[Kawaii Kon 2013] The surprise cover debut of Noizi Ito

It was a no-brainer that I’d be attending the live-drawing panel of Noizi Ito, the Haruhi Suzumiya and Shana character designer who’s been the target of fanboy squeeing in this space as well as KYAAAAAH~!ing at opening ceremonies. She certainly didn’t disappoint, drawing pictures of Kawaii Kon mascots Ai-chan and Nami during the hour-long panel.

This one's Ai-chan!


I’ll post a gallery showcasing more of Ito’s drawing process sometime in the (hopefully) near future. It’s rare that Ito does hand-drawn stuff in the first place; she usually works in digital media. (The Ai-chan piece would later sell at the Art Auction for the minimum bid of $750.)

But the real surprise in the panel came in the last five minutes, when translator Lisle Wilkerson started talking about a new book of Ito’s Haruhi Suzumiya-related illustrations being released May 1 in Japan and Ito took out … this.


An audible gasp could be heard from the crowd when the color page proof popped up on the screen.

“She is just putting in the final touches on this project, on this book,” Wilkerson said. “In fact, you guys are the first — at this convention — the first to ever see the final draft of the cover.”

She paused to chat with Ito in Japanese.

“In Japan, the three girls, that part has already been seen,” Wilkerson said. “But here we see the two boys and also Shamisen, the cute little cat. This has just been added, so people in Japan have not yet seen this.”

Applause followed, and the panel ended a little while later.

There’s just something thrilling about being in an audience when something’s revealed to the world for the first time. The fact that it was something associated with one of my favorite franchises made it all the more special.

The Cel Shaded Report, 1/19: Noizi Ito? FANBOY SQUEEEEEEEE~~~

Yep, Noizi Ito designed all of these characters. Taken in front of the New People complex in San Francisco's Japantown district in May 2010, when this movie was playing there and I actually had thoughts of reviewing it. (Never did.)Last week, while I was in the middle of working on assorted posts related to the Liliha Library Anime Art Contest (and yes, part 3, featuring pictures from the awards ceremony last Saturday, is still coming — probably in the next week or so), Kawaii Kon made one of the most awesomest guest announcements EVER.

You’ll have to excuse me for dropping any veneer of journalistic objectivity in favor of pure fanboyish glee, because that announcement just happens to involve Noizi Ito, illustrator and character designer for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Ito also did the character designs for Shakugan no Shana, but OMG WHO CARES THIS IS THE WOMAN WHO CAME UP WITH THE LOOKS OF HARUHI, MIKURU, YUKI, KYON AND EVERYONE ELSE IN THAT SERIES. The few dozen of you who’ve stuck around to read this blog regularly know that I have a thing for anything related to Haruhi and will mention that fondness in this space pretty much every chance I get. (It’s been just as much of a running punchline here as, you know, that book.) I love how recognizably distinct she made each of the characters look in that series. This will be Ito’s second American anime con appearance; her first was at Sakura-con in Seattle in 2010.

Here’s a “Drawing With Wacom” video of her in action.

Ito joins voice actors Johnny Yong Bosch (who’ll also be bringing his band, Eyeshine), Todd Haberkorn, Colleen Clinkenbeard and Lisle Wilkerson as guests for this year’s show, scheduled for March 15-17 at the Hawai’i Convention Center. To register, visit kawaiikon2013.eventbrite.com.

I should also note that the Kawaii Kon room rates at the Ala Moana Hotel for this year have been posted, and they’re quite favorable: $125 per night in the Kona Tower, $149 in the Waikiki Tower. The lowest kamaaina rates you’ll get on the hotel’s website at the moment by contrast are $165 Kona, $195 Waikiki, so that’s quite the deal, I must say. You can find a reservation link at www.kawaii-kon.org/hotel/

The great calendar of otakudom

A bit delayed this week — blame a combination of “mental health preservation holiday”-related lethargy and the usual big horking pile of stories to copy-edit and/or lay out at work — so some of these events may either be going on right now or be finished by the time you read this.

Otaku Fair at Shirokiya: Hosted by Hakubundo Bookstore with volunteers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa Anime Manga Society. Pick up art books, Japanese-language manga, posters and assorted character goods.  (I swung by there on Wednesday, and it looked like there were a lot of things related to One Piece, Dragon Quest slimes and Hatsune Miku.) Now through Jan. 27.

Aiea Library book sale: Book sales are really a media treasure hunt — you never know what you’re going to find. There could be an out-of-print manga volume that you need to complete your collection, or a Pokemon strategy guide in Japanese, or something completely different that you totally want right now. Find your passions here. Presented by the Friends of the Aiea Library and the Aiea Community Association at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. today.

“Friends, Books, Music … The Sale!”: You know all that stuff I wrote about the Aiea Library sale above? Apply it to this sale, presented by the Friends of the Library of Hawaii, except on a waaaaaaay bigger scale. Visit the Friends’ warehouse in Kakaako, which is ewa (west) of the UH medical school; just go makai (south) on either Forrest Avenue or Keawe Street to the end, and you’ll be there. Visit www.friendsofthelibraryofhawaii.org. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Sunday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday.

Aiea Library Anime Club: This month, librarian Diane Masaki is screening the always popular Black Butler, which beat out Summer Wars in a fan poll. (Quick blogger commentary: Don’t get me wrong, I love Black Butler, but over Summer Wars? Are you kidding me? Boo, you heathens. Boooooo.) For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. next Saturday at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road.

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. Jan. 27.

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.