The weekend of WOW! has arrived

There are times when one wishes human cloning could be a reality outside of science fiction.

This weekend would be one of those times for me. For some inexplicable reason, Sunday in particular has become one of the busiest, non-convention-related days I’ve seen in quite some time. Saturday has some pretty cool stuff, too, which could be impacted by presidential travel closing key routes to people trying to go places.

There’s quite a bit to get to, so let’s get to the rundown!

Saturday

Stan Sakai visits McCully-Moiliili Library:  Fresh off an appearance at Maui Comic Con, the kamaaina creator of rabbit ronin Usagi Yojimbo will be giving a talk at 10:30 a.m., signing autographs ($5 for up to three signatures) and doing quick sketches ($5 each) in a benefit for the library. Collector Maniacs will also have four rare Usagi Yojimbo individually numbered, hardcover collections for sale for $125 each: “Fox Hunt” (vol, 25, no. 202 of 350), “Traitors of the Earth” (vol. 26, 94 of 350), “A Town Called Hell” (vol. 27, 136 of 350) and “Red Scorpion” (vol. 28, 109 of 350). Also, see those Usagi dolls at the top of this post? You can enter to win one of those. The library is at 2211 S. King St.; arrive early to grab some parking.

Artists’ corner: Cacy & Kiara / Highball & Pepe author Roy Chang will be selling things at the Aiea High School PTSO Craft Fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the high school at 98-1276 Ulune St. Marisa and Carole Gee of Kawaii Mono will be selling their jewelry on the Uptown side of Pearlridge Center from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Sunday

anime day 4.0Anime Day 4.0: Kawaii Kon’s mini-con experience is back for a fourth year (and its second at the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk complex at Ala Moana Center). Trivia master extraordinaire Remy Zane will be presiding over a number of games and activities, including a cosplay contest. Comic Jam Hawaii will host the art wall, where anyone can pick up a pen and sketch whatever they want (within acceptable family-friendly parameters, of course). A bunch of artists and crafters (including Jon Murakami and Kawaii Mono!) will be selling their wares as well. Take advantage of Kawaii Kon’s preregistration special and pick up a three-day pass for next year’s con for $55, too! 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

toyfair nov17

Hawaii Toy Fair: If you’re looking for some rare, hard-to-find collectible or just want to stare slack-jawed at just how many Funko Pop figures have been produced over the past few years, this event, packed with more than 50 dealers, can probably help you out. Special guests include Marvel and DC artist Mark Texeira and Game of Thrones storyboard artist Mog Park. Ala Moana Hotel, Hibiscus Ballroom. Admission is $3, but children 5 and under, as well as all cosplayers, can get in free. Visit hawaiitoyfair.com8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Japanese voice actors visit Waikiki Yokocho: This is one of the more surprising events to come down the pipe in some time, so here’s the deal: Voice actors Ryo Horikawa (Vegeta in Dragon Ball Z, Andromeda Shun in Saint Seiya, Heiji Hattori in Detective Conan/Case Closed) and Takumi Kamada (Frederick Ando in Ame-iro Cocoa Series: Ame-Con!!, currently streaming on Crunchyroll) will join musician Kaoru Kondou for a special event at Waikiki Yokocho, the Japanese food alley in the basement of the Waikiki Shopping Plaza (2250 Kalakaua Ave.). The common thread between the three: All of them worked on an anime series about a coffee shop called Rainy Cocoa, which, in its third season, featured a branch opening in Hawaii. So there you go. They’ll be doing a talk show, an autograph session and a mini concert starting at 1 p.m. You can get full details about the event from this flyer.

pikachu movie

Movie screenings: Fathom Events’ first showing of Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You!, a retelling of the origin stories of Ash and Pikachu, and the Hawaii International Film Festival’s first showing of Napping Princess, where a girl’s mysterious dream world is the key to saving her father after he’s arrested for stealing technological secrets, will be at 12:55 and 2:30 p.m., respectively, at the Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 complex.

McCully-Moiliili Library’s Mini Con marches on

I’m back from yet another extended hiatus! This one’s going to take a bit more explaining, and I hope to get around to doing that reasonably soon (and preferably not take another two months or so to do so).

