Connect with cartoon art at Honolulu Hale

The last time I was in the Honolulu Hale courtyard a few months ago, there were Christmas trees decorated in anime themes.

Now? There’s a strip show. No, not that kind of strip show, ya pervs; it’s “The Strip Show: A Celebration of Cartoon and Comic Art,” an exhibit dedicated to local cartooning, with sections showcasing the work of Comic Jam Hawaii, MangaBento and late cartoonist Dave Thorne. And it’s on display now through next Wednesday.


Comic Jam Hawaii coordinator Michael Cannon shared the origins of the exhibit with the group:

When Dave Thorne passed away, the idea was floated to do an exhibit dedicated to him. Leiji (Harlock, one of the group’s members) contacted Scott Goto to see what could be done. Unfortunately city policy prevented us from being able to do an exhibit for a single person. I spoke more with Scott and found that if we did it as a group then we could have a section of the exhibit dedicated to Dave. We had to come up with some sort of theme, so it’s essentially a celebration of cartoon, comic, and manga art with the added tribute to Dave.

There are 32 panels in the exhibit to look at — 16 dedicated to Comic Jam Hawaii, eight each for Dave Thorne’s work and Mangabento. The courtyard is open during normal business hours, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and it’s definitely worth checking out. For those of you who can’t visit before next Wednesday, there are a bunch of pictures of the panels and behind-the-scenes setup work at (Facebook login required).

I also took some pictures of the exhibit and the opening reception Tuesday evening. This particular gallery also marks a bit of a testing ground for Otaku Ohana — the powers that be recently upgraded our blogging infrastructure to enable embedded photo galleries, so I thought I’d give it a spin here for the first time. Click twice to get the full-sized image — once to get the thumbnail, then a second time for the larger picture. Like it? Prefer I’d go back to embedding Flickr galleries? Let me know in comments.

(Update 3/5, 10:45 p.m.: Scott Shinsato of Comic Jam Hawaii posted a full video of the speeches made at the opening reception, most of which I missed. D’oh! You can see the video — no Facebook login necessary! — here.)

13 for ’13: Otaku Ohana’s year in pictures

Happy three-days-in-but-still-relatively-newish year! It’s hard to believe that June will mark five years since this blog gained a home on as an online complement to Cel Shaded. Five years, coincidentally, is also the amount of time it would probably take for me to catch up on all the anime that I’ve been meaning to review in this space if (a) every single anime producer, both in the U.S. and Japan, were to stop releasing anime at this very second, and (b) I watched anime 24/7/365. (And let’s not even think about the manga.)

I’m hoping that review situation improves this year. But before we move forward, let’s take a quick look back at some of the highlights from last year, captured by my trusty camera (and in some cases, my equally trusty smartphone). Some of these pictures have appeared in this space before. Others, I never got around to posting (curse you, real work getting in the way of fun work!). For remembering the year that was 2013, though, they’re fun jumping-off points.

Congratulation! A winner is you! (Jan. 12)


The final edition of the Liliha Library Anime Art Contest culminated in an awards ceremony at the beginning of the year. Rachel Ruiz placed second in the grades 6-8 category with this piece, for which she won a lovely bag of prizes.

Meanwhile, at the back of the room where the awards ceremony was held, young adult librarian Linda Mediati set up a table with a pile of donated Shonen Jump issues, English and Japanese editions, free for the taking for anyone who wanted them.

Judging by how many Rachel carted off, you wouldn’t be too far off in saying she won twice that day.

The surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya (March 17)


I’ve mentioned before in this space that I have an affinity for anything and everything related to the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise. So when Haruhi character designer Noizi Ito was announced as a guest for Kawaii Kon, I was ready to go to pretty much anything and everything at which she made an appearance. Hour-long live-drawing panel? Yes, please. Hour-long live-drawing panel where she draws Kawaii Kon mascots Ai-chan and Nami? Oh, yes, thank you very much. Hour-long live-drawing panel where she casually unveils the final cover for her newest Haruhi artbook for the first time anywhere? Oh, baby, yes.

And in case you’re wondering whether the book made it out to Japanese audiences: Yup.

