Off on an adventure!

While others are braving the hellish traffic to get to class on time, I’m taking a slight detour.

I’ll be in Japan until Jan. 16 on a week-long exchange called the Kakehashi Project.

This is my first time ever leaving the country, and the first time ever going to Japan. I’m extremely excited to represent Hawaii along with two others as we explore Japanese pop culture at the source.

The Otaku Intern

 

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The problem with being the usual guy behind the camera is that I don’t have many flattering pictures of myself.  Top of Koko Head.  (Picture credit to: Patrick Alvior)

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.

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I’ve been a casual artist for about 5-6 years, but I really want to get more serious about my stuff, and I feel like helping out with this blog is a good place to start.  I dislike drawing myself, even as a chibi, but as my art teacher always told me, “Draw what you don’t like if you want to get better at it.  You might actually enjoy it.”

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!

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.

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.

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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.

The weekend of WOW! has arrived

There are times when one wishes human cloning could be a reality outside of science fiction.

This weekend would be one of those times for me. For some inexplicable reason, Sunday in particular has become one of the busiest, non-convention-related days I’ve seen in quite some time. Saturday has some pretty cool stuff, too, which could be impacted by presidential travel closing key routes to people trying to go places.

There’s quite a bit to get to, so let’s get to the rundown!

Saturday

Stan Sakai visits McCully-Moiliili Library:  Fresh off an appearance at Maui Comic Con, the kamaaina creator of rabbit ronin Usagi Yojimbo will be giving a talk at 10:30 a.m., signing autographs ($5 for up to three signatures) and doing quick sketches ($5 each) in a benefit for the library. Collector Maniacs will also have four rare Usagi Yojimbo individually numbered, hardcover collections for sale for $125 each: “Fox Hunt” (vol, 25, no. 202 of 350), “Traitors of the Earth” (vol. 26, 94 of 350), “A Town Called Hell” (vol. 27, 136 of 350) and “Red Scorpion” (vol. 28, 109 of 350). Also, see those Usagi dolls at the top of this post? You can enter to win one of those. The library is at 2211 S. King St.; arrive early to grab some parking.

Artists’ corner: Cacy & Kiara / Highball & Pepe author Roy Chang will be selling things at the Aiea High School PTSO Craft Fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the high school at 98-1276 Ulune St. Marisa and Carole Gee of Kawaii Mono will be selling their jewelry on the Uptown side of Pearlridge Center from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Sunday

anime day 4.0Anime Day 4.0: Kawaii Kon’s mini-con experience is back for a fourth year (and its second at the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk complex at Ala Moana Center). Trivia master extraordinaire Remy Zane will be presiding over a number of games and activities, including a cosplay contest. Comic Jam Hawaii will host the art wall, where anyone can pick up a pen and sketch whatever they want (within acceptable family-friendly parameters, of course). A bunch of artists and crafters (including Jon Murakami and Kawaii Mono!) will be selling their wares as well. Take advantage of Kawaii Kon’s preregistration special and pick up a three-day pass for next year’s con for $55, too! 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Hawaii Toy Fair: If you’re looking for some rare, hard-to-find collectible or just want to stare slack-jawed at just how many Funko Pop figures have been produced over the past few years, this event, packed with more than 50 dealers, can probably help you out. Special guests include Marvel and DC artist Mark Texeira and Game of Thrones storyboard artist Mog Park. Ala Moana Hotel, Hibiscus Ballroom. Admission is $3, but children 5 and under, as well as all cosplayers, can get in free. Visit hawaiitoyfair.com8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Japanese voice actors visit Waikiki Yokocho: This is one of the more surprising events to come down the pipe in some time, so here’s the deal: Voice actors Ryo Horikawa (Vegeta in Dragon Ball Z, Andromeda Shun in Saint Seiya, Heiji Hattori in Detective Conan/Case Closed) and Takumi Kamada (Frederick Ando in Ame-iro Cocoa Series: Ame-Con!!, currently streaming on Crunchyroll) will join musician Kaoru Kondou for a special event at Waikiki Yokocho, the Japanese food alley in the basement of the Waikiki Shopping Plaza (2250 Kalakaua Ave.). The common thread between the three: All of them worked on an anime series about a coffee shop called Rainy Cocoa, which, in its third season, featured a branch opening in Hawaii. So there you go. They’ll be doing a talk show, an autograph session and a mini concert starting at 1 p.m. You can get full details about the event from this flyer.

