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–

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

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

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… 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:

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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.

A whole lotta Ghibli goin’ on

Not shown: The part where Ponyo says she likes haaaaam. (Why yes, we used this same joke with Wilma's Ponyo review in 2012. We're all about the running gags here.)
Sosuke and Ponyo prepare for their magical boat ride. (Photo courtesy Nibariki-GNDHDDT)

Remember all those times I’ve said in the past few years that [INSERT MONTH/YEAR HERE] is going to be the best month ever for theatrical anime being screened locally? First of all, congratulations, you have a very good memory. Second, you may now forget I ever said that before, because April 2016 is claiming that title of best month ever now and forever.

The reason: Starting Saturday and running through May 5, for every day except Fridays (gotta make that new-release box office bank, after all!), Consolidated’s theaters across Oahu and their Kaahumanu complex in Kahului will be home to the Studio Ghibli Festival, screening every major Studio Ghibli film ever made. That’s everything from 1984’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Hayao Miyazaki’s pre-Ghibli feature that led to the creation of the studio, through 2014’s When Marnie Was There, plus the live-action Kingdom of Dreams and Madness documentary for good measure. That’s 22 good-to-great movies and Tales From Earthsea — which was kind of a disappointment for me — over roughly a month.

… yeah, I’ll just leave this meme here.

take my money meme

Most of the films will be screened two or three times each over the month, with English-dubbed and English-subtitled versions available. The more popular films — Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away — will be shown four times each.

But the real rarity in the group is Ocean Waves (Umi ga Kikoeru), the 1993 made-for-TV movie that is the only major Ghibli project never to see wide release in the U.S. now that GKids finally picked up Only Yesterday. The film’s rights belong to Disney, which kinda has bigger fish to promote, so we probably won’t be seeing that in wide release any time soon, either. Ocean Waves will be shown exactly once — mark your calendars for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14, and set your GPSes for the Koolau 10 complex, across from the Valley of the Temples cemetery in Windward Oahu.

Breaking down the numbers further, the big winner in terms of number of screenings is the Kapolei 16 complex, which will be showing 15 out of the 23 movies available, all of them subtitled. The Koolau, Mililani 14 and Pearlridge 16 theaters come in tied for second with 10 apiece, in both subbed and dubbed flavors at the first two and all subbed at Pearlridge.

Here’s the full screening schedule organized by theater, with GhibliWiki links in case you’d like to learn more about each movie. (Trust me, if I had to write 23 synopses and attach 23 trailers like I usually do with these previews, this post would have been posted sometime in February 2022.) Prefer to see what’s on deck chronologically? Here’s Consolidated’s “coming soon” list. Tickets, at $10 each, are available now on Fandango (except for the April 30 Kahala screening of The Wind Rises for some weird reason). Sorry, no passes are being accepted.

Kahala 8

All films dubbed; screenings at 11 a.m. Saturdays.

Castle in the Sky: April 2

Kiki’s Delivery Service: April 9

Spirited Away: April 16

Howl’s Moving Castle: April 23

The Wind Rises: April 30 (note: ticket sales not available yet)

Kapolei 16

All films subbed; screenings at 7 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: April 4

Castle in the Sky: April 5

My Neighbor Totoro: April 7

Kiki’s Delivery Service: April 11

Only Yesterday: April 12

Pom Poko: April 14

Whisper of the Heart: April 18

Princess Mononoke: April 19

The Cat Returns: April 21

Tales From Earthsea: April 25

Ponyo: April 26

From Up on Poppy Hill: April 28

The Wind Rises: May 2

Kingdom of Dreams and Madness: May 3

When Marnie Was There: May 5

Koko Marina 8

All films dubbed; screenings at 11 a.m. Sundays.

My Neighbor Totoro: April 3

Whisper of the Heart: April 10

Secret World of Arrietty: April 24

Tale of the Princess Kaguya: May 1

Koolau 10

11 a.m. Sunday screenings dubbed; 7 p.m. Thursday screenings subbed.

