If you’re reading this, congratulations! You’ve managed to survive the first four months of one of the most cursed years in the history of humanity, AND yet another extended stretch between Otaku Ohana blog posts. I’d offer you a cookie, but it looks like the term “social distancing” is going to be part of our lives for a while longer, so to reward yourself, go support whatever local businesses you can instead, if you’re able. They could use the help.
So why have I been gone for so long? It’s a long story, and one that’s been sitting in my “drafts” folder for several weeks now. Maybe I’ll finish writing that and publish it some other time. Or maybe we’ll go another eight months between posts. I don’t know. The world’s gone crazy. KYAAAAAAAAAH
… umm. Ahem.
The point is, how are you coping with life these days? We’re entering another month of mandated sheltering in place; a month where we were supposed to have Free Comic Book Day and Kawaii Kon at that. The former is off the calendar for this year, while the latter is, for now, scheduled to do the Dragon Ball Z Fusion Dance with Comic Con Honolulu and take place Aug. 7-9, although we realistically could just be waiting for a legal “act of God” to kick in at some point.
There are a few ways to fill in those holes this weekend, though. Serving as a replacement for Free Comic Book Day is Alt FCD, a Facebook group that’s hosting streaming panels, comic creator Q&As, and — perhaps the biggest draw of all — a repository of dozens of free independent comics. The catch is that the group only exists for two days, today and tomorrow, May 1-2. So grab those comics quickly.
And then there’s Concellation 2020, the 32,000-plus-member Facebook group from which I bought the lovely con badge that you see at the top of this post. The tongue-in-cheek creation of Christopher Ambler, Concellation bills itself as “The SF&F con that’s always cancelled. Celebrate the con that never was – cancelled before it was even announced, Concellation 2020 is the event you wish you could have pre-opposed!” It’s been a great online venue to celebrate con culture and the various fandoms under its umbrella, and, for me at least, a nice way to break up a fair amount of doom and gloom that’s been constant on my Facebook timeline.
There’s so much more going on to keep people entertained in down times, but I’ll leave it at that for now. I just wanted to prove to myself that, y’know, I could still churn out one of these posts after so long. And apparently I can! Small victories. Hope all is well with you all, and hope to be back here again with another post sometime somewhat sooner…ish.
I’m not going to make any excuses — things have felt different around Otaku Ohana Central for the past few months.
It’s certainly not for lack of content. So much has come and gone since I last wrote anything in this space. There are many fragments of posts about various events sitting in the “drafts” folder and photos sitting in my phone, but I just haven’t been motivated enough to see any of them through to completion and publication. Lancen went off to teach in Japan as part of the JET program, and tag-team partner in fandom Wilma W. and I haven’t had much mental energy left to spare after work to write much of anything after we both left the paper.
It’s one thing to re-share various announcements on the Otaku Ohana Facebook page (still very much a thing!) or to post pictures from various events on my Instagram feed so you can live vicariously through what I experience (also still very much a thing!). It’s another matter entirely, particularly these days, to generate a few hundred words about things that I really care about and want you, dear dedicated reader who’s actually stuck around this long waiting for new content, to know about as well.
But hey! Guess what! Something’s finally motivated me to write something again! So here are a few hundred words about a thing etc. etc. etc.: Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library, an event I’ve covered for the past …
*checks notes* …
*rechecks notes* …
… WAIT WHAT 10 YEARS HOLY CATS I AM OLD.
Seriously, though, double-digit lifespans for pop-culture events are difficult to come by in this town. Only Kawaii Kon, which kicked off the modern era of such local events and held its 15th annual show earlier this year, has lasted longer.
Here’s what I wrote about the event in Cel Shaded (remember when that column was still A Thing?) in October2010:
Mini Con, running from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the library, is being held in celebration of Teen Read Week, the Young Adult Library Services Association’s annual initiative to encourage literacy.
When I heard about Mini Con’s venue, I knew there was one person I had to get in touch with right away: Hillary Chang, the library’s young-adult librarian and acting branch manager. Those of you who stopped by the Hawaii State Library table at Kawaii Kon’s Artist Alley earlier this year might remember Chang as the librarian cosplaying as Yotsuba Koiwai, the eternally cheerful green-haired child star of must-read manga series “Yotsuba&!”
Chang is bringing in three local artists for a meet-and-greet:
» Audra Furuichi, co-creator and artist of the popular plush pup Web comic “nemu*nemu.”
