Nine months in to my newfound freedom to attend pretty much ALL THE THINGS~! when it comes to local otaku culture, I’m finding the experience both exhilarating and exhausting. And that’s just counting the major con circuit. Here, for instance, is the bulk of my coverage of HawaiiCon, the fourth stop of Con-athon 2018 that happened a few weekends ago at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows on the Big Island.
I needed that bit of R&R. For while there may be only one more stop for the Con-athon circuit this year — Maui Comic Con, Oct. 26-28 at UH-Maui College — the schedule of special events going forward may be one of the busiest fall seasons I’ve seen in the past few years.
It’s fitting, then, that the season kicks off from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday with one of the longer-running events of the modern otaku era: McCully-Moiliili Library’s ninth annual Mini Con. This year’s edition was already shaping up to be the biggest one yet even before the surprise news hit Wednesday evening of a Super-Secret Special Guest of Honor: Usagi Yojimbo creator (and, of course, Groo the Wanderer letterer) Stan Sakai. He’ll be signing books and drawing sketches in exchange for donations to the library, something he also did last November after a talk there.
Returning for another go-round are event mainstays Jon Murakami, Audra Furuichi (in a rare-these-days appearance!), Brady Evans and Kevin Sano. Here are some previews of what they’ll be debuting at this event:
Joining them this year is rising art star Derick “7Sketches” Fabian. He’s best known for his original sticker art, or “slaps,” that mash up characters from cartoons, anime, and comics with hip-hop and local culture. He even contributed a mural to this year’s POW! WOW! Hawaii jam in Kakaako. He has a trio of designs debuting on Saturday.
Night Darling Cosplay x 7Sketches
Also on hand will be representatives from the next mini-con event coming down the pipeline, NEET, which recently announced its autumn event will be held Oct. 12 at the nearby Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii; and Wasabi Magazine editor-in-chief Antonio Vega, who’ll be talking about the publication’s focus on Japanese culture and island life.
You’re going to want to meet everyone, too. Back for another year is the stamp card promotion, where attendees can go around getting stamps from the exhibitors, then turn in completed cards in exchange for free comic books and other stuff. Other activities, like showing volunteers your library card and filling out a program evaluation form, will net you a set of three Mini Con 9 pins.
Cosplay, as always, is encouraged, and a variety of anime, including Boruto and Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, will be screened. There also will be a number of craft activities and talks throughout the day.
Mini Con 9 is brought to you by the Friends of the McCully-Moiliili Library, Collector Maniacs and Hawaiian Graphics. The library is located at 2211 S. King St.; parking can be a bit tight, but it is possible to find some if you look hard enough. Any questions? Call 973-1099.
Also on the otaku calendar
Hawaii’s first UNIQLO opens: The Japanese clothing retailer renowned for comfortable, cheap attire and otaku-friendly T-shirt designs has been teasing local customers for several months now with a pop-up store near Ala Moana Center’s Centerstage. That experience is about to expand quite a bit, as the full-service store is scheduled to open on the third floor of the mall’s Ewa Wing at 9:28 a.m. Friday, 9/28. (Get it?) I understand some friends of the blog are members of the store’s opening-day staff, so lotsa luck and good fortune to you all.
Shirokiya Matsuri: The fourth monthly edition of the showcase for local crafters and entertainers hosted by emcee extraordinare Remy Zane is taking place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk complex, street level on the Ewa end of Ala Moana Center. It’s also Kids’ Day at JVW, so children ages 12 and under can get a free token to spend at one of the complex’s 100 bazillion gachapon machines. Seriously, look at how many there were in August:
It’s GachaponCon, yo.
My Neighbor Totoro in theaters: Chew on this for a bit: This story of two girls and the gentle forest spirits they befriend has been around for 30 years. Feeling old yet? Playing at 12:55 p.m. Sunday (English dubbed), 7 p.m. Monday (subtitled), and 7 p.m. Wednesday (dubbed) at the Regal Dole Cannery 18 theaters, 735-B Iwilei Road. Get your tickets here.
I’m back from yet another extended hiatus! This one’s going to take a bit more explaining, and I hope to get around to doing that reasonably soon (and preferably not take another two months or so to do so).
But we’ve got a lot of news to catch up on. So let’s get right to it: The eighth annual edition of Mini Con at the McCully-Moiliili Library is happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Eight years is a really long time for the local otaku community; for starters, that makes it the second-longest-running event held in consecutive years this century, behind only Kawaii Kon (13 events as of this year). Consider also that it’s outlasted the lifespans of the following now-defunct events combined:
HEXXP (three years)
Oni-Con Hawaii (one year)
Anime Matsuri Hawaii (one year)
Anime Ohana (one year)
That’s pretty special. And a lot of it has been built on the foundation that then-young adult librarian, now-branch manager Hillary Chang established when I first wrote about this event back in 2010: a mini Artist Alley, a chance for cosplayers to show off, anime screening throughout, and giveaways up the wazoo. Including these selections that were available at last year’s event.
