The Cel Shaded Report, 4/27: Child’s play, child’s day

May 5 is just around the corner, and while the numbers of those giant koinobori wind socks that flapped on virtually every street corner when I was growing up seem to have dwindled in recent years, there’s no denying that the traditional Japanese celebration of Boys Children’s Day is coming right along with that date.

But we’re all busy people these days. You don’t want to wait until May 5. You want to celebrate the boys children now. Fortunately, the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii has you covered, with the Kodomo no Hi: Keiki Fun Fest taking place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Several groups with ties to the local anime/manga fan community will be there, including MangaBento, the artist group that’ll be bringing along a bunch of arts and crafts for people to work on; Kawaii Kon, offering information on next year’s convention; and HEXXP, offering information on their event this year. (I also have it on good authority that there’s going to be an announcement of the Next Big Thing for HEXXP at the event. It’s so big, you may want to tell your world about it. Just sayin’.) NGN will be screening Doraemon and Anpanman, and Hello Kitty will be one of several mascots wandering the aisles.

Also scheduled for the event: live entertainment, demonstrations, a craft fair, food, prize giveaways and the always fun, off-the-charts-in-cuteness keiki kimono dressing booth. As of yesterday, there were still slots available; cost is $75 ($60 if you’re a JCCH member), and includes the kimono and accessories, dressing by Masako Formals staff and the King Photo Service portrait-sitting fee. (Hair and makeup are not included, and the photos are extra.) Reserve a spot by calling Derrick Iwata at 945-7633, ext. 25.

The cultural center is at 2454 S. Beretania St. in Moiliili; for more information, visit the Kodomo no Hi Facebook page.

Anime around town

The idkwhat2wear gang will be selling buttons, T-shirts and more at the Moanalua High School Spring Craft Fair, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the school, 2825 Ala Ilima St. Normally this is the part where I’d mention something about where to go for more information, but seeing as how “more information” doesn’t seem to exist anywhere on the Intarwebz, I’ll just offer two pieces of advice: One, if you want to park on campus, show up several hours before the parking lot gates open at 8 a.m. And two, bring an empty stomach. The food stuffs they sell on campus? Deeeelicious.

    “Ace Attorney,” the review: Turnabout perception

    Ace Attorney theatrical posterIt makes sense that the person emotionally closest to a particular subject is both the best and worst person to write about it, whether it be a eulogy or a movie review.

    So the argument applies when I leaped at the chance to review the movie Gyakuten Saiban, based on Capcom’s video game of the same name that was released in the U.S. as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney for the Nintendo DS. In case the analogy isn’t clear, I am a fan of the game, which is why I allowed myself two viewings of the movie — renamed Ace Attorney for U.S. audiences — before I was ready to render my verdict.

    Sometime in the future, crime is so rampant that a new judicial system has been instituted: Prosecutors and defense attorneys go head-to-head in trials that last a maximum of three days and in which solid, physical evidence is the key to getting a “guilty” or “not guilty” verdict. Enter newbie defense attorney Phoenix Wright, who is under the tutelage of lawyer Mia Fey and whom we meet as he is getting trounced in his first trial, which is being held in a backwater courtroom that is apparently the headquarters of the janitorial staff. With Mia’s last-minute help, Phoenix wins the trial and saves his client, childhood friend Larry Butz, who has a knack for getting into trouble.

    Phoenix doesn’t have time to savor his victory, though: Mia is murdered in their law office not long afterward, and accused of the killing is her younger sister, Maya, who happened to be there that fatal night. Phoenix takes up Maya’s defense and discovers that Mia was close to a breakthrough in an old case — and that something just might have been what got her killed.

    When Maya goes to trial, Phoenix has another blast from the past when he ends up facing the young, infamous prosecutor Miles Edgeworth. As pointed out by other defense attorneys and even by Edgeworth’s role model Manfred von Karma, the young man will go to any lengths to speed up the trial and get a guilty verdict. Phoenix will need to be on top of his game to defend against the shady tactics that Edgeworth will be certain to throw his way.

