Ota-cool Incoming: Mini con carnival, 2014 edition

August was a month dominated by news about anime movies, with three of them — Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, My Neighbor Totoro and Naruto: Road to Ninja — arriving in the state. This month, news tidbits about small anime-related events have been filling my “what to talk about in Otaku Ohana” inbox (well, that and that interview with Kyle Hebert that I talked about a few posts ago, which I’ll finally get around to transcribing when my birthday staycation kicks in around the middle of next week … fingers crossed). Here’s what’s happening in coming weeks …

cristina veeThe first stop on our tour of mini cons is a return visit to Taku Taku Matsuri, where organizer Yuka Nagaoka has found a new guest of honor for her event postponed from August: voice actor Cristina Valenzuela, better known as Cristina Vee. (That’s her on the right.) Some of Vee’s more prominent anime roles include Mio in K-ON!, Homura in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Rei/Sailor Mars in Viz’s new Sailor Moon English dub, and Alisa Bosconovitch in Tekken: Blood Vengeance. She’s also voiced various characters in video games including the BlazBlue franchise, Skullgirls and Ar Tonelico. This will be her first con-related visit to Hawaii.

Summer Taku Taku Matsuri: In Fall! is happening Sat., Nov. 22; the GoFundMe campaign with $10 presale tickets and $20 ticket/T-shirt packages will run through Oct. 25 at www.gofundme.com/dbi0fc.

This week, details also began emerging about the fifth annual Mini Con, the anime con in the handy petite size at McCully-Moiliili Public Library. Library manager Hillary Chang’s rounded up her by-now standard roster of all-star artists ready to meet and greet patrons — Gordon Rider artist Jon Murakami, nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi, Crazy Shirts designer and Kikaidaverse fan artist Kevin Sano, and the Hachi Maru Hachi creative crew. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sat., Sept. 27, at the library, 2211 S. King St.

Audra designed a set of virtual flyers that double as mobile phone wallpapers; click the thumbnails below to download art from, from left, Jonathan Pinches’ “You Are Not Alone” (from Hachi Maru Hachi vol. 3), Jon and Kevin.

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Last but certainly not least is Kawaii Kon’s third annual Anime Day at Windward Mall in Kaneohe. Nothing really new to report on this front, but I’d still imagine Kawaii Kon’s usual assortment of games, art events, cosplay contests, free anime screenings and a mini Artist Alley will be the order of the day. You’ll probably be able to get discounted three-day passes for next year’s convention (March 14-16) as well. The latest news on that can be found on the Facebook event page, https://www.facebook.com/events/912506692099432/.

Other Ota-coolness

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

Downtown Pearlridge globe portalRandom Ingress portal of the post: If you missed the first installment in this new recurring feature in all my “Ota-cool Incoming!” calendar posts, here’s my profile of the portal “Ringy Dingy.” Today’s spotlight: “Down Town Pearlridge Globe.”

Those of you who have been around at least as long as I have remember a time when the two halves of Pearlridge Center were called “Phase I” and “Phase 2.” I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but there was some point where someone probably said, “Hey! Let’s make this center more contemporary and stuff!” So the side anchored by Liberty House and JCPenney became “Uptown Pearlridge,” and the side anchored by Sears became “Downtown Pearlridge.” Uptown was the more distinguished, sophisticated side. Downtown was the side with a splash of urban flair, all neon signs and a giant video screen hanging over that side’s central hub. And the monorail … well, I’m sorry, but that thing looked like what happens before and after someone ingests certain mind-altering substances, with half of it looking like a yellow taxicab and the other half covered in splashy, colorful graffiti.

Well, the monorail’s all one uniform design now, the screen’s gone, and you’d be hard-pressed to find much distinguishing the two sides. This Ingress portal, stationed right around where Comic Jam Hawaii regularly meets, features one of the leftover relics of the era. It’s usually well-contested, but if it’s a Comic Jam Sunday, you can pretty much expect the Face of Hawaii Ingress ™ will be making it Resistance blue. After which someone else will come along and make it Enlightened green again. Circle of life, people. Circle of life.

MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists usually meets every second and fourth Sunday of the month at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St.), room 200. Visit www.manga-bento.com. Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 14.

10636109_561435233979790_6832920851635999729_nArashi in concert: Tickets are still available to see the five-member boy band in concert at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 19 and 20 at Ko Olina’s Naia Lagoon 3, and they’re still $150 per ticket ($75 for children under 15)? Or would we be better off heading over to Shirokiya and its pop-up Arashi Shop to get  and calling it a day? Pick them up exclusively at Ticketmaster.com, and be sure to check out Tom Moffatt Productions’ Facebook event page to see all the rules and procedures involved. (Key elements to note are that there’s a four-ticket limit, sales are limited to customers in the United States and Canada, and you’re going to have to bring the credit card you used to order the tickets to the show itself.) Don’t want to shell out that much, or can’t make it to the concert? The pop-up Arashi Shop is open now at Shirokiya, featuring CDs “and other items not normally available in Hawaii.”

Kikaider Reboot screenings on Oahu: Shotaro Ishinomori’s tale of the android Kikaida and his battles against Professor Gill and DARK has been revamped and prettied up for a new generation, and Honolulu — home to some of the most die-hard Kikaida fans on the planet — will be the first place people in North America can see it. (Yes, I know we’re on a rock in the middle of the Pacific, thousands of miles from North America. But the Kikaider Reboot USA Facebook page is calling this the “North American Premiere,” so I’m running with that.) The film will be running for a week — Oct. 10-16, to be exact — at Consolidated’s Ward Stadium complex. Showtimes have yet to be announced, but here, have an English-subtitled trailer to tide you over until that info comes through.

