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.
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.
The future is grim. You did everything your parents told you to do to succeed. You studied hard. You passed your exams. You graduated and applied for a job at a company. Surely, there would be a job waiting for you. Just like it had been for your father.
Instead, everything your parents told you was a lie. Companies are no longer hiring younger workers en masse, preferring to hold onto their older employees to not break their promises of lifetime employment to them. Only the top 10 percent of graduates are even considered now, with those missing that cut falling by the wayside. What’s even scarier is that the competition to enter the workforce is nothing like what your parents faced. Hyper-confident and hyper-capable women are now able to enter the running, and the companies are scooping them up in droves.
Welcome to the Post-Bubble Era of Japan. As you may recall from my last Anime is Culture article, Japan started making huge concentrated efforts to rebuild their broken country after World War II. With the rise of democracy and assistance from the American government (as shady as it was, it did help their recovery), Japan rose from the ashes like a phoenix.
With Article 9 in place, the Japanese were prevented from funding a full standing military. Instead, they focused on promoting their peace policies by developing technology that could be used to improve the lives of people around the world. In doing so, during the 1970’s and ’80’s, Japan became an economic powerhouse. Companies like Toyota and Sony were worldwide names that put out products sought by millions around the world. This would be Japan’s economic bubble.
Such success led to the prosperity of the Japanese people. During this time, the vast majority of Japanese considered themselves middle-class on the socioeconomic scale. Men would go to school and then apply for company jobs. After graduation, these companies would pick them up, and their careers would be set. Everyone was able to earn a living wage and live relatively comfortable lives.
However, this would not last. Around 1990, the economic bubble burst, causing thousands of companies to lose money and default on loans. This led to massive unemployment, and a huge economic crisis fell upon the people. The generation of young men and women that came of age during this time were promised the same opportunities that their parents had enjoyed, but the bursting of the bubble effectively shut them out. Instead of accessible employment, there was now a small window where only the elite could enter through.
This grim and foreboding atmosphere was what influenced the tone and stories of anime during the ’90s. One of the greatest examples of a post-bubble series is the highly influential anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. In the series, the world has been destroyed by a cataclysmic event known as the Third Impact. As a result, more than 50 percent of the human population was wiped out, and those who are left struggle to survive in a world where the sea is dyed red like blood.
The main character, Shinji Ikari, is a young adolescent man that is forced by his father to fight in a giant robot against alien lifeforms known as “Angels.” However, this isn’t the only struggle he faces. He also struggles to come to terms with the new social norms he’s entering into.
He is forced to do the dirty work of NERV headquarters when fighting the Angels. When he’s not fighting, he’s under rigorous testing and examination. Not only is he constantly bombarded by work like this, he is also surrounded by capable women that outshine him. Rei Ayanami, the First Child, is a model soldier, following her orders without dissent or complaint, almost like a machine. Asuka Langley Soryu, the Second Child, is a German-born pilot that demonstrates superiority in everything she does.
This is representative of the the world seen by the Post-Bubble Generation. Shinji is the post-bubble male who has to struggle to survive in the unforgiving world of NERV, which is representative of the Japanese company. He managed to get in, but only because his father is the head of NERV. However, his performance as a pilot is an utter disappointment compared to the other more capable women, and it shows in his father’s favor for Rei. This relationship he has with the other pilots shows how the post-bubble male viewed his job prospects. If he was lucky enough to get a job, he still would never be able to compete with the influx of women into the workforce.
This mindset lead to many men losing confidence in themselves. Just like Shinji, they viewed themselves as weak and unable to do anything by themselves. They want to rely on the help of their parents, who know that they are struggling but can’t really help. This leads into Shinji’s struggle with the adults in his life. Much like his strained relationship with his father, Gendo, the post-bubble male wanted desperately to gain the recognition and acceptance of the older generation, but they were left to fend for themselves instead. The companies would only accept them into the fold if they found a use for them, just like how Gendo did with Shinji. The women who entered the workforce ahead of the post-bubble men could now exert their power over these young males, and the shift in gender-power dynamics was incredibly daunting to them.
