It’s time to move, Ingress agents … to the potluck

Seemingly lost amid the shuffle of the ebbing/flowing hype machine that is Pokemon Go is the fact that developer Niantic’s other massively multiplayer augmented reality phone game, Ingress, is still happily chugging along a shade over 4-1/2 years. That’s a long time for noble Enlightened agents to be visiting local landmarks, represented in the virtual world as portals, turning those green and creating links and triangular-shaped fields among them, only to have all their hard work erased by those dastardly Resistance-blue agents. (I might be slightly biased. Then again, you probably already knew that.)

So it’s time for a nice little celebration. The local Ingress community is hosting a “First Saturday” event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Ala Moana Beach Park, featuring pointers on how to play the game, player-versus-player battles, contests, prizes, a potluck lunch, and, of course, a small batch of the legendary, much-desired, rarely-doled-out “lilypad” pizzelles made by a certain Face of Hawaii Ingress ™. (I understand that alone is drawing out players who haven’t been seen playing the game in months.)

You can find the First Saturday gathering at Picnic Area 12. Here’s a map, drawn (naturally) in the context of the Ingress intel map.

site12

Consider it a warm-up for the as-yet-unnamed anomaly event coming to Honolulu on Saturday, Dec. 2, where local agents will join agents in other cities in claiming territory for their respective sides in a global effort to reclaim the scattered pieces of something or someone. It’s very complicated.

For more information, visit plus.google.com/u/0/events/cp0c4jggq53260rkk7c34t33lck. And while you’re visiting that site, sign up to bring something to the potluck! Especially you Resistance agents out there … your side is looking a little … sparse. (Worst-case scenario, there’s a lovely Foodland Farms that’s a short walk across the street. Just sayin’.)

The Con-athon 2016 players, part 3: Comic-Con Honolulu

We’ve made it to the midpoint of Con-athon 2016, our coverage of this year’s major local anime/manga/pop-culture conventions, and … whoof. Man. I don’t remember Con-athon 2015 being as much of a grind as we’re seeing this year. A quick recap: Kawaii Kon kicked off the convention season strong in April; Amazing Hawaii Comic Con returned in May, but while they announced a second, smaller event for October, the accounts I’ve heard seem to indicate that attendance was down this year; and Anime Matsuri retreated back to Houston. Meanwhile, planning for HawaiiCon (in September) and Anime Ohana (in November) continue apace. So while there are still six major conventions planned for this year, the faces have shifted somewhat.

Next up to the starting block: year 2 of Comic Con Honolulu, the pop-culture con from the organizers of Kawaii Kon.

Overview

Jurassic Park cosplayers pose in front of a replica movie Jeep at Comic Con Honolulu last year. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Jurassic Park cosplayers pose in front of a replica movie Jeep at Comic Con Honolulu last year. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

Confession time: Among the six conventions that comprised Con-athon 2015, Comic Con Honolulu was the event at which I spent the least amount of time. Three hours, to be exact, enough time to sit in on the Art Improv panel, say hi to a bunch of friends, make a few quick purchases in the Dealer’s Room/Artist Alley, and then dash off to work.

Part of it was out of necessity. There’s only so much vacation time I get every year, after all, so I have to be choosy about which events I commit to visiting for the full run and which ones only get a commitment of a day or shorter. But part of it was also the fact that there wasn’t much of a “wow” factor there for me. Sure, there was a decent guest lineup over which people got excited, but nothing that really grabbed me and said that I absolutely had to go. Besides, Amazing already had Stan Lee in their corner, HawaiiCon convinced me to give them a try based on their booking of three Cowboy Bebop voice actors, and Anime Ohana and Anime Matsuri Hawaii had the whole “hey, we’re new, and we’re right in your anime/manga-loving wheelhouse, please come check us out” sparkle-sheen to them. It’s just the way things work out sometimes.

This year, though? Different story. HawaiiCon and Anime Ohana have joined Kawaii Kon in my con rotation, Anime Matsuri Hawaii went *poof*, and I felt I needed to prioritize a full weekend visit to CCH over braving Amazing again. CCH’s guest roster and the show’s smaller size certainly helped in that decision. Now, of course, the key is in holding my attention …

Basic information

Pepe the Chihuahua shows up for his daily kalbi feeding at Roy Chang's table at Comic Con Honolulu 2015. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Pepe the Chihuahua shows up via Tardis for his daily kalbi feeding at Roy Chang’s table at Comic Con Honolulu 2015. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

When/where: Friday-Sunday, Hawai’i Convention Center

Admission: Three-day passes, $65; Friday- or Sunday-only pass, $30 each day; Saturday-only pass, $40. Pass prices apply to attendees ages 5 and up.

