Remember the Titans. Remember Your Name. SO MUCH TO REMEMBER.

It’s Stream-of-Consciousness Day here at Otaku Ohana, where I try to keep track of all the news that’s poured into Otaku Ohana Central these past few days or so and share it with y’all before the next wave of news washes in. On the road to Kawaii Kon and the beginning of Con-athon 2017, we’ve definitely hit rush hour. Set up your calendars accordingly.

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Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale in review

“O. M. G. That. Was. AWESOME!” the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction fan-gushed to me last night after we saw the big-screen adventures of Kirito and Asuna and their friends, and how yet another video game they’re playing goes rogue and threatens to kill all the players for realsies. (It comes complete with that buzzworthy end-credits teaser, too.) “You’re going to write something about it, right?!?”

Since I’m already writing up all these other news items, I suppose I will touch on it for a bit. If you’re a fan of video games, augmented reality games like Ingress or Pokemon Go, and/or action-adventure-dramas in general, you’ll want to watch this movie. It was $15 well spent. This applies even if you aren’t that familiar with the Sword Art Online franchise to date, and you’ve seen only a five-minute summary of season 1 (warning: the link’s a humorous commentary peppered with NSFW language and situations) like me or fewer. Also, I want a copy of the soundtrack, composed by the always-awesome Yuki Kajiura, nownownow.

If you missed last night’s screening, you have one more chance: 11 a.m. Saturday at the Consolidated Kapolei theaters. There’s also a screening at the same time at Consolidated Ward, but that’s already sold out, so get those tickets quickly. Will there be another chance to see it after that and before it inevitably ends up on home video? Hmm …

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Hawaii lands rare Attack on Titan compilation screenings

This story began as most about anime being screened theatrically do: an article from Anime News Network crossing my social media feeds.

“English-dubbed screenings scheduled for 19 theaters,” a sub-headline noted.

Whenever I hear about ultra-limited runs like these, my mind automatically starts going through the usual suspects: Somewhere in Los Angeles. Somewhere in San Francisco. New York. Funimation’s hometown of Dallas, of course. Probably a bunch of Alamo Drafthouse theaters. Hawaii? Probably an afterthought.

Well … surprise! Hawaii made it on the list, landing two of what’s since grown to 22 theaters nationwide — Consolidated Ward and Kapolei, specifically. That’s more than New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco combined (one in New York, none in the other two cities). Because we rock.

So here’s the deal: The English-dubbed movies will be screened over two days — part 1, Guren no Yumiya, on Monday, March 28; part 2, Jiyuu no Tsubasa, on Tuesday, March 29. Both of them recap the events that took place in the first season of the series and offer a preview of the second season. Tickets aren’t available yet, but I’ll try to keep you updated on when that happens. Tickets are available for Kapolei now! Here’s part 1, and here’s part 2.

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Your Name screening update

When last we left our coverage of Makoto Shinkai’s Oscar-ignored masterwork about two strangers whose lives are suddenly intertwined by fate, we knew that screenings in Hawaii were being set up in direct competition with Kawaii Kon weekend as part of ALL THE THINGS April. Even more details have emerged thanks to a Funimation Films update and new ticketing links, and … well, it’s looking more like you’re going to have some serious scheduling conflicts if you’re interested in seeing this movie and attending con. Consider:

  • Consolidated Kahala’s site has been updated with screenings listed from April 7-9 only — English dubbed at 11:40 a.m. daily; Japanese with English subtitles at 2:10, 4:40, and 7:10 p.m.; and a 9:10 p.m. show April 7-8.
  • Updated 2:30 p.m. 3/10! Consolidated Mililani screenings are available from April 7-9 — English dubbed at 11:20 a.m., Japanese with English subtitles at 1:45, 4:30, 7 and 9:30 p.m. daily.
  • Updated 2:30 p.m. 3/10! Consolidated Kapolei screenings — the first weeklong run confirmed, April 7-13! — are as follows: English dubbed at noon daily, Japanese with English subtitles at 2:25, 4:50, 7:15 and 9:45 p.m. daily.
  • Consolidated Ward and the Regal Dole Cannery theaters are also listed, with April 7 opening dates.