    Hiroki Narimiya as Phoenix WrightThe movie’s visuals play well to the envisioned crime-ridden future, with a mostly desaturated, slightly off-color look that mingles at times with bright colors, giving it a post-apocalyptic feel despite the outlandish costumes and hairstyles. The use of screens projected in midair to show evidence in court is another nice futuristic touch.

    The subtitles use the English names of the characters rather than the original Japanese, so those who haven’t played the games before and are listening carefully to the spoken dialogue might be thrown off by hearing, for example, “Haine Koutarou” instead of “Yanni Yogi,” “Naruhodou” instead of “Phoenix” and “Chihiro” instead of “Mia.” Some errors also make their way into the subtitles in the preview version of the movie — the word “prosecution” is used at one point when it obviously should be “defense,” and typos like “trail” instead of “trial” pop up. Whether the actual movie has these errors remains to be seen.

    Those who’ve played Ace Attorney the game will appreciate the cameos of familiar characters, the re-creation of the courthouse, and the parodies that Phoenix’s first trial makes of the game’s courtroom antics.

    Let me first speak as a fan and previous player of the Ace Attorney game: I was highly disappointed with the movie upon initial viewing. The characters’ personalities don’t seem to have been captured very well, and in the filmmakers’ attempts to do so, they were instead reduced to ridiculous caricatures of their game selves — as silly as that may sound, considering the game personas were already caricatures themselves. Phoenix is even more of a bumbling incompetent, with his “cornered” expressions making him seem as though he has a bad case of constipation, and it’s painful to watch what feels like interminably long periods in which he’s in a jam and trying to figure out what to do. His composure is on the meek side, with a slight hunch as he approaches the judge or witnesses or when laying out his deductions.

    While I’m sure such acting is meant to portray that Phoenix is indeed green when it comes to courtroom trials, it’s his burgeoning confidence and stature as he closes in on the truth of the case that originally made him such a powerful character in the games.

    Takumi Saito as Miles EdgeworthThe prosecutors, interestingly enough, go the opposite direction. Von Karma comes off as far, far too much of a father figure, while Edgeworth is simply cold and unfeeling. Both their movie portrayals miss the full extent of the calculating ruthlessness with which they approach their trials and use to crush the opposition into quivering puddles.

    Meanwhile, in the movie’s worst turnabout, Redd White’s flamboyant, blinged-out, purple-and-pink game character is now a long-haired druggie type who looks like he just crawled out of the sewers. And the development of bungling police detective Dick Gumshoe is almost completely overlooked, so the devotion he shows for Edgeworth comes across as odd.

    A big part of this disappointment is the fact that the very silliness that made the game so fun and the characters so memorable simply cannot be translated well into live action, partially given the laws of physics and partially because of the unwelcome intrusion of realism. In a game, you KNOW you’re in for crazy facial expressions, impossible body movements, over-the-top reactions and such. But when you put the stamp of reality on it, you expect realism — and that eliminates half the enjoyment of the original game. The characters’ signature actions just can’t be pulled off with any plausibility, and much of the comic relief is lacking and instead comes in unexpected, scattered bits that seem to have been tossed in randomly.

    However, after a second viewing, Ace Attorney played out better, partly because I began appreciating more how the movie managed to squeeze so much background into so little time — two out of the game’s four interconnected cases are focused on while the other two are stripped down to pretty much the announcement of their verdicts — but also because I tried to rid myself of any preconceptions and see the movie from a non-fan’s eyes. I stopped trying to identify who was who and stopped trying to compare them to the game.

    But I also have to admit that it was better mainly because familiarity breeds a kind of liking, and so I was no longer surprised by what I originally saw as the movie’s flaws.

    What will a non-fan notice first? The silliness, that’s for certain — the confetti and the exaggerated audience reactions. Possibly the painfully long times when Phoenix displays his constipated countenance. Some scenes that are a few seconds too long (do we really need to focus on the parrot for such a length of time?) and the lack of much logic to the defense’s investigations.

