The Amazing Hawaii Comic Con photo-ops schedule

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

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

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

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Coming to terms with an Amazing weekend

The third entry in Con-athon 2017, Amazing Hawaii Comic Con, is this weekend. And … well, I’ll be honest: It’s the event for which I’ve held the most mixed emotions.

amazing-hawaii-comic-con-logo-ahcc.jpgOn the one hand, it’s become to the local comic fan community what Kawaii Kon has been to the local anime/manga fan community for years: the premier event at which comic fans can showcase their work. Members of the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance will be out in full force and will have a special print available for a minimum $5 purchase. (You can see what the print looks like in the featured image for this post.) A good number of the state’s comic shops, including Dragon’s Lair, Choice Comics, Westside Comics and Other Realms on Oahu, Maui Comics & Collectibles and Hilo’s Enjoy Comics will be represented there.

On the other hand … man, I am still so torn about these extra-cost, premium a la carte fan experiences. I said it last year when I wrote about this convention, and I’ll say it again: The people willing to shell out extra money are the ones likely to get the most enjoyment out of this show, from the VIP passes promising early admission, express lines and priority seating at general admission panels to the “Ultimate Fan Experiences” tailored to certain guests.

This year, there’s an added wrinkle: One of the biggest panels, a “Star Trek Generations” panel Saturday night hosted by William Shatner that features Star Trek: The Next Generation stars Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden and Brent Spiner, will cost an extra $65 to attend ($95 if you want premium seating, $200 if you want to buy it as part of an Ultimate Fan Package that also includes premium seating for the Shatner panel on Sunday, a Shatner autograph ticket, a priority pass for other autograph sessions, an exclusive lanyard and badge, and other Star Trek con-exclusive merchandise).

This wouldn’t bother me so much if I knew what kind of accessibility the general public will be getting to these stars outside of this panel. As of this writing at 8 a.m. today, with the con starting in seven hours, I’ve only seen autograph information posted for Shatner, Power Rangers star Jason David Frank and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator Kevin Eastman. I’m one of those people who likes planning where I’m going and roughly how much I’m going to be spending, and to not have this information available before I show up is pretty frustrating.

Anyway, enough from my soapbox. Let’s get to the nitty-gritty fast facts!

Amazing Hawaii Comic Con

When/where: Friday-Sunday, Hawai’i Convention Center

It’s the one with: William Shatner. The actor. Who. Everyone knows played. Captain James. T. Kirk. In the original. Star Trek. And whose. Speaking style. Has been parodied by. Countless people over. The years.

Other notable guests (full roster at amazinghawaiicomiccon.com/guests):

Jason David Frank, the Green/White Power Ranger in the Power Ranger franchise and guy who’s lobbying hard to fight former WWE Superstar ™ CM Punk in MMA combat.

Alan Tudyk, K-2SO in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Wash in Firefly/Serenity, voice of Hei Hei the derpy chicken in Moana, and, as the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction likes to remind me, Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.

Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn, founding member of Image Comics, and guy who bought the record-breaking home run balls hit by Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds.

Anime fans won’t feel left out at this year’s show, either; scheduled to attend are Bryce Papenbrook and Trina Nishimura, the voices of Eren and Mikasa, respectively, in Attack on Titan; Bonnie Gordon, the voice of R. Mika in Street Fighter V; and anime YouTubers TheAnimeMan and akidearest.

Other notes of note: As I mentioned earlier, the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance is going to play a major role in this show. The group will be hosting a “meet the creators” panel at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by various “Making a Comic Book” panels over the weekend — part 1, “Characters and Story,” at 3 p.m. Saturday; part 2, “Sequential Art,” at 4 p.m. Saturday; and part 3, “Getting Published,” at 11 a.m. Sunday. All panels will be held in Panel Room B.

Also attending this weekend: Stacey Hayashi, author of the Journey of Heroes graphic novel about the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and its accomplishments during World War II. Stacey’s now producer/writer of Go for Broke, a movie chronicling those accomplishments, and she’ll be on a panel with director Alex Bocchieri and several local cast members to talk about the movie and preview footage at noon Saturday in Panel Room A. Visit her at booth 319 in the main exhibit hall, too!

