Eat. Draw. Relax. Cat. Bear witness.

There’s a giant Julie Feied painting hanging in the stairwell between the first and second floors of the Honolulu Museum of Art School.

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Having such a piece staring you in the face can only mean one thing: It’s time for what’s become an otaku staple around these parts, the annual MangaBento exhibit on the art school’s second floor. Julie’s painting is the first thing that greets you when you go up the stairs to see the exhibit, and every year I marvel at how much detail she manages to cram into her work. This year’s piece is even more impressive, considering how I can recognize many of the MangaBento regulars rendered as caricatures.

The theme for this, the ninth annual show by this group of anything-goes anime- and manga-inspired artists, is “Eat, Draw, Relax.” The gallery aesthetic, with its sky-blue cloths, cloud cutouts and a hanging lawn chair, reflects this theme.

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Thing is, though … there are also cats.

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Lots.

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Of.

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Cats.

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Which is totally fine! We here at Otaku Ohana embrace almost everything feline, canine, avian, marine and, umm, bunny. *pyon*

But we’re also all about the anime inspirations. And there’s plenty of that in the exhibit. Take Tina Huynh’s polymer clay piece “Dango Park,” which reminds me of a bunch of Kirbies from Nintendo’s Kirby franchise. Which makes me think of the Facebook page, “The same picture of Kirby every day to help you feel better.” And I feel better.

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There’s also Kalani Holland’s “Brynhildr in the Darkness New Year’s,” one of several holiday-themed ink-and-Copic pieces he has in the exhibit …

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… Olivia Hansen’s Amazing World of Gumball/Pokemon-inspired “Pigeons and Sheep” …

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… and Yoko Kanemoto’s “Cat” (there’s that reference to cats again!).

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If you want to check out the exhibit for yourself, your best opportunity this weekend will be at a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday in the exhibit space. Normally I’d refer to this as an “opening reception,” except the exhibit’s been up since the beginning of the month and is coming down a week after the reception on the 18th, so things are moving pretty quickly going forward. If you can’t make it on Sunday, the gallery’s accessible from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. next week (except perhaps Monday, since that’s a holiday).

The Honolulu Museum of Art is at 1111 Victoria St.; for more information, visit facebook.com/mangabento.

Ota-cool Incoming: All the anime. ALL. THE. ANIME.

Gera gera po, gera gera po ... Courtesy PRNewsFoto/LEVEL-5 abby Inc.
Gera gera po, gera gera po … Courtesy PRNewsFoto/LEVEL-5 abby Inc.

News tends to travel in cycles around these parts. There are times when not much is going on, allowing me time to play my phone games and plot out points on the Pokemon GO Hawaii Guides map (1,800+ Pokestops and gyms on five islands mapped so far, another 700+ in the queue!), and times when ALL THE THINGS ARE HAPPENING AT ONCE AAAAAAAHHHHHH.

Welp, we’re now in one of those ALL THE THINGS periods. It started Tuesday when Tsum Tsum partner in fandom Wilma W. reminded me that there were screenings for Rurouni Kenshin II: Kyoto Inferno and Digimon Adventure tri Chapter 1: Reunion next week. Then nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii cartoonist Audra Furuichi noted on Facebook that there were a buncha anime movies on deck at the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Doris Duke Theatre. And then Funimation and Crunchyroll announced they were joining forces to create one huge Voltron-esque anime distribution machine, the Aiea Library Anime Club finally laid to rest my close-to-3-year-old “Polar Bear Café and Friends Club” running joke, and Shin Godzilla and Yo-kai Watch tickets for local screenings.

This, of course, came around the same time Marvel Tsum Tsum (for Android and iPhone!), Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice (Nintendo 3DS/2DS) Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet (PlayStation 4) and Trails of Cold Steel 2 (Vita) were released, regular Tsum Tsum launched its “battle against Jafar” event for in-game items and a pile of Abu Tsums, and Ingress introduced a monthlong “Via Lux Adventurer” badge for agents who visit at least 300 new, unique portals this month. And, of course, I’m getting ready to fly out to the Big Island next week for whatever adventures await at HawaiiCon.

So, well, goodbye for a little bit, games. (You better show up when I get back, elusive Pokemon Go Dragonite.) It’s time to get to work. Because there’s a lot of anime and anime-related stuff to watch to watch over the next few months, and you’re going to want to know where to go to catch all of it.

Coming to theaters

Rurouni Kenshin II: Kyoto Inferno: Noted here more for completionists’ sake, as both screenings at the Consolidated Ward theaters — 7:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday — are sold out online. Sorry about that.

