Today’s post is brought to you by The Lego Movie. It’s not a formal sponsorship (which is too bad in a way, because after seeing that movie, I want to go out and buy every last Lego Movie set out there.) Rather, it’s because the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction and I caught it Wednesday night (yes, we opted for that over The Wind Rises, but hey, I already saw it and we’re willing to wait until it hits Consolidated’s discounted GMT list starting March 7). We enjoyed it thoroughly. And then I woke up this morning with the song lyrics EVERYTHING IS AWESOME, EVERYTHING IS COOL WHEN YOU’RE PART OF A TEAM stuck in a loop in my mind and these guys menacing my laptop.

‘Sup, primary Lego Movie antagonists Lord Business and Bad Cop.

It’s strangely appropriate that that song is stuck in my mind, because there are some pretty awesome events coming up starting this weekend and running … well, into April, really. So sit back, pull up your favorite calendar-planning app, and let’s dive right in:

Taku Taku Friending Party!Taku Taku Matsuri “Friending” Party: Play games and meet people at this mixer for local otaku. Non-alcoholic “mocktails” with names like “801 Breeze,” “Ichigo Pantsu” and “Yuri Paradise” are being created exclusively for the event and will be available for $4 each. Tickets for $15 are available at takutaku.ticketleap.com/friending-party/; you get your choice of one of four mini-bentos included in that price. For ages 16 and up. Nagomi Japanese Teppan and Lounge (1687 Kapiolani Blvd.), noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

“Anime Rocks!”: It’s Kawaii Kon’s third annual pin launch party, and they’re pulling out all the stops to make sure anyone who shows up is suitably entertained. EMKE is back to rock the house; this time they’re being joined by Streetlight Cadence, a local quartet with a cellist and accordionist, which automatically makes them one of the coolest groups ever in my book. Augie T, the official emcee of all things Kawaii Kon, will be on hand to … umm … emcee. And if the specialty drink-loving side of you didn’t get enough at Saturday’s “Friending” Party, there’s one to try here as well: Kawaii Kon Punch, in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions. (Drink responsibly, people.) Hard Rock Cafe Waikiki (280 Beachwalk Ave.), 2-5 p.m. Sunday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists has just one official public gathering in March so far, and it’s coming up Sunday at Pearlridge Center. If you’re really want to see some of this group’s work, though, head out to Honolulu Hale, where there’s an exhibit in the first-floor courtyard spotlighting their work as well as that of MangaBento and late cartoonist Dave Thorne through March 13. I’ll be swinging by there and chronicling that exhibit in a future post. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Kawaii Kon Karaoke Kompetition: The road to KKX continues with this, the last of three preliminary rounds for the anime convention’s annual karaoke contest. Aspiring singers, read up on the rules at kawaiikon.com/events/karaoke/karaoke-preliminary-rounds/, then make your way to Orvis Auditorium on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. March 9.

Honolulu Festival: It’s the 20th anniversary edition of the festival promoting harmony between Hawaii and the Asia-Pacific region; the theme: “Jubilation, One Heart, One Pacific, One World.” Just as in previous years, Kawaii Kon will have an exhibit, and the Nagaoka Fireworks display will put a bow on the proceedings. And there may be a special announcement involving your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger next week, too … Hawai’i Convention Center and other venues around Waikiki, March 7-9.


The Wind Rises screenings: Of course, you knew about these already.

photo-main“All Eyes on Me”: If there’s one thing I feel guilty about not covering until now, having been up to my eyeballs in stuff related to The Wind Rises and Doraemon in recent weeks, it’s this Kickstarter project by Saki Kashimura, a local artist who’s sold some of her work in the past in Kawaii Kon’s Artist Alley. She’s looking to publish a 32-page art book with pieces she’s done from 2012 to now. With nine days left, she’s already surpassed her goal, but there’s still room to jump on board. You can see what she’s done in the past at www.pixiv.net/member.php?id=676479; check out the project at www.kickstarter.com/projects/880144282/artbook-all-eyes-on-me.

“Meet Doraemon: Japan’s Time-Traveling Cat”: Fujiko F. Fujio’s most beloved creation is here and cute-ing up the Bishop Museum campus, as you can see here.

A Doraemon statue with the Honolulu skyline in the background. Pretty cool, really.

Ten statues, a replica of the Dokodemo (Anywhere) Door, sketching and coloring stations, a manga library featuring Doraemon manga volumes from around the world and samples of the new English-language digital edition on iPads, a 10-minute animated short playing on loop, and an exhibit of original Fujio manga art … do you really need more reasons to visit? If you consider yourself an anime/manga fan, you must go. I’m even working on a photo tour of the exhibit for a future post as further proof. Admission is $19.95, $16.95 for seniors, $14.95 for ages 4-12; $12.95, $10.95 and $8.95, respectively, for Hawaii residents and military. Visit www.bishopmuseum.org. Through April 20.

Future attractions

Kawaii Kon 2014: Guests for the 10th anniversary edition include voice actors Jim Cummings, Ayumi Fujimura, Quinton Flynn, Richard Horvitz, Tetsuya Kakihara, Vic Mignogna, Nicki Rapp, Michael Sinterniklaas, Stephanie Sheh and Janet Varney; musical guests EMKE, Kagemaya Hironobu and Yoko Ishida; professional cosplayer Leah Rose; Misako Aoki, Lolita model and official Japanese kawaii ambassador (really, it’s a formal title); the Chalk Twins, traveling performance artists who will be crafting a giant chalk mural; and local comedian Augie T., serving as emcee. Online preregistration is open through March 22; $42 for a three-day pass for children ages 5-12, $52 general admission. Hawai’i Convention Center, April 4-6.

