The road to Con-athon is paved with melting radiators

Day 0 of Comic Con Honolulu was supposed to have a simple schedule for your friendly neighborhood otaku blogger: Check in to the hotel, finish up writing a quick preview of what’s happening this weekend, fetch the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction, have a nice dinner back at the hotel, fall asleep in bed while completing Tsum Tsum missions.

Naturally, my car decided that now would be a lovely time to take a vacation as well, promptly melting its radiator in neighboring mall stop-and-go traffic and sending its owner into FLAIL SCALE OVER 9,000! mode.

20180802_172107
The moral of this story, kids: If anyone ever offers to sell you a Ford Fiesta, run away screaming. Photo by Jason S. Yadao. 

And so my schedule was radically reworked, I ended up falling asleep in bed working on this quick preview, and I’m probably the most discombobulated going into a convention since a few years ago, when I attended Kawaii Kon a few weeks after being hospitalized with pneumonia. Whee!

But the main thing is that I’m here, safely ensconced in the con hotel with this lovely view, ready to cover the con!

20180803_080649
There’s a fabulous mountain view here somewhere. Allegedly. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

… well, OK, I’m ready to cover the con, at least.

Comic Con Honolulu does rekindle the flame of Con-athon 2018, after all, with four major geek culture cons happening on three different islands over the next three months. It can, admittedly, be hard to keep everything straight. And that’s where I come in.

First, a disclaimer: This is only one person’s opinion on what he thinks are the highlights of a particular convention, so you’re going to want to check the show’s website and social media accounts to get a fuller picture of what’s going on.

OK, enough with the introductions. Let’s roll.

38128667_10156613835557070_3875822996656488448_o
This weekend’s shark-themed con artwork is provided by Michael Cannon. He’ll have these prints available at his Artist Alley table, #422; pick up singles at $2 each, or the full set for 14 for $20. Photo courtesy of Michael Cannon.

Comic Con Honolulu
Today-Sunday, Hawai’i Convention Center
$65 for 3-day pass; $40 Friday; $55 Saturday; $40 Sunday; children 10 and under free with paying adult

It’s the one with: Jeremy Shada, the voice of Finn in Adventure Time; Felicia Day, Internet darling who’s starred in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, The Guild, and the recent revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000; kamaaina actress and Miss Hawaii USA 1993 Kelly Hu; Jason Isaacs, Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies; and Kevin Sussman, best known as Stuart the comic store owner in the love-it-or-loathe-it geeky sitcom The Big Bang Theory.

Helping put the comics in this comic con: Captain Marvel and Wolverine creator Roy Thomas; Strangers in Paradise creator Terry Moore; Stan Sakai, kamaaina creator of rabbit ronin Usagi Yojimbo; and current Deadpool artist Scott Koblish, who apparently likes drawing many different ways of killing himself.

Your Overwatch voice actor squad: Junkrat (Chris Parson), Zenyatta (Feodor Chin), Mei (Elise Zhang), Hanzo (Paul Nakauchi), and Roadhog (Josh Petersdorf). Writer Michael Chu will be there, too! And they’ll all be part of what’s being billed as “Blizzard’s Official Overwatch Panel” at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in the Main Events room. The live art auction on Sunday (starting at 10:15 a.m., Panel Room 314) will offer a unique opportunity: The winning bidder will get to play on an Overwatch team with the voice actors against six runner-up bidders. And the auction proceeds go toward supporting Pu’uhonua o Puna, a group set up to help Puna residents displaced by Kilauea’s ongoing activity, so everybody wins!

Notes of note: Event programming has been one of Comic Con Honolulu’s strengths over the past few years, which is to be expected from an offshoot of Kawaii Kon, the anime con that remains the local standard for activities crammed into every day. Here are some highlights:

20170729_201316
Sketches drawn during the 2017 edition of Comic Jam Hawaii’s Art Improv panel cover the floor at the end of the panel. (And attendees get to take home all this free art, too!) Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
  • Traditional favorites include Iron Cosplay, in which contestants cobble together costumes from a random assortment of materials (1:15 p.m. today, Room 312); Comic Jam Hawaii’s Art Improv panel, with artists drawing audience suggestions on the fly (1 p.m. Saturday, Room 314); the cosplay contest (6 p.m. Saturday, Main Events); a pair of cosplay sketching sessions (1:30 p.m. today and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, both in Room 314); and the aforementioned live art auction (10:15 a.m. Sunday).
  • Main Events room concerts include the orchestral stylings of Hitbox Music Ensemble, bringing a program with the theme “Music of the Elements I: Water” at 8:15 p.m. Friday, and the rock ‘n’ rollin’ Otakus at 8:15 p.m. Saturday.
  • Sci-fi fan group The Last Outpost Hawaii is presenting five panels throughout the weekend: “How to Catch an Alien” at 6:30 p.m. today in Room 315; “Build Your Own Superhero” at 4:15 p.m. and “Mad-Lib Theater” at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, both in Room 312; and “Whovian Trivia” at 10 a.m. and “Starship Smackdown!” at 1 p.m. Sunday, also both in Room 312.

Con-athon 2017 hits ludicrous speed

Welcome back to the escalating arms race that is Con-athon 2017. It’s been pretty quiet as far as conventions and convention-like activities go since Kawaii Kon in early April, save for a smattering of events. Heck, you’ve probably noticed I haven’t written about anything in this space since last month’s MangaBento exhibit. (Long story. We’ve been trying to keep Otaku Ohana on Facebook active, though!)

But here we are, on the verge of kicking off a string of five conventions over the next four months. I know it’s difficult to keep track of which one is slotted where, so I’m hoping to untangle that confusion as we go along. But there’s a show staring us in the face for this weekend, so let’s get things started with …

 

Comic Con Honolulu

When/where: Friday-Sunday, Hawai’i Convention Center

Princess BrideIt’s the one with: Cary Elwes, whose lines from Princess Bride you can probably recite from memory if you’re like all the fans of that movie I know who absolutely adore it … and him. He’ll be signing autographs ($40) and doing photo ops ($40) on Saturday and Sunday, and his single panel of the weekend will be from 11:15 a.m. to noon Sunday in room 316ABC. (You’re going to want to catch this live, because video/audio recording has been banned from that session. So no social media dispatches, sorry!)