New Aiea Library steps up to Bat(man)

When you’ve been writing columns and blogs about the local anime/manga/cartooning community for as long as I have, you tend to fall into a rhythm when writing about certain recurring items.

It used to be that way with events taking place at Aiea Library: throw in a mention that the event was the brainchild of young adult librarian Diane Masaki; add where the library was located (99-143 Moanalua Road); submit column to editor or push “publish” button on blog; wander off to enjoy a nice strawberry smoothie with tapioca pearls somewhere. Heck, it was reliable to the point where the place was even Ingress portal-ized.

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Well, as of last Saturday, that’s no longer the case. Meet the new Aiea Library, now a left turn and an up-the-street-past-Aiea-Bowl-and-its-yummy-lemon-crunch-cake away from the old location.

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Our reporter Leila Fujimori and photographer Bruce Asato wrote about last Saturday’s grand opening in Sunday’s paper (subscription required). But this is Otaku Ohana, where you want to know about what really matters about the new library, like how the manga shelves look. (They’re quite compact.)

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Or where the anime collection is. (It’s near a pillar with a Comic Jam Hawaii “Chibi Heroes” card-poster.)

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Or whether local events like Kawaii Kon and Taku Taku Matsuri already have informational postcards available.

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Or — perhaps the most important detail of all — if there’s more parking.

20140723_140000I swung by on Wednesday to check out the place and get all those pictures above, and everything has that nice, new library sheen to it … and yes, there is more parking than the old library, and it is glorious. (Gonna miss seeing all those chickens wandering around nearby, though.) That parking will come in handy Saturday as the library hosts its first big event since the grand opening: Batman Day, a celebration of 75 years’ worth of Caped Crusader adventures. (Yes, anime/manga fans, a Batman event totally counts as something worth mentioning here, too.)

Young adult librarian Diane Masaki (See? There’s that auto-fill instinct kicking in again …) has a full day of activities planned, including:

  • Cosplayers dressed up as various characters from the DC Universe will be wandering around for photo ops starting at 10 a.m.
  • Artists from Comic Jam Hawaii will be drawing Batman-related artwork on 11-by-14-inch sheets at noon; at 1 p.m., the pieces will be raffled off to attendees.
  • A special Comic Jam Hawaii session will be held starting at 1 p.m. Join in and draw with some of Hawaii’s top cartoonists!

Aiea Library is now located at 99-374 Pohai Place; for more information, call 483-7333.

Also this weekend

Joelle Lee self-portraitKids Inc. Business Showcase: I’ve been keeping an eye on the work of teen artist Joelle Lee; she (along with proud mom Lisa, on her behalf) has posted samples of her work on the Comic Jam Hawaii, and … well, it’s hard to describe exactly what I like about her artwork, but I just know that I really like it. (I think that’s one of her self-portraits I’ve posted to the right.) I see a bright future for her, that’s for sure.

Windward Mall recently held a public vote to choose a dozen young entrepreneurs (ages 6-15) to set up shop in the mall’s center court and sell merchandise and services for a few hours, and Joelle was one of the kids voted in. She’ll be drawing chibi portraits at her booth, “Joelle’s Custom Artwork,” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Stop by, say hi, and support her and the other young businesspeople.

Kawaii Kon’s “Caramelldansen” flash mob: Dance to the beat, wave your hands together / come feel the heat, forever and forever / listen and learn, it is time for prancing / now we are here, we’re Caramell Dancing

If you could (a) tolerate listening to that entire song and (b) want to do that little dance in the aisles of Barnes & Noble Ala Moana for a few minutes, then Kawaii Kon staff wants you to join them for their flash mob at 2 p.m. Sunday. It’s part of the store’s ongoing “Get Pop-Cultured” campaign running through Aug. 10; other events in the campaign coming soon include appearances by artists Roy Chang (1 p.m. Saturday), Cheryl Nagata (1 p.m. Sunday) and Devin Oishi (4 p.m. Sunday). Cosplayers from the League of Shadows group will also be with Roy starting from 1 p.m. Saturday.

Oh yeah, and while you’re there, take advantage of the store’s “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” sale on Viz manga. Deadman Wonderland, Naruto, One Piece, Vampire Knight and oh-so-many-more titles are on sale through Aug. 10.

MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists usually meets every second and fourth Sunday of the month at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St.). This time around, they’ll be meeting in room 202 instead of their customary room 200. Visit www.manga-bento.com. Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The Sakai Project profile: It’s a thing. It’ll be in Sunday’s paper. Tag-team partner Wilma J. and I worked countless hours to write it. Please pick up a paper or spring for digital subscriber access to read it.

To preview what we were in the middle of writing about, I picked up copies for ourselves on Wednesday, the first day the book was available for sale. Of course, the first thing I had to look for was the piece by the lone Hawaii artist featured in the book, nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi. Now, you have to realize that while this book grew from a planned 100 pages to 160 pages, not all the art featured could get a full page. A number of pages feature two or three art pieces. Everything still looks gorgeous, of course, in a glossy, full-color 9-by-12-inch hardcover book; just a bit more compact.

Audra’s piece was one that got a full page. That’s hers on the left.

Sakai Project-Audra's page

Go pick up a copy at your local comic book store (only $29.99! Plus some stores offer discounts!). All proceeds from book sales go toward helping pay for Sharon Sakai’s medical bills. You’ll want to see Sunday’s article for the full story behind the book, though. It’s quite inspiring.

Your anime / manga blogger’s clearing-house clearinghouse

New posts from me in this space have been rather sporadic as of late, and for that I apologize; it’s probably going to be like this probably through mid-August or so, as I take care of some projects at home and then endure … *shudder* … the primary election season at work. (Insert screams here.) I’ll try to update this blog as much as I can in the meantime — there will be some kind of coverage of the MangaBento exhibit here while it’s still up, I promise! — but if I disappear for weeks at a time, don’t worry, I’ll still be coming back. Sometime. I’ll tell you when we’re ready to abandon this blog, and we’re definitely not ready to do that yet.