The Honolulu Festival’s otaku connection

Honolulu Festival logoIt’s Honolulu Festival time this weekend, which means it’s time for all of the usual events that come with the annual celebration of Asian and Pacific Rim culture, including:

  • Entertainment on stages at the Hawai’i Convention Center, Ala Moana Center and Waikiki Beach Walk on Saturday (here’s a schedule!)
  • A display of mikoshi, decorative floats unique to various prefectures of Japan that are hoisted by celebrants during festivals and parades
  • A craft fair and children’s games in the Ennichi Corner at the convention center
  • Kawaii Kon representatives on hand to sell three-day badges to next month’s convention (your last chance to buy them in person before the con!)
  • MangaBento hosting activities in the Kawaii Kon space
  • The Grand Parade down Kalakaua Avenue Sunday afternoon
  • The spectacular Nagaoka fireworks display Sunday night

And then there’s this guy.

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No, not Mad Moxxi from Borderlands on the right. We’re more concerned with Jibanyan, the spirit cat and one of the main characters from Yo-kai Watch, on the left. He’s been appointed by Hawaii Tourism Japan as children’s ambassador to Hawaii, so he’ll be making his way down to the convention center for the festival. He’ll be available for photo ops from noon to 12:30 p.m. and 3 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Cosplay 101 seminar at Pearl City Library

Do you have cosplay questions? Pearl City Library has cosplay answers for anyone interested in dressing up as their favorite characters, whether for Con-athon 2017 or beyond. Learn how to plan, modify and create your cosplay, and get some tips and tricks for a successful cosplay experience.

Interested? The seminar’s from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday at the library, 1138 Waimano Home Road. Call 453-6566 if you have any other questions about the event.

ALL THE THINGS April approaches

The “big dog” has a fair amount of company this year.

We’ve known for almost a year now that annual anime squeefest convention Kawaii Kon has been locked in for April 7-9. (Yes, that’s a little over a month away. You have my permission to start flailing in panic and/or glee now.) They’ll have voice actors from popular American shows like Steven UniverseLegend of Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbenderanime voice actors like the voice of Ayano in Lucky Star (*squee!*); and Japanese bands and fashion and a wide variety of other events that I’m hoping to write up in further detail soonish in my long-in-coming-but-gimme-some-more-caffeine-first Con-athon 2017 preview post.

But this year is the first one I can remember in the Kawaii Kon era where those of us in the anime fan community who aren’t already committed to panels/Artist Alley tables/dealers room booths/volunteer staff work are going to have some serious choices to make on whether we want to hang around the con or break away for a bit to catch something else. I’m calling it ALL THE THINGS April. Consider what else has already been announced surrounding that weekend:

April 5, 8 and 10: The Kizumonogatari trilogy plays out. It was a little over a year ago that Kizumonogatari Part 1: Tekketsu screened at Consolidated’s Ward and Mililani theaters. In that movie, audiences were introduced to Koyomi Araragi, a nondescript high school student who was once bitten by a powerful vampire and is only now regaining most of his humanity, but must now help a number of girls afflicted by “oddities.” Part 2, Nekkutsu, featured Koyomi taking on a trio of vampire hunters so he could reassemble the limbs of — yes, this is actually her name — Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade, the vampire who helped him. And now here we are at part 3, Reiketsu, in which Kiss-shot is reassembled and Koyomi is juuuuuuuuust about to regain his humanity. Of course, one does not merely walk in to a movie and regain his humanity …

Reiketsu is debuting at Consolidated’s Ward and Kapolei theaters with screenings at 11 a.m. April 8 and 7 p.m. April 10. But for those of you who need a refresher and/or missed Tekketsu and Nekkutsu, Consolidated’s offering a chance for you to catch up with a double feature, also at Ward and Kapolei, starting at 7 p.m. April 5. (Be ready to budget about 2-1/4 hours of your time.) For tickets, visit consolidatedtheatres.com/programs-and-events and set the month to “April” and the event type to “Anime.”

April 7: Your Name has its first confirmed screening date. Consolidated Theatres quietly confirmed on its Facebook page Wednesday night that Makoto Shinkai’s Oscar-ignored masterwork will be playing at its Kahala 8 complex. The announcement was a bit of a surprise — Funimation Films has yet to list any theaters on its Your Name site — and there are no specific showtimes (and thus no online ticket sales) or any indication that it’ll be playing beyond the 7th. Still, though, we’re one step closer to another chance at seeing a movie that drew raves when it played at the Hawaii International Film Festival a few months ago.