Spartan assault on our hearts (March 17)


This is the only shot in this collection that wasn’t taken by me, but by one of Kawaii Kon’s staff photographers, Zarli Win. (We’ll see more of him in the next picture.) From where I was standing during the Kawaii Kon Masquerade, my trusty-yet-lacking-in-low-light-situations camera couldn’t have gotten anything as good as this. Being there to soak up the mood was awesome, though: the announcement of the contestant, this little girl in her “Halo Kitty” outfit — a Halo Spartan suit embellished with Hello Kitty accessories — walking out on stage, the collective gasp in the audience giving way to squeals and applause and a barrage of flashbulbs going off around the room.

Wedded bliss (June 2)


Tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Jandoc married longtime boyfriend Zarli Win in early June. It was a pretty big deal ’round these parts. Was it a ceremony that was full of Win? But of course.

Cait Sith, art guardian (June 18)


As it has for the past few years, the Honolulu Museum of Art School’s second-floor gallery hosted MangaBento’s annual exhibit. The 2013 edition, “Tomo-E-Ame: Friends-Drawings-Candy,” featured anime-inspired art in a wide variety of media. Among the pieces was this doll of Cait Sith hand-sewn by Heidi Shimada that, when viewed at a certain angle, looked like it was gazing over the gallery.

A master immortalized (July 27)


Cartoonist Dave Thorne — best known around these parts for his Sunday comic strip “Thorney’s Zoo” — may have died in 2012, but he left behind a body of work that remains beloved to this day. In July, several hundred people showed up for a celebration of life at Bay View Golf Park, with samples of his cartoons posted all over the clubhouse auditorium. One of the highlights was a “chalk talk,” with Alan Low narrating scenes from Dave’s life as Jon Murakami sketched on a giant pad of paper. The last drawing, done in advance: this. A fitting tribute to someone known as “the Yoda of Hawaii cartooning.”

Taku Taku dancing dancing (Aug. 25)


Taku Taku Matsuri, spearheaded by Yuka C. Nagaoka, debuted in August with a summer festival at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu. Games were played, art was drawn, food and other collectibles were sold, cosplayers roamed the grounds and played a round of Cosplay Chess, and everyone had a good time.

True to her word in my interview with her, Yuka showed up in a bright red kimono. She even jumped on stage with some of the other cosplayers and danced to Psy’s “Gentleman.”

Crossing cosplay (Sept. 15)


In September, Gallery Iolani on the Windward Community College campus hosted “Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii,” an exhibit tracing the history of manga and its influence on artists in the local community that was curated by Pen & Ink Works founder/Hachi Maru Hachi contributing artist Brady Evans. Brady also led a series of curator’s tours for four straight Sundays, where he’d talk about various exhibits … like these costumes of Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist and Teddie from Persona 4, part of the section talking about Kawaii Kon.

Oh yes, if you missed the exhibit, don’t worry: Brady’s already told me it’ll be returning in 2014. Details to come.

When “aloha” means goodbye (Sept. 17)

Test caption goes here.

Toys N Joys, known for years to a certain generation as the go-to place for anime merchandise, domestic and imported video games, closed its doors for the last time on Sept. 23 after a 30-year run in Kaimuki and a 25-year run at the Westridge Shopping Center in Aiea. This whiteboard, sitting in the same display window where toys, replica swords and Airsoft guns once sat in the Kaimuki store, served as a sounding board for some customers to pay their respects.

Angelic consultation (Oct. 2)


The time between Oct. 1 and Nov. 3 was one of the busiest I’ve seen for the local fan community in quite some time. The month got off to a hot start with two events taking place on the same day: Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library, and Kawaii Kon’s Anime Day at Windward Mall. I thought I’d be the only one crazy dedicated enough to make the drive over the Koolaus and attend both events, but it turned out there was another trio: Guardian Angels Dana Aton and Susana Choy of Cosmic Koi, makers of black and white hand-detailed angels’ wings and plasma ear pieces like these, and their adorably adorable lolita-clad daughter, Bella. Here, Bella and Susana shared a moment together at Mini Con.

The Macross miracle (Nov. 2)


Local anime convention Oni-Con Hawaii debuted this year, and while it had its share of problems, there were some fun times to be had as well. One of those fun times was at the “Filmmaking in Hawaii” panel, where Blood of the Samurai director Aaron Yamasato and Doko Ga TV host/“Japanmania — Sugoi!” blogger Pali Kaaihue talked about some of their projects.