Digimon Adventure tri. Chapter 1: ReunionIt’s been 16 years since a Digimon movie made it stateside. Technically, what we got here in the U.S. wasn’t even one movie; it was three movies mashed together, with about 40 minutes of content lopped off along the way. So here it is: the first Digimon feature to make the jump from Japan to the U.S. intact, with an English dub to keep those nostalgic feelings intact. It’s the next chapter in the lives of Tai and the DigiDestined, who’ve finally made it to high school. The gate to the Digital World has been closed, too. But their lives are about to Digi-volve in a big way once again … Regal Dole Cannery theaters, 7 p.m. Thursday.

Yo-Kai Watch: The Movie: Speaking of the whole “gotta catch ’em all” ethos, here’s Yo-Kai Watch, featuring the adventures of Nate, the boy who can see otherwise invisible yokai everywhere, and his yokai companions Whisper and Jibanyan as they help wayward spirits with their problems. In this, the English-dubbed version of the first movie, the watch gets stolen! Oh noes! Nate and the gang must travel back in time with a new yokai, Hovernyan, to save the world. Those of you who collect Yo-Motion Yo-Kai Medals will want to pick up the Hovernyan medal, too, while supplies last. Regal Dole Cannery theaters, 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15.

Shin Godzilla (Godzilla Resurgence): As we continue to wait for any word on whether Evangelion 4.0: You Will (Not) Be Happy (or whatever the subtitle to that movie will be) has gone into production, Eva director Hideaki Anno’s latest project is coming to theaters stateside. It features the return of everyone’s favorite city-stomping giant lizard. And guess what — the King of the Monsters isn’t happy. Which means deliciously entertaining chaos and destruction are about to follow. Hold on tight, Tokyo. Consolidated Ward theaters, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, Oct. 11-13.

Honolulu Museum of Art’s Japanese Cinema spotlight: More details to come in a future post for what’s turning out to be a busy otaku October at the art museum — I should know; I’m part of the programming — but for those of you who want to get a head start and buy your tickets now, there are 13 Japanese movies screening at the Doris Duke Theatre. Five of them are anime:

>> Miss Hokusai (making its Hawaii premiere!), 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1

>> Tekkonkinkreet, 1 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5

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

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

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

Tickets for Miss Hokusai are $25 general admission, $20 museum members, and includes preshow pupus from 6 to 7:30 p.m. (definitely go for the tenderloin with ponzu sauce if it’s offered; I had some at the opening reception for the Takaya Miou manga exhibit, and that stuff was heavenly) and koto music from Darin Miyashiro. For the others, it’s $10 general admission, $8 museum members.

Pokemon: The First Movie and Pokemon: The Movie 2000: Tickets ($15 general, $12 museum members) aren’t on sale yet for this double feature, but we do know this much: The First Movie is screening at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, while The Movie 2000 will follow at 4:30 p.m. Also, I’m pretty sure someone will deploy Pokemon Go lures on the museum’s two Pokestops at some point. Because everyone wants to catch more Pidgeys.

Elsewhere around town

Aiea Library Hot Swimmer Dudes and Friends Anime Club: We’re in uncharted territory here, folks: a world where young adult librarian / Face of Hawaii Ingress ™ Diane Masaki has run out of Polar Bear Cafe episodes to screen. So by popular demand, Diane will be screening episodes of Free! Iwatobi Swim Club for, umm, free. Kancolle will be continuing, too, for those of you who’d rather watch battleships personified as cute girls. At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where there’s still plenty of parking and a giant sugar molecule out front, to boot. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email 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. Next meeting is from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday in room 200. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/mangabento/

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, Sept. 18.

The Summer of Stuff, part 2: Art with heart aplenty

Welcome back to the Summer of Stuff! In Part 1, I took a quick look at all the movies screening locally in the past few months. Quick addendum: When Marnie Was There will be screening for a second week at the Kahala 8 theaters, with the same schedule as the first week (see my last post for those details). The Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction and I saw the English-subtitled version Wednesday night. I thought it was a film that took a while to set up, but once it hits the major revelation of who Marnie is … well, as they say on the Intarwebz, wow, all the feels. The Anonymous Director’s verdict? “It’s nice. Just … nice.

This is why I’m the long-winded friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning blogger behind the keyboard and the Anonymous Director’s the socialite in front of it.