Porco Rosso: April 3, 11 a.m.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: April 7, 7 p.m.

Pom Poko: April 10, 11 a.m.

Ocean Waves: April 14, 7 p.m.

The Cat Returns: April 17, 11 a.m.

Princess Mononoke: April 21, 7 p.m.

Tales From Earthsea: April 24, 11 a.m.

Ponyo: April 28, 7 p.m.

When Marnie Was There: May 1, 11 a.m.

Tale of the Princess Kaguya: May 5, 7 p.m.

Mililani 14

11 a.m. Saturday screenings dubbed; 7 p.m. Wednesday screenings subbed.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: April 2, 11 a.m.

Castle in the Sky: April 6, 7 p.m.

Only Yesterday: April 9, 11 a.m.

Whisper of the Heart: April 13, 7 p.m.

My Neighbors the Yamadas: April 16, 11 a.m.

Tales from Earthsea: April 20, 7 p.m.

Ponyo, April 23, 11 a.m.

Howl’s Moving Castle: April 27, 7 p.m.

From Up on Poppy Hill: April 30, 11 a.m.

Kingdom of Dreams and Madness: May 4, 7 p.m.

Pearlridge 16

All films subbed; screenings at 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

My Neighbor Totoro: April 5

Grave of the Fireflies: April 6

Kiki’s Delivery Service: April 12

Porco Rosso: April 13

Spirited Away: April 19

My Neighbors the Yamadas: April 20

From Up on Poppy Hill, April 26

Secret World of Arrietty: April 27

The Wind Rises: May 3

Tale of the Princess Kaguya: May 4

Ward Stadium

All films subbed; screenings at 7 p.m. Mondays.

Grave of the Fireflies: April 4

Only Yesterday: April 11

Spirited Away: April 18

Howl’s Moving Castle: April 25

When Marnie Was There: May 2

Kaahumanu (Maui)

11 a.m. Saturday screenings dubbed; 7 p.m. Thursday screenings subbed.

My Neighbor Totoro: April 2, 11 a.m., April 7, 7 p.m.

Kiki’s Delivery Service: April 9, 11 a.m., April 14, 7 p.m.

Princess Mononoke: April 16, 11 a.m., April 21, 7 p.m.

Spirited Away: April 23, 11 a.m., April 28, 7 p.m.

Howl’s Moving Castle: April 30, 11 a.m., May 5, 7 p.m.

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. (April’s “friends” are the ship-gals of KanColle.) The response this time around: Crisis! Diane’s approaching the end of the Polar Bear run! And there aren’t very many KanColle episodes left, either! What will the club screen next? And what will be the next running gag for this item?!? 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.

Sanrio Ala Moana Anniversary Party: Head out to Ala Moana Center and take pictures (or selfies, if you’re alone) with a giant Hello Kitty mascot character and also enjoy: Special product promotions! Free face painting and Hello Kitty hat with any purchase! And a special gift with any $75 purchase! 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center; check their Facebook page for where in the mall they’ll be meeting. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Ota-cool incoming: November rain, cinematic reign

After the flurry of activities that was Con-athon 2015 — five straight weekends between September and October, five convention or convention-like festivals — you’d think we’d be getting a breather with the holidays approaching.

You’d be wrong. Ohhhhhhh so very wrong.

From the beginning of this month’s free-movie roster at Kahua Cafe through Anime Matsuri Hawaii at the end of this month, this has become yet another “want something to do THIS week? Here ya go!” month in an endless parade of such months. This edition of the Ota-cool Incoming calendar starts off with a roundup of all the movies screening in the next few weeks, starting with …

Ponyo

Wednesday Family Nights at Kahua Cafe: All this month, Kahua Cafe will be screening Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli favorites. It’s a family-friendly event, so the movies will be the English-dubbed versions, and they’ll be screening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The lineup:

  • Wednesday: Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Nov. 11: Ponyo
  • Nov. 18: Spirited Away
  • Nov. 25: Howl’s Moving Castle

Kahua Cafe is in the back of Na Mea/Native Books Hawaii, on the first floor of Ward Warehouse below The Old Spaghetti Factory. They have a pretty yummy-looking menu, too. Questions? Hit them up on their Facebook event page (they were prompt in answering my questions!) or call 990-0384.