But then came their Fabulous Swag Giveaway. Now, you have to realize that in the upcoming season of Doko Ga TV, Pali talked to some really cool people, including Masako Nozawa, the Japanese voice of Goku in Dragon Ball Z, and Yoko Kanno, composer of anime soundtracks that fill me with warm fuzzies like Cowboy Bebop, Kids on the Slope, Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex, Wolf’s Rain and some of the newer series in the Macross franchise. Accordingly, one of the items Pali gave away was something from Macross Frontier. The winner? Milton Streeter, former leader of the Japanese Animation Society of Hawaii and co-host of the “Anime Clubs in Hawaii” panel that took place immediately preceding this particular panel.

As you can see, he was a tad bit enthused.

The art of library talks (Nov. 6)


I’m not sure how many times over the years that I’ve attended talks by nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi about the creative process that goes into her thrice-weekly online comic strip, but one thing’s remained constant: Those talks are always fascinating, and fledgling artists could learn quite a bit from them. These two girls certainly took advantage of the opportunity, practicing sketching on Audra’s tablet after an evening talk at Kapolei Library.

The Journey continues (Dec. 22)


Journey of Heroes, the graphic novel recounting the story of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II, went into a second printing toward the end of the year, with the first public sale of those new books at the Honolulu Gift Fair in mid-December. That’s author Stacey Hayashi in the background … and behind the table in the foreground, helping her sell books and other merchandise chock full of chibi soldier goodness, was MidWeek cartoonist/Cacy and Kiara author Roy Chang.

And that was 2013 in a nutshell! 2014’s already getting off to a busy start with Comic Jam Hawaii returning to Pearlridge on Sunday (1-4 p.m.!) and the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s Ohana Festival on Jan. 19. Is another fun year loaded with plenty of pictures in store? You betcha.

Celebrating Dave Thorne: The “Zoo” keeper’s legacy (part 2 of 2)

It was a few minutes after midnight Saturday — and about eight hours or so before I’d head over the Koolaus for the Dave Thorne Celebration of Life — when I was going through pictures that I was about to burn on a CD for the Thorne family. Some of them have or will in a moment see the light of day here in Otaku Ohana; others, only I and they will ever see.

I thought I had pretty much wrapped up deciding which photo would go where … that is, until I came upon one particular sequence of shots from Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library on Sept. 10, 2011. Dave wasn’t a featured “guest,” but he showed up anyway and … well, here’s one of those shots that caught my attention.


Mini Con 2011 also happened to be the debut gathering for Pen & Ink Works, another anime- and manga-inspired artist collective. That’s group leader Brady Evans up front, leading a mini-workshop. And sitting in the front row? None other than Dave himself.

It’s proof that not only was he a man who was willing to share with others the joy of drawing, but also someone who was willing to learn from and support the educational endeavors of other artists. Such was his bond with the global cartooning community, really. I was talking with nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi about this at the Celebration of Life, and she mentioned that a few years ago, when she and Jon Murakami were doing summer talks at various public libraries around the state, Dave made it a point to visit.

Continue reading “Celebrating Dave Thorne: The “Zoo” keeper’s legacy (part 2 of 2)”

Celebrating Dave Thorne: The “Zoo” keeper’s legacy (part 1 of 2)

IMG_4842This post has been in the works for a little over a year now.

It’s funny sometimes how the universe works. The first saved draft recorded in the system has the time-stamp “24 July, 2012 @ 21:31.” Worked on it for a few days, got busy, dropped it. I picked it up again on Sept. 9 before Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library, then got busy and dropped it again.

The first time stamp on this latest revival of this post? “24 July, 2013 @ 18:25.” Almost exactly a year to the day that I began trying to write it. I swear I never planned it this way — I just wanted to have something to contribute to the discussion as members of the local and global cartooning community prepare for a celebration of Dave Thorne’s life on Saturday. (If you’d like to come pay your respects and join in the celebration, it’ll be from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bay View Golf Park, 45-285 Kaneohe Bay Drive, with visitation from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and a short service at 10:30 a.m.) It’s just been a matter of finding the right words and digging out the best pictures that’s taken this long.

