We’re back! We’re sequestered! Let’s watch stuff.

If you’re reading this, congratulations! You’ve managed to survive the first four months of one of the most cursed years in the history of humanity, AND yet another extended stretch between Otaku Ohana blog posts. I’d offer you a cookie, but it looks like the term “social distancing” is going to be part of our lives for a while longer, so to reward yourself, go support whatever local businesses you can instead, if you’re able. They could use the help.

So why have I been gone for so long? It’s a long story, and one that’s been sitting in my “drafts” folder for several weeks now. Maybe I’ll finish writing that and publish it some other time. Or maybe we’ll go another eight months between posts. I don’t know. The world’s gone crazy. KYAAAAAAAAAH

… umm. Ahem.

The point is, how are you coping with life these days? We’re entering another month of mandated sheltering in place; a month where we were supposed to have Free Comic Book Day and Kawaii Kon at that. The former is off the calendar for this year, while the latter is, for now, scheduled to do the Dragon Ball Z Fusion Dance with Comic Con Honolulu and take place Aug. 7-9, although we realistically could just be waiting for a legal “act of God” to kick in at some point.

There are a few ways to fill in those holes this weekend, though. Serving as a replacement for Free Comic Book Day is Alt FCD, a Facebook group that’s hosting streaming panels, comic creator Q&As, and — perhaps the biggest draw of all — a repository of dozens of free independent comics. The catch is that the group only exists for two days, today and tomorrow, May 1-2. So grab those comics quickly.

If you’re missing Kawaii Kon, there’s a virtual anime con, Anime Lockdown, taking place this weekend, with special guests Veronica Taylor (the original English voice of Pokemon’s Ash) and Kyle Hebert. Here’s their programming schedule; here’s a list of panel descriptions. They’ll be broadcasting live at twitch.tv/animelockdown until around 12:30 p.m. Hawaii time Sunday.

And then there’s Concellation 2020, the 32,000-plus-member Facebook group from which I bought the lovely con badge that you see at the top of this post. The tongue-in-cheek creation of Christopher Ambler, Concellation bills itself as “The SF&F con that’s always cancelled. Celebrate the con that never was – cancelled before it was even announced, Concellation 2020 is the event you wish you could have pre-opposed!” It’s been a great online venue to celebrate con culture and the various fandoms under its umbrella, and, for me at least, a nice way to break up a fair amount of doom and gloom that’s been constant on my Facebook timeline.

There’s so much more going on to keep people entertained in down times, but I’ll leave it at that for now. I just wanted to prove to myself that, y’know, I could still churn out one of these posts after so long. And apparently I can! Small victories. Hope all is well with you all, and hope to be back here again with another post sometime somewhat sooner…ish.

Ten years of Mini Con? TEN YEARS?!?

I’m not going to make any excuses — things have felt different around Otaku Ohana Central for the past few months.

It’s certainly not for lack of content. So much has come and gone since I last wrote anything in this space. There are many fragments of posts about various events sitting in the “drafts” folder and photos sitting in my phone, but I just haven’t been motivated enough to see any of them through to completion and publication. Lancen went off to teach in Japan as part of the JET program, and tag-team partner in fandom Wilma W. and I haven’t had much mental energy left to spare after work to write much of anything after we both left the paper.

It’s one thing to re-share various announcements on the Otaku Ohana Facebook page (still very much a thing!) or to post pictures from various events on my Instagram feed so you can live vicariously through what I experience (also still very much a thing!). It’s another matter entirely, particularly these days, to generate a few hundred words about things that I really care about and want you, dear dedicated reader who’s actually stuck around this long waiting for new content, to know about as well.

But hey! Guess what! Something’s finally motivated me to write something again! So here are a few hundred words about a thing etc. etc. etc.: Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library, an event I’ve covered for the past …

*checks notes* …

*rechecks notes* …


Photo courtesy McCully-Moiliili Library.

Seriously, though, double-digit lifespans for pop-culture events are difficult to come by in this town. Only Kawaii Kon, which kicked off the modern era of such local events and held its 15th annual show earlier this year, has lasted longer.