This time around, the Summer of Stuff is taking a look at some of the major otaku art events around town … and the best part is, all of these events feature free admission. One of the annual highlights for me on the Ota-cool Incoming calendar is the annual art exhibit by MangaBento, the group of anime- and manga-inspired artists that hosts a show in the Honolulu Museum of Art School’s second-floor gallery. I’ve covered it rather extensively for three out of the past four years; here’s coverage of 2011’s “Kakimochi” (part 1part 2), 2012’s “Nakamaboko” (part 1part 2) and 2013’s “Tomo-e-Ame” (part 1part 2, part 3). (The coverage of 2014’s “Showme,” sadly, has fallen down the same black hole as many other things over the past year or so, save for a small cameo in the Best of 2014 post.)

Here, have a shot of the gallery space from last year’s exhibit.

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This year’s exhibit, bearing the theme This is Fighting Spirit! — inspired by Shonen Jump and shonen manga artwork — is rapidly approaching. Art submissions are being accepted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St.), room 200. Comic Jam Hawaii will also be hosting a jam around that time, where attendees can draw art for the exhibit or do their own thing. The exhibit itself, being staged in the art school’s second-floor gallery, launches with an opening reception and potluck from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, June 28, and will be on display through July 12.

Meanwhile, over at the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Spalding House — once known as the Contemporary Museum for those of you who retain old-school place names like me (see also: “Daiei/Holiday Mart” for Don Quijote, “GEM store” for the Sports Authority on Ward Avenue, “Phase 1/Phase 2” for Uptown/Downtown Pearlridge Center), there’s a rather novel exhibit opening in that space starting today and running through June 28.Contempo #ArtShop — yes, with the hashtag; it’s what’s trending, after all — features a number of pieces by local and international artists. The twist? If you like what you see, you can just buy it, with prices ranging from $30 to $45,000. Here’s the catalog. I’d imagine my readers could probably afford the artwork on the lower end of that scale, but if you can afford the upper end, please contact me. I want to be your friend.

IMG_6232 (1)The exhibit has already garnered a fair amount of press for Saturday’s pop-up event featuring artists connected to Giant Robot magazine, but what’s relevant to our interests here is that several friends of the blog — Brady Evans, Tara Tamayori (that’s her at right), Audra Furuichi, Rose Dela Cruz and Jaymee Masui — all have pieces available for sale in this exhibit. In addition, Tara, Audra, Brady and Jaymee will be joining artist Iolani Slate for a special “Manga Market” event from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, with a mini Artist Alley-esque setup in the entrance lanai — prints, original artwork and other merchandise will be available for sale — live art demonstrations and a make-and-take art table. If you can’t make it on Wednesday, the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday and noon to 4 p.m. June 28.

It’s a pretty busy summer for Brady, really, as his work is among pieces featured in “Emergence 2015,” an exhibit at Pauahi Tower Artspace (in the second-level lobby of Bishop Square’s Pauahi Tower, 101 Bishop St.; here’s what the building looks like from Tamarind Park). A number of his digital paintings will be on display for the first time outside of Kawaii Kon, as well as a new drawing he did, “Ghost Plants.” That exhibit will be on display through July 17; gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

IMG_8214Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a talk by cartoonist Jon J. MurakamiGordon Rider/Edamame Ninjas creator, Star-Advertiser “Calabash” artist, you know the drill — and Michael Cannon of Comic Jam Hawaii at Kapolei Library at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 27. Jon and Mike will go over the process of creating a mini-comic — character design basics, layout and story development — and participants will be given their own materials to create their own comic right there, right then. The library is at 1020 Manawai St.; call 693-7050 if you need any assistance.

Ota-cool Incoming: And lo, ‘The Last’ shall be first

Ten years ago in September, the story of a certain ramen-loving ninja descended from a nine-tailed fox hit American airwaves on Cartoon Network for the first time.

Naruto the LastWe’ve seen about a bazillion thingy-no-jutsus, battles, double-crosses, triple-crosses and sordid slash fanfics written since then. Heck, the entire cast has aged as Plain Old Naruto evolved into Naruto Shippuden. And now, as Masashi Kishimoto’s manga ends and the anime likely to follow suit eventually, we have the last Naruto movie ever. I mean, it even says so in the title: The Last: Naruto the Movie.

… wait, what? There’s another one scheduled for release this year? Well now.

Semantics aside, The Last is notable for being the first big-screen anime feature with screenings scheduled for Honolulu this year. There are two screenings, in fact, both at Consolidated’s Ward Stadium 16 complex: noon Saturday, Feb. 21 and 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23. Both will be in Japanese with English subtitles. You’ll also be able to nab a free commemorative poster while supplies last.

So why is this movie called The Last if it isn’t exactly the last movie of the franchise? It’s a reference to the last days of Earth, as the moon is somehow approaching the Earth, meteorites threaten to rain down on the planet and, presumably, Sailor Moon and her friends are stuck in another franchise and have no interest in resolving the matter. To make matters worse, Hinata’s younger sister, Hanabi, has been kidnapped by a mysterious man in Konoha. It’s up to Naruto and the gang to save her, save the world, and … ummm … set up the next movie, I suppose.