One of the things I’m doing at home is some major cleaning, clearing out some of the stuff that’s been piling up to make room for new things. It’s a bit like that for news involving the local anime/manga fan community, so let’s make with the cleaning already and get to the news:

IMG_9289“Showme” the artwork: It’s time once again for the annual exhibit by MangaBento, the group of artists inspired by anime and manga, on the second floor of the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St.), with an opening reception (with refreshments!) scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday and the exhibit itself running through July 12. This year’s exhibit is called “Showme”; rendered in Japanese kanji, the sound-alike phrase “shoumi” means “relish, gusto, appreciation.” If this exhibit is anything like the group’s past exhibits that I’ve covered in this blog over the years — “Kakimochi” in 2011 (part 1, part 2), “Nakamaboko” (part 1, part 2) and “Tomo-e-Ame” (part 1, part 2, part 3) — expect a nice blend of 2-D and 3-D art in a variety of media, a giant mural in the stairwell from the first to the second floor, and a table where visitors can sketch to their hearts’ content. For more information about MangaBento, visit their website at www.manga-bento.com.

KPP in HNL: In case you aren’t familiar with the work of the 21-year-old artist currently known as Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, here, have one of her music videos.

And another one.

And yet another one.

10373038_10101024997209366_8916960168389356119_oWhen you can describe the one with the flying koi and mouse-head robot no jutsu! as the most normal of the three, that’s … saying quite a bit, actually. Here are more of her videos on YouTube, in case you’re inclined to follow up.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu — or “KPP,” to her loyal fans and lazy anime/manga bloggers who don’t want to keep typing “Kyary Pamyu Pamyu” every time they refer to her in a post — is coming to Hawaii for the first time to wrap up her “Nanda Collection” world tour, at 5 p.m. July 20 at the Waikiki Shell. Tickets went on sale Friday … and since I only started seriously working on this post around Wednesday, I held off on writing up this item in case demand hit Bruno Mars/Jack Johnson-esque “sneeze and you missed out” levels.

I suppose I needn’t have worried. Judging by those videos above, it probably takes a fan of a certain constitution to really appreciate what KPP brings to the table. Indeed, after being AWOL due to heavy server load on the first day of ticket sales, Ticketmaster’s interactive seat map finally kicked in and started working on Saturday … and here’s what it looked like as of a little after 8 p.m. Saturday. Dark dots show seats available.

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That’s about half of the $85 level seats and virtually all of the $60 level seats that are still available. $30 lawn seating’s still readily available, too, for those of you who don’t mind bringing your own mats.

So if you want to check out what all the fuss is about (and see for yourself just how much more crazy KPP can cram into a live concert), go forth and get yourself some tickets now.

My cutest as-yet-unpublished-until-now picture of the year so far: This one, taken at the “Crossing Cultures” artist meet-and-greet event late last month at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.

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Kids love their plush pups from nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi, that’s for sure.

An Oni-Con Hawaii 2014 update: Nothing to report. Let’s … just move on.

A Taku Taku Matsuri Summer Festival update: For those of you who missed the event’s recent successful Kickstarter campaign, presale tickets are now available on Ticketleap (ow.ly/ygYBF) — $13 (plus a $1.65 service charge) for anyone 16 and older, $8 (plus a $1.40 service charge) for anyone under 16. The event, which as of now features voice actor Kyle Hebert, DJ E2D, video game tournaments, a Star Trek-themed cafe and various artists and vendors, runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii (2454 S. Beretania St.). Looks like more artists and vendors would be appreciated, too, so email taku2matsuri at yahoo dot com if you’d be interested in contributing to that effort.

Speaking of Taku Taku Matsuri: There’s a water gun fight (or more specifically, a WATER GUN FIGHT!!!!!) scheduled for July 19. No details yet. But I’m fairly confident there will be more info posted at the event page somewhat sorta soonish.

And while we’re (probably) at the beach: Any good WATER GUN FIGHT!!!!! has to take place outside … which brings us to a few other beach events being held this summer. On July 3, Jason David Frank — otherwise known as “the  tri-named Power Rangers actor not named Johnny Yong Bosch that everyone goes crazy over” — will be hosting a beach day at Duke Kahanamoku Beach starting at 11 a.m. He’ll also be shooting footage for the second season of My Morphin Life.

Kawaii Kon recently announced plans for its annual beach day as well — mark your calendars for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 16 at Ala Moana Beach Park, and get ready for a day that already promises to include sand castle building and a game of Capture the Flag (“now with water balloons!” as the event page proclaims, seemingly giddily). Keep up with how that develops over on the anime con’s event page.

Stretching toward home

CrossCul-JCCH-Invitation-1The month of May is winding down, and so too are a pair of events that I’ve talked about in this space in recent weeks: the “Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii” exhibit at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, and the Kickstarter campaign for the second Taku Taku Matsuri summer festival. Both of them are wrapping up on June 7, and both of them have some new news tidbits emerging that make them worth mentioning here again.

The last event being held in conjunction with the “Crossing Cultures” exhibit is also the biggest one yet, a live drawing session featuring much of the island’s top talent — and perhaps you, too, if  you’re artistically inclined. That’s because the cartoonists from Comic Jam Hawaii, the group that usually gets together every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center, will be setting up shop at JCCH from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday outside the gallery, drawing manga-themed pieces and offering inspiration for attendees to do so as well. Drawing materials will be provided.

