World Cosplay Summit road goes through HEXXP

And now, here’s my summary of Kawaii Kon 2012, as told by one file folder on my computer:

Photos. Panel recordings. Videos. Aieeeeeeee.

… yeeeeeaaaaah. Those files are going to take a while to sort through. More reports will have to wait for a future date, though, because there’s so much to cover in the short term — news on Kawaii Kon 2013, highlights from the Hawaii International Film Festival Spring Showcase schedule (Ace Attorney, yaaaaaay), this month’s Manga Movable Feast on the works of Jiro Taniguchi.

Then there’s the latest news coming out of the Hawaii Entertainment Expo (HEXXP) camp. The convention, which already made a splash earlier this month by announcing Final Fantasy series composer Nobuo Uematsu and his band, the Earthbound Papas, as a guest of honor for this year’s event, recently pulled off another coup, landing a preliminary round for the World Cosplay Summit in 2013. To make things official, here’s an introductory video from WCS-USA organizer Laura Butler and assistant organizer Lynleigh Sato:

… as well as a link to a second Hawaii-themed video that they made.

The annual World Cosplay Summit is a big deal. Think of it as being like your typical anime convention cosplay showcase or masquerade, except with a bazillion times more prestige and featuring only the absolute best of the best cosplayers from around the world. The event began in 2003 with five cosplayers representing three countries (Italy, Germany and France); this year, 16 countries are listed as participants. Ever since a competition was established in 2005, though, the United States has won the same number of world championships as the Chicago Cubs have in 103 years: Zero. (Brazil’s won three times, Italy twice, and France and Japan have one title apiece.)

The winner of the Honolulu competition will move on to the U.S. finals at Katsucon in the Washington, D.C. metro area next February, and the winner from that will head out to Nagoya, Japan to represent the ol’ stars ‘n’ stripes at the summit. Suffice it to say it’ll take more than a set of Pikachu pajamas to win this competition. You may want to get started on that competition-grade costume, umm, now.

HEXXP will take place Oct. 20-21 at the Aloha Tower Marketplace; for more information or to register, visit www.hexxp.com. Also, a side note on registration: There are now monthly prize drawings for those who have already preregistered for a two-day pass. This month’s prizes are a gift certificate for a two-hour session at Karaoke GS Studio and a $40 gift certificate for Minato Japanese Restaurant. Also, there are 12 of the $100 VIP passes remaining, so if you’re interested, you’ll want to jump on that soon.

[Kawaii Kon 2012] Panel discussions: Horikawa, Miya and Amano

“Meet Ryo Horikawa and Kenichi Miya”

Putting your heart and spirit into whatever role you play is key to a good voice actor, Japanese actor Ryo Horikawa emphasized.

It’s that same heart that allows him to differentiate which American voice actors are good. “It’s about knowing the character, giving life to the character,” Horikawa said.

Kawaii Kon marks Horikawa’s first visit to Hawaii, along with fellow seiyuu (voice actor) Kenichi Miya. The two shared a panel on Friday, talking about their careers, their inspirations and the industry in general. That’s Miya on the left, Horikawa on the right.

miya_horikawa

With decades of voice acting under his belt, Horikawa now runs a school for aspiring seiyuu. When asked whether it’s better for an actor to have a wide range of voices or to concentrate on one role, “It’s hard to say,” he replied. “There are those who can do multiple and are good and there are those who are known for one voice.” What’s most important, he said, is to “enhance what you’re good at no matter what type you are.”

Concentration is another key aspect to what Horikawa does. Because he’s played so many different characters over the years, he said he has to completely ignore all his other roles when he goes to voice another one. “It was challenging to play Vegeta at the same time I played a very justice-driven character with a baby face,” he said through translator Sachi Kaaihue, that latter description likely referring to Reinhard von Lohengramm from Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

As for Miya, he’s a student at Horikawa’s school and said that meeting Horikawa-sensei and coming to Hawaii are the defining moments of his career.

