fully. I’ve tried to include whatever information was available nearby in the captions.

So where are all these statues coming from? A quick Internet search found a handful of posts about “100 Years Before the Birth of Doraemon,” an exhibition that showed up in Hong Kong in 2012 and Taiwan in 2013 that featured 100 Doraemon statues. It’s very likely our visiting friends came from that exhibit; see if you can find some of them in this Alvinology II post.

A few other notes and pictures I picked up while I was running around finding all of these statues:

>> The trickiest ones for the general public to get to are #3 and #12. #3 is in the Lea Lea Lounge, which is technically open only to visitors using HIS Hawaii’s services, but ask someone at the counter really nicely, and they’ll probably let you in. #12, meanwhile, is actually located inside an HIS Hawaii staff office; if you were to walk past, you can see its feet behind a frosted “STAFF ONLY” door. Again, I asked nicely and was allowed to take a few pictures, but I really don’t feel comfortable about sending a bunch of people who read this post to do the same, which is why I left the exact location intentionally vague.

>> The most abused statue easily has to be Leaftector Doraemon at Market City Shopping Center. Shopping center patrons, you should be ashamed of yourselves for doing this to poor Doraemon. Fortunately, it’s been cleaned up before, and it’ll be cleaned up again, but this is just embarrassing:


>> Photo ops with the statues abound, as it did when a family with a baby was taking pictures with Honest Thomas Doraemon and a group of Japanese tourists showed up. Much cooing and cuteness ensued.

007-Kings Village C

>> There was also a bit of photo traffic over at Pass Loop Doraemon when I visited.

010-Ala Moana B

As I mentioned earlier, the Doraemon exhibit at Bishop Museum closes on Sunday, but the remaining 13 statues will be around through the end of the HIS Hawaii promotion on Nov. 30, so you’ll have plenty of time to visit those.

A trek through Bishop Museum’s Anywhere Door

And now, the post that’s taken far too long for me to write.

Waaaaaaaay back in mid-February, “Meet Doraemon: Japan’s Time-Traveling Cat” took up residence at Bishop Museum. In the time it’s been here, this town has gone robo-cat crazy, partly because of the exhibit, partly because of an unrelated visitor stamp rally hosted by HIS Hawaii. So sure, you’ll come across a banner heralding the exhibit’s presence at the museum’s campus in Kalihi …


… but you may also see Doraemon and friends on the side of a LeaLea Trolley on streets near Ala Moana and Waikiki.

Doraemon trolley

Or, if you were watching the Honolulu Festival’s Grand Parade last month, you could see him being wheeled along the parade route.


It’s been a fun past few months, but you only have nine days left to see it — the Doraemon statues, Fujiko F. Fujio artwork, Anywhere Door and a whole bunch of other stuff will be packed up and head back to Japan after April 20.

I could go into excruciating detail as to why it’s taken so long for this post to be written — the cold! the writer’s block! Kawaii Kon prep! But the main point is that time is running short, there’s another museum free-admission day right around the corner — YMCA Healthy Kids Day on Saturday; kamaaina and military with valid ID, step right up — and I wanted to get something posted on the record before then.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that if you sign up to be a museum member now, you’ll get a special Doraemon-edition membership card. Annual memberships start at $50 general, $45 seniors and $35 students and net you admission to the museum, along with a number of other perks that pile up at higher tiers. But c’mon, is this not the coolest museum membership card you’ve ever seen?

membership card

It should be noted that it’s possible to see Doraemon at a number of points between Kalihi and Kahala right now. I’ll go into that in more detail in my next post (along with details about a contest this month that’s quietly unfolded on Instagram), but today’s post focuses more on what’s on display at the museum. Whether you’ve already visited, have yet to do so or can’t make it out here before it closes, I hope you’ll enjoy this virtual tour of 67 percent of the exhibit.

As for that other 33 percent: You’re going to have to figure out some way to see that for yourself. The gallery portion of the exhibit, featuring manga pages drawn by Fujio, is off-limits for photography and video recording. This much can be said about it, though: In that section, there’s a timeline of Fujio’s career, a giant photo of his desk, and five themed galleries, each one based on a Doraemon movie: Nobita’s Dinosaur (1980), Nobita’s Great Adventure Into the Underworld (1983), Record of Nobita’s Spaceblazer (1980), Nobita and the Steel Troops (1985) and Nobita and the Haunts of Evil (1981).

