Con reschedules; community regroups

A little more than a day after Amazing Comic Con Aloha postponed its show scheduled this weekend. organizers have already announced replacement dates … as well as the first batch of guests. Set aside Feb. 22-24, folks, because Amazing’s now kicking off Con-athon 2019, with legendary artist George Perez and Power Rangers actor Jason David Frank among the first guests announced.

The official statement:

Amazing Comic Con Aloha! in conjunction with Collider is thrilled to announce that their show from this weekend that was postponed due to Hurricane Lane will be rescheduled to February 22nd to 24th 2019! They are also excited to announce that some of their scheduled talent from the postponed show will return to Honolulu, HI along with all new guests to be announced in the coming months. Avengers Infinity Gauntlet/Thanos creator Jim Starlin will return and will be joined by original Infinity Gauntlet artists George Perez and Ron Lim, appearing together in one place exclusively for the first time in several years at Amazing Comic Con Aloha! They will be joined by legendary DC/ Batman artist Neal Adams. Also, in a triumphant return to Amazing Comic Con Aloha!, Power Rangers star Jason David Frank will join us to celebrate 25 years of Might Morphin’ Power Rangers.

Further guest announcements will be coming over the next few weeks. Stay tuned to Amazing Comic Con website and socials for all the latest news.

” We were disappointed to cancel our original dates due to circumstances beyond our control but we are happy to be able to announce replacement dates expeditiously. Hawaii has been great to us and we can’t wait to come back in February 2019 with some of our original guests and all new talent to share their Aloha spirit with the people of Hawaii!!” said Jimmy Jay, Founder Amazing Comic Con.

Attendees who purchased tickets and packages for the original show will be able to use their already purchased tickets for the rescheduled dates including those who purchased tickets through groupon. Further instructions and alternatives will be posted to the Amazing Comic Con website in the coming days. Tickets will go on sale beginning after Labor Day starting at $25.

While Amazing may not be running this weekend, there are a number of activities and sales that have popped up around the island in case you have a con-shaped hole in your schedule that you’d like to fill. (The con’s Facebook page has even been resharing some event notifications as they come in.) Some highlights:

  • Shirokiya MatsuriThe third edition of the monthly Shirokiya Matsuri will be taking place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow at Japan Village Walk, the street-level food court on the Ewa end of Ala Moana Center. This celebration of local and Japanese culture features crafters, an entertainment stage hosted by Remy Zane, and family-friendly activities. (That’s a picture of the first Shirokiya Matsuri at the top of this post.) As a bonus, there are plans for an impromptu Comic Jam in that venue as well, so you can fellowship and draw with a bunch of local artists if you’d like.
  • Artist Neal Adams has been popping up around the Rainbow Tower of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, taking and delivering commissions, signing autographs ($50 each) and selling art. Check on https://www.facebook.com/NealAdamsDotCom for details.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman will be making an appearance tomorrow at Other Realms, 1130 N. Nimitz Highway, suite C-140. Keep watching Other Realms’ Facebook page for details on that.
  • Kevin Sano of Sanoevil Collectibles has a bunch of comics that he was going to sell at the con this weekend at Ideas Music and Books, 670 Auahi St. The store’s open until 7 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow.
  • Fans of gunpla (Gundam models) can swing by Animeya and Collectibles (98-027 Hekaha St., Bldg. 3, Unit 19) for the August Gunpla Meet-Up from 3 to 7 p.m. tomorrow. Bring your favorite kits, show off your completed work, and get some tips from fellow fans.
  • Finally, Dragon’s Lair Comics in Mililani (95-1840 Meheula Parkway; take the Mililani Mauka offramp from the H-2 Freeway to get there) has a weekend sale going on, with 20 percent off all current comics, board games, and trade paperback/hardcover comic collections, and 50 percent off the back-issue bins. The store’s open until 7 p.m. today and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. tomorrow; artist Michael Cannon will be hanging out and drawing sketches for a little while today as well.