Here, have a trailer.

Tickets aren’t on sale yet, but I’ll try to keep an eye on things and let you know when they do. Update 2:55 p.m. 1/16: Fandango ticket links are live! Tickets are $15 each; here’s the Feb. 21 screening, and here’s the Feb. 23 screening.

Other ota-coolness

Aiea Library Anime Club: This month, young adult librarian Diane Masaki is screening two episodes of Polar Bear Cafe followed by two 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 e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

portal_20150116_103030_1Random Ingress Portal of the Post: Speaking of The Face of Hawaii Ingress … it’s apparently been so long since I’ve done one of these Ota-cool Incoming roundups (and by extension these random portal profiles) that Niantic, the game studio behind this game, finally got around to sticking a portal on the new Aiea Library. So here it is, a portal that you’ll have to get out of your car to visit, since it’s tucked away a bit from the road. Shown here is the proper alignment — Enlightened-held — for a portal that the aforementioned Face of Hawaii Ingress (tm) seems to want to switch to Resistance control during regular library hours. To each his/her own, I guess. I think it looks prettier in green … but maybe I’m just biased on that matter. Just a teensy bit.

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, then. This year, two out of the three preliminary rounds will be held at a new location: Nocturna Lounge, the video game/karaoke bar just downstairs from our editorial/advertising offices here at Waterfront Plaza/Restaurant Row. (The other round will be held at its traditional location, Orvis Auditorium on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus.) For the Nocturna rounds, sign-in starts at 3:30 p.m. Sunday and March 15, with the actual singing starting at 4 p.m. on both days. The Orvis round will be held on Feb. 15; exact times have yet to be announced. 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.

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.). This month, the front door of the art school may be closed, so enter through the sides or via the basement. Check with the guard for room number. Visit www.manga-bento.com. Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 25.

Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses: Ever since the last time we looked at the seating chart for this orchestral tribute to the long-running Nintendo video game series, the Blaisdell Concert Hall has filled up quite nicely. Here’s a look at where things stood as of 9 p.m. Thursday.

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For those of you who were procrastinating on buying something in the cheap seats, you waited too long; those $45 tickets are now sold out. The cheapest seats available now are $69.30 each ($59 + $10.30 fees); those hard-core fan VIP seats ($138.55, includes a limited-edition poster and a meet-and-greet with the producers following the show) are also still available. There are also other options available for those of you who prefer something in between those two prices. If you did procrastinate, though, you’ll have one advantage that those of us who rushed to buy tickets didn’t have: a discount code. Enter “HEYLISTEN” at checkout to receive 15 percent off (and curse the powers that be for getting this stuck in your mind once again). Click that seating chart above for tickets; for concert information, visit zelda-symphony.com. 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30.

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 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22. Interested in selling? Check out kawaiikon.com/anime-swap-meet for all the details; registration deadline is midnight Feb. 18. This year, the rules are a bit more liberal: $20 will get you a 5-square-foot space for both Saturday and Sunday, and you can share your space with one other person. Interested in buying? Stay tuned for those details; I’m still waiting to see them myself.

Moyoco Anno at the Honolulu Museum of Art: Hopefully your short-term memory is good enough to remember the details from my post on Wednesday; if not, here’s your refresher. Starting 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 22.

14 for ’14: Otaku Ohana’s year of memories

It seems there’s an unwritten rule in journalism that whenever a writer or blogger reaches the end of a year, he or she suddenly feels compelled to look back on it and remember the high points and the lows. I’m certainly not one to go against the flow, so hi! Welcome to the Otaku Ohana Year in Review!

While I’d be the first to admit that this has been a disappointing year in terms of Otaku Ohana output — for starters, I still haven’t had time to fully transcribe that interview with voice actor Kyle Hebert that I promised back in August, and let’s not even think about the last time you’ve seen a formal anime or manga review in this space — it certainly hasn’t been a disappointing year for the otaku community at large. One measure of just how vibrant we’ve had it here is the sheer volume of anime features that screened in theaters. Here’s what we saw this year:

  • Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day: The Movie
  • Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods
  • Expelled From Paradise
  • Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo
  • K Missing Kings
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Ghost in the Shell: Arise
  • Madoka Magica: Rebellion
  • My Neighbor Totoro
  • Patema Inverted
  • Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
  • Tiger and Bunny: The Rising
  • The Wind Rises

Throw in a bunch of live-action movies including the Studio Ghibli documentary The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, Thermae Romae II, Lupin the Third and Kikaider Reboot — the last of which proved so popular, the DVD’s backordered online.