How much? Three-day passes are $60; single-day passes are $25 for Friday, $35 for Saturday and $25 for Sunday. VIP packages and select Ultimate Fan Packages start at $150. Children under 10 are free with paying adult, as are all Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in uniform.

Website: amazinghawaiicomiccon.com

The Con-athon 2016 players, part 2: Amazing Hawaii Comic Con

It’s race day once again.

To recap: Throughout the year, I’m going to be previewing the participants in Con-athon 2016, this year’s gauntlet of six major anime/sci-fi/fantasy/comic conventions on two islands and a whooooooole buncha smaller events in between. Kawaii Kon was first out of the gate in early April, and they set a rather impressive pace for the other shows to follow: an 11th straight year of attendance growth (11,597 unique attendees!) and three guests already announced for next year (voice actors Vic Mignogna and David Vincent, and manga publisher Vertical Comics).

Since then, the remaining participants have continued to make progress toward their start dates (well, most of them, anyway; no one’s quite sure what to make of the continued silence on the part of Anime Matsuri Hawaii, which has yet to even announce when their show’s taking place nearly half a year after their last event ended). Next up to the starting gate is the convention that made the biggest splash last year: Amazing Hawaii Comic Con.

Continue reading “The Con-athon 2016 players, part 2: Amazing Hawaii Comic Con”

Ota-cool Incoming: The merry, merry month of May

If April was the month of anime, with Kawaii Kon and Consolidated Theaters’ Studio Ghibli Festival capturing the attention of local otaku, then May has to be the month where comic culture takes center stage. The Hawaii Comic & Toy Expo kicks it off, Amazing Hawaii Comic Con puts a nice little bow on it, and there’s Free Comic Book Day and a smattering of comic artist appearances in between to keep us all busy.

But that’s not to say it’s all comics; anime/manga fans have some events to look forward to this month as well — a new movie, idkwhat2wear’s annual clearance sale and the return of an annual festival on Maui are just some of the events to look forward to in the next few weeks. I’ll go into greater detail on some of these coming attractions in future posts, but there’s a really busy weekend coming up, so let’s get around to that right now:

Islandwide Spring Crafts and Food Expo: Otherwise known as “the craft fair where idkwhat2wear unloads ALL THE THINGS.” See, every year there’s one show where Karl Miyashiro and Terri Dux blow out their discontinued T-shirt styles at $6 per shirt. These are styles that usually sell for $19-$21 apiece, so yeah, that’s a pretty healthy chunk of savings change. This photo posted to the idk Facebook page reveals they have … oh, a few shirts.

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Please save Terri from impending cotton-crushing doom and buy some shirts; they’ll be at booth 705. While you’re at the show, go visit Kawaii Mono with their line of origami jewelry, charms and more at booth 408. Admission: $5 general, $4 military families and seniors ages 65 and older, free for children ages 13 and younger. (Be warned: With The Book of Mormon still at the concert hall and comedian Kevin Hart in concert at the arena Saturday and Sunday, parking in the neighborhood is going to be tight.) Blaisdell Exhibition Hall (777 Ward Ave.); 4-9 p.m. today, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

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Hawaii Comic & Toy Expo: Yes, there will be comics, toys and collectibles being sold by more than 40 dealers. But there will be special featured guests in the house, too. Guest of honor Scott Williams is a local boy and University of Hawaii alumnus who’s worked as an artist and inker for Marvel and DC, frequently collaborating with talents like Jim Lee and Frank Miller. Joining him at the show will be local artists Jon Murakami, Kevin Sano, Christopher Caravalho, Andy Lee and HeadShot Heroes. Admission: $3. Ala Moana Hotel (Hibiscus Ballroom), 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center; this time around, they’ll be in the center court on the Downtown side of the mall. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Also worth noting: The Friends of Aiea Library will be holding a book sale at the library (99-374 Pohai Place) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; there will be plenty of parking. And where there may not be anything directly related to otaku culture at this year’s Hawaii Book and Music Festival, at the Civic Grounds near Honolulu Hale downtown, it’s still worth checking out anyway. Because local literature and music never go out of style. That runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Elsewhere around town

