Kickstarter talk is in the air, everywhere

I have to admit that when it comes to communication, I’m far more comfortable with the written word than I am with speaking to people. Part of the reason is that I really hate the way my voice sounds when I’m speaking. The other part is that I get nervous as heck … I’m really quite awkward in social situations, too.

So that’s why, in the 10 years I’ve been working the anime/manga beat (yup! 10 years!), I’ve only willingly put myself in front of a recording device all of two times. The first time was for this video interview with then-Anime Vice editor-in-chief, current Anime News Network contributing writer, and still all-around cool cat Gia Manry, posted to the site on Feb. 28, 2009.

Here’s the original Anime Vice page that it was posted on. Note the comment by RedRose. And now you know why, three years, four months and 23 days and counting, I have yet to watch a single second of this footage. The memories of that day — lunch at Ulupalakua Ranch in upcountry Maui, followed by that interview with me and all my apparent head-bobbing glory — are more than enough for me, thankyewverymuch.

I would’ve been perfectly happy with that being my first and last venture into the recorded-for-the-Internet world, but alas, fate sometimes has a way of taking plans, ripping them up, stomping on them and then grinding them in to the dirt. And its roots were planted in my Twitter enthusiasm for Digital Manga Publishing’s Kickstarter drive for Osamu Tezuka’s Unico, Atomcat and Triton of the Sea, which, as of my writing this post, was just a few hours from completion.

In retrospect, perhaps my cheerleading was a bit much. It’s easy to get caught up in the Kickstarter hype, watching the contribution level rising, knowing that you, yes, you, are one of the people helping to make the project pitch become a reality. (Full disclosure: I signed on for one of the limited “Power of Love” $165 packages.) But I was not expecting to get this kind of response to one of my tweets in late June.

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I met Glenn Kardy, the man behind @MangaUniversity, at HEXXP in 2010. Great guy. Totally respect him. I feel really bad that I’ve never had a chance to write up the interview I did with him at that convention. But that tweet, along with a follow-up response from Ed Chavez at Vertical, opened the floodgates for several days’ worth of Twitter discussion debating the merits of a large manga publisher like DMP using Kickstarter as a way of funding their book-publishing ventures. It’s a discussion that I by and large stayed out of, not wanting to stir up any more controversy than I already had.

Manga Out Loud. Podcast by Ed Sizemore. Cute logo by Lissa Patillo.It was around this time that Ed Sizemore, co-host of the “Manga Out Loud” podcast with Johanna Draper Carlson, contacted me about being a podcast guest. I have to admit that I was a bit hesitant at first — me? Why me? I’m just a fan out here in the middle of the Pacific who’s already seen his best days in the sun and is now slowly fading away, tucked away in a corner of the sprawling staradvertiser.com network of sites. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that yeah, I probably could hold my own. And hopefully the other people Ed invited would be able to carry the load as well.

The other guests were great. Joining me via Skype in recording on Monday were Erica Friedman, president and founder of Yuricon and ALC Publishing and writer of the Okazu blog, and Ben Applegate, one of the people behind the DMP Kickstarter campaign who’s now picked up additional work at Kodansha USA. We talked at length about the Kickstarter campaign — there, you can find out the reason why I haven’t mentioned the DMP Kickstarter on Twitter since that time — and Erica, Ed, Johanna and myself also discussed Tokyopop’s resurrection and Viz’s new Neon Alley anime venture on the PlayStation Network. It was quite the experience, I must say … especially listening live to some of the parts that I think Ed left on the cutting-room floor. (I won’t divulge the nature of the discussion. I’ll just say that for the four of us around for that particular part of the recording session, it was … pretty wild.) I understand Matt Blind, he of the Rocket Bomber blog chock full of manga sales statistics and retail bookseller commentary, also joined Ed on another day to talk about Kickstarter.

So yes, you’ll probably want to give this month’s edition of “Manga Out Loud” a listen, to hear our great discussion and cringe at the nails-on-chalkboard quality of my voice. You can find show notes and a download link at mangaoutloud.com/webpage/episode-61-more-kickstarter-with-matt-blind-erica-friedman-jason-yadao-ben-applegate. That podcast officially makes it the second time that my voice has been recorded for the internet.

Will there ever be a third opportunity? We shall see. My inner voice is screaming at me “OH DEAR GOD NOOOOOOOOOOO,” but my sense of self-confidence has a tendency every so often to grab a giant mallet, bonk it over the head and knock it out. You never know.

