Holiday weekend? Not for anime con news!

Look! It's a new, not-Kawaii Kon-logo image to illustrate this story! It's the con's limited-edition pin for 2013, to be exact. Via the Kawaii Kon Instagram feed.)It took less than 24 hours for my attention to shift from Oni-Con Hawaii’s debut back to Kawaii Kon with the convention’s unveiling of this year’s events schedule, which is always a fascinating read for an anime blogger getting ready to run back and forth between the Ala Moana Hotel and the Hawai’i Convention Center for four days. Download your copy at goo.gl/PBeoJ. Standard disclaimers apply — schedule subject to change, keep checking back for any changes between now and March 15, consult the official program that you’ll receive at the convention as well as the vast Kawaii Kon social media network for the most up-to-date information.

Two of the panels also tie in to announcements made in the past few days. Noizi Ito — the artist over whom I FANBOY SQUEEEEE~~~~~d over a few weeks ago, will be hosting an art portfolio review from 3 to 4 p.m. March 15 in Panel Room 3, and applications are now being accepted to be one of the three artists whose work she’ll review. Just email events@kawaii-kon.org by Friday and await further instructions.

The second panel — “Vocaloids Live,” from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. March 17 in the Main Events room — will bring those popular virtual idols to life in a concert at Kawaii Kon for the first time, courtesy of a fan group from Japan. Refresh your memory on how the technology works with my earlier post on DJ Livetune and Hatsune Miku.

I’ve been told that more detailed panel descriptions are coming soon, but here are a few other quick observations for now:

  • The Kawaii Lounge, the new panel room at the Ala Moana Hotel that I’ve talked about in the past, is coming into play much more than I originally thought. Not only is there the late-night programming that I talked about, there are daytime and evening panels being held there as well throughout the convention, making it the convention’s fifth panel room.
  • The anime industry will be represented with panels by Crunchyroll (11 a.m-noon March 15, Panel Room 1); Aniplex of America (1-2 p.m. March 16, Panel Room 2) and Sentai Filmworks (1:30-2:30 p.m. March 16, Panel Room 3).
  • Panels featuring groups and/or individuals I’ve been following here in Otaku Ohana include the Visual Kei Dark Castle panel (11 p.m. to midnight March 15, Main Events); “Yume no Teien Host Club” (hosted by Yu x Me Maid Cafe & Host Club, 4-5 p.m. March 16, Ballroom); a nemu*nemu panel (1-2 p.m. March 17, Panel Room 3); and “Otaku Pictionary” (hosted by MangaBento, 4-5 p.m. March 17, Kawaii Lounge).
  • And the “Best Title for a Panel That Really Makes You Wonder What It’s About” award goes to … “Kawaii Kon Trail: You Have Died of Dysentery,” happening in the Kawaii Lounge from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m.March 16.

In other con news, fans of the Johnny Yong Bosch-led band Eyeshine will want to keep an eye on the Kawaii Kon Facebook page on Monday, as the convention is promising to post a link for tickets to the band’s pre-con gig at the Oceanic Time Warner Cable VIP Music Hall at Dole Cannery (650 Iwilei Road, suite 400). Buying a ticket will grant access to the band for autographs, first crack at buying their new album, and (for preregistered con attendees) a chance to avoid the lines and pick up badges and programs early. You’ll want to get on that quickly, though, as only 35 tickets will be available. (Update 2/18, 7:30 a.m.: Here’s the ticket sale link. Concert starts at 8 p.m. March 14. Good luck.)

The Cel Shaded Report, 2/9: Kawaii Konversation keeps coming

kawaii-kon-logoSo you might have thought that things would settle down after the flurry of news out of the Kawaii Kon kamp … err, camp, last week.

You would be wrong.

That’s because a few days after last week’s Cel Shaded Report, news broke of another guest added to this year’s roster. So say hello to Toshio Furukawa, the Japanese voice of Piccolo in Dragon Ball Z, Freeman in Crying Freeman, Ataru Moroboshi in Urusei Yatsura, Kai Shinden in Mobile Suit Gundam, and several hundred bazillion other classic roles through the years as seen in his Anime News Network encyclopedia entry. He’s been in this voice-acting game since the 1960s, after all, and shows no signs of slowing down. Kawaii Kon will mark Furukawa’s third U.S. anime convention appearance, his most recent being at Sac-Anime in Sacramento, Calif., last month.