Maui Matsuri: A kickoff celebration for Maui’s annual celebration of Japanese culture — featuring taiko performances, karate demonstrations, coloring contests and Hello Kitty — will be at the Queen Kaahumanu Center (275 W. Kaahumanu Ave., Kahului) from 6:30 to 9 p.m. today. It’s just a little taste of what will be happening a little over a week from now at UH-Maui College, with food booths, entertainment, and contests for cosplayers, video gamers and artists inspired by the anime/manga art style. Maui residents, go check out mauimatsuri.com and register for some of those contests now! Presented by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui. Saturday, May 7, 2-9 p.m.

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Free Comic Book Day: It’s almost time for the Annual Comic Book Summer Blockbuster Movie to be released to millions of eager American fanpeeps (*cough*goTeamIronMan*cough*), which means it’s also time for your annual enticement to visit your local comic book store/distributor of choice and pick up a whole stack of free books. Various locations statewide; Saturday, May 7.

Mother’s Day: Don’t forget about your mom. She helped shape you into the person you are today. Also, eat your veggies and don’t slouch, dear. Sunday, May 8.

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Free Isabelo appearances: The founder of Live Free Die Free (LFDF) Comics; creator of The Contraptor, a steampunk-inspired tale about a Secret Service agent looking for his brother’s murderer and the conspirators behind President Lincoln’s assassination; and artist behind the “Steam Royals” series of pop culture icons reimagined with a steampunk twist will be appearing at Other Realms (1130 Nimitz Hwy, suite C140) on Free Comic Book Day and on Wednesday, May 18, and Enjoy Comics in Hilo (45 Pohaku St., unit 201) on Sunday, May 15. He’ll also be at Amazing Hawaii Comic Con … see below for some more details about that show.

Joe Rubenstein on Maui: The longtime artist/inker best known for his work on Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s four-issue Wolverine miniseries in 1982 and his inking on The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe for more than 20 years will be visiting Maui Comics and Collectibles in Kahului (333 Dairy Road, unit 102). Get your autographs and commissions there! Wednesday, May 18.

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Project Itoh: Harmony: In this theatrical anime being released stateside by Funimation Films, a mass suicide has rocked the globe, but there’s something about the motives behind the event that seem eerily similar to what Tuan Kirie and her friends attempted when they were teens. Is her old friend Miach Mirie behind the deaths? And if so, how could she be, considering she supposedly died all those years ago? Hmm. Consolidated Ward Stadium 16 theaters, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, and Wednesday, May 18. (I must say, May 18 is shaping up to be a really busy day.)

Cosplay Figure Drawing: Join Mangabento’s Devin Oishi as he leads a six-session series on figure drawing with a key twist: All of the models will be cosplayers. Students can cosplay and interact with the models as well. It’s a fun, informative way to brush up on skills including visual measurement, selecting materials and anatomy. Cost: $150; preregister at https://secure.honolulumuseum.org/auxiliary/Reserve.aspx?p=260. Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St.), room 200; 6-9 p.m. Fridays starting May 20 through June 24.

Amazing Hawaii Comic Con: It’s the second stop of the unofficial official Con-athon 2016! This year’s edition may not have Stan Lee, but it does count among its guests Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, DC Comics everything extraordinaire Jim Lee, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman, and amazing/astonishing/uncanny/fill-in-your-own-adjective-here X-Men writer Chris Claremont. They’re also targeting us otaku this year, with guests who’ve done voice work for Dragon Ball Z (Sean Schemmel, the voice of Goku! Chris Sabat, the voice of Vegeta! Chuck Huber, the voice of Android 17!) and Street Fighter. Hawai’i Convention Center, Friday, May 20-Sunday, May 22.

