As of this post, we are now exactly three weeks away from opening day for Kawaii Kon 2015. That heavy sighing, whimpering and sobbing in the corner that you might be hearing right now? That’s coming from anyone directly involved with the anime con — staff members, vendors, Artist Alley artists, photographers, cosplayers, friendly neighborhood anime/manga bloggers — who read that first sentence and realized that they are so very much not ready.
But it’s coming, this song is playing in the backs of our minds, and someone out there, someone has to be looking forward to March 27, when our anime addiction as a crazed community united flares anew for three days at the Hawai’i Convention Center. So let’s take a deep breath and take a look at some recent con-related news highlights:
A new guest! A famed Animaniacs trio is now complete with an announcement that came earlier this week. Sorry, it’s probably not that trio that you’re thinking of … Tress Macneille, the voice of Dot Warner, still isn’t coming. But the writer behind a bunch of classic Animaniacs episodes and songs, Randy Rogel, is coming. Not only is this Rogel’s first visit to Kawaii Kon, he’s also the first Emmy award-winning guest to attend; he won Daytime Emmys for Animaniacs in 1996 and 1997, and Batman: The Animated Series in 1993. I’d expect live performances of “Yakko’s World” and “Wakko’s America” are pretty much locks now.
A preview of what’s to come! The Honolulu Festival, the annual showcase of Pacific Rim cultures, is happening this weekend, and Kawaii Kon, as always, will be sharing space among the kids’ games, entertainment, food and craft booths and art displays at the convention center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. This is your final chance to pick up a three-day pass at a discounted rate ($50 general, $40 children ages 5-12). MangaBento will bring art activities and photo booth cutouts; there will also be games, activities and prizes galore. Stick around Waikiki on Sunday for the Grand Parade down Kalakaua Avenue starting at 4 p.m. and the offshore Nagaoka Fireworks show starting at 8:30 p.m.
A 10th anniversary preorder! Has it really been 10 years since the adventures of Hawaii’s hapless hero Gordon Rider, drawn by Star-Advertiser “Calabash” cartoonist Jon Murakami, debuted on a whiteboard sitting in Mechahawaii in Kaimuki? Yes, it has, and time flies, and I’m starting to feel really old again. To celebrate the milestone, Jon’s releasing a 10th anniversary art book — 100 full-color pages filled with tributes by 70 artists including “Luann” artist Greg Evans, “Winged Tiger” artist Phil Yeh, and “Heavy Metal” and “Elephantmen” artist Axel Medellin. (Lorenzo Trinidad, son of late great Star-Bulletin cartoonist Corky Trinidad, showed me what he submitted for the book the other week. It looked pretty sweet.) Copies are $30 and will be released on the con’s first day, March 27; preorder now at www.jonjmurakami.bigcartel.com, and not only can you pick up the book at Jon’s Artist Alley table, you’ll also get a bonus 2.5-by-3.5-inch sketch card. Also available for preorder there: Issue 8 of the Gordon Rider comic, for $5. (Can’t make it to con? You can also have those mailed out to you.)
A free-stuff reminder! You have a state library card, right? Of course you do, because while you’re doing the newish-media thing and reading this blog, you also appreciate good old-school print media as well. Anyway, do not forget to bring your card to con, because you can bring it to the library table in Artist Alley — it’ll be in the same area as Jon’s table and Michael Cannon’s Artildawn offerings! — and get free stuff. You’d think it would be a no-brainer by now, but you would not believe how many people I’ve seen that don’t have one while I’ve been sitting in with Aiea young adult librarian Diane Masaki at that table. Kids these days, I tell ya.