The Amazing Comic Con-undrum

This isn’t going to be your typical convention preview.

Amazing Comic Con Aloha, the third stop on the Con-athon 2018 circuit and the last 3-day geek con on Oahu for the year, is scheduled for this weekend at the Hawai’i Convention Center. It’s arguably the state’s largest comic marketplace, boasting a healthy lineup of local and national comic talent in the combined Artist Alley/Dealers Room.

37921010_1347447408719057_5946462936632393728_oThe guest list has traditionally been stacked as well. This year’s pop culture roster includes actress Evangeline Lilly, fresh off her starring stint in Ant-Man and the Wasp; Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario in Nintendo’s long-running franchise; voice actress Tara Strong, the voice of Raven, Harley Quinn, Timmy Turner, Bubbles, Unikitty and Princess Twilight Sparkle, just to name a few of her roles; Justin Briner and Mike McFarland, repping the My Hero Academia dub; and Keith Silverstein, Chloe Hollings and Lucie Pohl, the voices of Overwatch’s Torbjorn, Widowmaker and Mercy, respectively. (Update 10:12 a.m., 8/23: Lucie Pohl has canceled.) Notable artists include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman, legendary creators Neal Adams and Marv Wolfman, and a good selection of artists from the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance. (They have a special print available this weekend, too.)

There’s a pretty big elephant in the room, though — an elephant that’s currently at Category 4 and projected to make an impact on the state over the next few days. That’s the Central Pacific Hurricane Center’s latest projected path of Hurricane Lane as of 5 a.m. today at the top of this post.

It’s sent 99 percent of the state into lockdown mode. City, state and federal offices are keeping non-essential workers at home and cutting off services. Schools are closing. Sporting events, the Greek Festival, Blaisdell shows, Honolulu Museum of Arts programming and movie screenings are being postponed or canceled. Heck, even Zippy’s is closing. (Here’s a complete list.)

That other 1 percent? Amazing Comic Con Aloha. Con organizers have repeatedly insisted on social media that #TheConIsON and that they’ve been in constant contact with the proper authorities to ensure the show goes off as scheduled. In fact, VIP members and those who bought premium ticket packages can pick up their passes on the second floor of the Ala Moana Hotel from 6 to 8 p.m., then make their way over to Nocturna Lounge at Waterfront Plaza/Restaurant Row for a pre-show mixer.

I have mixed feelings about all of this. I’m stopping short of urging that people not go, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that the rest of the state is effectively shutting down to prepare for Lane, and that other organizations and venues have deemed the risk too great to proceed with their scheduled events. Something is going to happen over these next few days. The questions are, to what extent? For how long? And how much are we willing to risk our safety for stuff that’s nice to have, but we don’t necessarily need to have?

Here’s where I stand: Con-athon community, I love you guys, but I’m just not willing to commit to attending this weekend. As a result, you might not see my usual flurry of con updates on my social media channels. I’m admittedly someone who looks at things in terms of worst-case scenarios, and Lane just looks too scary right now to leave my shelter-in-place for at least Friday, and probably for Saturday, too. We’ll see about the aftermath on Sunday. I’d love to be proven wrong, but we’ll just have to play the waiting game for that.

There will be other events like this down the line. I just urge you all to use your better discretion in deciding whether to attend.

The road to Con-athon is paved with melting radiators

Day 0 of Comic Con Honolulu was supposed to have a simple schedule for your friendly neighborhood otaku blogger: Check in to the hotel, finish up writing a quick preview of what’s happening this weekend, fetch the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction, have a nice dinner back at the hotel, fall asleep in bed while completing Tsum Tsum missions.

Naturally, my car decided that now would be a lovely time to take a vacation as well, promptly melting its radiator in neighboring mall stop-and-go traffic and sending its owner into FLAIL SCALE OVER 9,000! mode.

