1 day, Sunday, Otaku Fest fun day

OSF-2015 flyerWe’ve reached that part of the otaku calendar where we won’t be able to go more than three weeks without a major event popping up. Starting with the Otaku Summer Festival on Sunday, we have HawaiiCon (kicking off in three weeks), Amazing Hawaii Comic Con (the week after HawaiiCon), McCully-Moiliili Public Library’s annual Mini Con (the week after AHCC) and Anime Ohana (two weeks after Mini Con).  Whew! I really hope I don’t get sick again during that stretch; because that … would not be good. It seems like I’ve had colds during the most inopportune times this year.

But I digress; there’s an Otaku Summer Festival being hosted by Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu (1239 Olomea St.; it’s that shrine you see off the freeway approaching the Vineyard Boulevard exit going eastbound) that needs to be discussed. It’s seven hours on Sunday crammed with stuff fans like to see. Let’s run down the lineup:

Special guests: Headlining the event is Kyle Hebert, the actor best known as the voice of Kiba in Naruto, Kamina in Gurren Lagann, the older version of Gohan and the narrator in Dragon Ball Z and Ryu in the newer Street Fighter games. He’ll host an hourlong panel starting at 10:30 a.m. and be available for autographs and photos throughout the day at the Hawaii Video Gaming League table. Also scheduled to appear is author Ryter Rong, who will be talking about her new book, Ireland Calls My Name, from noon to 12:30 p.m.

A number of performers will be on hand throughout the day as well; Ryusei Taiko will help kick off the festivities, and the Hanayagi Dance Academy comes in to perform around 10 a.m. Closing out the festival will be Crimson Apple, the local band with a debut album Kickstarter, which is less than $2,000 away from their goal with six days left (come on, people, let’s make this happen).

OSF-animaid cafe logoFood: The festival marks the formal return of The AniMaid Cafe, where servers dressed as maids and butlers serve patrons snacks and drinks and even play tabletop games for a small fee. (They’ll also do a dance routine around 11:30 a.m.) If that’s not your thing, Simply Ono will have a truck parked outside serving up ramen burgers, shoyu pork, kalua pig, poke bowls and more, and a second truck will have yakitori and takoyaki available.

Tons o’ merch: Charisma Industries, Sewing Dragon (hand-sewn plushies) and Shironekoya (kimono and collectible miniature dolls) will be selling their wares, and artists Jon J. Murakami, Devin Oishi, Dennis Imoto and Andy Lee will have tables as well. There also will be a “swap meet” table, so surely there’s something you’ll want to buy, yes?

Competitive opportunities: Cosplayers will want to get in on the cosplay contest at 1 p.m. — register with the AniMaid Cafe by noon! — with prizes in categories including Best Craftsmanship and Best in Character. The grand prize winner will get a photoshoot with Canaan Kutzen of Adept Productions at the Byodo-In Temple at Valley of the Temples Memorial Park in Kaneohe.

Not into cosplay? There will be other festival games to play (including goldfish scooping!), with a good reason to play all of them: the official Otaku Summer Festival Stamp Card Rally.

OSF-2015 stamp card

Fill out a card and turn it in, and you could be eligible for fabulous prizes, including the official banner hanging outside the shrine right now signed by all the guests and invitations to the staff-only after-party.

The Otaku Summer Festival runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; parking will be available both near the shrine and at Damien Memorial High School. We’ll see if The Cold That Refuses to Die (one week and counting, *sigh*) allows me to attend; right now I’d say the chances are looking pretty remote, but then again I did say in this space that I wouldn’t be at Comic Con Honolulu and I ended up showing up there anyway, so we shall see, I guess. For the most up-to-date information, visit fb.com/otakusummerfestival.

Ota-cool Incoming: Be my guest, be my guest

One of the first things the powers that be in journalism school tell students is that every story you write should have a compelling first few paragraphs, or lead grafs, that draws readers in to a story. This edition of the Ota-cool Incoming! calendar, quite frankly, doesn’t have that compelling lead, because there are only so many different ways one can say, “Wow! It’s been really busy here at Otaku Ohana Central! I haven’t been able to write as much as I’d like! Oh noes!” before you, dear reader, start thinking, “Yeah, yeah, whatever, blogger boy, enough gabbing about yourself, get to the news already.”

So … umm … guests! Coming to various local events! There were a few announcements made in recent weeks, and here they are!

Toru Furuya

Best known for: Being a dream guest for old-school anime fans. Consider his resume: Tuxedo Mask in the original Sailor Moon. Amuro Ray in the Gundam franchise. Pegasus Seiya in Saint Seiya. Yamcha in Dragon Ball Z. Kyosuke Kasuga in Kimagure Orange Road. That’s an impressive body of work if you loved anime in the ’80s and ’90s.

Appearing at: Kawaii Kon, March 27-29. Three-day passes are available online for $53 ($44 children ages 5-12) through March 14 at www.showclix.com/event/3817763/listing. And if you have some extra piles of cash around the house, I’d still like some there’s still a VIP Package for one person ($750) and a VIP Package for two people ($900) available. As far as hotel rooms are concerned, the cheapest room rate at the Ala Moana Hotel, the $135/night Kona Tower rooms, are already sold out for Friday and Saturday night, so you may want to get on that ASAP as well.

