13 for ’13: Otaku Ohana’s year in pictures

Happy three-days-in-but-still-relatively-newish year! It’s hard to believe that June will mark five years since this blog gained a home on starbulletin.com as an online complement to Cel Shaded. Five years, coincidentally, is also the amount of time it would probably take for me to catch up on all the anime that I’ve been meaning to review in this space if (a) every single anime producer, both in the U.S. and Japan, were to stop releasing anime at this very second, and (b) I watched anime 24/7/365. (And let’s not even think about the manga.)

I’m hoping that review situation improves this year. But before we move forward, let’s take a quick look back at some of the highlights from last year, captured by my trusty camera (and in some cases, my equally trusty smartphone). Some of these pictures have appeared in this space before. Others, I never got around to posting (curse you, real work getting in the way of fun work!). For remembering the year that was 2013, though, they’re fun jumping-off points.

Congratulation! A winner is you! (Jan. 12)


The final edition of the Liliha Library Anime Art Contest culminated in an awards ceremony at the beginning of the year. Rachel Ruiz placed second in the grades 6-8 category with this piece, for which she won a lovely bag of prizes.

Meanwhile, at the back of the room where the awards ceremony was held, young adult librarian Linda Mediati set up a table with a pile of donated Shonen Jump issues, English and Japanese editions, free for the taking for anyone who wanted them.

Judging by how many Rachel carted off, you wouldn’t be too far off in saying she won twice that day.

The surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya (March 17)


I’ve mentioned before in this space that I have an affinity for anything and everything related to the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise. So when Haruhi character designer Noizi Ito was announced as a guest for Kawaii Kon, I was ready to go to pretty much anything and everything at which she made an appearance. Hour-long live-drawing panel? Yes, please. Hour-long live-drawing panel where she draws Kawaii Kon mascots Ai-chan and Nami? Oh, yes, thank you very much. Hour-long live-drawing panel where she casually unveils the final cover for her newest Haruhi artbook for the first time anywhere? Oh, baby, yes.

And in case you’re wondering whether the book made it out to Japanese audiences: Yup.

Spartan assault on our hearts (March 17)


This is the only shot in this collection that wasn’t taken by me, but by one of Kawaii Kon’s staff photographers, Zarli Win. (We’ll see more of him in the next picture.) From where I was standing during the Kawaii Kon Masquerade, my trusty-yet-lacking-in-low-light-situations camera couldn’t have gotten anything as good as this. Being there to soak up the mood was awesome, though: the announcement of the contestant, this little girl in her “Halo Kitty” outfit — a Halo Spartan suit embellished with Hello Kitty accessories — walking out on stage, the collective gasp in the audience giving way to squeals and applause and a barrage of flashbulbs going off around the room.

Wedded bliss (June 2)


Tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Jandoc married longtime boyfriend Zarli Win in early June. It was a pretty big deal ’round these parts. Was it a ceremony that was full of Win? But of course.

Cait Sith, art guardian (June 18)


As it has for the past few years, the Honolulu Museum of Art School’s second-floor gallery hosted MangaBento’s annual exhibit. The 2013 edition, “Tomo-E-Ame: Friends-Drawings-Candy,” featured anime-inspired art in a wide variety of media. Among the pieces was this doll of Cait Sith hand-sewn by Heidi Shimada that, when viewed at a certain angle, looked like it was gazing over the gallery.

A master immortalized (July 27)


Cartoonist Dave Thorne — best known around these parts for his Sunday comic strip “Thorney’s Zoo” — may have died in 2012, but he left behind a body of work that remains beloved to this day. In July, several hundred people showed up for a celebration of life at Bay View Golf Park, with samples of his cartoons posted all over the clubhouse auditorium. One of the highlights was a “chalk talk,” with Alan Low narrating scenes from Dave’s life as Jon Murakami sketched on a giant pad of paper. The last drawing, done in advance: this. A fitting tribute to someone known as “the Yoda of Hawaii cartooning.”

Taku Taku dancing dancing (Aug. 25)


Taku Taku Matsuri, spearheaded by Yuka C. Nagaoka, debuted in August with a summer festival at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu. Games were played, art was drawn, food and other collectibles were sold, cosplayers roamed the grounds and played a round of Cosplay Chess, and everyone had a good time.

True to her word in my interview with her, Yuka showed up in a bright red kimono. She even jumped on stage with some of the other cosplayers and danced to Psy’s “Gentleman.”

