[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 kawaii-kon.org 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.

3 thoughts on “[Kawaii Kon 2014] Every story has a beginning”

  1. Where can I start looking for 2014 Kawaii Kon photos? Can’t be there, so I’d like to experience it vicariously. Thanks!

    1. Hi Sheryl, sorry you can’t be here! I’m sure there will be more organized galleries in the next few days, but for now I’d just run a search on Twitter for #kawaiikon2014. That search is pulling up a lot of Instagram photos from different people.

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