The Cel Shaded Report, 7/20: Beach blanket Tokyo Babylon

Otaku culture is fundamentally based around indoor activities. Sure, you see fans venturing outside every once in a while for sketch meets and cosplay shoots, but for the most part they stay indoors to watch their anime, indoors to play their video games, and indoors to curl up and read some manga.

kawaii-kon-logoAnd so, it’s time for Kawaii Kon’s annual reminder that going outdoors can be fun for anime and manga fans, too. The local anime convention is hosting its third annual beach day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Ala Moana Beach Park. Much of what I wrote about last year’s beach day still applies — pack a lunch, smash a watermelon, build a sand sculpture, enter a beach cosplay contest, here’s a map of beach day site Pavilion 28AB — along with a few new twists:

  • The water-battling weaponry has been upgraded, so instead of water balloons, be prepared for all-out water gun warfare. Bring one for yourself. Maybe a few for your allies, too, if you’re the type of person who builds alliances. Unless you’re the lone wolf Golgo 13 type, in which case I suppose you wouldn’t.
  • You can get a prize just by showing up in beach-themed cosplay (while supplies last, of course).
  • The best sand sculpture earns a three-day pass to Kawaii Kon 2013.

For any updates (and to join in the discussion, if you’re so inclined), visit www.facebook.com/events/241922289244420/

Anime around town

Aiea Library Anime Club: 3 p.m. Saturday at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. This month, librarian Diane Masaki will be screening the first few episodes of Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com.

The Cel Shaded Report, 7/12: “Nakamaboko” with Comic Jam

nakamaboko2

We’ve been looking this week at MangaBento’s “Nakamaboko” exhibit, with its giant octopus, intricate artwork and a dorky anime/manga blogger playing with the interactive comic wall. You have until Saturday to look at it in person in the second-floor gallery of the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St.)

There’s one more section of the exhibit to cover here in Otaku Ohana, this one showcasing the work of another group: Comic Jam Hawaii, the cartoonist/artist collective that’s been gathering monthly to fellowship and draw cartoons, illustrations and sketches together. As these pictures show, they have a lot of fun at these get-togethers.

Here’s the gallery link for those of you who are Flashless or Flash-averse: www.flickr.com/photos/sumiyoshi/sets/72157630546908662/

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=109615

As I note in the gallery intro on Flickr, Comic Jam Hawaii usually meets from 6 to 9 p.m. every last Wednesday of the month at Kahala Mall. This month, though, members are making a special appearance at two events, both of which are on Saturday. The first appearance, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., will be at Pearlridge Center in conjunction with the mall’s “Hall of Heroes” superhero exhibit. Look for them in the space in Pearlridge Uptown where Borders used to be (*sniffle*).

Not only will they be sketching and inviting visitors to join in, they’ll also be giving away packs of nine random “chibi-fied” superhero cards from a set of 93 images the artists have drawn over the past few weeks. (One free pack per person, please.) Spider-Man, Superman, Captain America, Wolverine … they’re all in there, and then some. There’s even a chance of snagging some original artwork. But we’re all about giving the Japanese properties a little extra push here in Otaku Ohana, so here are previews of MidWeek cartoonist Roy Chang’s Astro Boy card …

Astro Boy by Roy Chang

… and Star-Advertiser “Calabash” cartoonist Jon Murakami’s take on Kikaida.

Kikaida by Jon Murakami

You know you want ’em. (I know I do.) Also, if you spend $50 at Pearlridge on Saturday, you can get a copy of Jon’s book, “If You Were a Superhero in Hawaii.” Not a bad way to spend a few hours, really.

After their stint at Pearlridge, the gang will be heading down Moanalua Road a bit and setting up shop at Aiea Library from 2 to 5 p.m., where they’ll continue to sketch and offer various sketching activities for children of all ages.