Meanwhile, in an announcement that probably fills anyone around the age 18-24 demographic with glee and aging 36-year-old relics like me with dread, there will now be even more convention to enjoy. In what could be considered the biggest expansion to Kawaii Kon since it moved to the Hawai’i Convention Center in 2007, part of the convention will be moving back to the Ala Moana Hotel with the advent of the Kawaii Lounge, a panel room that will have programming from midnight until 4 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. (Yes, I’m aware that the convention itself is noting that this is happening “Friday and Saturday.” I believe this is what they really meant.) Announced events so far include otaku speed dating, a pajama party and cosplay contest, and voice actor Todd Haberkorn’s “unplugged” panel.

Most formal convention events in years past have ended at midnight, so this move effectively adds eight hours of programming to an already packed schedule. Your friendly neighborhood blogger is unsure at this point whether to ask attendees to kindly keep the noise down, or to spring for several bottles of his preferred iced coffee beverage of choice to keep him awake long enough to cover some of the goings on during those late early hours.

Finally, a trio of con-related musical notes:

  • For those of you who fancy yourselves as singers, the second of three preliminary rounds for the Karaoke Kompetition is coming up from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24, at Orvis Auditorium on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. Just submit this form by 11:59 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, follow the rules on musical accompaniment as laid out on the official preliminary round page, and make your mark (hopefully in a good way and not in the style of those American Idol/X Factor/The Voice/[fill in your TV music competition series of choice here] train-wreck auditions that they always show for comedic effect). Three people will be chosen to move on to the semifinals, and out of the nine people who will be ultimately chosen — three during the previous round, the final three at an upcoming preliminary round to be announced — the winner will receive … something. (Seriously, look at the karaoke finals page. One would think a professional recording session would be included, as it has in past years, but we shall see.)
  • Eyeshine, the band led by voice actor Johnny Yong Bosch, will be filming their new music video on the last day of Kawaii Kon (Sunday, March 17), during the convention’s final hours (3-6 p.m.), in the main events room. (For those of you keeping score, this probably means closing ceremonies won’t start until 6 p.m. at the earliest. Make your dinner plans accordingly.) Want to be part of it? Stop on by. Just be sure to wear clothing with no visible logos. No cosplay will be allowed, either.
  • Advance tickets are now available for the Moonlight Magic Ball, the convention’s formal ballroom dancing event. Cost is $20, a savings of $8 over the at-the-door price. Deadline to reserve online is Feb. 28, though, so you’ll want to get on that sometime in the next few weeks.

Kawaii Kon is happening March 15-17 at the Hawai’i Convention Center; current rates for three-day passes are $48 general, $38 children ages 5-11. Two-day passes just went on sale, too, at $37 general, $27 children ages 5-11. For all your presale needs, visit kawaiikon2013.eventbrite.com; general information can be had at www.kawaii-kon.org.

Ota-cool incoming!

Yes, I think I’ve finally come upon a better name for the calendar formerly known as “The Great Calendar of Otakudom.” ‘Course, I could also end up changing this again next week or sometime down the line. You never know. It’s also a bit abbreviated this week because, well, news is happening that must be written up. Hopefully things will die down enough for me to finally write up the additions I’ve been meaning to throw in here sometime next week. We shall see.

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

Madoka Magica double feature: Watch the magical girl saga unfold in one big four-hour, two-film chunk comprising Beginnings and Eternal, Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Tickets are $20 general admission, $18 museum members. Visit http://www.honolulumuseum.org/events/films/13340-puella_magi_madoka_magica_parts_1_2 4 p.m. Feb. 27 and 28.

The Cel Shaded Report, 12/7: “Madoka Magica” films make contract with Honolulu

There haven’t been many anime series that have lit the ol’ “hey, pay attention, this is garnering quite a bit of attention on the fan scene” light on my anime-monitoring radar as of late. And for good reason: With the fan base as fractured as it is, more into things like Adventure Time and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and the Homestuck web comic and the Internet meme flavor of the moment than anime anime. Gone are the days when you could have big-time series like Naruto or Ouran High School Host Club or Hetalia unifying the masses; these days, it seems like there’s Pokemon, and then there’s a billion subsets of fandom.

Madoka and Kyubey, Nendoroid style. REVEL IN THE PUDGY CUTE.I have, however, heard more than my fair share of good things about Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It’s a mahou shoujo (magical girl) series that follows the triumphs and trials that high school student Madoka Kaname finds when Kyubey, a magical creature, offers her a contract to become a magical girl and fight the Witches who plague the world. Sure, she can get one wish of hers granted if she enters into the contract, but the burdens that she must take on and the despair of the world that she must see in doing so could be far too much for her to bear.