Not that Horikawa seems to regard himself as such. Despite the noteworthy roles he’s played — he’s most well-known as the voice of the angry Vegeta in Dragon Ball Z, but he’s also done Heiji Hattori in Case Closed and Andromeda Shun in Saint Seiya — he downplayed it when Kaaihue called him “sensei” when introducing him at the start of the panel.

It’s probably because Horikawa regards himself as an eternal student, always looking ahead to the next role. When asked about his own defining moment, he said he loved all the characters he played. “The most important thing for me is to feel the new power inside,” he said, adding that he constantly wants a challenge, so he looks forward to the next job that could very well be the best of his career.

In fact, his latest role is one that he’s quite excited about. He has both a voice and a production role in Magical Dreamers, a new type of manga coming out for iOS and Android devices. Not only is it bilingual, it’s also interactive, with voices as well as printed text. (Jason will have more from that panel later.)

Both Horikawa and Miya said they enjoy their careers for the different lives in which they can immerse themselves. For Horikawa, the character of Vegeta is an excuse for him to yell all the time. “It makes me feel fun and excited. … I’m usually not like that in real life,” he said.

Miya is the same. He gets to go on adventures, go to war, and have relationships with the ladies — things that, he said through a translator, he probably would never get to experience in real life. (I’d argue against “relationships” being included in the “things Miya will not experience” list, though.)

But no matter what that next role might be, whether it be a teenage boy or an angry alien or something completely different, Horikawa’s up for the challenge. He’s pushing the e-manga as well as working to make his voice acting school truly international, so he’s still got a lot more on his plate.

“Face to Face: Yoshitaka Amano”

The same passion for his work can be found in Yoshitaka Amano. Wearing a just-purchased aloha shirt, the artist and character designer described how the vast majority of his artistic inspiration actually came from American sources.

He was a huge fan of Disney characters, he said, having grown up watching the cartoons. In the 1970s, when he was in his 20s, he was influenced by American pop artists such as Andy Warhol, and also by American psychedelic art. He was working in anime at the time, and those influences made their way into his character designs.

amano

Amano likes every character he draws — or at least he tries to, he said. Like Horikawa, he immerses himself into the person being drawn. “Even if it’s a bad guy or girl, there’s always something appealing,” he said through a translator. He really becomes the person, to the point where, if it’s a scary character, he said, he tends to become a little scary in real life.

But, he hastened to add, he usually forgets most of it after he’s done, so fans can be assured that Amano won’t stay a scary evil guy forever.

Still, Amano apparently better enjoys drawing the bad guys. Actually, he specifically said he enjoys doing the “cool” designs, which most often turn out to be the bad guys. He cited the vampire hunter D as an example of a design he’s proud of.

And in a declaration that warms my fangirl heart, Amano said that out of all the Final Fantasy games he’s worked on, he loved FF6 the most, although he couldn’t say exactly why that was so. In admitting that for the most part he likes easy, “comfortable” drawings because there’s less pressure involved, he pointed to FF6’s Moogle and Tina (called Terra in the English version of the game) as favorites.

But even with all the fame he’s accrued, Amano said he always harbored doubts as to the quality of his work. Did people like his art for itself, or did people like it because they enjoyed the game, anime, or other product that it was associated with? This was one main reason he said he stepped away from character design and went into the fine arts, which comprises about 90 percent of his work now. He’s even held a few museum exhibits of his artwork. All of what he described as “getting outside his small box” served to challenge his talent by having viewers focus on his art rather than the game or animated series.

Amano advises other artists to be the same way. For example, when designing a dragon, he said, we are influenced by what others have drawn before. But he “tries to interpret what’s in (my) own mind,” he said. “If you do that, you can be very different in drawing. Being different is important.”

Another key piece of advice: Love what you do. “Then you will work hard and if people don’t recognize you, you will still be satisfied,” he said.

