Eat. Draw. Relax. Cat. Bear witness.

There’s a giant Julie Feied painting hanging in the stairwell between the first and second floors of the Honolulu Museum of Art School.

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Having such a piece staring you in the face can only mean one thing: It’s time for what’s become an otaku staple around these parts, the annual MangaBento exhibit on the art school’s second floor. Julie’s painting is the first thing that greets you when you go up the stairs to see the exhibit, and every year I marvel at how much detail she manages to cram into her work. This year’s piece is even more impressive, considering how I can recognize many of the MangaBento regulars rendered as caricatures.

The theme for this, the ninth annual show by this group of anything-goes anime- and manga-inspired artists, is “Eat, Draw, Relax.” The gallery aesthetic, with its sky-blue cloths, cloud cutouts and a hanging lawn chair, reflects this theme.

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Thing is, though … there are also cats.

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Lots.

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Of.

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Cats.

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Which is totally fine! We here at Otaku Ohana embrace almost everything feline, canine, avian, marine and, umm, bunny. *pyon*

But we’re also all about the anime inspirations. And there’s plenty of that in the exhibit. Take Tina Huynh’s polymer clay piece “Dango Park,” which reminds me of a bunch of Kirbies from Nintendo’s Kirby franchise. Which makes me think of the Facebook page, “The same picture of Kirby every day to help you feel better.” And I feel better.

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There’s also Kalani Holland’s “Brynhildr in the Darkness New Year’s,” one of several holiday-themed ink-and-Copic pieces he has in the exhibit …

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… Olivia Hansen’s Amazing World of Gumball/Pokemon-inspired “Pigeons and Sheep” …

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… and Yoko Kanemoto’s “Cat” (there’s that reference to cats again!).

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If you want to check out the exhibit for yourself, your best opportunity this weekend will be at a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday in the exhibit space. Normally I’d refer to this as an “opening reception,” except the exhibit’s been up since the beginning of the month and is coming down a week after the reception on the 18th, so things are moving pretty quickly going forward. If you can’t make it on Sunday, the gallery’s accessible from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. next week (except perhaps Monday, since that’s a holiday).

The Honolulu Museum of Art is at 1111 Victoria St.; for more information, visit facebook.com/mangabento.

“nemu*nemu” creator charts con-less path

Kawaii Kon released the first edition of its schedule for this year’s show on Friday, along with a spiffy new app (in both iOS and Android flavors!). Whenever big, juicy chunks of information like this drop in front of me, my friendly neighborhood anime/manga/Con-athon blogger instincts immediately kick in and I try to soak up every last newsworthy tidbit contained within.

And boy, was there something newsworthy in there. More specifically, there was something newsworthy in what wasn’t in there — a longstanding presence at Kawaii Kon, one that’s been around since 2007.

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After 10 straight years, there’s no sign of a nemu*nemu booth in the dealers room.

For artist Audra Furuichi, to not be a part of Kawaii Kon 2017 meant either that there was a mistake somewhere in the grand scheme of scheduling things, or she was shifting her resources elsewhere.

20150509_104733_editSadly for fans of Audra’s work, the latter is true. Unbeknownst to many of us at the time, the nemu*nemu appearances at the Hawaii Collectors Expo last month and the Mid-Pacific Institute Hoolaulea on Friday were the last we’ll be seeing for the immediate future. In addition to Kawaii Kon, that rules out appearances at other Oahu Con-athon events  — Comic Con Honolulu, Amazing Hawaii Comic Con and Anime Ohana — as well.

“No hard feelings to any of the shows — it’s just progressively gotten physically harder to do shows,” Audra told me via Facebook chat on Sunday. “Kinda lacking the endurance I used to have. I also don’t have new merchandise at the moment, so it was a good time to bow out.”

She also cited an evolving audience as a factor. The nemu*nemu online comic has been on hiatus since last July as she’s worked on other projects, and not as many people know about the plush pup duo as they did in the comic’s early years.

“Thought about doing the (Artist Alley), but the long hours and EXTREME COMPETITION OMGWTFBBQ … are big deterrents for me,” she said.