And not: Ming-Na Wen, who had to cancel due to an injury suffered filming the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finale earlier this year. She’s already confirmed as the first guest for Comic Con Honolulu 2018, though, so yay!

Also withdrawing in recent days are actresses Katrina Law and Candice Patton; replacing them are Willa Holland (Thea Queen in Arrow) and Danielle Panabacker (Caitlin Snow in The Flash).

Other notable guests (full roster at comicconhonolulu.com/guests/):

Colin Baker, the Sixth Doctor and the first major Doctor Who cast member to visit Hawaii in the modern con era.

David Gallaher, Honolulu-born comic artist/writer who’ll be selling a con-exclusive variant of his current comic, The Only Living Boy.

Nolan North, voice of Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series on the Sony PlayStation 3 and 4 and Desmond Miles.

Kevin Sorbo, TV’s Hercules.

Other notes of note: In addition to the Elwes panel, audio/video recording and photography also won’t be allowed at the Willa Holland panel (11:15 a.m.-noon Saturday) or the Danielle Panabacker panel (2:45-3:30 p.m. Saturday). Both are in room 316ABC.

CCH Logo BubbleWant to see something other than the guests this weekend? Hitbox Music Ensemble will be performing in concert from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Friday in room 316ABC. (Their performances of various Pokemon Go soundtrack selections already sound pretty good.) The Cardboard Megabrawl, in which people build cardboard armor and then beat the bejeebers out of each other in an attempt to knock off their opponents’ armor, will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday in room 313ABC. The Art Improv panel, in which local artists will be drawing quick sketches using suggestions from the audience, will be from 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday in room 312 (and it’s a great place to get some cool free art!). If you’d like to buy some nice pieces of predrawn/crafted artwork, the Charity Art Auction will be held from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday in room 315. And everybody’s favorite event, the Cosplay Showcase, will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday in room 316ABC.

The full schedule is available at comicconhonolulu.com/events/schedule-2017/

How much? Three-day passes are $65; single-day passes are $40 for Friday, $55 for Saturday and $40 for Sunday.

Website: comicconhonolulu.com

Coming up next for Con-athon 2017

Amazing Hawaii Comic Con (Aug. 25-27, Hawai’i Convention Center) features original Star Trek captain William Shatner and Green/White Power Ranger Jason David Frank as its headliners. amazinghawaiicomiccon.com

HawaiiCon (Sept. 14-17, Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows, Big Island) has a quartet of Buffy the Vampire Slayer actors (Nicholas Brendon, Charisma Carpenter, Emma Caulfield, Amber Benson); Paul Blake, Star Wars’ Greedo; and Temuera Morrison, Jango Fett in Star Wars Episode 2, on its sizable guest roster. hawaiicon.com

Anime Ohana (Oct. 6-8, Pagoda Hotel): Voice actors Christina Marie Kelly, Molly Searcy and David Wald, who’ve all voiced roles in Akame Ga Kill, are the main attractions at this anime con. There’s also going to be a live Food Wars!-style competition … and if you have any cooking skills that you want to show off in that, you’re going to want to get over to animeohana.com and register right away. (The cutoff to enter that competition is on Monday.)

Maui Comic Con (Oct. 28-29, UH-Maui campus, Kahului): Inker Joe Rubinstein, artist Mark Texeira and actress Galyn Gorg are on board for the second edition of Maui’s contribution to the local con scene. facebook.com/mauicomiccon/

[Comic Con Honolulu 2016] The day is Takei’s

Takei at CCH (courtesy Comic-Con Honolulu)

Today is George Takei Day.

I’m not just writing that because the venerable actor/activist/probable reason why a lot of people are going to be attending Comic Con Honolulu has a panel this afternoon (2:30 p.m.!) and autograph and photo sessions throughout the day. I’m writing that because Mayor Kirk Caldwell made it so.

Indeed, just as the mayor turned an entire weekend in April into Kawaii Kon Days, he’s mayorally proclaimed today is Takei’s day. Here’s a copy of the proclamation; click on it to make it bigger:

George Takei proclamation

A few other con schedule and notes as we head into day 2:

–The Dr. Who panel at 7 p.m. today, originally scheduled to be Whovian trivia, is now the “Russell T. Davies Years vs. the Steven Moffat Years” panel that was originally slotted for 11 p.m. Friday. I know this because I was sitting in the room when the switch was made. Knew none of the answers to the questions. But at least it was informative!

–Some schedule highlights that I missed in my last post: The Cardboard Megabrawl, in which teams have an hour to build cardboard armored suits and then another hour to beat the bejeebers out of one another (within reason) is from 2 to 4 p.m. today in room 313A. There’s a preview of the upcoming movie Kubo and the Two Stringsthe latest project from Laika, the studio behind Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls — from 7:30 to 8 p.m. today in Panel Room 315. (Free movie posters will be given out to the first 50 people!) Finally, for those of you who want to publish your own comics, William “Doc” Grant and Wendell Hong with Lime Media Hawaii will be hosting a “Basics of Comic Publishing” panel from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday in Panel Room 312.

–Weedle is waiting.

Yup, he's here. Along with a buncha Magikarps, Psyducks and Slowpokes. Also, a Pikachu cameo. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Yup, he’s here. Along with a buncha Magikarps, Psyducks and Slowpokes. Also, a Pikachu cameo. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

See y’all there.

