McCully-Moiliili Library’s Mini Con marches on

I’m back from yet another extended hiatus! This one’s going to take a bit more explaining, and I hope to get around to doing that reasonably soon (and preferably not take another two months or so to do so).

2017 Poster smBut we’ve got a lot of news to catch up on. So let’s get right to it: The eighth annual edition of Mini Con at the McCully-Moiliili Library is happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Eight years is a really long time for the local otaku community; for starters, that makes it the second-longest-running event held in consecutive years this century, behind only Kawaii Kon (13 events as of this year). Consider also that it’s outlasted the lifespans of the following now-defunct events combined:

  • HEXXP (three years)
  • Oni-Con Hawaii (one year)
  • Anime Matsuri Hawaii (one year)
  • Anime Ohana (one year)

That’s pretty special. And a lot of it has been built on the foundation that then-young adult librarian, now-branch manager Hillary Chang established when I first wrote about this event back in 2010: a mini Artist Alley, a chance for cosplayers to show off, anime screening throughout, and giveaways up the wazoo. Including these selections that were available at last year’s event.

Yes, that is Godzilla and a rubber chicken, and no, I’m not sure how anyone got along without having these in their lives, either.

This year: There are comics. Lots. And lots. Of comics.

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And just as in previous years, all you have to do to get your hands on some of ’em is to visit the exhibiting artists and authors and complete a stamp card.

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The exhibitors have remained fairly constant as well. Sure, their roles may have evolved over the years — Jon Murakami has added Edamame Ninjas and The Ara-Rangers to his portfolio; Audra Furuichi has scaled back her retail appearances (Mini Con’s the only event she’s appeared at this year!) and shifted her full-time cartooning focus to nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii in the Star-Advertiser; Kevin Sano is now selling comics and art in a space at Idea’s Music and Books (formerly Jelly’s) in #OurKakaako; and Brady Evans, who’ll be doing art demonstrations throughout Mini Con, now works as collections manager at the Honolulu Museum of Art. But they’ve shown up year after year, and it’s been a nice chance to catch up with what they’ve been doing in a more intimate setting than the bigger events can offer.

New to the festivities this year is Hiroshi Mori, a local expat and University of Hawaii at Manoa alumnus who currently works at the Third Floor in Los Angeles as a previsualization artist, someone who visualizes what complex scenes in movies will look like before they’re filmed. Some of his credits include Mad Max: Fury Road, The Avengers, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and Men in Black 3. His comic Island Kingdom “is inspired from growing up in Honolulu and combining Hawaii’s surf culture with the movies, TV and comic books I grew up with, such as ‘Mad Max: Road Warrior,’ ‘The Yagyu Conspiracy,’ ‘Escape From New York,’ and ‘Conan the Barbarian’ just to name a few,” he told Surfer Today in an article published in January. He’ll have print copies of Part 1 in the series, “Surf or Die,” available for sale.

Also appearing will be author David Estes, who’s written more than 30 sci-fi and fantasy books. The first book in his “Fatemarked Epic” series, Fatemarked, tops Amazon’s Teen & Young Adult Medieval Fiction eBook chart, with several other books in the series not too far behind. He’ll host a writing workshop, “Build Your Own World,” at 10:30 a.m.

McCully-Moiliili Library is at 2211 S. King St.; as always, arrive early for the best parking. Call 973-1099.

 

Get your comic on with freebies statewide

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a movie based on a comic book series, is now out in theaters on this, the first weekend of May. And you know what happens when movies based on comics get released around this time of year: It’s time to promote the heck out of comics. Woo hoo!

On Saturday, various comic shops and libraries will be giving away a wide range of comic books as part of Free Comic Book Day. Some will even be hosting special events. It’s a tradition that’s run annually since 2002, and while some of the stores locally have changed over the years, the concept remains the same: give away comic books; expose readers to a wide range of series; get people into stores to peruse their stock.

This year’s manga-related offerings include excerpts from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess, Dragon Ball Super and Boruto from Viz, and excerpts from Attack on Titan from Kodansha Comics. Here’s this year’s list of what’s available; keep in mind that not all titles will be available at all locations. And try to buy something, will ya? While the books are free for customers, they aren’t for the retailers ordering them, so a bit of paid patronage certainly goes a long way in showing your appreciation for what they do.

