Video game-themed events press “start” in isles

As I’m writing this in the early, holy-cats-I-remember-staying-up-this-late-when-I-was-working-for-the-Star-Advertiser hours of Friday morning, we’re a few hours away from the kickoff to Kawaii Kon 2018.

But while I’m thinking about that — and the fact that this is the earliest in the year that I’ve ever had to think about Kawaii Kon in my 14 years of covering the con, and I feel so unprepared — there are a few other pieces of news about upcoming events that have crossed my radar. Half of them are happening this weekend, and all of them deal with video games.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Hitbox Music Ensemble and director Chris Suzuki — the focus of what ended up being my last Kawaii Kon preview at the Star-Advertiser, *sniffle* — will be playing in the Main Events hall, Ballroom B, at 8:45 p.m. Friday. This year’s concert, “And All That Jazz…,” will feature video game music arranged in various styles including swing, big band, funk, soul, and, of course, jazz.  Here, for instance, is some rehearsal footage of “Floral Fury” from Cuphead.

If you like what you hear — or if you just like supporting local music in general — you should also consider throwing a few dollars in the direction of the group’s Patreon page. There’s currently … wait, only one supporter so far? And it’s not me? Well, I should get on that sometime soon. And you should, too.

FF KKon

One of the showcase events Kawaii Kon is promoting this year is also video game related. “A New World: Intimate music from Final Fantasy” brings conductor Eric Roth, composer Hitoishi Sakimoto (who composed the soundtracks for Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII, but is also responsible for the game soundtracks for classics as diverse as Radiant Silvergun, the Ogre Battle/Tactics Ogre franchise, Gradius V and the Valkyria Chronicles games), and the New World Players chamber ensemble to Honolulu for the first time There’s a VIP meet-and-greet experience for $75 starting at 3:30 p.m. Sunday that includes an autograph and photo op with Sakimoto and first dibs on concert seating; if you just want to attend the concert, it’ll only cost $12, with seating at 4:30 p.m. Sunday in Main Events, Ballroom B. (These costs are in addition to the cost for con admission.)

KH Orchestra

But let’s say you’re into another classic Square Enix franchise, Kingdom Hearts, the Disney/Square crossover adventure with the convoluted timeline that no one can properly explain without a big mess of flowcharts. Kingdom Hearts III is coming out … umm … eventually, but (possibly) before that happens, Honolulu is going to be a stop on the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour. It seems like if you’re familiar with orchestral performances like the two Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses shows that played in Honolulu, you’ll know what to expect from this show: familiar songs from various games’ soundtracks played by an orchestra while game footage is shown on a giant screen. You know, like this.

KH Orchestra 2

If you’re interested in going, you have some time to plan; the concert’s scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 12, with tickets going on sale Monday, March 26.

Finally, if music isn’t your thing and you’ve somehow made it this far into this post, something really interesting seems to be cooking over at Bread & Butter, the restaurant next door to Shokudo at 1585 Kapiolani Blvd.: Pac-Man. A few days ago, friend of the blog Tara Tamayori posted a picture of this menu from what appears to be a pop-up themed cafe:

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It looks like there are some of the usual crossovers — pancakes, pizza (thankfully without a wedge missing), and generally round Pac-Man-ish foods come to mind — as well as some interesting concepts (a ghost loco moco? Hmm…). The most intriguing take-away from this menu, though? The fact that there’s a Pac-Store opening somewhere at some point during this campaign, which runs through May 31, with “fashion, goods, food and events.” More details as they develop, but this looks like it’s going to be fun.

 

A really, really fast plug for the Anime Swap Meet and Hawaii Collectors Expo

The Anime Swap Meet, hosted by Kawaii Kon, is back for a fourth year at the Hawaii Collectors Expo at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. And after a year’s hiatus, tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Win and I are back to sell more of our stuff!

Here’s a sneak peek at one of the six(!) boxes we’re bringing.

ASM 2018 box
The sign still isn’t for sale. But I’m still bringing it for display purposes. Because it really is a cool sign.

So as you can imagine, we’ve been doing a lot of running around, gathering extra stuff to pack, taking care of a lot of other assorted life things in between and not having a lot of extra time to write a post about it for this here blog. Considering showtime for us is in a little over 12 hours from my writing this, we’re cutting publication of this post pretty close.

