The Cel Shaded Report, 3/9: Fantasy fulfilled

hexxp-logo2012 is shaping up to be quite the year for local fans of the Final Fantasy video game franchise. The latest game in the series, Final Fantasy XIII-2, recently arrived in stores. Yoshitaka Amano, who’s contributed character designs and artwork to the franchise over the years, will be a major part of Kawaii Kon next week.

Today, the other pop-culture convention in town, the Hawaii Entertainment Expo (HEXXP), is showing its hand for the first time regarding what’s up for this year’s show. There are now official dates — Sat., Oct. 20 and Sun., Oct. 21 — and a venue — the Aloha Tower Marketplace Waterfront. They’re teaming up with Babel Entertainment and Houston-based anime convention Oni-Con to bring in their first official guest of honor, and it’s a doozy of an announcement — longtime Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu.

Chances are that if you’ve remember any music selections from that long-running series, Uematsu had a hand in creating it. The signature prelude? He did that. The victory theme? Yeah, that, too. Can’t forget that chocobo theme, either. Then there are the signature songs — “Terra’s Theme” and “Maria & Draco” from Final Fantasy VI, “Liberi Fatali” from Final Fantasy VIII and “At Zanarkand” from Final Fantasy X, just to name a few. And, of course, the one that gets everyone cheering at a concert, the theme song of the long silver-haired bad boy Sephiroth himself, “One-Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII.

Uematsu will be joined on this trip by his band, the Earthbound Papas. The Papas, which formed soon after Uematsu’s previous group, the Black Mages, disbanded in 2010, continues the tradition of performing rock arrangements of Uematsu’s songs. Their first album, the nine-track Octave Theory, was released almost a year ago and is available on iTunes (or, if you prefer good old-fashioned physical media, CDJapan). Yes, there is a version of “One-Winged Angel” on it, but there are also arrangements of some of the work Uematsu’s done since leaving Square and Final Fantasy behind, including the Xbox 360 games Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey. The Earthbound Papas will be in concert Oct. 21.

Lynleigh SatoAlso emerging from the HEXXP camp are initial details about the Masquerade, the event’s showcase cosplay contest. Judging the Masquerade will be Lynleigh Sato, co-founder and president of Sweet Rococo, a one-stop online custom design boutique for fans of Lolita fashion. Sato was a member of the U.S. team at the World Cosplay Summit in 2005 and currently serves as a WCS industry judge and U.S. team assistant organizer. And if entering cosplay contests aren’t your thing, perhaps the “Multiverse Human Chess” event, in which you can dress up and take part in a life-sized game of chess, will be more your style.

Further details are sure to arrive in coming weeks, but for now: Single-day general-admission passes (for ages 13 and up) for Oct. 20 will cost $25; for Oct. 21, the pass costs $40 and includes the Uematsu concert. Two-day passes are available for $55 and will have some added perks to be announced. For children, the costs are $7.50, $15 and $20.

There also will be a $100 VIP pass, limited to 25 people, that will give purchasers priority admission to various events, access to a special seating area for the concert that will include a private bar and soda station, and admission to the maid cafe. Since there will be an attendance cap, you’ll want to get your passes, whatever they may be, as soon as possible.

Visit www.hexxp.com for further details or to register.

The shrinking world of ‘Arrietty’

Time’s running out to see The Secret World of Arrietty, now the fourth-biggest-grossing anime film in the U.S. of all time. I’m busy preparing for Kawaii Kon so no time for a promo photo this week. But you’ll notice that we’ve already lost the Regal theaters and the theater in Kailua-Kona, and the remaining theaters have cut back on their screenings. If you want to see Arrietty in theaters, you’ll probably want to make time this week:

Kaahumanu (Maui): 10:25 a.m. and 12:35 p.m.

Kahala: 10:45 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Kapolei:11 a.m. (daily except Sunday); 1:10 and 3:20 p.m.

Mililani: 11:20 a.m.

Pearlridge:10:35 a.m.; 12:50 and 3:05 p.m.

Ward: 10:45 a.m.

Anime around town

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

The Cel Shaded Report, 3/2: ‘Arrietty’ encore, the encore

Well, Ghibli fans, you did it. Thanks to your getting the word out — or perhaps because of the buzz that this animated adaptation of The Borrowers is really good — The Secret World of Arrietty made another $4.35 million, 10th place on last week’s U.S. box office weekend top 10 list. I can vouch for that quality — I saw it for myself last week. It’s quite a calm film, filled with subtle moments — ants crawling, grasshoppers hopping, ladybugs flitting about — that look great on the big screen. So calm, in fact, that a person in the front row of the theater curled up and fell asleep. Yeah, don’t think I didn’t notice you, person at the 12:30 p.m. showing at the Mililani theaters Feb. 23. At least your snoring wasn’t TOO loud.

