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!*
Free Comic Book Day! This Saturday! Lots to talk about! Little time to explain! Let’s get to it.
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 that little art film about a big bad giant purple dude, his pretty sparkly glove, and the Marvel Bunch fighting him for it. You might have heard of it. It made a few (hundred gazillion) dollars over the past week or so.
Twenty-four public libraries statewide will be giving away comics this year. It would have been 25, but alas, poor Aina Haina is still recovering from recent flooding.
Your starting lineup on Oahu: (deep breath in)
Aiea Library, 99-374 Pohai Place (where there’s still plenty of parking and a big horking sugar molecule out front)
Hawaii Kai Library, 249 Lunalilo Home Road
Kailua Library, 239 Kuulei Road
Kalihi-Palama Library, 1325 Kalihi St. (special program, see below)
Kapolei Library, 1020 Manawai St.
Liliha Library, 1515 Liliha St.
Manoa Library, 2716 Woodlawn Drive
McCully-Moiliili Library, 2211 S. King St.
Mililani Library, 95-450 Makaimoimo St. (special program, see below)
Nanakuli Library, 89-070 Farrington Highway (the newest library, which means it’s their first year in the program!)
Salt Lake-Moanalua Library, 3225 Salt Lake Blvd.
Waikiki-Kapahulu Library, 400 Kapahulu Ave.
Waimanalo Public & School Library, 41-1320 Kalanianaole Highway
Waipahu Library, 94-275 Mokuola St.
And on the neighbor islands: Hilo, Kailua-Kona and Thelma Parker Memorial Public & School Library on the Big Island; Kahului, Kīhei, Lahaina and Makawao (with a special program!) on Maui; and Hanapepe on Kauai. Lanai Public & School Library will be represented at the Saturday Market from 8 to 10:30 a.m. in front of Cafe 565 on Seventh Street.
As for the comic book stores, there are a number to choose from again. On Oahu, there’s:
Choice Comics (98-1268 Kaahumanu St., suite 104) in Pearl City
Collector Maniacs, 3571 Waialae Ave., suite 102A, Kaimuki
Dragon’s Lair, 95-1840 Meheula Parkway, suite E-10, Mililani
Gecko Books, 1151 12th Ave., Kaimuki
Other Realms, 1130 Nimitz Highway, suite C-140, Iwilei
Westside Comics and Games, 590 Farrington Highway, #538, Kapolei
And for those of you on either Maui or the Big Island, there’s:
Maui Comics & Collectibles, 115 S. Wakea St., Kahului
Game Over Comics, 277 Wili Ko Place, suite 233, Lahaina
Enjoy Comics, 45-201 Pohaku St., Hilo
The special attractions!
Comic Jam Hawaii artists contributed 175 different character bookmarks to sets that will be given away at the libraries, as well as Choice Comics, Dragon’s Lair, Gecko Books, Maui Comics & Collectibles, Other Realms, and Westside Comics & Games. Here’s a look at a bunch of those sets being prepared for shipment.
Members of the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance will be out in force at various events. Gordon Rider/Honolulu Star-Advertiser/Hawaii Herald artist Jon Murakami, Bandit artist Kaci Horimoto, M artist Dwayne Acoba, and Mash Monster artist Andrew Gutierrez will be drawing free sketches at Dragon’s Lair from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (The store also has several sales going on: 30 percent off all comics, 10 percent off all hardcover collections and trade paperbacks, and various other markdowns.)
Other Realms, meanwhile, will host Contraptor artist Free Isabelo, Mysterious Things artist Napua Ahina, Cacy & Kiara/Pepe the Chihuahua kalbi wrangler Roy Chang, Pineapple Man artist Sam Campos, Exillion artist DJ Keawekane, Nightmarcher artist Chris Koanui, and Game of Thrones illustrator Mog Park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free will be teaching workshops on drawing comics (11 a.m.-noon) and how to produce a comic, from concept to distribution (1:30-2:30 p.m.) and there will be a comic jam session with the artists from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Seats for these three sessions are limited to 20; you can reserve a spot by calling 596-8236 or emailing OtherRealms@hawaii.rr.com.
(Sudden thought: If Free Isabelo is at an event like this, does that make it a Free and Other Artists Comic Book Day? And if he was, for some reason, commissioned to draw a story based on the anime about the Iwatobi Swim Club and then held a release party, would that be a Free Free! Comic Book Day? Yes, these are the kinds of things I think about when I’m not thinking about Kirby.)
Other Realms also has giveaways and discounts, and the first 50 people will receive a FCBD Star Wars Adventures buttons. Cosplayers from League of Shadows Hawaii will be stopping by from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A number of libraries will be hosting cosplayer appearances; check with your local branch to see who’ll be showing up, and at what times.