Website: comicconhawaii.com

Social mediaFacebook page; @ComicConHNL (Twitter)

Key question for this year

How will CCH try to distinguish itself from Amazing, its biggest competition in the market, and draw sufficient numbers to remain a viable show in the process? CCH’s main advantage may lie in its programming diversity — there are far more fan panels and more activities available than just “shop,” “buy themed VIP packages and convention-exclusive comics” and “sit in giant space and listen to featured guests talk.” CCH has also been doing well promoting local talent selling their wares in Artist Alley on their social media accounts … and let’s not forget about the support they’re throwing toward neighborhood eateries with their list of con weekend discounts.

But there’s also no denying that the buzz for the show on my Facebook feed has been more muted. Or maybe that’s just because everyone on my Facebook news feed is talking about the upcoming elections and Pokemon GO and my news feed algorithm is horrifically screwed up as a result. In any case, a quick look at the Dealer’s Room and Artist Alley listings reveal only a fraction of the local vendors and artists that Amazing had in May.

Five Six guests to get hyped for

In past Con-athon roundups, I would’ve used this space for a complete roundup of all the guests appearing at a particular show. But let’s face it: Kawaii Kon had more than 20 guests. Amazing had more than 25. Faced with the prospect of writing another 22 mini-bios for this convention and another 100 gazillion for HawaiiCon, I finally tapped out and said, “OK, I’m just hitting the high points and picking five guests I’m most excited about seeing going forward.”

And then I went and picked six people anyway. Because the sixth person really deserved to be mentioned. Plus I’m writing this blog, so I get to make up all the rules and then break them, right? The full guest list is available at comicconhonolulu.com/guests.

Takei at CCH (courtesy Comic-Con Honolulu)

George Takei: Every convention has its “OMG moment” during the guest announcement phase, that one guest over whom people rub their eyes over and over again and pinch themselves and wonder, “Holy cats, is that guy really going to be part of my hometown convention?” Takei is this year’s OMG moment for Comic-Con Honolulu … and arguably the entirety of Con-athon 2016, to boot. Whether you know him as Sulu from Star Trek, a gay rights advocate, the man behind Allegiance (a musical set in the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II) or a huge social media influencer, you know who he is. And you’ll have exactly one chance to see him speak: 2:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday in Main Events (Room 316 ABC). Good luck, folks.

Grant Imahara: Spoiler alert: Our Steven Mark got to chat with the animatronics engineer, modelmaker and Mythbuster in an interview running in Friday’s paper. Definitely worth checking out if you have a chance. Scheduled to appear at two panels: “Bustin’ Myths and Building Robots: The Story of Grant Imahara,” 11 a.m.-noon Saturday in Main Events, and “Discover Grant Imahara,” 11 a.m.-noon Sunday, also in Main Events.

Sean Astin: He’s been a Goonie and a Hobbit. He’s the son of Patty Duke and John Astin, who played Gomez in the original Addams Family. And he’s the voice of Raphael in the ongoing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. If you need any more convincing than that to see him, then man, you’re tough to please. Scheduled to appear at two panels: “Face to Face With Sean Astin,” 4-5 p.m. Friday in Main Events; and the Voice Actor Round Table (with Jennifer Hale, the voice of female Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect video games, and Phil LaMarr, the voice of Hermes Conrad in Futurama and Samurai Jack) from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, also in Main Events.

John Barrowman: Until last week, he was best known as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and the spinoff Torchwood, as well as the Dark Archer in Arrow. Since then, he’s been that guy who dressed up as Squirrel Girl, Futurama’s Zap Brannigan, Harley Quinn and a dress-wearing Kylo Ren in San Diego. Here’s hoping he has more antics planned for Honolulu this weekend. Scheduled to appear at one panel: “Getting to Know John Barrowman,” 4-5 p.m. Saturday in Main Events.

Fabian Nicienza: Rob Liefeld was a guest at Amazing, so now it’s time for Liefeld’s partner in creating Deadpool to have his say. Nicieza also helped create Shatterstar, the X-Force and Cable; has more than 1,000 comic book writing credits; and is currently working with Stan Lee on Cosmic Crusaders. Scheduled to appear at three panels: “Breaking the Fourth Wall,” 3:15-4:15 p.m. Friday in Panel Room 315; “Behind the Snark,” 5:15-6:15 p.m. Saturday in Main Events; and “Comic Editing and Character Creation,” 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Panel Room 315.

Leah Rose: The talented cosplayer and host with the most who’s been featured in this blog before deserves a mention here, as this will be her last local convention as an isle resident before she moves on to Seattle. With Dasha Cosplay, Uncanny Megan and now Leah leaving or about to leave from Hawaii in the past handful of months, all I can say is whyyyyyyyy are the cosplayers all leaving do you not love us anymoooooooore. Umm. *ahem*. You can see her doing hosting duties all weekend or offer hugs and leis at her Artist Alley table, F11.

