[Kawaii Kon 2014] A few more words from our guests

So far this year, Kawaii Kon’s been its usual blend of exhilarating and exhausting. So many photos and video clips shot on Friday — 432 files, to be exact. So many fun experiences — I’ve already gotten a hug from voice actor Vic Mignogna; said hi to Kawaii Kon founder Stan Dahlin; gotten something signed the Japanese voice of Dragon Ball Z‘s Goku, Masako Nozawa; and caught up with sooooo many friends.

And that’s why I came back to Otaku Ohana Mobile HQ, had something to eat, social-media’d something and promptly passed out on my bed. Hey, I’m not as young as I used to be at Kawaii Kon 1, after all.

It’s going to take a while for me to sort through all those photos. So in the interest of having something fresh posted here today, here are some outtakes from the interview questions I sent out to voice actors Jim Cummings, Quinton Flynn and Mignogna. Some of the quotes from the answers they sent back ended up in Thursday’s preview, but others … well, they didn’t quite fit into the narrative. So here they are, along with some pictures of them from Friday’s opening ceremonies.

Janet Varney, left, Richard Horvitz and Jim Cummings at Kawaii Kon '14 opening ceremonies.
Janet Varney, left, Richard Horvitz and Jim Cummings at Kawaii Kon ’14 opening ceremonies.

Cummings on keeping his career fresh after voicing hundreds of characters over the years: “To answer how I keep my career fresh is easy. There is always a new character on the horizon, always a new song to sing, and always a new project to do my best on.”

Cummings on favorite characters: “Well, Pooh and Tigger are in their own categories, however Darkwing Duck will always be a prime favorite of mine. Ray from Princess and the Frog is huge in my heart as well. Also Don Karnage from Tailspin, Mr. Bumpy, Taz and Catdog are way up there. Love Hondo from Star Wars: The Clone Wars for certain! Gotta stop cuz it’s like picking amongst yer kids!”

Quinton Flynn, left, and Vic Mignogna at Kawaii Kon '14 opening ceremonies.
Quinton Flynn, left, and Vic Mignogna at Kawaii Kon ’14 opening ceremonies.

Flynn on what he’s looking most forward to seeing/doing while he’s here: “I’m looking forward to meeting fans and friends, new and old, in your tropical paradise! I wish to be enlightened by local customs and culture. Perhaps some tasty culinary cuisine. And if there’s time, scuba diving and/or parasailing would be a dream come true. I’ve been told that Hawaii is full of every kind of beauty imaginable. I’d like to take that in as well as what I understand to be a more easygoing and laid-back approach to living.

“I also look forward to performing for all of you. I love Q&A panels and doing a combination standup/improvisational comedy set; if given the time and opportunity. In my experience, education through entertainment is a delicious dish! And I delight in the laughter and smiling faces of fans when I deliver one of their favorite characters or celebrity impression by request.”

Flynn on anime dubbing work: “The work I’ve been fortunate enough to do has not been affected. As far as my career track goes, I am constantly laying down NEW track through diversifying in the entertainment industry. I’m acting both on- and off-camera. I’m currently pitching original live-action and animated show ideas for the networks, cable and Internet. I also have two original screenplays written by Brad Schreiber and Christian Klemash I’m very excited about getting green-lit for production. And if that’s not enough, I’m also writing and performing original compositions and cover songs in the pop-rock arena of music, here in Los Angeles. All of that plus comedy, conventions and California living, keeps my motor running and creative artistry alive. I live in the now with my eyes looking forward to what wonders shall be revealed.”

Mignogna on anime dubbing work: “To be honest, I haven’t noticed a huge decrease in anime dubbing. I do know that Japanese companies are asking a lot more for their shows than they used to, and many American companies simply cannot pay that much. But I do several things professionally besides voice acting, so it hasn’t affected my career much.”

Kawaii Kon, the “I Love the ’90s, the ’00s, and Anime” edition

kawaii-kon-logoIf I wasn’t writing this blog for a respected media outlet like the Star-Advertiser, the following would likely have been my entire post about the flurry of Kawaii Kon guest announcements for next year’s show, made over the course of a little over an hour on Friday:





… and that would have been it.

That wouldn’t be much of a post, though. The several dozen of you who have stuck around this long to read this blog expect a certain degree of quality and analysis along with our blinding fanboy/girl-ishness, after all.

Looking at this batch of guests, one thing that stands out right away is that half of them are more known for their voice-acting work in mainstream cartoons than anime. Before you start lamenting the tainting of the sanctity of an anime convention, though, relax.  “Anime” is just the Japanese way of shortening the word “animation.” Besides, it seems like anime cons in general are trending more toward anime-with-a-healthy-dose-of-other-animated-series cons — just look at the influx of Adventure Time, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Homestuck fans that have shown up at these events.