2017 Poster smBut we’ve got a lot of news to catch up on. So let’s get right to it: The eighth annual edition of Mini Con at the McCully-Moiliili Library is happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Eight years is a really long time for the local otaku community; for starters, that makes it the second-longest-running event held in consecutive years this century, behind only Kawaii Kon (13 events as of this year). Consider also that it’s outlasted the lifespans of the following now-defunct events combined:

  • HEXXP (three years)
  • Oni-Con Hawaii (one year)
  • Anime Matsuri Hawaii (one year)
  • Anime Ohana (one year)

That’s pretty special. And a lot of it has been built on the foundation that then-young adult librarian, now-branch manager Hillary Chang established when I first wrote about this event back in 2010: a mini Artist Alley, a chance for cosplayers to show off, anime screening throughout, and giveaways up the wazoo. Including these selections that were available at last year’s event.

Yes, that is Godzilla and a rubber chicken, and no, I’m not sure how anyone got along without having these in their lives, either.

This year: There are comics. Lots. And lots. Of comics.

22045639_1580556775297768_4510073688966085769_n

And just as in previous years, all you have to do to get your hands on some of ’em is to visit the exhibiting artists and authors and complete a stamp card.

21766634_1582301558456623_4896144694611754960_n

The exhibitors have remained fairly constant as well. Sure, their roles may have evolved over the years — Jon Murakami has added Edamame Ninjas and The Ara-Rangers to his portfolio; Audra Furuichi has scaled back her retail appearances (Mini Con’s the only event she’s appeared at this year!) and shifted her full-time cartooning focus to nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii in the Star-Advertiser; Kevin Sano is now selling comics and art in a space at Idea’s Music and Books (formerly Jelly’s) in #OurKakaako; and Brady Evans, who’ll be doing art demonstrations throughout Mini Con, now works as collections manager at the Honolulu Museum of Art. But they’ve shown up year after year, and it’s been a nice chance to catch up with what they’ve been doing in a more intimate setting than the bigger events can offer.

New to the festivities this year is Hiroshi Mori, a local expat and University of Hawaii at Manoa alumnus who currently works at the Third Floor in Los Angeles as a previsualization artist, someone who visualizes what complex scenes in movies will look like before they’re filmed. Some of his credits include Mad Max: Fury Road, The Avengers, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and Men in Black 3. His comic Island Kingdom “is inspired from growing up in Honolulu and combining Hawaii’s surf culture with the movies, TV and comic books I grew up with, such as ‘Mad Max: Road Warrior,’ ‘The Yagyu Conspiracy,’ ‘Escape From New York,’ and ‘Conan the Barbarian’ just to name a few,” he told Surfer Today in an article published in January. He’ll have print copies of Part 1 in the series, “Surf or Die,” available for sale.

Also appearing will be author David Estes, who’s written more than 30 sci-fi and fantasy books. The first book in his “Fatemarked Epic” series, Fatemarked, tops Amazon’s Teen & Young Adult Medieval Fiction eBook chart, with several other books in the series not too far behind. He’ll host a writing workshop, “Build Your Own World,” at 10:30 a.m.

McCully-Moiliili Library is at 2211 S. King St.; as always, arrive early for the best parking. Call 973-1099.

 

The Amazing Hawaii Comic Con photo-ops schedule

Here we are, a little over an hour after Amazing Hawaii Comic Con opened today, and there has yet to be anything posted online from the con’s various social media channels about schedules for photo ops (aside from William Shatner, Jason David Frank and Kevin Eastman) or autographs.

Well, I’ve taken matters into my own hands. Thanks to Facebook user Ayame Takahara, who snapped pictures of the photo-ops board posted on the exhibit hall floor,, I’ve been able to cobble together a version of this weekend’s photo-ops schedule at the convention for anyone needing it, along with relevant prices. Still waiting for an autograph schedule, but I have people keeping an eye out for that as well.