Anyway! To the giveaways and events!

Comic book store events

Dragon's Lair flyerDragon’s Lair in Mililani (95-1840 Meheula Parkway, space E-10) will feature five, count ’em, five artists doing free sketches: Dwayne Acoba, Andrew Gutierrez, Kaci Horimoto, Reid Kishimoto and Jon Murakami. All current comics will be 25 percent off, with trade paperbacks and hardcovers going for 15 percent off. They open at 10 a.m.

Other Realms FCBD flyerOther Realms in Iwilei (1130 Nimitz Highway, suite C-140) will feature Free Isabelo, Roy Chang, Dowyne “DJ” Keawekane and Napua Ahina doing free sketches and paid commissions. First 50 people through the door will get a free button pin featuring the Tick and his trusty sidekick Arthur. There’s also going to be keiki face-painting (featuring SkinWars season 3 contestant Kyera Dalesandro), hourly door prizes, appearances by Legion of Shadows Hawaii cosplayers … and, of course, comic specials, with double points for Member Rewards card holders. They open at 10 a.m.

As far as I can tell, Choice Comics in Pearl City (98-1268 Kaahumanu St., suite 104) has the most liberal giveaway terms: a 10-comic limit per customer. They open at 10:30 a.m.

At Westside Comics and Games out in Kapolei (590 Farrington Highway, unit 538), you can get a maximum of three books … or you can sub out books for limited-edition Funko Pop and Heroclix figures. They open at 10 a.m.

Other stores on Oahu hosting FCBD giveaways include Collector Maniacs (3571 Waialae Ave., suite 102A) and Gecko Books & Comics (1151 12th Ave.), both in Kaimuki.

Two of the biggest players in comics on the neighbor islands are bringing their A games as well. Maui Comics & Collectibles in Kahului (333 Dairy Road, suite 102), celebrating its second anniversary, will feature James Silvani, author of Draw-a-Saurus and a comic artist whose series include Darkwing Duck, The Muppets, Ducktales, How to Train Your Dragon and Animaniacs, and Todd BernardyKukui Project artist, doing free sketches and signings. Also part of the festivities: the Second Annual Bruce Ellsworth Memorial Charity Auction. You can get some free samples at Mr. Pineapple next door, too! The festivities get underway at 10 a.m.

Finally, over in Hilo, Enjoy Comics (45 Pohaku St., unit 201) will have free grab bags with comics and other goodies for the kids, as well as giveaways throughout the day, starting at 10 a.m.

Library giveaways

20170503_162206Fifteen libraries on Oahu and nine on the neighbor islands will be participating this year; just show them your library card and you can get a comic (or maybe even two at some libraries!) for free. They’ll also have bookmarks (drawn by Michael Cannon this year), and most of the libraries will feature appearances from cosplayers from the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Imperial Legion, Rebel Legion Hawaii and the Costumers Guild of Hawaii.

Your starting lineup on Oahu: (deep breath in)

And on the neighbor islands: HiloKailua-Kona and Thelma Parker Memorial Public & School Library on the Big Island; Kahului, KīheiLahaina and Makawao on Maui; and Princeville on Kauai. Lanai Public & School Library will be represented at the Saturday Market from 8 to 10 a.m. at Dole Park.

Special events

nemu*nemu cartoonist Audra Furuichi will be signing and sketching at McCully-Moiliili Library from 10 a.m. to noon…ish. She’ll also have copies of nemu*nemu books available for the taking. Don’t feel like driving all the way out there? Her books will also be part of the FCBD assortments at — deep breath in again — Aiea, Aina Haina, Kailua, Kalihi-Palama, Kapolei, Liliha, Manoa, Mililani, Salt Lake-Moanalua, Waikiki-Kapahulu, Waimanalo, Waipahu and Wahiawa libraries on Oahu, and Hilo and Kahului on the neighbor islands. There’s a limited supply, so get them while you can. Distribution methods also may vary; Aiea’s young adult librarian/Face of Hawaii Ingress ™ Diane Masaki tells me she’ll be raffling off sets throughout the day.

Mililani Library will be hosting a free screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story starting at 2 p.m. We are the Force, and the Force is in us.

James Silvani will be signing and sketching from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Kihei Library on Maui. Looks like he’ll be stopping here before moving on to Maui Comics & Collectibles in the afternoon.

