Local manga exhibit crosses over to JCCH

One of the highlights of last year’s otaku calendar was “Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii,” an exhibit curated by Pen & Ink Works founder Brady Evans that traced the history of manga locally, from its origins in Japan to its influences on the local fan community. I spotlighted it twice in this space during its run, once before it opened, once before it closed. It was a great opportunity to look at original artwork from the featured artists and learn about their creative processes.

I’m still trying to figure out how they let this dork in the building to be part of the exhibit, though.

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CrossCul-JCCH-Invitation-1But let’s say you weren’t able to make it out to see the exhibit last year. It happens; maybe you were too busy during the time it was up between Sept. 6 and Oct. 2, or maybe the drive over the Koolaus to the Windward side didn’t agree with you. Fortunately for you, there’s a second chance coming up to see it, as the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii over in Moiliili hosts its revival starting Saturday. (Members and invited guests can get a sneak peek at 5:30 p.m. Friday, with Brady leading a walkthrough at 6 p.m.)

Brady recently told me that there’s been a healthy chunk of new content added to the exhibit to make a visit worthwhile to those of you who did visit last year. The highlights:

  • Kyunyo, the doujinshi artist featured in the Kawaii Kon section last year, is getting her own spotlight space this year. Pages from her latest work, “Define” — inspired by the anime series Magi — and a copy of the book itself will be on display.
  • Last year’s exhibit had a “Guide by Cell” feature, where visitors could call a number and hear some of the artists talk about their work. New recordings have been added, so this year, you can listen to Audra Furuichi (nemu*nemu), Jordan Takemoto and Tara Tamayori (Hachi Maru Hachi) and Stacey Hayashi (Journey of Heroes) along with last year’s lineup of Brady, Rose Dela Cruz (exhibition label illustrator), Jon Murakami (Gordon Rider), Roy Chang (Cacy & Kiara and the Curse of the Ki’i) and Patsy Iwasaki and Avery Berido (Hamakua Hero).
  • Roy and Audra have painted new murals. Here, have some photos Brady took of their work in progress.

  • The Kikaida section has been beefed up, with more memorabilia — including vintage Kamen Rider, Go-Ranger and Kikaida figurines! — from Scott Shinsato on display.
  • The Alphonse Elric and Persona Teddy costumes have been retired in favor of Voltron, also by the same artist. You might have seen it walking around Kawaii Kon last month.
  • “Meet the Artist/Author” sessions include Patsy and Avery (both of whom are flying in from Hawaii island!) to talk about Hamakua Hero (May 17. 2-3 p.m.) and Stacey talking about Journey of Heroes (May 24, 2-3 p.m.) There’s also going to be a Comic Jam & Artists Showcase with the artists from Comic Jam Hawaii from 1 to 3 p.m. May 31.

The exhibit runs through June 7 at JCCH (2454 S. Beretania St.), The community gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; admission is free. Ingress players, there’s a portal on site as well as several others within walking distance (all of which consistently hit max-level 8 under Resistance control, sigh). For more on the exhibit, visit hawaiimanga.com.

Ota-cool Incoming!
(special weekend of May 3-4 edition)

The return of “Crossing Cultures” is just one of the events happening in what’s turned out to be a really busy weekend not just for events with an element of otaku-ness in them, but in general. Unrelated to our discussion here, there’s Spam Jam, AARP’s paper-shredding event in Aiea, a craft and gift fair at Recreation Center 5 in Mililani, a neighborhood garage sale in Waipahu mauka of the Leeward Y, near Waipahu Uka Neighborhood Park … yeah, there’s a lot of stuff going on. And that doesn’t even count the fact that Sunday’s Star Wars Day (May the 4th, get it?). Here are the highlights.

Ninth Annual Hawaii Book & Music Festival: It’s going to be a busy weekend for Brady and some of the other “Crossing Cultures” artists/authors, as Hawaii Manga — with Brady, Stacey, Roy and the Hachi Maru Hachi gang — will have a booth as part of the annual celebration of local authors and musicians. Swing by the festival’s Author’s Pavilion around 4 p.m. Sunday and you can see Brady, Stacey and Jon talking about the exhibit and manga in Hawaii, too. On the Civic Center grounds near Honolulu Hale; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

FCBD_nodateFree Comic Book Day: Stefanie Nakasone did a good job in our print edition (subscription required) summarizing what’s going on, but for those of you who don’t want to click through, here’s a quick, Twitter-attention-span summary: Saturday. Free comics. Four stores (Westside Comics and Games, Gecko Books, Collector Maniacs, Other Realms), 17 libraries (12 on Oahu, plus Hilo and Thelma Parker Memorial on Hawaii island, Kihei and Lahaina on Maui, and Princeville on Kauai). Go get some (keeping in mind that not all of these books will be available at all locations).

