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.
It’s been a whirlwind past few weeks here at Otaku Ohana Central, a time that’s left me little opportunity to sit down and gather my thoughts. But now that things are finally settling into a new normal routine for me — and after a lengthy-even-for-this-blog silence for me of several months — here’s what’s up. Call it a “State of the Otaku Ohana Address,” if you will.
As a lot of you who follow my social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook know by now, after 16-1/2 years, I’ve left the Honolulu Star-Advertiser to take on new challenges as a medical legal editor at the Honolulu Sports Medical Clinic.
It wasn’t a decision made lightly. I grew up reading “Kokua Line” with Harriet Gee, columns by Dave Donnelly and Ben Wood, and Corky Trinidad’s cartoons in the Star-Bulletin. I carted copies of the Advertiser with me to Punahou to do crossword puzzles, pick Pigskin Picks games with friends, and occasionally whack a friend with it. (Yes, I’ve been a word nerd pretty much all my life. Also, sorry, Arlen.)
So to get to work at the Star-Bulletin was … well, for lack of a better term, I was geeking out. I was hired as a copy editor, checking stories from the news, features and business departments for any grammar and content issues, writing headlines. Eventually, along with fellow copy editor/friend/tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Win (née Jandoc), we made our own names for ourselves in print, writing about anime and manga … and, well, the rest is history.
We did a lot for otaku journalism at the paper, from anime and manga reviews as part of a rotating stable of four columnists who wrote the “Drawn & Quartered” column in the Sunday Star-Bulletin features section; to “Cel Shaded,” perhaps the only weekly anime/manga column published in a major metropolitan daily newspaper, from 2005 to 2011; to this blog, established in 2009. Heck, I even wrote a book about manga that was published worldwide. None of that would have been possible without Wilma’s support over the years, and for that I’m eternally grateful.
But, well, times change. Newspapers don’t have quite the same cachet they used to, having largely been overtaken by TV and the Internet. And after two straight years of layoffs — the bulk of which cut the behind-the-scenes production and copy-editing departments to a bare minimum — I was faced with two options: Stay on, leave myself open to the distinct possibility of being downsized as well, and cut back coverage or even end this blog completely; or explore my options elsewhere. The opportunity presented itself, I chose the latter option, and, well, here we are today.
So what does this mean for Otaku Ohana? Better things, hopefully. There’s no question that those layoffs took their toll on the amount of time and energy Wilma and I had to devote to this blog. Now that my schedule is more flexible (and for now, less stressful), I hope to have more time to really dig into the fun stuff, possibly do more reviews, finally post all of those pictures and interviews over the years that I just haven’t had time to write up, and attend more events that I couldn’t due to my old work schedule. Visiting the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s New Year’s Ohana Festival, the Taku Taku Matsuri “Bringing Bun Bun Back” revival, AO Fest and the Hawaii Anime Awards, and NEET, for instance, are definite possibilities now! Along with all the usual Con-athon stops, of course.
As for Wilma? She’s still at the paper. But we promised we’d get together for lunch regularly. So she’ll still be a big part of Otaku Ohana going forward, if not in print, at least in terms of support and backstop edits of my posts.
But here’s the thing. For any of these changes to really matter, we really need to get more eyeballs on this blog. Much of this is my fault; I’ve left this blog to languish for far too long and probably ought to do more to promote it and generate more worthwhile content for it. I’m hoping that with more posts coming down the pipe, those of you still reading this blog will share it with a friend or two, and those friends will share it with their friends, and pretty soon we’ll go viral and have a kajillion subscribers like that famous YouTuber from Hilo. OK, fine, so that’s really pie-in-the-sky thinking. A few more views in the stat counter would be nice, though.
So yeah, 2018 will be the year we Make Otaku Ohana Great Again. Or as we like to call it around these parts, MOOGA. (I just like the way that sounds. Kinda primal and offbeat.) And for the next few months at least, our three-person team is looking forward to sharing a lot of interesting stuff with you.
… why yes, I did just write that we have a three-person team now. Stick around for our next post, and you’ll get to meet our very first Otaku Ohana intern.
I’m back from yet another extended hiatus! This one’s going to take a bit more explaining, and I hope to get around to doing that reasonably soon (and preferably not take another two months or so to do so).
But we’ve got a lot of news to catch up on. So let’s get right to it: The eighth annual edition of Mini Con at the McCully-Moiliili Library is happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Eight years is a really long time for the local otaku community; for starters, that makes it the second-longest-running event held in consecutive years this century, behind only Kawaii Kon (13 events as of this year). Consider also that it’s outlasted the lifespans of the following now-defunct events combined:
HEXXP (three years)
Oni-Con Hawaii (one year)
Anime Matsuri Hawaii (one year)
Anime Ohana (one year)
That’s pretty special. And a lot of it has been built on the foundation that then-young adult librarian, now-branch manager Hillary Chang established when I first wrote about this event back in 2010: a mini Artist Alley, a chance for cosplayers to show off, anime screening throughout, and giveaways up the wazoo. Including these selections that were available at last year’s event.