The Con-athon 2016 players, part 3: Comic-Con Honolulu

We’ve made it to the midpoint of Con-athon 2016, our coverage of this year’s major local anime/manga/pop-culture conventions, and … whoof. Man. I don’t remember Con-athon 2015 being as much of a grind as we’re seeing this year. A quick recap: Kawaii Kon kicked off the convention season strong in April; Amazing Hawaii Comic Con returned in May, but while they announced a second, smaller event for October, the accounts I’ve heard seem to indicate that attendance was down this year; and Anime Matsuri retreated back to Houston. Meanwhile, planning for HawaiiCon (in September) and Anime Ohana (in November) continue apace. So while there are still six major conventions planned for this year, the faces have shifted somewhat.

Next up to the starting block: year 2 of Comic Con Honolulu, the pop-culture con from the organizers of Kawaii Kon.

Overview

Jurassic Park cosplayers pose in front of a replica movie Jeep at Comic Con Honolulu last year. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Jurassic Park cosplayers pose in front of a replica movie Jeep at Comic Con Honolulu last year. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

Confession time: Among the six conventions that comprised Con-athon 2015, Comic Con Honolulu was the event at which I spent the least amount of time. Three hours, to be exact, enough time to sit in on the Art Improv panel, say hi to a bunch of friends, make a few quick purchases in the Dealer’s Room/Artist Alley, and then dash off to work.

Part of it was out of necessity. There’s only so much vacation time I get every year, after all, so I have to be choosy about which events I commit to visiting for the full run and which ones only get a commitment of a day or shorter. But part of it was also the fact that there wasn’t much of a “wow” factor there for me. Sure, there was a decent guest lineup over which people got excited, but nothing that really grabbed me and said that I absolutely had to go. Besides, Amazing already had Stan Lee in their corner, HawaiiCon convinced me to give them a try based on their booking of three Cowboy Bebop voice actors, and Anime Ohana and Anime Matsuri Hawaii had the whole “hey, we’re new, and we’re right in your anime/manga-loving wheelhouse, please come check us out” sparkle-sheen to them. It’s just the way things work out sometimes.

This year, though? Different story. HawaiiCon and Anime Ohana have joined Kawaii Kon in my con rotation, Anime Matsuri Hawaii went *poof*, and I felt I needed to prioritize a full weekend visit to CCH over braving Amazing again. CCH’s guest roster and the show’s smaller size certainly helped in that decision. Now, of course, the key is in holding my attention …

Basic information

Pepe the Chihuahua shows up for his daily kalbi feeding at Roy Chang's table at Comic Con Honolulu 2015. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Pepe the Chihuahua shows up via Tardis for his daily kalbi feeding at Roy Chang’s table at Comic Con Honolulu 2015. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

When/where: Friday-Sunday, Hawai’i Convention Center

Admission: Three-day passes, $65; Friday- or Sunday-only pass, $30 each day; Saturday-only pass, $40. Pass prices apply to attendees ages 5 and up.

Website: comicconhawaii.com

Social mediaFacebook page; @ComicConHNL (Twitter)

Key question for this year

How will CCH try to distinguish itself from Amazing, its biggest competition in the market, and draw sufficient numbers to remain a viable show in the process? CCH’s main advantage may lie in its programming diversity — there are far more fan panels and more activities available than just “shop,” “buy themed VIP packages and convention-exclusive comics” and “sit in giant space and listen to featured guests talk.” CCH has also been doing well promoting local talent selling their wares in Artist Alley on their social media accounts … and let’s not forget about the support they’re throwing toward neighborhood eateries with their list of con weekend discounts.

But there’s also no denying that the buzz for the show on my Facebook feed has been more muted. Or maybe that’s just because everyone on my Facebook news feed is talking about the upcoming elections and Pokemon GO and my news feed algorithm is horrifically screwed up as a result. In any case, a quick look at the Dealer’s Room and Artist Alley listings reveal only a fraction of the local vendors and artists that Amazing had in May.

Five Six guests to get hyped for

In past Con-athon roundups, I would’ve used this space for a complete roundup of all the guests appearing at a particular show. But let’s face it: Kawaii Kon had more than 20 guests. Amazing had more than 25. Faced with the prospect of writing another 22 mini-bios for this convention and another 100 gazillion for HawaiiCon, I finally tapped out and said, “OK, I’m just hitting the high points and picking five guests I’m most excited about seeing going forward.”

And then I went and picked six people anyway. Because the sixth person really deserved to be mentioned. Plus I’m writing this blog, so I get to make up all the rules and then break them, right? The full guest list is available at comicconhonolulu.com/guests.

Takei at CCH (courtesy Comic-Con Honolulu)

George Takei: Every convention has its “OMG moment” during the guest announcement phase, that one guest over whom people rub their eyes over and over again and pinch themselves and wonder, “Holy cats, is that guy really going to be part of my hometown convention?” Takei is this year’s OMG moment for Comic-Con Honolulu … and arguably the entirety of Con-athon 2016, to boot. Whether you know him as Sulu from Star Trek, a gay rights advocate, the man behind Allegiance (a musical set in the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II) or a huge social media influencer, you know who he is. And you’ll have exactly one chance to see him speak: 2:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday in Main Events (Room 316 ABC). Good luck, folks.

Grant Imahara: Spoiler alert: Our Steven Mark got to chat with the animatronics engineer, modelmaker and Mythbuster in an interview running in Friday’s paper. Definitely worth checking out if you have a chance. Scheduled to appear at two panels: “Bustin’ Myths and Building Robots: The Story of Grant Imahara,” 11 a.m.-noon Saturday in Main Events, and “Discover Grant Imahara,” 11 a.m.-noon Sunday, also in Main Events.

Sean Astin: He’s been a Goonie and a Hobbit. He’s the son of Patty Duke and John Astin, who played Gomez in the original Addams Family. And he’s the voice of Raphael in the ongoing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. If you need any more convincing than that to see him, then man, you’re tough to please. Scheduled to appear at two panels: “Face to Face With Sean Astin,” 4-5 p.m. Friday in Main Events; and the Voice Actor Round Table (with Jennifer Hale, the voice of female Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect video games, and Phil LaMarr, the voice of Hermes Conrad in Futurama and Samurai Jack) from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, also in Main Events.