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The moral of this story, kids: If anyone ever offers to sell you a Ford Fiesta, run away screaming. Photo by Jason S. Yadao. 

And so my schedule was radically reworked, I ended up falling asleep in bed working on this quick preview, and I’m probably the most discombobulated going into a convention since a few years ago, when I attended Kawaii Kon a few weeks after being hospitalized with pneumonia. Whee!

But the main thing is that I’m here, safely ensconced in the con hotel with this lovely view, ready to cover the con!

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There’s a fabulous mountain view here somewhere. Allegedly. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

… well, OK, I’m ready to cover the con, at least.

Comic Con Honolulu does rekindle the flame of Con-athon 2018, after all, with four major geek culture cons happening on three different islands over the next three months. It can, admittedly, be hard to keep everything straight. And that’s where I come in.

First, a disclaimer: This is only one person’s opinion on what he thinks are the highlights of a particular convention, so you’re going to want to check the show’s website and social media accounts to get a fuller picture of what’s going on.

OK, enough with the introductions. Let’s roll.

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This weekend’s shark-themed con artwork is provided by Michael Cannon. He’ll have these prints available at his Artist Alley table, #422; pick up singles at $2 each, or the full set for 14 for $20. Photo courtesy of Michael Cannon.

Comic Con Honolulu
Today-Sunday, Hawai’i Convention Center
$65 for 3-day pass; $40 Friday; $55 Saturday; $40 Sunday; children 10 and under free with paying adult

It’s the one with: Jeremy Shada, the voice of Finn in Adventure Time; Felicia Day, Internet darling who’s starred in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, The Guild, and the recent revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000; kamaaina actress and Miss Hawaii USA 1993 Kelly Hu; Jason Isaacs, Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies; and Kevin Sussman, best known as Stuart the comic store owner in the love-it-or-loathe-it geeky sitcom The Big Bang Theory.

Helping put the comics in this comic con: Captain Marvel and Wolverine creator Roy Thomas; Strangers in Paradise creator Terry Moore; Stan Sakai, kamaaina creator of rabbit ronin Usagi Yojimbo; and current Deadpool artist Scott Koblish, who apparently likes drawing many different ways of killing himself.

Your Overwatch voice actor squad: Junkrat (Chris Parson), Zenyatta (Feodor Chin), Mei (Elise Zhang), Hanzo (Paul Nakauchi), and Roadhog (Josh Petersdorf). Writer Michael Chu will be there, too! And they’ll all be part of what’s being billed as “Blizzard’s Official Overwatch Panel” at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in the Main Events room. The live art auction on Sunday (starting at 10:15 a.m., Panel Room 314) will offer a unique opportunity: The winning bidder will get to play on an Overwatch team with the voice actors against six runner-up bidders. And the auction proceeds go toward supporting Pu’uhonua o Puna, a group set up to help Puna residents displaced by Kilauea’s ongoing activity, so everybody wins!

Notes of note: Event programming has been one of Comic Con Honolulu’s strengths over the past few years, which is to be expected from an offshoot of Kawaii Kon, the anime con that remains the local standard for activities crammed into every day. Here are some highlights:

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Sketches drawn during the 2017 edition of Comic Jam Hawaii’s Art Improv panel cover the floor at the end of the panel. (And attendees get to take home all this free art, too!) Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
  • Traditional favorites include Iron Cosplay, in which contestants cobble together costumes from a random assortment of materials (1:15 p.m. today, Room 312); Comic Jam Hawaii’s Art Improv panel, with artists drawing audience suggestions on the fly (1 p.m. Saturday, Room 314); the cosplay contest (6 p.m. Saturday, Main Events); a pair of cosplay sketching sessions (1:30 p.m. today and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, both in Room 314); and the aforementioned live art auction (10:15 a.m. Sunday).
  • Main Events room concerts include the orchestral stylings of Hitbox Music Ensemble, bringing a program with the theme “Music of the Elements I: Water” at 8:15 p.m. Friday, and the rock ‘n’ rollin’ Otakus at 8:15 p.m. Saturday.
  • Sci-fi fan group The Last Outpost Hawaii is presenting five panels throughout the weekend: “How to Catch an Alien” at 6:30 p.m. today in Room 315; “Build Your Own Superhero” at 4:15 p.m. and “Mad-Lib Theater” at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, both in Room 312; and “Whovian Trivia” at 10 a.m. and “Starship Smackdown!” at 1 p.m. Sunday, also both in Room 312.