Ota-cool Incoming: Cons, cons everywhere, and nary a time to breathe

It’s been a wild past few weeks here at Otaku Ohana Central, a time that’s included voice actors conducting panels after a lovely morning swim off Hawaii island, some friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning blogger dork talking for a good 40 minutes or so at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, a governor and a congressman offering proclamations and plaudits for comics legend Stan Lee, and lots and lots and lots of waiting in lines.

Also, this happened.

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Hello, Kikaida star Ban Daisuke. Nice to finally get to meet you. Although it was a bit awkward when the person we thought was going to take our picture wandered off to go take pictures of the other costumed characters at Kikaida Day. But I digress.

I’ll have some thoughts on my recent 11-day span of otaku craziness in my next post (which I will try to post really, really soon even if it kills me in the process), but I reeeeeeaaaaaallly need to take a look at what’s coming up over the next few weekends first. We’re coming up on the third of five straight weekends of otaku-related activities, and keeping everything straight (and perhaps pushing you, dear reader, to attend an event or two in the process!) is what I do best. Or at least try to do best, anyway, whenever I have the time/energy to do so.

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Our tour of events starts with Saturday and Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library. Branch manager Hillary Chang has been putting on this free little slice of comic-con culture for six years now — holy cats, I feel old just typing that — and this year’s installment is, pardon the cliche, bigger and better than ever before.

Longtime exhibitors Jon Murakami (Gordon Rider, Ararangers, the Star-Advertiser’s “Calabash” strip), Audra Furuichi (nemu*nemu, the Star-Advertiser’s “nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii” strip) and Kevin Sano (Crazy Shirts artist and painter of many Kikaida-themed Minion toys) will be joined this year by Christopher Caravalho, Aumakua: Guardians of Hawaii artist. Brady Evans from the Honolulu Museum of Art will host a digital painting demo at 11 a.m., where you can learn how he creates pretty prettiness like “Wisteria” here. Young adult author David Estes will give a talk at 11:45 a.m., “From Accountant to Author: Getting Started as a Writer.” Collect a stamp from everyone and receive a free comic! Here’s what the stamp card looks like.

mini con card

Of particular note is that this will be the last time you’ll be able to pick up some of that sweet nemu*nemu merchandise in person this year; Audra’s said she’s going to be skipping her traditional holiday craft fair circuit in favor of travel, so stock up on those gifts now! (Or you could just go online and order anytime, but hey, I’m old-school. Personal interaction’s always nice.) Cosplay, of course, is also welcomed; heck, here’s Hillary cosplaying with coworker Wendy Araki at last year’s event.

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Mini Con runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at McCully-Moiliili Library (2211 S. King St.); as I recommend every year, you’ll want to come early for the best parking opportunities. There’s a new, welcomed twist this time around, though: Overflow parking will be available in the Ross Dress for Less lot across the street. Yay! Call 973-1099 for more information or if you need to make special arrangements.

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A week later, Kawaii Kon will be hosting its fourth annual Anime Day at Windward Mall. Everything you loved about past Anime Days will be back for another round, including the Cosplay Runway, games, art activities, discounted three-day passes for Kawaii Kon 2016, a selection of Artist Alley vendors (including the Star-Advertiser’s own Erika Engle and her handcrafted jewelry!) and a mall-wide stamp rally for the chance to win a fabulous prize. All of this happens from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the mall, 46-056 Kamehameha Highway. And, of course, admission is free! Visit facebook.com/events/899357246825955/ for the latest details.

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And then about a week after that, on Oct. 9-11? It’s time for Anime Ohana, the fifth of our state’s six-convention windfall this year. As I noted earlier this year, this convention, started by Kawaii Kon founder Stan Dahlin and Sentai Filmworks producer David Williams, will feature voice actors Jessica Calvello (Hange Zoe, Attack on Titan; Yuri, Dirty Pair), Monica Rial (Kaede Kayano, Assassination Classroom) and David Matranga (the title role in Orphen) and all the usual accouterments we’ve come to know and love from the other four conventions this year. (Seriously, if you have to ask what kinds of activities will be available, you really haven’t been paying much attention to the con scene this year.)