So here are the high points, in handy bullet-list form:

  • Collectors Expo 2018We have stuff! Come buy it!
  • A number of like-minded fans will be there to sell their stuff, too, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
  • We have stuff! We’d like to think it’s all quite affordable!
  • Speaking of affordable, Kawaii Kon will be selling three-day passes to next weekend’s convention. (Holy cats, it’s next weekend already!) It’s your last chance to buy ’em at a discounted rate.
  • Did I mention that we have stuff to sell?
  • The Anime Swap Meet is just one corner of the 28th annual Hawaii Collectors Expo, which, in addition to housing vendors of any collectible you could possibly imagine, is also spotlighting the Costumers Guild of Hawaii and artists Jon Murakami, Roy Chang and Mog Park. You should buy stuff from them.
  • Although we’ll be happy and grateful if you buy stuff from us, too.
  • Admission is $5 general per day, $2 for senior citizens, and free for anyone with a military ID or a badge from last year’s Kawaii Kon or Comic Con Honolulu. You can also get $1 off by printing out or showing the image available at this link.

Hope to see you there! (And please buy our stuff. Lugging six heavy boxes into the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall and setting everything up in about an hour is going to take a lot of work. I should get some coffee chilled and ready.)

The weekend of WOW! has arrived

There are times when one wishes human cloning could be a reality outside of science fiction.

This weekend would be one of those times for me. For some inexplicable reason, Sunday in particular has become one of the busiest, non-convention-related days I’ve seen in quite some time. Saturday has some pretty cool stuff, too, which could be impacted by presidential travel closing key routes to people trying to go places.

There’s quite a bit to get to, so let’s get to the rundown!

Saturday

Stan Sakai visits McCully-Moiliili Library:  Fresh off an appearance at Maui Comic Con, the kamaaina creator of rabbit ronin Usagi Yojimbo will be giving a talk at 10:30 a.m., signing autographs ($5 for up to three signatures) and doing quick sketches ($5 each) in a benefit for the library. Collector Maniacs will also have four rare Usagi Yojimbo individually numbered, hardcover collections for sale for $125 each: “Fox Hunt” (vol, 25, no. 202 of 350), “Traitors of the Earth” (vol. 26, 94 of 350), “A Town Called Hell” (vol. 27, 136 of 350) and “Red Scorpion” (vol. 28, 109 of 350). Also, see those Usagi dolls at the top of this post? You can enter to win one of those. The library is at 2211 S. King St.; arrive early to grab some parking.

Artists’ corner: Cacy & Kiara / Highball & Pepe author Roy Chang will be selling things at the Aiea High School PTSO Craft Fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the high school at 98-1276 Ulune St. Marisa and Carole Gee of Kawaii Mono will be selling their jewelry on the Uptown side of Pearlridge Center from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Sunday

anime day 4.0Anime Day 4.0: Kawaii Kon’s mini-con experience is back for a fourth year (and its second at the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk complex at Ala Moana Center). Trivia master extraordinaire Remy Zane will be presiding over a number of games and activities, including a cosplay contest. Comic Jam Hawaii will host the art wall, where anyone can pick up a pen and sketch whatever they want (within acceptable family-friendly parameters, of course). A bunch of artists and crafters (including Jon Murakami and Kawaii Mono!) will be selling their wares as well. Take advantage of Kawaii Kon’s preregistration special and pick up a three-day pass for next year’s con for $55, too! 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

toyfair nov17

Hawaii Toy Fair: If you’re looking for some rare, hard-to-find collectible or just want to stare slack-jawed at just how many Funko Pop figures have been produced over the past few years, this event, packed with more than 50 dealers, can probably help you out. Special guests include Marvel and DC artist Mark Texeira and Game of Thrones storyboard artist Mog Park. Ala Moana Hotel, Hibiscus Ballroom. Admission is $3, but children 5 and under, as well as all cosplayers, can get in free. Visit hawaiitoyfair.com8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Japanese voice actors visit Waikiki Yokocho: This is one of the more surprising events to come down the pipe in some time, so here’s the deal: Voice actors Ryo Horikawa (Vegeta in Dragon Ball Z, Andromeda Shun in Saint Seiya, Heiji Hattori in Detective Conan/Case Closed) and Takumi Kamada (Frederick Ando in Ame-iro Cocoa Series: Ame-Con!!, currently streaming on Crunchyroll) will join musician Kaoru Kondou for a special event at Waikiki Yokocho, the Japanese food alley in the basement of the Waikiki Shopping Plaza (2250 Kalakaua Ave.). The common thread between the three: All of them worked on an anime series about a coffee shop called Rainy Cocoa, which, in its third season, featured a branch opening in Hawaii. So there you go. They’ll be doing a talk show, an autograph session and a mini concert starting at 1 p.m. You can get full details about the event from this flyer.

pikachu movie

Movie screenings: Fathom Events’ first showing of Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You!, a retelling of the origin stories of Ash and Pikachu, and the Hawaii International Film Festival’s first showing of Napping Princess, where a girl’s mysterious dream world is the key to saving her father after he’s arrested for stealing technological secrets, will be at 12:55 and 2:30 p.m., respectively, at the Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 complex.