(And if that photo above looks familiar, you have a very good memory.)

Anthem of the Heart: There’s one more screening of this tale from the Anohana creative team of a girl with words sealed away in her heart: noon Saturday at the Consolidated Ward Stadium 16 theaters. Here’s a trailer.

I already mentioned this in my last post, but since then a new review has popped up on Fandom Post. Spoiler alert: It gets an A+. A home video release can’t arrive soon enough for me.

GitS

Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie: Not to be confused with Ghost in the Shell: The Original Movie, Ghost in the Shell 2: The Kinda Confusing Sequel to the Original Movie, or Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society: And This One’s Based on the TV Seriesthis particular installment follows up on the events of the four-part Arise OAV. The prime minister of Japan is dead, the Fire-Starter virus continues to infect Ghosts, and Major Motoko Kusanagi and the members of Section 9 must untangle the complex web of government corruptions and shadowy figures to figure out what’s going on.

Here, have another trailer.

The movie has a limited run at the Consolidated Ward theaters before moving to the Honolulu Museum of Art for nine, count ’em, nine screenings. Your showtimes:

  • Consolidated Ward Stadium 16: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10, 11 and 16
  • Doris Duke Theater (Honolulu Museum of Art): 4 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15, 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21, 1 p.m. Nov. 22, 1 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 27

Tickets are available on Fandango for Ward ($12.25 general, $9 seniors, $8.75 children) and the art museum website ($10 general admission, $8 museum members) for the Doris Duke screenings.

boy and beast

Hawaii International Film Festival: There’s only one anime in this year’s HIFF Fall Showcase (Nov. 12-22). Fortunately, it’s the latest project from one of the best creators still around since Studio Ghibli went dormant: Mamoru Hosoda, director of the great The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, the sublime Summer Wars and the sounds-great-but-it’s-still-on-my-pile-of-things-to-watch Wolf Children. His latest movie, The Boy and the Beastfeatures loner Kyuta (side note: I seem to be writing a lot of synopses these days where the main character is described as a loner of some sort, aren’t I?) embarking on an adventure-filled journey with Kumatetsu, a supernatural beast also isolated in an imaginary world.

Third trailer time!

The Boy and the Beast screens at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 21 and 5 p.m. Nov. 22, with both screenings at the Regal Dole Cannery theaters.

Also, for those of you who enjoyed Journey of Heroes, the comic book recounting the achievements of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 100th Infantry Battalion with chibi characters, author Stacey Hayashi has a pair of projects screening as part of this year’s “Made in Hawaii Shorts” roundup: “The Surrender Call,” based on Military Intelligence Service linguist Herbert Yanamura’s actions to save civilians during the bloody Battle of Okinawa, and “The Herbert Yanamura Story,” in which he shares his story and reunites with someone whom he saved from that battle nearly 70 years later. “Made in Hawaii Shorts” screens at 5:45 p.m. Nov. 16 and 10:45 a.m. Nov. 21 at the Dole Cannery theaters, and 3 p.m. Nov. 22 at the Consolidated Koko Marina theaters. If anyone reads this blog on Kauai, you guys can see these shorts, too, at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 21 at the Waimea Theatre.

HIFF tickets are $14 general, $12 students, seniors and military members. Memberships are also available for those of you who really love your movies. Visit hiff.org.