Kalihi-Palama Library will host a talk by freelance artist Kanila Tripp from 11 a.m. to noon. Kanila’s done work for DC, Marvel, Image, HarperCollins Publishers and Mattel Toys, and he’ll be discussing his experiences. Cosplayers will be showing up between 1 and 4 p.m. There’s also a make-and-take superhero corner bookmark activity, and a lucky-number drawing — pull a number and win a prize!
Mililani Library will have some cosplayers, and they’ll be screening the 2017 hit Wonder Woman from 1 to 3:30 p.m.
Over on Maui, Makawao Library will host local artist and educator Pam Hayes, who’ll be leading a quick workshop for children in grades 2-12 on classic graffiti art techniques, including bubble lettering embellished with drips, cracks, bricks and flames. That’s happening from 10 to 11 a.m.
And last but certainly not least, an entire comic book store will be holding its grand opening on Free Comic Book Day! In addition to the comic giveaways, the gang at Game Over Comics in Lahaina will be grilling hot dogs and hosting a tournament for the DC Universe brawler Injustice 2 from 2 to 6 p.m. Everything in the store will be 10 percent off, too.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments. And swing by Otaku Ohana on Facebook for any last-minute updates, too.
Hey there everyone, sorry for the recent lack of articles. My class fell behind on the syllabus, and we just got done reorganizing ourselves and getting back on track. Anyways, Lancen here with another article on anime and its reflection of Japanese culture. This time, I’ll be talking about anime/manga and its relationship to violence.
In my latest class on anime, we were assigned to watch the film Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors. For those who don’t know, this movie is one of several in a series that were produced during World War II. The movie features cute animals, reminiscent of Disney characters, going off to battle to fight against the devils in the West. Just like in the original Japanese fairy tale. Except the ones heading off to battle are dressed in Japanese military uniforms, parachuting out of planes, using WWII-era guns, rushing tanks to stab the drivers with their bayonets, and ultimately forcing the devils to surrender.
Just from this description, one can see that this movie was a propaganda piece made to motivate the Japanese to join the army and fight for Japan’s victory in the war. However, there’s more to this than just having a story of victory for Momotaro, Japan’s hero.
The film’s animation demonstrates incredible attention to detail. Whether it’s the facial expressions of the characters, or the weapons they use, the detail put into them is very realistic, especially with the animation technology they had at that time.
Why go through such incredible effort for the sake of a “children’s” movie? This is where the term “hyper-realism” comes in. Hyper-realism is when the simulation — anime in this case — feels more real than actual reality. The attention to detail draws the viewer in and makes them “feel” the reality. In the case of Momotaro, making the “victory” as real as possible was one way to instill nationalism in its viewers and stoke the fires of the wartime spirit.
Even after the Japanese defeat in WWII, this use of violence in animation to stoke the audience’s spirit did not wane after the war. It just turned in a different direction. Instead of war, violence is used to promote peace.
How is violence supposed to bring about peace? Once again, hyper-realism plays a key role. An example of this was our assigned reading of volume 1 of Barefoot Gen.Barefoot Gen is an autobiographical manga created by the late Keiji Nakazawa, one of manga’s most influential creators and a survivor of the A-bomb strike on Hiroshima. In this manga, there are gruesome depictions of wartime Japan: starving children, the atrocities the Japanese military inflicted on the Chinese and Koreans, and of course the terrifying effects of the atomic bomb, both from the initial blast and the effects on the survivors.
If you look at the images from the manga and your stomach turns, then Nakagawa’s manga is affecting you in the way it was intended to. His use of graphic violence and gore makes it all feel very real, despite being a manga aimed at young children.
The realism of the terrible effects of war makes people want to avoid it as much as possible. The reader is drawn into the hell that Nakagawa saw that day, and it sends a powerful message.
In America, it is the norm to avoid showing children violent programs or materials until we deem them old enough to handle/understand it. However, Japan’s incredibly strong stance on peace and pacifism encourages exposing the horrors of violence and war to children at a young age. According to my professor, Barefoot Gen is required reading in many Japanese primary schools. Instead of “the children aren’t ready for this,” it’s “This is what happens when you wage war. This is why we have to promote peace.”
A quick aside from Jason: First off, hi, remember me? I’m still around! Just been busy with some unexpected things, that’s all. Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that if you want to read more about Barefoot Gen, you can take a look at this reflection that I posted back in 2015, or the related Manga Movable Feast archive, or even the Google Books archive of the profile I wrote in The Rough Guide to Manga. OK, back to you, Lancen.