And now, courtesy of The Face of Hawaii Ingress ™, Diane Masaki, here’s who’s showing up where for Free Comic Book Day at the libraries. Unless otherwise noted, all appearances will be at 10 a.m.:

Aiea: Hellboy, Powergirl, Supergirl, White Power Ranger, maybe Cyclops
Aina Haina: Batman and Kamen Rider
Kalihi-Palama: Angel (X-Men: First Class edition), Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, maybe Cyclops
Mililani: Wolverine (plus two surprise guests), Batman, maybe Luigi
Lahaina: Scout Trooper from the 501st Imperial Legion
Kapolei: Members of the 501st Imperial Legion (2-4 p.m.)
Salt Lake: Member of Team Rocket, Jubilee, maybe Cyclops

idkwhat2wear T-shirt blowout: The (take a deep breath here) 17th Islandwide Spring Crafts and Food Expo for Mother’s Day (aaaaaand exhale) is also happening this weekend. I mention this here is because frequent anime con exhibitor/friend of the blog idkwhat2wear will be clearing out T-shirts at this event for $5 each. To drive this point home, this picture appeared on the idk Facebook page late Wednesday afternoon.

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… yeeeeeaaaaah, that’s a lot of shirts.

Find them in booth 705 at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. $4 general admission, $3 military members and seniors 65 and older, free for children ages 13 and under. 4-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Kodomo no Hi: Sure, Children’s Day is technically on Monday, but Sunday’s as good a time as any to welcome back a JCCH event that skipped last year. Jon will be exhibiting at this event, and MangaBento will have a booth set up with various activities for the kiddies. Audra’s also going to be there to promote the Crossing Cultures exhibit from 11 a.m. to noon. They’ll be part of a day that will also feature entertainment, cultural and martial arts demonstrations, the traditional children’s kimono dressing and a keiki kendama tournament. (Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger once tried one of those kendamas at the behest of the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction. It … didn’t go very well.) At the center, 2454 S. Beretania St.; admission is free. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Hawaii Comic & Toy Expo: More than 20 dealers will be on hand to happily take all the money you have … umm, I mean, heartily encourage and nourish your various collectible and comic passions. Also in attendance will be artists Sam Campos, Andy Lee, Theodore Lee, Kevin Sano and Kanila Tripp. Admission is $3; children under 5 are free. Visit www.hawaiicomictoyexpo.com. Ala Moana Hotel (Garden Lanai room), 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

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). 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

13 for ’13: Otaku Ohana’s year in pictures

Happy three-days-in-but-still-relatively-newish year! It’s hard to believe that June will mark five years since this blog gained a home on starbulletin.com as an online complement to Cel Shaded. Five years, coincidentally, is also the amount of time it would probably take for me to catch up on all the anime that I’ve been meaning to review in this space if (a) every single anime producer, both in the U.S. and Japan, were to stop releasing anime at this very second, and (b) I watched anime 24/7/365. (And let’s not even think about the manga.)

I’m hoping that review situation improves this year. But before we move forward, let’s take a quick look back at some of the highlights from last year, captured by my trusty camera (and in some cases, my equally trusty smartphone). Some of these pictures have appeared in this space before. Others, I never got around to posting (curse you, real work getting in the way of fun work!). For remembering the year that was 2013, though, they’re fun jumping-off points.

Congratulation! A winner is you! (Jan. 12)

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The final edition of the Liliha Library Anime Art Contest culminated in an awards ceremony at the beginning of the year. Rachel Ruiz placed second in the grades 6-8 category with this piece, for which she won a lovely bag of prizes.

Meanwhile, at the back of the room where the awards ceremony was held, young adult librarian Linda Mediati set up a table with a pile of donated Shonen Jump issues, English and Japanese editions, free for the taking for anyone who wanted them.

Judging by how many Rachel carted off, you wouldn’t be too far off in saying she won twice that day.

The surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya (March 17)

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I’ve mentioned before in this space that I have an affinity for anything and everything related to the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise. So when Haruhi character designer Noizi Ito was announced as a guest for Kawaii Kon, I was ready to go to pretty much anything and everything at which she made an appearance. Hour-long live-drawing panel? Yes, please. Hour-long live-drawing panel where she draws Kawaii Kon mascots Ai-chan and Nami? Oh, yes, thank you very much. Hour-long live-drawing panel where she casually unveils the final cover for her newest Haruhi artbook for the first time anywhere? Oh, baby, yes.

And in case you’re wondering whether the book made it out to Japanese audiences: Yup.

Spartan assault on our hearts (March 17)

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This is the only shot in this collection that wasn’t taken by me, but by one of Kawaii Kon’s staff photographers, Zarli Win. (We’ll see more of him in the next picture.) From where I was standing during the Kawaii Kon Masquerade, my trusty-yet-lacking-in-low-light-situations camera couldn’t have gotten anything as good as this. Being there to soak up the mood was awesome, though: the announcement of the contestant, this little girl in her “Halo Kitty” outfit — a Halo Spartan suit embellished with Hello Kitty accessories — walking out on stage, the collective gasp in the audience giving way to squeals and applause and a barrage of flashbulbs going off around the room.