John Barrowman: Until last week, he was best known as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and the spinoff Torchwood, as well as the Dark Archer in Arrow. Since then, he’s been that guy who dressed up as Squirrel Girl, Futurama’s Zap Brannigan, Harley Quinn and a dress-wearing Kylo Ren in San Diego. Here’s hoping he has more antics planned for Honolulu this weekend. Scheduled to appear at one panel: “Getting to Know John Barrowman,” 4-5 p.m. Saturday in Main Events.

Fabian Nicienza: Rob Liefeld was a guest at Amazing, so now it’s time for Liefeld’s partner in creating Deadpool to have his say. Nicieza also helped create Shatterstar, the X-Force and Cable; has more than 1,000 comic book writing credits; and is currently working with Stan Lee on Cosmic Crusaders. Scheduled to appear at three panels: “Breaking the Fourth Wall,” 3:15-4:15 p.m. Friday in Panel Room 315; “Behind the Snark,” 5:15-6:15 p.m. Saturday in Main Events; and “Comic Editing and Character Creation,” 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Panel Room 315.

Leah Rose: The talented cosplayer and host with the most who’s been featured in this blog before deserves a mention here, as this will be her last local convention as an isle resident before she moves on to Seattle. With Dasha Cosplay, Uncanny Megan and now Leah leaving or about to leave from Hawaii in the past handful of months, all I can say is whyyyyyyyy are the cosplayers all leaving do you not love us anymoooooooore. Umm. *ahem*. You can see her doing hosting duties all weekend or offer hugs and leis at her Artist Alley table, F11.

Will cartoonist Jon Murakami be here?

Photo courtesy Jon Murakami.
Photo courtesy Jon Murakami.

Three for three, yup! Look for him in Artist Alley, table E12, with his new collection of comic strips from the Hawaii Herald, Generation Gap:Are You Sure These Are Our Grandkids (pictured above), as well as a sale on Gordon Rider back issues, original sketches, and an array of shirts, prints, books and buttons. Can’t make it to con? You still have a few more hours today to get in on the book preorder; visit www.jonjmurakami.bigcartel.com.

(Also, Jon’s still our measuring stick for Con-athon 2016, considering he’s going to almost all the things.)

Anyone else of note?

There’s a guy doing these portraits, that’s for certain.

Jason Pop by Roy Chang

That artist is MidWeek cartoonist and Cacy & Kiara / Highball & Pepe creator Roy Chang, and he drew that Funko Pop-ified portrait of me last week during a special “Get Pop-Cultured” event at Barnes & Noble Ala Moana. And now it’s my Instagram profile picture, so w00t w00t to that. You can get your own Funkofied portrait — $5 black and white, $10 color — the newest Aloha Pepe issue, and more in Artist Alley, table A3.

Elsewhere in Artist Alley, you’ll find Marisa and Carole Gee with their handmade jewelry and charms at Kawaii Mono (C1); beadspriters extraordinare Dinner Crew Crafts (C11-12); longtime comic creators/anime aficionados Lime Media Hawaii (E9), the anime/manga-inspired artist collective MangaBento (D12), comic artist Christopher Caravalho and Mana Comics (B7), and artists Andy Lee (B1), Reid Kishimoto (E2), Tara Tamayori (F4), Headshot Heroes (C7) and Michael Cannon (E12). Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Over in the adjacent dealer’s room, Terri Dux and Karl Miyashiro’s one-stop shop for local apparel with clever phrase twists, idkwhat2wear, will be at table 55 with some new cute, clever designs. Pono Comics (52), Dragon’s Lair (42) and Other Realms (46, 47, 57, 58) represent local comic shops this time around. Familiar Kawaii Kon mainstays Anime Palace (25, 36), Hakubundo (50), Michi’s Toy Box (27) and Crappykids (7) will be there, as will everyone’s favorite snack vendors, Brug Bakery (41) and Paradise Kettle Corn (44). Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Other schedule highlights

Introducing Hitbox Music Ensemble: 7:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, Main Events. An ensemble of classical and jazz instrumental and choral musicians performs music from video games, anime, TV shows and movies. Think of it like those Legend of Zelda concerts that have been coming to town, except on a wider scale.

Unconventional jobs for superheroes? Yeah, the Art Improv artists can tackle that. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Unconventional jobs for superheroes? Yeah, the Art Improv artists can tackle that. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

Art Improv, 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Panel Room 312. One of my must-see panels of the con, it’s what happens when you take a group of Comic Jam Hawaii artists and throw crazy ideas at them in the style of the classic comedy improv show Whose Line is it Anyway? Plus as a bonus, the sketches they draw are up for grabs at the end — you can nab some pretty cool free artwork that way. If you have some time to fill afterward, stick around for a series of drawing tutorials, including Kaci Horimoto on drawing (11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.), Reid Kishimoto on inking (12:15-1 p.m.), Rich Rodriguez on drawing from basic shapes (1-1:45 p.m.) and Wynette Sabalburo on coloring with markers (1:45-2:30 p.m.).

Ingress: It’s Time to Move! 6-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Panel Room 312. Learn how to play the augmented reality game that I like to think of as the Pokemon GO beta beta as a noble agent of the Enlightened! (oryoucouldjointheResistanceIsuppose) Things that will be discussed at this panel: how the game works, the convoluted backstory that hardly anyone pays attention to, and how the game’s brought together agents from both factions at large events worldwide. Things that will not be discussed at this panel: triangles (lots and lots of them), creepy vans, and Pokemon GO. Seriously, the panelists would like to focus on Ingress, so no PoGo questions, please. Besides …

Pokemon GO Hawaii: 8-9 p.m. Saturday, Panel Room 315. … you trainers who’ve taken the parts of the world where Niantic actually has servers up and running (for the most part, *crosses fingers*) by storm get a panel all to yourselves. Meet other players, wave a virtual banner for your team (Instinct! The other two teams who aren’t Instinct!), share your stories, and catch the occasional Rattata or Pidgey or Zubat that happens to wander into the area. Note: Panel will be called off if a 1,000+ CP Mewtwo suddenly spawns down the street. Just kidding; I doubt anything short of the usual “circumstances beyond our control” is going to be canceling this party.