Range Murata

IMG_0126Best known for: If you’ve ever watched Last Exile; its sequel, Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing; and/or Blue Submarine No. 6, you’ve seen this artist’s work. You’ve also seen his work if you were among the three or four people who bought the Robot series of art books, first from Digital Manga Publishing (DMP), then from Udon, then not at all, since the U.S. release was canceled after the fifth volume out of 10, ostensibly due to low sales. His Like a Balance Life art book is available digitally for $6.99 on the iTunes App Store.

Appearing at: Kawaii Kon, March 27-29.

Kyle Hebert

Kyle HebertBest known for: He’s the voice of Kiba in Naruto, Kamina in Gurren Lagann, the older version of Gohan and the narrator in Dragon Ball Z and Ryu in the newer Street Fighter games. He was also supposed to be the guest of honor at last summer’s Taku Taku Matsuri before a pair of approaching hurricanes ended up postponing it. And, of course, he’s the subject of an interview I did with him aaaaaaaallllll the way back in August that I still haven’t gotten around to transcribing. (I blame regular work duties, both Candy Crush games and the Ingress Resistance.)

Appearing at: The newly announced Otaku Summer Festival, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23, at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu, 1239 Olomea St. The festival will also include the return of the AniMaid Cafe, entertainment, carnival games, food and … perhaps … more? Stay tuned. In any case, admission will be free.

Other ota-coolness

Aiea Library Polar Bear Cafe and Friends Anime Club: I’ve joked with young adult librarian Diane Masaki that she ought to change the name of the Anime Club to the Polar Bear Cafe and 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 action-y,” as she puts it. At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place. Have I ever mentioned that there’s plenty of parking now? Because there is. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

Kawaii Kon volunteer staff general meeting: If you were interested in working as a staff member at this year’s convention, this is your last chance to fulfill your required meeting quota. First-timers, don’t forget to bring $30 cash (or $50 if this is going to be your first and only general meeting) to pay for your badge, refunded once you’re reached your hours-worked requirement. Kakaako Waterfront Park, 11 a.m. Saturday. Details on volunteer requirements (as well as the necessary forms) are available at kawaiikon.com/information/staff/faq/.

Naruto the LastThe Last: Naruto the Movie: The moon is getting closer to the Earth, meteorites threaten to rain down on the planet, and Hinata’s younger sister, Hanabi, has been kidnapped. Can Naruto and the gang save everything in time? I certainly hope so. At Consolidated’s Ward Stadium 16 complex, noon Saturday and 7 p.m. Monday; both screenings will be in Japanese with English subtitles. You’ll also be able to nab a free commemorative poster while supplies last. Tickets are $15 each; here’s Saturday’s screening, and here’s Monday’s screening.

Anime Swap Meet: Hosted by Kawaii Kon, this opportunity for local otaku to buy and sell assorted preowned collectibles from one another will be part of the 25th Annual Hawaii Collectors Expo at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Interested in buying? Admission is $5 or free to those with valid military ID … or, as Courtney Kubanek at Kawaii Kon noted in the comments on my last post, cosplayers can also get in free.

Sample of Moyoco Anno artworkMoyoco Anno at the Honolulu Museum of Art: The artist behind works including Flowers & Bees (Viz), Happy Mania (Tokyopop), Sugar Sugar Rune (Del Rey), Sakuran, In Clothes Called Fat and Insufficient Direction (all from Vertical Comics), and Memoirs of Amorous Gentlemen, Buffalo 5 Girls and The Diary of Ochibi (available digitally from Crunchyroll Manga) will be appearing at the Honolulu Museum of Art from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday for a talk (starting at 10:45 a.m. in the Doris Duke Theater) and art demonstration (starting at 1 p.m. down the street at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, room 200). Her appearance is in conjunction with the museum’s “Modern Love: 20th-Century Japanese Erotic Art” exhibit, on display through March 15, which, God willing, I’ll have some kind of post about later this week.

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. Next meeting is from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday in room 203; note that the first hour of the meeting will overlap with the Anno art demonstration (which members are encouraged to attend). Visit www.manga-bento.com.

The Anime portal keyRandom Ingress Portal of the Post: Speaking of anime-inspired art, meet “The Anime,” a portal that caught my eye when I was walking around the neighborhood surrounding Punahou School during Carnival weekend. Judging by its position on the in-game map, it’s a piece of art hanging somewhere in the halls of the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children; where exactly it is, I have no idea, seeing as how the last time I was at Kapiolani was when I was way too young to remember anything about my time there. The portal is reachable from Bingham Street, though, so swing by and pick up a key sometime. And keep it green, of course.

Kawaii Kon Karaoke Competition preliminary rounds: So you think you can sing, and you’re planning to go to Kawaii Kon this year? Give the annual Karaoke Competition a try. There’s one more preliminary round on March 15 at Nocturna Lounge, the video game/karaoke bar just downstairs from our editorial/advertising offices here at Waterfront Plaza/Restaurant Row. Sign-in for that starts at 3:30 p.m., with singing starting at 4 p.m. Full details on what you need to do to prepare are available at bit.ly/Karaoke_Prelims.

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, March 1.