Wedded bliss (June 2)

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Tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Jandoc married longtime boyfriend Zarli Win in early June. It was a pretty big deal ’round these parts. Was it a ceremony that was full of Win? But of course.

Cait Sith, art guardian (June 18)

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As it has for the past few years, the Honolulu Museum of Art School’s second-floor gallery hosted MangaBento’s annual exhibit. The 2013 edition, “Tomo-E-Ame: Friends-Drawings-Candy,” featured anime-inspired art in a wide variety of media. Among the pieces was this doll of Cait Sith hand-sewn by Heidi Shimada that, when viewed at a certain angle, looked like it was gazing over the gallery.

A master immortalized (July 27)

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Cartoonist Dave Thorne — best known around these parts for his Sunday comic strip “Thorney’s Zoo” — may have died in 2012, but he left behind a body of work that remains beloved to this day. In July, several hundred people showed up for a celebration of life at Bay View Golf Park, with samples of his cartoons posted all over the clubhouse auditorium. One of the highlights was a “chalk talk,” with Alan Low narrating scenes from Dave’s life as Jon Murakami sketched on a giant pad of paper. The last drawing, done in advance: this. A fitting tribute to someone known as “the Yoda of Hawaii cartooning.”

Taku Taku dancing dancing (Aug. 25)

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Taku Taku Matsuri, spearheaded by Yuka C. Nagaoka, debuted in August with a summer festival at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu. Games were played, art was drawn, food and other collectibles were sold, cosplayers roamed the grounds and played a round of Cosplay Chess, and everyone had a good time.

True to her word in my interview with her, Yuka showed up in a bright red kimono. She even jumped on stage with some of the other cosplayers and danced to Psy’s “Gentleman.”

Crossing cosplay (Sept. 15)

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In September, Gallery Iolani on the Windward Community College campus hosted “Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii,” an exhibit tracing the history of manga and its influence on artists in the local community that was curated by Pen & Ink Works founder/Hachi Maru Hachi contributing artist Brady Evans. Brady also led a series of curator’s tours for four straight Sundays, where he’d talk about various exhibits … like these costumes of Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist and Teddie from Persona 4, part of the section talking about Kawaii Kon.

Oh yes, if you missed the exhibit, don’t worry: Brady’s already told me it’ll be returning in 2014. Details to come.

When “aloha” means goodbye (Sept. 17)

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Toys N Joys, known for years to a certain generation as the go-to place for anime merchandise, domestic and imported video games, closed its doors for the last time on Sept. 23 after a 30-year run in Kaimuki and a 25-year run at the Westridge Shopping Center in Aiea. This whiteboard, sitting in the same display window where toys, replica swords and Airsoft guns once sat in the Kaimuki store, served as a sounding board for some customers to pay their respects.

Angelic consultation (Oct. 2)

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The time between Oct. 1 and Nov. 3 was one of the busiest I’ve seen for the local fan community in quite some time. The month got off to a hot start with two events taking place on the same day: Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library, and Kawaii Kon’s Anime Day at Windward Mall. I thought I’d be the only one crazy dedicated enough to make the drive over the Koolaus and attend both events, but it turned out there was another trio: Guardian Angels Dana Aton and Susana Choy of Cosmic Koi, makers of black and white hand-detailed angels’ wings and plasma ear pieces like these, and their adorably adorable lolita-clad daughter, Bella. Here, Bella and Susana shared a moment together at Mini Con.

The Macross miracle (Nov. 2)

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Local anime convention Oni-Con Hawaii debuted this year, and while it had its share of problems, there were some fun times to be had as well. One of those fun times was at the “Filmmaking in Hawaii” panel, where Blood of the Samurai director Aaron Yamasato and Doko Ga TV host/“Japanmania — Sugoi!” blogger Pali Kaaihue talked about some of their projects.

But then came their Fabulous Swag Giveaway. Now, you have to realize that in the upcoming season of Doko Ga TV, Pali talked to some really cool people, including Masako Nozawa, the Japanese voice of Goku in Dragon Ball Z, and Yoko Kanno, composer of anime soundtracks that fill me with warm fuzzies like Cowboy Bebop, Kids on the Slope, Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex, Wolf’s Rain and some of the newer series in the Macross franchise. Accordingly, one of the items Pali gave away was something from Macross Frontier. The winner? Milton Streeter, former leader of the Japanese Animation Society of Hawaii and co-host of the “Anime Clubs in Hawaii” panel that took place immediately preceding this particular panel.

As you can see, he was a tad bit enthused.

The art of library talks (Nov. 6)

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I’m not sure how many times over the years that I’ve attended talks by nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi about the creative process that goes into her thrice-weekly online comic strip, but one thing’s remained constant: Those talks are always fascinating, and fledgling artists could learn quite a bit from them. These two girls certainly took advantage of the opportunity, practicing sketching on Audra’s tablet after an evening talk at Kapolei Library.