All this is going down at the Pagoda Hotel at 1525 Rycroft St., just a short walk away from YogurStory, Walmart, Walgreens, Don Quijote, Like Like Drive Inn, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka … umm, can you tell some of the places I’ll be stopping by during con down time? For the latest news, visit the event page at facebook.com/events/742706302513876/; for passes (available in 1-3 day varieties for both children and adults), visit animeohana.com.

Elsewhere around town

Aiea Library Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Anime Club: Every month, I joke with young adult librarian Diane Masaki that she ought to change the name of the Anime Club to the Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Club, seeing as how the screening schedule for the past few months has consistently been two episodes of the 2012-2013 anime followed by two more episodes of something else. (This month, the “friends” part will likely be Squid Girl.) Every month, she gives me the same response: “Pfffffffft.” I’ll keep trying, folks. At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where even now, more than a year after opening, there’s still plenty of parking. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

Anime Matsuri Hawaii LUV Day: “LUV” is short for “Let Us Volunteer,”and at this event, you’ll get to meet con directors John and Deneice Leigh and learn everything about volunteer opportunities at the last convention of the year, being held over Black Friday weekend (Nov. 27-29). Bonus: There will be games! And prizes! Lili’u Theater, Hawai’i Convention Center (room 310, in the corner closest to Kalakaua Avenue and the Ala Wai Canal), 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Ingress First Saturday: Ever wanted to learn how to play Niantic Labs’ massively multiplayer augmented reality smartphone game? Feel like honing your skills and learning playing tips from high-level agents? Want to meet The Face of Hawaii Ingress in person? Care to see what Niantic is capable of producing before their new likely-to-be-a-megahit collaboration with Nintendo, Pokemon Go, goes live and turns what we’ve known for several years as the Hawaiian Netmender Fountain portal into Jigglypuff? Come to Kapiolani Park for a day of cross-factional rivalry, fellowship, and … triangles! Lots! And lots! Of TRIANGLES~!

Meet at the Diamond Head Landmark portal (www.ingress.com/intel?ll=21.265395,-157.82058&z=17&pll=21.265395,-157.82058 for those of you with scanners; about halfway between the Waikiki Aquarium and the Natatorium on the park side of Kalakaua Avenue for those who don’t). To the Enlightened, may the odds be forever in your favor. To the Resistance, umm … enjoy the cross-factional potluck afterward? Yeah. That’s it. Starts at 9 a.m. Oct. 3.

Random Ingress Portal of the Post:

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Meet Drainage Marker! It’s … a drainage marker! On the corner of South King Street and Ward Avenue!

(Yeah, Niantic’s portal approval team was probably half-asleep when they approved this one.)

Gamer Expo 2015: The second annual edition of what’s been called the state’s largest video game event will feature tournaments for pretty much all the hot games out there (Super Smash Bros.! Hearthstone! Halo! Street Fighter! League of Legends! More!), a retro gaming section, and pretty much all the pew-pew-hack-slash-kick-punch-it’s-all-in-the-mind action you could possibly want. Special guests include Super Smash Bros. pro players Corey “False” Shin, Larry “Larry Lurr” Holland, William “Dkwill” Walsh, Max “Max Ketchum” Krchmar and Michael “MikeKirby” Alvare, and noted Hearthstone streamer Hafu. Presented by eSports HI; $25 general admission, $43 VIP pass. The Modern Honolulu (1775 Ala Moana Blvd.); 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Oct. 3.

The big convention roundup

Yes, four out of six shows for this year are done, and it’s already time to start thinking about next year. Con dates are already scheduled out through next September, in fact! Here’s everything I know so far. Unless otherwise noted, con venue is the Hawai’i Convention Center:

Anime Matsuri Hawaii: Featuring guests — deep breath in, Jason — voice actors Johnny Yong Bosch, Crispin Freeman and Maile Flanagan; Justin Rojas, representing Funimation; Masahiko Otsuka, president of Studio Trigger (the studio behind recent hits Kill la Kill and Little Witch Academia); musical guest DaizyStripper; professional cosplayers Goldy, Yuegene Fay, Stella Chuu, Reika and Vampy Bit Me; fashion designers Shunsuke Hasegawa (Putumayo designer) and Chinatsu Taira (Metamorphose chief designer); and KERA/Gothic Lolita Bible model Yui Minakata. And exhale. Nov. 27-29.