Want to learn more about Comic Jam Hawaii? You’ll have to be logged in to a Facebook account; if you are, visit www.facebook.com/groups/147779161986428/

Anime around town

The Dragonfly Kickstarter: There’s just a few hours left to pledge support for the live-action “Kikaida meets X-Files” superhero show from the creator of Pineapple Man, Sam Campos. And truth be told, at only 12% of its $50,000 goal raised, the chances of it getting funded are remote at best. But you never know, I could be surprised by a flurry of contributors in the stretch run. The campaign ends at noon Friday; visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/195805089/dragonfly-0 for details.

pen and ink works logoPen & Ink Works: This group of anime/manga-inspired artists is celebrating its first anniversary with a manga printmaking activity Saturday at ArtSpree, the annual family art festival at the Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House (the former Contemporary Museum) in Makiki. Create your own manga characters with help from Pen & Ink Works members, and enjoy the food, activities and entertainment available across the entire Spalding House campus. ArtSpree runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; admission is free. (Be advised that parking will not be available at Spalding House; visitors are advised to park at Punahou School and catch the free shuttle.) For more on ArtSpree, visit honolulumuseum.org/12787-artspree; for more on Pen & Ink Works, visit peninkworks.wordpress.com.

hexxp-logoHEXXP: The biggest recent news out of the pop culture convention home of Nobuo Uematsu, a World Cosplay Summit regional qualifying round, a Macross 25th anniversary exhibit and the Miku Hatsune DJ Dance Party is that it’s expanding to three days of programming from two. Yes, HEXXP is now running from Friday, Oct. 19 through Sunday, Oct. 21, at the Aloha Tower Marketplace. For those of you who have already preregistered, your passes now cover that extra day.

Those of you who missed out on the first round of VIP passes also now have a second chance; the second and final block of 150 passes recently went on sale. They aren’t cheap — $175, compared to the standard $55 for a regular all-days pass — but they do grant access to a special VIP lounge where con guests will be making regular appearances and express, preferred seating at special events.

And finally, I’ve gotten word that two more guest announcements will be made, possibly as soon next week. Stay tuned.

For more information, visit www.hexxp.com.

MangaBento’s “Nakamaboko”: The second slice

A Hawaiian Anime Day by Kristi AuyongWhen last we left off with our look at MangaBento’s “Nakamaboko” exhibit, we had taken a virtual tour of the gallery space and some of the most dominant elements in that space. This time around, the artwork on display takes the spotlight. I didn’t want to put everything that’s on display into this slideshow — that would take a while to cycle through, and time these days is quite precious, both for me in preparing these posts and you in reading them — but I hope these highlights I’ve chosen give you an idea of the talent level of the featured artists.

Oh yes, and as promised in the last gallery, there is, in fact, a picture of me trying out the interactive comic wall. If that isn’t incentive enough for you to browse through this slideshow, I don’t know what is.

Since this whole slideshow thing is still relatively new, here’s a refresher course on how best to use it: To start the slideshow, just press the “play” button in the middle of the frame below. Pause and restart using the button on the lower left. If you want a larger view, click on the icon on the lower right; in that full-screen view, you can also see the captions I’ve written for each picture (using the “Show Info” link) or slow down the automatic scrolling (using the “Options” link). Finally, if you’re viewing this blog on an iOS device (iPad/iPod Touch) and can’t view Flash plug-ins, or if you just want to skip all the slideshow fiddling and go straight to the gallery, here’s the direct gallery link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sumiyoshi/sets/72157630518435752/ Enjoy!

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=109615

Coming up next time: This wall, which deserves an entire post — well, a good chunk of an entire post, anyway, since it is going to be part of the weekly Cel Shaded Report, and there are other things I need to discuss — in and of itself.

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Yup. The Comic Jam Hawaii wall. They contributed many pieces to “Nakamaboko.” And they’re going to be pretty busy drawing on Saturday, too…

MangaBento’s “Nakamaboko”: The first slice

IMG_9289Almost a month ago, on June 12, “Nakamaboko” opened in the gallery at the Honolulu Museum of Art School.

The annual exhibit by the anime/manga-inspired artist collective MangaBento is scheduled to come down at the end of this week. And guess what? Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger is finally ready to report on it. And in a new way, at that!

See, one of the biggest obstacles in doing photo posts like these is that it takes a lot of time to go through photos, pick the ones that don’t make me wince and question why I ever thought I had any modicum of photography skill in the first place, and run them through what I like to call Adobe Photoshop Elements’ “prettify” filters. Then I have to place each picture in the post and write up something suitably snappy … and the more pictures I put into each post, the more that you, dear reader, has to scroll down and down and down and down on the same page. It just seemed so clunky, especially in this day and age where perfectly good online slideshow widgets and plug-ins exist. And with more photos than I’ve ever posted before on a single subject — so many, in fact, that I decided it would be best for me to write three separate posts on this exhibit —

So I went out, dug up an old Flickr account that I hadn’t touched in ages (seriously, the last pictures added to that account’s photostream were from two years ago), freshened it up a bit, and voila! Instant compact gallery-type goodness to play with.