Yes, that is Godzilla and a rubber chicken, and no, I’m not sure how anyone got along without having these in their lives, either.
This year: There are comics. Lots. And lots. Of comics.
And just as in previous years, all you have to do to get your hands on some of ’em is to visit the exhibiting artists and authors and complete a stamp card.
The exhibitors have remained fairly constant as well. Sure, their roles may have evolved over the years — Jon Murakami has added Edamame Ninjas and The Ara-Rangers to his portfolio; Audra Furuichi has scaled back her retail appearances (Mini Con’s the only event she’s appeared at this year!) and shifted her full-time cartooning focus to nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii in the Star-Advertiser; Kevin Sano is now selling comics and art in a space at Idea’s Music and Books (formerly Jelly’s) in #OurKakaako; and Brady Evans, who’ll be doing art demonstrations throughout Mini Con, now works as collections manager at the Honolulu Museum of Art. But they’ve shown up year after year, and it’s been a nice chance to catch up with what they’ve been doing in a more intimate setting than the bigger events can offer.
New to the festivities this year is Hiroshi Mori, a local expat and University of Hawaii at Manoa alumnus who currently works at the Third Floor in Los Angeles as a previsualization artist, someone who visualizes what complex scenes in movies will look like before they’re filmed. Some of his credits include Mad Max: Fury Road, The Avengers, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and Men in Black 3. His comic Island Kingdom“is inspired from growing up in Honolulu and combining Hawaii’s surf culture with the movies, TV and comic books I grew up with, such as ‘Mad Max: Road Warrior,’ ‘The Yagyu Conspiracy,’ ‘Escape From New York,’ and ‘Conan the Barbarian’ just to name a few,” he told Surfer Today in an article published in January. He’ll have print copies of Part 1 in the series, “Surf or Die,” available for sale.
Also appearing will be author David Estes, who’s written more than 30 sci-fi and fantasy books. The first book in his “Fatemarked Epic” series, Fatemarked, tops Amazon’s Teen & Young Adult Medieval Fiction eBook chart, with several other books in the series not too far behind. He’ll host a writing workshop, “Build Your Own World,” at 10:30 a.m.
McCully-Moiliili Library is at 2211 S. King St.; as always, arrive early for the best parking. Call 973-1099.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a movie based on a comic book series, is now out in theaters on this, the first weekend of May. And you know what happens when movies based on comics get released around this time of year: It’s time to promote the heck out of comics. Woo hoo!
On Saturday, various comic shops and libraries will be giving away a wide range of comic books as part of Free Comic Book Day. Some will even be hosting special events. It’s a tradition that’s run annually since 2002, and while some of the stores locally have changed over the years, the concept remains the same: give away comic books; expose readers to a wide range of series; get people into stores to peruse their stock.
This year’s manga-related offerings include excerpts from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess, Dragon Ball Super and Boruto from Viz, and excerpts from Attack on Titan from Kodansha Comics. Here’s this year’s list of what’s available; keep in mind that not all titles will be available at all locations. And try to buy something, will ya? While the books are free for customers, they aren’t for the retailers ordering them, so a bit of paid patronage certainly goes a long way in showing your appreciation for what they do.
Anyway! To the giveaways and events!
Comic book store events
Dragon’s Lair in Mililani (95-1840 Meheula Parkway, space E-10) will feature five, count ’em, five artists doing free sketches: Dwayne Acoba, Andrew Gutierrez, Kaci Horimoto, Reid Kishimoto and Jon Murakami. All current comics will be 25 percent off, with trade paperbacks and hardcovers going for 15 percent off. They open at 10 a.m.
Other Realms in Iwilei (1130 Nimitz Highway, suite C-140) will feature Free Isabelo, Roy Chang, Dowyne “DJ” Keawekane and Napua Ahina doing free sketches and paid commissions. First 50 people through the door will get a free button pin featuring the Tick and his trusty sidekick Arthur. There’s also going to be keiki face-painting (featuring SkinWars season 3 contestant Kyera Dalesandro), hourly door prizes, appearances by Legion of Shadows Hawaii cosplayers … and, of course, comic specials, with double points for Member Rewards card holders. They open at 10 a.m.
As far as I can tell, Choice Comicsin Pearl City (98-1268 Kaahumanu St., suite 104) has the most liberal giveaway terms: a 10-comic limit per customer. They open at 10:30 a.m.
At Westside Comics and Games out in Kapolei (590 Farrington Highway, unit 538), you can get a maximum of three books … or you can sub out books for limited-edition Funko Pop and Heroclix figures. They open at 10 a.m.
Other stores on Oahu hosting FCBD giveaways include Collector Maniacs (3571 Waialae Ave., suite 102A) and Gecko Books & Comics (1151 12th Ave.), both in Kaimuki.