Granted, there were a few bumps in the road along the way. A pair of hurricanes forced Taku Taku Matsuri to be pushed back from August to November. That’s more than can be said for Oni-Con Hawaii, which we can safely consider a lost cause with the lack of any solid communication since early May. And the death of Sharon Sakai, wife of Usagi Yojimbo artist Stan Sakai, was a story that resonated far beyond the usual readership of this blog.

But let’s remember all the good that happened in 2014. I went through my photo files and picked out 14 memorable moments from the year. Some of these pictures you might have seen before, whether in this space or on my various social media accounts.

Dorae-mania hits home (April 20)

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Fujiko F. Fujio’s mecha-cat creation was all over town this year, whether plastered on Lea Lea trolleys, in statue form at various sites from downtown to Kahala as part of HIS Hawaii’s Wakuwaku Stamp Rally, on Kindles and Kindle apps in manga form, or on Disney XD in anime form. The biggest attraction in the first few months of the year, however, was “Meet Doraemon: Japan’s Time-Traveling Cat,” an exhibition co-presented by Bishop Museum and the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum. Visitors could see pages of Fujio’s original artwork for the first time on American soil, watch a 10-minute anime short, read the English-translated Doraemon manga on iPads or the manga in other languages sitting on bookshelves nearby; and buy piles upon piles of Fujio character merchandise that also was appearing for the first time on American soil. Tripinator Doraemon looked a little shifty here in the foreground as visitors browsed through the manga at the iPad station.

Ultra-combo! (April 27)

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Not to be outdone by a cartoon mecha-cat, Ultraman and several of his longtime enemies made peace and came down to cavort around Hawaii as part of a promotion by Hawaii Tourism Japan and Tsuburaya Productions. Four statues showcasing different iterations of Ultraman were placed at locations around Oahu — Polynesian Cultural Center, Kualoa Ranch, DFS Galleria and the Hilo Hattie flagship store in Iwilei — and visitors who bought certain tour packages could go around, get their cards stamped and redeem them for cool Ultraman in Hawaii merchandise. As I mentioned in my original post, I love this picture of the Hilo Hattie statue because of the way the lights in the store flared behind it.

Panel de pon! (March 12)

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This is the only picture in this roundup that wasn’t shot by me (it was taken by cartoonist Roy Chang), and for good reason: I was kinda sitting on the panel at the time. I have to confess that I’m usually not one to be the center of attention — it’s the reason why I’ve never done a panel at any event on my own, and why I have an Anonymous Otaku Ohana Director of Forced Social Interaction with whom I attend a number of events these days — so when I was asked to be part of the “Made in Japan, Loved in Hawaii” panel at the Honolulu Festival, I was worried about how things would go. I needn’t have worried — panel mates Brady Evans, Jon Murakami, Roy Bann and Audra Furuichi all helped turn that panel into a lovely lengthy chat about our various fandoms. If you haven’t listened to the panel yet, the audio (which weighs in at 121 MB) remains available for download at ow.ly/uwyBr, while the slides are available at ow.ly/uwyTQ.

Eboshimaro, friend to all children (March 8)

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Ahhhhhhh yes, yuru-chara, the Japanese phenomenon in which mascot characters are called upon to promote certain aspects of their prefecture, company or event. They’re also usually awesomely cute, which would explain why Eboshimaro here, the mascot representing Chigasaki, Japan, had a steady stream of people coming up to him at the Honolulu Festival asking for pictures. Apparently he was tweeting regularly from the festival, too; here are his tweets and pictures from that weekend.

And that wasn’t the only regional mascot to visit Hawaii this year. At the very beginning of Star-Advertiser photographer Krystle Marcellus’ video from the Honolulu Marathon (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckleJBr–ns), you can catch a good look at Mojaro, the walking monjayaki from Isesaki’s annual Monja Festival. (Monjayaki is okonomiyaki’s messier-looking, higher-stacked cousin.)

That’s right. There exists a pile-of-food mascot. And one that looks like one of the ghosts from Pac-Man had an unfortunate accident, at that.

I’ll give you some time to ponder that.

Singing in the lane (April 4)

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What would a year-end roundup be without at least one highlight from what’s become the biggest event on the annual otaku calendar, Kawaii Kon? As longtime attendees know, a necessary evil of attending anime cons year after year is waiting in lines to get into the various events. This year, though, this guy made waiting for opening ceremonies more tolerable, going up and down with his guitar singing his original song about Kawaii Kon.