AO Fest ready to celebrate community

The journey from the first (and ultimately only) Anime Ohana convention in 2015 to the inaugural edition of AO Fest on Saturday has been a rather … interesting one, to say the least.

I’ve covered local three-day conventions since Kawaii Kon launched the modern con era in 2005, and Anime Ohana was the most sparsely attended con I’ve ever covered. Even with Kawaii Kon co-founder Stan Dahlin and anime producer David Williams running the show and voice actors Monica Rial (returning to Hawaii for the first time since 2009), Jessica Calvello and David Matranga as guests, hardly anyone showed up. Those of us who did come became very good friends by the end of the weekend, mostly because we kept seeing one another at everything.

Perhaps it was the show’s venue at the Pagoda Hotel and people having trouble finding it, the con’s position on a very crowded 2015 calendar that included HawaiiCon,  Amazing (Holy Cats It’s STAN FREAKING LEE In) Hawaii Comic Con, and McCully-Moiliili Public Library’s Mini Con in September, Kawaii Kon’s Anime Day at Windward Mall in October, and Anime Matsuri Hawaii in November, or the fact that there wasn’t much publicity for it that led to its downfall. But the powers that be vowed that they would regroup and return for more the next year.

They ultimately never did.

About a month before Anime Ohana 2016 was supposed to take place, organizers postponed it to 2017, citing a need to build more awareness with a new marketing and promotions team. About a month before Anime Ohana 2017 was supposed to take place, the show was outright canceled. And that, as some of us in the fan community assumed, was that.

cropped-AOBut then in December, news broke that AO Fest — a single-day event, including the Anime Ohana Festival during the day and the Hawaii Anime Awards at night — was A Thing. How could a brand that seemed dead in the water a few months ago suddenly be actively planning a summer comeback?

The short answer: It’s a different path for the Anime Ohana brand, one separate from the original vision for a more traditional three-day convention. And it’s a path being charted by the people who originally came on board to help Anime Ohana with its 2016-17 promotional push, who didn’t want their work to go to waste.

So with the blessing of David Williams, AO Fest was born. And festival organizers Jeremy Lum and Quincy Solano, along with Gavin Shito of the University of Hawaii at Manoa Anime Manga Society and YouTuber Kyuubikaze, have been working hard to make sure that Saturday’s festival is a fun, unique experience for anyone who attends. So while there are several elements that come standard with events of this nature — a cosplay contest, performances by Close the Distance (the three-member group formerly known as EMKE) and the Fresh Preps, a cosplay cafe, and a space for video games and tabletop games — there are other things to see as well.

“A lot of what we’re doing was based off what we were doing for Anime Ohana,” Jeremy said. “We decided to do a lot of activities and events that we thought were kind of unique, or at least things we want to see in conventions, but realize that we were kind of lacking in terms of the other major conventions.

“One of the things we decided to put on was the Anime Awards, and also the Shokugeki competition (a cooking competition a la the anime/manga series Food Wars) and so forth. So I feel like those different elements that we’re creating and planning kind of help diversify a little bit better, giving people more of a reason to turn their attention to Anime Ohana Fest, in addition to all the other major conventions.”

A full schedule of the day’s events is available at aofest.com/schedule/

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With a different vision comes a venue change. Forget about the Pagoda; AO Fest is taking advantage of the space at the UH-Manoa Campus Center, utilizing the courtyard, space on the second floor, and the ballroom and meeting rooms on the third floor.