This doesn’t mean the end of all things nemu*nemu, though. Audra’s exploring swinging by Kawaii Kon for a day to drop off something for the art show. The nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii comic strip is still chugging along in the Star-Advertiser. And she’s been posting some pretty non nemu*nemu artwork at audrafuruichi.com.

audra patreonAnd then there’s Audra’s Patreon account, where she’s been sharing sneak peeks at Blue Hawaii strips, digital desktops and other artistic works since January 2015. It’s a way for fans to show their continuing support for her work; it can be difficult to focus on creating art and tending to the business side of things, after all. As of this writing, 61 patrons are contributing $522 a month. (Full journalistic disclosure: I’m one of Audra’s $25/month contributors.)

There’s now an added incentive for people to jump on board: If contributions reach $550 a month, she’ll start regularly drawing a one-shot nemu*nemu comic again, once a month. It’s a perfect incentive for the comic’s 11th anniversary coming up April 1, and all it’ll take is one person contributing $28 a month, or 28 people contributing $1 a month, or some happy medium in between.

Catching up and moving forward

It’s been a weird past few weeks — the joy of spending Maui Comic Con driving around the Valley Isle with some good friends, the what-is-happening-to-our-country-ness of the general election, the devolution of my social media feeds from “must-read, and hey, here are a few news tidbits that are worth sharing in the blog, too” to GEEZ LOUISE ANOTHER POLITICAL OPINION POST I GET ENOUGH OF THIS READING THE WIRE SERVICE FEEDS AT WORK KILL IT WITH FIRE.

There have been a number of things to talk about in the this blog, too. I just haven’t had the time/energy to get around to writing them up. Weird thing is, I’ve seen similar sentiments echoed by some Facebook friends over the past few days or so. Real Life has just been sucking our creative juices dry, and that’s just … unfortunate.

But, well, time marches on and events keep happening. And sometimes you just have to grit your teeth, bear down and get stuff done, no matter how small a step it may be. So to get the ball rolling once again, here are some quick news tidbits. I know there’s been quite a bit going on with Con-athon 2017 developments; I’m working on another post that’ll address those (hopefully) somewhat sorta soonish.

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Eighty-two pictures from this event, and this was the only decent shot I could get of Deb. I feel like I failed somehow. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

Tidbit no. 1: Remember that manga talk Deb Aoki gave at the Honolulu Museum of Art back on Oct.28? Here’s the complete video of that discussion, courtesy of Stephen Salel at the museum. If you ever wanted to know more about Deb’s career arc, this is definitely the place to do it.

Tidbit no. 2: Spirited Away is returning to theaters nationwide on Sunday and Monday to mark its 15th anniversary, and it’s bringing a special treat for die-hard Studio Ghibli fans: the first-ever North American screenings of Ghiblies Episode 2, a 25-minute comedic short about what goes on at an animation studio that looks a lot like Studio Ghibli itself. Check it out locally at noon Sunday (dubbed) or 7 p.m. Monday (subtitled) at the Regal Dole Cannery theaters. Tickets are available on Fandango for $13.09 general, $10.47 children 11 and under.

Tidbit no. 3: It’s the final (official) jam of the year for Comic Jam Hawaii, the group of collaborative cartoon artists, and they’re road-trippin’: They’re headed over to the Windward side and Kailua Public Library, 239 Kuulei Road, from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required).

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Tidbit no. 4: MiniQ, that outpost of anime goodie happiness in the middle of Aiea, is opening a second branch Friday, Dec. 9, at 95-1057 Ainamakua Drive in Mililani Mauka. There’s going to be food and giveaways at the grand opening, too! Seeing as how (a) this makes MiniQ many miles closer to Otaku Ohana Central out here in Mililani Town, (b) it’s right next to the Sugar Coated Hawaii bakery and (c) it’s just a short walk away from Starbucks, Taps ‘n’ Apps, Wing Stop and Dragon’s Lair, my wallet is already weeping.

And last but certainly not least: Stan Sakai, who’s been chronicling the adventures of the rabbit ronin Usagi Yojimbo all these years, is coming back to Honolulu for a signing session from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at Other Realms (1130 N. Nimitz Highway, in the back of the Nimitz Center) In honor of Stan’s appearance, the store is selling a special 11×17 Usagi print, limited to 200 copies, for $30 each. Here’s what it looks like.

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If you’re drooling right now, first of all, here’s a napkin, that’s kinda gross. And second of all, you can order one for yourself by calling 596-8236, stopping by the store or filling out the online form at www.other-realms.com/stan-sakai-2016.html You can even pick it up on the day of the signing or have it shipped.