Here’s what I wrote about the event in Cel Shaded (remember when that column was still A Thing?) in October 2010:

Mini Con, running from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the library, is being held in celebration of Teen Read Week, the Young Adult Library Services Association’s annual initiative to encourage literacy.

When I heard about Mini Con’s venue, I knew there was one person I had to get in touch with right away: Hillary Chang, the library’s young-adult librarian and acting branch manager. Those of you who stopped by the Hawaii State Library table at Kawaii Kon’s Artist Alley earlier this year might remember Chang as the librarian cosplaying as Yotsuba Koiwai, the eternally cheerful green-haired child star of must-read manga series “Yotsuba&!”

Chang is bringing in three local artists for a meet-and-greet:

» Audra Furuichi, co-creator and artist of the popular plush pup Web comic “nemu*nemu.”

» Jon J. Murakami, Star-Advertiser cartoonist, illustrator and creator of the “Gordon Rider” comic series.

» Kevin Sano, a T-shirt designer with Crazy Shirts who’s also done some designs featuring Kikaida and Kamen Rider.

“It’s more like a ‘Mini Artist Alley,’ but ‘Mini Con’ is so much easier to say!” Chang told me via e-mail.

By Hillary’s estimate, around 60 people attended Mini Con that first year. Last year, around 400 showed up. Other things changed over the years as well: Audra’s now the artist of the popular plush pup Star-Advertiser comic “nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii”; Jon’s added the Ara-Rangers, Edamame Ninjas, and Wasabi Magazine’s “What’s Up, Wasa*bee?” comic to his repetoire; and Kevin’s moved from designing shirts to selling comics at Idea’s Music and Books in Kakaako.

Brady Evans sells prints at Mini Con. Photo courtesy of McCully-Moiliili Library.

All three of them will be back for Mini Con 10, happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the library at 2211 S. King St. Joining them are several other repeat guests — Brady Evans, Tara Tamayori, and Derick “7Sketches” Fabian — and this year’s new-to-Mini Con invitee, the Hawaii Saber Academy, taking Star Wars lightsabers and turning them into tools for a pretty good workout. Instead of Teen Read Week, they’ll all be helping celebrate a bigger milestone: McCully-Moiliili Library’s 50th anniversary.

You’ll want to go around and meet everyone, too; back for another year is the stamp card rally, where you can get a free comic book in exchange for a filled card. You can also enter to win a giant gift basket, and bid on original artwork, books, and other items in a silent auction.

Normally this is the part where I would recommend arriving early for the best parking spaces, carpooling, or taking public transportation, but there’s an additional option this year: The library’s giving out passes for free parking at Ross Dress For Less across the street (top level unreserved stalls only, second level away from entrance), so there’s that.

Questions? Call 973-1099.

Pop Culture Expo is a Go!

Meanwhile, in the rapidly expanding Mini Con-esque event category, both sides of Pearlridge Center — Phase 1 Uptown Mauka and Phase 2 Downtown Wai Makai — are hosting the Pop Culture Expo during business hours Saturday and Sunday. A number of fan-favorite artists and vendors from local convention Artist Alleys will be there — off the top of my head, I can think of Kawaii Mono, Trinigrafx, Roy Chang, Mana Comics, Headshot Heroes, and Michael Cannon. Cosplaying is encouraged, too! Admission is free.

Amazing Comic Con Aloha postponed

Quick update on the developing situation with Amazing Comic Con Aloha: The three-day convention, scheduled to take place today through Sunday, has been postponed.

The official statement:


Due to the circumstances beyond our control and the impending arrival of Hurricane Lane, Amazing Comic Con ALOHA! regretfully has to reschedule its planned show this weekend in Honolulu, HI.

“We watched the weather closely and as Hurricane Lane weakened we made a decision to utilize the vendors, talent and media that had made it to Hawaii to still move forward with our show but due to circumstances beyond Amazing Comic Conventions Control the convention center became unavailable for use. The safety of our attendees and guests is paramount to us. ” said Jimmy Jay, founder of Amazing Comic Con ALOHA! ” “We are actively rescheduling and look forward to returning to Hawaii in the very near future with the best Architects of Pop Culture!”