“Where all the other major conventions, they focus on Blaisdell area, the convention center, we’re doing it at UH because it’s a smaller venue, but they are offering competitive pricing, so financially it’s a lot easier and better for us,” Gavin said. “Also, the demographic that we’re looking at, students — you know, high school students, college students — especially during the summertime when most of the high school students may be transferring over to UH, it would be a great opportunity for them to come and inspect the campus and possibly learn their way around.”

As for what you can expect during the day, Gavin and Jeremy offered the following narrative:


Gavin: Well, first up, when you’re walking toward Campus Center, you’re coming from the main parking lot, the parking structure, the first thing you’ll see is the open courtyard, where we’ll have the Manoa Medieval Combat Club doing their demos … what else do we have? We have the taiko drummers …

Jeremy: We also have iHeart Media, they’re gonna have their radio personalities. We have a lot of things planned outside, a lot of things to attract people in, like YouTube meetups and different things like that, kind of having something that’ll always be active outside. It’s kind of cool because … I guess different from most conventions, we’re going to have a lot of activities that are going to be happening outside.

And then most of the major attractions are going to be inside, on the stage. We have a full schedule from beginning to end, which includes the Shokugeki. It includes Ohana Feud, which is like Family Feud. We have the cosplay contest, and we’re going to be doing panel guests …

Gavin: From there, second floor, we have a lot more YouTube meetups, talking, just meeting people off to the side, coming in. And from there, they can go upstairs to the third floor, where we’ll have the main events with the guests, the panels talking, along with the vendors.

So we’ll try to move people up along as they come in. They’re going to go to one attraction, then be pulled to another attraction, and just keeping them flowing up and around to the entire area. And from there when they finally reach the third floor, from there they can go and explore the different rooms, and then also come back down or go back up. So we designed a flow that’s easy for the customers to look around.


AA_logo-copyAnd then there’s the wild card in the equation, something that’s never been attempted before on the local fandom circuit: the Hawaii Anime Awards, honoring local artists and businesses, YouTubers, and even anime itself. The evening awards show, hosted by Remy Zane and Rei Jun, will also feature a buffet-style dinner catered by UH-Manoa campus food provider Sodexo.

AO Fest organizers see the awards as an opportunity to showcase local talent and recognize their hard work in making the local community, well, the local community. Quincy Solano has organized his share of awards ceremonies over the past 9 years, honoring experts in business and social media, and he’s seen how awards have stimulated confidence and good feelings within a community, raising it up as a whole.

“Maybe there’s an artist that’s undiscovered, but by bringing them to the limelight, then all of a sudden they really feel confident in their skills,” Quincy said. “And I’ve just seen it — once it’s done and executed well, you just get a good feeling from throughout the community. Then people want to try out for next year, and then people are like, ‘Oh, how do I make it, then,’ they look at themselves like, ‘oh, maybe I just need to do better,’ like, ‘this is what I’m up against.'”

As for anyone wondering why AO Fest is debuting a local anime awards show now, Quincy asked in response: Why not?

“It’s never been done, we have the expertise to pull it off, and our venue is fiscally, financially within reason, range, so we can do something on a small scale, but make it big,” he said. “Start it off, make it big, expand it. If it does need work somewhere, it’s still small enough that we can adjust. We’re not going completely all out at the convention center or the Blaisdell and putting all this hype into it. But we’re starting small.

“It’s a really noticeable event, but we’re starting small to gain recognition and just to have people just try it out. If they want to try it out, OK; if they see it and they see that they want to try out next year, OK, we can add more to it, they can try out next year; and we can just continue it, on and on.”

If you’re interested in attending, you have a few more hours to buy tickets online at aofest.com; general admission is $30 ($35 at the door) or $50 with VIP seating. Cosplay cafe tickets ($10) and tickets for the Hawaii Anime Awards ($15 general seating only, as the awards dinner is sold out) are also available.