Cosplay Contest: 7:30-9 p.m. Saturday, Main Events. You know the drill by now: People show off their craftsmanship with fabulous costumes; the audience oohs and ahhs (and awwwws if the cosplayer happens to be a really cute child); prizes are awarded. And a good time is had by all.

Cardcaptor Sakura: A 20-Year Celebration: 1:30-2 p.m. Sunday, Panel Room 312. You thought all the anime/manga panel ideas were exhausted at Kawaii Kon? You were wrong. The fact that this panel is covering one of CLAMP’s classic series makes it even more appealing.

The Great Otaku Calendar of All the Things, July Edition

There isn’t much time to explain why I’ve been away for so lo–

Screenshot_2016-07-07-09-19-55

… OK, fine, so there’s that. But seriously, there isn’t much time to explain why I’ve be–

Screenshot_2016-07-07-09-28-52

… yeah, OK, that too. But that’s really everything that’s been distracting me at the mo–

Screenshot_2016-07-07-18-35-08

… umm, let’s just get to this month’s event calendar, shall we?

ghibli porco

The Miyazaki Ghibli Film Festival: “But I thought we just had a Ghibli film festival in April!” you say. Ahh, but that one didn’t feature films being screened in the historic Hawaii Theatre. Nor did it feature a festival-exclusive Ghibli-themed T-shirt, a cosplay contest (2 p.m. Sunday), entertainment from the Drowning Dreamers Band (7-7:30 p.m. Friday) and Makkuro KurO.K. (7-7:30 p.m. Saturday), food vendors Pig & the Lady (Friday) and Onomono (Saturday and Sunday) or an Art+Flea-hosted room full of crafters, including friends of the blog Marisa and Carole Gee of Kawaii Mono, who’ll be selling all these Ghibli-themed charms at the event:

13606430_10153634355141867_9064887071621464468_n

Related to that, Kawaii Mono is giving away a Miyazaki prize pack valued at $50; visit instagram.com/kawaiimono808 for details. (If you win, though, you’ll have to pick up your prize at the festival; keep that in mind before you enter.) Best of all, if you just want to skip the movies and enjoy the festivities, admission to that is free. You can visit the crafters in the theater’s Weyand Room from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

As for the movies themselves? You can choose from Princess Mononoke (subtitled) at 8 p.m. Friday, Kiki’s Delivery Service (dubbed) at 4 p.m. Saturday, Spirited Away (subtitled) at 8 p.m Saturday, and/or My Neighbor Totoro (dubbed) at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 general, $10 children ages 4-17, free for children 3 and under. For more information or tickets, visit hawaiitheatre.com.

keiki con 2016

Keiki Con: Central Oahu’s largest con-style event is back for a second year in Mililani Mauka, and it’s boasting quite a lineup of guests in the Artist Zone: Pineapple Man creator Sam Campos, Mana Comics creator Christopher Caravalho, Gordon Rider/Ara-Rangers/Edamame Ninjas creator Jon Murakami will all be there Members of Comic Jam Hawaii will be hosting a table with drawing activities (and they’ll be drawing as well!), and Headshot Heroes will be doing a live painting demo (when he’s not giving kids a chance to visit with Elmo, of course). Kawaii Kon/Comic Con Honolulu representatives will be on hand with ticket specials, and they’ll also be giving away two 3-day passes to CCH later this month. And no mini-con would be complete without a cosplay contest, taking place at 11:45 a.m. (and if you’re interested in participating in that, be sure to check in no later than 11:30 a.m.). Food booths, entertainment, and, of course, plenty of activities for the kids round out the event. Mililani Recreation Center 7 (95-1333 Lehiwa Dr.), 10 a.m.-3 p.m. July 9.

Hawaii Geek Meet: If it’s geeky, it’ll probably show up somewhere during this 9th-annual meet-up — cosplayers, a Quidditch team, the Last Outpost and the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Legion being among those who are planning to show up. Also notable: Just four days after the game overwhelmed Android and iOS networks nationwide, there’s already a Pokemon Go farming meetup planned. Geeks are super-efficient! Kapiolani Park, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.

CCH logo

Comic Con Honolulu: George Takei, original Star Trek actor and overseer of everything viral on the Internet, is the headliner at this, the next stop for Con-athon 2016. Other key guests from the 22-person lineup include Sean Astin, Sam Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy; John Barrowman, Capt. Jack Harkness in Torchwood and the Dark Archer in Arrow; Mythbuster Grant Imahara; Deadpool co-creator Fabian Nicienza; and Kristin Bauer, currently starring as Maleficent in Once Upon A Time. Hawai’i Convention Center, Friday-Sunday, July 29-31.

Con-athon 2016: The Forces Awaken

These are truly … interesting times here at Otaku Ohana Central. If you’ve been following along on my social media feeds as of late, you know that I recently spent close to a week in the hospital being treated for complications related to pneumonia. This, of course, juuuuuuust as Only Yesterday was on the cusp of opening at the Kahala 8 theaters, the Honolulu Festival was ready to present its annual weekend craft fair/parade/fireworks combination, and Kawaii Kon was maneuvering and getting its final ducks in a row before kicking off Con-athon 2016 next month.

