It’s been quite the busy offseason for the Hawaii Entertainment Expo, also known as HEXXP. Since the last edition of the pop culture convention went off last October, there’s been a change of venue (this year’s show will be at the Aloha Tower Marketplace), an expansion to three days rather than two, signings of several guests to tickle the fancies of local anime/video game fans (Nobuo Uematsu and the Earthbound Papas! DJ Livetune, mixer of Hatsune Miku tunes!) and the announcement of a few big special events (a World Cosplay Summit regional qualifying round and a Macross 30th anniversary exhibit).
We’re a little over two months out before the big event, and the announcements just keep on coming. The biggest one in recent days has been the addition of Japanese voice actress Megumi Nakajima as a guest. Nakajima’s most notable role was as Ranka Lee in Macross Frontier; other major roles include Chiho and Chise Mihara in Kobato, Kaede Sakura in Kampfer and Gurania in Lagrange – The Flower of Rinne. (Macross Frontier hasn’t been released in the U.S., but Kobato and Kampfer are available through Sentai Filmworks, and Viz has Lagrange available for streaming via Hulu.) She also performed theme songs for all four of those shows. Nakajima last appeared at an American convention at Anime Expo in 2010.
A few other guests that I haven’t covered in this space — some of whom have links to Japanese pop culture — include:
- Akiakane, noted Nico Nico Douga/YouTube utaite. Never heard of utaite? Well, that makes two of us. A quick web search — and the subsequent discovery of an Utaite Wiki — subsequently taught me that utaite are basically cover artists who perform Vocaloid songs and other anime/video game / J-Pop pieces. Akiakane’s claim to fame: “her rough tone and love to scream in songs.” No, really, that’s what her Utaite Wiki profile page says. Here’s a video of what that same page says is her most popular song, “Rolling Girl.”
- Joji Yoshida, an actor who played Chief Engineer Hiroki in Battleship and has had roles in a number of other Hawaii-filmed projects including the revived Hawaii Five-0, Blue Crush, One West Waikiki and Fantasy Island.
- Andy Lee, modern zen painter and illustrator who’s done work for DC and Marvel Comics. If this is the same Andy Lee whose name pops up in my web searches, he’s a frequent collaborator with David Mack on his Kabuki series.
- Royalvana, online purveyors of Japanese GAL fashion, with brands including GALSTAR, EGOIST and LagunaMoon. The retailer will be holding a fashion show and is looking for models; if you’re a size 4 or smaller, email firstname.lastname@example.org with a photo, measurements and shoe size.
I’m hearing there are even more guest announcements — probably around two or three — coming soon, so stay tuned.
For those of you interested in the World Cosplay Summit, a special note: U.S. organizer Laura Butler, fresh off a trip to the WCS finals in Nagoya this week, will be in town next week and will be hosting an informal Q&A session at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Kissaten Cafe, 88 Piikoi St. Potential contestants also should note that the window for submitting applications and resumes is now open, through Sept. 5; refresh yourself with the rules and links by looking at the second half of the April 6 Cel Shaded Report.
HEXXP is taking place Oct. 19-21 at Aloha Tower Marketplace; for more information or to preregister, visit www.hexxp.com. (It’s been redesigned with a fresher look. Also, credit card payments are now accepted for registrations, for those of you who were skittish about using PayPal.)
Anime and art around town
Honolulu Museum of Art: Two-pack of events to report on for this weekend. From 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the museum itself at 900 S. Beretania St., there’s “August Moon,” “a wine and food benefit for arts education.” Jon J. Murakami, “Gordon Rider” and Star-Advertiser “Calabash” cartoonist, and Pen & Ink Works leader Brady Evans will be among the artists drawing live and selling pieces for $25 each. Tickets are $85 in advance, $95 at the door; buy your tickets and get more information at honolulumuseum.org/11652-august_moon_benefit_arts_education
On Saturday, members of the anime/manga-inspired art collective MangaBento will be participating in “PrintBig: From the Ground Up,” an event where teams made giant woodcuts that will be inked and steamrollered to produce prints. The artists will arrive at 8 a.m. to set up, with actual printing from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. All of this will be taking place at the museum’s Art School, just around the corner from the museum at 1111 Victoria St. Visit honolulumuseum.org/events/12971-printbig_ground
Open Cosplay Shoot: 1 to 6 p.m. Aug. 11 at Sand Island State Park. RSVP as a cosplayer or photographer on Facebook at www.facebook.com/events/268034626639168/