Then in a complete 180, Amano gave this last piece of advice: Don’t listen to his advice. When asked what kind of counsel he’s received from other artists, he said he neither received any nor gave much to others. Which is good, he said, “because (I) learned to come up with (my) own ideas.” He finished: “Think for yourself. … Keep inspiration close to your heart.”

[Kawaii Kon 2012] The year of the cat

kawaii-kon-logoThis is the eighth year I’ve covered Kawaii Kon in some way, and in that time I’ve seen many trends come and go. Back in 2005, everyone seemed to be cosplaying as Naruto characters. Then there were the Inu-Yasha and Fullmetal Alchemist years, the year that every fifth person seemed to be wearing the powder blue school uniforms of Ouran High School and its Host Club, and the year Hetalia ruled the world.. There were the “Hare Hare Yukai” and “Motteke! Sailor Fuku” years. Nyan Cat and Leekspin made appearances. Every guest was asked one year whether they’d like to try a Spam musubi. Things like that.

I think I can say that this year’s trend, though, as laid out in the opening ceremonies, may be the most inexplicable of all.

Meet Magician Kaulana, local illusionist and emcee extraordinaire. From what I can gather, he’s the one who launched the trend last year.

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Meet Lisa Ortiz, the voice of Lina Inverse in Slayers. She’s holding the focal point of this trend: a plush kitten.

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And apparently the objective, as best as I can figure it out, is to punch out the kitten, but to find a humorous way to do so. The person who manages to make the judges (yes, there are also judges involved!) laugh the most at closing ceremonies will win a fabulous prize. To illustrate this, Ortiz went all out, acting like she wanted to save it, yet getting upset when it “whispered” awful things in her ear and eventually punting it from one end of the stage to another. The kitten would make more cameo appearances throughout the day on the large video screens on each side of the day. Attendees were waving around different plush cats — well, okay, what they were waving around may not have been “plush cats” as they were “giant circular blobs of cute with cat ears on them” in front of the cameras as well. Even Erika Engle — yes, that Erika Engle, intrepid Star-Advertiser Buzz-er — noted that the most commented-on feature at her Artist Alley table was a single, not-for-sale decorative ornament: a small cat, curled up in a basket.

Umm. Yeeeeeeeeeaaaaaah.

I know that several times in recent years, I’ve wondered if I’m getting too old for this. This … may be another tipping point.

But while I may not necessarily understand what’s going on, many other people do, and they’re really digging it. That’s what’s important at Kawaii Kon, really: finding your little niche and having as much fun with it as you possibly can. And my little niche, discovered last night in the video game room, is definitely hard-core old-school.

mspacman

Yes, that’s a Ms. Pac-Man cocktail table machine. I think the last time I saw one of these babies was at the Pearlridge Fun Factory in the early ’80s. Sure, the monitor’s out of focus. But there are several variants of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man to choose from to make up for it.

And here’s an actual, honest-to-God Discs of Tron upright machine.

tron

I can’t remember the last time I saw one of those. Best part? Both of these machines are set on free play. I could probably stay there all day, if not for the fact that, y’know, there’s an entire rest-of-the-convention to cover.

And so we head into day 2, typically the busiest day at the con. Coming up here in Otaku Ohana, tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. will chime in with her report on Friday’s panels featuring voice actors Ryo Horikawa and Kenichi Miya, and I’ll show off some of the pretty artwork that’s up for auction at this year’s silent and live auctions. And maybe, just maybe, if you’re all good, I’ll show you how this picture relates to what I’m doing today.

Pekepekepeke desu ka? Ne, sugoi desu ne.

Stick around.

The Cel Shaded Report, 3/16: Once more into the fray

kawaii-kon-logoKawaii Kon. This weekend. Suuuuuuper busy.

Need I say any more?