Well. It’s a good thing that I’m feeling back to some semblance of normal, because HOLY CATS ALL THE THINGS ARE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. Consider what we’ve seen in the span of just the past 48 hours:

George Takei will be a featured guest at Comic-Con Honolulu July 29-31. (Image courtesy Comic-Con Honolulu)
George Takei will be a featured guest at Comic-Con Honolulu July 29-31. (Image courtesy Comic-Con Honolulu)

>> Comic-Con Honolulu announced its latest guest for its show in late July, and he’s a doozy: George Takei, the man who arguably owns the Internet (or at least the corner of it that generates those popular “ohhhhhhh myyyyyy” memes). Of course, he’s also known for being Sulu on the original Star Trek, an outspoken advocate for equal marriage rights and the man behind Allegiance, a musical that recounts the experiences of Japanese Americans interned at camps during World War II.

Anime Ohana logo

>> Anime Ohana is coming back. Nov. 4-6, to be exact, once again at the Pagoda Hotel. That much we’ve known for the past few weeks. What we didn’t know was who would be showing up, but as of Saturday, we now have our first official guest trio: Akame ga Kill dub actors Christina Marie Kelly, Molly Searcy and David Wald.

>> With less than three weeks remaining until Kawaii Kon opens and the full schedule already posted, you’d think convention staff would be more than happy to rest on their laurels and just get ready to let whatever happens happen. Nope! Sorry. There are still announcements to be made and final arrangements to tie up, and they’re going to be making them. Do you like Good Smile Company, makers of all those cute Nendoroids and Figma figures? Representatives from that company will be hosting a collecting panel on Sunday from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. April 10. (Psst … GSC’s also going to be hosting a there’s also going to be an unofficial “Naughty Figures” panel for those of you 18 and older from 10 to 11 p.m. April 9.) Those of you who are interested in taking part in the Karaoke Kompetition will want to know that the final set of preliminaries will be held at Nocturna Lounge — just downstairs from the Star-Advertiser editorial offices at Restaurant Row! — starting at 3 p.m. Sunday. And of course, for those of you who really want to procrastinate and wait until the very last second to get your three-day passes online, you have until March 26 to do that at www.showclix.com/event/KawaiiKon2016.

Suffice it to say that this is only the beginning, and that I have a lot of news to catch up with. Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning/conventioning blogger is just warming up, so if you haven’t seen anything about your convention of choice, don’t worry … I’ll be getting around to it soon! Just fasten your seat belt and get ready to enjoy the ride … I’ll try to guide you as best I can through it.

Ota-cool incoming: Sale-abrate good times, come on!

If someone were to write a book about local otaku culture — don’t look at me; I’ve already written my one book of a lifetime, and I doubt I’ll ever have enough free time to properly update that one, never mind writing another one — one of the chapters would have to be about how we manage to accumulate so much stuff. Plushies, figures, statues, toys, video games, assorted show merchandise, books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays — you name it, we all have some sort of stash stored somewhere. Some of you may be sighing over how you have waaaaaaay too much; others may be lamenting about how you don’t have enough. For those of you in the never-ending pursuit of managing and accumulating more stuff, these next two weekends — along with the ongoing 20%-off sale at Book Off Ala Moana that I talked about in my last post — offer several chances to score some sweet bargains.

One sale is part of the 26th Annual Hawaii Collectors Expo, happening Friday through Sunday at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. Saturday (from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) are what matter for our discussion, as that will be when a bunch of people like tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I will be selling off surplus parts of their collections at … well, depending on where you go, it’s either the Anime Swap Meet or the All-Genre Swap Meet, presented by Kawaii Kon and Comic-Con Honolulu, respectively. And when I say “a bunch of people like us,” I really do mean to say that in the interest of full journalistic disclosure, Wilma and I have purchased a space where we will be selling things. Here is a preview of my stuff.

Jason's ASM things

And here is Wilma’s.

Wilma's ASM things

… she always was more organized than me. (You can probably expect many more DVDs and even a few Blu-rays from me, for starters.)

Want to join us in selling? As far as I know, there are a few spaces remaining. One 5-square-foot space costs $25, with a maximum of two spaces shared by two people; the cost remains the same regardless of whether you apply to sell for one or both days, so if you can spare an entire weekend, by all means do so. Deadline for applying is midnight Thursday, check out the rules and apply at kawaiikon.com/anime-swap-meet/ or comicconhonolulu.com/all-genre-swap-meet-feb-20-21-2016.

If you’re in the market for buying, we love you! Please buy our stuff. (And everybody else’s, too, of course.) Kawaii Kon representatives will be on hand to sell three-day general-admission passes to this year’s show for $50 — $5 off the current online price! Keep in mind that admission to the Collectors Expo is $5, but if you present your badge from last year’s Kawaii Kon or Comic Con Honolulu at the box office, the cost drops to nothing.

The other sale worth noting here is the Nerds’ Garage Sale, which has proven to be the hottest ticket in town for sellers in recent weeks. (For the record, there is no more space for sellers, so stop asking on the Facebook page already.) Organized by cosplayer extraordinare Leah Rose, the sale will feature about a dozen self-described “cosplay nerds” selling off their extra supplies, costumes and other things. You can also check out Other Realms’ sizable collection of comics, games and other happy nerdy collectibles for sale as well. That’s happening from 3 to 7 p.m. Feb. 27 at the store, which is at 1130 N. Nimitz Highway, suite C-140. (It’s actually not visible from the highway; you have to go behind the buildings with New Eagle Cafe on one end and AAA Hawaii on the other end to find it.)