Anime Swap Meet’s back at Blaisdell

Around this time last year, tag-team partner in fandom Wilma W. and I took part in the rite of passage that dedicated otaku like us engage in every so often when we get tired of looking at our stuff: We packed a bunch of it up and sold it at the Anime Swap Meet at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall.

20160220_090826It was a lovely little opportunity. We got a 5-square-foot space, part of a larger block Kawaii Kon gets from the Hawaii Collectors Expo. We made a fair amount of money, and we met some nice people, too. Like Marisa Gee of Kawaii Mono, who bought a number of my DVDs while exhibiting impeccable fashion sense wearing Fat Rabbit Farm T-shirts. Or the enthusiastic gals who snapped up a bunch of Wilma’s Ace Attorney goodies, then went on to host the Ace Attorney live-action roleplaying fan panel at Kawaii Kon. (The half hour I was able to catch before I had to rush off to another panel was quite entertaining.)

And it’s neat to browse through the rest of the expo, too … we were across from a retro-gaming booth that had the attract mode music from Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo looping all weekend, and I picked up an oh-so-cute Bellossom plushie from another vendor for only $5.

We aren’t going to be making a return appearance as sellers again this year, for various reasons. But there are going to be a number of similarly enthusiastic otaku who will be more than happy to sell you their stuff in our place.

hawaii-collectors-expo-2017This year — the Anime Swap Meet’s third, the Hawaii Collectors Expo’s 27th — promises to be an even bigger party. Artist Audra Furuichi’s kicking off the year for nemu*nemu at the event and will have her usual assortment of merchandise and original drawings for sale, and MidWeek cartoonist/Pepe the Chihuahua kalbi handler Roy Chang will be selling his books and drawing Funko Pop-ified sketches of anyone who wants them. Several artists from Comic Jam Hawaii will be hosting a drawing table for the little kidlets. Replicas of the Ghostbusters Ecto-1 and Jurassic Park Jeep will be on display for photo ops. And, of course, Kawaii Kon representatives will be on hand, although they’ll be selling three-day badges for the upcoming con on Sunday only.

The Hawaii Collectors Expo begins tonight from 4 to 9 p.m. and continues from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The Anime Swap Meet will be open Saturday and Sunday only. Admission is free for children under 11 years old, military with valid ID, or anyone with a Kawaii Kon or Comic Con Honolulu badge from last year; $5 general per day; $7.50 for a three-day pass; or $2 for senior citizens. If you are going to be paying to attend, you can print out this copy of the image above, bring it to the ticket-sellers and save $1.

For more information, visit hawaiicollectorsexpo.com.

Con-athon 2016: The Forces Awaken

These are truly … interesting times here at Otaku Ohana Central. If you’ve been following along on my social media feeds as of late, you know that I recently spent close to a week in the hospital being treated for complications related to pneumonia. This, of course, juuuuuuust as Only Yesterday was on the cusp of opening at the Kahala 8 theaters, the Honolulu Festival was ready to present its annual weekend craft fair/parade/fireworks combination, and Kawaii Kon was maneuvering and getting its final ducks in a row before kicking off Con-athon 2016 next month.

Well. It’s a good thing that I’m feeling back to some semblance of normal, because HOLY CATS ALL THE THINGS ARE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. Consider what we’ve seen in the span of just the past 48 hours:

George Takei will be a featured guest at Comic-Con Honolulu July 29-31. (Image courtesy Comic-Con Honolulu)
George Takei will be a featured guest at Comic-Con Honolulu July 29-31. (Image courtesy Comic-Con Honolulu)

>> Comic-Con Honolulu announced its latest guest for its show in late July, and he’s a doozy: George Takei, the man who arguably owns the Internet (or at least the corner of it that generates those popular “ohhhhhhh myyyyyy” memes). Of course, he’s also known for being Sulu on the original Star Trek, an outspoken advocate for equal marriage rights and the man behind Allegiance, a musical that recounts the experiences of Japanese Americans interned at camps during World War II.

Anime Ohana logo

>> Anime Ohana is coming back. Nov. 4-6, to be exact, once again at the Pagoda Hotel. That much we’ve known for the past few weeks. What we didn’t know was who would be showing up, but as of Saturday, we now have our first official guest trio: Akame ga Kill dub actors Christina Marie Kelly, Molly Searcy and David Wald.