It’s all about the details (July 3)

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MangaBento, the anime/manga-inspired group of young artists, held its annual show on the second floor of the Honolulu Museum of Art School. this year’s show, “Showme,” featured this mural lining the elevator. A nice mural, to be sure. But upon closer examination, several smaller flourishes really stood out.

That’s what I love whenever I look at art: taking in the piece as a whole, then looking close-up at the finer details. It’s an experience I hope (and pretty much expect!) to repeat next year.

Sparkle pretty “Ponponpon” party time (July 20)

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Yes, super-omega-popular boy band Arashi performed out at Ko Olina to the delight of thousands of fans both from here and visiting from Japan, and they had the benefit of a pop-up store at Shirokiya and those visitors snapping pictures of pretty much every poster put up around Ala Moana. But their concert tickets were kinda pricey and I didn’t have a vacation day to spare, so this was my J-Pop concert experience for the year: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, the singer who burst onto the scene with eyeball-dotted shorts, pastel-colored human hearts and flying bread slices and has kept up a consistent pace of releasing weirdly wonderfully artsy odd music videos ever since. Her concert was an extension of that, a whirlwind of tightly choreographed sequences on a toybox-themed stage with a nice selection of her hits to date. And a giant neon-colored bear, too. (The afternoon heat was a bit much for her, though; she said during the concert that she hoped to do an arena show next time she’s in Hawaii.)

Jan-ken-po, art-to-show (May 17)

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In another one of those events that I attended but have yet to write about in this space (*sob*), Patsy Iwasaki and Avery Berido, the Hawaii island-based writer-artist team behind Hamakua Hero: A True Plantation Story, came to Honolulu to talk about the book as part of the revival of the  Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii exhibit at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. Well, okay, so it was Iwasaki doing most of the talking while Berido drew, but it’s okay, we love them both.

Berido’s drawing was given away at the end of the talk via a series of jankenpo matches among audience members. It came down to these two, and the guy on the left won this original piece. Sweet victory, I must say.

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Smiles to go, to go! (May 31)

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I said back in June that this was my favorite picture of the year to date, and now, looking back on a year’s worth of pictures, it remains a favorite of mine. Taken back at the during the Crossing Cultures artist meet-and-greet, it just captures a certain joy between the boy and his newly purchased Blue plushie, and artist Audra Furuichi. Making a child smile with the fruits of what you do for a living is a heartwarming talent to possess, indeed.

Simply having a wonderful Mini Con time (Sept. 27)

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I’ve noticed that at pretty much every midsize and larger event with cosplayers that I’ve attended this year, two people inevitably show up: one guy who cosplays as Deadpool (and who we’ll see later in this roundup, by the way) and Furry Red Friend, a cosplaying Elmo with his human handler. So when the Merc With a Mouth and Captain America Elmo showed up at Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library, with a nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii postcard cutout just begging for a photo op? Hijinks ensued. Naturally.

Striking a pose (Oct. 11)

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Kawaii Kon’s annual Anime Day event showed up at Windward Mall with a mini Artist Alley, several drawing stations and a variety of cosplay competitions. One of those contests was a “pose-off,” where contestants had to come up with choreographed poses within a time limit. Here, two cosplayers prepare to do battle with Street Fighter poses! And then they rushed into battle! Who would reign supreme?!?

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… yeeeeeaaaah, okay, that didn’t end well.

We made it happen (Nov. 22)

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The story of Taku Taku Matsuri 2014 was a story of perseverance on the part of organizer Yuka Nagaoka. A Kickstarter campaign succeeded after much 11th-hour nail-biting. Then Hurricanes Iselle and Julio’s approach prompted her to postpone the event, a decision that drew some criticism when Iselle hit Hawaii island and fell apart and Julio veered away from the islands. Original guest of honor Kyle Hebert and a number of vendors also couldn’t return for the rescheduled event, forcing her to find replacements. And a second crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe was … well … sluggish.

Yet despite all of that, and with a rallying cry of “We will make it happen,” the rescheduled Taku Taku Matsuri went out without any apparent hitches (although I must admit, I cringed while a full game of Quidditch took place outside the Manoa Grand Ballroom, praying the quaffle didn’t bounce off into one of the glass showcases or over the fifth-floor wall into the courtyard below). Attendees, it seemed, had a good time throughout the event. And Yuka is already proceeding with planning for the 2015 event, so we’ll see how that goes.

Cardboard carnage (Nov. 22)

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The concept of the cardboard mega-brawl: Combatants craft armor and shields from cardboard, then go one-on-one in a ring trying to knock strategically placed foam cups off each other using foam bats. But what do you do when your opponent is someone who showed up at Taku Taku Matsuri wearing full-on Danbo cosplay? Simple: Flail like a bat out of hell.