vgl_high_res_logo_finalApril 7-8: Video Games Live concerts play at the Blaisdell. Remember the Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses concert a few weeks ago? This is just like that experience, except with a wider variety of video game soundtrack selections played by the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and 100 percent more Tommy Tallarico. Tallarico is an accomplished video game music composer in his own right, best known for his soundtracks to the Earthworm Jim series and Advent Rising. Here’s his biography. He’s also the co-founder of Video Games Live, which has been playing in concert halls across the country and around the world since 2005. As a blurb on the VGL website puts it: “It’s the power & emotion of a symphony orchestra mixed with the excitement and energy of a rock concert and the technology and interactivity of a video game all completely synchronized to amazing cutting edge video screen visuals, state-of-the-art lighting and special on-stage interactive segments with the audience.”

Tickets — from the $29 cheap seats all the way up to the front-of-house $79 seats — are still available, but with more than 80 percent of the seats already sold for both nights according to Ticketmaster’s seating maps, you’re going to want to get in on the action fairly soon. Visit blaisdellcenter.com/ai1ec_event/video-games-live-2.

Anime Swap Meet’s back at Blaisdell

Around this time last year, tag-team partner in fandom Wilma W. and I took part in the rite of passage that dedicated otaku like us engage in every so often when we get tired of looking at our stuff: We packed a bunch of it up and sold it at the Anime Swap Meet at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall.

20160220_090826It was a lovely little opportunity. We got a 5-square-foot space, part of a larger block Kawaii Kon gets from the Hawaii Collectors Expo. We made a fair amount of money, and we met some nice people, too. Like Marisa Gee of Kawaii Mono, who bought a number of my DVDs while exhibiting impeccable fashion sense wearing Fat Rabbit Farm T-shirts. Or the enthusiastic gals who snapped up a bunch of Wilma’s Ace Attorney goodies, then went on to host the Ace Attorney live-action roleplaying fan panel at Kawaii Kon. (The half hour I was able to catch before I had to rush off to another panel was quite entertaining.)

And it’s neat to browse through the rest of the expo, too … we were across from a retro-gaming booth that had the attract mode music from Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo looping all weekend, and I picked up an oh-so-cute Bellossom plushie from another vendor for only $5.

We aren’t going to be making a return appearance as sellers again this year, for various reasons. But there are going to be a number of similarly enthusiastic otaku who will be more than happy to sell you their stuff in our place.

hawaii-collectors-expo-2017This year — the Anime Swap Meet’s third, the Hawaii Collectors Expo’s 27th — promises to be an even bigger party. Artist Audra Furuichi’s kicking off the year for nemu*nemu at the event and will have her usual assortment of merchandise and original drawings for sale, and MidWeek cartoonist/Pepe the Chihuahua kalbi handler Roy Chang will be selling his books and drawing Funko Pop-ified sketches of anyone who wants them. Several artists from Comic Jam Hawaii will be hosting a drawing table for the little kidlets. Replicas of the Ghostbusters Ecto-1 and Jurassic Park Jeep will be on display for photo ops. And, of course, Kawaii Kon representatives will be on hand, although they’ll be selling three-day badges for the upcoming con on Sunday only.

The Hawaii Collectors Expo begins tonight from 4 to 9 p.m. and continues from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The Anime Swap Meet will be open Saturday and Sunday only. Admission is free for children under 11 years old, military with valid ID, or anyone with a Kawaii Kon or Comic Con Honolulu badge from last year; $5 general per day; $7.50 for a three-day pass; or $2 for senior citizens. If you are going to be paying to attend, you can print out this copy of the image above, bring it to the ticket-sellers and save $1.

For more information, visit hawaiicollectorsexpo.com.

Pokemon Go (finally!) gets Gen 2 boost

Remember Pokemon Go? The augmented reality mobile phone game that was hotter than a Charizard for a good chunk of the summer of 2016, the one that promised players they could catch Pokemon in the real world? The one that drew this many people to one corner of Kakaako for nights on end when the game first launched in late July?

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

The visible popularity of PoGo has dropped since those dizzying summer heights. The good will lasted for several months, or about the amount of time it took for the hardest of hard-core players to fill their Pokedexes with every available species. Niantic has updated the game every so often, or about as much as one can expect when they’re still dealing with everyone who stuck around for Ingress. But for every special event, every announcement, every update that featured “minor text fixes” and little else, the frustration has mounted:

pogo-lickyBuddy Pokemon introduced (September): “Where are the legendaries (Zapdos, Moltres, Articuno, Mew and Mewtwo), Generation 2, player-versus-player battling and Pokemon trading? Pokemon Go is dead.”