Elsewhere around town

“Short Story: Drawings by Brady Evans”: I’ve been covering the work of Brady Evans for quite a while now, from his days winning MangaBento art contests to starting art groups to curating an exhibit about manga in Hawaii to buying pretty artwork by him on display in art shows downtown, and probably a whole bunch of other things in between. Now Brady’s going to have an exhibit of his drawings on display at my alma mater, Punahou School, and I’m thrilled not only because I get to swing by there and see his work, but also because I can stop by the lily pond near Thurston Chapel. Fishies! Turtles! The occasional confused duck! I usually only plan on visiting once a year during the school’s annual malasada fundraiser for scholarships — you know, the Punahou Carnival — so this is a bonus visit for me. Kirsch Gallery (next to Cooke Library); opening reception 3:30-6 p.m. Thursday, exhibit on display through Nov. 19 (gallery hours 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays). Call 943-3247.

keiki con

Keiki Con: KYAAAAAAAAH IT’S ANOTHER CONVENTION-TYPE EVENT IN THE HANDY PETITE SIZE *runs away*

… just kidding. I’m just feeling guilty that I have yet to do any write-ups for the events that were part of that five-week Con-athon 2015 I mentioned earlier in this post. This event up in Central Oahu seems like it’s going to be a really fun time for keiki of all ages, with food trucks, games, various activities, a cosplay contest (register by 1 p.m. the day of the event); the Hawaii Game Truck; and an Artist Zone featuring make-and-take activities and Pineapple Man artist Sam Campos, Gordon Rider/Ara-Rangers/Edamame Ninjas/Star-Advertiser “Calabash” artist Jon Murakami, and Aumakua: Guardians of Hawaii artist Christopher Caravalho. Kawaii Kon will be on hand to give away free three-day passes (update 11/6, 5:30 p.m.: a pass will be awarded to the winner of the cosplay contest), too. Mililani Recreation Center 7 (take the H-2 Freeway to the Mililani Mauka exit, then shoot pretty much close to the top of Meheula Parkway; it’s at 95-1333 Lehiwa Drive, for you GPS types), 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: It’s the holiday season, which means this group of collaborative cartoon artists, ousted by preparations for Santa Claus and giant holiday trains at Pearlridge, is hitting the road this month. They’ll be at Aiea Library — home of the monthly Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Anime Club and the Face of Hawaii Ingress ™ — on Saturday and Nov. 21, from 1 to 4 p.m. The library is at 99-374 Pohai Place … and have I mentioned there’s still plenty of parking? What’s that? I mention that every time I mention there’s something at Aiea Library? Well, then. Call 483-7333.

Ota-cool Incoming: I’ve been waiting for this day!

Last week in Otaku Ohana: Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning blogger jots down every known detail of every upcoming event he knows about. “Yay! That’s done!” he says. “Now I can finally start working on those HawaiiCon and Amazing Comic Con wrap-up reports!”

This week in Otaku Ohana: The Honolulu Museum of Art, in conjunction with Kawaii Kon, announces its lineup for “Japanese Cinema Spotlight,” a month’s worth of Japanese film screenings at the Doris Duke Theatre — including many popular anime and anime-related films screened in Honolulu this year — as a way of leading up to a major exhibit on Japanese street fashion opening at the museum next month. Blogger weeps openly.

Indeed, local otaku, your busy October — which, as you may recall from previous posts, includes an Anime Day, an Anime Ohana, Ingress First Saturday, a Gamer Expo, Boruto and live-action Attack on Titans, and of course National Cosplay Recognition Day Halloween, has just gotten even busier.

Thirteen films will be shown as part of the Spotlight throughout the month; the five relevant to our Otaku Ohana interests here are:

raaargh

Attack on Titan: Live-action humans taking on CGI Titans? Sure, the movies have been getting skewered by awful reviews, but you know what? We’ve been waiting for this day! (Hopefully with fixed subtitles. Sorry for your misfortune, San Francisco, but thanks for something that will be endlessly meme-able for a 24-hour cycle.) Part 1, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday; Part 2, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20, 22 and 27.