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’s “friends” are the ship-gals of KanColle.) This month didn’t garner much of a reaction, probably because Diane, the Face of Hawaii Ingress (tm) that she is, is really really close to becoming a max-Level 16 agent. The friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning blogger in me is cheering her on, while the Enlightened side of me wants to put AXA Shields on every portal in Pearl City and Aiea. But I digress. At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where, yes, there’s still plenty of parking. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

Mori & Steam

Mori & Steam: Steampunk Family Sunday: If you haven’t had a chance to check out the “Harajuku: Japanese Street Fashion” exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art yet, by all means try to stop by before it closes April 3; it’s a fascinating snapshot of contemporary Japanese fashion trends. And with the museum’s Family Sunday coming up, you can swing by to see it absolutely free, and enjoy some activities and entertainment, to boot. Kids can make a set of steampunk goggles at one station, at another, visitors can make their own Harajuku- or steampunk-inspired pins. Roy Chang, MidWeek cartoonist, Cacy & Kiara author and Pepe the Chihuahua’s kalbi feeder, will be doing live sketches of Harajuku fashion models from noon to 3 p.m., and featured bands include Hook + Line and Gypsy 808. There also will be a complimentary shuttle running between the museum and Spalding House, so you can check out the exhibits at both locations. Oh hey, and before or after you go, perhaps you might like to visit a certain Collectors Expo with an Anime/All-Genre Swap Meet going on down the street? *hint hint* *wink nudge* The museum’s at 900 S. Beretania St. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Kawaii Kon Karaoke Competition preliminary round #2: So you think you can sing, and you’re planning to go to Kawaii Kon this year? Give the annual Karaoke Competition a try. This year, the preliminary rounds will be held at Nocturna Lounge, the video game/karaoke bar just downstairs from our editorial/advertising offices here at Waterfront Plaza/Restaurant Row. Top three singers from each preliminary round move on to the semifinals at the convention itself. The fun starts at 3 p.m. Sunday; full details on what you need to do to prepare are available at kawaiikon.com/events/karaoke-kompetition/

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.

Ota-cool incoming: Dressed to impress

Cosplay doesn’t exist in a vacuum. As much as we’d like to twitch our noses and *poof* a lovely costume of Sailor Moon or Tuxedo Mask into existence a la Samantha in Bewitched (note: this is what I’m talking about, for those of you who may not be old enough to remember Bewitched), the truth is that it takes a lot of work to craft a costume that turns heads at conventions and other special events.

One of the tools of the trade that cosplayers use is the dress form. Think of it as a mannequin torso on a stand; here’s a selection of what’s available on Amazon. Of course, getting a dress form means spending more money, something that may be in short supply when taking into account all the other supplies one needs to create a high-quality costume.

That’s where a workshop happening this weekend at Aiea Public Library comes in.

12615246_10153401900892817_3243516995611568225_o

Representatives from Anime Matsuri Hawaii will be on hand to show workshop attendees how to create their own dress forms without having to order the real thing; apparently all you need is some duct tape, some plastic wrap and a willing victim partner. They’ll provide the tape, wrap and some fabric that can be used to stuff mannequins or for other crafts and cosplay; you can bring your own partner, as well as a T-shirt that you don’t mind cutting up to make a complete dress form.

Interested? The workshop runs from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. It’s free, but be sure to RSVP to cosplay@animematsuri.com if you’re interested so the workshop organizers can bring enough supplies. Aiea Library’s at 99-374 Pohai Place, where there’s still plenty of parking as well as a certain Face of Hawaii Ingress ™ who’s on the final stretch to hitting max-level 16 in the game (in spite of Enlightened efforts to slow her down, too, *sigh*). Call 483-7333.

Elsewhere around town

Kawaii Kon / Comic Con Honolulu volunteer staff meetings: The third session for Kawaii Kon volunteers and the second for Comic Con Honolulu volunteers are coming up, a checkpoint worth noting for those of you interested in helping take care of all the behind-the-scenes things that keep the two events running smoothly every year. Prospective volunteers have to attend a minimum of two staff meetings to qualify for work, after all, and the clock’s ticking … louder for Kawaii Kon in particular, of course, but ticking nonetheless. For more details on volunteering (as well as an enrollment form for anyone joining the party), visit kawaiikon.com/volunteering/volunteer-rules-faqs or comicconhonolulu.com/volunteer/volunteer-rules-requirements. Saturday at the Ala Moana Hotel Plumeria Room; 1:30 p.m. for Kawaii Kon, 3 p.m. for Comic Con Honolulu.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center. Yes, there are other things going on on Sunday — the 50th Superb Owl will be overseeing some panthers and horses playing sportsball on one channel, puppies will be romping around on another channel, and it’s the only day of the year when people actually want to watch commercials. If none of those catch your fancy, though, perhaps some drawing is in order. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Downtown section of the mall.

Ota-cool Incoming: Cons, cons everywhere, and nary a time to breathe

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.

ban daisuke

Hello, Kikaida star Ban 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.

mini con poster

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.

mini con card

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.

03 me Wendy

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.

anime day 2015

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.

QuickMechaRide

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 aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.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:

Screenshot_2015-09-23-17-36-37

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).

The reign of Hoku Comic Kon Honolulu is nigh

CCH logoThe second stop on our yearlong parade of local conventions, Comic Con Honolulu, is coming up on Friday, and … okay, real talk: Just like how people keep calling the Don Quijote on Kaheka Street “Daiei” or “Holiday Mart,” or people in Waipahu still think of the Don Quijote store there as the old GEM store, or a whole bunch of other “Remember when ______ was ______?” conversations that fill #ThrowbackThursday threads on social media every week, a lot of you out there still think of Comic Con Honolulu as Hoku Kon, right? Even though we went over why the name changed earlier this year? It’s okay; I find myself switching between the two as well.

Whatever you prefer to call it, the convention launched as the all-the-things offspring of Kawaii Kon is ready to show con-goers what it has to offer. While it may not be as big as Kawaii Kon — the entire show’s only taking up the top floor of the Hawai ‘i Convention Center –the enthusiast spirit of the long-running anime convention certainly remains a core element here. Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend this year — we’re still working on taming the beast that is our new editorial computer system — but if I could go, here are what would be some of my highlights.