Local artist, storyteller and educator Keith U. McCrary will be hosting a cartooning workshop starting at 10 a.m. at Makawao Library on Maui. The program is geared toward ages 6 and up; children must be accompanied by a parent or adult caregiver.

Kailua-Kona Library will be hosting a cosplay contest in their Young Adult section, open to students from the 4th through 12th grades. Cosplay from any source is welcome! Registration runs from 10 to 10:30 a.m., with the competition (featuring audience participation!) running from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Two winners will each get a $25 Regal Cinemas gift card, perfect for seeing selections from the upcoming GKids Ghibli Film Fest.

Summit of the manga mega-minds

This edition of Otaku Ohana is brought to you by two pens, an apple and a pineapple.

Because if I have to write this post about all the otaku activities going on at the Honolulu Museum of Art this month while I’m thinking about how there’s an pen, and there’s an apple, and UNH, now there’s an APPLE PEN, then I’m sure as heck going to have you, dear reader, stuck with that thought, too.

(It could’ve been worse. The Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction left me with the earworm of Pentatonix’s “Perfume Medley” during all of HawaiiCon a few weeks ago. You try walking anywhere having “Spending all, spending, spending all my time / Loving you, loving you foreeeever” lodged in your, lodged in your brain foreeeever.)

Even the exhibit entrance sign looks pretty. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Even the exhibit entrance sign looks pretty. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

But I digress. There’s a lot going on at the art museum, and much of it is tied in with a major manga exhibit: “Visions of Gothic Angels: Japanese Manga by Takaya Miou.” The exhibit, ongoing through Jan. 15, is curated by Stephen Salel, the man who also assembled “Modern Love: 20th-Century Japanese Erotic Art,” the 2014-15 exhibit that brought manga artists Erica Sakurazawa and Moyoco Anno to Honolulu. From the exhibit description:

Takaya’s artwork explores themes of femininity and female identity through fantastic imagery originating from a wide variety of artistic traditions: Italian Renaissance portraits of Christian martyrs, the intricate Art Nouveau style of British illustrator Aubrey Beardsley (1872–1898), the surreal puppets of German sculptor Hans Bellmer (1902–1975), and the whimsical street fashion of Harajuku district in Tokyo.

In addition to an overview of the artist’s 25-year career, Visions of Gothic Angels: Japanese Manga by Takaya Miou focuses upon two anthologies, The Madness of Heaven (Tengoku kyō, 2001) and Map of Sacred Pain (Seishō-zu, 2001). Illustrations and short stories from these publications will be presented in a variety of formats: original drawings, printed books (tankobon), large-scale wall graphics, and digital works that visitors can read from cover to cover on iPads installed in the gallery.

Here are a few shots I took at the opening night reception in August that give you an impression of how it all looks.

Here's the entrance to the exhibit. On the near wall, you can see some of Takaya's art; the far wall contains several of her manga pages. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Here’s the entrance to the exhibit. On the near wall, you can see some of Takaya’s art; the far wall contains several of her manga pages. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
An entire wall is devoted to displaying doujinshi Takaya has published over the years. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
An entire wall is devoted to displaying doujinshi Takaya has published over the years. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
"After a Poem by Tsukamoto Kunio" (1998) is one of Takaya's works on display. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
“After a Poem by Tsukamoto Kunio” (1998) is one of Takaya’s works on display. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

While Takaya won’t be appearing at the museum during the exhibit’s run — I understand she’s quite reclusive — there are those aforementioned events that the museum’s hosting. I was too busy to mention anything about last Saturday’s screening of Miss Hokusai, but here are some pictures an attendee, who wished to be identified as “fuzZz 😸,” passed along to me.

Artists hard at work at a reception held before the screening of "Miss Hokusai" Oct. 1. From left are Jon Murakami (with FIGHTING SPIRIT HEADBAND~!), Michael Cannon, Kaci Horimoto and Tara Tamayori.
Artists hard at work at a reception held before the screening of “Miss Hokusai” Oct. 1. From left are Jon Murakami (with FIGHTING SPIRIT HEADBAND~!), Michael Cannon, Kaci Horimoto and Tara Tamayori.
A fan drawn by Kaci Horimoto. It sold at silent auction for $50. (A certain blogger dork may have bid on it via proxy and won it.)
A fan drawn by Kaci Horimoto. It sold at silent auction for $50. (A certain blogger dork may have bid on it via proxy and won it.)
One of the fans drawn by Michael Cannon.
One of the fans drawn by Michael Cannon.