Two of the biggest players in comics on the neighbor islands are bringing their A games as well. Maui Comics & Collectibles in Kahului (333 Dairy Road, suite 102), celebrating its second anniversary, will feature James Silvani, author of Draw-a-Saurus and a comic artist whose series include Darkwing Duck, The Muppets, Ducktales, How to Train Your Dragon and Animaniacs, and Todd Bernardy, Kukui Project artist, doing free sketches and signings. Also part of the festivities: the Second Annual Bruce Ellsworth Memorial Charity Auction. You can get some free samples at Mr. Pineapple next door, too! The festivities get underway at 10 a.m.
Finally, over in Hilo, Enjoy Comics (45 Pohaku St., unit 201) will have free grab bags with comics and other goodies for the kids, as well as giveaways throughout the day, starting at 10 a.m.
Fifteen libraries on Oahu and nine on the neighbor islands will be participating this year; just show them your library card and you can get a comic (or maybe even two at some libraries!) for free. They’ll also have bookmarks (drawn by Michael Cannon this year), and most of the libraries will feature appearances from cosplayers from the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Imperial Legion, Rebel Legion Hawaii and the Costumers Guild of Hawaii.
nemu*nemu cartoonist Audra Furuichiwill be signing and sketching at McCully-Moiliili Library from 10 a.m. to noon…ish. She’ll also have copies of nemu*nemu books available for the taking. Don’t feel like driving all the way out there? Her books will also be part of the FCBD assortments at — deep breath in again — Aiea, Aina Haina, Kailua, Kalihi-Palama, Kapolei, Liliha, Manoa, Mililani, Salt Lake-Moanalua, Waikiki-Kapahulu, Waimanalo, Waipahu and Wahiawa libraries on Oahu, and Hilo and Kahului on the neighbor islands. There’s a limited supply, so get them while you can. Distribution methods also may vary; Aiea’s young adult librarian/Face of Hawaii Ingress ™ Diane Masaki tells me she’ll be raffling off sets throughout the day.
Mililani Library will be hosting a free screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story starting at 2 p.m. We are the Force, and the Force is in us.
James Silvani will be signing and sketching from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Kihei Library on Maui. Looks like he’ll be stopping here before moving on to Maui Comics & Collectibles in the afternoon.
Local artist, storyteller and educator Keith U. McCrary will be hosting a cartooning workshop starting at 10 a.m. at Makawao Library on Maui. The program is geared toward ages 6 and up; children must be accompanied by a parent or adult caregiver.
Kailua-Kona Library will be hosting a cosplay contest in their Young Adult section, open to students from the 4th through 12th grades. Cosplay from any source is welcome! Registration runs from 10 to 10:30 a.m., with the competition (featuring audience participation!) running from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Two winners will each get a $25 Regal Cinemas gift card, perfect for seeing selections from the upcoming GKids Ghibli Film Fest.
Kawaii Kon released the first edition of its schedule for this year’s show on Friday, along with a spiffy new app (in both iOS and Android flavors!). Whenever big, juicy chunks of information like this drop in front of me, my friendly neighborhood anime/manga/Con-athon blogger instincts immediately kick in and I try to soak up every last newsworthy tidbit contained within.
And boy, was there something newsworthy in there. More specifically, there was something newsworthy in what wasn’t in there — a longstanding presence at Kawaii Kon, one that’s been around since 2007.
After 10 straight years, there’s no sign of a nemu*nemu booth in the dealers room.
For artist Audra Furuichi, to not be a part of Kawaii Kon 2017 meant either that there was a mistake somewhere in the grand scheme of scheduling things, or she was shifting her resources elsewhere.
Sadly for fans of Audra’s work, the latter is true. Unbeknownst to many of us at the time, the nemu*nemu appearances at the Hawaii Collectors Expo last month and the Mid-Pacific Institute Hoolaulea on Friday were the last we’ll be seeing for the immediate future. In addition to Kawaii Kon, that rules out appearances at other Oahu Con-athon events — Comic Con Honolulu, Amazing Hawaii Comic Con and Anime Ohana — as well.
“No hard feelings to any of the shows — it’s just progressively gotten physically harder to do shows,” Audra told me via Facebook chat on Sunday. “Kinda lacking the endurance I used to have. I also don’t have new merchandise at the moment, so it was a good time to bow out.”
She also cited an evolving audience as a factor. The nemu*nemu online comic has been on hiatus since last July as she’s worked on other projects, and not as many people know about the plush pup duo as they did in the comic’s early years.
“Thought about doing the (Artist Alley), but the long hours and EXTREME COMPETITION OMGWTFBBQ … are big deterrents for me,” she said.