Kawaii Kon: The 12th annual edition of Hawaii’s first anime convention will feature a return visit by voice actor Johnny Yong Bosch and his band, Eyeshine, as well as the first visit by Japanese rock band Loverin Tamburin. April 8-10.

Amazing Hawaii Comic Con: Save the date! The follow-up to what may well be the biggest pop-culture convention in Hawaii now (pending the formal release of attendance numbers and what I’ve heard about really crowded conditions Friday and Saturday) will be May 20-22.

Comic Con Honolulu: Kawaii Kon’s pop-culture con spinoff hopes to build on its strong debut with guests Erin Gray (Col. Deering, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), Colin Ferguson (Federal Marshal Jack Carter, Eureka), Summer Glau (River Tam, Firefly/Serenity) and Kristin Bauer (Maleficent, Once Upon A Time). July 29-31.

HawaiiCon: Guests announced so far include Simpsons/Futurama artist Bill Morrison, actress Nichelle Nichols (Uhuru in the original Star Trek) and science fiction author John Scalzi.  Sept. 15-18, Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel (Hawaii island).

Ota-cool Incoming: Convention life’s just beachy

So contrary to what I wrote in my last post, I did manage to make it out to Comic Con Honolulu for a few hours last weekend — thanks to con staff for having a press badge ready to go! — and managed to catch the Art Improv panel, which … well, in the spirit of 50 Shades Totoro, here’s … umm … Magic Mike Baymax.

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Was it fun? Of course. Looks like the next Art Improv panel will be at Kawaii Kon 2016, so you’ll want to check that out.

I also got to chat with a bunch of the usual Friends of the Blog, including Ivan Sanidad on the right — you may know him as “that guy who’s been conducting surveys at Kawaii Kon since the dawn of con time” — and reader Max Ogasawara-Fukumoto.

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Con staff announced at closing ceremonies that first-year attendance was 5,280, a nice number for a first-year con. If you’re interested in attending next year, dates have already been announced; save space on your social calendar for July 29-31, 2016.

Back in the days when there was one, maaaaaaybe two or three major cons in the state, this week would be a time to recover and reset for the next event, usually several months away. But this year? The year of All the Things? Let’s put it this way: There are two con-hosted beach days coming up in August, one of them happening on Saturday.

Anime Matsuri logoThe more immediate beach day is being hosted by an incoming show, Anime Matsuri Hawaii. The Anime Matsuri Beach and LUV Day will serve two purposes: Not only can attendees cosplay, join a potluck lunch, enjoy some fun activities (Water balloon fights! Relay races! Capture the Flag! “Senpai Says,” a version of Simon Says with an anime twist! Watermelon smashing!) and maybe possibly perhaps even win some prizes, they can also learn about volunteer opportunities for the upcoming convention. (Hence the “LUV” part of the event name, an acronym for “Let Us Volunteer.”) That’s happening from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday near the center part of Ala Moana Beach Park; just aim for the area directly across from Piikoi Street, and you should be able to find them. Here’s a map for more exact positioning.

Fifteen days later, on Sunday, Aug. 16, Kawaii Kon will be hosting its annual beach day, also at Ala Moana Beach Park, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. That’s pretty much all the information released to date, but if previous years have been any indication, attendees will have a chance to cosplay, eat lunch, enjoy some fun activities (Water balloon fights! Capture the Flag! Sand sculpture building! Watermelon smashing!) and maybe possibly perhaps even win some prizes.