From 4 to 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Doris Duke Theatre, there’s going to be a roundtable discussion, “Manga in Japan, Hawai‘i, and Throughout the World,” featuring artists Brady Evans, Audra Furuichi and Jamie Lynn Lano; Kawaii Kon senior administrator Roy “Buma” Bann, and some friendly neighborhood anime/manga/comic blogger dork who may be revealing some big news about the future of Otaku Ohana during his portion of the discussion. (It’s pretty exciting!) Come get a quick primer on the industry, learn about where we draw our inspirations from, and hear why 60% of the panel adores homespun slice-of-life comedies.

Another lecture at 4 p.m. Oct. 28 will feature Bento Box artist, former manga.about.com curator and all-around U.S. manga community sempai Deb Aoki. In her talk, “Making a Living in Manga: Bento Box and Beyond,” she’ll discuss her artistic career, how she got interested in manga and the struggles of contemporary manga creators. Both her talk and our panel discussion are free. so swing by, enrich your manga fandom a bit and avoid a good chunk of what’s bound to be horrible afternoon rush-hour traffic.

Last but certainly not least, there’s the ongoing Japanese Cinema spotlight, which I’ve talked about in this space before (along with several other movies that are coming up in the next few weeks!). As a reminder, here are the remaining anime on the schedule, featuring a tribute to late director Satoshi Kon:

>> Tekkonkinkreet, 1 and 7:30 p.m. today

>> Millennium Actress, 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27

>> Paprika, 7: 30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25

>> Tokyo Godfathers, 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26

Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 museum members.

The art museum and theater are located at 900 S. Beretania St.; admission to the museum is $10, with free admission every first Wednesday and third Sunday of every month. For more information, visit honolulumuseum.org.

The Mini-ficent Seven

A number of you who use Facebook probably know about its Memories/On This Day feature, where their little algorithmic thingamabobs and doohickeys dig down deep in your timeline and pull up posts that you might’ve forgotten existed about a week after you posted them.

Today, this memory popped up on my timeline.

Four years ago already ... maaaaaaaaaan ... Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Four years ago already? Maaaaaaaaaan. We’ve gotten so much more … umm, *vintage* since then. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

And it reminded me, “Welp, blogger boy, your HawaiiCon vacation’s over, time to get back to work and write a new post.”

Here’s why: The latest edition of Mini Con will be held four years and two days after I posted that picture. This is one of those events that your friendly neighborhood otaku blogger’s been covering for a long time — this is its seventh year, in fact, making it the second longest continually running event I’ve covered, behind only Kawaii Kon.

This year's edition of the Mini Con flyer, by Audra Furuichi. Courtesy image.
This year’s edition of the Mini Con flyer, by Audra Furuichi. Courtesy image.

The formula that McCully-Moiliili Library branch manager Hillary Chang has followed every year is simple, yet effective: Bring in artists Jon Murakami, Audra Furuichi and Kevin Sano as the foundation; supplement with at least one more rotating guest; host a stamp rally and give away prizes throughout the day; give patrons a chance to cosplay.  (This year’s rotating guest is artist Mark Gould, a member of the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance who’s done a fair amount of freelance work over the last few years, including covers for Slave Labor Graphics’ Model A and contributions to Christopher Caravalho’s Aumakua: Guardians of Hawaii books.)

Not everyone has the time, money and/or energy to attend one or (for the most hard-core crazy among us) several of the otaku conventions held around the state every year; Mini Con’s existed as an option for people to get a free taste of convention life, a slice of Artist Alley in a library setting. This is also going to be Audra’s last event as a vendor for this year, so this will be your last chance to pick up some nemu*nemu merchandise or some of her lovely, lovely original artwork from her in person until … well, Kawaii Kon next spring, I reckon.

All of this is happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the library, 2211 S. King St.; parking at the library is limited, so either plan on showing up early, go across the street to Ross Dress For Less (which has graciously opened up its lot for use by library patrons) or bring a handful of coins to feed the meters. For more information, call 973-1099.