A few notes before we begin: To start the slideshow, just press the “play” button in the middle of the frame below. Pause and restart using the button on the lower left. If you want a larger view, click on the icon on the lower right; in that full-screen view, you can also see the captions I’ve written for each picture (using the “Show Info” link) or slow down the automatic scrolling (using the “Options” link). Finally, if you’re viewing this blog on an iOS device (iPad/iPod Touch) and can’t view Flash plug-ins, or if you just want to skip all the slideshow fiddling and go straight to the gallery, here’s the direct gallery link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sumiyoshi/sets/72157630460795572/

That said, on to the first gallery! This one spotlights the gallery layout, a few special features and, of course, the sketch table.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=109615

Coming up next time: A selection of some of the pieces on display.

The Cel Shaded Report, 6/28: A quick dip into the night

tokyo story

I’m working on quite a few posts at the moment, so this week’s edition of the Cel Shaded Report is going to have to be a quick one. Fortunately for my workload, there’s only one event catching my attention this week that has to be talked about ASAP.

That event is happening Friday at the Honolulu Museum of Art. In conjunction with “Hiroshige: An Artist’s Journey,” an exhibit featuring the woodblock prints of Utagawa Hiroshige that’s on display through Aug. 19, the museum’s monthly ARTafterDARK event will carry the theme of “Tokyo Story.” “Inspired by the exhibition … we bring the neon glitz and glam of Tokyo to ARTafterDARK,” an official blurb reads … and you know that here at Otaku Ohana, we’re all about promoting events that have Tokyo glitz and glam that involves the local art community.

Advertised as being a part of the festivities is Gordon Rider/Star-Advertiser “Calabash” cartoonist Jon Murakami and Jessica Valadez, “featured artist of Kawaii Kon.” (I’ve only had time to deduce that she’s won a past Kawaii Kon newsletter art contest and has exhibited before in Artist Alley, but nothing beyond that.) Both Jon and Jessica will be doing sketches at the event. Not advertised, but also attending, will be nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi (sketching away alongside Jon and Jessica) and HEXXP and the MangaBento artists, who’ll be manning the Harajuku Photo Booth, where attendees can take pictures using yukata and various props. You can also meet Ayumi Sugimoto, the animator from Japan whose workshops in Hawaii laid the groundwork for MangaBento’s creation.

Cost is $10 general admission and free for Museum members; visit http://honoluluacademy.org/events/art_after_dark/12869-tokyo_story to see more of the cool activities that will be available.

Okay, back into the writing cave for me, where I hope to get at least one more post up before the end of the month. Or maybe I’ll just end up being distracted by random videos. You never know.

The Cel Shaded report, 6/22: Just kickin’ it

Tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I are big fans of Kickstarter, the fundraising website that gives all sorts of projects, from art exhibits to state-of-the-art technological doohickeys, the chance to go from dream to reality with the help of people willing to invest a bit to make them happen.

dragonfly poster… wait, did I just write “big fans of Kickstarter” in that last paragraph? I meant to say “freakishly obsessed with Kickstarter.” If there’s a worthy cause for us to support and an affordable tier of cool swag for us to jump on, we are so. there. Rich Burlew’s Order of the Stick reprint project? Helped with that. Double Fine’s untitled adventure game? That, too. And, of course, you’ve read about one of the most prominent/successful local campaigns in this space, the nemu*nemu volume 6 Kickstarter. We’ve hopped on those and so many more.

It’s with that obsession in mind that I present to you two more Kickstarter projects in the process of pursuing funding, one local, one national. The local project is one that’s been in the works since Burl Burlingame first profiled it in the pages of the Star-Bulletin in 2007: Dragonfly, a live-action superhero show from the creator of Pineapple Man, Sam Campos. Campos has described his show in the past as “Kikaida meets X-Files,” and it’s easy to see the influence of tokusatsu (live-action superhero) series like Kikaida and Kamen Rider on the costume designs in his series. The show stars Cole Horibe as Alex Tombo, descendent of an ancient line of genetically engineered warriors that defends the world from an ancient evil that lurks within the islands. (You may have seen Horibe on TV recently, as he’s in the running in Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance with his martial arts-infused moves.)