… well, okay, I was tempted to just post that and call it a day, but that would be unfair to you, the few, proud (I hope?) Otaku Ohana readers who keep checking your RSS feeds, Twitter or Facebook to see if I’ve posted anything new.

Yet there’s no denying that this weekend will be a busy one, packed with panels and events and wacky spur-of-the-moment happenings and other weird and wonderful stuff that the local fan community seems to come up with every year. And while tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I will be trying to provide a cross-section of coverage of everything going on at Kawaii Kon here in Otaku Ohana all weekend (energy and Internet connections willing), there are some events on the schedule that are particularly piquing our interest. So we each picked three panels/events that we’re most looking forward to this weekend. If you’re having trouble figuring out what you want to do out of everything going on, you can’t go wrong with these suggestions, really.

Jason’s top 3

1. Anything featuring voice actress Yuu Asakawa. She’s the voice of Sakaki in Azumanga Daioh and Motoko in Love Hina. She sings. She co-hosts Otaku-VerseZero, the show “introducing the Japanese subculture to Otaku throughout the Universe,” with Otaku USA editor Patrick Macias. And she’s on Twitter — and tweeting regularly in English, to boot. Her multimedia versatility has me interested in seeing what she has to say. Plus there’s no denying that whenever guests come out to Hawaii, they end up loving the place … and Asakawa’s already said on Twitter that she’s looking forward to coming here. Hopefully her experience exceeds her expectations. “The Journey of Yuu Asakawa” panel, 5 p.m. Friday; “Work of a Seiyuu,” 10 a.m. Saturday; “Behind the Music,” 11 a.m. Sunday. Autograph signings: 11 a.m. Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

2. “Introduction of E-manga: Magical Dreamers.” We’ve been seeing an increasing number of digital manga initiatives lately, and we’re not just talking about the publisher that actually has the phrase as part of its name, Digital Manga Publishing. NTT Solmare, Jmanga, Yen Press and Viz are some of the more notable enterprises as of late. But those are all digital versions of existing print manga. Magical Dreamers, by contrast, is being touted as “the world’s first e-manga,” and so far it comes with the following bullet points:

  • For iOS and Android devices
  • Full Japanese and English audio recorded by voice actors including Ryo Horikawa, Chris Sabat, Brina Palencia and Monica Rial
  • Ability to switch between Japanese and English voice and text
  • Available April 2012

That, along with this image that’s surfaced with all the information I shared above, is pretty much all we have in English. If you know Japanese, maybe you can get more out of this official site than I can. Will we get more details like (a) what the story is and (b) how much it’ll cost? We shall see. 4 p.m. Saturday.

3. The Eleven Staples concert. I already covered this in my Kawaii Kon preview in TGIF — go check out that, and my profile on the Cosplay Cafe presented by UH students, out for free on Honolulu Pulse — but to recap the news that certainly made my jaw drop when I saw it: According to singer Erin Tamura, this will be the band’s final bow at the con. So will this be a send-off in style? You better believe it. 11 a.m. Saturday.

Wilma’s top 3

1. Anything featuring artist Yoshitaka Amano. I’ve loved his work since I first saw it in the Final Fantasy series, and that appreciation expanded to his work in the Vampire Hunter D series. he has a very ethereal style that I like. I know many people don’t care for his ultra-effeminate style of drawing people, but what I like most is the way he draws expressions on his people’s faces. They’re often sad or apprehensive, and I think he captures that very well. I’m also interested in hearing him talk about his life, his work, where he gets his inspiration and how he developed his drawing style — basically everything you’ve ever wanted to know about your favorite artist. “Face to Face” panel, 4 p.m. Friday; “Art is Life” panel: 10 a.m. Sunday.

2. Live Drawing with Yoshitaka Amano: Also a must-see. I’ve seen a video that someone shot of Amano drawing live at Comic-Con in San Diego in 2010:

It’s always great to see an artist work. You can marvel at how they’ve developed their style. (And stick around for the last character he draws, too!) Noon Saturday.