The Journey continues (Dec. 22)

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Journey of Heroes, the graphic novel recounting the story of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II, went into a second printing toward the end of the year, with the first public sale of those new books at the Honolulu Gift Fair in mid-December. That’s author Stacey Hayashi in the background … and behind the table in the foreground, helping her sell books and other merchandise chock full of chibi soldier goodness, was MidWeek cartoonist/Cacy and Kiara author Roy Chang.

And that was 2013 in a nutshell! 2014’s already getting off to a busy start with Comic Jam Hawaii returning to Pearlridge on Sunday (1-4 p.m.!) and the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s Ohana Festival on Jan. 19. Is another fun year loaded with plenty of pictures in store? You betcha.

“Anohana”: The flower we’re seeing on Maui

anohanaIt’s been a while since tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. has raved to me about wanting to see any anime, so when she does, you bet I’m going to perk up and take notice.

In this particular case, it’s Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, an 11-episode series that aired in Japan in 2011 and is currently available for free on Crunchyroll. In the series, a girl’s death ends up being the wedge that drives a group of childhood friends apart, but her ghostly return — and her haunting of the group’s leader — could end up being the key to them coming to terms over the guilt they felt about that tragic day. And a flower is probably involved. (Hey, I only saw the first episode of Kill La Kill on Wednesday. I have a lot of anime series catching-up to do.)

A feature-length film retelling the story was released in Japan in August; a few months later, in November, Aniplex of America announced it would be bringing the film to U.S. theaters, with Eleven Arts distributing. If you remember my first post on Evangelion 3.0 a few weeks ago, your sixth sense should be tingling right about now, considering that I said that pretty much anything with Eleven Arts attached to it has shown up locally as of late.

Well, an Aniplex press release announcing that a theater list was now available rattled into my inbox this morning … and there’s good and bad news. The good news is that the Anohana movie is, indeed, coming to Hawaii. The bad news? As of now, if you’re reading this somewhere that isn’t Maui, it’s going to cost you, at a bare minimum, round-trip airfare, a round-trip cab ride and a ticket to see it. That’s because, for the first time that I can remember this happening in all my years on this beat, Anohana is skipping Honolulu entirely and screening exclusively at the Kaahumanu 6 theaters in Kahului.

So here’s the deal, Mauians: There will be two showings, one at 2 p.m. on Wed., Jan. 22, the other at 7 p.m. Sat., Jan. 25. Fandango ticket links are embedded in that last sentence; tickets cost $15 each. Ticketholders will have an opportunity to score cool gifts, including “Letters From Menma” replicas and movie posters. And in case you’re still on the fence, here, have a trailer.

For more information on the movie, visit www.AniplexUSA.com/anohanamovie. In the meantime, I’ll be sitting over here, alternating between being jealous of those of you on Maui and seriously contemplating whether I should hop over for a day and indulge in Komoda Store cream puffs, guri guri from the Tasaka shop, and pretty much everything Sam Sato’s in Wailuku serves up. That’s good eatin’.

Evangelion 3.0, update 3.0

eva3_posterB_B1_org_OK_RGBWhile I was poking around on Fandango, I decided to check in on whether the Eva 3.0 screenings for the Kaahumanu 6 and Ward Stadium theaters finally materialized. And they have! Ticket links and prices are below. (Note: “Seniors” refers to anyone ages 60 and older; “children” refers to anyone ages 3-11.)

Those screenings are more than two weeks earlier than the Doris Duke Theatre screenings at the Honolulu Museum of Art that I’ve written about before, so if you’re really itching to see Eva 3.0 sooner rather than later, here’s your chance. If not, tickets are still available for all those screenings. As far as I know, tickets are also still available for the Kawaii Kon screening at 7:30 p.m. Thurs., Jan. 30, for free to those who have a three-day badge from 2013 or who already preregistered for 2014. Details for that offer are in this post.

Ota-cool incoming!

Unless some major news breaks in the next few days, I expect this will be the last Ota-cool Incoming! update for 2013. It’s been a very fruitful year for the local anime/manga fan community … and the first few months of 2014 are already shaping up to be fun ones as well. So let’s get to it!

journey of heroes 2Honolulu Gift Fair: We already knew that Stacey Hayashi, author of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team graphic novel Journey of Heroes, would be one of the vendors in attendance. Now comes word that she’ll have copies of the fresh-off-the-press second printing of the book as well. The new edition contains four additional pages — featuring letters from veterans and a list of donors to schools — and a redesigned cover. Well, okay, so the title bar just changed from red to blue, as you can see in the picture to the right. But hey, it’s something. Stacey will also have shirts featuring the chibis and buttons available for sale as well. Admission is free. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall; 3-9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Aiea Library Anime Club: This month, librarian Diane Masaki is screening … well … something holiday-themed, that’s for sure. Could be polar bears. Could be something about three homeless friends and an abandoned baby. Just show up and act pleasantly surprised, okay? At the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

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. Sunday.