It should also be noted that, as someone pointed out on my Facebook page, all of the guests have some kind of “otaku connection,” something that actually links each guest to our beloved anime and/or video game worlds. To that end, I’ve included a guide with each guest bio pointing out that link (or, in the case of the Japanese voice actors, some sort of non-otaku-based role they’ve had in the past, just to keep things interesting).

Jim Cummings: You want accomplishments? Cummings probably has enough to coat your entire cartoon-loving childhood. He’s the voice of Darkwing Duck, the terror that flaps in the night, pin that will burst your bubble, current of vengeance gurgling through your sewer, rhinestones on the jumpsuit of justice, etc. He was a pretty big part of the 1990s Disney Afternoon cartoon block, as he also voiced Officer Bonkers D. Bobcat in Bonkers, Don Karnage in TaleSpin, and Monterey Jack, Fat Cat and Professor Nimnul in Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers. Shredder in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? That was him, too. He’s also had roles that have lasted for years; he’s been the voice of the Tasmanian Devil since Taz-mania aired in the early 1990s and Disney’s voice of Winnie the Pooh (since 1988), Tigger (since 1990) and Pete (since 1992). And if you knew that he was the voice of Professor Otto von Schnitzelpusskrankengescheitmeyer in the Animaniacs episode “Schnitzelbank,” you’re either really sharp on your ‘toon trivia, or you’re an anime/manga blogger who happened to unearth that little trivia nugget while researching Kawaii Kon’s new guests.

  • Otaku connection: He played a general in Castle in the Sky. And, of course, any appearances by Pooh, Tigger and Pete in the Kingdom Hearts series were his work.

Grey DeLisle: While Cummings rose to prominence with the cartoons of the 1990s, DeLisle’s signature roles started piling up in the 2000s. Vicky the twisted teen babysitter in Fairly OddParents, Mandy in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. Azula in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Francis “Frankie” Foster in Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. She’s also been the voice of Daphne Blake in the Scooby Doo franchise since Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase in 2001.

  • Otaku connection: She was Yumi in the *taptaptaptap* *1! 2! 3! 4!* Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Show! Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Show! Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Show! Anything is possible! She’s also had roles in Afro Samurai and Afro Samurai: Resurrection, as well as Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Final Fantasy X-2.

Ayumi Fujimura: Perhaps the lesser-known of the two Japanese voice actors announced in this round of guests, Fujimura nevertheless has several notable roles in her resume, including Chiharu Harukaze in Hayate the Combat Butler, Ibuki in Super Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter X Tekken, Haruka Uehara in Lagrange — The Flower of Rin-ne, and Misaki Ayuzawa in Maid Sama! Kawaii Kon will mark her second U.S. anime con appearance; she appeared at Sakura-Con in Seattle this year.

  • Non-otaku connection: She was the voice of Katie Bell in the Japanese dub of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Quinton Flynn: As the saying goes, you can’t have a Kawaii Kon without a kawaii Kon … you know, the Modified Soul who inhabits a stuffed lion in Bleach. Sure, there’s been that giant Kon cosplay wandering around the con and related events in recent years, but this is the first year that the man who is Kon’s English voice will be in attendance as well. But Bleach isn’t the only fan-favorite series in which Flynn has played a prominent role; he’s also the voice of Iruka in Naruto, Axel in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, Reno in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and Crisis Core and Raiden in the Metal Gear Solid franchise.

  • Otaku connection: Duh.

Richard Horvitz: Back in 2008, Rikki Simons, the voice of Gir in Invader Zim, came to Kawaii Kon. Six years later, those of you who got stuff from that series signed by Simons finally have a chance to get it signed by the other half of the quirky duo, Horvitz, who was the voice of Zim himself.  He also was the voice of Alpha 5 on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Billy on The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy (hello, likely panel with Grey DeLisle).

  • Otaku connection: He’s the voice of Kanchome in Zatch Bell and also had some minor roles in Pom Poko, Howl’s Moving Castle and From Up on Poppy Hill.

Tetsuya Kakihara: Natsu in Fairy Tail. Simon in Gurren Lagann. Those are two of the signature roles Kakihara has had in his 10-year career so far, and those are already two pretty big deals in the world of anime fandom. He’s also Mercutio in Romeo X Juliet, Shima in Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan and Koichi in Linebarrels of Iron. He has one prior U.S. anime con appearance, at Otakon in Baltimore in 2012.

  • Non-otaku link: Remember the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series in 2003? He was the voice of Leonardo in the Japanese dub.

These six voice actors join three previously announced guests: voice actors Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh and cosplayer Leah Rose.

The 10th anniversary edition of Kawaii Kon is happening April 4-6 at the Hawai’i Convention Center. Three-day adult passes are $47 through Nov. 1, while three-day passes for children ages 5-12 are $37. Visit www.kawaii-kon.org.