3. Ryo Horikawa and Kenichi Miya. Case Closed is one of my favorite manga, and although I haven’t watched the anime much, it’s still thrilling to have one of its major voice actors as a guest here. The bonus is that he’s the voice of Reinhard von Lohengramm, the main character in Legend of the Galactic Heroes, a show that my fiance is totally crazy about.  So it’s exciting for both of us to have him here.

I’m also interested in hearing Ryo speak. His range of voices is incredible, from the soft mildness of  Andromeda Shun in Saint Seiya, to the calm yet tough and passionate Reinhard, to the deep gruffness of Vegeta — he has an amazing range.

As for Miya? I have to admit I’m interested in him for curiosity’s sake. Not much has been said about him, so I’d like to hear him describe his career and the roles he’s done. 11:30 a.m. Friday.

The Cel Shaded Report, 3/9: Fantasy fulfilled

hexxp-logo2012 is shaping up to be quite the year for local fans of the Final Fantasy video game franchise. The latest game in the series, Final Fantasy XIII-2, recently arrived in stores. Yoshitaka Amano, who’s contributed character designs and artwork to the franchise over the years, will be a major part of Kawaii Kon next week.

Today, the other pop-culture convention in town, the Hawaii Entertainment Expo (HEXXP), is showing its hand for the first time regarding what’s up for this year’s show. There are now official dates — Sat., Oct. 20 and Sun., Oct. 21 — and a venue — the Aloha Tower Marketplace Waterfront. They’re teaming up with Babel Entertainment and Houston-based anime convention Oni-Con to bring in their first official guest of honor, and it’s a doozy of an announcement — longtime Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu.

Chances are that if you’ve remember any music selections from that long-running series, Uematsu had a hand in creating it. The signature prelude? He did that. The victory theme? Yeah, that, too. Can’t forget that chocobo theme, either. Then there are the signature songs — “Terra’s Theme” and “Maria & Draco” from Final Fantasy VI, “Liberi Fatali” from Final Fantasy VIII and “At Zanarkand” from Final Fantasy X, just to name a few. And, of course, the one that gets everyone cheering at a concert, the theme song of the long silver-haired bad boy Sephiroth himself, “One-Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII.

Uematsu will be joined on this trip by his band, the Earthbound Papas. The Papas, which formed soon after Uematsu’s previous group, the Black Mages, disbanded in 2010, continues the tradition of performing rock arrangements of Uematsu’s songs. Their first album, the nine-track Octave Theory, was released almost a year ago and is available on iTunes (or, if you prefer good old-fashioned physical media, CDJapan). Yes, there is a version of “One-Winged Angel” on it, but there are also arrangements of some of the work Uematsu’s done since leaving Square and Final Fantasy behind, including the Xbox 360 games Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey. The Earthbound Papas will be in concert Oct. 21.

Lynleigh SatoAlso emerging from the HEXXP camp are initial details about the Masquerade, the event’s showcase cosplay contest. Judging the Masquerade will be Lynleigh Sato, co-founder and president of Sweet Rococo, a one-stop online custom design boutique for fans of Lolita fashion. Sato was a member of the U.S. team at the World Cosplay Summit in 2005 and currently serves as a WCS industry judge and U.S. team assistant organizer. And if entering cosplay contests aren’t your thing, perhaps the “Multiverse Human Chess” event, in which you can dress up and take part in a life-sized game of chess, will be more your style.

Further details are sure to arrive in coming weeks, but for now: Single-day general-admission passes (for ages 13 and up) for Oct. 20 will cost $25; for Oct. 21, the pass costs $40 and includes the Uematsu concert. Two-day passes are available for $55 and will have some added perks to be announced. For children, the costs are $7.50, $15 and $20.