Future attractions

New Year’s Ohana Festival: Kick off 2014 with the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii in an event guaranteed to be filled with food, games, entertainment, cultural activities and a Kawaii Kon booth, where preregistrations will be taken and Eva 3.0 tickets will be given away. At the center (2454 S. Beretania St.) and nearby Moiliili Field. Jan. 19, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Honolulu Festival: It’s the 20th anniversary edition of the festival promoting harmony between Hawaii and the Asia-Pacific region; the theme: “Jubilation, One Heart, One Pacific, One World.” Just as in previous years, Kawaii Kon will have an exhibit, and the Nagaoka Fireworks display will put a bow on the proceedings. Hawai’i Convention Center and other venues around Waikiki, March 7-9.

Kawaii Kon 2014: Guests for the 10th anniversary edition include voice actors Jim Cummings, Grey DeLisle, Ayumi Fujimura, Quinton Flynn, Richard Horvitz, Tetsuya Kakihara, Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh; professional cosplayer Leah Rose; and local comedian Augie T., serving as emcee. Preregistration open now; $37 for a three-day pass for children ages 5-12, $42 general admission. Hawai’i Convention Center, April 4-6.

Next time in Otaku Ohana

This.

Indeed, a Kawaii Christmas is the only Christmas for me.

And there are a lot more pictures from where that came from, too.

Season of giving, season of sales

Isle-born Stan Sakai, creator of the comic book Usagi Yojimbo and longtime letterer for Groo the Wanderer, is highly regarded as one of the Really Nice Guys in the comic industry. Tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I found this out firsthand back in 2006, when we sent him a bunch of questions for a Kawaii Kon preview article and he sent back enough material to write that article, an online-exclusive supplement with his travel journal and artwork that ended up gracing our weekend section cover for our con coverage that year. He’s been a guest at two Kawaii Kons — 2006 and 2009 — and I’m sure anyone who sat in on one of his panels would agree that he’s quite an engaging fellow. Here’s a picture of him at Kawaii Kon ’09 with a sketch of Usagi, his most famous creation.

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What many people probably didn’t know, though, was that around two years before Stan’s first Kawaii Kon appearance, his wife, Sharon, had been diagnosed with a benign meningnoma brain tumor. And while radiation treatment and regular MRIs seemed to keep it in check in subsequent years, according to Stan, it started growing aggressively again in 2010.

The story since then, from Stan’s post to his Facebook page on Tuesday:

She has facial paralysis on the left side (everything happens on the left side). The paralysis includes her throat, vocal chords, and it has even deteriorated her neck bones. She had lost almost 40% of her body weight in a year. She is undergoing chemotherapy. Doctors don’t see any end in sight for this. There are complications because of the tumor, medications, or just coincidence–diabetes, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, compromised immune system. She has a tracheostomy tube for breathing and a G-tube connected to her stomach for a liquid diet. She can take nothing through her mouth. She is bed-bound, but we try to give her daily physical therapy–walking a couple hundred feet with a walker and/or sitting in a wheelchair.

She had been in the hospital and nurse care from April to September, but we are glad she is home. She requires 24 hour care, so daughter Hannah and her family moved in with us. This includes 18 month old grandson Leo, and another grandchild due in February/early March.

While there have been regular updates on Sharon’s condition on Stan’s page, friends and colleagues have largely shown their support by sharing their thoughts, prayers and well-wishes with the couple. Now, however, a more formal campaign to help pay for the mounting medical bills has emerged: CAPS, the Cartoon/Comic Art Professional Society, is organizing a charity art auction and is now soliciting donations from artists worldwide. The actual auction itself will be announced at a later date. Artists, you can find a form that you can download, fill out and send in with your contribution at www.garageartstudio.blogspot.com/2013/11/help-stan-sakai.html. If you aren’t artistically inclined but still want to donate to the cause … well, this part of the post was where I was supposed to write that you could go to that same Garage Art Studio post and donate via PayPal, but the link is broken at the moment. Stay tuned either here or to my Twitter feed for any further updates.

To Black Friday and beyond!

This special holiday shopping edition of the Ota-cool Incoming! calendar, spotlighting one special anime-themed shopping event and craft fairs where regular local anime con vendors like idkwhat2wear, Bit of Sugar and Team nemu*nemu, Audra Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga, will be selling stuff over the next few weeks, is unofficially brought to you by “Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday,” a classic nemu*nemu comic strip from 2009.

Can’t make it to any of these events? Vendor websites are linked in the paragraph above. It should be noted that nemu*nemu has their holiday sale running through Dec. 16 (might I recommend the $25 e-book bundle with all six volumes, freshly recolored volumes 2-4 and introductions by industry luminaries including a certain friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger?). Audra’s taking commission requests, to boot; I’ve always had to restrain myself from buying every single piece Audra’s ever drawn, so now’s your chance to have that very same conundrum of choosing what you want to buy. Meanwhile, over at idk’s site, you can only buy their shirts at the moment, but every order comes with two randomly chosen buttons.