    Otherwise, if one can get past the video game absurdity and instead focus on the mystery behind the cases, then this becomes an engrossing court drama. You find yourself sweating bullets as much as if you were in the defendant’s chair or in Phoenix’s shoes — after, of course, suspending disbelief enough to allow for some of the more eccentric witnesses and their behaviors. Some aspects of the game’s original story are changed for a more dramatic turn, but the revelations behind each crime are still just as tragic.

    The one thing I could not get over, no matter what mindset I was in, was the feeling of, “What, you mean there’s still MORE to this movie??” about three-fourths of the way through. Ace Attorney weaves in and out of the cases, slowly connects the dots and then finally reaches a climax in court — or so it seems. Once you realize this isn’t the end of things, not by a long shot, there’s almost a sinking feeling. Rather than a happy surprise that there’s more to discover, the new revelations and yet another trial are rude interlopers that crash in from out of the blue, especially after the particularly heartbreaking scenes that come just before it.

    But again, that’s speaking from the view of someone who already knows the story, and the impact of that foreknowledge can never be completely eliminated. The main thing that appeased my mind on this point was a growing interest, upon subsequent views, in dissecting exactly how the filmmakers played out this part of the story. (I’ve watched the film about 3.5 times now. And yes, I’m still going to see it in the theater. I’ve already bought tickets.)

    Overall, as both an adaptation and a stand-alone movie, Ace Attorney isn’t bad. It does a good job of recreating in live action a game universe that for the most part just can’t really be done in the real world. As much as I loved the game, it’s not something I’d want to put myself through again. The finding of evidence, the tension of trying to detect contradictions in testimony, the thrill of discovering how the pieces fit — that’s something that can truly be experienced only once. The Ace Attorney movie, however, is something that the fan in me is thoroughly willing to immerse in time and time again.

    Ace Attorney screens as part of the Hawaii International Film Festival Spring Showcase at 7 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday at the Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 Theatres. For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.hiff.org.

    The Cel Shaded Report, 4/11: Pen and ink words

    Remember last week’s Cel Shaded Report, where I mentioned that AniMaid Cafe Hawaii was taking applications for volunteers? It’s over. Thanks for applying, take care, drive home safely, perhaps we’ll do this again next year.

    The preceding 35 words could well have constituted the shortest Cel Shaded Report ever, but fortunately there’s another matter of immediate importance to discuss here, something you artsy types will want to jump on right away. Through Friday afternoon, nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi isn’t just serving up new installments of the plush pup online comic; over at the nemu*blog, she’s offering commentary on some of her favorite writing and drawing tools and giving visitors a chance to get some of their own with a $25 gift certificate to JetPens.com, home to a large catalog of art supplies imported from Japan and Germany.

    Interested? Here’s all you have to do: Since yesterday and running through Friday, Audra will be writing one post a day that highlights some of the brands she likes to use in drawing nemu*nemu. In yesterday’s post, for example, she talked about her favorite brush pens. Today, she’s looking at coloring tools. Just leave a comment about what your favorite brands are in relation to the topic of the day — or which brands you’d love to have — and that’s it! You’re entered. Easy peasy. If you’d like to increase your chances of winning, just leave comments on all four posts; you can get one entry per post, for a maximum of four entries. One winner, to be drawn at 5 p.m. Hawaii time Friday (8 p.m. Pacific, 11 p.m. Eastern, for those of you reading this blog in other time zones *waves*), will win the gift certificate.

    Even if the extent of your artistic creativity is figuring out whether to use a smile or a frown on your stick figure drawing, Audra’s posts offer some neat insight into the making of nemu*nemu. And when you put it all of these techniques together, you get something like this, a commission I received as part of the recent nemu*nemu vol. 6 Kickstarter drive.

    With a Mr. Buns cameo!

    That’s Nemu, Enchilada and the Star-Advertiser’s own Blue, three “generations” of plush pups. All I told here was to use those three characters and use the theme of “festivals,” and that’s what she came up with. I see that every day sitting on my work desk. Still get a thrill looking at it every time. It is awesome.