Crossing cosplay (Sept. 15)


In September, Gallery Iolani on the Windward Community College campus hosted “Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii,” an exhibit tracing the history of manga and its influence on artists in the local community that was curated by Pen & Ink Works founder/Hachi Maru Hachi contributing artist Brady Evans. Brady also led a series of curator’s tours for four straight Sundays, where he’d talk about various exhibits … like these costumes of Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist and Teddie from Persona 4, part of the section talking about Kawaii Kon.

Oh yes, if you missed the exhibit, don’t worry: Brady’s already told me it’ll be returning in 2014. Details to come.

When “aloha” means goodbye (Sept. 17)

Test caption goes here.

Toys N Joys, known for years to a certain generation as the go-to place for anime merchandise, domestic and imported video games, closed its doors for the last time on Sept. 23 after a 30-year run in Kaimuki and a 25-year run at the Westridge Shopping Center in Aiea. This whiteboard, sitting in the same display window where toys, replica swords and Airsoft guns once sat in the Kaimuki store, served as a sounding board for some customers to pay their respects.

Angelic consultation (Oct. 2)


The time between Oct. 1 and Nov. 3 was one of the busiest I’ve seen for the local fan community in quite some time. The month got off to a hot start with two events taking place on the same day: Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library, and Kawaii Kon’s Anime Day at Windward Mall. I thought I’d be the only one crazy dedicated enough to make the drive over the Koolaus and attend both events, but it turned out there was another trio: Guardian Angels Dana Aton and Susana Choy of Cosmic Koi, makers of black and white hand-detailed angels’ wings and plasma ear pieces like these, and their adorably adorable lolita-clad daughter, Bella. Here, Bella and Susana shared a moment together at Mini Con.

The Macross miracle (Nov. 2)


Local anime convention Oni-Con Hawaii debuted this year, and while it had its share of problems, there were some fun times to be had as well. One of those fun times was at the “Filmmaking in Hawaii” panel, where Blood of the Samurai director Aaron Yamasato and Doko Ga TV host/“Japanmania — Sugoi!” blogger Pali Kaaihue talked about some of their projects.

But then came their Fabulous Swag Giveaway. Now, you have to realize that in the upcoming season of Doko Ga TV, Pali talked to some really cool people, including Masako Nozawa, the Japanese voice of Goku in Dragon Ball Z, and Yoko Kanno, composer of anime soundtracks that fill me with warm fuzzies like Cowboy Bebop, Kids on the Slope, Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex, Wolf’s Rain and some of the newer series in the Macross franchise. Accordingly, one of the items Pali gave away was something from Macross Frontier. The winner? Milton Streeter, former leader of the Japanese Animation Society of Hawaii and co-host of the “Anime Clubs in Hawaii” panel that took place immediately preceding this particular panel.

As you can see, he was a tad bit enthused.

The art of library talks (Nov. 6)


I’m not sure how many times over the years that I’ve attended talks by nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi about the creative process that goes into her thrice-weekly online comic strip, but one thing’s remained constant: Those talks are always fascinating, and fledgling artists could learn quite a bit from them. These two girls certainly took advantage of the opportunity, practicing sketching on Audra’s tablet after an evening talk at Kapolei Library.

The Journey continues (Dec. 22)


Journey of Heroes, the graphic novel recounting the story of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II, went into a second printing toward the end of the year, with the first public sale of those new books at the Honolulu Gift Fair in mid-December. That’s author Stacey Hayashi in the background … and behind the table in the foreground, helping her sell books and other merchandise chock full of chibi soldier goodness, was MidWeek cartoonist/Cacy and Kiara author Roy Chang.

And that was 2013 in a nutshell! 2014’s already getting off to a busy start with Comic Jam Hawaii returning to Pearlridge on Sunday (1-4 p.m.!) and the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s Ohana Festival on Jan. 19. Is another fun year loaded with plenty of pictures in store? You betcha.

13 for ’13: The Liliha Library Anime Art Contest winners

Last time in Otaku Ohana: This was happening.

OK, this picture was actually after we had already figured out who won and were trying to figure out what we liked about each of the winners. But it DOES look like we're still evaluating the pieces, right?

That’s Kawaii Kon senior administrator Roy Bann on the left, nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi on the right. Behind the camera taking this picture was your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger. And the three of us were busy picking winners for the 2012 Liliha Library Anime Art Contest … which, as we established in the last post, would be the last one.

A comment from Audra to someone last night on Facebook reminded me that I haven’t said in this space why the contest is going three-and-out. It’s a combination of factors, really — it takes a lot of work for Liliha young adult librarian Linda Mediati to coordinate and run the event, sponsors aren’t as generous as they used to be, and the number of entries declined between the second and third contests. Three cheers for Linda for putting this together these past few years, though, and here’s hoping that someone else picks up the ball and runs with it sometime down the line (hint, hint, people reading this blog who have the power to organize such things — there are a lot of eager young artists out there, and you know you already have three candidates as judges … *points at myself, Audra and Roy*).

