World Cosplay Summit road goes through HEXXP

And now, here’s my summary of Kawaii Kon 2012, as told by one file folder on my computer:

Photos. Panel recordings. Videos. Aieeeeeeee.

… yeeeeeaaaaah. Those files are going to take a while to sort through. More reports will have to wait for a future date, though, because there’s so much to cover in the short term — news on Kawaii Kon 2013, highlights from the Hawaii International Film Festival Spring Showcase schedule (Ace Attorney, yaaaaaay), this month’s Manga Movable Feast on the works of Jiro Taniguchi.

Then there’s the latest news coming out of the Hawaii Entertainment Expo (HEXXP) camp. The convention, which already made a splash earlier this month by announcing Final Fantasy series composer Nobuo Uematsu and his band, the Earthbound Papas, as a guest of honor for this year’s event, recently pulled off another coup, landing a preliminary round for the World Cosplay Summit in 2013. To make things official, here’s an introductory video from WCS-USA organizer Laura Butler and assistant organizer Lynleigh Sato:

… as well as a link to a second Hawaii-themed video that they made.

The annual World Cosplay Summit is a big deal. Think of it as being like your typical anime convention cosplay showcase or masquerade, except with a bazillion times more prestige and featuring only the absolute best of the best cosplayers from around the world. The event began in 2003 with five cosplayers representing three countries (Italy, Germany and France); this year, 16 countries are listed as participants. Ever since a competition was established in 2005, though, the United States has won the same number of world championships as the Chicago Cubs have in 103 years: Zero. (Brazil’s won three times, Italy twice, and France and Japan have one title apiece.)

The winner of the Honolulu competition will move on to the U.S. finals at Katsucon in the Washington, D.C. metro area next February, and the winner from that will head out to Nagoya, Japan to represent the ol’ stars ‘n’ stripes at the summit. Suffice it to say it’ll take more than a set of Pikachu pajamas to win this competition. You may want to get started on that competition-grade costume, umm, now.

HEXXP will take place Oct. 20-21 at the Aloha Tower Marketplace; for more information or to register, visit www.hexxp.com. Also, a side note on registration: There are now monthly prize drawings for those who have already preregistered for a two-day pass. This month’s prizes are a gift certificate for a two-hour session at Karaoke GS Studio and a $40 gift certificate for Minato Japanese Restaurant. Also, there are 12 of the $100 VIP passes remaining, so if you’re interested, you’ll want to jump on that soon.

The Cel Shaded Report, 3/9: Fantasy fulfilled

hexxp-logo2012 is shaping up to be quite the year for local fans of the Final Fantasy video game franchise. The latest game in the series, Final Fantasy XIII-2, recently arrived in stores. Yoshitaka Amano, who’s contributed character designs and artwork to the franchise over the years, will be a major part of Kawaii Kon next week.

Today, the other pop-culture convention in town, the Hawaii Entertainment Expo (HEXXP), is showing its hand for the first time regarding what’s up for this year’s show. There are now official dates — Sat., Oct. 20 and Sun., Oct. 21 — and a venue — the Aloha Tower Marketplace Waterfront. They’re teaming up with Babel Entertainment and Houston-based anime convention Oni-Con to bring in their first official guest of honor, and it’s a doozy of an announcement — longtime Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu.

Chances are that if you’ve remember any music selections from that long-running series, Uematsu had a hand in creating it. The signature prelude? He did that. The victory theme? Yeah, that, too. Can’t forget that chocobo theme, either. Then there are the signature songs — “Terra’s Theme” and “Maria & Draco” from Final Fantasy VI, “Liberi Fatali” from Final Fantasy VIII and “At Zanarkand” from Final Fantasy X, just to name a few. And, of course, the one that gets everyone cheering at a concert, the theme song of the long silver-haired bad boy Sephiroth himself, “One-Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII.

Uematsu will be joined on this trip by his band, the Earthbound Papas. The Papas, which formed soon after Uematsu’s previous group, the Black Mages, disbanded in 2010, continues the tradition of performing rock arrangements of Uematsu’s songs. Their first album, the nine-track Octave Theory, was released almost a year ago and is available on iTunes (or, if you prefer good old-fashioned physical media, CDJapan). Yes, there is a version of “One-Winged Angel” on it, but there are also arrangements of some of the work Uematsu’s done since leaving Square and Final Fantasy behind, including the Xbox 360 games Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey. The Earthbound Papas will be in concert Oct. 21.

Lynleigh SatoAlso emerging from the HEXXP camp are initial details about the Masquerade, the event’s showcase cosplay contest. Judging the Masquerade will be Lynleigh Sato, co-founder and president of Sweet Rococo, a one-stop online custom design boutique for fans of Lolita fashion. Sato was a member of the U.S. team at the World Cosplay Summit in 2005 and currently serves as a WCS industry judge and U.S. team assistant organizer. And if entering cosplay contests aren’t your thing, perhaps the “Multiverse Human Chess” event, in which you can dress up and take part in a life-sized game of chess, will be more your style.

Further details are sure to arrive in coming weeks, but for now: Single-day general-admission passes (for ages 13 and up) for Oct. 20 will cost $25; for Oct. 21, the pass costs $40 and includes the Uematsu concert. Two-day passes are available for $55 and will have some added perks to be announced. For children, the costs are $7.50, $15 and $20.

There also will be a $100 VIP pass, limited to 25 people, that will give purchasers priority admission to various events, access to a special seating area for the concert that will include a private bar and soda station, and admission to the maid cafe. Since there will be an attendance cap, you’ll want to get your passes, whatever they may be, as soon as possible.

Visit www.hexxp.com for further details or to register.

The shrinking world of ‘Arrietty’

Time’s running out to see The Secret World of Arrietty, now the fourth-biggest-grossing anime film in the U.S. of all time. I’m busy preparing for Kawaii Kon so no time for a promo photo this week. But you’ll notice that we’ve already lost the Regal theaters and the theater in Kailua-Kona, and the remaining theaters have cut back on their screenings. If you want to see Arrietty in theaters, you’ll probably want to make time this week:

Kaahumanu (Maui): 10:25 a.m. and 12:35 p.m.

Kahala: 10:45 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Kapolei:11 a.m. (daily except Sunday); 1:10 and 3:20 p.m.

Mililani: 11:20 a.m.

Pearlridge:10:35 a.m.; 12:50 and 3:05 p.m.

Ward: 10:45 a.m.

Anime around town

MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists meets from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Academy Art Center, 1111 Victoria St., Room 200. Visit www.manga-bento.com.