Joining them will be some of the artists featured in the exhibit — Roy Chang, Audra Furuichi, Jon Murakami and Kyunyo. They’ll be taking a limited number of commissions for $15 each — come early to secure your spot. Or if you consider yourself a lucky person, just show up, and you can enter a raffle to win original artwork from them. Roy’s piece features his characters, Cacy and Kiara, on paper fans:

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Audra has a watercolor piece with her plush pup creations — Anpan, Nemu, Enchilada and Blue — with a giant Pollo:

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Jon’s marker piece features Gordon Rider, sidekick Steve the Monkey, and a whole bunch of Edamame Ninjas and Geckos:

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And Kyunyo has a lovely Kuroko’s Basketball print:

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There also will be other prizes up for grabs, including a Chewbacca backpack. Yup. That’s apparently a thing. If you ever wanted to bear the burden of a Wookie on your back, this is your time.

If you haven’t had a chance to take in the exhibit yet, you can do so as well, with curator Brady Evans, Journey of Heroes author Stacey Hayashi and the Hachi Maru Hachi gang participating in a gallery walk-through. And yes, you’ll probably see your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger around as well — I couldn’t possibly miss the biggest celebration of local manga culture since Kawaii Kon last month, could I?

JCCH  is located at 2454 S. Beretania St.; again, the event runs from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. If you can’t make it, the community gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. For more on the exhibit, visit hawaiimanga.com.

Taku Taku Matsuri’s last stand

taku taku matsuri logoOver in Taku Taku Matsuri land, the news is … well, a bit more sobering at this point. With a bit less than eight days left, the Kickstarter campaign has raised less than 40 percent of its goal, sitting at $735 out of $2,000. The $100 “meal with voice actor Kyle Hebert” tier has gotten a bit sweeter with the addition of a $20 gift certificate for Correct Distortion, purveyors of kimonos, contemporary Japanese fashion and accessories like wigs and jewelry.

But at this point, it would take a lot more than a sellout at that tier to push this campaign over the top … and it’s definitely running out of time. As an official comment posted May 23 on the Taku Taku Matsuri Facebook page noted:

Remember~ even if you pledge, if we don’t get fully funded, won’t happen~ SO! Share the link and get more people interested!! (≧▽≦)

… so in keeping with Kickstarter’s “all or nothing” approach, if this campaign fails, that’ll be the end of the discussion about this year’s event, and I’ll have to find something else to talk about that month, like … I dunno … episode-by-episode reviews of Cardcaptor Sakura on Blu-ray or something like that. While that may be fun, it also won’t be quite the same. Visit ow.ly/wUtKl to check out the campaign.

Ota-cool incoming!

ARTafterDARK: Rakugaki: A blend of graffiti and traditional Japanese art makes its way to the Honolulu Museum of Art’s monthly evening art party, and four of the “Crossing Cultures” artists — Roy, Jon, Brady and Rose Dela Cruz — will be part of it as well. Use their drawings, add in a few of your own, and you can create your own souvenir manga to take home. You can also enjoy the Light from Shadow: Gold in Japanese Art exhibit currently on display, sample Japanese foods, and sip on shochu from Iichiko, event sponsors touting “Japan’s best-selling genuine shochu.” Yum. Learn more about the event at www.honolulumuseum.org/events/art_after_dark/
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 The museum is at 900 S. Beretania St. General admission $10; free for museum members. 6 to 9 p.m. Friday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: Too much drawing over the weekend? Naaaaaaaah. The Comic Jammers will be reconvening for their regular first-Sunday-of-the-month meeting at Pearlridge Center. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

“Otsukare-sama” Party: Regardless of whether Taku Taku Matsuri reaches its funding goal, organizer Yuka Nagaoka already has another event lined up: a party to let off some steam following the long slog of the academic year. Some of the musical acts who would be performing at Taku Taku Matsuri if the event takes place will be showing up; activities include … ummm … table flipping. Hopefully not with the pupus and drinks still on them. That would be kinda bad. For ages 18 and older. Visit www.facebook.com/events/443091685828142/ (no Facebook login required). Ong King Arts Center (184 N. King St.), 5 to 9 p.m. June 7.

MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists usually meets every second and fourth Sunday of the month at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St., room 200). Visit www.manga-bento.comNext meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. June 8.

Local manga exhibit crosses over to JCCH

One of the highlights of last year’s otaku calendar was “Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii,” an exhibit curated by Pen & Ink Works founder Brady Evans that traced the history of manga locally, from its origins in Japan to its influences on the local fan community. I spotlighted it twice in this space during its run, once before it opened, once before it closed. It was a great opportunity to look at original artwork from the featured artists and learn about their creative processes.

I’m still trying to figure out how they let this dork in the building to be part of the exhibit, though.

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CrossCul-JCCH-Invitation-1But let’s say you weren’t able to make it out to see the exhibit last year. It happens; maybe you were too busy during the time it was up between Sept. 6 and Oct. 2, or maybe the drive over the Koolaus to the Windward side didn’t agree with you. Fortunately for you, there’s a second chance coming up to see it, as the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii over in Moiliili hosts its revival starting Saturday. (Members and invited guests can get a sneak peek at 5:30 p.m. Friday, with Brady leading a walkthrough at 6 p.m.)

Brady recently told me that there’s been a healthy chunk of new content added to the exhibit to make a visit worthwhile to those of you who did visit last year. The highlights:

  • Kyunyo, the doujinshi artist featured in the Kawaii Kon section last year, is getting her own spotlight space this year. Pages from her latest work, “Define” — inspired by the anime series Magi — and a copy of the book itself will be on display.
  • Last year’s exhibit had a “Guide by Cell” feature, where visitors could call a number and hear some of the artists talk about their work. New recordings have been added, so this year, you can listen to Audra Furuichi (nemu*nemu), Jordan Takemoto and Tara Tamayori (Hachi Maru Hachi) and Stacey Hayashi (Journey of Heroes) along with last year’s lineup of Brady, Rose Dela Cruz (exhibition label illustrator), Jon Murakami (Gordon Rider), Roy Chang (Cacy & Kiara and the Curse of the Ki’i) and Patsy Iwasaki and Avery Berido (Hamakua Hero).
  • Roy and Audra have painted new murals. Here, have some photos Brady took of their work in progress.

