When last we visited with teen artist Joelle Lee in this space nearly two years ago, it was at the Kids Inc. Business Showcase at Windward Mall, and I had commissioned her to draw a caricature of me.
I haven’t changed my Facebook and Twitter profile pics ever since.
Joelle’s graduating from Moanalua High School in a few weeks, which makes me feel pretty old. (Also making me feel old recently: the fact that Cel Shaded ended five years ago. But I digress.) One of her final school projects, though, is pretty cool: She’s part of the Moanalua team that’s among the semifinalists in the annual Vans Custom Culture shoe design competition. According to the contest website:
Vans Custom Culture was created to inspire and empower high school students to embrace their creativity through art and design and to bring attention to diminishing arts education budgets. Vans believes everyone should be empowered to express themselves creatively and should be given the tools to do so.
Custom Culture is a national high school customization competition using blank Vans shoes to be customized around specific themes. Once your school’s designs are completed, they go through a voting process to narrow down our top 50 entries. Then, it’s up to your school and classmates to garner votes from the public to choose our top 5 that go on to compete in our final event.
The top vote-getters in each of five regions — Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest, and California, which I guess has enough entries to support itself as a region in its own right — advance to the finals in Los Angeles, and the winning team will get $50,000 for its school’s art program.
Here’s Joelle’s contribution to the competition, inspired by the theme of “Music.”
And here are the other shoe designs. Clockwise from top on the top photo are team members’ interpretations of the themes of “Local Culture,” “Action Sports” and “Art.”
The Moanalua team’s in the Southwest region, and it’s going up against a school in Arizona, a school in Oklahoma and about a hundred kajillion schools in Texas. OK, there are only seven, but it certainly looks intimidating, particularly when you consider nine states comprise the Southwest region (better luck next year, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah!). In any case, the last time I checked, Texas had a loooooooot more people than we do, so it might be a bit of an uphill battle. But hey, we got Jasmine Trias pretty far into her American Idol season back in the day, so that probably counts for something, right?
Voting is open now at sites.vans.com/customculture. You have until 2 p.m. May 11 to vote and you can vote once per day until then, so let’s make a difference, people.
Back when I was in my formative years as an anime fan in the early 2000s and wanted to get out to watch anything animated coming out of Japan, it wasn’t easy to catch anime in theaters. The Hawaii International Film Festival had a few, and on occasion one or two might have shown up at the Varsity or Wallace’s Restaurant Row art house complex (anyone remember when those were actual things?) (of course you do; I mean, wow, some of you reading this are old enough to remember the older Japanese theaters, which is way cool), but those were few and far between.
The month we’re entering now shows just how much things have changed. This month brings word of three anime features screening in local theaters this month, including — whoa! — the first time I can recall in a longtime, if ever, that several Hawaii island theaters are included in a limited-run anime screening.
The film that’s getting this relatively widespread distribution is Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, otherwise known as “that Dragon Ball Z movie for which they were carrying around the poster everywhere Ryo Horikawa, the Japanese voice of Vegeta, appeared during Kawaii Kon 2013.” Here he is with panelists Lisle Wilkerson and Pali Kaaihue … and that poster.
One of the gods of Battle of Gods is Beerus, the God of Destruction who has the power to make everyone drunk and post incriminating selfies of themselves on various social media outlets. (A portion of that last sentence may be more what I imagine a character described as “Beerus, the God of Destruction” to be and not reflect reality.) Beerus is on his way to Earth, which means it’s up to you-know-who to input his “God mode” cheat code and face him.
… no, of course it’s Goku. Much screaming and KAMEHAMEHA~!-ing and sock-biff-powing and explosions will likely ensue, and … well, you probably know what you’re in for with a Dragon Ball Z-series movie, so you’re either already eager to check it out or moved ahead to look at the details of the My Neighbor Totoro screenings a bit further down.
So when can you see Battle of Gods? The first big day is Tuesday, when four theaters — Consolidated’s Ward Stadium 16 complex on Oahu and the Kaahumanu 6 complex in Kahului, and Regal’s Makalapua Stadium 10 complex in Kona and Prince Kuhio 9 complex in Hilo — will be showing it at 7 p.m. The Kona and Hilo theaters will also have screenings at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets for those screens are available on Fandango.