On one hand, you have Ritsuko, NERV’s chief scientist and the one in charge of monitoring the usefulness of the EVA pilots. She is cold, calculating, and regards Shinji not as a person, but more of a lab rat or tool to further her own research and goals. On the other hand, there’s Misato, Shinji’s direct superior and caretaker. She pushes herself onto him, making him roommate with her. While she does it in good nature, Misato lords her femininity over Shinji as she tries to mold him into what she believes is a better man.
So what do you do when your world view and job prospects mirror the apocalyptic world of Evangelion? How do you survive in the world when you can’t get a job because of the rise of women and the highly selective hiring process? We’ll discuss this in my next “Anime is Culture” post, “Hide to Survive: Otaku, NEET, and Hikikomori.”
Just a short walk from the famous Ala Moana Shopping Center, customers can find a quaint little restaurant and wine bar named Bread and Butter. However, there is something unusual about this small dining spot. Outside of the shop, a large statue of Pac-Man stands, welcoming customers in. Neon lights fashioned into the shape of the classic Pac-Man ghosts shine through the windows of the restaurant, catching the eyes of many a passerby. Welcome to the Pac-Store Hawaii!
A few weeks back, I had the fortune to attend the press event and grand opening for the cafe. I was there to take pictures and assist Boss Yadao with reporting on the cafe here while he writes up an article for the local paper. (Boss Yadao’s note: You can find that article right here.) The event was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. We got in early as press, and managed to get some good pictures of everything the place had to offer. However, the venue quickly filled up once it was opened up to the public, with over a hundred people coming to enjoy the cafe and share their love for Pac-Man.
Pac-Store Hawaii is a Japanese pop-up cafe, made through the collaboration of Bandai Namco, and Diamond Dining International Corporation. It is the first of its kind in America. These types of collaboration cafes are something that are unique to the Japanese anime, manga, and video game industries. Perhaps some of you readers have heard of the character or series-themed cafes one can find in Japan with collaborations with series like Fate/Grand Order, Re:Zero, or studios like Studio Ghibli.
At these cafes, customers can enjoy an environment filled with themed decorations and furniture featuring their favorite characters in the current collaboration. In the Pac-Store, the tables are decorated with adorable pictures of different Pac-Man characters and mascots. Hanging on the walls, Hawaii-themed artwork can be found, featuring the characters enjoying local activities like hula dancing or surfing. Fittingly, the store has its own Pac-Man game cabinet, where customers can play and vie for a spot on the high-score board.
However, the main event at any cafe is definitely the food, and the food one can find there is definitely a sight to see. This cafe serves up some incredibly cute food, all in the form of Pac-Man and his buddies. From Pac-Man shaped pancakes to the Ghost-shaped Red Velvet cake, there are so many different choices, and they’re all so pleasing to the eye that you just want to buy them all, just to take pictures of them. Lucky for me, they set out the entire menu at the press event, so I got to take pictures of all of these delicious looking novelties.
Speaking of novelties, there are also special edition merchandise that can only be found at this specific cafe. This is one of the other draws of these types of cafes, as some of the merchandise they sell is limited to that one specific spot, and it’s only available for a very limited time. The Pac-Store sells a range of different items, from T-shirts, to tote bags, hats, and even jewelry.
Aside from all of the things to see and eat at the press event, the boss and I also got a chance to hold an interview with the masterminds behind this cafe. Hide Sakurai, the President and CEO of Diamond Dining International Corporation, met with Kai Tanaka of Bandai Namco about a year ago with the idea of opening up a pop-up cafe using his Hawaii location, Bread and Butter. We asked him why did he choose Hawaii when his company has other locations in other parts of the world that have larger populations and influxes of tourists. In other words, please support this pop-up endeavor as it may lead to other pop ups of Bandai Namco series/franchises in the future (*cough* Tales series and Gundam please*cough*)
Anyways, I’m very sorry this article took so long to put out. I’ve been swamped with homework and projects as the end of the semester draws near. I’ll be pushing to get at least two more articles of “Anime is Culture” before the semester ends and my stint as an intern comes to a close. Those articles will be examining the popular anime of recent years like Attack on Titan and Re:Zero. Look forward to it!
Hey everyone! Sorry I haven’t posted recently. Besides last weekend being the dates for the local area’s only anime and manga convention, I dislocated my shoulder and have had my arm in a sling until yesterday! However, I’m fine now, and the doctor said I can resume light tasks with my arm again. Never underestimate LARP (Live Action ROle Play) events at these conventions!