But let’s get back to the matter at hand, celebrating the talented students whom the three of us picked as this year’s winners. As I noted on one of the pictures in the contest gallery that went up yesterday, there was a theme  that contestants were supposed to follow this year: “Books: Imagination at Work.” Some did. Many more did not.

We ended up creating four divisions: “General, Grades 6-8”; “Comic Page”; “General, Grades 9-12”; and “Theme.” There were three winners in each category for a total of 12, plus one lucky 13th entrant, the grand prize winner, picked out of the “theme” pool.

I’m not going to draw out the suspense any longer than I have to, so here it is: this year’s grand prize winner, by eighth grader Isabella Iwasaki.

The 2012 Liliha Library Anime Art Contest winner, a hand-drawn piece by eighth grader Isabelle Iwasaki.

There were a lot of great entries, but this particular one stood out to the three of us for its simple elegance, how it embodied the theme just with two figures: the girl reading the book, and her imagined self as a glammed-up rock star. It’s a simpler composition than the grand prize winners that Audra and I have picked in the past, but certainly just as effective.

A few other trivia notes before I launch into the standard Flickr photo gallery: Two people earned the distinction of winning honors in all three contests — Nicole Nguyen, who won the Grades 6-7 division in seventh grade for her piece “Bleach in Hawaii” and took first place in the “Best Color, Grades 6-8” division in eighth grade with “Miss Alice“; and Joelle Takayama, who earned an honorable mention as a sophomore with “On the Roof” and took first place in the “Best Color, Grades 9-12” division as a junior with “Magician.” Here’s Nicole’s piece from this year’s contest, which took third place in the “General, Grades 9-12”  division.

Hand-drawn piece by Nicole Nguyen.

And here’s Joelle’s piece, which earned first place in the “Theme” division.

Hand-drawn piece by senior Joelle Takayama.

Also triggering my “hey, this name looks familiar!” senses: Ming Qi Vinci, the girl who organized “Anime for Charity: A Mini-Convention” in Kaneohe back in October 2011. She’s actually entered several times as well, but this is the first time she’s actually won — second place in the “General, Grades 9-12” division, for this piece.

Digital piece by senior Ming Qi Vinci.

Three familiar names out of 13 winners … that tells me there’s a lot of fresh talent out there. An encouraging sign, to be sure.

And now, the gallery of winners’ artwork.


Again, congratulations to all of the winners! A reminder: If you’d like to come meet these talented students — and the panel of judges, including myself — you can do so today (Saturday) at the library, 1515 Liliha St., at 10:30 a.m. If you can’t make it, though, sit tight — I’m bringing tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. along for the ride, and we’ll be chronicling what happens at the winners’ ceremony in this blog soon.

The Anime Art Contest’s last roundup

The flyer for the 2012 Anime Art Contest.Back in the days when music used to be awesome — you know, the ’80s — there was a popular song that had the line “If this is it, please let me know.”

Last Thursday, when nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi, Kawaii Kon senior administrator Roy Bann and I were looking at the entries for the 2012 Liliha Library Anime Art Contest, young adult librarian Linda Mediati, let us know that … well … that was it. After this third go-round of getting to evaluate some of the  best anime-inspired student art in the state (well, okay, mostly on Oahu, with a few glorious exceptions), our services would no longer be needed. This edition of the contest would be its swan song.

“Well, it was a good run,” Audra said. Indeed, it was. Sure, the number of entries received was down from previous years — 55 total. But at least it was much better than the number I had heard when I posted my appeal for more entries a few weeks ago — 12.

Thus, while the tables weren’t completely covered in entries as in the past, it still looked pretty darned impressive.

This is what 55 entries looks like. This is also what Audra, left, Linda, Audra's husband Scott Yoshinaga, and Roy look like looking at 55 entries.

It took 2-1/2 hours for us to choose what ended up being 13 winners. Once again, the quality of entries made it difficult for us to pick. This post, in fact, highlights all the entries that didn’t win, yet still deserve to be seen.

But before we get to the by-now-standard Flickr photo gallery, I should mention that this year’s contest ended up being a bit more … personal for me.

It’s because of this picture.

And yet no one ever does any pictures of people reading the Star-Advertiser. Le sigh.

It was a bit personal for all of us, really. I believe the exact words spoken were, “Look, they’re trying to butter us up!” Indeed, that picture was the only one out of all the entries to prominently feature Audra’s creations, plush pups Anpan and Nemu. So as I had all afternoon, I dutifully troddled over to take a picture, then flipped it over to record the name and grade of the artist.