The film then moves on for an longer run starting Aug. 9 at the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Doris Duke Theatre. The showtimes:
Sat., Aug. 9: 1 p.m.
Sun. Aug. 10: 5 and 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Aug. 12 through Thurs., Aug. 14: 1 and 7:30 p.m.
Around the middle of this month, Consolidated’s Kahala 8 theaters will host screenings of My Neighbor Totoro as part of the ongoing “GKIDS: Animated World” seriesof animated features “for kids of all ages” … which I just learned about while writing this post Thursday night, so I’m a bit sad about missing features like The Secret of Kells, A Cat in Paris and Tales of the Night.Totoro will screen Sat. Aug. 16, at 11 a.m., Mon., Aug. 18, at 3:30 p.m. and Tues., Aug. 19, at 11:30 a.m.; presale tickets are available now on Fandango.
Finally, for you Naruto fans, your favorite orange jump-suited ninja and his friends are back for their latest big-screen adventure, Road to Ninja — Naruto the Movie. It’s a movie that seems to hearken back to his roots; here’s the synopsis:
Long ago, a mysterious masked shinobi unleashed the Nine-Tailed Fox onto the Village Hidden in the Leaves to spread chaos and destruction. But the Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze, and his wife Kushina Uzumaki sealed the Tailed Beast into their newborn son Naruto to save the village, foiling the shinobi’s plan.
Years later, Naruto and his friends succeed in driving away the infamous Akatsuki, who have mysteriously returned from the dead. Upon returning to the village, the young shinobi are praised by their families for completing a dangerous mission. Reminded of how alone he is, Naruto begins to wonder what it’s like to have parents, when a strange masked figure appears before him – the same masked shinobi responsible for the death of his parents!
Road to Ninja has thus far been confirmed for screenings at the Ward Stadium 16 theaters at noon Sun., Aug. 31, and 7 p.m. Sept. 1; tickets for the Aug. 31 showing are already available on Fandango.
Also this weekend
Get Pop-Cultured at Barnes & Noble: Another weekend, another set of artist appearances and Kawaii Kon-hosted activities at the Ala Moana store. The fun kicks off Saturday at 1 p.m. with appearances by MidWeek cartoonist/Cacy & Kiara and the Curse of the Ki’i author Roy Chang and artist Theo Lee (one of the featured artists in our Sakai Project profile (subscription required to read) on Sunday!). That will be followed by cosplayers dressed as Marvel Comics characters at 2 p.m.; Kawaii Kon’s “Iron Cosplay” costuming-on-the-fly event at 3 p.m.; and Comic Jam Hawaii’s Marvel sketch session at 5 p.m., where artists will draw various characters and the pieces will be raffled off to lucky patrons at the end of the hour.
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.
As for last weekend …
Remember that Kids Inc. Business Showcase I wrote about in my last post, where I highlighted Joelle Lee and her “Joelle’s Custom Artwork” booth? I swung by Windward Mall and commissioned her to draw a caricature of me, and boy, did she ever deliver. I happened to be wearing a chibi Attack on Titan shirt at the time, so she drew me as one of that series’ soldiers.
And here’s Joelle herself with the finished product.
I liked the drawing so much, I’ve been gradually uploading it as my new avatar on pretty much all the social media networks I’ve been frequenting. (Except Instagram. I kinda like that “me with Doraemon plushie” look.) I would highly recommend getting something from her if she sets up another booth sometime in the future … I’ll definitely try to keep tabs on when/if she makes another appearance.
When you’ve been writing columns and blogs about the local anime/manga/cartooning community for as long as I have, you tend to fall into a rhythm when writing about certain recurring items.
It used to be that way with events taking place at Aiea Library: throw in a mention that the event was the brainchild of young adult librarian Diane Masaki; add where the library was located (99-143 Moanalua Road); submit column to editor or push “publish” button on blog; wander off to enjoy a nice strawberry smoothie with tapioca pearls somewhere. Heck, it was reliable to the point where the place was even Ingress portal-ized.
Well, as of last Saturday, that’s no longer the case. Meet the new Aiea Library, now a left turn and an up-the-street-past-Aiea-Bowl-and-its-yummy-lemon-crunch-cake away from the old location.
Our reporter Leila Fujimori and photographer Bruce Asato wrote about last Saturday’s grand opening in Sunday’s paper (subscription required). But this is Otaku Ohana, where you want to know about what really matters about the new library, like how the manga shelves look. (They’re quite compact.)