  • The Kikaida section has been beefed up, with more memorabilia — including vintage Kamen Rider, Go-Ranger and Kikaida figurines! — from Scott Shinsato on display.
  • The Alphonse Elric and Persona Teddy costumes have been retired in favor of Voltron, also by the same artist. You might have seen it walking around Kawaii Kon last month.
  • “Meet the Artist/Author” sessions include Patsy and Avery (both of whom are flying in from Hawaii island!) to talk about Hamakua Hero (May 17. 2-3 p.m.) and Stacey talking about Journey of Heroes (May 24, 2-3 p.m.) There’s also going to be a Comic Jam & Artists Showcase with the artists from Comic Jam Hawaii from 1 to 3 p.m. May 31.

The exhibit runs through June 7 at JCCH (2454 S. Beretania St.), The community gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; admission is free. Ingress players, there’s a portal on site as well as several others within walking distance (all of which consistently hit max-level 8 under Resistance control, sigh). For more on the exhibit, visit hawaiimanga.com.

Ota-cool Incoming!
(special weekend of May 3-4 edition)

The return of “Crossing Cultures” is just one of the events happening in what’s turned out to be a really busy weekend not just for events with an element of otaku-ness in them, but in general. Unrelated to our discussion here, there’s Spam Jam, AARP’s paper-shredding event in Aiea, a craft and gift fair at Recreation Center 5 in Mililani, a neighborhood garage sale in Waipahu mauka of the Leeward Y, near Waipahu Uka Neighborhood Park … yeah, there’s a lot of stuff going on. And that doesn’t even count the fact that Sunday’s Star Wars Day (May the 4th, get it?). Here are the highlights.

Ninth Annual Hawaii Book & Music Festival: It’s going to be a busy weekend for Brady and some of the other “Crossing Cultures” artists/authors, as Hawaii Manga — with Brady, Stacey, Roy and the Hachi Maru Hachi gang — will have a booth as part of the annual celebration of local authors and musicians. Swing by the festival’s Author’s Pavilion around 4 p.m. Sunday and you can see Brady, Stacey and Jon talking about the exhibit and manga in Hawaii, too. On the Civic Center grounds near Honolulu Hale; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

FCBD_nodateFree Comic Book Day: Stefanie Nakasone did a good job in our print edition (subscription required) summarizing what’s going on, but for those of you who don’t want to click through, here’s a quick, Twitter-attention-span summary: Saturday. Free comics. Four stores (Westside Comics and Games, Gecko Books, Collector Maniacs, Other Realms), 17 libraries (12 on Oahu, plus Hilo and Thelma Parker Memorial on Hawaii island, Kihei and Lahaina on Maui, and Princeville on Kauai). Go get some (keeping in mind that not all of these books will be available at all locations).

And now, courtesy of The Face of Hawaii Ingress ™, Diane Masaki, here’s who’s showing up where for Free Comic Book Day at the libraries. Unless otherwise noted, all appearances will be at 10 a.m.:

Aiea: Hellboy, Powergirl, Supergirl, White Power Ranger, maybe Cyclops
Aina Haina: Batman and Kamen Rider
Kalihi-Palama: Angel (X-Men: First Class edition), Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, maybe Cyclops
Mililani: Wolverine (plus two surprise guests), Batman, maybe Luigi
Lahaina: Scout Trooper from the 501st Imperial Legion
Kapolei: Members of the 501st Imperial Legion (2-4 p.m.)
Salt Lake: Member of Team Rocket, Jubilee, maybe Cyclops

idkwhat2wear T-shirt blowout: The (take a deep breath here) 17th Islandwide Spring Crafts and Food Expo for Mother’s Day (aaaaaand exhale) is also happening this weekend. I mention this here is because frequent anime con exhibitor/friend of the blog idkwhat2wear will be clearing out T-shirts at this event for $5 each. To drive this point home, this picture appeared on the idk Facebook page late Wednesday afternoon.

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… yeeeeeaaaaah, that’s a lot of shirts.

Find them in booth 705 at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. $4 general admission, $3 military members and seniors 65 and older, free for children ages 13 and under. 4-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Kodomo no Hi: Sure, Children’s Day is technically on Monday, but Sunday’s as good a time as any to welcome back a JCCH event that skipped last year. Jon will be exhibiting at this event, and MangaBento will have a booth set up with various activities for the kiddies. Audra’s also going to be there to promote the Crossing Cultures exhibit from 11 a.m. to noon. They’ll be part of a day that will also feature entertainment, cultural and martial arts demonstrations, the traditional children’s kimono dressing and a keiki kendama tournament. (Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger once tried one of those kendamas at the behest of the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction. It … didn’t go very well.) At the center, 2454 S. Beretania St.; admission is free. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Hawaii Comic & Toy Expo: More than 20 dealers will be on hand to happily take all the money you have … umm, I mean, heartily encourage and nourish your various collectible and comic passions. Also in attendance will be artists Sam Campos, Andy Lee, Theodore Lee, Kevin Sano and Kanila Tripp. Admission is $3; children under 5 are free. Visit www.hawaiicomictoyexpo.com. Ala Moana Hotel (Garden Lanai room), 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

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

[Kawaii Kon 2014] Once more into the fray

It’s a liiiiiittle past midnight as I’m writing this post here at Otaku Ohana Mobile HQ, a room here at the Ala Moana Hotel with a lovely view of the yacht harbor between the Hawaii Prince Hotel and another building, the name of which I wouldn’t be able to tell you without Googling it first.