Campos is looking to raise $50,000 to finish production of Dragonfly’s first three episodes. With that in mind, here’s the Dragonfly Kickstarter pitch video:

… as well as a link to an interview Campos did on World of Superheroes that explains a bit more about the project. Rewards include anything from digital downloads of the three episodes in production ($10 for one, $15 for two, $20 for all three) all the way up to an executive producer credit, a prototype helmet, signed copies of Pineapple Man issues 1-4 and a Dragonfly DVD (a price tier so high that I’m pretty sure the average Otaku Ohana reader wouldn’t be able to afford it without taking out a loan somewhere). You have until July 13 to contribute to the Dragonfly Kickstarter at http://ow.ly/bKJ4r.

unicoOn the national front, Digital Manga Publishing — which already has successfully Kickstarted a reprint of Osamu Tezuka’s Swallowing the Earth and the first run of Tezuka’s Barbara — is going back to the Tezuka well for its latest project: a full-color print run of Unico. The series, about a unicorn endowed with magical powers to help those to love him, was serialized from 1976 to 1979 in Sanrio’s Ririka magazine — yes, that Sanrio, better known the House of Hello Kitty. As such, this title is far more accessible to readers of all ages than Swallowing the Earth and Barbara, two series tailored for older readers. This would be the first translated run for the Unico manga in the U.S., but it’s not the first time Unico’s shown up in the states; most recently, Discotek released two animated features, The Fantastic World of Unico (1981) and Unico in the Island of Magic (1983), on DVD in May.

As I was writing this post, the campaign had just crossed over the $12,000 mark and appears well on its way to making its $20,500 goal well before its scheduled closing date of July 21. Once it hits that goal, it looks like there’s going to be an announcement of another Tezuka manga that’s joining the party, so stay tuned. For now, $35 lands a copy of Unico and either $10 worth of online manga at eManga.com or six issues of the Astro Boy online magazine, and the tiers scale upward from there to include stickers, T-shirts and posters. The always great Tezuka in English site has more background information about the Unico manga, and you can contribute to the Kickstarter, check out some sample translated pages and watch DMP’s pitch video at http://ow.ly/bKKqS.

Update 6/28: Original goal has been met! Now the DMP Kickstarter-teers is working on getting another manga, the “Astro Boy … if Astro was a cat” story ATOMCAT into publication. And if that gets successfully funded — and it’s about a shade over $1,000 to doing that — the push for another manga will begin. Stay tuned.

Anime around town

uematsuHEXXP: Online registration is continuing for the third annual edition of the pop culture convention, and so are the monthly giveaways. Those of you registered by the end of this month, in fact, have a chance to win a rather coveted item to anyone who’s a fan of one of this year’s guests, Nobuo Uematsu. See that Earthbound Papas CD to the right? See that silver scrawl on the upper left corner? That is, indeed, Uematsu’s signature, and if your name is drawn, you could very well win this signed CD. HEXXP is happening Oct. 20-21 at the Aloha Tower Marketplace; visit https://www.facebook.com/hexxphawaii for more information or http://www.hexxp.com to register (and, by extension, enter to win). 

Pen & Ink Works: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists is getting together for a Sketch Meet from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the McCully-Moiliili Public Library, 2211 S. King St., in the first-floor reading room. (If you’re attended the library’s Mini Con in the past two years, you know where that room is.) Bring your sketchbooks, get some drawing advice from senior members, and get ready for a fun afternoon. Visit peninkworks.wordpress.com.

MangaBento: The other group of anime- and manga-inspired artists meets from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, 1111 Victoria St., Room 200. Visit http://www.manga-bento.com for more information. Also, the group’s latest exhibit, “Nakamaboko” is on display in the art school’s second-floor gallery through July 14. I’m still working on processing the pictures I took at Sunday’s opening reception and a follow-up visit on Wednesday, but here’s a sneak Pika-peek with a ceramic piece by Chad Vilayvong.

pika peek

Comic Jam Hawaii: This month’s informal gathering of comic artists is happening Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Center Court of Kahala Mall. Artists of all skill levels are invited to draw, talk story and collaborate on cartoons like this one, also among the pieces on display at the “Nakamaboko” exhibit:

comic jam sample