Anyway, there’s a fresh round of showtimes to report, at the same theaters as last week. As well as another Cel Shaded Report Obligatory Pretty Arrietty Promotional Film Still of the Week:

Strong-willed Arrietty (left, voice of Bridgit Mendler) shows her mother, Homily (voice of Amy Poehler), an amazing object that she has "borrowed" while on her first covert mission with her father in "The Secret World of Arrietty." (Courtesy Disney & GNDHDDTW)
Strong-willed Arrietty (left, voice of Bridgit Mendler) shows her mother, Homily (voice of Amy Poehler), an amazing object that she has "borrowed" while on her first covert mission with her father in "The Secret World of Arrietty." (Courtesy Disney & GNDHDDTW)

Roll ’em! (Standard disclaimer: Times, as reported by Fandango, are subject to change.)

Dole Cannery: 10:45 a.m. and 1:15, 3:45, 6:45 and 9:20 p.m.

Kaahumanu (Maui): 10:25 a.m. and 12:40, 2:50, 5 and 7:10 p.m.; 9:25 p.m. (Friday-Saturday, Thursday)

Kahala: 11 a.m. (Friday-Saturday); 1:10, 3:25, 5:40 and 7:50 p.m. (Friday-Sunday); 10:10 p.m. (Friday-Saturday); 11:30 a.m. and 1:40, 3:50, 6 and 8:10 p.m. (Monday-Thursday); 10:20 p.m. (Thursday)

Kapolei: 10:40 a.m. (Friday-Saturday); 12:50, 3, 5:10, 7:20 and 9:30 p.m.

Makalapua (Hawaii): Noon (Friday-Sunday); 2:30 and 5 p.m.

Mililani: 11:45 a.m. and 2:55, 5:10 and 7:35 p.m. (Friday-Sunday); 12:15, 2:25, 4:40 and 7:20 p.m. (Monday-Thursday)

Pearlridge: 10:55 a.m. and 1:05 p.m. (Friday-Sunday); 12:05 p.m. (Monday-Thursday); 3:20, 5:35 and 7:50 p.m.; 10:15 p.m. (Friday-Sunday); 10 p.m. (Monday-Thursday)

Ward: 11 a.m. (Friday-Sunday); 1:20, 3:40, 5:55, 8:10 and 10:25 p.m.

Windward Mall: 12:30, 2:50, 5:20, 7:40 and 10:05 p.m.

Anime around town

Honolulu Festival: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Hawai’i Convention Center, Waikiki Beach Walk and Ala Moana Center. You may have noticed that this week’s Cel Shaded Report is a bit shorter as compared to previous weeks; that’s because I’m working on a dedicated festival post. I hope to have that up in a few hours, so stay tuned.

Introducing Otaku Ohana, version 2.0!

Ever since tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I were handed the keys to our own little corner of the Star-Bulletin blogging kingdom in June 2009, we’ve had one mission in mind: to provide as much exposure as we could to anime, manga, and the local and national fan communities that power those industries. Otaku Ohana, as I explained back then, was meant to be an extension of my print column, Cel Shaded:

What I’ve discovered over the years, though, is that one column a week is hardly enough to contain all the anime and manga news that comes down the pipeline. For every one topic that I’ve covered in print, there have been at least two or three others I’ve passed up. And then there’s the poor, often neglected “Random Plugging” section. In theory, it was supposed to ease the backlog of anime and manga that we have yet to review. In practice, columns kept filling up without the help of “Random Plugging,” and now we have a backlog of several hundred series, partial and complete, that we have yet to comment on in any form. (I wish I was exaggerating with that number.) So it’s time for the next evolution.

Fast forward several years to the present. Some things have changed: Cel Shaded now exists only as an online extension to Otaku Ohana; the Star-Bulletin merged with the Honolulu Advertiser and became the Star-Advertiser; and it seems like our coverage is leaning more toward coverage of the local fan community. Other things haven’t: That review backlog still remains at several hundred series, mostly as the free time that Wilma and I have has evaporated before our very eyes. (We’re really trying to do more reviews this year, though! Really!) And, of course, Otaku Ohana’s been housed on the last regularly updated outpost of the starbulletin.com domain, blogs.starbulletin.com.

Until today.

Following the lead of fellow starbulletin.com blogger Nadine Kam and her Fashion Tribe — and after kicking the tires and making sure everything is in working order — I’m pleased to announce that all updates for Otaku Ohana going forward will be made on our shiny new site (which actually looks exactly like our old site, but ehh, details, details), http://otakuohana.staradvertiserblogs.com. All our old content won’t be going anywhere; it’ll still be archived at http://blogs.starbulletin.com/otakuohana for the foreseeable future.

I wanted to write a post about all the possible name changes we could’ve given the blog in its new phase, including:

  • Otaku Ohana 2: Electric Boogaloo
  • Otaku Ohana: Now With Bears (a nod to the Xbox 360 sequel to Kinectimals)
  • Super Otaku Ohana Turbo Hyper Championship Edition

Wilma groaned and put the kibosh on the idea immediately.

So I’ll just say this: Don’t forget to point your browsers and update your bookmarks and RSS feeds to reflect our new home on the web. Regular programming will begin shortly. We thank you for your continued patronage. And since the first-ever post in Otaku Ohana ended, for some weird reason that rests with 2009-era me, with a random link to a music video about some plants and some zombies, I’ll end this post with an equally random link to a journalist interviewing a wrestler in the Nintendo Wii game Rhythm Heaven Fever.

Yes, that new tune’s firmly wedged itself in my brain, too.