Oh, and one final note: AO Fest also happens to be on show host Kyuubikaze’s birthday. And he’s pretty excited about that.

“Me being host for it, it’s something that many people would dream about, you know, getting to host or even getting to work with or participate in an event that’s just starting, as such, so that’s one part to it,” he said. “The other part would be that I am a very hard-working social media influencer, and I know that I’m getting to see my close fans and my friends. I’m also expecting a lot of family there, too, because it is my birthday.

“Just seeing them all mingle together in a community that I’ve tried to grow into and sharing my interests with so many people, that whole aspect is what draws me to what I can expect the most from this.”

 

 

 

[Kawaii Kon 2018] Recovery of an otaku intern

Hey everyone!  Sorry I haven’t posted recently.  Besides last weekend being the dates for the local area’s only anime and manga convention, I dislocated my shoulder and have had my arm in a sling until yesterday!  However, I’m fine now, and the doctor said I can resume light tasks with my arm again.  Never underestimate LARP (Live Action ROle Play) events at these conventions!

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Artist Alley was bustling as usual.

Anyways, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the convention.  Despite the mishap, I got to do everything I wanted to do in my previous post.  The How to Draw with Voice Actors panel was incredibly entertaining.  The panel featured the talent of English voice actors Christine Cabanos (Silica from Sword Art Online), Carrie Keranen (Satsuki Kiryuin from Kill la Kill), Brittney Karbowski (Black Star from Soul Eater), and local-born actor Micah Solusod (Soul from Soul Eater).

The idea was for one voice actor to draw one of their characters, using a reference, with their drawing projected live to the audience, but not to the other panelists.  At the same time, the featured actor described the character to the other panelists, who had to draw what they thought the character looked like.  The results were both incredibly creative, and insanely hilarious.

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The voice actors take their positions as Micah Solusod is the first to live draw.
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Micah Solusod grades Brittney Karbowski’s interpretation of his description of Yuno from Black Clover.
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For the record, here’s what Yuno is supposed to look like. (via blackclover.wikia.com)
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Micah Solusod’s rendition of Karbowski’s character, Black Star.
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… aaaaaaaand here’s actual Black Star. (via souleater.wikia.com)
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Christine Cabanos did an amazing job drawing her character, Silica.
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Micah Solusod’s drawing of Satsuki Kiryuin from Kill la Kill according to Carrie Keranen’s descriptions.
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… aaaaaaaand you get the idea. (via https://www.pinterest.com/pin/351843789614099869)

You can see most of the panel right here in this video posted by YouTube user Pipperry Took.

And here are the last few minutes.

I also got to participate in the Cardboard Megabrawl.  My friends made some ridiculous looking armor for me in our 1-hour time limit.  However, that was short lived as this was the event where I dislocated my shoulder.  Haha, it was fun while it lasted, but I’ll have to rethink my strategy for next time if I don’t want to risk popping the same shoulder out again.

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Little did I know that my armor would not protect me from what was to come…

Despite the mishap, I continued to attend the convention after the docs at the hospital treated me.  I was in a sling for the rest of the weekend, so I couldn’t really take any pictures.  I did manage to catch Cristina Vee’s 2nd autograph session.  I missed the first one because of the shoulder the previous day.  It was so exciting to meet one of the voice actresses whose work I’ve been following for years!

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So glad to have had this signed by Cristina Vee!

Events like Kawaii Kon are few and far between here in Hawaii, but that makes these types of conventions all the more worth it to attend.  I am always amazed at how quickly the convention center is transformed from an empty building into three floors of otaku-dom.

These conventions are such a huge contribution to the community.  They create a safe space, in a sense, for people to freely express themselves.  It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you’re from; your religion, sexuality, etc.  Everyone is there to do one thing, and that is to celebrate and enjoy our love for anime, manga, video games, comics, cosplay, and all other facets of the otaku and nerdist kingdoms.  If only the world could reflect that sort of unity.