» Jon J. Murakami, Star-Advertiser cartoonist, illustrator and creator of the “Gordon Rider” comic series.
» Kevin Sano, a T-shirt designer with Crazy Shirts who’s also done some designs featuring Kikaida and Kamen Rider.
“It’s more like a ‘Mini Artist Alley,’ but ‘Mini Con’ is so much easier to say!” Chang told me via e-mail.
By Hillary’s estimate, around 60 people attended Mini Con that first year. Last year, around 400 showed up. Other things changed over the years as well: Audra’s now the artist of the popular plush pup Star-Advertiser comic “nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii”; Jon’s added the Ara-Rangers, Edamame Ninjas, and Wasabi Magazine’s “What’s Up, Wasa*bee?” comic to his repetoire; and Kevin’s moved from designing shirts to selling comics at Idea’s Music and Books in Kakaako.
All three of them will be back for Mini Con 10, happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the library at 2211 S. King St. Joining them are several other repeat guests — Brady Evans, Tara Tamayori, and Derick “7Sketches” Fabian — and this year’s new-to-Mini Con invitee, the Hawaii Saber Academy, taking Star Wars lightsabers and turning them into tools for a pretty good workout. Instead of Teen Read Week, they’ll all be helping celebrate a bigger milestone: McCully-Moiliili Library’s 50th anniversary.
You’ll want to go around and meet everyone, too; back for another year is the stamp card rally, where you can get a free comic book in exchange for a filled card. You can also enter to win a giant gift basket, and bid on original artwork, books, and other items in a silent auction.
Normally this is the part where I would recommend arriving early for the best parking spaces, carpooling, or taking public transportation, but there’s an additional option this year: The library’s giving out passes for free parking at Ross Dress For Less across the street (top level unreserved stalls only, second level away from entrance), so there’s that.
Questions? Call 973-1099.
Pop Culture Expo is a Go!
Meanwhile, in the rapidly expanding Mini Con-esque event category, both sides of Pearlridge Center — Phase 1Uptown Mauka and Phase 2Downtown Wai Makai — are hosting the Pop Culture Expo during business hours Saturday and Sunday. A number of fan-favorite artists and vendors from local convention Artist Alleys will be there — off the top of my head, I can think of Kawaii Mono, Trinigrafx, Roy Chang, Mana Comics, Headshot Heroes, and Michael Cannon. Cosplaying is encouraged, too! Admission is free.
Free Comic Book Day is on Saturday, and … well, there’s a lot to talk about. This format worked pretty well when I used it last year, and I’m all about keeping intact what isn’t broken (and perhaps even improving on it a bit), so let’s get straight to it, shall we?
On Saturday, various comic shops and libraries will be giving away a wide range of comic books as part of Free Comic Book Day. Some will even be hosting special events. It’s a tradition that’s run annually since 2002, and while some of the stores locally have changed over the years, the concept remains the same: give away comic books; expose readers to a wide range of series; get people into stores to peruse their stock.
This year’s event is tied in to the sequel to that little art film about a big bad giant purple dude, the aftermath of him wearing his pretty sparkly glove, and those guys who didn’t start the fire fighting him over it. You might have heard of it. It snapped its fingers and made pretty much every other movie playing in theaters disappear.
Oh, and while you’re picking up your free comics, don’t forget to buy something from your store of choice as well, While the books may be free for you, they cost the stores money to pick them up. And shop owners kinda need all the help they can get.
There are giveaways and events on five out of seven populated islands in the state (sorry, Molokai and Niihau). Many locations will be giving away bookmarks from a 210-bookmark(!) set drawn by Comic Jam Hawaii artists, samples of which I’m scattering throughout this post. Here are each island’s highlights.
The hotbed of local FCBD activity, as it has been ever since the store moved to Iwilei, is Other Realms (1130 Nimitz Highway, suite C-140). Festivities there run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Other Realms is hosting so many artists, I need to go into bullet-point mode to properly list them:
Marvel colorist David Nakayama (10 a.m.-3 p.m.)
Contraptor artist Free Isabelo
Cacy & Kiara/Highball & Pepe artist and Boudin sourdough aficionado Roy Chang
Game of Thrones illustrator Mog Park
Anh Vu and Josh Villanueva, two West Oahu artists being mentored by Mog who are really, really good. Seriously, here’s Anh’s Instagram feed, and here’s Josh’s. Soooooo much pretty pretty artwork. *grabby hands*
Mysterious Things artist Napua Ahina
Exillion artist DJ Keawekane
The first 50 customers through the door will receive an Avengers button pin. There will also be door prizes (must be present to win), and loyalty program members will get double points on their purchases.