So here you go, the first proof that, yes, the Star Trek: The Next Generation stars will be made available outside of Saturday’s $65 panel:

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 4.12.38 PM

Coming to terms with an Amazing weekend

The third entry in Con-athon 2017, Amazing Hawaii Comic Con, is this weekend. And … well, I’ll be honest: It’s the event for which I’ve held the most mixed emotions.

amazing-hawaii-comic-con-logo-ahcc.jpgOn the one hand, it’s become to the local comic fan community what Kawaii Kon has been to the local anime/manga fan community for years: the premier event at which comic fans can showcase their work. Members of the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance will be out in full force and will have a special print available for a minimum $5 purchase. (You can see what the print looks like in the featured image for this post.) A good number of the state’s comic shops, including Dragon’s Lair, Choice Comics, Westside Comics and Other Realms on Oahu, Maui Comics & Collectibles and Hilo’s Enjoy Comics will be represented there.

On the other hand … man, I am still so torn about these extra-cost, premium a la carte fan experiences. I said it last year when I wrote about this convention, and I’ll say it again: The people willing to shell out extra money are the ones likely to get the most enjoyment out of this show, from the VIP passes promising early admission, express lines and priority seating at general admission panels to the “Ultimate Fan Experiences” tailored to certain guests.

This year, there’s an added wrinkle: One of the biggest panels, a “Star Trek Generations” panel Saturday night hosted by William Shatner that features Star Trek: The Next Generation stars Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden and Brent Spiner, will cost an extra $65 to attend ($95 if you want premium seating, $200 if you want to buy it as part of an Ultimate Fan Package that also includes premium seating for the Shatner panel on Sunday, a Shatner autograph ticket, a priority pass for other autograph sessions, an exclusive lanyard and badge, and other Star Trek con-exclusive merchandise).

This wouldn’t bother me so much if I knew what kind of accessibility the general public will be getting to these stars outside of this panel. As of this writing at 8 a.m. today, with the con starting in seven hours, I’ve only seen autograph information posted for Shatner, Power Rangers star Jason David Frank and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator Kevin Eastman. I’m one of those people who likes planning where I’m going and roughly how much I’m going to be spending, and to not have this information available before I show up is pretty frustrating.

Anyway, enough from my soapbox. Let’s get to the nitty-gritty fast facts!

Amazing Hawaii Comic Con

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

It’s the one with: William Shatner. The actor. Who. Everyone knows played. Captain James. T. Kirk. In the original. Star Trek. And whose. Speaking style. Has been parodied by. Countless people over. The years.

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

Jason David Frank, the Green/White Power Ranger in the Power Ranger franchise and guy who’s lobbying hard to fight former WWE Superstar ™ CM Punk in MMA combat.

Alan Tudyk, K-2SO in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Wash in Firefly/Serenity, voice of Hei Hei the derpy chicken in Moana, and, as the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction likes to remind me, Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.

Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn, founding member of Image Comics, and guy who bought the record-breaking home run balls hit by Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds.

Anime fans won’t feel left out at this year’s show, either; scheduled to attend are Bryce Papenbrook and Trina Nishimura, the voices of Eren and Mikasa, respectively, in Attack on Titan; Bonnie Gordon, the voice of R. Mika in Street Fighter V; and anime YouTubers TheAnimeMan and akidearest.

Other notes of note: As I mentioned earlier, the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance is going to play a major role in this show. The group will be hosting a “meet the creators” panel at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by various “Making a Comic Book” panels over the weekend — part 1, “Characters and Story,” at 3 p.m. Saturday; part 2, “Sequential Art,” at 4 p.m. Saturday; and part 3, “Getting Published,” at 11 a.m. Sunday. All panels will be held in Panel Room B.

Also attending this weekend: Stacey Hayashi, author of the Journey of Heroes graphic novel about the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and its accomplishments during World War II. Stacey’s now producer/writer of Go for Broke, a movie chronicling those accomplishments, and she’ll be on a panel with director Alex Bocchieri and several local cast members to talk about the movie and preview footage at noon Saturday in Panel Room A. Visit her at booth 319 in the main exhibit hall, too!

How much? Three-day passes are $60; single-day passes are $25 for Friday, $35 for Saturday and $25 for Sunday. VIP packages and select Ultimate Fan Packages start at $150. Children under 10 are free with paying adult, as are all Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in uniform.