This doesn’t mean the end of all things nemu*nemu, though. Audra’s exploring swinging by Kawaii Kon for a day to drop off something for the art show. The nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii comic strip is still chugging along in the Star-Advertiser. And she’s been posting some pretty non nemu*nemu artwork at audrafuruichi.com.
And then there’s Audra’s Patreon account, where she’s been sharing sneak peeks at Blue Hawaii strips, digital desktops and other artistic works since January 2015. It’s a way for fans to show their continuing support for her work; it can be difficult to focus on creating art and tending to the business side of things, after all. As of this writing, 61 patrons are contributing $522 a month. (Full journalistic disclosure: I’m one of Audra’s $25/month contributors.)
There’s now an added incentive for people to jump on board: If contributions reach $550 a month, she’ll start regularly drawing a one-shot nemu*nemu comic again, once a month. It’s a perfect incentive for the comic’s 11th anniversary coming up April 1, and all it’ll take is one person contributing $28 a month, or 28 people contributing $1 a month, or some happy medium in between.
On Oct. 7, your friendly neighborhood otaku blogger joined artists Brady Evans, Audra Furuichi and Jamie Lynn Lano, as well as Kawaii Kon senior administrator Roy “Buma” Bann, for “Manga in Japan, Hawai‘i, and Throughout the World,” a series of short lectures and a roundtable discussion at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Hosted by Stephen Salel, the museum’s Japanese art curator, the event was held in conjunction with the ongoing exhibit “Visions of Gothic Angels: Japanese Manga by Takaya Miou,” on display through Jan. 15.
A handful of people showed up. Some weren’t even friends or spouses of the speakers! And whoever was there learned a fair amount about manga and our perspectives on the industry. (As far as I could tell, no one fell asleep during the presentations, which was also a big plus.) Thanks to everyone who turned out!
But maybe 4 p.m. on a Friday didn’t really fit into your schedule. It’s OK; we have you covered. I’m pleased to announce that about 90 percent of the day’s presentations have now been posted on YouTube. Sadly, Stephen told me this morning that the other 10 percent — that closing discussion, a picture of which is shown above — isn’t available due to some serious audio problems.
My presentation predominantly features my slides, which is probably a good thing, considering I was kinda squinting and tearing up during a good chunk of it. (It was probably a combination of nerves and some wayward dust particles.) The videos are conveniently broken up by speaker.
Part 1: Introduction by Stephen Salel
Part 2: “The Origin of Manga” by Stephen Salel
Part 3: “What is Manga?” by Audra Furuichi
Part 4: “Working as a Manga Artist in Japan” by Jamie Lynn Lano
Part 5: “Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of the Manga Industry in the U.S.” by me!
Part 6: “Organizing Manga and Anime Conventions in Hawaii” by Roy Bann
Part 7: “Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii” by Brady Evans
This edition of Otaku Ohana is brought to you by two pens, an apple and a pineapple.
Because if I have to write this post about all the otaku activities going on at the Honolulu Museum of Art this month while I’m thinking about how there’s an pen, and there’s an apple, and UNH, now there’s an APPLE PEN, then I’m sure as heck going to have you, dear reader, stuck with that thought, too.
(It could’ve been worse. The Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction left me with the earworm of Pentatonix’s “Perfume Medley” during all of HawaiiCon a few weeks ago. You try walking anywhere having “Spending all, spending, spending all my time / Loving you, loving you foreeeever” lodged in your, lodged in your brain foreeeever.)
Takaya’s artwork explores themes of femininity and female identity through fantastic imagery originating from a wide variety of artistic traditions: Italian Renaissance portraits of Christian martyrs, the intricate Art Nouveau style of British illustrator Aubrey Beardsley (1872–1898), the surreal puppets of German sculptor Hans Bellmer (1902–1975), and the whimsical street fashion of Harajuku district in Tokyo.
In addition to an overview of the artist’s 25-year career, Visions of Gothic Angels: Japanese Manga by Takaya Miou focuses upon two anthologies, The Madness of Heaven (Tengoku kyō, 2001) and Map of Sacred Pain (Seishō-zu, 2001). Illustrations and short stories from these publications will be presented in a variety of formats: original drawings, printed books (tankobon), large-scale wall graphics, and digital works that visitors can read from cover to cover on iPads installed in the gallery.
Here are a few shots I took at the opening night reception in August that give you an impression of how it all looks.
While Takaya won’t be appearing at the museum during the exhibit’s run — I understand she’s quite reclusive — there are those aforementioned events that the museum’s hosting. I was too busy to mention anything about last Saturday’s screening of Miss Hokusai, but here are some pictures an attendee, who wished to be identified as “fuzZz ,” passed along to me.