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Movie screenings: Fathom Events’ first showing of Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You!, a retelling of the origin stories of Ash and Pikachu, and the Hawaii International Film Festival’s first showing of Napping Princess, where a girl’s mysterious dream world is the key to saving her father after he’s arrested for stealing technological secrets, will be at 12:55 and 2:30 p.m., respectively, at the Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 complex.

McCully-Moiliili Library’s Mini Con marches on

I’m back from yet another extended hiatus! This one’s going to take a bit more explaining, and I hope to get around to doing that reasonably soon (and preferably not take another two months or so to do so).

2017 Poster smBut we’ve got a lot of news to catch up on. So let’s get right to it: The eighth annual edition of Mini Con at the McCully-Moiliili Library is happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Eight years is a really long time for the local otaku community; for starters, that makes it the second-longest-running event held in consecutive years this century, behind only Kawaii Kon (13 events as of this year). Consider also that it’s outlasted the lifespans of the following now-defunct events combined:

  • HEXXP (three years)
  • Oni-Con Hawaii (one year)
  • Anime Matsuri Hawaii (one year)
  • Anime Ohana (one year)

That’s pretty special. And a lot of it has been built on the foundation that then-young adult librarian, now-branch manager Hillary Chang established when I first wrote about this event back in 2010: a mini Artist Alley, a chance for cosplayers to show off, anime screening throughout, and giveaways up the wazoo. Including these selections that were available at last year’s event.

Yes, that is Godzilla and a rubber chicken, and no, I’m not sure how anyone got along without having these in their lives, either.

This year: There are comics. Lots. And lots. Of comics.

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And just as in previous years, all you have to do to get your hands on some of ’em is to visit the exhibiting artists and authors and complete a stamp card.

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The exhibitors have remained fairly constant as well. Sure, their roles may have evolved over the years — Jon Murakami has added Edamame Ninjas and The Ara-Rangers to his portfolio; Audra Furuichi has scaled back her retail appearances (Mini Con’s the only event she’s appeared at this year!) and shifted her full-time cartooning focus to nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii in the Star-Advertiser; Kevin Sano is now selling comics and art in a space at Idea’s Music and Books (formerly Jelly’s) in #OurKakaako; and Brady Evans, who’ll be doing art demonstrations throughout Mini Con, now works as collections manager at the Honolulu Museum of Art. But they’ve shown up year after year, and it’s been a nice chance to catch up with what they’ve been doing in a more intimate setting than the bigger events can offer.

New to the festivities this year is Hiroshi Mori, a local expat and University of Hawaii at Manoa alumnus who currently works at the Third Floor in Los Angeles as a previsualization artist, someone who visualizes what complex scenes in movies will look like before they’re filmed. Some of his credits include Mad Max: Fury Road, The Avengers, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and Men in Black 3. His comic Island Kingdom “is inspired from growing up in Honolulu and combining Hawaii’s surf culture with the movies, TV and comic books I grew up with, such as ‘Mad Max: Road Warrior,’ ‘The Yagyu Conspiracy,’ ‘Escape From New York,’ and ‘Conan the Barbarian’ just to name a few,” he told Surfer Today in an article published in January. He’ll have print copies of Part 1 in the series, “Surf or Die,” available for sale.

Also appearing will be author David Estes, who’s written more than 30 sci-fi and fantasy books. The first book in his “Fatemarked Epic” series, Fatemarked, tops Amazon’s Teen & Young Adult Medieval Fiction eBook chart, with several other books in the series not too far behind. He’ll host a writing workshop, “Build Your Own World,” at 10:30 a.m.

McCully-Moiliili Library is at 2211 S. King St.; as always, arrive early for the best parking. Call 973-1099.

 

The Amazing Hawaii Comic Con photo-ops schedule

Here we are, a little over an hour after Amazing Hawaii Comic Con opened today, and there has yet to be anything posted online from the con’s various social media channels about schedules for photo ops (aside from William Shatner, Jason David Frank and Kevin Eastman) or autographs.

Well, I’ve taken matters into my own hands. Thanks to Facebook user Ayame Takahara, who snapped pictures of the photo-ops board posted on the exhibit hall floor,, I’ve been able to cobble together a version of this weekend’s photo-ops schedule at the convention for anyone needing it, along with relevant prices. Still waiting for an autograph schedule, but I have people keeping an eye out for that as well.

So here you go, the first proof that, yes, the Star Trek: The Next Generation stars will be made available outside of Saturday’s $65 panel:

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