marnie

When Marnie Was There: Studio Ghibli’s last film for the foreseeable future had a short run at the Hawaii International Film Festival’s Spring Showcase in April, then a wider theatrical release in June. It’s actually out on home video on Tuesday, but hey, the theater experience is always better, right? Based on the novel by Joan G. Robinson, the story follows Anna, a foster child and a bit of a loner who finds a mysterious new friend, Marnie, during a summer stay in Hokkaido. 1 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday and Oct. 10.

ushiko

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness: A documentary profiling Ushiko, the Studio Ghibli cat. Oh yeah, and you also get a behind-the-scenes look at Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki and directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata around the time they were working on The Wind Rises and The Tale of Princess Kaguya, respectively. My priorities may be reversed here. Because caaaaaaaaaaaat. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, 1 p.m. Thursday and 4 p.m. Oct. 10.

lovelive

Love Live: The School Idol Movie: Back in 2013, we first met second-year student Honoka Kosaka and her efforts to save her school from shutting down by forming a nine-member idol group, µ’s. Now we’ve reached the point where the senior members are about to graduate and µ’s is ready to dissolve … until they receive news of a special event. Is this their last hurrah? Could this be a springboard moment for the rest of their lives? 4 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Oct. 15 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28.

Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 for museum members. For tickets and a complete listing of films and showtimes (the original Godzilla is in there, too!), visit honolulumuseum.org/pages/15342-japanese_cinema_spotlight_2015

Elsewhere around town

“Japanese Mythology in Film”: Japanese mythology is at the core of a new book by Yoshiko Okuyama, an associate professor of Japanese studies at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The book, Japanese Mythology in Film: A Semiotic Approach to Reading Japanese Film and Anime, takes a scholarly approach of analyzing films with such themes, including anime like Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, and the live-action Onmyoji, Onmyoji 2, Dororo, Mushi-shi and Departures. Join her for a talk on these topics — and maybe more! — at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Moore Hall room 258, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Friday. The talk is free and open to the public.

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. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

Anime Day at Windward Mall: Everything you loved about Kawaii Kon’s past Anime Days will be back for another round, including the Cosplay Runway, games, art activities (including the giant art wall!), discounted three-day passes for Kawaii Kon 2016, a selection of Artist Alley vendors (including artists Jon J. Murakami and Roy Chang, and 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. Saturday at the mall, 46-056 Kamehameha Highway. And, of course, admission is free!

Gamer Expo 2015: Remember when I said last week that the second annual edition of what’s been called the state’s largest video game event would be happening Saturday at the Modern Honolulu? Hit the giant virtual reset button on those plans, because now the event is taking place a full 25 hours later, from noon to 10 p.m. Sunday at the Ala Moana Hotel. Aside from that very-important-albeit-coming-at-short-notice change, everything else remains the same: 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. Professional cosplayers Leah Rose and Uncanny Megan will also be there! Presented by eSports HI; $25 general admission, $43 VIP pass.

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.

Keiki Courtyard Cinema presents My Neighbor Totoro: Twenty-seven years(!) after it was first released in Japan, the Hayao Miyazaki-directed tale of two girls and oh-so-huggable furry creatures of all sizes remains one of anime’s most beloved showcases. For proof, let’s go back to this year’s Kawaii Kon Art Auction.

totoro01

This is “Flower Crown Totoro,” a canvas print by Amanda Coronado. It sold for $270.

totoro2

This is “Green Totoro,” a watercolor canvas print by Cari Corene. It sold for $300.

totoro3

This is “Totoro Trio Happy Days,” a stack of plushies by I’m Sew Stuffed. It sold for $300.

… you get the idea. Popular. Eminently bankable. And it’ll be screening for free at the Ward Village Courtyard — the revamped area by the IBM Building — as part of Ward’s ongoing Courtyard Cinema series. A food truck will be there, free popcorn will be available, fun and educational activities will be going on … sounds like a great time for the young and young-at-heart. Sure, it’s the English dubbed version, but it’s free Totoro. Come on. You have to love that. While the screening’s free, tickets are required and can be obtained via the Hawaii International Film Festival ticket site, hiff.tix.com/schedule.aspx?OrgNum=2034&VenueCode=14757. Gates open at 6 p.m. Wednesday; film starts at sundown.