Ota-cool Incoming: Art and squeeeee~!

So many events! So little time. So much Pokemon! So little happiness.

To the calendar!

Special events

draw story logo

Draw Story: Art and Process of Visual Storytelling: If you’ve ever wondered about how your favorite comics develop into something you can read, or if you’re just a fan of work generated by our local community of comic artists, this is your show. The Honolulu Museum of Art is hosting an exhibit collecting work from a selection of artists from the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance (including MidWeek cartoonist Roy Chang, Con-athon 2016 standard-bearer Jon Murakami, Pineapple Man creator Sam Campos and Mana Comics founder Chris Caravalho) along with several comic-inspired artists (Brady Evans, Devin Oishi). The opening reception is at the art school from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday (be advised that the art museum will be hosting its August Moon food and wine event around the same time, and the Pacific Ink & Art Expo will be going on at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall, so neighborhood parking will probably be tight), while the exhibit itself runs through Aug. 29.

Pokemon Go Fest at SALT: Coral Street sits a few blocks away from Star-Advertiser Tower in Kakaako. It’s rather industrial in nature; there are a bunch of warehouses lining it, and you can also find Highway Inn and Hank’s Haute Dogs there. Ever since Pokemon Go launched a few weeks ago, I keep seeing a few players adding confetti-spewing lures to at least eight of the area Pokestops every night and wandering over to claim the nearby Paradise Mural Gym for the glory of Team Instinct or the other two teams that aren’t Team Instinct. (Just kidding, Valors and Mystics, you know I love ya. Mostly because I’ve given up on holding a gym for more than 20 minutes at a time.) Here’s the scene on a recent night.

Yeeeeeeeaaaaah. There are a LOT of people playing Pokemon Go. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Yeeeeeeeaaaaah. There are a LOT of people playing Pokemon Go. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

… yeah, it’s a nightly PokeStreetParty. And now SALT at Our Kaka’ako — the development that has Coral Street as its eastern border — is getting in on the action with a daytime party, featuring live music from DJ Romeo Valentine, a cosplay contest, an Instagram raffle, photo ops with the Hawaii Pokemon Go girls (wait, there are Pokemon Go girls now? Quite a world we live in these days …) and discounts at various SALT merchants. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

otaku summer festival logo

Otaku Summer Festival: This single-day event is back for a second year with food, games and vendors (including Jon!) offering items that’ll make fans of anime, manga and Japanese culture happy. Planned entertainment includes music from The Otakus and a cosplay contest (with prizes!)

Here, have a commercial.

Video Gamers Hawaii will be feeding the shrine’s Pokestop with lures regularly and, in conjunction with the Hawaii Video Gamers League, will be hosting Street Fighter V and Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator tournaments. As for that food? Look forward to five kinds of musubi (fried rice, shoyu chicken, kabayaki eel, furikake salmon and sweet sekihan) for $2.50 each, and three kinds of bentos (chicken katsu, katsu curry, salmon yakisoba) for $7.50 each. Admission is free. Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu (1239 Olomea St.), 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Kenshin Part I: Origins: The live-action adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s wandering swordsman manga starring Takeru Sato as Himura Kenshin and Emi Takei as Kamiya Kaoru is making its way back to theaters courtesy of fresh stateside licensing by Funimation. Yes, it’s the same movie that first came to town via the Hawaii International Film Festival in 2013. But a) you get to see it on the big screen again and b) there are two more movies in the series that will be making their way down here in the next few months as well. That counts for something, right? In Japanese with English subtitles. General admission: $12.25. Consolidated Ward Stadium theaters, 7:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday.

Pokemon: The First Movie: It’s the first big-screen adventure for Ash, Pikachu and the rest of their PokeBuddies, the debut of Mew and Mewtwo in animated series canon, and it’s back on the big screen once again … and it’s in a venue where you can’t play Pokemon Go. (Seriously, I’m not sure if it’s just my cell phone provider or what, but I’ve never been able to get any sort of data signal in the Doris Duke Theater. It’s just too deep underground.) You can, however, cosplay and enter a trivia contest to win fabulous prizes. Sponsored by Kawaii Kon; tickets are $10 general admission, $8 Honolulu Museum of Art members. 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15.