>> With less than three weeks remaining until Kawaii Kon opens and the full schedule already posted, you’d think convention staff would be more than happy to rest on their laurels and just get ready to let whatever happens happen. Nope! Sorry. There are still announcements to be made and final arrangements to tie up, and they’re going to be making them. Do you like Good Smile Company, makers of all those cute Nendoroids and Figma figures? Representatives from that company will be hosting a collecting panel on Sunday from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. April 10. (Psst … GSC’s also going to be hosting a there’s also going to be an unofficial “Naughty Figures” panel for those of you 18 and older from 10 to 11 p.m. April 9.) Those of you who are interested in taking part in the Karaoke Kompetition will want to know that the final set of preliminaries will be held at Nocturna Lounge — just downstairs from the Star-Advertiser editorial offices at Restaurant Row! — starting at 3 p.m. Sunday. And of course, for those of you who really want to procrastinate and wait until the very last second to get your three-day passes online, you have until March 26 to do that at www.showclix.com/event/KawaiiKon2016.

Suffice it to say that this is only the beginning, and that I have a lot of news to catch up with. Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning/conventioning blogger is just warming up, so if you haven’t seen anything about your convention of choice, don’t worry … I’ll be getting around to it soon! Just fasten your seat belt and get ready to enjoy the ride … I’ll try to guide you as best I can through it.

Ota-cool incoming: Sale-abrate good times, come on!

If someone were to write a book about local otaku culture — don’t look at me; I’ve already written my one book of a lifetime, and I doubt I’ll ever have enough free time to properly update that one, never mind writing another one — one of the chapters would have to be about how we manage to accumulate so much stuff. Plushies, figures, statues, toys, video games, assorted show merchandise, books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays — you name it, we all have some sort of stash stored somewhere. Some of you may be sighing over how you have waaaaaaay too much; others may be lamenting about how you don’t have enough. For those of you in the never-ending pursuit of managing and accumulating more stuff, these next two weekends — along with the ongoing 20%-off sale at Book Off Ala Moana that I talked about in my last post — offer several chances to score some sweet bargains.

One sale is part of the 26th Annual Hawaii Collectors Expo, happening Friday through Sunday at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. Saturday (from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) are what matter for our discussion, as that will be when a bunch of people like tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I will be selling off surplus parts of their collections at … well, depending on where you go, it’s either the Anime Swap Meet or the All-Genre Swap Meet, presented by Kawaii Kon and Comic-Con Honolulu, respectively. And when I say “a bunch of people like us,” I really do mean to say that in the interest of full journalistic disclosure, Wilma and I have purchased a space where we will be selling things. Here is a preview of my stuff.

Jason's ASM things

And here is Wilma’s.

Wilma's ASM things

… she always was more organized than me. (You can probably expect many more DVDs and even a few Blu-rays from me, for starters.)

Want to join us in selling? As far as I know, there are a few spaces remaining. One 5-square-foot space costs $25, with a maximum of two spaces shared by two people; the cost remains the same regardless of whether you apply to sell for one or both days, so if you can spare an entire weekend, by all means do so. Deadline for applying is midnight Thursday, check out the rules and apply at kawaiikon.com/anime-swap-meet/ or comicconhonolulu.com/all-genre-swap-meet-feb-20-21-2016.

If you’re in the market for buying, we love you! Please buy our stuff. (And everybody else’s, too, of course.) Kawaii Kon representatives will be on hand to sell three-day general-admission passes to this year’s show for $50 — $5 off the current online price! Keep in mind that admission to the Collectors Expo is $5, but if you present your badge from last year’s Kawaii Kon or Comic Con Honolulu at the box office, the cost drops to nothing.

The other sale worth noting here is the Nerds’ Garage Sale, which has proven to be the hottest ticket in town for sellers in recent weeks. (For the record, there is no more space for sellers, so stop asking on the Facebook page already.) Organized by cosplayer extraordinare Leah Rose, the sale will feature about a dozen self-described “cosplay nerds” selling off their extra supplies, costumes and other things. You can also check out Other Realms’ sizable collection of comics, games and other happy nerdy collectibles for sale as well. That’s happening from 3 to 7 p.m. Feb. 27 at the store, which is at 1130 N. Nimitz Highway, suite C-140. (It’s actually not visible from the highway; you have to go behind the buildings with New Eagle Cafe on one end and AAA Hawaii on the other end to find it.)