Anime Ohana: 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 so far this year. Oct. 9-11, Pagoda Hotel, 1525 Rycroft St. 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.

Movies and myths and meanings, oh my!

Throw me a good story rooted in Japanese mythology, and I will make every effort to try to watch or read it. It worked with Studio Ghibli favorites like Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Pom Poko and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, other series/movies like Mushi-shi, Summer Days With Coo and (GeGeGe no) Kitaro, and probably countless other series that I’d love to get around to eventually.

YO_headshot 8 (2015)Japanese mythology also happens to be at the core of a new book by Yoshiko Okuyama, an associate professor of Japanese studies at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The book, Japanese Mythology in Film: A Semiotic Approach to Reading Japanese Film and Anime, takes a scholarly approach of analyzing films with such themes, including anime like Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence and the aforementioned Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, and the live-action Onmyoji, Onmyoji 2, Dororo, Mushi-shi and Departures. But before you click away to go watch, say, Himouto! Umaru-chan, scared off by the phrases “semiotic” and “scholarly approach” in the last sentence, I should note that the book’s written for pretty much anyone who knows anything about Japanese films and mythology. If that’s your thing, then you’ll probably want to check out this book. Here’s a link; you can get 30 percent off cover price by using the code “LEX30AUTH15” at checkout.

book cover (color)But let’s say paying $60-$85 for a book is a tad out of your price range at the moment. No worries; you can still get a taste of what she wrote about through a series of talks she’s going to be giving on four major islands in the next few months. Her first talk is actually coming up … ummmm … Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Hilo Public Library. Which is less than 24 hours from when this post is going live. Apologies for the really late notice; I’ve been dealing with (yet another) cold these past few days. Here’s the list of other confirmed appearances to date:

Kauai

  • Sept. 19: Hanapepe Public Library, 10-11 a.m.; Princeville Public Library, 3-4 p.m.
  • Sept. 21: Kauai Community College, Office of Continuing Education and Training (OCET), room 106 C/D, noon-1:30 p.m.; Lihue Public Library, conference room, 5-6 p.m.

Maui

  • Sept. 22: Kahului Public Library, 6-7 p.m.
  • Sept. 23: Wailuku Public Library, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 24: UH-Maui College, noon-1 p.m.

Oahu

  • Oct. 2: UH-Manoa Center for Japanese Studies Seminars, Moore Hall, room 319, 3-4 p.m.

There are a few other tentative dates as well; I’ll add them to the Ota-cool Incoming calendar as I receive them.

By the way, while I’m talking about Ms. Okuyama, let me throw in this quiet announcement and see if anyone notices: I recently accepted her invitation to speak for an hour at UH-Hilo about things related to the local anime/manga fan community. It’ll be on Tuesday, Sept. 15 — a few days after HawaiiCon wraps up, and on the last birthday of my 30s, to boot! Exact time and location have yet to be determined. It’ll either be fun or a total train wreck … hopefully more of the former than the latter. Fingers crossed!

The Summer of Stuff, part 1: See you at the movies

It’s never a good time to get sick, but for your friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning blogger in particular, getting sick last week came at a really inopportune time. I’m still shaking the last remnants of what was diagnosed as a viral infection (the formal medical term for “yup, you’re coughing and congested; here, have some codeine and get some rest”)  I missed the Mini Comic Con at Aiea Library, which saddened me. At one point, between swigs of codeine, I even considered tweeting, “Otaku community newsmakers, please hold off on breaking any juicy news until I have a chance to get better.”

Naturally, otaku community newsmakers broke a lot of juicy news while I was sick.

So now I have quite a few announcements to catch up on — movie screenings! Special events! New convention guests! — and I’ll be starting in on it with this series of posts, “The Summer of Stuff.” Because let’s face it: If you can’t find anything that you’re interested in doing in the next few months from everything I’ve been told about, you’re doing the summer wrong.