“Modern Love” meets modern mangaka (Dec. 3)

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We had a number of famous people in the anime and manga industries come to our fair rock in the middle of Pacific this year, among them Masako Nozawa, the voice of Goku in Dragon Ball Z; Hironobu Kageyama, who sang the Dragon Ball Z theme song “Cha-La Head-Cha-La”; Jim Cummings, the voice of Darkwing Duck and Tigger; and Cristina Vee, Mars/Rei Hino in the new Sailor Moon dub. Heck, Jamie Lynn Lano, former assistant to Takeshi Konomi on The Prince of Tennis, moved to Oahu to fulfill a lifelong dream of hers.

But the person who stands out in my mind at the moment is also the one who most recently visited Honolulu, the one whom (shameless plug) we interviewed and will be the subject of one of our first posts of 2015: josei mangaka Erica Sakurazawa, who wrote several books published by Tokyopop in the mid-2000s including The Aromatic Bitters, Angel and Between the Sheets and whose work Love Vibes is currently on display as part of the Honolulu Museum of Art’s “Modern Love” exhibit. Sakurazawa is shown here talking to exhibit curator Stephen Salel during a talk she gave at the museum in early December. Quite a bit of ground was covered in that talk and our interview, and I hope I can get all that out to you, dear readers, sooner rather than later.

So that does it for 2014! On behalf of tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and the Anonymous Otaku Ohana Director of Forced Social Interaction, I wish you all the best for the new year. Here’s hoping for many more good memories to come.

And the Windward skies bring cosplay vibes to me

anime dayI’ll get back to part 2 of the otaku film feast-ival next week, but for now there are more pressing matters at hand: namely, there’s an Anime Day coming up at Windward Mall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and, aside from how I’ve said that a) it’s totally a thing and b) those of you who preregistered for Oni-Con Hawaii will want to bring proof of registration to pick up your free DVD, I haven’t had a chance yet to fill in some of the finer details about it.

As has been the norm for the past forever now, I don’t think I got around to posting pictures from last year’s festivities, so here are a few images that show off what you can probably expect to see this year. Here’s the crowd gathered around the mall’s center stage …

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… some Naruto charms being sold by our columnist following the business buzz around town, Erika Engle …

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… someone playing Dance Central on a Kinect-enabled Xbox 360 …

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… the always busy art wall …

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… and participants in the Iron Cosplay contest.

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This year, professional cosplayer Leah Rose will be presiding over the festivities at center stage, with activities including:

11 a.m.: Anime ID
11:30 a.m.: Iron Cosplay
1 p.m.: Pose-Off Challenges
1:30 p.m.: Spin-the-Wheel!
2:30 p.m.: Cosplay Runway
3:30 p.m.: Stamp Rally winners announced and final announcements

KK stamp cardMany of those games/events have been run at various other events; Anime ID, however, is debuting here. As for that Stamp Rally: Pick up a card (a facsimile is at right), collect stamps from the six retailers listed (Gyu-Kaku, Animation Magic, Hot Topic, Gamestop, Journeys, Spencer Gifts) and turn it for the chance to win fabulous prizes! (What those prizes are haven’t been mentioned yet, but I’d be very surprised if one wasn’t a free three-day pass to Kawaii Kon 2015.)

Other Anime Day notes of note:

  • The vendors room — again across from Glow Putt Mini Golf on the second floor, in what I think was the old Suncoast Video space — will feature a number of local crafters, including Gordon Rider/Star-Advertiser “Calabash” cartoonist Jon Murakami and idkwhat2wear.
  • Artists can participate in a number of activities as well. Roy Chang, MidWeek cartoonist, Aiea Intermediate art teacher and keeper of Pepe the chihuahua, will offer tips on improving art at his portfolio review booth. Comic Jam Hawaii is hosting the sketch wall, while MangaBento will have tables with coloring and craft worksheets.
  • You can preregister for Kawaii Kon 2015, too!

For the latest info on all things Kawaii Kon, visit www.kawaii-kon.org or www.facebook.com/kawaiikon.

Your anime / manga blogger’s clearing-house clearinghouse

New posts from me in this space have been rather sporadic as of late, and for that I apologize; it’s probably going to be like this probably through mid-August or so, as I take care of some projects at home and then endure … *shudder* … the primary election season at work. (Insert screams here.) I’ll try to update this blog as much as I can in the meantime — there will be some kind of coverage of the MangaBento exhibit here while it’s still up, I promise! — but if I disappear for weeks at a time, don’t worry, I’ll still be coming back. Sometime. I’ll tell you when we’re ready to abandon this blog, and we’re definitely not ready to do that yet.