Since it’s also Star Wars Day (May the 4th, get it?), Ludosport Hawaii will hold lightsaber combat demos at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and there will be demos and pick-up games of Star Wars: Legion.
Dragon’s Lair (95-1840 Meheula Parkway, suite E-10, Mililani) has its own set of artists offering artwork and free sketches from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Gordon Rider/Ara-Rangers/Star-Advertiser “Calabash”/Wasabi Magazine “What’s Up, Wasa*bee?” artist Jon Murakami, Bandit artist Kaci Horimoto, Dwayne Acoba, and Reid Kishimoto. All comics and graphic novels will be 25% off.
Collector Maniacs (3571 Waialae Ave., suite 102A, Kaimuki) is offering a bundle of comics worth at least $30 for free when you buy at least $25 of merchandise.
And finally, technically this isn’t really a Free Comic Book Day event, but Mana Comics will be represented there, so I’ll count it: City Square Shopping Center in Kalihi (1199 Dillingham Blvd., Kalihi) will be hosting the Star Wars Day-themed May the 4th Be With You from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Stop by From the Heart Hawaii for discounts on neat nerdy collectibles, too! A portion of all sales will benefit Special Olympics Hawaii.
Other participants (public library category):
Aiea Library, 99-374 Pohai Place (where there’s still plenty of parking and a big horking sugar molecule out front)
Aina Haina Library, 5246 Kalanianaole Highway
Hawaii Kai Library, 249 Lunalilo Home Road
Kailua Library, 239 Kuulei Road
Kalihi-Palama Library, 1325 Kalihi St.
Kapolei Library, 1020 Manawai St.
Manoa Library, 2716 Woodlawn Drive
McCully-Moiliili Library, 2211 S. King St.
Mililani Library, 95-450 Makaimoimo St.
Nanakuli Library, 89-070 Farrington Highway
Salt Lake-Moanalua Library, 3225 Salt Lake Blvd.
Wahiawa Library, 820 California Ave.
Waikiki-Kapahulu Library, 400 Kapahulu Ave.
Waimanalo Public & School Library, 41-1320 Kalanianaole Highway
Waipahu Library, 94-275 Mokuola St.
Many of these libraries will have cosplayers stopping by for photo ops throughout the day.
Other participants (non-library category):
Choice Comics, 98-1268 Kaahumanu St., suite 104, Pearl City: 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Maui Comics & Collectibles (Queen Kaahumanu Center, 275 W. Kaahumanu Ave., Kahului), open from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., will be hosting a quartet of creators throughout the day: Fields of Eleria card game creator Aaron Nakahara from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Kukui Project artist Todd Bernardy starting at 10 a.m., cosplayer Night Darling from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Disney artist James Silvani starting at 2 p.m. Cosplayers from Imagination Reality will be stopping by from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m.
It’s been almost a year since Game Over Comics (277 Wili Ko Place, suite 233, Lahaina) debuted on Free Comic Book Day, and they’re back with more fun events from noon to 6 p.m., including 20% off everything in-store and raffle prizes every 30 minutes. Video gamers will want to come for the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament starting at noon, and Tekken 7 play via Maui Gaming at 2 p.m. Star Wars Day tie-ins, hosted by Imagination Reality, include cosplay pictures at 4 p.m. and Jedi Training at 5 p.m.
Kahului Library, 90 School St. Learn how to transform old comics into neat accessories from 1-3 p.m. You can also bring in items like notebooks, pictures, and shoeboxes to cover in comic pages, too, in the art of decoupage.
Kihei Library, 35 Waimahaihai St. You can also meet James Silvani from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Lahaina Library, 680 Wharf St.
Makawao Library, 1159 Makawao Ave.
Enjoy Comics (Prince Kuhio Plaza, 111 E. Puainako St., suite 715) will be giving away swag bags with hidden-ticket prize giveaways and feature cosplayer appearances throughout the day, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Hilo Library, 300 Waianuenue Ave.
Kailua-Kona Library, 75-138 Hualalai Road. Artist/illustrator Wayne Lo will be drawing chibi art from 10-11 a.m. in the children’s room, followed by a workshop on drawing comic faces for teens in the young adult room from 11 a.m-noon.