Halloween event (October): “Spooky Pokemon spawns and more candy? But where are the legendaries, Gen 2, PVP and trading? PoGo is dead.”

Ditto appears (November): “Where are the legendaries, Gen 2, PVP and trading? PoGo is dead.”

Thanksgiving event (November): “More XP and Stardust? But where are the legendaries, Gen 2, PVP and trading? PoGo is dead.”

Starbucks and Sprint stores become PokeStops or gyms (December): “Where are the legendaries, Gen 2, PVP and trading? PoGo is dead.”

Pikachus with Santa hats appear (December): “Where are the legendaries, Gen 2, PVP and trading? PoGo is dead.”

Eggs start hatching select Gen 2 babies like Togepi and Pichu: “Where are the legendaries, the rest of Gen 2, PVP and trading? PoGo is dead.”

Christmas event (December): “More starter Pokemon and evolutions spawning? And free egg incubators? But where are the legendaries, the rest of Gen 2, PVP and trading? PoGo is dead.”

Valentine’s Day event (February): “More pink Pokemon spawns and candy? … ehh. You know.”

Yet there are still those of us who have soldiered on through everything. Mostly because we’ve never had the same fortune as those happy posters on the Pokemon Go Hawaii Facebook group that walk three steps somewhere and *BOOF* OH HI DRAGONITE. We’re more casual players, lucky enough to get 10 coins a day if we feel like battling gyms with three Snorlaxes, five Dragonites and a few other random species sprinkled here and there, with holes in our Pokedexes and nothing but Pidgeys, Zubats and Rattatas populating our “Nearby” radars. There are also people like Nick of Trainer Tips, who’s somehow willed daily YouTube content out of the game with videos that are definitely worth watching. (Plus he has ties to Maui, too!)

For those of us who stuck around — and perhaps for some of those lapsed players as well — our patience is about to pay off in a big way. Earlier today, Niantic announced that more than 80 of the long-rumored Gen 2 Pokemon are going to be added to the game later this week, along with new berries, avatars and avatar accessories. Here, have a promo trailer (that thankfully isn’t as pie-in-the-sky as the launch trailer):

… excuse me for a sec … that’s …

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OMG IT’S MARILL SQUEEEEEEEEEEE

It remains to be seen whether we’ll see critical-mass crowds at PoGo hotspots like Coral Street in Kakaako, the Waikiki Aquarium and Kapolei Library again like back in the early days, but it’s highly likely this will give the game a nice little kick-start. But here’s the thing: I’ve peeked at the comments on this announcement at various spots (so you don’t have to; many of you have learned never to peek at the comments on anything, as Internet forums are hives of scum and villainy). And guess what they’re saying!

“But where are the legendaries, PVP and trading? PoGo is dead.”

No pleasing some people, I guess.

Avex places restrictions on exports

avct-10031As a fan of anime, manga and related merchandise, I’ve imported my fair share of Japanese goods from various retailers including Amazon Japan and CD Japan. And I’ve had to deal with the hassles of such (I’m looking at you, sky-high shipping fees for one CD single).

But at least they were readily available (relatively) from reputable sellers. Now, it seems that’s about to change for quite a few series. I received this email from CD Japan just a few hours ago:

Unfortunately, Avex Pictures, the publisher of popular anime titles such as “Yuri!!! on Ice” and “Osomatsu-san” and others is restricting exports of Blu-ray, DVD, and CD titles.

This restriction has been applied to all online shops within Japan, including CDJapan.

In accordance to the restriction, majority of titles published by Avex Pictures will become unavailable for shipment outside of Japan as of the following time.

Restriction begins to apply at:
6:00PM (Japan Time UTC+9) on February 15, 2017

After the above indicated time, it will no longer be available for any order to be shipped outside of Japan.

To clarify which items will be restricted, the following indication will be displayed right on the product page.

ATTENTION!!! This product will no longer be available for any order to be shipped outside of Japan starting at 6:00PM (Japan Time UTC+9) on February 15, 2017

However, all existing orders as well as all orders placed BEFORE the above indicated time will be shipped normally.