“Miss Hokusai” returns for a week

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Hmmmmm. That great wave certainly looks familiar. Courtesy GKIDS Entertainment.

Miss Hokusai’s Hawaii premiere earlier this month sounded pretty sweet. As the leadoff feature for the Honolulu Museum of Art’s monthlong Japanese Cinema spotlight, this anime, focusing on the life of the lesser-known daughter to famed artist Katsushika Hokusai, O-ei, got a lovely welcome: preshow pupus, artists drawing on paper fans and auctioning them off, Darin Miyashiro playing the koto. And a good time was probably had by all.

I write “probably” here because, like most things scheduled for Saturday nights, I was working my usual night shift at the Star-Advertiser and thus couldn’t go. Fortunately for me and those of you unable to attend, though, there’s going to be another screening of Miss Hokusai … or, to be more accurate, another 33 screenings.

That’s because the movie’s playing at the Consolidated Kahala theaters in a full-on limited engagement starting today. It looks like it’s sticking around for at least a week, according to Consolidated’s site; we’ll see Tuesday whether it lingers for longer. So the standard disclaimer applies: The sooner you can see this movie, the better.

You can also see it with its English dub or original Japanese audio with English subtitles; check out the Ota-cool Incoming calendar for exact times, but in general, the dubbed version is being shown at matinees, and the subbed version has the late afternoon/evening slots.

Here, have the trailer again.

Other weekend notes

  • Haven’t seen Shin Godzilla, the latest installment in the Godzilla franchise as directed by Evangelion director Hideaki Anno, yet? You have one more chance: 12:50 p.m. Saturday at the Regal Dole Cannery 18 theaters. Get your tickets here.
  • idkwhat2wear and Kawaii Mono are going to be part of the Season’s Best Craft & Gift Fair this weekend at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. Hours are 5-9 p.m. today, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $3, but here, have some $1 discount coupons. Also, be advised that parking late Saturday might be a little tight because of that evening’s Big Bang show. Wow. Fantastic, baby.
  • NEET, the mini con at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii that I wrote about yesterday, released a more comprehensive list of vendors a few hours after I published my post. (Oh hey, Michi’s Toy Box and artist Reid Kishimoto are going to be there, too!) You can check it out here. Wish I could attend, but alas, work calls.

A banner day for us

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I’m not going to sugarcoat it: Things have been pretty rough emotionally these past few days, saying goodbye to so many Star-Advertiser colleagues who were part of the recent layoffs. It’s been so chaotic that I feel bad about not having the time or energy to write anything in advance here about Kawaii Kon’s Anime Day at Japan Village Walk, although I did take some pictures for a few minutes there (including this one), rushed off to watch Yo-Kai Watch: The Movie (much of which takes place in the lovely Japanese village of, umm, Harrisville … oh, and Kumamon shows up, too!), came back for a few more pictures and then dashed off to work.

There is, however, some better news to share. If you’ve visited this site in the past few days, you might have noticed our new site banner, drawn by cartoonist Dave Swann. Dave’s comic, “Trouble in Paradise,” ended its 7 1/2-year run in the Star-Advertiser on Sunday.

We’re honored to showcase that banner as a permanent fixture of our blog. I’ve followed Dave’s work ever since he did supplemental comics for Will Hoover’s old “Pineapple Stew” columns waaaaaaaay back in the day at the Advertiser. Heck, I even have one of the super-rare “Trouble in Paradise” books (the cover of which is shown up top), snapping it up back way back when Borders at Ward Centre was still a thing (remember that?). It’s so rare, I’ve never seen a copy since. So to have him do something for us is pretty danged awesome.

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Another announcement: We now have a Facebook page, where Wilma and I will be sharing links to our latest posts as well as the breaking otaku news that interests us the most, both locally and nationally. Maybe even live pictures from events, too, if I can figure out how to link that up. Like it! Share it! Say “amen!” (A certain Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction is so going to bop me over the head for writing that.)

Actual content that’s less about us and more about what’s going on in the community coming really soon! Like tomorrow! Promise!

Post #238

(Note from Jason: For the sake of having a complete Otaku Ohana archive here, I’m cross-posting this, the last post made on staradvertiserblogs.com, to this site. New content will be coming soonish! I just need some time to get some fresh air and food first.)