Anyways, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the convention. Despite the mishap, I got to do everything I wanted to do in my previous post. The How to Draw with Voice Actors panel was incredibly entertaining. The panel featured the talent of English voice actors Christine Cabanos (Silica from Sword Art Online), Carrie Keranen (Satsuki Kiryuin from Kill la Kill), Brittney Karbowski (Black Star from Soul Eater), and local-born actor Micah Solusod (Soul from Soul Eater).
The idea was for one voice actor to draw one of their characters, using a reference, with their drawing projected live to the audience, but not to the other panelists. At the same time, the featured actor described the character to the other panelists, who had to draw what they thought the character looked like. The results were both incredibly creative, and insanely hilarious.
You can see most of the panel right here in this video posted by YouTube user Pipperry Took.
And here are the last few minutes.
I also got to participate in the Cardboard Megabrawl. My friends made some ridiculous looking armor for me in our 1-hour time limit. However, that was short lived as this was the event where I dislocated my shoulder. Haha, it was fun while it lasted, but I’ll have to rethink my strategy for next time if I don’t want to risk popping the same shoulder out again.
Despite the mishap, I continued to attend the convention after the docs at the hospital treated me. I was in a sling for the rest of the weekend, so I couldn’t really take any pictures. I did manage to catch Cristina Vee’s 2nd autograph session. I missed the first one because of the shoulder the previous day. It was so exciting to meet one of the voice actresses whose work I’ve been following for years!
Events like Kawaii Kon are few and far between here in Hawaii, but that makes these types of conventions all the more worth it to attend. I am always amazed at how quickly the convention center is transformed from an empty building into three floors of otaku-dom.
These conventions are such a huge contribution to the community. They create a safe space, in a sense, for people to freely express themselves. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you’re from; your religion, sexuality, etc. Everyone is there to do one thing, and that is to celebrate and enjoy our love for anime, manga, video games, comics, cosplay, and all other facets of the otaku and nerdist kingdoms. If only the world could reflect that sort of unity.
Anyways, that’s it for my post-convention report. It’s not much because of the injury, but I’ll try to make up for it with other interesting articles, like my next one! My next Anime is Culture post will be addressing the topics of hikikomori and the pressures of Japanese society portrayed in anime/manga. This might hit some people a little close to home, but please look forward to it!
As I’m writing this in the early, holy-cats-I-remember-staying-up-this-late-when-I-was-working-for-the-Star-Advertiser hours of Friday morning, we’re a few hours away from the kickoff to Kawaii Kon 2018.
But while I’m thinking about that — and the fact that this is the earliest in the year that I’ve ever had to think about Kawaii Kon in my 14 years of covering the con, and I feel so unprepared — there are a few other pieces of news about upcoming events that have crossed my radar. Half of them are happening this weekend, and all of them deal with video games.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Hitbox Music Ensemble and director Chris Suzuki — the focus of what ended up being my last Kawaii Kon preview at the Star-Advertiser, *sniffle* — will be playing in the Main Events hall, Ballroom B, at 8:45 p.m. Friday. This year’s concert, “And All That Jazz…,” will feature video game music arranged in various styles including swing, big band, funk, soul, and, of course, jazz. Here, for instance, is some rehearsal footage of “Floral Fury” from Cuphead.
If you like what you hear — or if you just like supporting local music in general — you should also consider throwing a few dollars in the direction of the group’s Patreon page. There’s currently … wait, only one supporter so far? And it’s not me? Well, I should get on that sometime soon. And you should, too.
One of the showcase events Kawaii Kon is promoting this year is also video game related. “A New World: Intimate music from Final Fantasy” brings conductor Eric Roth, composer Hitoishi Sakimoto (who composed the soundtracks for Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII, but is also responsible for the game soundtracks for classics as diverse as Radiant Silvergun, the Ogre Battle/Tactics Ogre franchise, Gradius V and the Valkyria Chronicles games), and the New World Players chamber ensemble to Honolulu for the first time There’s a VIP meet-and-greet experience for $75 starting at 3:30 p.m. Sunday that includes an autograph and photo op with Sakimoto and first dibs on concert seating; if you just want to attend the concert, it’ll only cost $12, with seating at 4:30 p.m. Sunday in Main Events, Ballroom B. (These costs are in addition to the cost for con admission.)