BLACK_FRIDAY_FrontArt+Flea Presents “Totoro Black Friday”: The monthly “destination for creatives, by creatives” takes a Ghibli turn this month. Shop for one-of-a-kind handcrafted items from dozens of vendors. and celebrate the works of Hayao Miyazaki, to boot. Swing by the Photo Ops Hawaii photo booth or watch Andy Lee of Charisma Industries work his drawing magic live, too! Admission: $3, but you can take $1 off if you come dressed as your favorite Ghibli character and another $1 if you bring a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots. Fresh Cafe (831 Queen St.); 5-10 p.m. Friday.

27th Islandwide Christmas Crafts and Food Expo: With idkwhat2wear and Bit of Sugar. Admission: $4 general, $3 military families and seniors 65 and older, free for children 12 and under. Neal Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall; 4-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Hawaii United Okinawa Association Winter Craft Fair: With idkwhat2wear (yup, it’s a split-squad weekend for them!), the nemu*nemu crew and all the fresh-out-of-the-fryer andagi and other tasty Japanese treats that you can afford to eat. Admission: Free, but $5 will get you into the banquet hall (where idk and nemu*nemu are) 30 minutes before the formal opening time. Hawaii Okinawa Center (94-587 Ukee St., Waipio Gentry); 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

“An Evening in Waipio”: With idkwhat2wear. Think of it as like the Winter Craft Fair mentioned above — right down to the $5 early-bird offer — except in the dark of night. Hawaii Okinawa Center; 5:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 11.

Moanalua High School Winter Craft Fair: With idkwhat2wear, the nemu*nemu crew and Bit of Sugar. Admission is free, but bring your walking shoes if you’re not there at the crack of dawn waiting for parking, because you’ll probably be hiking from somewhere in the surrounding Salt Lake neighborhood. At the high school, 2825 Ala Ilima St.; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 14.

Honolulu Gift Fair: Stacey Hayashi, author of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team graphic novel Journey of Heroes (now heading into a second printing!), will be one of the vendors in attendance. Admission is free. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall; 3-9 p.m. Dec. 20, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 21 and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 22.

The “Crossing Cultures” photo gallery! … sort of.

Sept. 15, on my Facebook page:

Spent a good chunk of the 19th anniversary of my 18th birthday checking out Brady Evans’ “Crossing Cultures” manga exhibit at Windward Community College (short-form recap in six words: it’s really awesome, go visit it; long-form recap coming in Otaku Ohana after I soak up a bit more staycation time).

Close to two weeks later, long since the warm fuzzies from staycation relaxation were replaced by the smothering blanket of daily work stress, running through my mind this morning:

OH MY GOSH THE WINDWARD HOOLAULEA IS TOMORROW THE EXHIBIT CLOSES ON WEDNESDAY I’VE ONLY HAD TIME TO WRITE CAPTIONS FOR SEVEN PICTURES OUT OF 70 IN TWO GALLERIES THE WINDOW FOR THE OCTOBER OTA-COOL INCOMING! UPDATE IS COMING UP FAST AND THE LAST TIME I UPDATED OTAKU OHANA TOYS N JOYS WAS STILL OPEN KYAAAAAAAAH MUST WRITE AND POST SOMETHING NOOOOOOOW *flail flail flail flail flail*

The "Crossing Cultures" exhibit booklet and a pair of bookmarks.It’s probably going to be a while before those two galleries — one for the exhibit proper, the other, a side gallery dedicated to the drawings exhibit visitors have created — are ready for viewing. They may not be out until an end-of-the-year retrospective, truth be told, with all of October’s events, plus the possibility that I may be called upon to review some films screening in the Hawaii International Film Festival, looming on the horizon.

But for me to say nothing further about the exhibit before it ends in less than a week would sell it short, because there’s still quite a bit going on. There’s the aforementioned Hoolaulea from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, where the Honolulu Printmakers will be hosting a hands-on manga printmaking activity and Gallery ‘Iolani will be open for visits. There’s also the final curator’s walk-through and artist meet-and-greet session from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, featuring Gordon Rider/Star-Advertiser “Calabash” cartoonist Jon Murakami and doujinshi artist Kyunyo.

You can also get a virtual taste of the exhibit at the excellent tie-in website hawaiimanga.com, with exhibit photos, sound clips of the featured artists and downloads for a treasure trove of materials including the exhibit booklet, Rose Dela Cruz’s tie-in manga and bookmarks with Audra Furuichi’s nemu*nemu pups. Brady, along with featured artists Tara Tamayori and Audra, also did an interview with Hawaii Public Radio’s Noe Tanigawa posted under the somewhat unfortunate title of “POW! Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii.” (I’m sorry, but the whole “let’s add sound effects to something about comics, because when people think comics, they think of the Adam West-era Batman TV show” strikes me as a tired media cliche, ranking right up there with “MANGA! Wow! Girls are reading comics now!” on the irritation scale for me.)

Here’s a taste of some of the highlights from my visit to the exhibit, starting with … the entrance! There are several discrete sections to the exhibit: the history of manga (the first wall of which is shown here); a discussion of the local otaku community; and displays on a number of local series influenced by manga.