Amazing Hawaii Comic Con is hosting its Special Edition this weekend at the Hawai’i Convention Center. It’s a pretty impressive guest list, headlined by comic writer Brian Michael Bendis and featuring Chad Hardin (artist, Harley Quinn), Veronica Taylor (the original voice of Ash in Pokemon), members of the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance and Max Mittelman, Ray Chase and Robbie Daymond (voice actors who play prominent roles in One-Punch Man and Final Fantasy XV). For tickets and information, visit amazinghawaiicomiccon.com.

But you’ll have to excuse me if I only briefly touch on that because of a bigger announcement that needs to be made: What you’re reading is the 238th post written by either me or tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Win since Otaku Ohana migrated from starbulletin.com to the staradvertiserblogs.com domain in 2012.

It is also the final post of Otaku Ohana as you’ve known it for its 7-year existence.

Sunset over Ala Moana Center as seen from the Ala Moana Hotel, March 26, 2015. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
A sunset as seen from the Ala Moana Hotel, March 26, 2015. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

Let me clarify at the outset that I’m not one of the 15 recently laid-off newsroom employees at the paper. (Neither is Wilma.) My primary duties at the paper are as a copy editor and page designer, and I’ll still be doing that. Recent cuts have, however, resulted in a shifting of priorities for staradvertiser.com, and those of us who write blogs were told earlier this week that most of the blogs — save for the four UH sports blogs hosted at hawaiiwarriorworld.com — would be discontinued, effective Friday, Oct. 7.

I do, however, have some good news about the future of Otaku Ohana. Shortly after that blog migration I noted earlier, I quietly reserved a space on WordPress, intending to use it as a backup in case anything ever happened to either that server or the original Star-Bulletin blog server. Things happen all the time that cause chunks of the Internet’s history to disappear forever, and I wanted to be ready for that.

Thanks to staradvertiser.com webmaster Adam Sparks and Editor Frank Bridgewater, who gave me the go-ahead to do so, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve gained full rights to house all past Otaku Ohana content and publish all future posts to that WordPress space. So yes, this blog will live on. It’ll just be updated at its new home — set your browsers and bookmarks to otakuohana.com, please — and be a 100 percent more freelance-ish endeavor.

So why am I continuing this blog away from the umbrella of Star-Advertiser branding? It’s because it’s become something more than A Thing I do in my spare time at the paper. It’s become a labor of love. A coworker once told me that he enjoys reading what I write because my style seems more like it’s written from a fan’s perspective rather than a clinical journalist’s perspective, and it’s something I’ve tried to keep intact all these years.

In the 11 years I’ve written Cel Shaded and Otaku Ohana, I’ve met so many cool people had so many wonderful experiences and had fun writing about it all. And it’s all thanks to you, the people who’ve stuck with me and Wilma over those years. We are otaku, fans of anime, manga, comics, cartooning, sci-fi, fantasy, what have you. We are ohana, a family. Granted, we can be a somewhat dysfunctional family at times — trust me, I’ve heard enough off-the-record, behind-the-scenes stories to write a book if I was that sort of person, which I’m not — but still a family nonetheless.

I just have one request: If you like the blog, now more than ever, please spread the word about it. I usually note when new posts go up on my Twitter (twitter.com/jsyadao) and Facebook (facebook.com/jsyadao) accounts. Sometimes Google+, too, if the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction reminds me about it. Readership going forward is something I’m going to closely monitor to determine whether I should continue to request press credentials at most of the Con-athon shows, because I feel somewhat guilty asking if hardly anyone’s reading.

See you at otakuohana.com, space cowboys.

Ota-cool Incoming: Art and squeeeee~!

So many events! So little time. So much Pokemon! So little happiness.

To the calendar!

Special events

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Draw Story: Art and Process of Visual Storytelling: If you’ve ever wondered about how your favorite comics develop into something you can read, or if you’re just a fan of work generated by our local community of comic artists, this is your show. The Honolulu Museum of Art is hosting an exhibit collecting work from a selection of artists from the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance (including MidWeek cartoonist Roy Chang, Con-athon 2016 standard-bearer Jon Murakami, Pineapple Man creator Sam Campos and Mana Comics founder Chris Caravalho) along with several comic-inspired artists (Brady Evans, Devin Oishi). The opening reception is at the art school from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday (be advised that the art museum will be hosting its August Moon food and wine event around the same time, and the Pacific Ink & Art Expo will be going on at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall, so neighborhood parking will probably be tight), while the exhibit itself runs through Aug. 29.