    Get ready for Kawaii Kon … again!

    Hard to believe that we’re almost a month removed from this year’s Kawaii Kon, but, as the closing ceremonies proved, convention officials aren’t wasting any time getting attendees hyped up for the next show. After an April Fool’s joke newsletter placed Kawaii Kon 2012-1/2 in Cordoba, Spain, in late October (darn, and I was so ready to get my passport papers in order and whip up an Enchilada costume to get ready to cover it … but only if it didn’t conflict with HEXXP, because, come on, there’s Nobuo Uematsu and the World Cosplay Summit in my virtual back yard, man!), the real newsletter revealed some information about preregistration for 2013 for people who didn’t already do so at this year’s convention.

    The day that preregistration is happening is fast approaching. It opens online on Sunday, in fact. For the time being, prices will be set at $38 for general admission three-day passes (for ages 12 and up), and $30 for three-day passes for children ages 6 to 12. If you want a lifetime pass, prices of those are now up to $850. You can pick up those at kawaiikon2013.eventbrite.com.

    While you can’t preregister until Sunday, there are a few con-related things you can work on now, if you’re so inclined. The annual Mascot Art Contest, running through midnight Hawaii time April 27, is currently accepting entries; just draw one, two or all three of the Kawaii Kon mascots — Nami, Takeshi and Ai-chan — in traditional or digital media. The artist whose entry is deemed most representative of the mascots and the Kawaii Kon spirit will win a three-day pass to Kawaii Kon 2013. Find complete rules and how to enter pieces at  www.kawaii-kon.org/community/kawaii-kon-2012-art-contest-rules/.

    Applications for panels for next year’s event are also being accepted now. If you’ve ever wanted to lead a spirited hour-long discussion over, say, whether Pokemon Red/Blue or Pokemon Black/White had the better debuting bunch of Pokemon, now’s your chance. (For the record: It has to be Red/Blue. Jigglypuff, Chansey and Psyduck for the win, people.) If you and a co-host can figure out a way to fill three hours’ worth of con programming, you both could also receive complimentary three-day passes for your efforts.

    Kawaii Kon is March 15-17; visit www.kawaii-kon.org.

    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 four episodes of Fairy Tail. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com.

    The Cel Shaded report, 4/6: AniMaid-ed conversation

    Perhaps there’s someone out there — maybe even someone like you? — who’d like to join in on the fun. Well, it’s your lucky day — AniMaid Cafe Hawaii is now accepting applications for new volunteers.

    I’ve been doing my fair share of thinking about maid cafes recently. A lot of it has to do with that Kawaii Kon preview article I wrote profiling the UH Cosplay Cafe, but there’s also the fact that I’ve had the song “Mune Mune Kyun” earwormed into my brain ever since I tuned into one of those KZOO Sunday shows featuring K-chan and some of the AniMaid Cafe Hawaii workers. Never heard of “Mune Mune Kyun”? Well, here you go. (Warning: Extreme cuteness and high likelihood of earworming similar to mine ahead.)

    Perhaps there’s someone out there — maybe even someone like you? — who’d like to join in on the fun. Well, it’s your lucky day —  AniMaid Cafe Hawaii is now accepting applications for new volunteers. Some of the standards, for those of you who don’t feel inclined to click through at the moment:

    • Must be 18 years old and/or older
    • Must attend all mandatory meetings/training
    • Must provide your own maid/host uniform
    • Must have reliable transportation to/from meetings and the event venue
    • Must send at least two pictures of yourself (pictures must not be be hosted on social media accounts like Facebook or MySpace)

    But let’s say you’re more a fan of the maids and hosts rather than someone who wants to be among their ranks. There’s something for you, too — the AniMaid art contest is now open for entries. Draw, paint or sculpt your favorite maid or host and post your creation on the group’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/AniMaidHawaii — and yes, the page is viewable to those who have thus far successfully resisted the siren call to join Facebook). Winners will receive a personalized card from his or her favorite maid or host as well as a photo and a special “mystery prize.” Just be sure to keep your work clean — PG-13 or cleaner, please. For the kids. I couldn’t find any ending date for this contest, so I’ll just say for now that the sooner you send in your entries, the better.

