“nemu*nemu” creator charts con-less path

Kawaii Kon released the first edition of its schedule for this year’s show on Friday, along with a spiffy new app (in both iOS and Android flavors!). Whenever big, juicy chunks of information like this drop in front of me, my friendly neighborhood anime/manga/Con-athon blogger instincts immediately kick in and I try to soak up every last newsworthy tidbit contained within.

And boy, was there something newsworthy in there. More specifically, there was something newsworthy in what wasn’t in there — a longstanding presence at Kawaii Kon, one that’s been around since 2007.

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After 10 straight years, there’s no sign of a nemu*nemu booth in the dealers room.

For artist Audra Furuichi, to not be a part of Kawaii Kon 2017 meant either that there was a mistake somewhere in the grand scheme of scheduling things, or she was shifting her resources elsewhere.

20150509_104733_editSadly for fans of Audra’s work, the latter is true. Unbeknownst to many of us at the time, the nemu*nemu appearances at the Hawaii Collectors Expo last month and the Mid-Pacific Institute Hoolaulea on Friday were the last we’ll be seeing for the immediate future. In addition to Kawaii Kon, that rules out appearances at other Oahu Con-athon events  — Comic Con Honolulu, Amazing Hawaii Comic Con and Anime Ohana — as well.

“No hard feelings to any of the shows — it’s just progressively gotten physically harder to do shows,” Audra told me via Facebook chat on Sunday. “Kinda lacking the endurance I used to have. I also don’t have new merchandise at the moment, so it was a good time to bow out.”

She also cited an evolving audience as a factor. The nemu*nemu online comic has been on hiatus since last July as she’s worked on other projects, and not as many people know about the plush pup duo as they did in the comic’s early years.

“Thought about doing the (Artist Alley), but the long hours and EXTREME COMPETITION OMGWTFBBQ … are big deterrents for me,” she said.

This doesn’t mean the end of all things nemu*nemu, though. Audra’s exploring swinging by Kawaii Kon for a day to drop off something for the art show. The nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii comic strip is still chugging along in the Star-Advertiser. And she’s been posting some pretty non nemu*nemu artwork at audrafuruichi.com.

audra patreonAnd then there’s Audra’s Patreon account, where she’s been sharing sneak peeks at Blue Hawaii strips, digital desktops and other artistic works since January 2015. It’s a way for fans to show their continuing support for her work; it can be difficult to focus on creating art and tending to the business side of things, after all. As of this writing, 61 patrons are contributing $522 a month. (Full journalistic disclosure: I’m one of Audra’s $25/month contributors.)

There’s now an added incentive for people to jump on board: If contributions reach $550 a month, she’ll start regularly drawing a one-shot nemu*nemu comic again, once a month. It’s a perfect incentive for the comic’s 11th anniversary coming up April 1, and all it’ll take is one person contributing $28 a month, or 28 people contributing $1 a month, or some happy medium in between.

Ota-cool Incoming: Cons, cons everywhere, and nary a time to breathe

It’s been a wild past few weeks here at Otaku Ohana Central, a time that’s included voice actors conducting panels after a lovely morning swim off Hawaii island, some friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning blogger dork talking for a good 40 minutes or so at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, a governor and a congressman offering proclamations and plaudits for comics legend Stan Lee, and lots and lots and lots of waiting in lines.

Also, this happened.

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Hello, Kikaida star Ban Daisuke. Nice to finally get to meet you. Although it was a bit awkward when the person we thought was going to take our picture wandered off to go take pictures of the other costumed characters at Kikaida Day. But I digress.

I’ll have some thoughts on my recent 11-day span of otaku craziness in my next post (which I will try to post really, really soon even if it kills me in the process), but I reeeeeeaaaaaallly need to take a look at what’s coming up over the next few weekends first. We’re coming up on the third of five straight weekends of otaku-related activities, and keeping everything straight (and perhaps pushing you, dear reader, to attend an event or two in the process!) is what I do best. Or at least try to do best, anyway, whenever I have the time/energy to do so.

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Our tour of events starts with Saturday and Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library. Branch manager Hillary Chang has been putting on this free little slice of comic-con culture for six years now — holy cats, I feel old just typing that — and this year’s installment is, pardon the cliche, bigger and better than ever before.

Longtime exhibitors Jon Murakami (Gordon Rider, Ararangers, the Star-Advertiser’s “Calabash” strip), Audra Furuichi (nemu*nemu, the Star-Advertiser’s “nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii” strip) and Kevin Sano (Crazy Shirts artist and painter of many Kikaida-themed Minion toys) will be joined this year by Christopher Caravalho, Aumakua: Guardians of Hawaii artist. Brady Evans from the Honolulu Museum of Art will host a digital painting demo at 11 a.m., where you can learn how he creates pretty prettiness like “Wisteria” here. Young adult author David Estes will give a talk at 11:45 a.m., “From Accountant to Author: Getting Started as a Writer.” Collect a stamp from everyone and receive a free comic! Here’s what the stamp card looks like.