It’s a pretty even split between Fujio originals and reproductions on display — 36 of the exhibit’s 70 pages are originals, 34 are copies — but it takes a really close look at each piece to tell which is which.

That, of course, and the assistance of the handy Copy Robot icon.

Copy Robot

Next time in Otaku Ohana: Noticed all those statues sitting around the exhibit? There are 10 at the museum … and another 13 (that I know of so far, anyway) out in the wild. I’ll have a guide to where you can find all of them … if you’re as obsessed as I am about such things, anyway.

[Kawaii Kon 2014] A few more words from our guests

So far this year, Kawaii Kon’s been its usual blend of exhilarating and exhausting. So many photos and video clips shot on Friday — 432 files, to be exact. So many fun experiences — I’ve already gotten a hug from voice actor Vic Mignogna; said hi to Kawaii Kon founder Stan Dahlin; gotten something signed the Japanese voice of Dragon Ball Z‘s Goku, Masako Nozawa; and caught up with sooooo many friends.

And that’s why I came back to Otaku Ohana Mobile HQ, had something to eat, social-media’d something and promptly passed out on my bed. Hey, I’m not as young as I used to be at Kawaii Kon 1, after all.

It’s going to take a while for me to sort through all those photos. So in the interest of having something fresh posted here today, here are some outtakes from the interview questions I sent out to voice actors Jim Cummings, Quinton Flynn and Mignogna. Some of the quotes from the answers they sent back ended up in Thursday’s preview, but others … well, they didn’t quite fit into the narrative. So here they are, along with some pictures of them from Friday’s opening ceremonies.

Janet Varney, left, Richard Horvitz and Jim Cummings at Kawaii Kon '14 opening ceremonies.
Janet Varney, left, Richard Horvitz and Jim Cummings at Kawaii Kon ’14 opening ceremonies.

Cummings on keeping his career fresh after voicing hundreds of characters over the years: “To answer how I keep my career fresh is easy. There is always a new character on the horizon, always a new song to sing, and always a new project to do my best on.”

Cummings on favorite characters: “Well, Pooh and Tigger are in their own categories, however Darkwing Duck will always be a prime favorite of mine. Ray from Princess and the Frog is huge in my heart as well. Also Don Karnage from Tailspin, Mr. Bumpy, Taz and Catdog are way up there. Love Hondo from Star Wars: The Clone Wars for certain! Gotta stop cuz it’s like picking amongst yer kids!”

Quinton Flynn, left, and Vic Mignogna at Kawaii Kon '14 opening ceremonies.
Quinton Flynn, left, and Vic Mignogna at Kawaii Kon ’14 opening ceremonies.

Flynn on what he’s looking most forward to seeing/doing while he’s here: “I’m looking forward to meeting fans and friends, new and old, in your tropical paradise! I wish to be enlightened by local customs and culture. Perhaps some tasty culinary cuisine. And if there’s time, scuba diving and/or parasailing would be a dream come true. I’ve been told that Hawaii is full of every kind of beauty imaginable. I’d like to take that in as well as what I understand to be a more easygoing and laid-back approach to living.

“I also look forward to performing for all of you. I love Q&A panels and doing a combination standup/improvisational comedy set; if given the time and opportunity. In my experience, education through entertainment is a delicious dish! And I delight in the laughter and smiling faces of fans when I deliver one of their favorite characters or celebrity impression by request.”

Flynn on anime dubbing work: “The work I’ve been fortunate enough to do has not been affected. As far as my career track goes, I am constantly laying down NEW track through diversifying in the entertainment industry. I’m acting both on- and off-camera. I’m currently pitching original live-action and animated show ideas for the networks, cable and Internet. I also have two original screenplays written by Brad Schreiber and Christian Klemash I’m very excited about getting green-lit for production. And if that’s not enough, I’m also writing and performing original compositions and cover songs in the pop-rock arena of music, here in Los Angeles. All of that plus comedy, conventions and California living, keeps my motor running and creative artistry alive. I live in the now with my eyes looking forward to what wonders shall be revealed.”

Mignogna on anime dubbing work: “To be honest, I haven’t noticed a huge decrease in anime dubbing. I do know that Japanese companies are asking a lot more for their shows than they used to, and many American companies simply cannot pay that much. But I do several things professionally besides voice acting, so it hasn’t affected my career much.”