    World Cosplay Summit rolls out rules

    World Cosplay Summit USA logoWhile we’re on the subject of HEXXP, further details have emerged about the World Cosplay Summit regional qualifier at the event in October. A lot of further details. An over-2,500-word Facebook post worth of further details. It only serves to reinforce how this competition is leagues beyond your garden-variety cosplay contest, and just how much participants are going to have to step up their games to even be in the running. Consider some of these basic requirements:

    • Contestants must enter as teams of two people, with a single series, performance plans (2 minutes and 30 seconds maximum, please) and props chosen beforehand. That series must have origins in Japan — sorry, Disney, Star Wars, Marvel and DC fans. And even with the Japanese series, there are restrictions — while costumes from Shueisha series like One Piece, Bleach, Death Note, Naruto and Yu-Gi-Oh! are allowed in the preliminary rounds, they won’t be allowed in the finals. (Here’s Anime News Network’s comprehensive list of Shueisha series as a guide. There are … many.)
    • Participants must be at least 18 years old as of Feb. 14, 2013.
    • Each participant must submit a resume that includes  — take a deep breath here — full legal name, cosplay alias, group name, age, date of birth, gender, home address, contact number and email, whether you have a passport, your intended costume and series, cosplay website (if applicable), a history of major costumes and awards, a few sentences about why you love to cosplay, and four photos of your favorite costumes with explanations of why they are your favorites. Each team must also include a team photo, a brief team biography and the general idea for the performance.

    The upside to knowing all of this now is that there’s plenty of time for teams to form and prepare their materials. The resume-collecting process for the Midwest qualifier, at Colossalcon in Sandusky, Ohio, June 7-10, opened March 30 and runs through May 11. I’m only roughly speculating here, but if we go by that timetable, that would mean resume collection for HEXXP will probably start sometime in July. This is something you probably don’t want to leave to the last minute, though. And I can’t emphasize enough: You’ll want to read through all the rules carefully to get everything in order by then. Again, here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/notes/world-cosplay-summit-preliminaries-united-states/wcs-us-2013-preliminary-circuit-rules/422987357716872.

    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.

    The Cel Shaded Report, 3/29: A sketching situation

    pen and ink works logo

    One of the neat things about local anime and manga fandom is how it’s spawned an entire generation of people eager to whip out their sketchbooks and draw things inspired by the series that they love. I’ve seen that talent manifest itself in the Liliha Library Anime Art Contest for the past two years now, MangaBento’s art exhibits, and the Artist Alley at Kawaii Kon and HEXXP, and the art’s been really, really nice.

    Well, it’s time once again to nurture that talent. Pen & Ink Works has a neat event coming up from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday to do just that — a Sketch Meet where artists can hang out, participate in some drawing games and trade tips with one another. All you need is a sketchbook, some drawing materials (naturally), a mat or a towel … and some good walking shoes. Some sunscreen may be in order as well.

    For while the event will be starting off in front of Shirokiya — Ala Moana, second floor, just look for them somewhere between the entrance to Macy’s and the KZOO studio — they’ll be migrating eventually to Magic Island, across the street. By the way, for the curious, as of this writing the National Weather Service forecast is for mostly sunny conditions with a 20 percent chance of showers, breezy and a high near 75. So unless you have to spend the afternoon, say, in an office working on polishing up the next day’s news for the people (sadly raises hand), it sounds like a creative, lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon and take in another nice day here on the island.