Take this summer’s lineup of movie screenings for Japanese cultural aficionados, for instance. A lot of it is being generated by GKids, working overtime with a weeks-long presentation of animated films from around the world (that is, if your definition of “around the world” is 75 percent Japan, 25 percent France/Italy) and the wide release of When Marnie Was There. There’s also a pair of free screenings at Aiea Library in coming weeks.

Let’s go to the calendar for some dates, synopses and trailers …

Continue reading “The Summer of Stuff, part 1: See you at the movies”

HIFF’s otaku highlights: “Marnie,” “Unsung Hero”

This year’s Kawaii Kon was huge. An announced 10,450 people passed through the tightened-security halls of the convention center. I Instagrammed and tweeted whatever I felt like Instagramming and tweeting, took all three days to track down friends in Artist Alley (a task that used to take just a handful of hours to do on the first day), even helped the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction deal with a thing or two. When it was all over and I filed my annual Kawaii Kon memorable moments post for Honolulu Pulse, I resolved to take some time off to recharge some seriously drained blogger batteries.

I just didn’t think it would take a good chunk of two weeks for me to feel like those batteries had finally reached “ready to write again!” status. Heck, an entire wave of Nintendo’s Amiibos was announced, then promptly sold out, in less time than that. (I’m sad, too. I really wanted Ness.) Which means that a backlog of blog posts that I have yet to write, including interviews with manga artists Erica Sakurazawa and Moyoco Anno, has grown even larger in the meantime. Apologies for that.

So I’ll start off a little small and work my way up to the bigger posts I had in mind. Our starting point: the upcoming Hawaii International Film Festival Spring Showcase at the Regal Dole Cannery Stadium theaters. It kicks off Friday and runs through April 19, and Anderson Le, festival programming director, emailed me during my recharging period to give me a heads-up about two movies that might be of interest to you, dear Otaku Ohana readers.

marnieThe must-see film that lit up pretty much everyone’s radars locally when it was announced is, of course, When Marnie Was There, notable for being not only the last Studio Ghibli firm for director Hiromasa Yonebayashi (who also directed the studio’s Secret World of Arrietty; he left the studio at the end of 2014) but also the last film for Studio Ghibli for the foreseeable future. It’s based on a novel by Joan G. Robinson; here’s the synopsis HIFF provided:

Sent from her foster home in the city one summer to a sleepy town by the sea in Hokkaido, Anna dreams her days away among the marshes. She believes she’s outside the invisible magic circle to which most people belong – and shuts herself off from everyone around her, wearing her “ordinary face.” Anna never expected to meet a friend like Marnie, who does not judge her for being just what she is. But no sooner has Anna learned the loveliness of friendship than she begins to wonder about her new found friend.

When Marnie Was There screens April 18 at 6 p.m. and April 19 at 4:45 p.m.

unsungAnderson also highlighted another movie that may be of interest to those of you who love seeing the costumed stunt acrobatics in shows like Power Rangers, Kikaida and Kamen Rider: Unsung Hero. The synopsis:

Forty-eight-year-old Wataru Honjo is a big fan of Bruce Lee and works as a suit actor (costume wearing stunt performer). He is also president of “Shimoachiai Hero Action Club.” Even though he doesn’t have the typical body for his profession, he has worked in the business for 25 years. When Ryo Ichinose, a cocky rookie actor appears on the scene, they don’t get along at all. However, when Ryo cast in a Hollywood movie and then suddenly quits because its too dangerous, the producers approach Wataru to fill the role…Will he go for it?

Unsung Hero screens Saturday at 1:15 p.m. and Sunday at 3:15 p.m.

If you still need tickets for either of those films’ screenings, you’ll definitely want to use the discount code SPRING17 at checkout when you buy your tickets online; that will allow you to take $4 off the cost of what’s usually a $12 general admission ticket. Quite the deal! For more information or to check out the other films at the Spring Showcase (33 films from 12 countries!), visit hiff.org.