Have you ever noticed that in many anime, especially more popular ones, killing another person is usually a last resort? This reflects the changed mentality of the Japanese.
A good example is Vash the Stampede from the famous anime, Trigun. Despite being one of the best gunslingers in the world, he never shoots to kill, even if that would get him out of a sticky situation much more quickly and effectively. When he is forced to kill, it shakes him down to his very core, and there is an entire episode dedicated to him trying to cope with it.
After the Allied victory in World War II, the American occupation pushed for the Japanese government to restructure itself, changing from an imperial system to a democratic one.
Included in this change was the ratification of Article 9 in the new Japanese Constitution. This article declared that Japan would give up the right to wage war and have a standing military. This would result in the Japanese pro-peace mentality that we see today. They dislike having military bases in their country, as they see it as them being accessories to war in Asia.
This feeling was especially strong during the Korean and Vietnam wars, where protests broke out against the establishment of U.S. bases. The U.S. keeps its bases there to deter its rival in the East with a show of strength. However, Japan’s policy of peace speaks the opposite. If you have no need for weapons, then neither does your enemy. Instead of countries fighting one another, let’s work together towards peace.
What do you think, especially in light of recent events? Would the Japanese approach to peace work in the West? Is it too idealistic?
[WARNING: SOME IMAGES MAY CONTAIN MILD NUDITY AND SEXUAL THEMES. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED]
Hello everyone, I’m back. It’s been a little over a week since I returned from Japan, and I’ve had to hit the ground running since I missed the first week of the Spring Semester during the trip (IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT THOUGH). As I’ve been grinding my way through catching up with homework, I thought of something interesting: Why not take what I learn in my anime class (yes, there’s an actual anime class that exists), and share a little bit of it with you readers? The first topic I thought would be interesting was the topic of “fan service.”
What is fan service? To readers who may not be familiar with the term, “fan service” is the practice of adding elements that attract viewers and keep them watching/reading. What many people in the West think of as just blatant perversion is actually a production and marketing strategy used in the hyper-competitive and capitalistic manga/anime market.
I’m sure most of you have heard the line “Sex sells” before, and Japan’s popular manga and anime market has taken it to heart. To understand this, one has to understand the way manga works and how it differs from the Western concept of comics. The reason I am using manga in this comparison is that many anime are derived from manga, and therefore a lot of the same techniques used in the marketing of the original manga get used by the anime side of the industry.
Unlike Western comics, which are published primarily monthly, all popular manga are published weekly. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner trying to break into the game, or if you’re a seasoned veteran. If you are a beginner, to get your start, you would have to send your manga to companies to be published in a collection among numerous other new artists’ works. These collections are sold in cheap books that are meant to be thrown away after reading.
These collections of new manga artist works all have surveys at the end asking readers to give their opinions on which artists’ manga they enjoyed. If the company sees that people like your manga, they will offer to put your manga in one of their more mainstream publications. You have one week to send in your next chapter. If that week’s publication gains traction, then you get another week from the company. The process will continue until you quit, or the audience loses interest. If your audience starts waning, the company will ask you to end your manga, and you’ll be kicked out of the lineup.
How do you stay in the game? With a good story? That’s impossible with only 25 pages a week, with people looking at your pages for only 4 seconds each, and with your manga just one of thousands of other hopefuls.
That’s where fan service comes in. It’s not a far-fetched notion to say that the first thing a person will notice is an attractive image of a character, whether it be a man or woman. If you can catch the eyes of readers with a girl in a swimsuit, or a guy with his shirt off and muscles glistening, you can increase your chances of being noticed by a small margin.
In a market where everyone thinks the same way, and wants the same thing, you have to be the one that stands out the most, which leads to the generous amount of “fan service” given in manga. It can be seen as lecherous in nature, but the reasoning behind it is almost strictly for business purposes. Fan service can lead to getting noticed. Getting noticed can lead to becoming popular and mainstream. If you can make it to the mainstream, the more fan service your manga has, the more ways it can be marketed in spinoff products like figures, posters, and other character goods. Good fan service leads to the establishment of strong anime/manga franchises.
In the end, manga is not a niche industry like its Western comic counterpart. It’s a mainstream, hyper-competitive industry in Japan, and fan service is just one of the ways to hopefully get yourself noticed, and HOPEFULLY that gets your foot in the door.
I hope you all enjoyed this little tidbit from my anime class, and I hope you learned something that you didn’t know before. Fan service plays upon people’s desires, but it’s not perversion or sexualization for sexualization’s sake. It’s a survival mechanic. The Japanese market is drastically different from the Western market regarding things like comics and manga, and I hope I could shed a little light on that.