Will cartoonist Jon Murakami be here?

Photo courtesy Jon Murakami.
Photo courtesy Jon Murakami.

Three for three, yup! Look for him in Artist Alley, table E12, with his new collection of comic strips from the Hawaii Herald, Generation Gap:Are You Sure These Are Our Grandkids (pictured above), as well as a sale on Gordon Rider back issues, original sketches, and an array of shirts, prints, books and buttons. Can’t make it to con? You still have a few more hours today to get in on the book preorder; visit www.jonjmurakami.bigcartel.com.

(Also, Jon’s still our measuring stick for Con-athon 2016, considering he’s going to almost all the things.)

Anyone else of note?

There’s a guy doing these portraits, that’s for certain.

Jason Pop by Roy Chang

That artist is MidWeek cartoonist and Cacy & Kiara / Highball & Pepe creator Roy Chang, and he drew that Funko Pop-ified portrait of me last week during a special “Get Pop-Cultured” event at Barnes & Noble Ala Moana. And now it’s my Instagram profile picture, so w00t w00t to that. You can get your own Funkofied portrait — $5 black and white, $10 color — the newest Aloha Pepe issue, and more in Artist Alley, table A3.

Elsewhere in Artist Alley, you’ll find Marisa and Carole Gee with their handmade jewelry and charms at Kawaii Mono (C1); beadspriters extraordinare Dinner Crew Crafts (C11-12); longtime comic creators/anime aficionados Lime Media Hawaii (E9), the anime/manga-inspired artist collective MangaBento (D12), comic artist Christopher Caravalho and Mana Comics (B7), and artists Andy Lee (B1), Reid Kishimoto (E2), Tara Tamayori (F4), Headshot Heroes (C7) and Michael Cannon (E12). Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Over in the adjacent dealer’s room, Terri Dux and Karl Miyashiro’s one-stop shop for local apparel with clever phrase twists, idkwhat2wear, will be at table 55 with some new cute, clever designs. Pono Comics (52), Dragon’s Lair (42) and Other Realms (46, 47, 57, 58) represent local comic shops this time around. Familiar Kawaii Kon mainstays Anime Palace (25, 36), Hakubundo (50), Michi’s Toy Box (27) and Crappykids (7) will be there, as will everyone’s favorite snack vendors, Brug Bakery (41) and Paradise Kettle Corn (44). Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Other schedule highlights

Introducing Hitbox Music Ensemble: 7:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, Main Events. An ensemble of classical and jazz instrumental and choral musicians performs music from video games, anime, TV shows and movies. Think of it like those Legend of Zelda concerts that have been coming to town, except on a wider scale.

Unconventional jobs for superheroes? Yeah, the Art Improv artists can tackle that. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Unconventional jobs for superheroes? Yeah, the Art Improv artists can tackle that. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

Art Improv, 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Panel Room 312. One of my must-see panels of the con, it’s what happens when you take a group of Comic Jam Hawaii artists and throw crazy ideas at them in the style of the classic comedy improv show Whose Line is it Anyway? Plus as a bonus, the sketches they draw are up for grabs at the end — you can nab some pretty cool free artwork that way. If you have some time to fill afterward, stick around for a series of drawing tutorials, including Kaci Horimoto on drawing (11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.), Reid Kishimoto on inking (12:15-1 p.m.), Rich Rodriguez on drawing from basic shapes (1-1:45 p.m.) and Wynette Sabalburo on coloring with markers (1:45-2:30 p.m.).

Ingress: It’s Time to Move! 6-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Panel Room 312. Learn how to play the augmented reality game that I like to think of as the Pokemon GO beta beta as a noble agent of the Enlightened! (oryoucouldjointheResistanceIsuppose) Things that will be discussed at this panel: how the game works, the convoluted backstory that hardly anyone pays attention to, and how the game’s brought together agents from both factions at large events worldwide. Things that will not be discussed at this panel: triangles (lots and lots of them), creepy vans, and Pokemon GO. Seriously, the panelists would like to focus on Ingress, so no PoGo questions, please. Besides …

Pokemon GO Hawaii: 8-9 p.m. Saturday, Panel Room 315. … you trainers who’ve taken the parts of the world where Niantic actually has servers up and running (for the most part, *crosses fingers*) by storm get a panel all to yourselves. Meet other players, wave a virtual banner for your team (Instinct! The other two teams who aren’t Instinct!), share your stories, and catch the occasional Rattata or Pidgey or Zubat that happens to wander into the area. Note: Panel will be called off if a 1,000+ CP Mewtwo suddenly spawns down the street. Just kidding; I doubt anything short of the usual “circumstances beyond our control” is going to be canceling this party.