[Kawaii Kon 2014] Once more into the fray

It’s a liiiiiittle past midnight as I’m writing this post here at Otaku Ohana Mobile HQ, a room here at the Ala Moana Hotel with a lovely view of the yacht harbor between the Hawaii Prince Hotel and another building, the name of which I wouldn’t be able to tell you without Googling it first.

Yup. It’s definitely Kawaii Kon time again. Here’s my traditional Day 0 “look at how many people who preregistered and showed up to pick up their badges on Thursday!” picture.


And here’s my usual “Yay! I have my credentials! MY EXISTENCE IS VALIDATED” picture of what my press badge this year looks like.

But seeing as how I took a look back at Kawaii Kon #1 in 2005 in my last post, I thought it would be fun to look at the convention program from Kawaii Kon #10 to see just how much things have changed from then to now. The proper answer, of course, is “a lot.

Here’s the cover of this year’s program, full-color and glossy.


Here’s are two pages of the guest list. Not shown but also in the program: no one, because these are all the guests that are at this year’s show.


Here’s the con’s full schedule of events for Friday, Saturday and Sunday… not counting the video screenings, which are on a second two-page spread. Each page of this year’s program measures 8-1/2-by-11 inches, which means this year’s schedule would have taken up half of the 2005 program.


And for fun? Here’s are this year’s maps of where everything is located in the Convention Center and in the newly expanded, ground-floored Artist Alley/Dealers Room exhibit hall.


If I’m already achy from walking all around Ala Moana Center and to and from the Convention Center, you can pretty much guarantee that my legs will fall off by the time Kawaii Kon is over. Yes, kids, getting older is as awful as they say.

Some other con-related news of note coming in to Otaku Ohana Mobile HQ:

  • Hachi Maru Hachi is back with issue #3, and it’s their biggest issue yet — four stories over more than 150 pages. Tara Tamayori’s ongoing series, “Eternal Blade,” is joined this time by three new stories: “Death in Numbers” by Kaci Horimoto, “Refraction” by Caitlin Slattery, and “You’re Not Alone” by Jonathan Pinches. Pick up your copy at Artist Alley table 78. If you can’t make it to Kawaii Kon, order a print-on-demand version at
  • nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi will be selling original sketch cards featuring her interpretations of characters from Ghibli films — somebody better buy that Totoro card before I do! — and the hot anime of the past season, Kill la Kill. Find them in the Dealers Room, booth 51.
  • Speaking of original sketches, Comic Jam Hawaii coordinator Michael Cannon will be selling original sketch bookmarks of characters from anime, other cartoons and comics — somebody better buy that Yuki Nagato bookmark before I do! (Alas, this is the classic quandary of yours truly, the anime blogger who wants to save money yet buy everything he promotes.) Find him at Artist Alley table 57.
  • 10173560_10201156088739349_722823190_nArtist Kevin Sano has been known in the past for great-looking prints of characters from tokusatsu (live-action Japanese superhero) days like Kikaida, Hakaida and Kamen Rider V3. but the last two times I’ve seen him, at McCully-Moiliili Library’s Mini Con and Oni-Con Hawaii, he’s brought several Kikaida Minions, toys of those adorable yellow Despicable Me characters all painted up in tokusatsu gear. To your right, you can see his latest batch that he’ll have this weekend. Have your drool buckets handy, people. Find him at Artist Alley table 100.
  • Erika Engle is at Artist Alley table 14. Yes, that Erika Engle. She’ll be selling handmade jewelry with her daughter, Cassidy Gravitt.
  • If you remember my highlights roundup from my article in Thursday’s paper, you’ll recall that I mentioned that Stacey Hayashi, author of the “Journey of Heroes” graphic novel about the 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, would be hosting a panel at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. What I didn’t mention was that (a) she’ll be bringing 442nd vet Eddie Yamasaki with her to that panel and (b) she’s also going to be selling books, shirts and chibi soldier kokeshi dolls in Artist Alley. She’s splitting space with Smurphy Graphics, so you can find her at Artist Alley tables 90 and 91.
  • Those of you of a certain age may remember Jon Murakami’s first published comic strip “The University of Diverse City,” published in UH-Manoa’s paper of record, Ka Leo. This year marks 25 years since it was first published in 1989, and to celebrate, Jon’s produced an 11-by-17-inch print that features that landmark first strip, both as it first appeared in Ka Leo and a freshly redrawn version that shows how it would’ve looked had he drawn it today. Find him at Artist Alley table 58.
  • And last but certainly not least, freebies abound this con season! Sony will be giving away these Sony/Kawaii Kon-branded bags outright to the first 50 people who visit their booth, then with a purchase of $20 afterward. Meanwhile, over at the 7-Eleven across the street on Atkinson Drive, the first 50 people to show their con badges on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will receive a free copy of the Shinji Aramaki-directed Appleseed CGI film from 2004 on DVD.