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Of particular note is that this will be the last time you’ll be able to pick up some of that sweet nemu*nemu merchandise in person this year; Audra’s said she’s going to be skipping her traditional holiday craft fair circuit in favor of travel, so stock up on those gifts now! (Or you could just go online and order anytime, but hey, I’m old-school. Personal interaction’s always nice.) Cosplay, of course, is also welcomed; heck, here’s Hillary cosplaying with coworker Wendy Araki at last year’s event.

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Mini Con runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at McCully-Moiliili Library (2211 S. King St.); as I recommend every year, you’ll want to come early for the best parking opportunities. There’s a new, welcomed twist this time around, though: Overflow parking will be available in the Ross Dress for Less lot across the street. Yay! Call 973-1099 for more information or if you need to make special arrangements.

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A week later, Kawaii Kon will be hosting its fourth annual Anime Day at Windward Mall. Everything you loved about past Anime Days will be back for another round, including the Cosplay Runway, games, art activities, discounted three-day passes for Kawaii Kon 2016, a selection of Artist Alley vendors (including the Star-Advertiser’s own Erika Engle and her handcrafted jewelry!) and a mall-wide stamp rally for the chance to win a fabulous prize. All of this happens from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the mall, 46-056 Kamehameha Highway. And, of course, admission is free! Visit facebook.com/events/899357246825955/ for the latest details.

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And then about a week after that, on Oct. 9-11? It’s time for Anime Ohana, the fifth of our state’s six-convention windfall this year. As I noted earlier this year, this convention, started by Kawaii Kon founder Stan Dahlin and Sentai Filmworks producer David Williams, will feature voice actors Jessica Calvello (Hange Zoe, Attack on Titan; Yuri, Dirty Pair), Monica Rial (Kaede Kayano, Assassination Classroom) and David Matranga (the title role in Orphen) and all the usual accouterments we’ve come to know and love from the other four conventions this year. (Seriously, if you have to ask what kinds of activities will be available, you really haven’t been paying much attention to the con scene this year.)

All this is going down at the Pagoda Hotel at 1525 Rycroft St., just a short walk away from YogurStory, Walmart, Walgreens, Don Quijote, Like Like Drive Inn, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka … umm, can you tell some of the places I’ll be stopping by during con down time? For the latest news, visit the event page at facebook.com/events/742706302513876/; for passes (available in 1-3 day varieties for both children and adults), visit animeohana.com.

Elsewhere around town

Aiea Library Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Anime Club: Every month, I joke with young adult librarian Diane Masaki that she ought to change the name of the Anime Club to the Polar Bear Cafe & 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 else. (This month, the “friends” part will likely be Squid Girl.) Every month, she gives me the same response: “Pfffffffft.” I’ll keep trying, folks. At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where even now, more than a year after opening, there’s still plenty of parking. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

Anime Matsuri Hawaii LUV Day: “LUV” is short for “Let Us Volunteer,”and at this event, you’ll get to meet con directors John and Deneice Leigh and learn everything about volunteer opportunities at the last convention of the year, being held over Black Friday weekend (Nov. 27-29). Bonus: There will be games! And prizes! Lili’u Theater, Hawai’i Convention Center (room 310, in the corner closest to Kalakaua Avenue and the Ala Wai Canal), 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Ingress First Saturday: Ever wanted to learn how to play Niantic Labs’ massively multiplayer augmented reality smartphone game? Feel like honing your skills and learning playing tips from high-level agents? Want to meet The Face of Hawaii Ingress in person? Care to see what Niantic is capable of producing before their new likely-to-be-a-megahit collaboration with Nintendo, Pokemon Go, goes live and turns what we’ve known for several years as the Hawaiian Netmender Fountain portal into Jigglypuff? Come to Kapiolani Park for a day of cross-factional rivalry, fellowship, and … triangles! Lots! And lots! Of TRIANGLES~!

Meet at the Diamond Head Landmark portal (www.ingress.com/intel?ll=21.265395,-157.82058&z=17&pll=21.265395,-157.82058 for those of you with scanners; about halfway between the Waikiki Aquarium and the Natatorium on the park side of Kalakaua Avenue for those who don’t). To the Enlightened, may the odds be forever in your favor. To the Resistance, umm … enjoy the cross-factional potluck afterward? Yeah. That’s it. Starts at 9 a.m. Oct. 3.

Random Ingress Portal of the Post:

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Meet Drainage Marker! It’s … a drainage marker! On the corner of South King Street and Ward Avenue!

(Yeah, Niantic’s portal approval team was probably half-asleep when they approved this one.)