Cosplay Contest: 7:30-9 p.m. Saturday, Main Events. You know the drill by now: People show off their craftsmanship with fabulous costumes; the audience oohs and ahhs (and awwwws if the cosplayer happens to be a really cute child); prizes are awarded. And a good time is had by all.

Cardcaptor Sakura: A 20-Year Celebration: 1:30-2 p.m. Sunday, Panel Room 312. You thought all the anime/manga panel ideas were exhausted at Kawaii Kon? You were wrong. The fact that this panel is covering one of CLAMP’s classic series makes it even more appealing.

Ota-cool Incoming: Cons, cons everywhere, and nary a time to breathe

It’s been a wild past few weeks here at Otaku Ohana Central, a time that’s included voice actors conducting panels after a lovely morning swim off Hawaii island, some friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning blogger dork talking for a good 40 minutes or so at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, a governor and a congressman offering proclamations and plaudits for comics legend Stan Lee, and lots and lots and lots of waiting in lines.

Also, this happened.

ban daisuke

Hello, Kikaida star Ban Daisuke. Nice to finally get to meet you. Although it was a bit awkward when the person we thought was going to take our picture wandered off to go take pictures of the other costumed characters at Kikaida Day. But I digress.

I’ll have some thoughts on my recent 11-day span of otaku craziness in my next post (which I will try to post really, really soon even if it kills me in the process), but I reeeeeeaaaaaallly need to take a look at what’s coming up over the next few weekends first. We’re coming up on the third of five straight weekends of otaku-related activities, and keeping everything straight (and perhaps pushing you, dear reader, to attend an event or two in the process!) is what I do best. Or at least try to do best, anyway, whenever I have the time/energy to do so.

mini con poster

Our tour of events starts with Saturday and Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library. Branch manager Hillary Chang has been putting on this free little slice of comic-con culture for six years now — holy cats, I feel old just typing that — and this year’s installment is, pardon the cliche, bigger and better than ever before.

Longtime exhibitors Jon Murakami (Gordon Rider, Ararangers, the Star-Advertiser’s “Calabash” strip), Audra Furuichi (nemu*nemu, the Star-Advertiser’s “nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii” strip) and Kevin Sano (Crazy Shirts artist and painter of many Kikaida-themed Minion toys) will be joined this year by Christopher Caravalho, Aumakua: Guardians of Hawaii artist. Brady Evans from the Honolulu Museum of Art will host a digital painting demo at 11 a.m., where you can learn how he creates pretty prettiness like “Wisteria” here. Young adult author David Estes will give a talk at 11:45 a.m., “From Accountant to Author: Getting Started as a Writer.” Collect a stamp from everyone and receive a free comic! Here’s what the stamp card looks like.

mini con card

Of particular note is that this will be the last time you’ll be able to pick up some of that sweet nemu*nemu merchandise in person this year; Audra’s said she’s going to be skipping her traditional holiday craft fair circuit in favor of travel, so stock up on those gifts now! (Or you could just go online and order anytime, but hey, I’m old-school. Personal interaction’s always nice.) Cosplay, of course, is also welcomed; heck, here’s Hillary cosplaying with coworker Wendy Araki at last year’s event.

03 me Wendy

Mini Con runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at McCully-Moiliili Library (2211 S. King St.); as I recommend every year, you’ll want to come early for the best parking opportunities. There’s a new, welcomed twist this time around, though: Overflow parking will be available in the Ross Dress for Less lot across the street. Yay! Call 973-1099 for more information or if you need to make special arrangements.

anime day 2015

A week later, Kawaii Kon will be hosting its fourth annual Anime Day at Windward Mall. Everything you loved about past Anime Days will be back for another round, including the Cosplay Runway, games, art activities, discounted three-day passes for Kawaii Kon 2016, a selection of Artist Alley vendors (including 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. at the mall, 46-056 Kamehameha Highway. And, of course, admission is free! Visit facebook.com/events/899357246825955/ for the latest details.

QuickMechaRide

And then about a week after that, on Oct. 9-11? It’s time for Anime Ohana, the fifth of our state’s six-convention windfall this year. As I noted earlier this year, 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 this year. (Seriously, if you have to ask what kinds of activities will be available, you really haven’t been paying much attention to the con scene this year.)

All this is going down at the Pagoda Hotel at 1525 Rycroft St., just a short walk away from YogurStory, Walmart, Walgreens, Don Quijote, Like Like Drive Inn, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka … umm, can you tell some of the places I’ll be stopping by during con down time? 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.