One of the things I’m doing at home is some major cleaning, clearing out some of the stuff that’s been piling up to make room for new things. It’s a bit like that for news involving the local anime/manga fan community, so let’s make with the cleaning already and get to the news:

IMG_9289“Showme” the artwork: It’s time once again for the annual exhibit by MangaBento, the group of artists inspired by anime and manga, on the second floor of the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St.), with an opening reception (with refreshments!) scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday and the exhibit itself running through July 12. This year’s exhibit is called “Showme”; rendered in Japanese kanji, the sound-alike phrase “shoumi” means “relish, gusto, appreciation.” If this exhibit is anything like the group’s past exhibits that I’ve covered in this blog over the years — “Kakimochi” in 2011 (part 1, part 2), “Nakamaboko” (part 1, part 2) and “Tomo-e-Ame” (part 1, part 2, part 3) — expect a nice blend of 2-D and 3-D art in a variety of media, a giant mural in the stairwell from the first to the second floor, and a table where visitors can sketch to their hearts’ content. For more information about MangaBento, visit their website at www.manga-bento.com.

KPP in HNL: In case you aren’t familiar with the work of the 21-year-old artist currently known as Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, here, have one of her music videos.

And another one.

And yet another one.

10373038_10101024997209366_8916960168389356119_oWhen you can describe the one with the flying koi and mouse-head robot no jutsu! as the most normal of the three, that’s … saying quite a bit, actually. Here are more of her videos on YouTube, in case you’re inclined to follow up.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu — or “KPP,” to her loyal fans and lazy anime/manga bloggers who don’t want to keep typing “Kyary Pamyu Pamyu” every time they refer to her in a post — is coming to Hawaii for the first time to wrap up her “Nanda Collection” world tour, at 5 p.m. July 20 at the Waikiki Shell. Tickets went on sale Friday … and since I only started seriously working on this post around Wednesday, I held off on writing up this item in case demand hit Bruno Mars/Jack Johnson-esque “sneeze and you missed out” levels.

I suppose I needn’t have worried. Judging by those videos above, it probably takes a fan of a certain constitution to really appreciate what KPP brings to the table. Indeed, after being AWOL due to heavy server load on the first day of ticket sales, Ticketmaster’s interactive seat map finally kicked in and started working on Saturday … and here’s what it looked like as of a little after 8 p.m. Saturday. Dark dots show seats available.

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That’s about half of the $85 level seats and virtually all of the $60 level seats that are still available. $30 lawn seating’s still readily available, too, for those of you who don’t mind bringing your own mats.

So if you want to check out what all the fuss is about (and see for yourself just how much more crazy KPP can cram into a live concert), go forth and get yourself some tickets now.

My cutest as-yet-unpublished-until-now picture of the year so far: This one, taken at the “Crossing Cultures” artist meet-and-greet event late last month at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.

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Kids love their plush pups from nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi, that’s for sure.

An Oni-Con Hawaii 2014 update: Nothing to report. Let’s … just move on.

A Taku Taku Matsuri Summer Festival update: For those of you who missed the event’s recent successful Kickstarter campaign, presale tickets are now available on Ticketleap (ow.ly/ygYBF) — $13 (plus a $1.65 service charge) for anyone 16 and older, $8 (plus a $1.40 service charge) for anyone under 16. The event, which as of now features voice actor Kyle Hebert, DJ E2D, video game tournaments, a Star Trek-themed cafe and various artists and vendors, runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii (2454 S. Beretania St.). Looks like more artists and vendors would be appreciated, too, so email taku2matsuri at yahoo dot com if you’d be interested in contributing to that effort.

Speaking of Taku Taku Matsuri: There’s a water gun fight (or more specifically, a WATER GUN FIGHT!!!!!) scheduled for July 19. No details yet. But I’m fairly confident there will be more info posted at the event page somewhat sorta soonish.

And while we’re (probably) at the beach: Any good WATER GUN FIGHT!!!!! has to take place outside … which brings us to a few other beach events being held this summer. On July 3, Jason David Frank — otherwise known as “the  tri-named Power Rangers actor not named Johnny Yong Bosch that everyone goes crazy over” — will be hosting a beach day at Duke Kahanamoku Beach starting at 11 a.m. He’ll also be shooting footage for the second season of My Morphin Life.

Kawaii Kon recently announced plans for its annual beach day as well — mark your calendars for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 16 at Ala Moana Beach Park, and get ready for a day that already promises to include sand castle building and a game of Capture the Flag (“now with water balloons!” as the event page proclaims, seemingly giddily). Keep up with how that develops over on the anime con’s event page.