Or where the anime collection is. (It’s near a pillar with a Comic Jam Hawaii “Chibi Heroes” card-poster.)
Or whether local events like Kawaii Kon and Taku Taku Matsuri already have informational postcards available.
Or — perhaps the most important detail of all — if there’s more parking.
I swung by on Wednesday to check out the place and get all those pictures above, and everything has that nice, new library sheen to it … and yes, there is more parking than the old library, and it is glorious. (Gonna miss seeing all those chickens wandering around nearby, though.) That parking will come in handy Saturday as the library hosts its first big event since the grand opening: Batman Day, a celebration of 75 years’ worth of Caped Crusader adventures. (Yes, anime/manga fans, a Batman event totallycounts as something worth mentioning here, too.)
Young adult librarian Diane Masaki (See? There’s that auto-fill instinct kicking in again …) has a full day of activities planned, including:
Cosplayers dressed up as various characters from the DC Universe will be wandering around for photo ops starting at 10 a.m.
Artists from Comic Jam Hawaii will be drawing Batman-related artwork on 11-by-14-inch sheets at noon; at 1 p.m., the pieces will be raffled off to attendees.
A special Comic Jam Hawaii session will be held starting at 1 p.m. Join in and draw with some of Hawaii’s top cartoonists!
Aiea Library is now located at 99-374 Pohai Place; for more information, call 483-7333.
Also this weekend
Kids Inc. Business Showcase: I’ve been keeping an eye on the work of teen artist Joelle Lee; she (along with proud mom Lisa, on her behalf) has posted samples of her work on the Comic Jam Hawaii, and … well, it’s hard to describe exactly what I like about her artwork, but I just know that I really like it. (I think that’s one of her self-portraits I’ve posted to the right.) I see a bright future for her, that’s for sure.
Windward Mall recently held a public vote to choose a dozen young entrepreneurs (ages 6-15) to set up shop in the mall’s center court and sell merchandise and services for a few hours, and Joelle was one of the kids voted in. She’ll be drawing chibi portraits at her booth, “Joelle’s Custom Artwork,” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Stop by, say hi, and support her and the other young businesspeople.
Kawaii Kon’s “Caramelldansen” flash mob:Dance to the beat, wave your hands together / come feel the heat, forever and forever / listen and learn, it is time for prancing / now we are here, we’re Caramell Dancing …
If you could (a) tolerate listening to that entire song and (b) want to do that little dance in the aisles of Barnes & Noble Ala Moana for a few minutes, then Kawaii Kon staff wants you to join them for their flash mob at 2 p.m. Sunday. It’s part of the store’s ongoing “Get Pop-Cultured” campaign running through Aug. 10; other events in the campaign coming soon include appearances by artists Roy Chang (1 p.m. Saturday), Cheryl Nagata (1 p.m. Sunday) and Devin Oishi (4 p.m. Sunday). Cosplayers from the League of Shadows group will also be with Roy starting from 1 p.m. Saturday.
Oh yeah, and while you’re there, take advantage of the store’s “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” sale on Viz manga. Deadman Wonderland, Naruto, One Piece, Vampire Knight and oh-so-many-more titles are on sale through Aug. 10.
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 time around, they’ll be meeting in room 202 instead of their customary room 200. Visit www.manga-bento.com. Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The Sakai Project profile: It’s a thing. It’ll be in Sunday’s paper. Tag-team partner Wilma J. and I worked countless hours to write it. Please pick up a paper or spring for digital subscriber access to read it.
To preview what we were in the middle of writing about, I picked up copies for ourselves on Wednesday, the first day the book was available for sale. Of course, the first thing I had to look for was the piece by the lone Hawaii artist featured in the book, nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi. Now, you have to realize that while this book grew from a planned 100 pages to 160 pages, not all the art featured could get a full page. A number of pages feature two or three art pieces. Everything still looks gorgeous, of course, in a glossy, full-color 9-by-12-inch hardcover book; just a bit more compact.
Audra’s piece was one that got a full page. That’s hers on the left.
Go pick up a copy at your local comic book store (only $29.99! Plus some stores offer discounts!). All proceeds from book sales go toward helping pay for Sharon Sakai’s medical bills. You’ll want to see Sunday’s article for the full story behind the book, though. It’s quite inspiring.