We’re two weeks away from local con sempai Kawaii Kon kicking off at the Hawai’i Convention Center for its 15th year of ani-mayhem and manga madness. Many of you may be running around like headless chickens as I’m typing this, trying to finish up those last pieces of artwork, hemming those last seams for your weekend cosplay, and wondering when the powers that be will release a schedule so that you know when you can tell your friends, “Sorry, can’t go to lunch now, Aya Hirano’s speaking in Room 315.”
Well, I can help with that last part, at least. Because the Kawaii Kon 2019 smartphone app has quietly gone live on an app store near you, in both iOS and Android flavors. Here, have a spiffy-looking opening splash screen.
The app’s debut also marks the debut of this year’s schedule. It’s not the complete schedule — more events will be added in coming days — but there’s certainly more than enough to get started on your custom agenda (which you can also build within the app). Want to learn more about a panel? Click on it to pull up a screen with more information.
It should also be noted that the app seems like it’s a work in progress. Profiles of this year’s guests have been posted, as well as lists of artists in Artist Alley and vendors in the Dealers Room, but as of now, there’s no easy way to cross-reference where everyone’s going to be at a given point in time. If you’ve downloaded previous years’ versions of the app, you may have to re-register an account; I didn’t have a prior version on my phone to test this out, but it seems like this year’s app is a fresh download built on new infrastructure, rather than an updated version of last year’s app.
There’s still plenty to play with, though, and there’s plenty of time for new features to be added. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go cancel any lunch plans I had for con Sunday. Because, you know, Aya Hirano. *squee!*
We’re sorry to report the passing today of author, musician, journalist, historian, artist, and all-around great guy Burl Burlingame. That’s him in the red shirt above, in a photo I took from the last time I saw him: performing as lead singer of Motley Uke, a local ukulele rock band, at Anna O’Brien’s last August.
Burl’s death is worth noting in this space because of how much he meant to the local comic scene. As tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. reminded me while we were chatting online this morning, “If not for him, we wouldn’t have been able to grace the pages of a major metro paper with our anime/manga/game obsessions.”
Indeed, he was a key figure responsible for two developments that resonate to this day. The first was the creation of “Drawn & Quartered,” the column in the Sunday edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin where Wilma and I wrote much of our early material for the paper. As Burl wrote in the inaugural column:
There are two wholly American art forms: jazz music and the “comic” or graphic-based literature. Both are about a century old. There’s not much we can do about jazz around here, but we can take the comics medium seriously. It was born in the newspaper medium, after all, and the Star-Bulletin has always taken the lead in presenting groundbreaking strips, with “Mutt and Jeff” even before the Star married the Bulletin in 1912.
Which, in a single bound, brings us to this column. “Drawn and Quartered” will run every Sunday and deal with the graphics medium and its assorted spinoffs, byproducts and fallout, such as anime, video games, animation, comic books, collectibles, manga, cartooning, comics-influenced movies and television, and whatever else appeals to our glazed eyes.
“Drawn & Quartered” was one of the factors that led to the birth of my weekly anime/manga column, “Cel Shaded,” in 2005, which in turn led to the origins of the blog you’re reading right now. I’m also convinced that it was on the basis of what we wrote for “Drawn & Quartered” that an editor at Rough Guides saw fit to pitch to us an idea that eventually became my book, The Rough Guide to Manga.
The second development: locally sourced comic strips published in the Sunday paper. That started in the Star-Bulletin in mid-May 2001 with a comic drawn by a man Burl called “Hawaii’s jedi master of cartooning,” Dave Thorne, and continues to this day, with Jon Murakami’s “Calabash” and Audra Furuichi’s “nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii” alternating spots in the Sunday Star-Advertiser.
Our sympathies and hugs go out to his wife, Mary, and their daughters, Amelia and Katie.
On Sunday afternoon, Blood of the Samurai director Aaron Yamasato formally unveiled his latest project: the Kauai Comic Convention, a single-day event to be held June 8 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Kauai Marriott Resort in Lihue.
The first batch of announced guests include:
Carl Potts, comic artist and former executive editor at Marvel Comics
Sifu Mimi Chan, martial artist and model reference used for Disney’s Mulan
Hiroshi Kanatani, manga artist known for his work in Shonen Sunday and his illustrations of famous kaiju (including, of course, Godzilla)
Stacey Hayashi, screenwriter/producer of Go For Broke: An Origin Story, about the origins of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service in 1941
Sam Campos, creator of Hawaii’s own superhero Pineapple Man, whose latest work, Hawaiian Avenger Kanaka, debuted last weekend at Amazing Comic Con Aloha
Russ Ogi, local artist who’s used 3-D printing to create some really neat-looking samurai helmets
This is the sixth major pop culture convention planned for the state this year; the third to be held on a neighbor island; and, of course, the first one for Kauai in this modern con era.