That picture was done by eighth grader Sieri Kuranishi. Sieri loves drawing, lovebirds, her black yowling scratchy kitty, Choco Babies candy, Vocaloids and playing Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F on the PlayStation Vita. And I know all of these intricate details about her because I’m her cousin.

Now, before anyone cries foul, full disclosure: I did reveal my conflict of interest to the others, and I pretty much let them decide the fates of that picture and the other two that she entered. Well, OK, this was actually her formal second entry:

Sieri Kuranishi (8th)-02

But I couldn’t help but notice that this was on the back as well.

Pretty good for a "rough sketch," if you ask me.

So you could say that fandom now officially runs into another generation in my family. Of course, if you ever asked her if she’d take over writing Otaku Ohana for me down the line, she’d probably just roll her eyes and walk away. Because, you know, I’m old and weird and like to have all of my anime and manga on physical media instead of just downloading everything off the Internet and all that. (Also, she’s totally tsundere. Still adore her, though.)

But enough of my rambling; let’s get to the other highlights from the non-winning entries in this year’s contest, presented in handy Flickr gallery form.


Next time in Otaku Ohana: The winners! Also, a reminder: If you want to come meet the winners and see their winning entries in person, stop by Liliha Library, 1515 Liliha St., at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. We’ll be there handing out the prizes, too!

2012 Journeys: Anime art that amazed and amused

As I sit here typing this on Thursday night, there are four days left in all of 2012. There probably will be fewer than that by the time I finish this post and publish it … or perhaps you’ll already have crossed over into the brave new world of 2013. (In the latter case, dear future reader, please tell me if 2013 starts off a little happier than 2012’s melancholy ending.)

With that in mind, it’s time to pull out the classic chestnut that us bloggers commonly use when either (a) we can’t figure out what else to write about or (b) our regular jobs have managed to keep us busy enough to the point where we end up amassing all this great content over the year gone by and need to figure out some way to make that content relevant again (guilty as charged, sigh): the “year in review” posts.

So yes, for the few dozen of you who have managed to stick around reading this blog for this long, this does mean that I’m trying to get photos from Kawaii Kon, HEXXP, Mini Con and the Windward Mall Anime Day up sometime soon…ish.  But as I was typing out the working titles for those year-end posts, I noticed something: For a blog that tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I started several years ago to talk about anime and manga … we really haven’t been talking all that much about anime and manga as of late. Notable for its absence from the queue, in fact, is any sort of “anime/manga year in review” post. Collectively, we just haven’t watched or read enough of the stuff this year to have any sort of commentary on it.

It’s not that we’re going to be retiring the anime/manga angle from Otaku Ohana any time soon. Heck, “review more anime and manga” is written in big red letters on my list of resolutions for 2013, between “lose more weight” and “keep Wilma from going insane before her wedding.”

But if anything, I’ll remember 2012 as the year anime/manga-inspired art and cartoon art took over a good chunk of this blog. Easy to do, really, when you have groups like MangaBento, Pen & Ink Works and Comic Jam Hawaii producing such great artwork. There were several spotlight events for that art, too, including MangaBento’s Nakamaboko exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (featured in this space in a threepart series) and the still-in-progress call for entries for the Liliha Library Anime Art Contest.


A quick Anime Art Contest tangent

This shot of Audra was actually taken last year, though it could certainly be an accurate depiction of what awaits your esteemed panel of judges next week. So C'MON TURN IN MORE STUFFIt has come to my attention that there have only been a handful of submissions to this year’s Liliha Library Anime Art Contest. We’re talking waaaaaaaaay-down-from-the-past-two-years handful. To which I say, umm, hello? Copic markers? Wacom Bamboo tablet? Other great art supply swag? Don’t you people want this stuff?

I mean, it’s great that those who have entered so far may have the best chance of winning in this contest’s three-year history, but your esteemed panel of judges — myself, nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi, Kawaii Kon senior administrator Roy Bann — would like to have a bit of a challenge picking the winners. That’s right, interest in this contest in the past was so great, we added a judge this year to handle the volume of entries. And as of now, with the number of entries in hand, it looks like we could render a verdict in … mmmm, three minutes? I mean, sure, Audra and I appreciate the help, but we were expecting to go from an hour down to 45 minutes, not five minutes down to three.

So yeah. Don’t make us sad. You wouldn’t like us when we’re sad. There are two more days — Saturday and Monday — to turn in those entries, so read up on the rules, tromp on down to the library at 1515 Liliha St., and go encourage the students in grades 6 through 12 in your life to get cracking.

and now, back to my year-end retrospective, already in progress.


