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.)

Ani-Mele Kalikimaka from Honolulu Hale

Ahh, Honolulu City Lights. Now in its 29th year, the sights of the city’s annual Christmas display have become familiar to anyone driving through the government district on King and Beretania streets during the holiday season — Shaka Santa and Mrs. Claus dipping their toes into the fountain, the giant Norfolk pine sitting in front of Honolulu Hale, the snowman family, giant blocks spelling out “MELE KALIKIMAKA” (Merry Christmas) on one side and “HAUOLI MAKAHIKI HOU” (Happy New Year) on the other, the Board of Water Supply’s animated light displays hanging between palm trees. If you’re interested in getting a sense of what those look like, we have a whole bunch of pictures shot by Kat Wade over at our sister site, Honolulu Pulse.

Tucked away from the drive-by sightseers, sitting in the courtyard of Honolulu Hale, is a festival of trees, each one decorated by a city agency and following a general theme. That, along with the display of entries in the city’s holiday wreath contest, would be worth the extra effort to walk through every year on its own merits. But there’s something about this year’s theme that makes it particularly appealing to us here at Otaku Ohana. A few weeks ago, tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. nudged me to read a section of this preview by Stefanie Nakasone:

The annual display, consisting of trees decorated by different city departments, this year has a theme of anime.

WILL WE see some Pokemon, Naruto or maybe even Sailor Moon?

“The departments are pretty hushed about that,” Kaji­wara said of this year’s designs. “We’re excited to see what people put together.”

Now, I have to admit, I was a bit guarded in my enthusiasm about the news. Sure, an “anime” theme is great, but at the same time, if it ended up being a bunch of trees with all 718 Pokemon and generic big-eyed caricatures, I probably would’ve lamented the missed opportunities.

As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. There was a truck with Anpanman, Goku, Hello Kitty, Badtz-Maru, Totoro and Pikachu in the opening night’s electric light parade, after all — if any other American city has ever featured something like that in a parade, I’d love to see a picture of it. There is, indeed, a thrill about stepping inside and having this as one entryway view.


And from another entryway, this view.


And if you go during normal government business working hours, you could also go upstairs and get this view.


Of course, you know what all that meant: I had to go down and get enough shots for the customary embedded Flickr gallery. Before I get to that, though, here are some fun tree display facts:

  • Twenty-two city departments and agencies are represented. Of those, five — Enterprise Services, Information Technology, Design & Construction, the Board of Water Supply and Customer Services — don’t have any direct ties to anime. (Still nice trees, though.) The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit’s display technically isn’t anime-related, either, but their characters do look somewhat sorta anime-ish, so I’ll let that slide.
  • All of the trees are artificial due to city fire codes.
  • Five trees, a giant Pikachu and a firefighting Pikachu sitting next to the Honolulu Fire Department’s firefighting-themed tree testify to the mainstream appeal of Pokemon.
  • Three trees are Totoro-themed — add in Transportation Services’ Ponyo-themed tree, and you have four inspired by the work of Studio Ghibli.
  • Some other anime characters making appearances: Goku, Naruto, Tony Tony Chopper, Doraemon, Hatsune Miku, Astro Boy, Mokona (black and white!) and Asuna from Sword Art Online. There are also a few boxed Gundam model kits.

It’s been a while since I last gave these instructions on viewing Flickr galleries, so here’s a refresher. To start the slideshow, just press the “play” button in the middle of the frame below. Pause and restart using the button on the lower left. If you want a larger view, click on the icon on the lower right; in that full-screen view, you can also see the captions I’ve written for each picture (using the “Show Info” link) or slow down the automatic scrolling (using the “Options” link). Finally, if you’re viewing this blog on an iOS device (iPad/iPod Touch) and can’t view Flash plug-ins, or if you just want to skip all the slideshow fiddling and go straight to the gallery, here’s the direct gallery link: And if you want to see the display in person, the trees will be up at Honolulu Hale through the end of the month. Check it out any time between 7:45 a.m. and 11 p.m. daily.

Enough of my gabbing … here’s the gallery. Merry Christmas!