Yes, that is Godzilla and a rubber chicken, and no, I’m not sure how anyone got along without having these in their lives, either.
This year: There are comics. Lots. And lots. Of comics.
And just as in previous years, all you have to do to get your hands on some of ’em is to visit the exhibiting artists and authors and complete a stamp card.
The exhibitors have remained fairly constant as well. Sure, their roles may have evolved over the years — Jon Murakami has added Edamame Ninjas and The Ara-Rangers to his portfolio; Audra Furuichi has scaled back her retail appearances (Mini Con’s the only event she’s appeared at this year!) and shifted her full-time cartooning focus to nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii in the Star-Advertiser; Kevin Sano is now selling comics and art in a space at Idea’s Music and Books (formerly Jelly’s) in #OurKakaako; and Brady Evans, who’ll be doing art demonstrations throughout Mini Con, now works as collections manager at the Honolulu Museum of Art. But they’ve shown up year after year, and it’s been a nice chance to catch up with what they’ve been doing in a more intimate setting than the bigger events can offer.
New to the festivities this year is Hiroshi Mori, a local expat and University of Hawaii at Manoa alumnus who currently works at the Third Floor in Los Angeles as a previsualization artist, someone who visualizes what complex scenes in movies will look like before they’re filmed. Some of his credits include Mad Max: Fury Road, The Avengers, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and Men in Black 3. His comic Island Kingdom“is inspired from growing up in Honolulu and combining Hawaii’s surf culture with the movies, TV and comic books I grew up with, such as ‘Mad Max: Road Warrior,’ ‘The Yagyu Conspiracy,’ ‘Escape From New York,’ and ‘Conan the Barbarian’ just to name a few,” he told Surfer Today in an article published in January. He’ll have print copies of Part 1 in the series, “Surf or Die,” available for sale.
Also appearing will be author David Estes, who’s written more than 30 sci-fi and fantasy books. The first book in his “Fatemarked Epic” series, Fatemarked, tops Amazon’s Teen & Young Adult Medieval Fiction eBook chart, with several other books in the series not too far behind. He’ll host a writing workshop, “Build Your Own World,” at 10:30 a.m.
McCully-Moiliili Library is at 2211 S. King St.; as always, arrive early for the best parking. Call 973-1099.
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.
(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.
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.
A number of you who use Facebook probably know about its Memories/On This Day feature, where their little algorithmic thingamabobs and doohickeys dig down deep in your timeline and pull up posts that you might’ve forgotten existed about a week after you posted them.
Today, this memory popped up on my timeline.
And it reminded me, “Welp, blogger boy, your HawaiiCon vacation’s over, time to get back to work and write a new post.”
Here’s why: The latest edition of Mini Con will be held four years and two days after I posted that picture. This is one of those events that your friendly neighborhood otaku blogger’s been covering for a long time — this is its seventh year, in fact, making it the second longest continually running event I’ve covered, behind only Kawaii Kon.
The formula that McCully-Moiliili Library branch manager Hillary Chang has followed every year is simple, yet effective: Bring in artists Jon Murakami, Audra Furuichi and Kevin Sano as the foundation; supplement with at least one more rotating guest; host a stamp rally and give away prizes throughout the day; give patrons a chance to cosplay. (This year’s rotating guest is artist Mark Gould, a member of the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance who’s done a fair amount of freelance work over the last few years, including covers for Slave Labor Graphics’ Model A and contributions to Christopher Caravalho’s Aumakua: Guardians of Hawaii books.)
Not everyone has the time, money and/or energy to attend one or (for the most hard-core crazy among us) several of the otaku conventions held around the state every year; Mini Con’s existed as an option for people to get a free taste of convention life, a slice of Artist Alley in a library setting. This is also going to be Audra’s last event as a vendor for this year, so this will be your last chance to pick up some nemu*nemu merchandise or some of her lovely, lovely original artwork from her in person until … well, Kawaii Kon next spring, I reckon.
All of this is happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the library, 2211 S. King St.; parking at the library is limited, so either plan on showing up early, go across the street to Ross Dress For Less (which has graciously opened up its lot for use by library patrons) or bring a handful of coins to feed the meters. For more information, call 973-1099.
News tends to travel in cycles around these parts. There are times when not much is going on, allowing me time to play my phone games and plot out points on the Pokemon GO Hawaii Guides map (1,800+ Pokestops and gyms on five islands mapped so far, another 700+ in the queue!), and times when ALL THE THINGS ARE HAPPENING AT ONCE AAAAAAAHHHHHH.
Welp, we’re now in one of those ALL THE THINGS periods. It started Tuesday when Tsum Tsum partner in fandom Wilma W. reminded me that there were screenings for Rurouni Kenshin II: Kyoto Inferno and Digimon Adventure tri Chapter 1: Reunion next week. Then nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii cartoonist Audra Furuichi noted on Facebook that there were a buncha anime movies on deck at the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Doris Duke Theatre. And then Funimation and Crunchyroll announced they were joining forces to create one huge Voltron-esque anime distribution machine, the Aiea Library Anime Club finally laid to rest my close-to-3-year-old “Polar Bear Café and Friends Club” running joke, and Shin Godzilla and Yo-kai Watch tickets for local screenings.