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Here’s curator Brady during the exhibit walk-through, talking about the nemu*nemu display. Worth noting in this picture:

  • The girl with the red backpack was wearing an Iwatobi Swim Club jacket. That club will be very familiar to those of you who know about the fanservice-for-fujoshi swimming anime Free! How she got that jacket that quickly, I have no idea.
  • It’s an Aiea Library young adult librarian sighting!

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And here’s Brady next to costumes of Fullmetal Alchemist’s Alphone Elric and Persona‘s Teddy in the Kawaii Kon section.

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There’s quite a bit of art on display, but here’s a figure study from one series that I haven’t highlighted very often in this space: Marisa Torigoe’s “Children of Aumakua,” one of the series from the Hawaii Star Manga Project anthology.

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Journey of Heroes writer Stacey Hayashi was the scheduled featured guest of the day. She talked about the creative process behind the manga depicting the World War II story of the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team in chibified form.

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Cacy & Kiara artist and MidWeek cartoonist Roy Chang also showed up as an unscheduled featured guest of the day. He and Stacey swapped books later on.

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And, of course, some Star-Advertiser anime/manga blogger dork is part of a display where local manga “dignitaries” — the others being Kawaii Kon senior administrator Roy Bann and Star-Advertiser “Bento Box” cartoonist Deb Aoki — shared some thoughts about the evolution of Hawaii’s otaku community.

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Roy Chang and I were chatting a little after Brady’s walk-through, and we both agreed that the exhibit’s production values were impressive, on a level with the Osamu Tezuka exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco in 2007. Certainly worth checking out if you have some free time over the next few days.

Ota-cool! September: Manga’s story, our story

Welcome to this month’s edition of Ota-cool Incoming! … which technically should have come out a few days ago, ideally before Sept. 1, so that I could have gotten one more Comic Jam Hawaii meeting in here. What can I say; work the past few nights, ever since I last posted something here, has been cah-ray-zy.

Art of Manga flyerThis month’s spotlight event is one for which yours truly served as an adviser: “Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii.” The exhibit, at Gallery ‘Iolani on the Windward Community College campus, is a journey through the history of manga locally, from its origins in Japan through its influences on the local fan community.

There’s a veritable who’s who of local artists and writers spotlighted, including Audra Furuichi (nemu*nemu), Roy Chang (Cacy & Kiara), Jon Murakami (Gordon Rider), Marisa Torigoe (“Children of Aumakua” from the Hawaii Star Manga Project), Stacey Hayashi and Damon Wong (Journey of Heroes), Patsy Y. Iwasaki and Avery Berido (Hamakua Hero), Tara Tamayori (“Eternal Blade” from Hachi Maru Hachi) and Kyunyo (“Emperor’s Seal”). All of this is curated by Brady Evans, Pen & Ink Works founder and Hachi Maru Hachi contributor.

The number of special activities tied in to this exhibit could probably fill an average Ota-cool Incoming! calendar by themselves. Start with the opening reception, running from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday. Every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. for the duration of the exhibit will feature the curator’s walk-through and artist talks, where you can meet some of the participating artists. And as part of the Windward Hoolaulea (10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 28), the Honolulu Printmakers will be hosting a hands-on manga printmaking activity from noon to 2 p.m., and the gallery will be open on what will be the only Saturday it’ll be open for the exhibit’s run.

If you can only make it out to see the exhibit, it runs through Oct. 2; there’s an area where you can sketch to your heart’s content, so at least you’ll have that. Gallery hours are 1-8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays and 1-5 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

After the break: the rest of this month’s highlights! And stuff beyond that, too! Continue reading “Ota-cool! September: Manga’s story, our story”

A ‘Journey’ worth remembering

journey of heroesToday’s profile: Journey of Heroes
Author: Stacey Hayashi
Illustrator: Damon Wong
Publisher: Self-published
Availability: In print & readily available at www.442comicbook.com and various retailers (refer to this list posted on Facebook)

If you grew up in Hawaii, chances are about 100% that one of things imprinted upon you in school is the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the subsequent internment of Japanese-Americans following the attack. And naturally, one of the things you also hear in conjunction with that is about the 100th Battalion and the 442nd Infantry Regiment; how they were composed of all nisei (second-generation Japanese), many of whom were from Hawaii; and how they are among the most decorated units for their size and length of service.

But something that’s not often taught in schools — at least, not in my memory, and I will say that I’ve been out of high school for many years now — is what happened in the time between the Pearl Harbor attack and the creation of the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team and the days leading up to their entrance into actual combat. It’s usually only around the anniversary of “the day that will live in infamy,” Dec. 7, when we hold gatherings around the state to honor those who sacrificed themselves, that we hear the tales from the few remaining survivors about the horrors they experienced in the war. And even then, the stories can be few, with many veterans often reluctant to speak of those times.

The slim graphic novel “Journey of Heroes,” written by Stacey T. Hayashi and illustrated by Damon Wong, attempts to fill in that gap. And a fine endeavor it is. (It also made me finally understand why the unit is called the “100th/442nd.”)