Pokemon Go Fest at SALT: Coral Street sits a few blocks away from Star-Advertiser Tower in Kakaako. It’s rather industrial in nature; there are a bunch of warehouses lining it, and you can also find Highway Inn and Hank’s Haute Dogs there. Ever since Pokemon Go launched a few weeks ago, I keep seeing a few players adding confetti-spewing lures to at least eight of the area Pokestops every night and wandering over to claim the nearby Paradise Mural Gym for the glory of Team Instinct or the other two teams that aren’t Team Instinct. (Just kidding, Valors and Mystics, you know I love ya. Mostly because I’ve given up on holding a gym for more than 20 minutes at a time.) Here’s the scene on a recent night.

Yeeeeeeeaaaaah. There are a LOT of people playing Pokemon Go. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Yeeeeeeeaaaaah. There are a LOT of people playing Pokemon Go. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

… yeah, it’s a nightly PokeStreetParty. And now SALT at Our Kaka’ako — the development that has Coral Street as its eastern border — is getting in on the action with a daytime party, featuring live music from DJ Romeo Valentine, a cosplay contest, an Instagram raffle, photo ops with the Hawaii Pokemon Go girls (wait, there are Pokemon Go girls now? Quite a world we live in these days …) and discounts at various SALT merchants. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

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Otaku Summer Festival: This single-day event is back for a second year with food, games and vendors (including Jon!) offering items that’ll make fans of anime, manga and Japanese culture happy. Planned entertainment includes music from The Otakus and a cosplay contest (with prizes!)

Here, have a commercial.

Video Gamers Hawaii will be feeding the shrine’s Pokestop with lures regularly and, in conjunction with the Hawaii Video Gamers League, will be hosting Street Fighter V and Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator tournaments. As for that food? Look forward to five kinds of musubi (fried rice, shoyu chicken, kabayaki eel, furikake salmon and sweet sekihan) for $2.50 each, and three kinds of bentos (chicken katsu, katsu curry, salmon yakisoba) for $7.50 each. Admission is free. Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu (1239 Olomea St.), 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Kenshin Part I: Origins: The live-action adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s wandering swordsman manga starring Takeru Sato as Himura Kenshin and Emi Takei as Kamiya Kaoru is making its way back to theaters courtesy of fresh stateside licensing by Funimation. Yes, it’s the same movie that first came to town via the Hawaii International Film Festival in 2013. But a) you get to see it on the big screen again and b) there are two more movies in the series that will be making their way down here in the next few months as well. That counts for something, right? In Japanese with English subtitles. General admission: $12.25. Consolidated Ward Stadium theaters, 7:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday.

Pokemon: The First Movie: It’s the first big-screen adventure for Ash, Pikachu and the rest of their PokeBuddies, the debut of Mew and Mewtwo in animated series canon, and it’s back on the big screen once again … and it’s in a venue where you can’t play Pokemon Go. (Seriously, I’m not sure if it’s just my cell phone provider or what, but I’ve never been able to get any sort of data signal in the Doris Duke Theater. It’s just too deep underground.) You can, however, cosplay and enter a trivia contest to win fabulous prizes. Sponsored by Kawaii Kon; tickets are $10 general admission, $8 Honolulu Museum of Art members. 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15.

Elsewhere around town

Aiea Library Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Anime Club: Every month, I joke with young adult librarian Diane Masaki that she ought to change the name of the Anime Club to the Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Club, seeing as how the screening schedule for the past few months has consistently been two episodes of the 2012-2013 anime followed by two more episodes of something else. (This month’s “friends” remain the ship-gals of KanColle.) Well, it’s the end of an era, because the club will be finishing off the series at this meeting (and this running gag in the process). Oh, well. At least I can still call Diane the Face of Hawaii Ingress ™, right? At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where there’s still plenty of parking … and now a giant sugar molecule out front. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month … and this month, they’re back at Pearlridge Center! Happy day! Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: Pearlridge Downtown (Center Court area), 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.