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. (This month, the “friends” part will likely be Squid Girl.) Every month, she gives me the same response: “Pfffffffft.” I’ll keep trying, folks. At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where even now, more than a year after opening, there’s still plenty of parking. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

Anime Matsuri Hawaii LUV Day: “LUV” is short for “Let Us Volunteer,”and at this event, you’ll get to meet con directors John and Deneice Leigh and learn everything about volunteer opportunities at the last convention of the year, being held over Black Friday weekend (Nov. 27-29). Bonus: There will be games! And prizes! Lili’u Theater, Hawai’i Convention Center (room 310, in the corner closest to Kalakaua Avenue and the Ala Wai Canal), 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday.

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. Starts at 9 a.m. Oct. 3.

Random Ingress Portal of the Post:

Screenshot_2015-09-23-17-36-37

Meet Drainage Marker! It’s … a drainage marker! On the corner of South King Street and Ward Avenue!

(Yeah, Niantic’s portal approval team was probably half-asleep when they approved this one.)

Gamer Expo 2015: The second annual edition of what’s been called the state’s largest video game event will feature 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. Presented by eSports HI; $25 general admission, $43 VIP pass. The Modern Honolulu (1775 Ala Moana Blvd.); 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Oct. 3.

The big convention roundup

Yes, four out of six shows for this year are done, and it’s already time to start thinking about next year. Con dates are already scheduled out through next September, in fact! Here’s everything I know so far. Unless otherwise noted, con venue is the Hawai’i Convention Center:

Anime Matsuri Hawaii: Featuring guests — deep breath in, Jason — voice actors Johnny Yong Bosch, Crispin Freeman and Maile Flanagan; Justin Rojas, representing Funimation; Masahiko Otsuka, president of Studio Trigger (the studio behind recent hits Kill la Kill and Little Witch Academia); musical guest DaizyStripper; professional cosplayers Goldy, Yuegene Fay, Stella Chuu, Reika and Vampy Bit Me; fashion designers Shunsuke Hasegawa (Putumayo designer) and Chinatsu Taira (Metamorphose chief designer); and KERA/Gothic Lolita Bible model Yui Minakata. And exhale. Nov. 27-29.

Kawaii Kon: The 12th annual edition of Hawaii’s first anime convention will feature a return visit by voice actor Johnny Yong Bosch and his band, Eyeshine, as well as the first visit by Japanese rock band Loverin Tamburin. April 8-10.

Amazing Hawaii Comic Con: Save the date! The follow-up to what may well be the biggest pop-culture convention in Hawaii now (pending the formal release of attendance numbers and what I’ve heard about really crowded conditions Friday and Saturday) will be May 20-22.

Comic Con Honolulu: Kawaii Kon’s pop-culture con spinoff hopes to build on its strong debut with guests Erin Gray (Col. Deering, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), Colin Ferguson (Federal Marshal Jack Carter, Eureka), Summer Glau (River Tam, Firefly/Serenity) and Kristin Bauer (Maleficent, Once Upon A Time). July 29-31.

HawaiiCon: Guests announced so far include Simpsons/Futurama artist Bill Morrison, actress Nichelle Nichols (Uhuru in the original Star Trek) and science fiction author John Scalzi.  Sept. 15-18, Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel (Hawaii island).

Ota-cool Incoming: And lo, ‘The Last’ shall be first

Ten years ago in September, the story of a certain ramen-loving ninja descended from a nine-tailed fox hit American airwaves on Cartoon Network for the first time.

Naruto the LastWe’ve seen about a bazillion thingy-no-jutsus, battles, double-crosses, triple-crosses and sordid slash fanfics written since then. Heck, the entire cast has aged as Plain Old Naruto evolved into Naruto Shippuden. And now, as Masashi Kishimoto’s manga ends and the anime likely to follow suit eventually, we have the last Naruto movie ever. I mean, it even says so in the title: The Last: Naruto the Movie.

… wait, what? There’s another one scheduled for release this year? Well now.

Semantics aside, The Last is notable for being the first big-screen anime feature with screenings scheduled for Honolulu this year. There are two screenings, in fact, both at Consolidated’s Ward Stadium 16 complex: noon Saturday, Feb. 21 and 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23. Both will be in Japanese with English subtitles. You’ll also be able to nab a free commemorative poster while supplies last.

So why is this movie called The Last if it isn’t exactly the last movie of the franchise? It’s a reference to the last days of Earth, as the moon is somehow approaching the Earth, meteorites threaten to rain down on the planet and, presumably, Sailor Moon and her friends are stuck in another franchise and have no interest in resolving the matter. To make matters worse, Hinata’s younger sister, Hanabi, has been kidnapped by a mysterious man in Konoha. It’s up to Naruto and the gang to save her, save the world, and … ummm … set up the next movie, I suppose.

Here, have a trailer.

Tickets aren’t on sale yet, but I’ll try to keep an eye on things and let you know when they do. Update 2:55 p.m. 1/16: Fandango ticket links are live! Tickets are $15 each; here’s the Feb. 21 screening, and here’s the Feb. 23 screening.