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’s “friends” remain the ship-gals of KanColle.) Well, it’s the end of an era, because the club will be finishing off the series at this meeting (and this running gag in the process). Oh, well. At least I can still call Diane the Face of Hawaii Ingress ™, right? At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where there’s still plenty of parking … and now a giant sugar molecule out front. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month … and this month, they’re back at Pearlridge Center! Happy day! Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: Pearlridge Downtown (Center Court area), 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

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.

The Great Otaku Calendar of All the Things, July Edition

There isn’t much time to explain why I’ve been away for so lo–

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… OK, fine, so there’s that. But seriously, there isn’t much time to explain why I’ve be–

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… yeah, OK, that too. But that’s really everything that’s been distracting me at the mo–

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… umm, let’s just get to this month’s event calendar, shall we?

ghibli porco

The Miyazaki Ghibli Film Festival: “But I thought we just had a Ghibli film festival in April!” you say. Ahh, but that one didn’t feature films being screened in the historic Hawaii Theatre. Nor did it feature a festival-exclusive Ghibli-themed T-shirt, a cosplay contest (2 p.m. Sunday), entertainment from the Drowning Dreamers Band (7-7:30 p.m. Friday) and Makkuro KurO.K. (7-7:30 p.m. Saturday), food vendors Pig & the Lady (Friday) and Onomono (Saturday and Sunday) or an Art+Flea-hosted room full of crafters, including friends of the blog Marisa and Carole Gee of Kawaii Mono, who’ll be selling all these Ghibli-themed charms at the event:

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Related to that, Kawaii Mono is giving away a Miyazaki prize pack valued at $50; visit instagram.com/kawaiimono808 for details. (If you win, though, you’ll have to pick up your prize at the festival; keep that in mind before you enter.) Best of all, if you just want to skip the movies and enjoy the festivities, admission to that is free. You can visit the crafters in the theater’s Weyand Room from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

As for the movies themselves? You can choose from Princess Mononoke (subtitled) at 8 p.m. Friday, Kiki’s Delivery Service (dubbed) at 4 p.m. Saturday, Spirited Away (subtitled) at 8 p.m Saturday, and/or My Neighbor Totoro (dubbed) at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 general, $10 children ages 4-17, free for children 3 and under. For more information or tickets, visit hawaiitheatre.com.

keiki con 2016

Keiki Con: Central Oahu’s largest con-style event is back for a second year in Mililani Mauka, and it’s boasting quite a lineup of guests in the Artist Zone: Pineapple Man creator Sam Campos, Mana Comics creator Christopher Caravalho, Gordon Rider/Ara-Rangers/Edamame Ninjas creator Jon Murakami will all be there Members of Comic Jam Hawaii will be hosting a table with drawing activities (and they’ll be drawing as well!), and Headshot Heroes will be doing a live painting demo (when he’s not giving kids a chance to visit with Elmo, of course). Kawaii Kon/Comic Con Honolulu representatives will be on hand with ticket specials, and they’ll also be giving away two 3-day passes to CCH later this month. And no mini-con would be complete without a cosplay contest, taking place at 11:45 a.m. (and if you’re interested in participating in that, be sure to check in no later than 11:30 a.m.). Food booths, entertainment, and, of course, plenty of activities for the kids round out the event. Mililani Recreation Center 7 (95-1333 Lehiwa Dr.), 10 a.m.-3 p.m. July 9.

Hawaii Geek Meet: If it’s geeky, it’ll probably show up somewhere during this 9th-annual meet-up — cosplayers, a Quidditch team, the Last Outpost and the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Legion being among those who are planning to show up. Also notable: Just four days after the game overwhelmed Android and iOS networks nationwide, there’s already a Pokemon Go farming meetup planned. Geeks are super-efficient! Kapiolani Park, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.

CCH logo

Comic Con Honolulu: George Takei, original Star Trek actor and overseer of everything viral on the Internet, is the headliner at this, the next stop for Con-athon 2016. Other key guests from the 22-person lineup include Sean Astin, Sam Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy; John Barrowman, Capt. Jack Harkness in Torchwood and the Dark Archer in Arrow; Mythbuster Grant Imahara; Deadpool co-creator Fabian Nicienza; and Kristin Bauer, currently starring as Maleficent in Once Upon A Time. Hawai’i Convention Center, Friday-Sunday, July 29-31.