From 4 to 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Doris Duke Theatre, there’s going to be a roundtable discussion, “Manga in Japan, Hawai‘i, and Throughout the World,” featuring artists Brady Evans, Audra Furuichi and Jamie Lynn Lano; Kawaii Kon senior administrator Roy “Buma” Bann, and some friendly neighborhood anime/manga/comic blogger dork who may be revealing some big news about the future of Otaku Ohana during his portion of the discussion. (It’s pretty exciting!) Come get a quick primer on the industry, learn about where we draw our inspirations from, and hear why 60% of the panel adores homespun slice-of-life comedies.
Another lecture at 4 p.m. Oct. 28 will feature Bento Box artist, former manga.about.com curator and all-around U.S. manga community sempai Deb Aoki. In her talk, “Making a Living in Manga: Bento Box and Beyond,” she’ll discuss her artistic career, how she got interested in manga and the struggles of contemporary manga creators. Both her talk and our panel discussion are free. so swing by, enrich your manga fandom a bit and avoid a good chunk of what’s bound to be horrible afternoon rush-hour traffic.
Last but certainly not least, there’s the ongoing Japanese Cinema spotlight, which I’ve talked about in this space before (along with several other movies that are coming up in the next few weeks!). As a reminder, here are the remaining anime on the schedule, featuring a tribute to late director Satoshi Kon:
>> Paprika, 7: 30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25
>> Tokyo Godfathers, 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26
Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 museum members.
The art museum and theater are located at 900 S. Beretania St.; admission to the museum is $10, with free admission every first Wednesday and third Sunday of every month. For more information, visit honolulumuseum.org.
A number of you who use Facebook probably know about its Memories/On This Day feature, where their little algorithmic thingamabobs and doohickeys dig down deep in your timeline and pull up posts that you might’ve forgotten existed about a week after you posted them.
Today, this memory popped up on my timeline.
And it reminded me, “Welp, blogger boy, your HawaiiCon vacation’s over, time to get back to work and write a new post.”
Here’s why: The latest edition of Mini Con will be held four years and two days after I posted that picture. This is one of those events that your friendly neighborhood otaku blogger’s been covering for a long time — this is its seventh year, in fact, making it the second longest continually running event I’ve covered, behind only Kawaii Kon.
The formula that McCully-Moiliili Library branch manager Hillary Chang has followed every year is simple, yet effective: Bring in artists Jon Murakami, Audra Furuichi and Kevin Sano as the foundation; supplement with at least one more rotating guest; host a stamp rally and give away prizes throughout the day; give patrons a chance to cosplay. (This year’s rotating guest is artist Mark Gould, a member of the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance who’s done a fair amount of freelance work over the last few years, including covers for Slave Labor Graphics’ Model A and contributions to Christopher Caravalho’s Aumakua: Guardians of Hawaii books.)
Not everyone has the time, money and/or energy to attend one or (for the most hard-core crazy among us) several of the otaku conventions held around the state every year; Mini Con’s existed as an option for people to get a free taste of convention life, a slice of Artist Alley in a library setting. This is also going to be Audra’s last event as a vendor for this year, so this will be your last chance to pick up some nemu*nemu merchandise or some of her lovely, lovely original artwork from her in person until … well, Kawaii Kon next spring, I reckon.
All of this is happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the library, 2211 S. King St.; parking at the library is limited, so either plan on showing up early, go across the street to Ross Dress For Less (which has graciously opened up its lot for use by library patrons) or bring a handful of coins to feed the meters. For more information, call 973-1099.
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.
Hello, Kikaida starBan 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.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:
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).
Welcome back to the Summer of Stuff! In Part 1, I took a quick look at all the movies screening locally in the past few months. Quick addendum: When Marnie Was There will be screening for a second week at the Kahala 8 theaters, with the same schedule as the first week (see my last post for those details). The Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction and I saw the English-subtitled version Wednesday night. I thought it was a film that took a while to set up, but once it hits the major revelation of who Marnie is … well, as they say on the Intarwebz, wow, all the feels. The Anonymous Director’s verdict? “It’s nice. Just … nice.”
This is why I’m the long-winded friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning blogger behind the keyboard and the Anonymous Director’s the socialite in front of it.
This time around, the Summer of Stuff is taking a look at some of the major otaku art events around town … and the best part is, all of these events feature free admission. One of the annual highlights for me on the Ota-cool Incoming calendar is the annual art exhibit by MangaBento, the group of anime- and manga-inspired artists that hosts a show in the Honolulu Museum of Art School’s second-floor gallery. I’ve covered it rather extensively for three out of the past four years; here’s coverage of 2011’s “Kakimochi” (part 1, part 2), 2012’s “Nakamaboko” (part 1, part 2) and 2013’s “Tomo-e-Ame” (part 1, part 2, part 3). (The coverage of 2014’s “Showme,” sadly, has fallen down the same black hole as many other things over the past year or so, save for a small cameo in the Best of 2014 post.)
Here, have a shot of the gallery space from last year’s exhibit.