Yup. It’s definitely Kawaii Kon time again. Here’s my traditional Day 0 “look at how many people who preregistered and showed up to pick up their badges on Thursday!” picture.

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And here’s my usual “Yay! I have my credentials! MY EXISTENCE IS VALIDATED” picture of what my press badge this year looks like.

But seeing as how I took a look back at Kawaii Kon #1 in 2005 in my last post, I thought it would be fun to look at the convention program from Kawaii Kon #10 to see just how much things have changed from then to now. The proper answer, of course, is “a lot.

Here’s the cover of this year’s program, full-color and glossy.

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Here’s are two pages of the guest list. Not shown but also in the program: no one, because these are all the guests that are at this year’s show.

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Here’s the con’s full schedule of events for Friday, Saturday and Sunday… not counting the video screenings, which are on a second two-page spread. Each page of this year’s program measures 8-1/2-by-11 inches, which means this year’s schedule would have taken up half of the 2005 program.

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And for fun? Here’s are this year’s maps of where everything is located in the Convention Center and in the newly expanded, ground-floored Artist Alley/Dealers Room exhibit hall.

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If I’m already achy from walking all around Ala Moana Center and to and from the Convention Center, you can pretty much guarantee that my legs will fall off by the time Kawaii Kon is over. Yes, kids, getting older is as awful as they say.

Some other con-related news of note coming in to Otaku Ohana Mobile HQ:

  • Hachi Maru Hachi is back with issue #3, and it’s their biggest issue yet — four stories over more than 150 pages. Tara Tamayori’s ongoing series, “Eternal Blade,” is joined this time by three new stories: “Death in Numbers” by Kaci Horimoto, “Refraction” by Caitlin Slattery, and “You’re Not Alone” by Jonathan Pinches. Pick up your copy at Artist Alley table 78. If you can’t make it to Kawaii Kon, order a print-on-demand version at www.createspace.com/4562129.
  • nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi will be selling original sketch cards featuring her interpretations of characters from Ghibli films — somebody better buy that Totoro card before I do! — and the hot anime of the past season, Kill la Kill. Find them in the Dealers Room, booth 51.
  • Speaking of original sketches, Comic Jam Hawaii coordinator Michael Cannon will be selling original sketch bookmarks of characters from anime, other cartoons and comics — somebody better buy that Yuki Nagato bookmark before I do! (Alas, this is the classic quandary of yours truly, the anime blogger who wants to save money yet buy everything he promotes.) Find him at Artist Alley table 57.
  • 10173560_10201156088739349_722823190_nArtist Kevin Sano has been known in the past for great-looking prints of characters from tokusatsu (live-action Japanese superhero) days like Kikaida, Hakaida and Kamen Rider V3. but the last two times I’ve seen him, at McCully-Moiliili Library’s Mini Con and Oni-Con Hawaii, he’s brought several Kikaida Minions, toys of those adorable yellow Despicable Me characters all painted up in tokusatsu gear. To your right, you can see his latest batch that he’ll have this weekend. Have your drool buckets handy, people. Find him at Artist Alley table 100.
  • Erika Engle is at Artist Alley table 14. Yes, that Erika Engle. She’ll be selling handmade jewelry with her daughter, Cassidy Gravitt.
  • If you remember my highlights roundup from my article in Thursday’s paper, you’ll recall that I mentioned that Stacey Hayashi, author of the “Journey of Heroes” graphic novel about the 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, would be hosting a panel at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. What I didn’t mention was that (a) she’ll be bringing 442nd vet Eddie Yamasaki with her to that panel and (b) she’s also going to be selling books, shirts and chibi soldier kokeshi dolls in Artist Alley. She’s splitting space with Smurphy Graphics, so you can find her at Artist Alley tables 90 and 91.
  • Those of you of a certain age may remember Jon Murakami’s first published comic strip “The University of Diverse City,” published in UH-Manoa’s paper of record, Ka Leo. This year marks 25 years since it was first published in 1989, and to celebrate, Jon’s produced an 11-by-17-inch print that features that landmark first strip, both as it first appeared in Ka Leo and a freshly redrawn version that shows how it would’ve looked had he drawn it today. Find him at Artist Alley table 58.
  • And last but certainly not least, freebies abound this con season! Sony will be giving away these Sony/Kawaii Kon-branded bags outright to the first 50 people who visit their booth, then with a purchase of $20 afterward. Meanwhile, over at the 7-Eleven across the street on Atkinson Drive, the first 50 people to show their con badges on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will receive a free copy of the Shinji Aramaki-directed Appleseed CGI film from 2004 on DVD.

The week in panels and portals

Good news, everyone: The “Made in Japan, Loved in Hawaii” panel, which I talked about in my last post, went off without a hitch. Roy Bann, Brady Evans, Audra Furuichi, Jon Murakami and I talked about anime and tokusatsu series for a little over two hours, more people were sitting in the audience than were on the panel, and I didn’t die of embarrassment afterward. Victories all around! Thank you to all of you who came to visit, even if you stayed for just a little while.

Since I was sitting on the panel and couldn’t exactly take pictures of myself, I’ve been relying on what panel attendees have posted and shared with me to see what we looked like up there. Friend/coworker/Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker reviewer Christina Chun sent along a few pictures; here are me and Audra …

… Jon and Brady …

… and Roy, who served as panel moderator.

Here’s a full shot of the panel table taken by cartoonist Roy Chang.

And here’s a shot of all five of us after the panel, taken using the official Otaku Ohana Camera of Record by McCully/Moiliili Library branch manager Hillary Chang.