But let’s say you’re into another classic Square Enix franchise, Kingdom Hearts, the Disney/Square crossover adventure with the convoluted timeline that no one can properly explain without a big mess of flowcharts. Kingdom Hearts III is coming out … umm … eventually, but (possibly) before that happens, Honolulu is going to be a stop on the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour. It seems like if you’re familiar with orchestral performances like the two Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses shows that played in Honolulu, you’ll know what to expect from this show: familiar songs from various games’ soundtracks played by an orchestra while game footage is shown on a giant screen. You know, like this.
If you’re interested in going, you have some time to plan; the concert’s scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 12, with tickets going on sale Monday, March 26.
Finally, if music isn’t your thing and you’ve somehow made it this far into this post, something really interesting seems to be cooking over at Bread & Butter, the restaurant next door to Shokudo at 1585 Kapiolani Blvd.: Pac-Man. A few days ago, friend of the blog Tara Tamayori posted a picture of this menu from what appears to be a pop-up themed cafe:
It looks like there are some of the usual crossovers — pancakes, pizza (thankfully without a wedge missing), and generally round Pac-Man-ish foods come to mind — as well as some interesting concepts (a ghost loco moco? Hmm…). The most intriguing take-away from this menu, though? The fact that there’s a Pac-Store opening somewhere at some point during this campaign, which runs through May 31, with “fashion, goods, food and events.” More details as they develop, but this looks like it’s going to be fun.
Hey all! Sorry for the lack of a post last week. I had an extremely busy weekend and no time to write, or even watch anime. Anyways, for those who don’t know, this upcoming weekend is Hawaii’s very own anime convention, Kawaii Kon!
Every year, thousands of attendees, both local and out-of-state, visit the Hawai’i Convention Center to share in their love and enjoyment of the Japanese anime and manga culture. Usually I would be setting up a table to sell my artwork, but this year I’ll be just a regular attendee. Well, not so regular, as I will be making an effort to write a report for each day.
The boss asked me to write about 3 events or activities I’m excited to attend, so I’ll do just that.
How to Draw with Voice Actors 3-4 p.m. Friday, Ballroom B
As something of an artist myself, this event really caught my eye. I’ve always been stuck behind a table for many of my previous conventions, so I could never attend events like these. I really wanna see if my favorite English voice actors can draw the characters they voice, and hopefully there will be an opportunity to request a character for them to draw!
Meeting Cristina Vee
Cristina Vee Q&A 11 a.m.-noon Friday, room 315
How to Draw With Voice Actors
3-4 p.m. Friday, Ballroom B
Women of Animation
1:15-2:15 p.m. Saturday, Ballroom B
Ask an Anime Character
Noon-1 p.m. Sunday, Ballroom B
2:45-5:15 p.m. Saturday and 1:30-3 p.m. Sunday
Cristina Vee is by far one of my favorite English voice actresses to date, playing roles like Noel Vermillion (Blazblue series), Sakura Matou (Fate series), and Homura Akemi (Puella Magi Madoka Magica). I have been requesting her appearance for years now, and it’s so nice to see my request coming true. I can’t wait to get my Blazblue merchandise signed, and hopefully I’ll be able to draw her a little something as a gift for all her hard work!
The Cardboard Mega Brawl 3-4 p.m. Saturday (setup 2-3 p.m.), Exhibition Hall 2 & 3
Every year, I’ve built cardboard armor for my friends to compete in. This year, it’s my turn to pit myself against the other fighters in the ring. Using only cardboard, duct tape, and pool noodles, teams have an hour to hastily construct armor and weapons, then pit themselves against one another, trying to knock off the cup targets placed on each others’ armor, or completely destroy those cup targets. It’s crazy yet controlled in these wack battles. I also have a couple of friends competing, and I hope I get to battle against them.
Anyway, those are my top things I’m looking forward to so far. I haven’t totally checked out the schedule, and sometimes things are added last minute. I’ll be making an effort to write about my convention experiences every day of the convention, and hopefully I get a lot of good pictures. Until then, I’ll be cramming homework so that my weekend is totally stress free. I was also thinking of doing something special on this blog, but we’ll have to wait and see. 😉