This year’s exhibit, bearing the theme “This is Fighting Spirit!“ — inspired by Shonen Jump and shonen manga artwork — is rapidly approaching. Art submissions are being accepted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St.), room 200. Comic Jam Hawaii will also be hosting a jam around that time, where attendees can draw art for the exhibit or do their own thing. The exhibit itself, being staged in the art school’s second-floor gallery, launches with an opening reception and potluck from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, June 28, and will be on display through July 12.
Meanwhile, over at the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Spalding House — once known as the Contemporary Museum for those of you who retain old-school place names like me (see also: “Daiei/Holiday Mart” for Don Quijote, “GEM store” for the Sports Authority on Ward Avenue, “Phase 1/Phase 2” for Uptown/Downtown Pearlridge Center), there’s a rather novel exhibit opening in that space starting today and running through June 28. “Contempo #ArtShop“ — yes, with the hashtag; it’s what’s trending, after all — features a number of pieces by local and international artists. The twist? If you like what you see, you can just buy it, with prices ranging from $30 to $45,000. Here’s the catalog. I’d imagine my readers could probably afford the artwork on the lower end of that scale, but if you can afford the upper end, please contact me. I want to be your friend.
The exhibit has already garnered a fair amount of press for Saturday’s pop-up event featuring artists connected to Giant Robot magazine, but what’s relevant to our interests here is that several friends of the blog — Brady Evans, Tara Tamayori (that’s her at right), Audra Furuichi, Rose Dela Cruz and Jaymee Masui — all have pieces available for sale in this exhibit. In addition, Tara, Audra, Brady and Jaymee will be joining artist Iolani Slate for a special “Manga Market” event from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, with a mini Artist Alley-esque setup in the entrance lanai — prints, original artwork and other merchandise will be available for sale — live art demonstrations and a make-and-take art table. If you can’t make it on Wednesday, the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday and noon to 4 p.m. June 28.
It’s a pretty busy summer for Brady, really, as his work is among pieces featured in “Emergence 2015,” an exhibit at Pauahi Tower Artspace (in the second-level lobby of Bishop Square’s Pauahi Tower, 101 Bishop St.; here’s what the building looks like from Tamarind Park). A number of his digital paintings will be on display for the first time outside of Kawaii Kon, as well as a new drawing he did, “Ghost Plants.” That exhibit will be on display through July 17; gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a talk by cartoonist Jon J. Murakami — Gordon Rider/Edamame Ninjas creator, Star-Advertiser “Calabash” artist, you know the drill — and Michael Cannon of Comic Jam Hawaii at Kapolei Library at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 27. Jon and Mike will go over the process of creating a mini-comic — character design basics, layout and story development — and participants will be given their own materials to create their own comic right there, right then. The library is at 1020 Manawai St.; call 693-7050 if you need any assistance.
It seems there’s an unwritten rule in journalism that whenever a writer or blogger reaches the end of a year, he or she suddenly feels compelled to look back on it and remember the high points and the lows. I’m certainly not one to go against the flow, so hi! Welcome to the Otaku Ohana Year in Review!
While I’d be the first to admit that this has been a disappointing year in terms of Otaku Ohana output — for starters, I still haven’t had time to fully transcribe that interview with voice actor Kyle Hebert that I promised back in August, and let’s not even think about the last time you’ve seen a formal anime or manga review in this space — it certainly hasn’t been a disappointing year for the otaku community at large. One measure of just how vibrant we’ve had it here is the sheer volume of anime features that screened in theaters. Here’s what we saw this year:
Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day: The Movie
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods
Expelled From Paradise
Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo
K Missing Kings
Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell: Arise
Madoka Magica: Rebellion
My Neighbor Totoro
Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Tiger and Bunny: The Rising
The Wind Rises
Throw in a bunch of live-action movies including the Studio Ghibli documentary The Kingdom of Dreamsand Madness, Thermae Romae II, Lupin the Third and Kikaider Reboot — the last of which proved so popular, the DVD’s backordered online.
Granted, there were a few bumps in the road along the way. A pair of hurricanes forced Taku Taku Matsuri to be pushed back from August to November. That’s more than can be said for Oni-Con Hawaii, which we can safely consider a lost cause with the lack of any solid communication since early May. And the deathof Sharon Sakai, wife of Usagi Yojimbo artist Stan Sakai, was a story that resonated far beyond the usual readership of this blog.
But let’s remember all the good that happened in 2014. I went through my photo files and picked out 14 memorable moments from the year. Some of these pictures you might have seen before, whether in this space or on my various social media accounts.