There also will be a $100 VIP pass, limited to 25 people, that will give purchasers priority admission to various events, access to a special seating area for the concert that will include a private bar and soda station, and admission to the maid cafe. Since there will be an attendance cap, you’ll want to get your passes, whatever they may be, as soon as possible.

Visit www.hexxp.com for further details or to register.

The shrinking world of ‘Arrietty’

Time’s running out to see The Secret World of Arrietty, now the fourth-biggest-grossing anime film in the U.S. of all time. I’m busy preparing for Kawaii Kon so no time for a promo photo this week. But you’ll notice that we’ve already lost the Regal theaters and the theater in Kailua-Kona, and the remaining theaters have cut back on their screenings. If you want to see Arrietty in theaters, you’ll probably want to make time this week:

Kaahumanu (Maui): 10:25 a.m. and 12:35 p.m.

Kahala: 10:45 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Kapolei:11 a.m. (daily except Sunday); 1:10 and 3:20 p.m.

Mililani: 11:20 a.m.

Pearlridge:10:35 a.m.; 12:50 and 3:05 p.m.

Ward: 10:45 a.m.

Anime around town

MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists meets from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Academy Art Center, 1111 Victoria St., Room 200. Visit www.manga-bento.com.

“Ponyo” off a cliff

ponyo_posterWith Studio Ghibli’s latest film to be released in America, The Secret World of Arrietty, breaking box-office records for Ghibli films, I’m reminded of director Hayao Miyazaki’s 2009 film, Ponyo, Ghibli’s former top-grossing champion.

Being that Miyazaki is a perennial favorite of mine and my fiance, we had eagerly attended the early preview screening of Ponyo in Ward Theaters with high hopes. Afterward, however, we came out feeling, “…Huh?”

Admittedly, we went in with absolutely no knowledge of anything about the movie aside from the fact that it was done by Miyazaki and that its original English name when advertised in Japan was “Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea.” The house lights went black, the familiar Totoro logo of Studio Ghibli came up, and then … we seemed to stray into some other world — a fantasy world, granted, but it was something that decidedly was not Miyazaki.

For those who don’t know the storyline, Ponyo is about a boy named Sosuke who discovers a strange ocean creature whom he names Ponyo, who has the body of a fish but the head of girl. Ponyo in her ocean homeland was always a curious girl, which is how she ended up stranded ashore to be found by Sosuke. After coming into contact with humans, Ponyo longs to be one of them, but her wizard father, Fujimoto, refuses to let her go. The clash between father and daughter eventually causes the oceans to swallow the land and threatens to destroy Sosuke’s world, and Fujimoto is forced to give in — and risk having his daughter learn of the pain of rejection, unless Sosuke can pass a test that Ponyo’s mother, the goddess of mercy, crafts for him.

Sosuke and Ponyo. (Photo courtesy Nibariki-GNDHDDT)
Sosuke and Ponyo prepare for their magical boat ride. (Photo courtesy Nibariki-GNDHDDT)

The opening scenes used a simplistic animation that I would expect of a PBS toddler’s cartoon. The bright multitude of colors used to illustrate the fanciful undersea creatures gave even more credence to this impression.

Once we hit land, it seemed the old Miyazaki was back, with carefully detailed homes and cliffs and landscapes similar to another of his films, Kiki’s Delivery Service — but for only a moment. Then again we reverted back, and again the animation was very different from his previous films, with many of the backgrounds seemingly done with colored pencils, creating a soft, ethereal atmosphere that nevertheless seemed far less magical than the more solid scenery that normally dominates his films.

The one thing that did remain throughout was Miyazaki’s penchant for realistic movements and his attention to the small things that people do. The way Sosuke carefully crawled under the gate, making sure not to drop the bucket holding Ponyo; the way Sosuke’s mom Lisa unlocked the house door and hauled in the groceries after her; the way Fujimoto carefully protected and poured the life-giving elixirs — they weren’t the movements of everyday cartoon characters given motion by an animator bent merely on making them do one thing as fast as possible as smoothly as possible, but rather by a master artist skilled at depicting the many actions that one simple maneuver by a human often requires.