Anyways, that’s it for my post-convention report.  It’s not much because of the injury, but I’ll try to make up for it with other interesting articles, like my next one!  My next Anime is Culture post will be addressing the topics of hikikomori and the pressures of Japanese society portrayed in anime/manga.  This might hit some people a little close to home, but please look forward to it!

[Kawaii Kon 2018] Lancen’s pre-show picks

Hey all!  Sorry for the lack of a post last week.  I had an extremely busy weekend and no time to write, or even watch anime.  Anyways, for those who don’t know, this upcoming weekend is Hawaii’s very own anime convention, Kawaii Kon!

Every year, thousands of attendees, both local and out-of-state, visit the Hawai’i Convention Center to share in their love and enjoyment of the Japanese anime and manga culture.   Usually I would be setting up a table to sell my artwork, but this year I’ll be just a regular attendee.  Well, not so regular, as I will be making an effort to write a report for each day.

The boss asked me to write about 3 events or activities I’m excited to attend, so I’ll do just that.

How to Draw with Voice Actors
3-4 p.m. Friday, Ballroom B

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Haha, this is what I looked like at the past Kawaii Kons — dead tired behind my art table. But I enjoyed seeing people enjoy my stuff.

As something of an artist myself, this event really caught my eye.  I’ve always been stuck behind a table for many of my previous conventions, so I could never attend events like these.  I really wanna see if my favorite English voice actors can draw the characters they voice, and hopefully there will be an opportunity to request a character for them to draw!

Meeting Cristina Vee

Panels:
Cristina Vee Q&A
11 a.m.-noon Friday, room 315

How to Draw With Voice Actors
3-4 p.m. Friday, Ballroom B

Women of Animation
1:15-2:15 p.m. Saturday, Ballroom B

Ask an Anime Character
Noon-1 p.m. Sunday, Ballroom B

Autographs:
2:45-5:15 p.m. Saturday and 1:30-3 p.m. Sunday

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Cristina Vee plays the voice of Noel Vermillion (center), one of my favorite characters from BlazblueCourtesy Arc System Works.

Cristina Vee is by far one of my favorite English voice actresses to date, playing roles like Noel Vermillion (Blazblue series), Sakura Matou (Fate series), and Homura Akemi (Puella Magi Madoka Magica).  I have been requesting her appearance for years now, and it’s so nice to see my request coming true.  I can’t wait to get my Blazblue merchandise signed, and hopefully I’ll be able to draw her a little something as a gift for all her hard work!

The Cardboard Mega Brawl
3-4 p.m. Saturday 
(setup 2-3 p.m.), Exhibition Hall 2 & 3

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This was back in 2014, the year our team took 1st place in the Cardboard Mega Brawl.  This wasn’t at Kawaii Kon, but it’s a reminder of how long I’ve been building for my friends.  It’s my turn now!

Every year, I’ve built cardboard armor for my friends to compete in.  This year, it’s my turn to pit myself against the other fighters in the ring.  Using only cardboard, duct tape, and pool noodles, teams have an hour to hastily construct armor and weapons, then pit themselves against one another, trying to knock off the cup targets placed on each others’ armor, or completely destroy those cup targets.  It’s crazy yet controlled in these wack battles.  I also have a couple of friends competing, and I hope I get to battle against them.

Anyway, those are my top things I’m looking forward to so far.  I haven’t totally checked out the schedule, and sometimes things are added last minute.  I’ll be making an effort to write about my convention experiences every day of the convention, and hopefully I get a lot of good pictures.  Until then, I’ll be cramming homework so that my weekend is totally stress free.  I was also thinking of doing something special on this blog, but we’ll have to wait and see. 😉

 

Where one door closes, one more opens

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.

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My coworkers at the Star-Advertiser feted me with a cake on one of my last days there. It was a total coincidence that the frosting the bakers used was green and yellow — the two colors of my teams in Ingress (Enlightened green!) and Pokemon Go (Instinct yellow!).

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.