It’s hard to believe it’s already been that long since Dave died — July 22, 2012, to be exact, at the age of 82. I only knew him personally for the last year and a half of that time; of that, I only spoke to him in person on four different days, all of them in 2011. You don’t need a calculator to figure out that my time spent with him was a very small sliver of his life in the grand scheme of things. It was only during his hospitalization that I began learning that he was so much more than the man who drew “Thorney’s Zoo” for our paper, that his sphere of influence expanded to encompass not only local cartoonists like Audra Furuichi, Jon Murakami and Dave Swann and isle ex-pats like Deb Aoki and Stan Sakai, but also artists around the world — Phil Yeh and Greg Evans are the ones that immediately pop to mind, although I’m sure there are many others. Mark Evanier — whose work with Groo the Wanderer I’ve absolutely adored since high school, by the way — blogged about Dave’s death. Scott Shaw wrote a remembrance piece that appeared in the program book this year at Comic-Con International in San Diego. If you’re on Facebook, I’d highly recommend checking out the Dave Thorne Tribute Page … you could spend hours browsing that seeing how much of an impact he made on people’s lives.

And, of course, he did a lot of work over the years. This mini-exhibit at a drawing workshop he hosted at McCully-Moiliili Library shows as much.


Yet from the first time I met him, at the Kahala cartoon art mural jam in March 2011, it was like I knew him for forever. Warm greeting. Firm handshake. And, of course, drawing. Always drawing, always eager to share with others the joy of drawing.

Continue reading “Celebrating Dave Thorne: The “Zoo” keeper’s legacy (part 1 of 2)”

“Tomo-e-Ame” part 3 + Ota-Cool Incoming: The return!


As I promised a few days ago, it’s time now to delve into the most substantive part of Tomo-e-Ame, this year’s MangaBento exhibit: the 2-D artwork posted around the gallery. Missed my earlier posts? Here’s part 1, featuring the gallery layout, and part 2, with the 3-D pieces.

This, however, is where things get a little tricky. If you delve into the actual gallery hosted on Flickr and look at the captions (which I must admit is a more difficult task ever since the site was redesigned a few months ago), you may have noticed that the information I have is either vague or nonexistent. If you or anyone you know has any additional information on those pieces, please let me know! I’d love to give credit where credit’s due.

You have through Saturday to see the exhibit in person at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, 1111 Victoria St.. I’d definitely recommend stopping by if you have a chance. If you can’t make it, though? There are more art events in store in coming weeks. Which brings us to the return of …

Ota-cool incoming!

The eagle-eyed readers among you may have noticed that the last Cel Shaded Report, along with Ota-Cool Incoming!, came almost a month ago. Truth be told, there really hasn’t been all that much over the past month or so to talk about, and it just seemed like I’d be forcing myself to ramble about that not-much-of-anything every week. And that wouldn’t be fun for any of us.

So the Cel Shaded Report is in semi-retirement — maybe it’ll come back someday; we’ll see how I feel — but the Ota-Cool Incoming! calendar has been refilled with a fresh batch of upcoming events, plenty to keep local anime and manga fans busy in coming weeks.

Anime Manga Society at UH-Manoa: Meetings during Summer Session 1 are Fridays through Aug. 9 in Kuykendall Hall, room 306. Screenings TBA. 5:30 to 7 p.m.

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

pen and ink works logo

Pen & Ink Works: Time for a summer Sketch Meet! This one, at Kaimuki Library (1041 Koko Head Ave.), will feature a short tutorial by the Hachi Maru Hachi artists, and copies of the local manga anthology also will be available for sale. A portion of the sales will benefit the Friends of the Kaimuki Public Library, so buy multiple copies. Because, y’know, we love libraries around these parts. Paper and pencils will be provided; parental supervision is advised for children under 12. Visit 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Dave Thorne Celebration of Life: Remembering the life and work of the “father of Hawaii cartooning” with a gathering at Bay View Golf Course (45-285 Kaneohe Bay Drive). I’ve been monitoring the buzz on the Dave Thorne Tribute Page (Facebook login required), and it looks like a fair number of cartoonists worldwide will be attending. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. July 27.

mini mini taku taku

Mini Mini Taku Taku Water Gun Fight!!!: Somehow my mind wants to read this as “Mini Mini Taku Taku Water Gun Water Gun Fight!!! Fight!!!” My mind also works in really weird ways sometimes, because that revised name is also unnecessarily long. In any case, it’s a water gun fight at Ala Moana Beach Park, brought to you by the people who are organizing Taku Taku Matsuri in August (see Future Attractions). It’s also scheduled for a six-hour block of time. Better bring lots of waterproof sunscreen. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 27.