Can’t make it to either beach day? Perhaps the idea of being out in the sun-baked real world gives you the heebie-jeebies? Other cons are hosting pre-show events in coming weeks as well. Amazing Hawaii Comic Con is hosting another informal meet-and-greet at Dave & Buster’s (1030 Auahi St., in the Ward Entertainment Complex) starting at 8 p.m. Aug. 12. After my experience at the first event — and given how that day’s also featuring half-price games in the arcade — I think I’m going to sit this one out unless the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction insists I go. If you do go, though, maybe you can play a few round of that new Angry Birds machine for me. Plus your first drink is free courtesy of the con crew.

HawaiiCon logoOver on Hawaii island, HawaiiCon is hosting a pair of cosplay contests in coming weeks. The first — and what likely will be the cutest — event will be their Keiki Cosplay Contest, part of downtown Hilo’s First Friday festivities, from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 7 at Kapohokine Adventures, 224 Kamehameha Ave. (If anyone goes to that, please send me a link to your photos. I want to revel in the cuteness. Also, don’t forget to fill out this registration form.) The second cosplay contest, for participants ages 14 and older, will run from 7 to 10 p.m. Aug. 14 at Yamada Technologies, 25 Waianuenue St., also in Hilo. Food trucks will be around, so bring an appreciation for cosplay and a hearty appetite.

Elsewhere around town

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center; locations within the mall may vary. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection of ‘F’: The latest cinematic installment in the Dragon Ball Z franchise will be in theaters next week, and it’s a pretty hot Dragon Ball tale, what with the resurrection of F(rieza) and yet another evolution for Goku, known as Super Hyper Turbo Champion Omega Mondo Extreme Over 9,000 Saiyan God Mode Plus Edition Now With Bears Goku. Well, okay, it’s actually only Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan mode, but with a new TV series on the way, it’s only a matter of time before more convoluted power levels like that come in to play.

Here, have a trailer.

This movie is enjoying what’s been the widest distribution statewide for an anime-related film this year, playing on three major islands (sorry, Kauai, you’ve been left out yet again). Check Fandango for the latest updates, but here’s the list I have of dates and locations:

  • Ward: Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 p.m.; Aug. 8, noon
  • Dole: Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 p.m.; Aug. 8, 11 a.m.
  • Pearlridge: Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 p.m.; Aug. 8, noon
  • Mililani: Tuesday-Thursday, 7 p.m.; Aug. 8, noon
  • Kapolei: Tuesday-Thursday, 7 p.m.; Aug. 8, noon
  • Kaahumanu (Kahului): Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 p.m.; Aug. 8, noon
  • Makalapua Stadium 10 (Kona): Thursday, 7 p.m.; Aug. 8, 11 a.m.
  • Regal Prince Kuhio 9 (Hilo): Aug. 8, 11 a.m.

Hoku Kon rebrands (and other convention news)

It may not have seemed like it’s been busy around Otaku Ohana Central, what with my general radio silence here for a little over two weeks now, but the truth is that there’s a lot of stuff going on. I’ve just been too busy dealing with a good number of outside-of-work things that have left me too exhausted to do much of anything else. (Nothing too weighty, mind. Unless you consider tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I trading Tsum Tsum hearts back and forth a problem.)

CCH logoOne of the things I did during this recent hiatus, though, actually had something to do with this blog: On Friday, I had a chance to sit down and chat with Faisal Ahmed, co-chairman of Kawaii Kon and Hoku Kon with Marlon Stodghill, about a number of things related to the two conventions. I’ll have more of that conversation posted … umm … eventually (the resolution of that outside-of-work stuff is still very much up in the air), but the biggest thing to emerge from it came at the very end. In a move confirmed on Hoku Kon’s Facebook page last night, the convention has rebranded itself and is now going by the name Comic Con Honolulu.