Information on rescheduled dates can be found at AmazingComicConaloha.com and on @AmazingComicCon Socials as soon as we have information.

Additionally, we will doing our best to get back to everyone today answering any questions or concerns you may have.

We thank you for your continual support. We love you, Hawaii.

This marks the first postponement of a major event since Taku Taku Matsuri was postponed two days before it was scheduled to take place in August 2014 due to the dual threats of Hurricanes Iselle and Julio.

UPDATE 9:56 a.m.: Here’s the Hawai’i Convention Center statement on the cancellation.

Due to severe and variable weather conditions from Hurricane Lane, the Hawai‘i Convention Center and the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) have made the decision to cancel the Amazing Comic Con, previously scheduled to run today through Sunday at the Convention Center. We regret the inconvenience this may cause to organizers, vendors and participants. The safety of our guests and staff remains our top priority as this storm approaches. Please contact the Amazing Comic Con directly for information related to the event.

More Free Comic Book Day news? More Free Comic Book Day news!

Yes indeedy … ever since my last post about Free Comic Book Day went live around 12 hours ago, I’ve gotten word of a few more things going on tomorrow. Here’s the latest:

Artist Kaci Horimoto is making the first two issues of her comic, Bandit, available to read for free through Monday night. You can check those out at http://kacihorimoto.wixsite.com/kacihorimotoart/bandit.

Dragon’s Lair (Mililani): The first 30 people who lay claim to these promotional posters can get them signed by the featured artists.


Also, artist Jon Murakami will be giving away free copies of Gordon Rider issues 6 and 8, and selling prints of the bookmarks he contributed to the Comic Jam Hawaii bookmark set (as seen in the header image!).

Other Realms (Iwilei): Artist Sam Campos will be opening his art vault and bringing original Pineapple Man artwork to sell.

Maui Comics & Collectibles (Kahului): Artists Aaron Nakahara, Francine Walraven, Todd Bernardy and Shane O’Shaughnessy will be on hand to draw free sketches for anyone who stops by.  The shop is also hosting a silent auction, with proceeds from that (and any additional cash donations) being used to buy Safeway and Walmart gift cards that will be sent to InterVarsity of Hilo, a non-profit group helping victims from Leilani Gardens who have been displaced by the current Kilauea eruption. Stop by from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Enjoy Comics (Hilo): Visitors will not only get free comics, they’ll also get free comic grab bags, some of which will contain tickets for additional prizes! Ooooh.

A special plea for #GivingTuesday

As longtime readers know, this is the time of year when we urge everyone — whether you’re gamers, otaku or not — to head on over to the Amazon wishlist of Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children and purchase a game, toy, or other item that will be sent directly to the hospital to benefit its young patients and their families. (If you spend $25 or more, you’ll even get free shipping.) The medical center is part of the network served by the Child’s Play charity.

But in addition to that, I’d like to make a different kind of plea this year.

You may know that this blog started off under the auspices of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, now the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Each year during the holidays, the Star-Bulletin ran the Good Neighbor Fund to benefit the Community Clearinghouse and needy Hawaii families, along with printing a list of monetary donations the fund receives — practices that continue today under the Star-Advertiser. The amount of each individual donation varies from $100 or more to, well, far less than that.

Some years ago, a person I once had the acquaintance of was perusing said list and came to the latter part of it.

“Five dollars?!” this person chortled with incredulity. “Gee, now isn’t that SO generous? And it’s being printed in the paper??”

The remark annoyed me. Words — admittedly caustic ones — hovered on my tongue. Unfortunately, I was concentrating far more on something else at the time and so I was unable to form the retort that really should have been said, and the time for saying it passed.

check out hunger2

Have you seen those bright green slips of paper next to the cash register at many grocery stores, part of the annual Check-Out Hunger Campaign to benefit the Hawaii Foodbank? The smallest amount they ask to help is a little under $3 — and from that tiny amount, the food bank promises to feed a child breakfast for a week. What’s considered to be the most important meal of the day, for an entire week! For less than $3! For many of us who are always on the run or in a rush, a cup of coffee alone already costs far more than that per DAY!