Other ota-coolness

Aiea Library Anime Club: This month, young adult librarian Diane Masaki is screening two episodes of Polar Bear Cafe followed by two episodes of “something action-y,” as she puts it. At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place. Have I ever mentioned that there’s plenty of parking now? Because there is. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

portal_20150116_103030_1Random Ingress Portal of the Post: Speaking of The Face of Hawaii Ingress … it’s apparently been so long since I’ve done one of these Ota-cool Incoming roundups (and by extension these random portal profiles) that Niantic, the game studio behind this game, finally got around to sticking a portal on the new Aiea Library. So here it is, a portal that you’ll have to get out of your car to visit, since it’s tucked away a bit from the road. Shown here is the proper alignment — Enlightened-held — for a portal that the aforementioned Face of Hawaii Ingress (tm) seems to want to switch to Resistance control during regular library hours. To each his/her own, I guess. I think it looks prettier in green … but maybe I’m just biased on that matter. Just a teensy bit.

Kawaii Kon Karaoke Competition preliminary rounds: So you think you can sing, and you’re planning to go to Kawaii Kon this year? Give the annual Karaoke Competition a try, then. This year, two out of the three preliminary rounds will be held at a new location: Nocturna Lounge, the video game/karaoke bar just downstairs from our editorial/advertising offices here at Waterfront Plaza/Restaurant Row. (The other round will be held at its traditional location, Orvis Auditorium on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus.) For the Nocturna rounds, sign-in starts at 3:30 p.m. Sunday and March 15, with the actual singing starting at 4 p.m. on both days. The Orvis round will be held on Feb. 15; exact times have yet to be announced. Full details on what you need to do to prepare are available at bit.ly/Karaoke_Prelims.

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.

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.). This month, the front door of the art school may be closed, so enter through the sides or via the basement. Check with the guard for room number. Visit www.manga-bento.com. Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 25.

Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses: Ever since the last time we looked at the seating chart for this orchestral tribute to the long-running Nintendo video game series, the Blaisdell Concert Hall has filled up quite nicely. Here’s a look at where things stood as of 9 p.m. Thursday.

zelda ticket map

 

For those of you who were procrastinating on buying something in the cheap seats, you waited too long; those $45 tickets are now sold out. The cheapest seats available now are $69.30 each ($59 + $10.30 fees); those hard-core fan VIP seats ($138.55, includes a limited-edition poster and a meet-and-greet with the producers following the show) are also still available. There are also other options available for those of you who prefer something in between those two prices. If you did procrastinate, though, you’ll have one advantage that those of us who rushed to buy tickets didn’t have: a discount code. Enter “HEYLISTEN” at checkout to receive 15 percent off (and curse the powers that be for getting this stuck in your mind once again). Click that seating chart above for tickets; for concert information, visit zelda-symphony.com. 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30.

Anime Swap Meet: Hosted by Kawaii Kon, this opportunity for local otaku to buy and sell assorted preowned collectibles from one another will be part of the 25th Annual Hawaii Collectors Expo from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22. Interested in selling? Check out kawaiikon.com/anime-swap-meet for all the details; registration deadline is midnight Feb. 18. This year, the rules are a bit more liberal: $20 will get you a 5-square-foot space for both Saturday and Sunday, and you can share your space with one other person. Interested in buying? Stay tuned for those details; I’m still waiting to see them myself.

Moyoco Anno at the Honolulu Museum of Art: Hopefully your short-term memory is good enough to remember the details from my post on Wednesday; if not, here’s your refresher. Starting 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 22.

Ota-cool Incoming: Mini con carnival, 2014 edition

August was a month dominated by news about anime movies, with three of them — Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, My Neighbor Totoro and Naruto: Road to Ninja — arriving in the state. This month, news tidbits about small anime-related events have been filling my “what to talk about in Otaku Ohana” inbox (well, that and that interview with Kyle Hebert that I talked about a few posts ago, which I’ll finally get around to transcribing when my birthday staycation kicks in around the middle of next week … fingers crossed). Here’s what’s happening in coming weeks …

cristina veeThe first stop on our tour of mini cons is a return visit to Taku Taku Matsuri, where organizer Yuka Nagaoka has found a new guest of honor for her event postponed from August: voice actor Cristina Valenzuela, better known as Cristina Vee. (That’s her on the right.) Some of Vee’s more prominent anime roles include Mio in K-ON!, Homura in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Rei/Sailor Mars in Viz’s new Sailor Moon English dub, and Alisa Bosconovitch in Tekken: Blood Vengeance. She’s also voiced various characters in video games including the BlazBlue franchise, Skullgirls and Ar Tonelico. This will be her first con-related visit to Hawaii.