There were two art showcases that I’ve yet to cover in this space, though. The first was the annual silent art auction display in Kawaii Kon’s Artist Alley in March. The works on display there drew from a number of anime series both classic (Trigun, Ah! My Goddess, assorted Studio Ghibli films) and contemporary (the ageless Pokemon and the recent K-On!). (The link for those of you slideshow averse to or lacking Flash: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sumiyoshi/sets/72157632363712060/


The other display that I visited but haven’t had a chance to talk about until now was an exhibit by members of Aiea Intermediate’s Comic Jam group, on display at the state Capitol around late April/early May. With art teacher/MidWeek cartoonist Roy Chang as its adviser, the group did something similar to what the Comic Jam Hawaii cartoonists do regularly: They gathered weekly to collaborate on various cartoons and just had fun drawing in general. Some of the personal projects they worked on were pretty cool in their own right as well. (Your offsite link for this gallery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sumiyoshi/sets/72157632363785030/show/)


Next time in Otaku Ohana: More pictures from a year of local fandom! Or perhaps something completely unrelated. Our attention spans are fickle like thOOH A SQUIRREL

… happy new year, everyone.

The Cel Shaded Report, 11/2: Anime Art Contest turns 3

The last time I saw Liliha Library young adult librarian Linda Mediati was at Kawaii Kon in March. She was wearing a cute Totoro hoodie.

This picture of Linda reminds me that we've yet to post much of anything on Kawaii Kon 2012. I still have faith that we will. Eventually.

I know, it’s an unusual observation to start off the first post in this space in two weeks, but it’s an observation with a point. It was at Kawaii Kon that Linda assured me that the library’s Anime Art Contest, the one where we’ve celebrated young artists like winter 2010 winner Kaili Mossman and summer 2011 winner Caytlin Yoshioka, would be returning for a third go-round this year. When, exactly, she wasn’t sure at the time. But she’d certainly let me know.

The weeks passed, and spring turned into summer. True to her word, she gave me and my judging partners a heads-up around July on when the range of dates would be. Summer meandered into autumn. And earlier this week, a press release rattled into my inbox confirming those dates that entries would be accepted.

Guess what? The first day for submissions … was Nov. 1. As in yesterday.

So hey, teens in grades 6-12?




… okay, so you actually have until Dec. 31 to submit that anime/manga-inspired artwork. But it’s always good to get a head start on things (says the blogger who works better under last-minute deadline pressure, but do as I say, not as I do). Besides, the first 100 entrants will get a free manga instructional booklet, and freebies are always nice. As for prizes, there’s a whole pile of merchandise coming from sponsors Sakura of America, Kawaii Kon, Hawaiian Graphics and Smith Micro Software Inc., including Pigma Sensei pens, Copic markers, Anime Debut Studio and Manga Studio software and Canson Manga Fanboy Pocket Novels.

Here’s a bit of inspiration for you would-be entrants (and a reminder for the handful of you who’ve managed to stick with this blog for so long): Kaili’s winning entry from 2010 …


… and Caytlin’s winning entry from 2011.

612-GPW Caytlin Yoshioka (10) Victorian Dream

Liliha Library is located at 1515 Liliha St.; you can pick up more information about the contest there or drop off completed pieces. Or you can call 587-7577. Now get those teens started on their artwork. I can’t wait to see what they come up with this year.

More from the anime news desk

cacy coverRoy Chang’s Cacy & Kiara library tour: Learn about the creative processes behind Cacy & Kiara and the Curse of the Ki’i, the new young adult novel by Roy, an Aiea Intermediate art teacher, MidWeek cartoonist and friend of the blog. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday at Kapolei Library, 1020 Manawai St. Call 639-7050. Can’t make that? He’ll also be at Salt Lake-Moanalua Library, 3225 Salt Lake Blvd., at 3 p.m. Wednesday. Call 831-6831.

To whet your drawing whistle for the Anime Art Contest, there are two art-related events taking place on Sunday. Unfortunately, both of them are happening at the same time, so you’ll have to pick one. Can’t go wrong with either one, though.

Comic Jam Hawaii: Sit down, draw a bit, collaborate with a bunch of talented people and have a fun art-filled afternoon, 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Pearlridge Center, on the Uptown side of the mall, in front of Hot Unique Imaging. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/147779161986428 (Facebook login required).

Pen & Ink Works: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists is getting together for a Sketch Meet from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, 1111 Victoria St., room 102. Bring your sketchbooks, get some drawing advice from senior members, and get ready for a fun afternoon. Visit peninkworks.wordpress.com.