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” are the ship-gals of KanColle.) This month didn’t garner much of a reaction, probably because Diane, the Face of Hawaii Ingress (tm) that she is, is really really close to becoming a max-Level 16 agent. The friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning blogger in me is cheering her on, while the Enlightened side of me wants to put AXA Shields on every portal in Pearl City and Aiea. But I digress. At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where, yes, there’s still plenty of parking. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

Mori & Steam

Mori & Steam: Steampunk Family Sunday: If you haven’t had a chance to check out the “Harajuku: Japanese Street Fashion” exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art yet, by all means try to stop by before it closes April 3; it’s a fascinating snapshot of contemporary Japanese fashion trends. And with the museum’s Family Sunday coming up, you can swing by to see it absolutely free, and enjoy some activities and entertainment, to boot. Kids can make a set of steampunk goggles at one station, at another, visitors can make their own Harajuku- or steampunk-inspired pins. Roy Chang, MidWeek cartoonist, Cacy & Kiara author and Pepe the Chihuahua’s kalbi feeder, will be doing live sketches of Harajuku fashion models from noon to 3 p.m., and featured bands include Hook + Line and Gypsy 808. There also will be a complimentary shuttle running between the museum and Spalding House, so you can check out the exhibits at both locations. Oh hey, and before or after you go, perhaps you might like to visit a certain Collectors Expo with an Anime/All-Genre Swap Meet going on down the street? *hint hint* *wink nudge* The museum’s at 900 S. Beretania St. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Kawaii Kon Karaoke Competition preliminary round #2: So you think you can sing, and you’re planning to go to Kawaii Kon this year? Give the annual Karaoke Competition a try. This year, the preliminary rounds will be held at Nocturna Lounge, the video game/karaoke bar just downstairs from our editorial/advertising offices here at Waterfront Plaza/Restaurant Row. Top three singers from each preliminary round move on to the semifinals at the convention itself. The fun starts at 3 p.m. Sunday; full details on what you need to do to prepare are available at kawaiikon.com/events/karaoke-kompetition/

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.

Ota-cool incoming: Dressed to impress

Cosplay doesn’t exist in a vacuum. As much as we’d like to twitch our noses and *poof* a lovely costume of Sailor Moon or Tuxedo Mask into existence a la Samantha in Bewitched (note: this is what I’m talking about, for those of you who may not be old enough to remember Bewitched), the truth is that it takes a lot of work to craft a costume that turns heads at conventions and other special events.

One of the tools of the trade that cosplayers use is the dress form. Think of it as a mannequin torso on a stand; here’s a selection of what’s available on Amazon. Of course, getting a dress form means spending more money, something that may be in short supply when taking into account all the other supplies one needs to create a high-quality costume.

That’s where a workshop happening this weekend at Aiea Public Library comes in.

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Representatives from Anime Matsuri Hawaii will be on hand to show workshop attendees how to create their own dress forms without having to order the real thing; apparently all you need is some duct tape, some plastic wrap and a willing victim partner. They’ll provide the tape, wrap and some fabric that can be used to stuff mannequins or for other crafts and cosplay; you can bring your own partner, as well as a T-shirt that you don’t mind cutting up to make a complete dress form.

Interested? The workshop runs from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. It’s free, but be sure to RSVP to cosplay@animematsuri.com if you’re interested so the workshop organizers can bring enough supplies. Aiea Library’s at 99-374 Pohai Place, where there’s still plenty of parking as well as a certain Face of Hawaii Ingress ™ who’s on the final stretch to hitting max-level 16 in the game (in spite of Enlightened efforts to slow her down, too, *sigh*). Call 483-7333.

Elsewhere around town

Kawaii Kon / Comic Con Honolulu volunteer staff meetings: The third session for Kawaii Kon volunteers and the second for Comic Con Honolulu volunteers are coming up, a checkpoint worth noting for those of you interested in helping take care of all the behind-the-scenes things that keep the two events running smoothly every year. Prospective volunteers have to attend a minimum of two staff meetings to qualify for work, after all, and the clock’s ticking … louder for Kawaii Kon in particular, of course, but ticking nonetheless. For more details on volunteering (as well as an enrollment form for anyone joining the party), visit kawaiikon.com/volunteering/volunteer-rules-faqs or comicconhonolulu.com/volunteer/volunteer-rules-requirements. Saturday at the Ala Moana Hotel Plumeria Room; 1:30 p.m. for Kawaii Kon, 3 p.m. for Comic Con Honolulu.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center. Yes, there are other things going on on Sunday — the 50th Superb Owl will be overseeing some panthers and horses playing sportsball on one channel, puppies will be romping around on another channel, and it’s the only day of the year when people actually want to watch commercials. If none of those catch your fancy, though, perhaps some drawing is in order. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Downtown section of the mall.