In case you missed it or weren’t able to stay for the whole thing, not to worry: I recorded the whole thing, and the slides we used — created through Prezi, an online app — are publicly available for viewing. You can download the audio file (a 121 MB download via Google Drive) at http://ow.ly/uwyBr, while the slides are available at http://ow.ly/uwyTQ. Find a comfortable seat, follow along and enjoy; I hope the audio’s okay throughout. (I haven’t had a chance to listen through the whole thing yet, although the portions I’ve heard sound pretty good.)

This week — Thursday at 6:30 p.m., to be exact — I’ll be out at Aiea Library to help my Enlightened teammates take over the library portal yet again chime in where needed with a presentation on Ingress, the massively multiplayer augmented reality mobile online game profiled in our paper (subscription required to view) a few weeks ago. (As our writer, Steven Mark, put it, it’s like “‘Capture the Flag’ for tech geeks,” using area landmarks as capture points, or “portals.”) Heck, the person who set up this panel in the first place, Aiea Library young adult librarian Diane Masaki, was front and center and pretty much became The Face of Hawaii Ingress ™ in the picture on the Today section cover:

That’s her in the black shirt in the front row.

Here’s the official panel description:

The world around you is not what it seems. It’s happening all around you. They aren’t coming. They’re already here.

Our future is at stake. And you must choose a side. A mysterious energy has been unearthed by a team of scientists in Europe. The origin and purpose of this force is unknown, but some researchers believe it is influencing the way we think. We must control it or it will control us.

“The Enlightened” seek to embrace the power that this energy may bestow upon us. “The Resistance” struggle to defend, and protect what’s left of our humanity.

Find out what it’s all about during Teen Tech Week!

Also significant: It’s the last public program at the current library location (99-143 Moanalua Road) before they pull up stakes and head to their new building on the site of the former Aiea Sugar Mill. So if you’ve ever been curious about the game or some of those Ingress-related jokes that I’ve increasingly been including in this blog, come on out. We’d love to see you.

‘Made in Japan, Loved in Hawaii,’ chatted up by yours truly

Honolulu Festival logoIt’s Honolulu Festival time this weekend, which means it’s time for all of the usual accoutrements that come with the annual celebration of Asian and Pacific Rim culture, including:

  • Entertainment on stages at the Hawai’i Convention Center, Ala Moana Center and Waikiki Beach Walk (here’s a schedule!)
  • A display of mikoshi, decorative floats unique to various prefectures of Japan that are hoisted by celebrants during festivals and parades
  • A craft fair, children’s games in the Ennichi Corner, and the Anime Corner with Kawaii Kon, MangaBento and representatives from the Doraemon exhibit at the convention center
  • The Grand Parade down Kalakaua Avenue Sunday afternoon
  • A spectacular fireworks display Sunday night
  • Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger talkin’ anime during a Saturday afternoon panel WAIT WHAT

Indeed, for this 20th anniversary edition of the festival, I’m going to be part of a panel hosted by Kawaii Kon at the convention center: “Made in Japan, Loved in Hawaii,” a talk-story session exploring the history of local fandom from the days of Astro Boy in the ’60s to the present day and beyond. Joining me as hosts for this journey:

We’ll be talking about various anime, manga and tokusatsu series that have shaped our work and our lives. I’ve been told that we have two hours to fill, so we hope to make it worth your while. You have options for where you could be spending your Saturday afternoon, after all; why not spend it with us, in air-conditioned comfort, learning about stuff in slides with content like this?

We’ll be in Room 301AB starting at 1 p.m. Saturday. Keep in mind that most of the festival activities are taking place on the ground level of the convention center, so you’re going to want to make your way up some set of escalators, whether from that level or the second-floor parking garage. Just branch left once you get off those escalators; the room’s just beyond the restrooms. Here, have a map.

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Hope to see you there. And if you’re on Facebook, let us know you’re coming on the panel event page; it’s not mandatory that you do so, but I’d just like to know how much I should freak out over how many people show up. It’s my first formal panel-speaking gig, after all (that Oni-Con Ingress panel doesn’t count).

This week in The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises promotional poster (courtesy Disney)The Oscars have come and gone, Frozen holds the statue for Best Animated Feature 2014, and Hayao Miyazaki’s latest, last film finished out of the top 10 at the box office last week. Seems like a recipe for a gradual bow-out from theaters; I’m already seeing a drop-off in screenings at Consolidated’s Pearlridge, Kapolei and Kaahumanu locations and Regal’s Windward Stadium theaters. On the bright side, owing to its head start of a week over the other theaters, Consolidated Ward will accept GMT passes for screenings starting Friday.

Consolidated Ward: Sub 1:40, 7:30 and 10:25 p.m. daily; dub 10:45 a.m. and 4:35 p.m. daily

Consolidated Mililani (dub only): Friday-Sunday 11:10 a.m. and 1:55, 4:45. 7:40 and 10:25 p.m.; Monday-Thursday 12:45, 3:40, 7 and 9:50 p.m.

Consolidated Pearlridge: Daily sub 3:15 and 9:15 p.m., dub 6:15 p.m.

Consolidated Kapolei (dub only): Friday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.; daily 1:10, 3:50 and 6:30 p.m.

Consolidated Kahala: Friday-Saturday sub 4:10 and 9:50 p.m., dub 10:30 a.m. and 1:20 and 7 p.m.; Sunday sub 4:10 p.m., dub 1:20 and 7 p.m.; Monday-Thursday sub 7 p.m., dub 1 and 3:55 p.m.

Consolidated Kaahumanu (Maui): Sub daily 12:45 and 3:30 p.m.; dub Friday-Saturday 10 a.m, daily 6:15 p.m.

