The biggest little event that could is bigger than ever

Nine months in to my newfound freedom to attend pretty much ALL THE THINGS~! when it comes to local otaku culture, I’m finding the experience both exhilarating and exhausting. And that’s just counting the major con circuit. Here, for instance, is the bulk of my coverage of HawaiiCon, the fourth stop of Con-athon 2018 that happened a few weekends ago at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows on the Big Island.

I really did attend the con in spurts, though! The five pages of original Archie comic artwork I won at the art auction will attest to that. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

I needed that bit of R&R. For while there may be only one more stop for the Con-athon circuit this year — Maui Comic Con, Oct. 26-28 at UH-Maui College — the schedule of special events going forward may be one of the busiest fall seasons I’ve seen in the past few years.

It’s fitting, then, that the season kicks off from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday with one of the longer-running events of the modern otaku era: McCully-Moiliili Library’s ninth annual Mini Con. This year’s edition was already shaping up to be the biggest one yet even before the surprise news hit Wednesday evening of a Super-Secret Special Guest of Honor: Usagi Yojimbo creator (and, of course, Groo the Wanderer letterer) Stan Sakai. He’ll be signing books and drawing sketches in exchange for donations to the library, something he also did last November after a talk there.

Stan Sakai at McCully-Moiliili Library
Those are a bunch of original scripts and sketches in the foreground, too. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

Returning for another go-round are event mainstays Jon Murakami, Audra Furuichi (in a rare-these-days appearance!), Brady Evans and Kevin Sano. Here are some previews of what they’ll be debuting at this event:

Kevin Sano has been working on these original sketches on comic backing boards. Photo courtesy of Kevin Sano.
Audra Furuichi has these original nemu*nemu sketches, as well as some new prints, available for sale. Photo courtesy of Audra Furuichi.

Joining them this year is rising art star Derick “7Sketches” Fabian. He’s best known for his original sticker art, or “slaps,” that mash up characters from cartoons, anime, and comics with hip-hop and local culture. He even contributed a mural to this year’s POW! WOW! Hawaii jam in Kakaako. He has a trio of designs debuting on Saturday.

Also on hand will be representatives from the next mini-con event coming down the pipeline, NEET, which recently announced its autumn event will be held Oct. 12 at the nearby Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii; and Wasabi Magazine editor-in-chief Antonio Vega, who’ll be talking about the publication’s focus on Japanese culture and island life.

05 Hillary,Jason,Alyssa
Not to mention a certain Kirby-obsessed friendly neighborhood otaku blogger, shown here with McCully-Moiliili Library branch manager/Mini Con chief Hillary Chang and volunteer Alyssa Au. Photo courtesy McCully-Moiliili Library.

You’re going to want to meet everyone, too. Back for another year is the stamp card promotion, where attendees can go around getting stamps from the exhibitors, then turn in completed cards in exchange for free comic books and other stuff. Other activities, like showing volunteers your library card and filling out a program evaluation form, will net you a set of three Mini Con 9 pins.

Mini Con cards
Photo courtesy McCully-Moiliili Library.

Cosplay, as always, is encouraged, and a variety of anime, including Boruto and Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, will be screened. There also will be a number of craft activities and talks throughout the day.

Mini Con 9 is brought to you by the Friends of the McCully-Moiliili Library, Collector Maniacs and Hawaiian Graphics. The library is located at 2211 S. King St.; parking can be a bit tight, but it is possible to find some if you look hard enough. Any questions? Call 973-1099.

Also on the otaku calendar


Hawaii’s first UNIQLO opens: The Japanese clothing retailer renowned for comfortable, cheap attire and otaku-friendly T-shirt designs has been teasing local customers for several months now with a pop-up store near Ala Moana Center’s Centerstage. That experience is about to expand quite a bit, as the full-service store is scheduled to open on the third floor of the mall’s Ewa Wing at 9:28 a.m. Friday, 9/28. (Get it?) I understand some friends of the blog are members of the store’s opening-day staff, so lotsa luck and good fortune to you all.

Shirokiya Matsuri

Shirokiya Matsuri: The fourth monthly edition of the showcase for local crafters and entertainers hosted by emcee extraordinare Remy Zane is taking place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk complex, street level on the Ewa end of Ala Moana Center. It’s also Kids’ Day at JVW, so children ages 12 and under can get a free token to spend at one of the complex’s 100 bazillion gachapon machines. Seriously, look at how many there were in August:

You haven’t really lived until you’ve seen this many gachapon machines in one place. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
It’s GachaponCon, yo.


My Neighbor Totoro in theaters: Chew on this for a bit: This story of two girls and the gentle forest spirits they befriend has been around for 30 years. Feeling old yet? Playing at 12:55 p.m. Sunday (English dubbed), 7 p.m. Monday (subtitled), and 7 p.m. Wednesday (dubbed) at the Regal Dole Cannery 18 theaters, 735-B Iwilei Road. Get your tickets here.

“Miss Hokusai” returns for a week

Hmmmmm. That great wave certainly looks familiar. Courtesy GKIDS Entertainment.