Details are still sketchy, but keep checking the official con site, https://www.kauaicomicconvention.com, for more information as things develop. Potential exhibitors can apply for space there, too. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing about more.
Nine months in to my newfound freedom to attend pretty much ALL THE THINGS~! when it comes to local otaku culture, I’m finding the experience both exhilarating and exhausting. And that’s just counting the major con circuit. Here, for instance, is the bulk of my coverage of HawaiiCon, the fourth stop of Con-athon 2018 that happened a few weekends ago at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows on the Big Island.
I needed that bit of R&R. For while there may be only one more stop for the Con-athon circuit this year — Maui Comic Con, Oct. 26-28 at UH-Maui College — the schedule of special events going forward may be one of the busiest fall seasons I’ve seen in the past few years.
It’s fitting, then, that the season kicks off from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday with one of the longer-running events of the modern otaku era: McCully-Moiliili Library’s ninth annual Mini Con. This year’s edition was already shaping up to be the biggest one yet even before the surprise news hit Wednesday evening of a Super-Secret Special Guest of Honor: Usagi Yojimbo creator (and, of course, Groo the Wanderer letterer) Stan Sakai. He’ll be signing books and drawing sketches in exchange for donations to the library, something he also did last November after a talk there.
Returning for another go-round are event mainstays Jon Murakami, Audra Furuichi (in a rare-these-days appearance!), Brady Evans and Kevin Sano. Here are some previews of what they’ll be debuting at this event:
Joining them this year is rising art star Derick “7Sketches” Fabian. He’s best known for his original sticker art, or “slaps,” that mash up characters from cartoons, anime, and comics with hip-hop and local culture. He even contributed a mural to this year’s POW! WOW! Hawaii jam in Kakaako. He has a trio of designs debuting on Saturday.
Night Darling Cosplay x 7Sketches
Also on hand will be representatives from the next mini-con event coming down the pipeline, NEET, which recently announced its autumn event will be held Oct. 12 at the nearby Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii; and Wasabi Magazine editor-in-chief Antonio Vega, who’ll be talking about the publication’s focus on Japanese culture and island life.
You’re going to want to meet everyone, too. Back for another year is the stamp card promotion, where attendees can go around getting stamps from the exhibitors, then turn in completed cards in exchange for free comic books and other stuff. Other activities, like showing volunteers your library card and filling out a program evaluation form, will net you a set of three Mini Con 9 pins.
Cosplay, as always, is encouraged, and a variety of anime, including Boruto and Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, will be screened. There also will be a number of craft activities and talks throughout the day.
Mini Con 9 is brought to you by the Friends of the McCully-Moiliili Library, Collector Maniacs and Hawaiian Graphics. The library is located at 2211 S. King St.; parking can be a bit tight, but it is possible to find some if you look hard enough. Any questions? Call 973-1099.
Also on the otaku calendar
Hawaii’s first UNIQLO opens: The Japanese clothing retailer renowned for comfortable, cheap attire and otaku-friendly T-shirt designs has been teasing local customers for several months now with a pop-up store near Ala Moana Center’s Centerstage. That experience is about to expand quite a bit, as the full-service store is scheduled to open on the third floor of the mall’s Ewa Wing at 9:28 a.m. Friday, 9/28. (Get it?) I understand some friends of the blog are members of the store’s opening-day staff, so lotsa luck and good fortune to you all.
Shirokiya Matsuri: The fourth monthly edition of the showcase for local crafters and entertainers hosted by emcee extraordinare Remy Zane is taking place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk complex, street level on the Ewa end of Ala Moana Center. It’s also Kids’ Day at JVW, so children ages 12 and under can get a free token to spend at one of the complex’s 100 bazillion gachapon machines. Seriously, look at how many there were in August:
It’s GachaponCon, yo.
My Neighbor Totoro in theaters: Chew on this for a bit: This story of two girls and the gentle forest spirits they befriend has been around for 30 years. Feeling old yet? Playing at 12:55 p.m. Sunday (English dubbed), 7 p.m. Monday (subtitled), and 7 p.m. Wednesday (dubbed) at the Regal Dole Cannery 18 theaters, 735-B Iwilei Road. Get your tickets here.