[Kawaii Kon 2014] Every story has a beginning

It was one of those announcements that quietly came and went without much notice. Heck, the 10th anniversary of that announcement came and went on Monday with nary a peep; heaven knows I missed it.

But there it is, in black and white and blue from 2004, archived at Anime News Network for as long as their database is up for public viewing:

posted on 2004-03-31 11:12 EST

Kawaii Kon, Hawaii’s own anime convention and conference is coming to Honolulu, Hawaii on April 22-24, 2005. More information can be found on their website at and representatives from the show will be present at Anime Boston, Metrocon, Anime Festival Orlando, DragonCon and AWA.

And with that, the ball started rolling on what would become the state’s first anime convention … and with all due respect to other conventions that have tried to carve a chunk of local fandom for themselves in recent years like Oni-Con and the now-defunct HEXXP, Kawaii Kon has remained largely unchallenged as the local anime convention of record. Since we’re on the eve of the nice-round-number 10th edition of Kawaii Kon, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at Kawaii Kon #1 aaaaalllll the way back in 2005, using a few things that I recently unearthed from my archives (read: found while I’ve been doing some sorely needed housecleaning).

While the announcement in spring 2004 may have been reasonably quiet, word of mouth was certainly enough that by the time April 2005 rolled around, I had picked up on it, writing a profile of the con, director Stan Dahlin and a fledgling young artists’ collective known as MangaBento. Meanwhile, Derek Paiva at the Advertiser profiled the McKinley High School Anime Club. More than 1,900 people ended up packing the friendly confines of the second floor of the Ala Moana Hotel that year … sharing space with Chabad of Hawaii and its Passover observance on April 23, which made for its fair share of odd meetings in the hallways that night. While I was doing some research for this post, I also discovered this post by one of the staff members that year, Timmy Gonsalves, that offers keen insight into some of the behind-the-scenes stuff going on.

The first year’s program was a 16-page pamphlet; take four 8-1/2-by-11-inch sheets of paper and fold them in half, and you have a sense of how big that program is. Here’s the cover.

KK program cover-orig

Here are two pages of the guest list. Not shown but also in the program: S. Kai Bovaird, executive director and co-founder of digital effects studio Cause & F(X) Pictures, and artists Robert & Emily DeJesus. Not shown and not in the program but also in attendance: voice actor Mariela Ortiz and David Williams’ wife/fellow ADV producer Janice Williams.

KK program 6-7-orig

And here’s the con’s entire schedule of events for Friday and Saturday. Contrast it with this year’s schedule, which had to be broken up into an events schedule and a video screening schedule, yet can fit on your phone (get the Eventbase app and look up Kawaii Kon, by the way; it works quite well).

KK program 8-9-orig

As for pictures of the event itself: I shot a bunch of them. Unfortunately, since 2005 was also the last year I used film before switching to a digital camera, I have no idea what happened to most of those physical prints. Which is kinda too bad, because two shots stand out in my mind’s eye right now: one of a cosplayer in a giant Domo costume — yes, a giant brown brick of a costume — playing Dance Dance Revolution in the video game corner, and Audra Furuichi, who’d go on to draw nemu*nemu, in what I think was cosplay of Riza Hawkeye from Fullmetal Alchemist and Scott Yoshinaga in an Azumanga Daioh-inspired cat cafe outfit. But good news, everyone: A small handful of pictures turned up while I was cleaning the other day! So here, seeing the light of day for the first time … I think ever, is a Year One Kawaii Kon gallery.

Will there be more memories like these made this year? Undoubtedly. Will I have time to post a few more classic pictures from years past? Maybe. Will I post highlights from this year in a timely manner? Man I hope so, especially considering those poor Doraemon posts have been languishing, and that exhibit closes later this month.

All I know for sure is, it’s Kawaii Kon time again. Let’s have some fun with it, shall we? And I’ll do my best to bring a little of that fun to those of you who can’t make it out in person.