This, of course, came around the same time Marvel Tsum Tsum (for Android and iPhone!), Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice (Nintendo 3DS/2DS) Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet (PlayStation 4) and Trails of Cold Steel 2 (Vita) were released, regular Tsum Tsum launched its “battle against Jafar” event for in-game items and a pile of Abu Tsums, and Ingress introduced a monthlong “Via Lux Adventurer” badge for agents who visit at least 300 new, unique portals this month. And, of course, I’m getting ready to fly out to the Big Island next week for whatever adventures await at HawaiiCon.
So, well, goodbye for a little bit, games. (You better show up when I get back, elusive Pokemon Go Dragonite.) It’s time to get to work. Because there’s a lot of anime and anime-related stuff to watch to watch over the next few months, and you’re going to want to know where to go to catch all of it.
Coming to theaters
Rurouni Kenshin II: Kyoto Inferno: Noted here more for completionists’ sake, as both screenings at the Consolidated Ward theaters — 7:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday — are sold out online. Sorry about that.
Digimon Adventure tri. Chapter 1: Reunion: It’s been 16 years since a Digimon movie made it stateside. Technically, what we got here in the U.S. wasn’t even one movie; it was three movies mashed together, with about 40 minutes of content lopped off along the way. So here it is: the first Digimon feature to make the jump from Japan to the U.S. intact, with an English dub to keep those nostalgic feelings intact. It’s the next chapter in the lives of Tai and the DigiDestined, who’ve finally made it to high school. The gate to the Digital World has been closed, too. But their lives are about to Digi-volve in a big way once again … Regal Dole Cannery theaters, 7 p.m. Thursday.
Yo-Kai Watch: The Movie: Speaking of the whole “gotta catch ’em all” ethos, here’s Yo-Kai Watch, featuring the adventures of Nate, the boy who can see otherwise invisible yokai everywhere, and his yokai companions Whisper and Jibanyan as they help wayward spirits with their problems. In this, the English-dubbed version of the first movie, the watch gets stolen! Oh noes! Nate and the gang must travel back in time with a new yokai, Hovernyan, to save the world. Those of you who collect Yo-Motion Yo-Kai Medals will want to pick up the Hovernyan medal, too, while supplies last. Regal Dole Cannery theaters, 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15.
Shin Godzilla (Godzilla Resurgence):As we continue to wait for any word on whether Evangelion 4.0: You Will (Not) Be Happy (or whatever the subtitle to that movie will be) has gone into production, Eva director Hideaki Anno’s latest project is coming to theaters stateside. It features the return of everyone’s favorite city-stomping giant lizard. And guess what — the King of the Monsters isn’t happy. Which means deliciously entertaining chaos and destruction are about to follow. Hold on tight, Tokyo. Consolidated Ward theaters, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, Oct. 11-13.
Honolulu Museum of Art’s Japanese Cinema spotlight: More details to come in a future post for what’s turning out to be a busy otaku October at the art museum — I should know; I’m part of the programming — but for those of you who want to get a head start and buy your tickets now, there are 13 Japanese movies screening at the Doris Duke Theatre. Five of them are anime:
>> Miss Hokusai (making its Hawaii premiere!), 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1
>> Paprika, 7: 30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25
>> Tokyo Godfathers, 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26
Tickets for Miss Hokusai are $25 general admission, $20 museum members, and includes preshow pupus from 6 to 7:30 p.m. (definitely go for the tenderloin with ponzu sauce if it’s offered; I had some at the opening reception for the Takaya Miou manga exhibit, and that stuff was heavenly) and koto music from Darin Miyashiro. For the others, it’s $10 general admission, $8 museum members.
Pokemon: The First Movie and Pokemon: The Movie2000: Tickets ($15 general, $12 museum members) aren’t on sale yet for this double feature, but we do know this much: The First Movie is screening at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, while The Movie 2000 will follow at 4:30 p.m. Also, I’m pretty sure someone will deploy Pokemon Go lures on the museum’s two Pokestops at some point. Because everyone wants to catch more Pidgeys.
Elsewhere around town
Aiea Library Hot Swimmer Dudes and Friends Anime Club: We’re in uncharted territory here, folks: a world where young adult librarian / Face of Hawaii Ingress ™ Diane Masaki has run out of Polar Bear Cafe episodes to screen. So by popular demand, Diane will be screening episodes of Free! Iwatobi Swim Club for, umm, free. Kancolle will be continuing, too, for those of you who’d rather watch battleships personified as cute girls. At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where there’s still plenty of parking and a giant sugar molecule out front, to boot. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email email@example.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.
MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists usually meets every second and fourth Sunday of the month at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, 1111 Victoria St. Next meeting is from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday in room 200. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/mangabento/
Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center; locations within the mall may vary. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii(Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18.