    Learn more about Pen & Ink Works at peninkworks.wordpress.com or their Facebook page.

    nakamaboko2Writing about this Sketch Meet also reminded me that I have yet to discuss in this space MangaBento’s upcoming exhibit, “Nakamaboko: Working Together.” Scheduled to run from June 12 through July 14, the exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (formerly the Academy Art Center at 1111 Victoria St.) will feature art pieces in various media (drawings, paintings, sculptures, photos, costumes and the like) that are inspired by anime and manga. To that end, the group will be accepting community submissions.  Most of the deadlines are in May — and I’ll include reminders in this space as we approach those deadlines — but if you want to get a head start and mail something in now, you can do so. Send your pieces in by May 23 to:

    Devin Oishi
    Art Instructor
    Kaimuki High School
    2705 Kaimuki Ave.
    Honolulu, HI 96816

    Be sure to include your name; age; school and teacher (if applicable); whether you’re a pro, amateur, or student; address; phone number; email address; and a sale price if you want to sell your piece. A complete rundown of requirements is available at the Nakamaboko page at www.manga-bento.com.

    Walking in rhythm, singing his song

    walking man coverToday’s profile: The Walking Man (1 volume)
    Publisher: Fanfare/Ponent Mon
    Age rating
    : N/A
    Buying it: Good luck — the publisher’s online shop shows no purchase links available, and Amazon’s listing shows copies starting from the amazingly low, low price of $67.20. (Keep in mind, this thing’s cover price is $16.99.) Best bet may be to hope it pops up at a used bookstore.

    This month’s Manga Movable Feast, hosted by Ed Sizemore over at Manga Worth Reading, focuses on the hidden treasures of artist Jiro Taniguchi. I call them “hidden treasures” because unlike last month’s MMF-featured artist, Osamu Tezuka, you’ll hardly ever walk into a store and find books by him sitting on the shelves (at least, not here in the islands, anyway). Granted, there were a handful of his titles that Borders picked up — that’s how I learned of the joys of A Distant Neighborhood — but, well, we all know where Borders ended up. His most accessible work at the moment, aside from what pops in and out of print on Amazon, may well be Kodoku no Gourmet, the manga he worked on with Masayuki Kusumi about a lone gourmet enjoying the delights at local restaurants and ramen shops that’s available on JManga.com.

    Shame, really. Because if there’s anything A Distant Neighborhood and another series I’ve briefly addressed in this space, Summit of the Gods, taught me, it’s that Taniguchi is a mangaka worth following. Looking at the lineup of MMF pieces reminds me of all the books I’ve heard of but never had the opportunity to read yet — The Times of Botchan, The Quest for the Missing Girl, A Zoo in Winter, just to name a few.

    To really capture the essence of Taniguchi, though, one needs only to experience The Walking Man. Yes, you could just replace “experience” with “read” in the last sentence. But then you’d be glazing over the whole point of looking at this book.

    The premise is as stated in the title: There’s this guy — I’d peg him to be a middle-aged businessman — and he walks around. A lot. Repeat this over 155 pages, and that’s the book. It’s like those installments of “The Family Circus” in the Sunday comics where one of the kids wanders around from point A to point B with a dotted line tracing his convoluted path, except these journeys unfold frame by frame in intricate manga storytelling style.

    It sounds incredibly dull. And for the manga reader who expects something, anything to happen to the characters they’re reading about other than “they exist,” it is. Heck, we learn more about the man’s dog (his name is Snowy!) than we do about the man himself (his name is [fill in the blank here with whatever you wish, there are no right or wrong answers]!) Here’s the essence of the first seven chapters:

    • Man meets bird watchers
    • It snows
    • Man explores town
    • Man climbs tree
    • It rains
    • Man skinny-dips
    • It storms

    Throw in the phrase “Walking Man summary” and add in a few punctuation marks, and you could actually fit that into a single tweet with a few characters to spare. (Yes, I actually checked this.)