Website: amazinghawaiicomiccon.com

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/

Anime Ohana postpones upcoming convention

Anime Ohana logo

It looks like the finish line of Con-athon 2016 is coming up sooner than anyone expected.

Anime Ohana, the show co-founded by former Kawaii Kon director Stan Dahlin and former Sentai Filmworks producer/director David Williams, announced this morning that it would be delaying this year’s show, scheduled for Nov. 4-6, by 11 months. The new dates are Oct. 6-8, 2017, to be exact. The venue, the Pagoda Hotel, will remain the same, as will the guests announced to date — voice actors Christina Marie Kelly, Molly Searcy and David Wald, all involved with Akame ga Kill.

From the official statement:

“In order to bring you the best possible event, we feel we need to build more awareness. We are now working with a new marketing and promotions group to help get the word out about Anime Ohana and want to give them time to properly promote the event. … We know that this could affect some fans ability to attend the event and we will be contacting everyone who have already purchased tickets with the option of obtaining a refund if you like or applying it to the new dates.

This means that if you want to get your con fun time on, this weekend’s Special Edition of Amazing Hawaii Comic Con will be your last chance to do so on Oahu this year. It’s not the end of the otaku calendar by any means, though; there are several smaller events planned in coming weeks, including Kawaii Kon’s Anime Day at Shirokiya Japan Village Walk Oct. 15, Neet at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii Oct. 21, and Maui Comic Con Nov. 5-6.

Anime Ohana’s withdrawal from 2016 marks the second show to do so after Anime Matsuri Hawaii’s announcement earlier this year. Unlike Anime Matsuri, though, there’s at least some expectation that there will be a 2017 show. Anime Ohana was the smallest convention in the state by a wide margin last year — we’re talking three-digit attendance over the weekend run, whereas everyone else recorded at least four — and not many people I’ve talked to recently were aware there was a convention after Amazing this year, despite the show’s increased promotional efforts.

Here’s hoping the extra time makes 2017 a better experience for everyone involved.

The Mini-ficent Seven

A number of you who use Facebook probably know about its Memories/On This Day feature, where their little algorithmic thingamabobs and doohickeys dig down deep in your timeline and pull up posts that you might’ve forgotten existed about a week after you posted them.

Today, this memory popped up on my timeline.

Four years ago already ... maaaaaaaaaan ... Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Four years ago already? Maaaaaaaaaan. We’ve gotten so much more … umm, *vintage* since then. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

And it reminded me, “Welp, blogger boy, your HawaiiCon vacation’s over, time to get back to work and write a new post.”

Here’s why: The latest edition of Mini Con will be held four years and two days after I posted that picture. This is one of those events that your friendly neighborhood otaku blogger’s been covering for a long time — this is its seventh year, in fact, making it the second longest continually running event I’ve covered, behind only Kawaii Kon.

This year's edition of the Mini Con flyer, by Audra Furuichi. Courtesy image.
This year’s edition of the Mini Con flyer, by Audra Furuichi. Courtesy image.

The formula that McCully-Moiliili Library branch manager Hillary Chang has followed every year is simple, yet effective: Bring in artists Jon Murakami, Audra Furuichi and Kevin Sano as the foundation; supplement with at least one more rotating guest; host a stamp rally and give away prizes throughout the day; give patrons a chance to cosplay.  (This year’s rotating guest is artist Mark Gould, a member of the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance who’s done a fair amount of freelance work over the last few years, including covers for Slave Labor Graphics’ Model A and contributions to Christopher Caravalho’s Aumakua: Guardians of Hawaii books.)

Not everyone has the time, money and/or energy to attend one or (for the most hard-core crazy among us) several of the otaku conventions held around the state every year; Mini Con’s existed as an option for people to get a free taste of convention life, a slice of Artist Alley in a library setting. This is also going to be Audra’s last event as a vendor for this year, so this will be your last chance to pick up some nemu*nemu merchandise or some of her lovely, lovely original artwork from her in person until … well, Kawaii Kon next spring, I reckon.

All of this is happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the library, 2211 S. King St.; parking at the library is limited, so either plan on showing up early, go across the street to Ross Dress For Less (which has graciously opened up its lot for use by library patrons) or bring a handful of coins to feed the meters. For more information, call 973-1099.