Sosuke's dad, Koichi, is often busy at sea and can't visit his wife and son as much as he'd like. (Courtesy Nibariki-GNDHDDT)
Sosuke's dad, Koichi, is often busy at sea and can't visit his wife and son as much as he'd like. (Courtesy Nibariki-GNDHDDT)

Still, in many ways, “simple” was the theme of the movie. Unlike the numerous trials that Miyazaki’s past heroes and heroines had to endure, all Sosuke had to do was proclaim his love for Ponyo and his willingness to accept her for who she was — an extremely easy thing for a 5-year-old to promise without understanding the full import of his words. And then came the goddess’ simple declaration that “The balance of nature is restored!” and now we’ll all go live happily ever after — never mind the floodwaters that are still covering the town and that don’t seem to have any inclination to go away any time soon.

All of this combined to create such an anticlimactic ending that both I and my movie-going companion were struck dumb.

This may be a kids’ movie, but even children enjoy experiencing the awe of something as impressive as a water goddess’ magic restoring the land to what it was — an oft-used ending that may be cheesy and cliched to us adults but is usually pretty awesome-looking on the big screen, especially in the hands of an animator such as Miyazaki. And unfortunately, such a climactic scene didn’t happen in this movie.

Gran Mamare, the goddess of mercy, visits with Fujimoto to talk about Ponyo. (Courtesy Nibariki-GNDHDDT)
Gran Mamare, the goddess of mercy, visits with Fujimoto to talk about Ponyo. (Courtesy Nibariki-GNDHDDT)

But I came into Ponyo having certain expectations. And contrary to those expectations, there was no epic struggle, there was no character-building transformation. The usual moral message was there — sort of — but then was never followed up on and then fizzled out. In the end, there was just a selfish fish-girl whose longing to stay with the first human she came in contact with was such that she didn’t care whom she hurt in the process, leading to the destruction of an entire town. She’s the bratty child who ended up getting her way through manipulation and tantrums. After all is said and done, does Ponyo realize what her actions caused? Does she care?

For that matter, does ANYONE care? Lisa’s nonchalant acceptance of: 1. a girl who appears out of nowhere; 2. her son’s crazy-sounding explanation of how this girl came to be; and 3. the aforementioned girl’s equally crazy-sounding description of her parents and home is so unbelievable that one can’t help but think that Lisa’s missing a few screws. Face it, no one is THAT magnanimous. How can you not be at the least annoyed at this girl whose single-minded desire endangered not only, oh, your entire town, friends, and all you hold dear, not to mention your sailor husband whose fate out on the stormy high seas is unknown? “Annoyed” would probably be the BEST of my reactions.

Maybe I’m just being too much of an adult. Too much of a Western adult, who craves some kind of logic and resolution and closure. But even that aside, even after suspending disbelief, Ponyo just wasn’t up to Miyazaki’s par.

As a children’s fairytale, Ponyo did deliver. Perhaps that’s what it was meant to be all along. But as a Miyazaki film…somehow, it was missing his usual magic.

355 days later, a festival renewed

IMG_4492The Honolulu Festival, a celebration of all things Asian-and-Pacific-Rim culture, is this weekend. Having attended it for the past three years, I consider it one of those Really Big Deals on the local otaku community schedule, an event where you feel like you’re missing something if you skip it. I take a bunch of pictures and post them here, just to emphasize that fact. Yet while I went last year, all I’ve managed to post since then are a handful of pictures, the promise of more dangled like a fresh, crisp carrot in front of your eyes, just out of reach.

Let’s correct that. Just in time for the 2012 Honolulu Festival, here are highlights from those pictures I shot from the 2011 Honolulu Festival. Better late than not at all, right? Continue reading “355 days later, a festival renewed”