Dorae-mania hits home (April 20)
Fujiko F. Fujio’s mecha-cat creation was all over town this year, whether plastered on Lea Lea trolleys, in statue form at various sites from downtown to Kahala as part of HIS Hawaii’s Wakuwaku Stamp Rally, on Kindles and Kindle apps in manga form, or on Disney XD in anime form. The biggest attraction in the first few months of the year, however, was “Meet Doraemon: Japan’s Time-Traveling Cat,” an exhibition co-presented by Bishop Museum and the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum. Visitors could see pages of Fujio’s original artwork for the first time on American soil, watch a 10-minute anime short, read the English-translated Doraemon manga on iPads or the manga in other languages sitting on bookshelves nearby; and buy piles upon piles of Fujio character merchandise that also was appearing for the first time on American soil. Tripinator Doraemon looked a little shifty here in the foreground as visitors browsed through the manga at the iPad station.
Ultra-combo! (April 27)
Not to be outdone by a cartoon mecha-cat, Ultraman and several of his longtime enemies made peace and came down to cavort around Hawaii as part of a promotion by Hawaii Tourism Japan and Tsuburaya Productions. Four statues showcasing different iterations of Ultraman were placed at locations around Oahu — Polynesian Cultural Center, Kualoa Ranch, DFS Galleria and the Hilo Hattie flagship store in Iwilei — and visitors who bought certain tour packages could go around, get their cards stamped and redeem them for cool Ultraman in Hawaii merchandise. As I mentioned in my original post, I love this picture of the Hilo Hattie statue because of the way the lights in the store flared behind it.
Panel de pon! (March 12)
This is the only picture in this roundup that wasn’t shot by me (it was taken by cartoonist Roy Chang), and for good reason: I was kinda sitting on the panel at the time. I have to confess that I’m usually not one to be the center of attention — it’s the reason why I’ve never done a panel at any event on my own, and why I have an Anonymous Otaku Ohana Director of Forced Social Interaction with whom I attend a number of events these days — so when I was asked to be part of the “Made in Japan, Loved in Hawaii” panel at the Honolulu Festival, I was worried about how things would go. I needn’t have worried — panel mates Brady Evans, Jon Murakami, Roy Bann and Audra Furuichi all helped turn that panel into a lovely lengthy chat about our various fandoms. If you haven’t listened to the panel yet, the audio (which weighs in at 121 MB) remains available for download at ow.ly/uwyBr, while the slides are available at ow.ly/uwyTQ.
Eboshimaro, friend to all children (March 8)
Ahhhhhhh yes, yuru-chara, the Japanese phenomenon in which mascot characters are called upon to promote certain aspects of their prefecture, company or event. They’re also usually awesomely cute, which would explain why Eboshimaro here, the mascot representing Chigasaki, Japan, had a steady stream of people coming up to him at the Honolulu Festival asking for pictures. Apparently he was tweeting regularly from the festival, too; here are his tweets and pictures from that weekend.
And that wasn’t the only regional mascot to visit Hawaii this year. At the very beginning of Star-Advertiser photographer Krystle Marcellus’ video from the Honolulu Marathon (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckleJBr–ns), you can catch a good look at Mojaro, the walking monjayaki from Isesaki’s annual Monja Festival. (Monjayaki is okonomiyaki’s messier-looking, higher-stacked cousin.)
That’s right. There exists a pile-of-foodmascot. And one that looks like one of the ghosts from Pac-Man had an unfortunate accident, at that.
I’ll give you some time to ponder that.
Singing in the lane (April 4)
What would a year-end roundup be without at least one highlight from what’s become the biggest event on the annual otaku calendar, Kawaii Kon? As longtime attendees know, a necessary evil of attending anime cons year after year is waiting in lines to get into the various events. This year, though, this guy made waiting for opening ceremonies more tolerable, going up and down with his guitar singing his original song about Kawaii Kon.
It’s all about the details (July 3)
MangaBento, the anime/manga-inspired group of young artists, held its annual show on the second floor of the Honolulu Museum of Art School. this year’s show, “Showme,” featured this mural lining the elevator. A nice mural, to be sure. But upon closer examination, several smaller flourishes really stood out.
That’s what I love whenever I look at art: taking in the piece as a whole, then looking close-up at the finer details. It’s an experience I hope (and pretty much expect!) to repeat next year.
Sparkle pretty “Ponponpon” party time (July 20)
Yes, super-omega-popular boy band Arashi performed out at Ko Olina to the delight of thousands of fans both from here and visiting from Japan, and they had the benefit of a pop-up store at Shirokiya and those visitors snapping pictures of pretty much every poster put up around Ala Moana. But their concert tickets were kinda pricey and I didn’t have a vacation day to spare, so this was my J-Pop concert experience for the year: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, the singer who burst onto the scene with eyeball-dotted shorts, pastel-colored human hearts and flying bread slices and has kept up a consistent pace of releasing weirdly wonderfully artsy odd music videos ever since. Her concert was an extension of that, a whirlwind of tightly choreographed sequences on a toybox-themed stage with a nice selection of her hits to date. And a giant neon-colored bear, too. (The afternoon heat was a bit much for her, though; she said during the concert that she hoped to do an arena show next time she’s in Hawaii.)