The 12-episode series is available for premium subscribers on Crunchyroll, or, if you have a few extra dollars to burn, you can also get it on DVD or Blu-ray from Aniplex of America. (Just remember, it’s Aniplex, home of the four-episode, $29.99 DVD/$39.99 Blu-ray … and that’s on sale.)

But some of you may not have the time to spare to digest five hours worth of TV show. That’s OK, because Shaft, the studio behind Madoka Magica, has you covered. In October, Shaft released a pair of compilation films, Beginnings and Eternal, with a total running time of … four hours. (A third film with new story content, Rebellion, is due out in 2013.) So yeah, watch the films, and you can save an entire hour of your life for other things! Yay?

Seriously, though, whether four hours or five, Madoka Magica does seem worthy of the time investment. The question, though, was always whether the U.S. distributors — Aniplex, in conjunction with Eleven Arts — would see fit to give Honolulu a shot at seeing the two films. The chances seemed remote at best, even as the double feature slowly started spreading from obvious locations (Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco) out to other recognizable cities (Seattle, Atlanta, Philadelphia) and then other cities (Akron, Ohio! Raleigh, N.C.!)

And then on Thursday, two screenings popped up on the Honolulu Museum of Art website. Scheduled for 4 p.m. Feb. 27 and 28 at the Doris Duke Theatre, at that. And the people rejoiced. Oh, yeah, and if there are any readers of this blog in Greensboro, N.C., you’re getting it, too. But mostly YAY US.

If you want to get in on the fun, tickets are already on sale for $20 general admission, $18 Honolulu Museum of Art members. First 20 people each night will get a limited-edition poster. Just remember, it is two movies’ worth of content you’re getting in one night — with an intermission in between — so be ready to settle in for the long haul. Point your browser of choice at http://www.honolulumuseum.org/events/films/13340-puella_magi_madoka_magica_parts_1_2 and go from there.

Kawaii Kon encore for Bosch and Eyeshine

Sunday was Anime Day at Windward Mall, where — just as this blogger predicted — Yu x Me: Maid Cafe & Host Club performed “Mune Mune Kyun.”

Mune mune kyun, mune kyun, mune kyun kyun ...

More pictures to come sometime between now and 2032. The reason why I’m bringing up Anime Day here, though, is because a guest announcement for Kawaii Kon 2013 surfaced there: After a hugely successful appearance this year, voice actor Johnny Yong Bosch and his band, Eyeshine, will be returning next year for a repeat performance. Recapping Bosch’s resume for those of you new to this ballgame: He was the first replacement Black Ranger in the Power Ranger franchise and is best known as the voice of Vash the Stampede in Trigun, Ichigo in Bleach, Kaneda in Akira, Lelouch Lamperouge in Code Geass, Claus in Last Exile and Renton in Eureka Seven. Eyeshine, for their part, will be debuting their new album — 100 limited-edition copies also will be on sale — and shooting their new music video at the convention. (And yes, con attendees will get to be part of it, too.)

Bosch and Eyeshine join previously announced guests Todd Haberkorn, Colleen Clinkenbeard and Lisle Wilkerson — voice actors one and all. Kawaii Kon is March 15-17 at the Hawai’i Convention Center; three-day general admission passes are $48 ($38 children ages 5-11) through Feb. 28. Visit www.kawaii-kon.org.

More from the anime news desk

Roy Chang’s Cacy & Kiara library tour: Learn about the creative processes behind Cacy & Kiara and the Curse of the Ki’i, the new young adult novel by Roy, an Aiea Intermediate art teacher, MidWeek cartoonist and friend of the blog. This is Roy’s last scheduled library appearance for the year, so go see him if you haven’t already! 1:30-2:30 p.m. Saturday at Liliha Library, 1515 Liliha St. (Speaking of Liliha Library, don’t forget to submit artwork for the third annual Anime Art Contest. Deadline for that is Dec. 31.)

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

Moanalua High School Winter Craft Fair: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the school, 2825 Ala Ilima St. It’s your last chance to get your nemu*nemu swag from Audra Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga, and your second-to-last chance to get apparel and buttons from Terri Dux, Karl Miyashiro and the gang at idkwhat2wear. (The latter group will be at one last craft fair this holiday season — the Hawaii United Okinawa Center evening craft fair in Waipio Gentry from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday.)