The issue’s being discussed in a thread over at Fandom Post. According to that thread, Amazon Japan seems to have already blocked future orders, but CDJ is being more lenient as evidenced by their email. It certainly seems like a strange move on Avex’s part — or on ANY company’s part, I think — to ban exports, but maybe there’s some hope if the restriction means the company might be trying to move into North America or other places. Even if that were the case, I think it’s well known that releases in different countries often include different things, whether they be extra features in DVDs/BDs, extra songs, special artwork, etc., and getting those extras is really the whole reason we collectors import stuff in the first place.

So if you’re a fan of anything related to Avex — which is a large corporation and does have a hand in a lot of series and artists — and you regularly import Japanese discs, you might want to get an order in at CDJ before the time listed above. Japan is 19 hours ahead of Hawaii time, so 6 p.m. Feb. 15 in Tokyo will be 11 p.m. Feb. 14 here (that’s today!), if my time conversion math is correct.

avcd-10241My main purchases related to Avex are their Super Eurobeat CD series, which I’m not certain is part of the ban, and “Initial D.” Oh, and Ayumi Hamasaki, but it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten any of her albums. I also sometimes get the odd CD single for opening/ending themes to anime that I may not be a diehard fan of but whose songs I happen to hear and like. The prospect of no longer being able to easily get any more of these from a retailer I’ve come to trust and regard highly over the years is disappointing. Of course, as others have pointed out, the secondhand market is still an option, but that requires jumping through a lot more hoops and you won’t be guaranteed to get things like limited editions and first pressings in sealed condition, if at all. But at least so far, the restriction is only on discs and not books or collectible merchandise, so if you’re not a big music buyer (which I happen to be, sigh), you might not have to worry an awful lot — yet.

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Otaku Oldies #1: HEY! LISTEN!

Welcome to the first edition of Otaku Oldies, a regular feature (God willing) where I’ll pull a photo from the sprawling 9-year-old Otaku Ohana photo archives and talk a bit about it. Sometimes it’ll be tied in with an upcoming event; sometimes it’ll just be something that I pick on a whim. This time around, it’s definitely an example of the former…

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Hitbox Music Ensemble debuts
July 29, 2016

Comic Con Honolulu last year had its share of headline-making moments — George Takei getting a day dedicated to him, John Barrowman’s encounter with a wild Magikarp baby, guest-related stuff like that.

But last year’s event also marked the debut public concert by Hitbox Music Ensemble, a group of local musicians that performs pieces from popular video game, sci-fi and fantasy franchises. Music from their debut concert included “Rey’s Theme” from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, medleys from Pokemon and Final Fantasy and “Sacred Grove” from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

That last piece seems appropriate for our discussion, with the ensemble’s next performance set for a little over 24 hours from now: They’ll be performing in the lobby of the Blaisdell Concert Hall at 7 p.m. Friday before The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, featuring the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and Oahu Choral Society and game footage playing on a giant screen overhead, at 8 p.m.

Here’s a taste, with the ensemble performing “Gerudo Valley” from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

There are still tickets available via Ticketmaster; a quick glance as of 5:24 p.m. Thursday showed there are only four seats left at the cheapest rate of $35 (toward the rear balcony), with more available, mostly toward the left and right sides of the concert hall, from $49 to $90, depending on how close you want to sit. Twenty-one $100 VIP packages, which include a poster, a lanyard, a meet-and-greet with producers after the show, and seats closest to the stage, also remain. Use the discount code “HEYLISTEN,” and you can knock 15 percent off those prices; there’s an even deeper discount available for military members with IDs.

For more information, including a list of what you can expect to hear at the concert proper, visit zelda-symphony.com. And if you can’t make it to Friday’s concert (like me, *sob*), Hitbox Music Ensemble already has performances confirmed at Kawaii Kon (April 7-9) and Comic Con Honolulu (July 28-30) later this year. Keep watching your con schedules for exact dates and times.

Winter’s fastest week has arrived

Awesome Games Done Quick, the winter edition of the biannual marathon where elite gamers run through and beat more games in a week than I ever will in the next 20 years or so, is back, streaming live through Saturday night.

As those of you who’ve watched any portion of a Games Done Quick marathon know, one of the underlying principles of the event is, “Gotta go fast!”

So in the spirit of that principle, I will now be speedrunning the rest of this post. And … go!

Words Wilma wrote last year!

Stream!

Schedule!

Donation link!

The charity recipient, Prevent Cancer Foundation!

YouTube archive if you miss anything!

A past favorite (funny edition)!

A past favorite (all the feels edition)!

GO WATCH WHEE