Miss Hokusai’s Hawaii premiere earlier this month sounded pretty sweet. As the leadoff feature for the Honolulu Museum of Art’s monthlong Japanese Cinema spotlight, this anime, focusing on the life of the lesser-known daughter to famed artist Katsushika Hokusai, O-ei, got a lovely welcome: preshow pupus, artists drawing on paper fans and auctioning them off, Darin Miyashiro playing the koto. And a good time was probably had by all.

I write “probably” here because, like most things scheduled for Saturday nights, I was working my usual night shift at the Star-Advertiser and thus couldn’t go. Fortunately for me and those of you unable to attend, though, there’s going to be another screening of Miss Hokusai … or, to be more accurate, another 33 screenings.

That’s because the movie’s playing at the Consolidated Kahala theaters in a full-on limited engagement starting today. It looks like it’s sticking around for at least a week, according to Consolidated’s site; we’ll see Tuesday whether it lingers for longer. So the standard disclaimer applies: The sooner you can see this movie, the better.

You can also see it with its English dub or original Japanese audio with English subtitles; check out the Ota-cool Incoming calendar for exact times, but in general, the dubbed version is being shown at matinees, and the subbed version has the late afternoon/evening slots.

Here, have the trailer again.

Other weekend notes

  • Haven’t seen Shin Godzilla, the latest installment in the Godzilla franchise as directed by Evangelion director Hideaki Anno, yet? You have one more chance: 12:50 p.m. Saturday at the Regal Dole Cannery 18 theaters. Get your tickets here.
  • idkwhat2wear and Kawaii Mono are going to be part of the Season’s Best Craft & Gift Fair this weekend at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. Hours are 5-9 p.m. today, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $3, but here, have some $1 discount coupons. Also, be advised that parking late Saturday might be a little tight because of that evening’s Big Bang show. Wow. Fantastic, baby.
  • NEET, the mini con at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii that I wrote about yesterday, released a more comprehensive list of vendors a few hours after I published my post. (Oh hey, Michi’s Toy Box and artist Reid Kishimoto are going to be there, too!) You can check it out here. Wish I could attend, but alas, work calls.

Look at this stuff … isn’t it NEET …

neet-2016-posterIt doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that Taku Taku Matsuri was a part of the local otaku event scene, but it’s true: It’s been almost two years since the second event was held. A third edition was planned, but event organizer Yuka Nagaoka got sick and moved back to Japan for treatment last year, and it was put on indefinite hiatus.

Yuka’s still in Japan, and the chances of there ever being another Taku Taku Matsuri are remote at best. But it looks like we have a spiritual successor in place: NEET, a self-described “marketplace-focused event,” is taking place from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday at the Manoa Grand Ballroom, on the fifth floor of the Japanese Cultural Center. In the organizers’ own words:

We are a group of individuals dedicated to bringing quality vending opportunities to local Artists & Vendors.

We hope to offer a platform which encourages Artists & Vendors to pursue their aspiration in sustainable living through their craft.

The event name is based on the acronym used in the United Kingdom, Japan and several other regions to describe a young person, usually between the ages of 15 and 34, “Not in Education, Employment or Training.” But the event’s organizers are turning that meaning on its head. According to the event FAQ:

We chose this word because it’s a reflection of what we are. People who aren’t in school and taking a different route to accomplish our dreams of living off of our craft. We want people to not be afraid of taking risks for their dreams, and the first step is by being able to laugh about simple derogatory labels.

Also, they have a cute mascot. ‘Sup, Tomi.


There will be more than 40 vendors there, from debuting greeting card seller Just Being Honest, to friends of the blog like Jon Murakami, HeadShot Heroes, Brady Evans and Michael Cannon under the Artildawn banner, to professional retailers like Hakubundo, Barnes & Noble and MiniQ. What I like about the lead-up to Friday’s event is how the NEET organizers have been taking some time daily on their Facebook page to profile one of the vendors that will be there. Check it out and find out about some vendors that you may not have known before. (I certainly learned a few things!)

Of course, you’re going to need some time to give your poor, screaming wallet a break. There will be food vendors on the first floor — Gyozilla and Bao Boys HI have been announced so far. There’s also going to be a cosplay contest at 7 p.m. — register at with your name, age, email address and costume (and info on what show, game, or series it’s from) if that’s something you’re interested in –and entertainment from the HI Collective, all hosted by otaku emcee extraordinaire Remy Zane. If you’re into itasha, that subset of car culture where owners cover their cars in anime/manga/video game-themed vinyl stickers, there will also be a car show hosted by Tokyo Auto.

Admission (with in/out privileges) is $5; round up a group of five, and you can buy a five-pack of passes for $20. You can register online now at to save some time, too.

The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii is at 2454 S. Beretania St.; on-site parking is available for $6 with validation. For more information, visit And of course, for all your upcoming event reminders, don’t forget about our ongoing Ota-cool Incoming calendar to the right, up top.

Before I sign off for today, a quick note: Thank you to everyone who’s followed the blog and liked our new Facebook page ever since we went independent! This is the first time we’ve been able to see our site metrics firsthand — I’m pretty sure they kept tabs over at the Star-Advertiser; I was just too shy to ask all these years — and while we may not be drawing in hundreds of hits per day, it’s nice to see that we have a dedicated core fanbase and some pretty influential readers in their own right. We’re humbled by your support and hope we can hold your interest for a good chunk of time to come.