    But The Walking Man isn’t meant for those people looking for action-oriented thrills. Rather, its target audience is really those who are able to find beauty in the seemingly mundane. Like I said in my look at A Distant Neighborhood, Taniguchi’s strengths are in rendering the intricacies of a particular scene and generating empathy for his characters. Whatever the man experiences in this book, we experience as well. If he feels like getting off a bus and walking to the top of a small hill, basking in the breezes and noting a marker where the altitude is exactly that of the peak of Mount Fuji, then we follow right along with him. When a wayward ball knocks off his glasses and he accidentally steps on them, Taniguchi shows us his blurred world view when he isn’t wearing them, and the fractured view when he is.

    Devoid of any plot to concentrate on, we’re free to focus instead on the details with which Taniguchi has populated this man’s world — the stranger with whom our unnamed protagonist silently bonds on one walk, the wayward elderly lady and the children playing their recorders in the streets on another, the “sklunk!” of a can of coffee dropping from a vending machine. Thus the reason why I wrote earlier that The Walking Man is more to be experienced than to be read becomes clearer: The reason why this book appears at first glance to be about nothing from a storytelling standpoint is because “nothing” is exactly what Taniguchi wanted us to embrace. The man clearly has an identity and a job that keeps him busy, but that doesn’t matter; we’re always seeing him unplugged from that, walking somewhere, enjoying whatever life happens to present to him on a particular day.

    This manga may have been released in 1992 in Japan and around 2004 in the U.S., but its message may be even more relevant in the information-dense, go-go-go environment of 2012: Relax. Take a walk. Enjoy life. That’s what’s most important.

    Amazon’s listing shows copies starting from the amazingly low, low price of $67.20. (Keep in mind, this thing’s cover price is $16.99.)

    The Cel Shaded Report, 3/22: Countdown 358 days

    If you wanted any indication of how wildly successful Kawaii Kon was this year, all you needed to do was look at the closing ceremonies.

    Yes, this means we’re continuing our ongoing Kawaii Kon retrospective by jumping straight to the end of it. Yes, I realize that this is a bit like reading part of the beginning of a book, then flipping ahead to see how it all ends, then going back to where you left off to see how everything unfolds. But when you get a turnout like this, you can understand why I’d want to get to talking about this right away.

    closing crowd

    That’s a view of the audience at this year’s closing ceremonies. What you have to realize is that past ceremonies have been rather staid affairs — the guests say their final goodbyes, there’s a Q&A/feedback session that’s either quick and painless (“We have online forums! Please share your opinions there!”) or long and excruciatingly painful to sit through (“Can you repeat the question? We can’t hear you from up here!”), and, in recent years, con co-administrator Angel Rumbaoa and some staff members have done a dance number. Here, in fact, is a picture of Rumbaoa getting ready to perform in this year’s number.

    angel

    There were, indeed, animal costumes involved. And K-pop.

    This year, though, felt more like a party, the crowning celebration of a whirlwind weekend. There were 6,077 people who attended Kawaii Kon this year, an attendance increase for the seventh straight year. Think about it: Ever since the convention began in 2005, attendance has never dropped. This despite the fact that the anime industry’s down, the manga industry’s down, there really isn’t any single overwhelmingly popular series that people are following at the moment, and the number of places where fans can buy anime and manga locally has dropped off dramatically. Shows you what kind of community we have here out on a rock in the middle of the Pacific that can perpetuate itself like that.

    kawaii-kon-logoTo keep the party going, there were two announcements made:

    • Kawaii Kon 2013 will be held March 15-17, once again at the Convention Center. If memory serves, this is the first time we’ve ever known the date of next’s year’s con immediately coming out of this year’s con. The timing has once again been placed to coincide with spring break — why change what served so well this year, after all?
    • The first guest for next year is voice actor and Kawaii Kon first-timer Todd Haberkorn, who’s had a number of prominent roles over the years: Allen Walker in D.Gray Man, Italy in Hetalia Axis Powers, Keisuke Takahashi in Initial D, Keroro in Sgt. Frog and Kimihiro Watanuki in xxxHolic among them.

    Online preregistration isn’t available yet, but keep checking back at www.kawaii-kon.org for whenever that goes live. I’ll also post a heads-up on my Twitter feed and here on the blog when that happens.

    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 Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com.

    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.