Jan-ken-po, art-to-show (May 17)
In another one of those events that I attended but have yet to write about in this space (*sob*), Patsy Iwasaki and Avery Berido, the Hawaii island-based writer-artist team behind Hamakua Hero: A True Plantation Story, came to Honolulu to talk about the book as part of the revival of the Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii exhibit at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. Well, okay, so it was Iwasaki doing most of the talking while Berido drew, but it’s okay, we love them both.
Berido’s drawing was given away at the end of the talk via a series of jankenpo matches among audience members. It came down to these two, and the guy on the left won this original piece. Sweet victory, I must say.
Smiles to go, to go! (May 31)
I said back in June that this was my favorite picture of the year to date, and now, looking back on a year’s worth of pictures, it remains a favorite of mine. Taken back at the during the Crossing Cultures artist meet-and-greet, it just captures a certain joy between the boy and his newly purchased Blue plushie, and artist Audra Furuichi. Making a child smile with the fruits of what you do for a living is a heartwarming talent to possess, indeed.
Simply having a wonderful Mini Con time (Sept. 27)
I’ve noticed that at pretty much every midsize and larger event with cosplayers that I’ve attended this year, two people inevitably show up: one guy who cosplays as Deadpool (and who we’ll see later in this roundup, by the way) and Furry Red Friend, a cosplaying Elmo with his human handler. So when the Merc With a Mouth and Captain America Elmo showed up at Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library, with a nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii postcard cutout just begging for a photo op? Hijinks ensued. Naturally.
Striking a pose (Oct. 11)
Kawaii Kon’s annual Anime Day event showed up at Windward Mall with a mini Artist Alley, several drawing stations and a variety of cosplay competitions. One of those contests was a “pose-off,” where contestants had to come up with choreographed poses within a time limit. Here, two cosplayers prepare to do battle with Street Fighter poses! And then they rushed into battle! Who would reign supreme?!?
… yeeeeeaaaah, okay, that didn’t end well.
We made it happen (Nov. 22)
The story of Taku Taku Matsuri 2014 was a story of perseverance on the part of organizer Yuka Nagaoka. A Kickstarter campaign succeeded after much 11th-hour nail-biting. Then Hurricanes Iselle and Julio’s approach prompted her to postpone the event, a decision that drew some criticism when Iselle hit Hawaii island and fell apart and Julio veered away from the islands. Original guest of honor Kyle Hebert and a number of vendors also couldn’t return for the rescheduled event, forcing her to find replacements. And a second crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe was … well … sluggish.
Yet despite all of that, and with a rallying cry of “We will make it happen,” the rescheduled Taku Taku Matsuri went out without any apparent hitches (although I must admit, I cringed while a full game of Quidditch took place outside the Manoa Grand Ballroom, praying the quaffle didn’t bounce off into one of the glass showcases or over the fifth-floor wall into the courtyard below). Attendees, it seemed, had a good time throughout the event. And Yuka is already proceeding with planning for the 2015 event, so we’ll see how that goes.
Cardboard carnage (Nov. 22)
The concept of the cardboard mega-brawl: Combatants craft armor and shields from cardboard, then go one-on-one in a ring trying to knock strategically placed foam cups off each other using foam bats. But what do you do when your opponent is someone who showed up at Taku Taku Matsuri wearing full-on Danbo cosplay? Simple: Flail like a bat out of hell.
“Modern Love” meets modern mangaka (Dec. 3)
We had a number of famous people in the anime and manga industries come to our fair rock in the middle of Pacific this year, among them Masako Nozawa, the voice of Goku in Dragon Ball Z; Hironobu Kageyama, who sang the Dragon Ball Z theme song “Cha-La Head-Cha-La”; Jim Cummings, the voice of Darkwing Duck and Tigger; and Cristina Vee, Mars/Rei Hino in the new Sailor Moon dub. Heck, Jamie Lynn Lano, former assistant to Takeshi Konomi on The Prince of Tennis, moved to Oahu to fulfill a lifelong dream of hers.
But the person who stands out in my mind at the moment is also the one who most recently visited Honolulu, the one whom (shameless plug) we interviewed and will be the subject of one of our first posts of 2015: josei mangaka Erica Sakurazawa, who wrote several books published by Tokyopop in the mid-2000s including The Aromatic Bitters, Angel and Between the Sheets and whose work Love Vibes is currently on display as part of the Honolulu Museum of Art’s “Modern Love” exhibit. Sakurazawa is shown here talking to exhibit curator Stephen Salel during a talk she gave at the museum in early December. Quite a bit of ground was covered in that talk and our interview, and I hope I can get all that out to you, dear readers, sooner rather than later.
So that does it for 2014! On behalf of tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and the Anonymous Otaku Ohana Director of Forced Social Interaction, I wish you all the best for the new year. Here’s hoping for many more good memories to come.