According to a note from the author, Hayashi wanted to tell the story about the nisei units, so she met with hundreds of veterans and gathered their reminiscences with the intent of making them into a movie. Unfortunately, the difficulties of producing a film stood in the way of that project. Fortunately, this 30-page book grew out of it instead.
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“Journey of Heroes” is told in the first person from the perspective of an unnamed nisei soldier. (The stories, however, are based on the experiences of veteran Goro Sumida, a dear friend of Hayashi’s who died last October.) It starts off in November 1944 just after the famous Vosges assault in which the 100th/442nd had been ordered to rescue a Texas unit that had become trapped behind enemy lines — the so-called “Lost Battalion.” The nisei units managed to save the Texans after several days of fighting, suffering heavy casualties in the process. And as the remaining men are standing at attention waiting to be recognized for their bravery, the narrator describes what happened up until that point and what will happen in years beyond, switching seamlessly from past to present to future while maintaining a “flashback” mode. It sounds strange as described here, but the device works well.

It’s “only” 30 pages, which sounds awfully short for a graphic novel. And in one way it is, but in another way, it’s interminably long as you read through the history of the 100th and 442nd, the details that most people don’t often get the chance to hear about, of the pain and humiliation and struggle and the differences — even with each other — that they had to overcome.
Some 10,000 Japanese-Americans in Hawaii eagerly volunteered for 1,500 available spots in the military
Damon uses the “chibi” — Japanese for “small,” with the connotation of “cute” — drawing style, one that’s often used in Japanese manga. I initially had qualms about it, wondering how such an approach could effectively portray the grueling intensity of war, racism and more. However, I found that the “cuteness” of the people doesn’t detract from the emotion that the simply worded narration evokes. Even the use of pidgin English is well placed, serving to show the contrast between the carefree island days and the grimness of war. Married with this are realistic, stylized backgrounds and elements taken straight from history, such as the well-known photograph of the sinking of the USS Arizona; the famous front page of the extra edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin declaring war on Dec. 7, 1941; the gates to ‘Iolani Palace as the nisei soldiers are given a huge farewell send-off; and even smaller features such as flags, office windows and bunk beds. It all contributes to a tremendous reading experience, and I must admit I didn’t expect to be moved as I much as I was when I read the book.

Even now, after having read “Journey of Heroes” multiple times, I still choke up as I can only try to imagine the hell it was. It is intense and emotional in a rather simple way, which easily reaches out and touches the reader. We can’t help but share in their pain and feel great respect for the men who came out of it all and did not let the war and racism break them as they continued on with their lives.
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About half of the book is devoted to the soldiers’ battles and the Vosges assault, but what made the most impression on me is the recounting of the time before their deployment to the war zone in Italy. This is the part of their story that we never hear about and that contributes even more to our admiration for them. We are finally taken behind the scenes, beyond the well-publicized heroism, and we see what they went through to even get to the point at which they went to war. We read about the family struggles, about the deep-seated prejudice that went both ways, forcing some Japanese-Americans on the mainland to sneak out so they could start their military careers, sometimes against their loved ones’ wishes. We see the culture clashes when the Hawaii men meet up with mainlanders, the tension and conflicts within the units caused by different upbringings. We watch as the Hawaii and mainland soldiers are finally made to realize that it doesn’t matter where they come from — they are all Americans, they are all fighting the same war, and the enemy is not each other.

One thing that stood out at me in the entire manga was something so tiny it was easy to overlook. When discussing the values that Japanese held, the concept of “not bringing shame to the family name” was brought up. It may very well have been this ideal that led the nisei to “go for broke” and achieve more than anyone likely thought they ever would. But also, perhaps it is some kind of “shame,” perhaps it is the trauma, that keeps many veterans from speaking — both of which are understandable, and I know that I would never be able to truly comprehend what they went through that keeps them silent. We are fortunate that so many already are willing to open up and share the experiences that led to the creation of “Journey of Heroes.” I hope more veterans of the proud 100th/442nd can overcome those sentiments and share their stories for the next generation and many more beyond.

The only “gripe” I have is that this graphic novel is such a small, thin volume that it could easily be passed over on the bookshelf — it doesn’t even have its name on the very narrow spine. It would be a shame if this very worthy book were lost due to mere slimness of size. I wish Hayashi much luck in raising the support and getting the help she needs to get more books out to students. Her original goal was to split the first print run of 10,000 copies in half, with 5,000 being distributed to students and libraries and another 5,000 being sold to recoup production costs. While that strategy’s been a success — so much so that a second printing’s become a possibility — production logistics are a bit of a concern, as this comment on the book’s Facebook page would indicate.

From the once-happy-go-lucky times of prewar Hawaii, to the internment of Japanese-Americans, through the difficulties of finally becoming a true unit, to the Vosges rescue, to the liberation of a Jewish death camp, to the homecoming back in the islands after the war, and beyond — this graphic novel truly takes us on the “Journey of Heroes.”

If you want to learn more about “Journey of Heroes” and are a Star-Advertiser subscriber, please check out Gary Chun’s profile from the March 17 issue.