Not only that, every dollar raised through the campaign goes directly to the food bank.

When you’re handing over $7 for that chili or Portuguese sausage or cinnamon bread or ice cream, or spending $15 for that deluxe wrapping paper or greeting cards from a catalog, or shelling out $20 for that magazine subscription, think about it: Just how much of that money is actually going to the organization you’re supporting? A dollar? Maybe two or three? Perhaps five, if you’re lucky?

In fact, many donations aren’t a whole lot by themselves. Yogurt lids to help the fight against breast cancer? Worth 10 cents each. Box Tops for Education? Also just 10 cents for each box top or label. Those donation boxes you might see in stores, collecting money for various charitable endeavors? They’re filled with pennies, nickels, dimes.

But when hundreds or thousands of people decide to take the time to do their small part, those resources, so seemingly insignificant, add up to a great deal more.

This is one of the biggest cliches in the book, but I say it nevertheless: Never underestimate what the smallest donation can do — not just in itself, but also added up over time. Don’t ever think that your $1 is too little or too useless to be of any help.

That is why, in these days of special need, with the economy still wobbly and so many more people needing a bit of aid, it’s important to look at what we have and be grateful that we have so much — and then, despite the overall tightening of spending, open those wallets just a tad and give the $1, $2, or whatever little extra we can give. Not only on this Giving Tuesday, but throughout the holiday season and, hopefully, throughout the year.

And I hope that person, especially in these hard times, has come to value just how much good $5 can do.

Ohana (Festival) means we’re launching another year

Yup, I’m finally back in the saddle again. Why it’s taken so long between posts is a story best told some other time (preferably in one of the other posts that’s been sitting in the queue for far too long), because the kickoff to what’s promising to be another looooooooong year full of otaku-flavored events is coming up: the 23rd annual New Year’s Ohana Festival at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.

All the usual elements that have made the festival such a big community draw in past years are back again this year: activities, food (love those KC Waffle Dogs!), craft vendors, cultural demonstrations and entertainment on two stages, divided between the center itself (at 2454 S. Beretania St.) and nearby Moiliili Field. Some of the highlights for our purposes:

  • Kawaii Kon representatives will be selling three-day passes for their convention April 4-6 (the first stop for Con-a-thon 2016!) at prices cheaper than what’s currently available online — $50 general admission, $40 children ages 5-12, a savings of $5.
  • After going on hiatus for … umm … a while now, Oahu Anime Explorer is making its public return this year! Yay! They’ll be screening anime and hosting a photo booth for cosplayers and various activities.
  • Anime Matsuri Hawaii representatives will be hosting dress form demonstrations at their table in the Manoa Grand Ballroom at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. It’ll be a preview of a longer workshop they’ll be hosting in February. They’ll also be bringing a stack of masks of Saitama, the bald-headed hero of One Punch Man, to color and take home. One Punch Man, of course, is the hottest current otaku property not involving either an unhinged wisecracking assassin or Daisy Ridley.

Admission is free; parking is available for a fee at the University of Hawaii at Manoa lower campus parking structure, with a free shuttle running between the structure and the festival. Questions? Call 945-7633.

Elsewhere around town


Closeout sale at Jelly’s Aiea: Back in 2001, Jelly’s, that bastion of local retail that’s been selling comics, books, music, games and collectibles in some form since 1983, opened a branch at the Harbor Center in Aiea, right behind Cutter Ford. Times change and good things eventually end, and it’s with that thought in mind that we’re bidding farewell to that store in less than two weeks. (A store in Kakaako will remain open for the time being.) They’re going out with a pretty big bang, though: Almost everything in the store (except for the guitar equipment, anything priced at $2 or below, and anything marked as being on consignment) is 50 percent off the price marked. There was still quite a bit of stuff there when I went on Wednesday, including a fair amount of manga and graphic novels, so go check it out while you still can.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday; it looks like they’re aiming for a Jan. 17 closing date, if everything doesn’t go out sooner. Point your GPS-enabled device at 98-023 Hekaha St., suite 9; call 484-4413.