If you’re interested in more content like this, please leave a comment and let me know. I sincerely enjoy writing about the things I learn in class.
Today’s adventure took our group to the famous Kyoto Manga Museum. It was just a quick 5-minute walk from our hotel! This museum houses the world’s largest collection of manga, dating all the way back to the ’60s, with some dating even further back. Established in 2006, this museum was built in an old elementary school that had been closed down after the area around it slowly turned into a business district.
There, we got treated to a small lesson on how manga assistants work learning how to color in hair, draw motion lines, and add lines to evoke certain emotions from different panels. As with the other museums, we were not allowed to take pictures of the museum in order to preserve the atmosphere and value of the museum.
I highly recommend that you try and take a trip here if you haven’t already. There were so many more exhibits I wish I could have looked at longer, but we were on a tight schedule.
After our visit to the Manga Museum, and lunch, our group packed up on the bus and began our two-and-a-half hour bus ride from Kyoto to Shiga prefecture. Along the way, we took a brief rest stop at Shirahige Shrine, along the shore of Lake Biwa. A short distance offshore, on of the shrines old gates stands in silent vigil as a testament to how large the shrine had once been. The large red gate was a magnificent sight to behold, standing on top of the glassy surface of the lake.
Proceeding from the shrine, we finally made it to our destination, a quiet little minshuku, or Japanese family-run inn. Our group was divided among 3 different inns. Our group went to the inn run by the Yoshinoya family.
I cannot begin to describe how great I feel in this place. The atmosphere is just so relaxing and homey, all the way out here in the countryside. We were treated to a very fulfilling meal of sukiyaki, followed by a calligraphy lesson from the family head.
After, our group of guys all broke the barriers big time as we shared the community bath. It was most of our first time experiencing bathing with our peers, but we were all pretty cool about it as we talked about life, school, anime conventions, etc.
Now we’re all relaxing as we continue soaking in the atmosphere. The agenda for tomorrow is a trip into the nearby Kutsuki Forest, then preparing our presentations for when we return to Tokyo. There, we’ll be presenting our findings, as well as our steps moving forward, to the Chief Secretary of the Cabinet Secretary. What is our take on the “Beauty of Japan?” What will we do to spread the knowledge of this beauty? I’ll keep you posted.
By the way, it’s snowing here in Shiga, and I am absolutely ecstatic. It’s my first time experiencing snowfall and actually getting to hold snow in my hand! This trip has just been fantastic.
What’s up everyone? I hope you’re all having a wonderful first week of the New Year! My name’s Lancen Crisostomo, and I’ll be joining Jason’s Otaku Ohana crew as an intern for this semester!
Just a bit about myself. I was born and raised in Mililani, graduated from Homeschool, am 25 years old, and attending college at the University of Hawaii at West Oahu. My major is in humanities with a concentration in creative media.
I’ve been a fan of anime and manga ever since Pokemon and Digimon aired on Saturday mornings back in the ’90s. My otaku-related hobbies include watching anime, reading manga, playing video games online (if you play Rainbow Six: Siege on PC, hit me up!), drawing, and playing trading card games. I’ve been a regular attendee at Kawaii Kon and other local anime events. Perhaps some of you may have dropped by my art table once or twice over the past few years.
As I stated earlier, I’ll be working with Jason as an intern for Otaku Ohana. My goal is to help write the blog’s usual content regarding local otaku events, but also to add more types of content to give the blog more variety and to showcase the interests of the younger generation of local otaku culture. This includes things like featuring local content creators (artists, video game streamers, etc.), reviewing anime/manga (both complete and ongoing series), and commenting on what’s going on in the anime/manga community to hopefully start conversations. Perhaps I’ll try throwing some of my artwork up as well (gotta put myself out there somehow!).
This blog has a small following right now, and I hope that by featuring topics such as these, it’ll help bring more attention to the blog while also expanding, connecting, and strengthening the local otaku community as well.
I know that doing all of this is a lofty goal for a mere college student, but I will do my best to bring new and exciting content for readers to enjoy. To start this semester of fun-filled otaku writing, I’ll be chronicling my experiences, starting today through Jan. 16, as I take my first-ever trip to Japan, courtesy of the Japanese government and the Kakehashi Project. The Kakehashi Project is a program sponsored by the Japanese government, with the purpose of building and strengthening the bond between Japan and North America through the sharing of culture. The theme for this year is Pop Culture, so I’m really excited for what’s in store. I will try my best to stay as connected as possible, posting pictures, videos, and other things as well. After coming back, I’ll be hitting the ground running with that new content.
I hope that my writing and articles will entertain and inform you all! Please look forward to it! I’m definitely looking forward to hearing what you all think!
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.