Summer Taku Taku Matsuri: In Fall! is happening Sat., Nov. 22; the GoFundMe campaign with $10 presale tickets and $20 ticket/T-shirt packages will run through Oct. 25 at www.gofundme.com/dbi0fc.

This week, details also began emerging about the fifth annual Mini Con, the anime con in the handy petite size at McCully-Moiliili Public Library. Library manager Hillary Chang’s rounded up her by-now standard roster of all-star artists ready to meet and greet patrons — Gordon Rider artist Jon Murakami, nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi, Crazy Shirts designer and Kikaidaverse fan artist Kevin Sano, and the Hachi Maru Hachi creative crew. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sat., Sept. 27, at the library, 2211 S. King St.

Audra designed a set of virtual flyers that double as mobile phone wallpapers; click the thumbnails below to download art from, from left, Jonathan Pinches’ “You Are Not Alone” (from Hachi Maru Hachi vol. 3), Jon and Kevin.

WP14-HMH1-Mobile WP14-JJM-Mobile WP14-KS-mobile

Last but certainly not least is Kawaii Kon’s third annual Anime Day at Windward Mall in Kaneohe. Nothing really new to report on this front, but I’d still imagine Kawaii Kon’s usual assortment of games, art events, cosplay contests, free anime screenings and a mini Artist Alley will be the order of the day. You’ll probably be able to get discounted three-day passes for next year’s convention (March 14-16) as well. The latest news on that can be found on the Facebook event page, https://www.facebook.com/events/912506692099432/.

Other Ota-coolness

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.

Downtown Pearlridge globe portalRandom Ingress portal of the post: If you missed the first installment in this new recurring feature in all my “Ota-cool Incoming!” calendar posts, here’s my profile of the portal “Ringy Dingy.” Today’s spotlight: “Down Town Pearlridge Globe.”

Those of you who have been around at least as long as I have remember a time when the two halves of Pearlridge Center were called “Phase I” and “Phase 2.” I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but there was some point where someone probably said, “Hey! Let’s make this center more contemporary and stuff!” So the side anchored by Liberty House and JCPenney became “Uptown Pearlridge,” and the side anchored by Sears became “Downtown Pearlridge.” Uptown was the more distinguished, sophisticated side. Downtown was the side with a splash of urban flair, all neon signs and a giant video screen hanging over that side’s central hub. And the monorail … well, I’m sorry, but that thing looked like what happens before and after someone ingests certain mind-altering substances, with half of it looking like a yellow taxicab and the other half covered in splashy, colorful graffiti.

Well, the monorail’s all one uniform design now, the screen’s gone, and you’d be hard-pressed to find much distinguishing the two sides. This Ingress portal, stationed right around where Comic Jam Hawaii regularly meets, features one of the leftover relics of the era. It’s usually well-contested, but if it’s a Comic Jam Sunday, you can pretty much expect the Face of Hawaii Ingress ™ will be making it Resistance blue. After which someone else will come along and make it Enlightened green again. Circle of life, people. Circle of life.

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 www.manga-bento.com. Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 14.

10636109_561435233979790_6832920851635999729_nArashi in concert: Tickets are still available to see the five-member boy band in concert at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 19 and 20 at Ko Olina’s Naia Lagoon 3, and they’re still $150 per ticket ($75 for children under 15)? Or would we be better off heading over to Shirokiya and its pop-up Arashi Shop to get  and calling it a day? Pick them up exclusively at Ticketmaster.com, and be sure to check out Tom Moffatt Productions’ Facebook event page to see all the rules and procedures involved. (Key elements to note are that there’s a four-ticket limit, sales are limited to customers in the United States and Canada, and you’re going to have to bring the credit card you used to order the tickets to the show itself.) Don’t want to shell out that much, or can’t make it to the concert? The pop-up Arashi Shop is open now at Shirokiya, featuring CDs “and other items not normally available in Hawaii.”

Kikaider Reboot screenings on Oahu: Shotaro Ishinomori’s tale of the android Kikaida and his battles against Professor Gill and DARK has been revamped and prettied up for a new generation, and Honolulu — home to some of the most die-hard Kikaida fans on the planet — will be the first place people in North America can see it. (Yes, I know we’re on a rock in the middle of the Pacific, thousands of miles from North America. But the Kikaider Reboot USA Facebook page is calling this the “North American Premiere,” so I’m running with that.) The film will be running for a week — Oct. 10-16, to be exact — at Consolidated’s Ward Stadium complex. Showtimes have yet to be announced, but here, have an English-subtitled trailer to tide you over until that info comes through.

The week in panels and portals

Good news, everyone: The “Made in Japan, Loved in Hawaii” panel, which I talked about in my last post, went off without a hitch. Roy Bann, Brady Evans, Audra Furuichi, Jon Murakami and I talked about anime and tokusatsu series for a little over two hours, more people were sitting in the audience than were on the panel, and I didn’t die of embarrassment afterward. Victories all around! Thank you to all of you who came to visit, even if you stayed for just a little while.