The Cel Shaded Report, 2/2: Kawaii Kountdown, version 9.0

kawaii-kon-logoAs of today, we’re about 1-1/2 months out from the ninth annual edition of Kawaii Kon … which means we’re getting that much closer to our annual three-day celebration of all things anime and Japanese pop culture. To that end, the local anime convention has been pulling out all the stops when it comes to news as of late, releasing enough news tidbits over the past week or so to fill … well, an entire Cel Shaded Report, really, minus the still-haven’t-come-up-with-a-better-name-for-it Great Calendar of Otakudom.

Let’s start with the guests. A pair of Japanese talents have been added to the roster: fashion designer MINT and singer/songwriter Iruma Rioka. MINT — no relation to this Mint — debuted in 2006 as S-INC and has since created two brands — Sixh, created in conjunction with designer Ibi, and MINT NeKO, fashions that have been based on more than 200 cat character sketches. “The fashion that MINT creates starts with a gothic aesthetic that has evolved into more decorative, ornamental ventures, emerging into an essence that is simple yet high fashion,” notes his bio on AnimeCons.com. This will be his second appearance at a U.S. anime convention, on the heels of Anime Boston last year.

If that last paragraph held any significance to you, then you could be a perfect candidate to serve as a model in the MINT fashion show. Male and female models of all body types are encouraged to apply. If you’re more a behind-the-scenes type of person and would rather serve as a volunteer hair designer or makeup artist, there are positions open as well. Application submission details are available at ow.ly/hjUTE. (Just, umm, do it quickly. They’re going to begin picking the models on Feb. 15.)

The second guest, Iruma Rioka, is another name in the ever-growing “Japanese guests that I’ve not heard a thing about before I started looking into their backgrounds for Otaku Ohana posts, but when I do, they turn out to be crazy awesome” file. She’s a self-described “fantastic singer-songwriter” who is fond of simple triple time and … you know what, let me just grab a portion of her bio from her official website and post it here:

She comes from a noted family (Rioka) which is down on their luck.
She was kidnapped by a witch because of her debt. While that time, she was creating music in the top of the tower and was waiting for the chance to get out for a long time.
Because of her long blond hair, people call her Rapunzel.
After she found a magical crow (named Nemu), she ran away from the tower. She sings and goes on a journey to makes her dreams come true.

… yeah. Umm. Just … have a music video.

If you want to hear more from Rioka, CDBaby has Secret Garden ~2nd Press~ for sale, while iTunes has her self-titled five-song EP. As with MINT, Kawaii Kon will be the second appearance for Rioka at a U.S. anime convention, her first being at Anime Central in Rosemont, Ill., last year.

That brings the guest count for Kawaii Kon 2013 to eight, with illustrator Noizi Ito; voice actors Colleen Clinkenbeard, Todd Haberkorn, Lisia Wilkerson and Johnny Yong Bosch; and Bosch’s band Eyeshine being the others announced to date. Attendees who want to spend even more time with Clinkenbeard, Haberkorn and Bosch will be pleased to know that the Guest Dinner at Hard Rock Cafe is back and happening from 6 to 8 p.m. on the first day of the convention, March 15. Cost is $65 to preregister, $80 at the door, and includes dinner and transportation to and from the convention center.

Anime Rocks 2013 flyerAnd while we’re talking abut the Hard Rock Cafe — hooray for smooth transitions! — another pre-con event will be returning to that venue for a second year: “Anime Rocks!” spotlighting local musical talent and the debut of this year’s limited-edition convention pin, happening from 2 to 5 p.m. Feb. 17 at the restaurant, at 280 Beachwalk in Waikiki. With the retirement of Eleven Staples after last year’s convention, two groups are taking the stage this year: two-time con guests Alt/Air and Emke, a quartet of youths that has been making music together since 2005. To put that in perspective, a review by this paper’s esteemed John Berger of their EP last year pegged their ages as between 11 and 15.

… yeah, they’re pretty awesome for their age. Go see all of them, buy a pin, and get 15% off all food and drink. There will also be preregistration discounts, games and prizes at the event.

Kawaii Kon is happening March 15-17 at the Hawai’i Convention Center; current rates for three-day passes are $48 general, $38 children ages 5-11. Two-day passes just went on sale, too, at $37 general, $27 children ages 5-11. As for single-day passes, those haven’t been formally put up for sale yet, but a new rate schedule recently was publicized: $25 for Friday, $30 for Saturday, $20 for Sunday. For all your presale needs, visit kawaiikon2013.eventbrite.com; general information can be had at www.kawaii-kon.org.

The great calendar of otakudom

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

Open Cosplay Shoot: Got a lovely costume that you want to show off and want to capture it on film … err, pixels? (The digital era: changing the way we think about things since time immemorial.) Come on out to the first large-scale open cosplay shoot of the year at the Aiea Loop Trail. Cosplayers and photographers, meet at the first restroom at the head of the trail, and go from there. Happy cosplaying/shooting! 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month in front of Hot Unique Imaging on the Uptown side of Pearlridge Center. And yes, this means that this upcoming meeting will be happening at the same time that the San Francisco Squared Sevens take on the Baltimore Nevermores (you’ll get that reference if you’ve ever read Tuesday Morning Quarterback) in the Big Game With All the Cool Commercials. Fear not; there will still be people there, happily drawing away. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/147779161986428 (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Madoka Magica double feature: Watch the magical girl saga unfold in one big four-hour, two-film chunk comprising Beginnings and Eternal, Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Tickets are $20 general admission, $18 museum members. Visit http://www.honolulumuseum.org/events/films/13340-puella_magi_madoka_magica_parts_1_2 4 p.m. Feb. 27 and 28.