There’s been a fair amount of discussion following the announcement, much of it centered around possible confusion between this event (happening July 24-26; key guest so far is actress Kelly Hu) and Amazing Hawaii Comic Con (Sept. 18-20; key guest so far is Stan Lee). Here’s what Faisal said about the name change and why they decided to go this route:

People just don’t know what Hoku Kon is, and they’re just like, “Is there any way you can add in the words ‘comic con?'” It’s just one of those things of getting the word out there and getting the people to understand what the show is about. Like, “comic con,” people think of San Diego Comic Con. And as somebody who actually studies trademark law, I think they have a very strong right to the word “comic con,” but unfortunately they don’t. People basically know what it means. It’s become a generic term that everyone goes, “Oh, you’re gonna have comics, sci-fi, fantasy, you’re going to have this giant thing, people dress up.” Everyone knows instantly what it is. And a lot of the radio stations and TV stations I talked to are just like, “If you’re able to add the word ‘comic con’ into your name, I can actually get coverage for it, I can let people know that it’s happening, we can actually make it a bigger deal.”

Which then … with dealing with sci-fi guests, is what they care about. Even if you’re willing to pay a lot of sci-fi guests, they’re not willing to come out unless the show has 7,000 people, 10,000 people, 20,000 people. Because it’s just not worth it to them. And ultimately … my dream for Hoku Kon or Comic Con Honolulu would be to have studios come out, to have Marvel come out and have a presence, have HBO, have Cartoon Network, have all these people come out and basically give people the opportunity to have this interactive experience without having to spend the $10,000 to actually go  to San Diego Comic-Con or go to another show on the mainland, or buy a ticket that’s $300.

The goal is to keep prices low. I’m sure as time goes on they’ll inch up slightly, just as everything in the world does. I really don’t want it to be a show where we have to charge $250 for the opportunity to even show up and then pay more money to do stuff. Everyone I talked to who isn’t a nerd basically is just like, “You need to add the word ‘comic con’ in there and we’ll understand.”

This is actually the first time we’re actually talking about it or announcing it. We’re working on kind of finalizing how it’s gonna happen, just because rebranding is always an arduous task. So we’re going to start having it called Comic Con Honolulu, just so people (a) know where it is and (b) know what it is. We’ll keep the name Hoku Kon as a byline, just because … we have to remember that “hoku” means “star” in Hawaiian, it is a local show. It’s gonna be run by locals, the events are gonna be done all by locals, and again the only mainlanders to do anything are Marlon and I, and our job is support, is to make sure that we can provide all the tools necessary for the show to happen.

… We have to get people kind of used to the name, and used to understanding that Hoku Kon is the exact same thing, it’s run by the same people. It’s just going under this new name to make sure people know what the event is. And the reason we didn’t call it “Hawaii Comic Con” or “Comic Con Hawaii” was just because there’s already HawaiiCon, there’s Amazing Hawaii Comic Con. And we wanted to show that we’re doing something, again, more local. And so that’s why we picked the city.

Three-day passes for Comic Con Honolulu ($45) are now available; applications are also being accepted for Artist Alley tables. For more information, visit www.comicconhonolulu.com. (Or you could plug in hokukon.com for old time’s sake; both addresses will get you to the same destination.)

Meanwhile, at the other conventions:

  • Amazing Hawaii Comic Con is sending down several staff members for an informal meet-and-greet starting at 7:30 p.m. today at Dave & Busters (1030 Auahi St., in the Ward Entertainment Complex). Come down and chat with them; they’ll even buy you your first drink.
  • Anime Matsuri Hawaii‘s Artist Alley table registrations are now live; cost is $170 (plus a $5.24 Eventbrite processing fee) and includes a 6-by-2-foot table, one three-day pass and limited electrical power. Read up on all the rules and sign up at ow.ly/MiE7s. The convention also recently announced its first anime industry guest: Maile Flanagan, the English voice of Naruto Uzumaki (who now follows me on Twitter, *squee*). Three-day passes are $45 through June 15; visit ow.ly/MiGCt to get that set up.
  • Anime Ohana still has their three-day pass for $25, but you’ll have to act fast; that special ends tomorrow. Visit animeohana.ticketbud.com/anime-ohana.
  • And for those of you who really want to plan ahead, Kawaii Kon has opened online preregistration for 2016 — three-day passes are $45 general, $40 ages 5-12. Get started at ow.ly/MiJds.