Since I was sitting on the panel and couldn’t exactly take pictures of myself, I’ve been relying on what panel attendees have posted and shared with me to see what we looked like up there. Friend/coworker/Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker reviewer Christina Chun sent along a few pictures; here are me and Audra …

… Jon and Brady …

… and Roy, who served as panel moderator.

Here’s a full shot of the panel table taken by cartoonist Roy Chang.

And here’s a shot of all five of us after the panel, taken using the official Otaku Ohana Camera of Record by McCully/Moiliili Library branch manager Hillary Chang.

In case you missed it or weren’t able to stay for the whole thing, not to worry: I recorded the whole thing, and the slides we used — created through Prezi, an online app — are publicly available for viewing. You can download the audio file (a 121 MB download via Google Drive) at http://ow.ly/uwyBr, while the slides are available at http://ow.ly/uwyTQ. Find a comfortable seat, follow along and enjoy; I hope the audio’s okay throughout. (I haven’t had a chance to listen through the whole thing yet, although the portions I’ve heard sound pretty good.)

This week — Thursday at 6:30 p.m., to be exact — I’ll be out at Aiea Library to help my Enlightened teammates take over the library portal yet again chime in where needed with a presentation on Ingress, the massively multiplayer augmented reality mobile online game profiled in our paper (subscription required to view) a few weeks ago. (As our writer, Steven Mark, put it, it’s like “‘Capture the Flag’ for tech geeks,” using area landmarks as capture points, or “portals.”) Heck, the person who set up this panel in the first place, Aiea Library young adult librarian Diane Masaki, was front and center and pretty much became The Face of Hawaii Ingress ™ in the picture on the Today section cover:

That’s her in the black shirt in the front row.

Here’s the official panel description:

The world around you is not what it seems. It’s happening all around you. They aren’t coming. They’re already here.

Our future is at stake. And you must choose a side. A mysterious energy has been unearthed by a team of scientists in Europe. The origin and purpose of this force is unknown, but some researchers believe it is influencing the way we think. We must control it or it will control us.

“The Enlightened” seek to embrace the power that this energy may bestow upon us. “The Resistance” struggle to defend, and protect what’s left of our humanity.

Find out what it’s all about during Teen Tech Week!

Also significant: It’s the last public program at the current library location (99-143 Moanalua Road) before they pull up stakes and head to their new building on the site of the former Aiea Sugar Mill. So if you’ve ever been curious about the game or some of those Ingress-related jokes that I’ve increasingly been including in this blog, come on out. We’d love to see you.

Oni-Con scheduling and Ingress panel clarifying

Oni-Con Hawaii logoWe’re about 24 hours or so away from the beginning of Oni-Con Hawaii, close enough for my preview article — the same one that appeared in our print edition yesterday — to appear on Honolulu Pulse (and the Pulse version is free to read!). Over on Oni-Con’s Facebook page, the updates have been coming fast and furious for the past few days … so fast, in fact, that I can only assume it’s difficult for them to keep up. The scheduling grids posted there and on their website haven’t been updated with revised info since they were published on Saturday, and navigating through all of the updates to figure out what’s what may be a daunting task.

So for your planning convenience, here’s my version of the schedule, incorporating those changes and adding in columns for cosplay meet-ups and Marketplace hours. The URL is http://ow.ly/qnmT7, for those of you who want to store that in your smartphones.

Also for your reference, here’s Oni-Con’s most current panel description listing. It serves its purpose for the most part, save for one panel: the Ingress panel, scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, which has the following description:

Ingress ◊ Friday at 3:00pm, Panel Room 1 ◊ Jordan Silva and John Hyrne discuss about the android app game Ingress.

… which may be underselling the panel juuuuust a tad. Yes, it technically is an Android app game, but … well, here, have a Wikipedia blurb:

Ingress is a near-real time augmented reality massively multiplayer online video game created by Niantic Labs, a start up within Google, currently for Android devices [2] but expected to be available for Apple’s iOS in 2014. The game has a complex science fiction back story which Niantic is revealing in segments.

The gameplay consists of establishing “portals” at places of public art, landmarks, cenotaphs, etc., and linking them to create virtual triangular fields over geographic areas. Progress in the game is measured by the number of Mind Units, i.e. people, nominally controlled by each faction.

Leading the panel will be four of its local players. Yes, Jordan and John will be there. But so will Joyleen Kaiwi … and a certain friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger. Yes, this technically makes it the first con panel I’ve ever done from the presenter’s side of the room. Be nice, and ask really nicely, and maaaaaybe I’ll consider serving on another panel. Maaaaaaybe.