’90s Anime Art Exhibit: The Loading Zone (47 N. Hotel St.) in the Chinatown art district is hosting this artistic tribute to the days of Evangelion, Escaflowne, Sailor Moon, Cowboy Bebop and countless other series that I’ve loved that now officially qualify as “vintage” anime. Sigh. Tomo-e-Ame participating artists Julie Feied and Dennis Imoto will have work in this exhibit, as will artist Chanel Tanaka. From 7 to 11 p.m. Aug. 2, as part of First Friday, there will be music by VJ Christian Berg, a dance performance by Blank Canvas, a fashion show presented by Visual Kei Dark Castle at 9 p.m., and Aloha Beer Company specialty beer on tap. From 7 p.m. to midnight Aug. 9, you can meet the artists and enjoy an improv show by Mr. Aaron Presents from 8 to 10 p.m. and a cosplay contest at 10 p.m. Both events will feature caricatures by Andy Lee and an art workshop; cover at each event is $5. And if you can’t make either event, the exhibit itself will be up Aug. 2-26. Gallery hours are 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, or by appointment. Visit (no Facebook login required).

Aiea Library Anime Club: No meeting this month, but next month librarian Diane Masaki will be screening episodes of Hetalia at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. Stockpile your supplies of celebratory pasta until then. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail 3 p.m. Aug. 3.

Kawaii Kon Beach Day: Watermelon smashing! Sand-castle building contests! Watermelon smashing! The Cosplay Runway! Watermelon smashing! A game of Capture the Flag! And did I mention the watermelon smashing? Indulge your inner Gallagher and have some fun in the sun at Magic Island Beach Park. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 3.

Summer Smash 2013: It’s the island’s biggest Airsoft shoot-em-up event of the summer, presented by Impact Games and Ash Bash Productions at Hawaii All-Star Field off Nimitz Highway (someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that’s the patch of land just after the entrance to the Disabled American Veterans Hall). So how did this make it into Ota-cool Incoming!? Kawaii Kon will be there, preregistering attendees for the 2014 convention (preregister at Summer Smash, get an exclusive patch!) and hosting a cosplay contest, to boot. (I’m kinda hoping one team shows up as Social Welfare Agency Special Ops Section 2. Just because.) For more information on the event and where to register, visit (no Facebook login required). Aug. 4.

Future Attractions

Taku Taku Matsuri: A summer festival with an anime/manga slant at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu. Aug. 25.

Oni-Con Hawaii: With guest Yuko Ashizawa, a fashion designer with Atelier Pierrot. Also featuring the Cosplay Chess Brigade and Yu x Me Maid Cafe & Host Club. Preregistration open now; $45 for a three-day pass. Hawai’i Convention Center, Nov. 1-3.

Kawaii Kon 2014: Guests include voice actors Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh and professional cosplayer Leah Rose. Preregistration open now; $37 for a three-day pass for children ages 5-12, $42 general admission. Hawai’i Convention Center, April 4-6, 2014.

Rest in peace, Dave Thorne

Dave Thorne at a cartooning lecture at McCully-Moiliili Library, April 16, 2011.
Dave Thorne at a cartooning lecture at McCully-Moiliili Library, April 16, 2011.

Posted to the Dave Thorne Get Well Page (Facebook login required) a few hours ago by son Randy Thorne:

Our Dearest friends and family: Our father, uncle, friend, mentor, teacher, husband, and bringer of aloha to everyone he met, passed over last night at about 12:30 am Hawaiian time. He suffered from a major stroke Friday which his body and most importantly his brain unfortunately could not recover from. He was surrounded with friends and family when the difficult decision was made to discontinue life support. He transitioned peacefully and without any duress. It is now up to everyone he has impacted to continue his legacy of Aloha. He will live on in all of us!

Mahalo Nui Loa for all of your prayers and best wishes. His “Celebration of Life” arrangements are pending. Love and Aloha, Randy

Those of you who read the Star-Advertiser knew Dave as the cartoonist and creative mastermind behind the Sunday comic strip “Thorney’s Zoo.” Here’s the archive through what would turn out to be his final “Thorney’s Zoo” strip, Oct. 30, 2011: It’s a big loss for the cartooning community, both locally and globally, to be sure.

I’ll have more thoughts and a tribute when I’m able to write them up, hopefully later this week.