Regal Windward Stadium: 6:20 and 9:20 p.m. daily through Wednesday

Regal Dole Cannery: Friday-Sunday 11 a.m. and 1:50, 4:40, 7:35 and 10:35 p.m.; Monday-Wednesday 12:35, 3:55, 7:35 and 10:30 p.m.

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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

Ota-cool! October, part 1: Petite con love

Mini Con 2013 posterWelcome to October, the month where, if you can’t find some event that interests you, you have to start questioning whether your heart’s really still into this anime/manga fandom.

A bunch of major players are hosting events this month: Kawaii Kon. The Hawaii International Film Festival. Taku Taku Matsuri. Oni-Con Hawaii (yes, I’m counting them now even though it’s a November event, because I’m checking in to my hotel Halloween afternoon and will probably be too busy covering it to be able to write them into the November Ota-cool! calendar, so yay). McCully-Moiliili Library manager Hillary Chang. That’s not even factoring in regular meetings of groups like Comic Jam Hawaii and MangaBento, or the Space Battleship Yamato live-action film from 2010 screening at the Ward theaters toward the end of the month.

There’s something going on pretty much every week — so much, in fact, that I ended up breaking up my customary beginning-of-the-month Ota-cool Incoming! post into three parts, for easier reading. And part 1 focuses on the big-bang kickoff to the month, what I saw as one crazy busy day several months ago: Saturday.

About a 30-minute, 14-mile drive separates the Kawaii Kon-hosted Anime Day at Windward Mall and Mini-Con at McCully-Moiliili Library. That information will come in handy for the truly hard-core fans among you, as both of those events are happening at roughly the same time — Anime Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mini Con from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Nemu *loves* the library. Cute Audra Furuichi art courtesy of Hillary Chang.If time and/or parking are your priority, perhaps Mini Con, sponsored by the library, Collector Maniacs and the Ross Dress for Less across the street (in the old Longs building!) ought to be your first stop. Now in its fourth year, Hillary Chang has invited her by-now standard roster of all-star artists ready to meet and greet patrons — Gordon Rider / Ararangers artist Jon Murakami, nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi, Crazy Shirts designer and Kikaidaverse fan artist Kevin Sano, and Brady Evans and Tara Tamayori with their dual Pen & Ink Works / Hachi Maru Hachi attack. (It’s super-effective!)

Jon, Audra and Kevin will all have stuff for sale — Audra in particular will have another lineup of I-wanna-buy-them-aaaaaaaaaaaall original artwork — and Pen & Ink Works will host a workshop at 11 a.m. There also will be free swag to collect (bookmarks! pencils!) and free anime screenings throughout the day. Cosplayers also will receive special prizes just for cosplaying, so go for it! Besides, Hillary’s always unveiled a costume of her own every year. You wouldn’t want her to feel all alone in her creative endeavors.

Weird (but given my recent history with covering such events, totally not expected) thing: I don’t think I ever posted a Flickr gallery of last year’s Mini Con. So if you want a taste of what this year’s event will probably look like, here you go:

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984

Anime Day 2013 logoThe larger of the two events is Anime Day, which took over a bunch of empty storefronts and the centerstage area of Windward Mall last year. Most of the accoutrements from last year’s event are back this year: cosplay contests, free anime screenings and a dealers room / Artist Alley hybrid (where one of the vendors, I understand, will be a certain beading enthusiast who also writes a popular Star-Advertiser business column, selling anime- and video game-themed jewelry). The Comic Jam Hawaii gang will be hosting the Art Wall and sketching stations as well. The only thing that’s missing is that giant Christmas tree that regularly spewed out artificial “snow” in the centerstage area, but that Anime Day was also held in early December, so there’s that.

There’s also the promise of a “few surprises.” If you’ve been keeping track of the Kawaii Kon Facebook page in recent weeks, for starters, there has been that whole “here’s a picture of a particular character … what does this all mean?” running bit … I’m only speculating here, but could we finally be getting some confirmed answers to that question? And will it be, as your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger thinks, the announcement of the voice acting trio of Rob Paulsen, Grey DeLisle and Quinton Flynn as guests for Kawaii Kon 2014? We shall see, I suppose.

Weird (but given my recent history with covering Mini Con 2012, totally not expected) thing: I don’t think I ever posted a Flickr gallery of last year’s Anime Day, either. So if you want a taste of what this year’s event will probably look like, here you go:

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984

And that’s still not everything going on this weekend. Some other events of note:

Star Wars Reads Day: May the force of literacy be with you! Eight libraries — Aiea, Aina Haina, Hawaii Kai, Kahuku, Kapolei and Mililani on Oahu, Makawao on Maui and Princeville on Kauai — will be hosting Star Wars-themed giveaways and activities. Aiea will host members of the 501st Imperial Legion and the Mandalorian Mercs, as well as offer activities for the kids, between 10 a.m. and noon. Kapolei will also have 501st members and kids’ activities between 10 a.m. and noon, while Mililani will have a bunch of giveaways between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Cap it off with a screening of Star Wars: The Clone Wars from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at Hawaii Kai.

Visual Kei Dark Castle: A Halloween Party: To get a sense of the vibe this regular visual kei club event is going for this month, please watch this video.

And then watch this locally produced homage.

Got it? Awesome. Be a v-kei creature of the night and come out to play at Nextdoor (43 N. Hotel St.) from 9 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This Sunday is the first one of the month, which means it’s time for another Pearlridge sketch session. Join this group of collaborative cartoon artists from 1 to 4 p.m. and draw to your heart’s content. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii.

Keep in mind, this is just what’s happening on one weekend this month. Next time, there’s a whole film festival’s worth of material to delve into. And then after that, there’s the rest of the month to cover.

It’s going to be a wild ride, folks. Strap in and enjoy.