The Anime portal keyThe intro to Ingress panel! Hear about Niantic’s free-to-play massively multiplayer augmented reality game for almost every smartphone out there (sorry, Blackberry and Windows Phone users). Learn about the convoluted back story — something about a battle for Exotic Matter, aliens that either ought to be welcomed with a platter of cookies or repelled like con attendees who forgot to shower, and a buncha researchers, shadowy types and weird artificial intelligence constructs who have died, shattered into shards and been resurrected more times than the Hawaiian Netmender portal changes hands daily. You can also learn why the Enlightened is awesome (lovely greenish hues over everything; “think green” projects a solid environmental message; noodles) and why the Resistance is … umm … equally awesome (hey, they consistently build my portal at work to level 6-8 with a multihack and heat sink that I quietly hack, happily gearing up to go blow up their portals, links and fields elsewhere, so I’m not complaining).

If you decide to attend and subsequently begin playing, I should note two things. First, apologies in advance for all the free time and gas it ends up sucking up. Second — and I cannot stress this enough — please sign up for the Enlightened. You don’t know how many times I’ve talked about these intro to Ingress panels and ended up having readers join … only for them to become my biggest in-game rivals (*waves at agent ArcturusFlyer*). Sigh. 6:30 p.m. Friday, Panel Room.

Comic Jam Hawaii represents! Some of you may remember the Sketch Improv panel during Kawaii Kon, during which artists from Comic Jam Hawaii improvised sketches based on certain themes and ideas shouted out by the audience. It’s where the world first got to see a fire-breathing Slap Chop chicken …

IMG_7905

… the adventures of a side job-taking samurai …

IMG_7926

… Winnie the Deadpool …

IMG_7963

… a Totoro/Fast and Furious mashup …

IMG_7943

… and, of course, 50 Shades of Totoro.

20150327_121939

Sketch Improv is back for another go-round, this time with a slightly tweaked name (it’s Art Improv in your programs now) and a bigger venue (the Main Events room) but likely with the same sketchy hijinks. It should be a fun morning. That’s from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday.

memorabilia showcase 1Several Comic Jam artists will be over in Artist Alley as well. Roy Chang, MidWeek cartoonist and Pepe the Chihuahua’s kalbi handler, will set up his art board and offer free art portfolio critiques. Jon J. Murakami, Star-Advertiser “Calabash” cartoonist and creator of Gordon Rider, the Ara-Rangers, and Edamame Ninjas, will be selling a number of new items, including prints of his work from Udon’s upcoming Capcom Fighting Tribute artbook, original sketches, reusable shopping bags with customized hand-drawn art, and — assuming the books come back from the printer on time — Ara-Rangers issue #2. (Hopefully he gets over his cold in time for con, too … get well soon, Jon!) Kevin Sano and Michael Cannon will each have tables and will be selling prints and original artwork as well. (By the way, to the right, you can see a set of four Minions that Kevin custom-painted in the colors and outfits of various Kikaida characters, which I stuck in my new home office showcase. Clearly I love them. Bonus points to anyone who can identify the other things in the showcase at the moment.) 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Gates McFadden and Edward James Olmos! Not gonna lie; these are the only two guests I recognize straight out without having to resort to Google, one being Dr. Beverly Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the other one being an Academy Award nominee for best actor (Stand and Deliver, 1988). I’m very much a comic/sci-fi blogger in training; heck, when NPR recently released its list of top 100 sci-fi/fantasy books as voted on by listeners, I found I had read … exactly one of them. (Animal Farm. For school. Great book, A++++++ WOULD READ ORWELL AGAIN.) That’s not to say the rest of the guest list, which includes actors Adam Baldwin, Erin Gray, Mira Furlan, Sean Maher and J. August Richards and comic artist Khary Rudolph, is anything to dismiss; it’s a respectable roster that any startup convention would love to have.

It should be noted that the autograph policies were released Wednesday afternoon, and for those of you accustomed to lining up for free autographs and photo ops at Kawaii Kon, there’s going to be a bit of sticker shock involved — if you want a complete collection of Year One Comic-Con Honolulu guest autographs, it’s going to cost you $290. Olmos is the highest at $60, followed by McFadden at $50; Baldwin, Maher and Richards at $40 each; and Furlan and Gray at $30 each. (Rudolph will offer free autographs all weekend.) Want pictures of your experiences? It’s going to cost even more. Welcome to the modern-day convention economy, folks. Strap in your wallets and prepare for the ride.

IMG_8501_editCosplay cosplay cosplay! I’ll readily admit cosplay has become the modern-day equivalent of “Hey! Manga’s a thing! OMG, girls are reading comics now!” in modern-day con culture, the go-to topic mainstream media chooses whenever they want to talk about all those anime/manga/sci-fi/fantasy/comic book/whatever fans converging on Big Convention Spot for the Weekend. Heck, our paper covered that angle on Sunday (premium content; subscribers, please read that article, Mike Gordon and Jamm Aquino did a good job with the words and pictures, respectively). That said, people love to dress up, and cosplayers of all skill levels will be showing up during the weekend, from average fans all the way up to our most prominent local cosplayers (Uncanny Megan, shown above with tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. at this year’s Kawaii Kon! Leah Rose!). For you do-it-yourselfers, I count at least six cosplay-related panels, from Megan and Leah’s Cosplay Q&A (10-11 a.m. Saturday, Panel Room) to cosplay photography (3-4 p.m. Friday, Panel Room) and a whole variety of topics in between. And that doesn’t even take into account the Cosplay Competition, running from 6-7 p.m. Saturday in Main Events.

Interested in attending? Online registration has ended, but you can buy three-day passes ($55) and single-day passes (Friday, $35; Saturday, $40; Sunday, $30) starting at 9 a.m. Friday on the fourth floor of the convention center. Pre-registered attendees can pick up their passes at the same place starting at 8 a.m. Friday; it’s worth noting that unlike Kawaii Kon, passes will not be available for pickup Thursday night.

Want more information? Visit the con site at comicconhonolulu.com. Questions? Lob ’em at the con’s Facebook page.