Gamer Expo 2015: The second annual edition of what’s been called the state’s largest video game event will feature tournaments for pretty much all the hot games out there (Super Smash Bros.! Hearthstone! Halo! Street Fighter! League of Legends! More!), a retro gaming section, and pretty much all the pew-pew-hack-slash-kick-punch-it’s-all-in-the-mind action you could possibly want. Special guests include Super Smash Bros. pro players Corey “False” Shin, Larry “Larry Lurr” Holland, William “Dkwill” Walsh, Max “Max Ketchum” Krchmar and Michael “MikeKirby” Alvare, and noted Hearthstone streamer Hafu. Presented by eSports HI; $25 general admission, $43 VIP pass. The Modern Honolulu (1775 Ala Moana Blvd.); 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Oct. 3.

The big convention roundup

Yes, four out of six shows for this year are done, and it’s already time to start thinking about next year. Con dates are already scheduled out through next September, in fact! Here’s everything I know so far. Unless otherwise noted, con venue is the Hawai’i Convention Center:

Anime Matsuri Hawaii: Featuring guests — deep breath in, Jason — voice actors Johnny Yong Bosch, Crispin Freeman and Maile Flanagan; Justin Rojas, representing Funimation; Masahiko Otsuka, president of Studio Trigger (the studio behind recent hits Kill la Kill and Little Witch Academia); musical guest DaizyStripper; professional cosplayers Goldy, Yuegene Fay, Stella Chuu, Reika and Vampy Bit Me; fashion designers Shunsuke Hasegawa (Putumayo designer) and Chinatsu Taira (Metamorphose chief designer); and KERA/Gothic Lolita Bible model Yui Minakata. And exhale. Nov. 27-29.

Kawaii Kon: The 12th annual edition of Hawaii’s first anime convention will feature a return visit by voice actor Johnny Yong Bosch and his band, Eyeshine, as well as the first visit by Japanese rock band Loverin Tamburin. April 8-10.

Amazing Hawaii Comic Con: Save the date! The follow-up to what may well be the biggest pop-culture convention in Hawaii now (pending the formal release of attendance numbers and what I’ve heard about really crowded conditions Friday and Saturday) will be May 20-22.

Comic Con Honolulu: Kawaii Kon’s pop-culture con spinoff hopes to build on its strong debut with guests Erin Gray (Col. Deering, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), Colin Ferguson (Federal Marshal Jack Carter, Eureka), Summer Glau (River Tam, Firefly/Serenity) and Kristin Bauer (Maleficent, Once Upon A Time). July 29-31.

HawaiiCon: Guests announced so far include Simpsons/Futurama artist Bill Morrison, actress Nichelle Nichols (Uhuru in the original Star Trek) and science fiction author John Scalzi.  Sept. 15-18, Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel (Hawaii island).

13 for ’13: Otaku Ohana’s year in pictures

Happy three-days-in-but-still-relatively-newish year! It’s hard to believe that June will mark five years since this blog gained a home on starbulletin.com as an online complement to Cel Shaded. Five years, coincidentally, is also the amount of time it would probably take for me to catch up on all the anime that I’ve been meaning to review in this space if (a) every single anime producer, both in the U.S. and Japan, were to stop releasing anime at this very second, and (b) I watched anime 24/7/365. (And let’s not even think about the manga.)

I’m hoping that review situation improves this year. But before we move forward, let’s take a quick look back at some of the highlights from last year, captured by my trusty camera (and in some cases, my equally trusty smartphone). Some of these pictures have appeared in this space before. Others, I never got around to posting (curse you, real work getting in the way of fun work!). For remembering the year that was 2013, though, they’re fun jumping-off points.

Congratulation! A winner is you! (Jan. 12)

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The final edition of the Liliha Library Anime Art Contest culminated in an awards ceremony at the beginning of the year. Rachel Ruiz placed second in the grades 6-8 category with this piece, for which she won a lovely bag of prizes.

Meanwhile, at the back of the room where the awards ceremony was held, young adult librarian Linda Mediati set up a table with a pile of donated Shonen Jump issues, English and Japanese editions, free for the taking for anyone who wanted them.

Judging by how many Rachel carted off, you wouldn’t be too far off in saying she won twice that day.

The surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya (March 17)

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I’ve mentioned before in this space that I have an affinity for anything and everything related to the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise. So when Haruhi character designer Noizi Ito was announced as a guest for Kawaii Kon, I was ready to go to pretty much anything and everything at which she made an appearance. Hour-long live-drawing panel? Yes, please. Hour-long live-drawing panel where she draws Kawaii Kon mascots Ai-chan and Nami? Oh, yes, thank you very much. Hour-long live-drawing panel where she casually unveils the final cover for her newest Haruhi artbook for the first time anywhere? Oh, baby, yes.

And in case you’re wondering whether the book made it out to Japanese audiences: Yup.

Spartan assault on our hearts (March 17)

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This is the only shot in this collection that wasn’t taken by me, but by one of Kawaii Kon’s staff photographers, Zarli Win. (We’ll see more of him in the next picture.) From where I was standing during the Kawaii Kon Masquerade, my trusty-yet-lacking-in-low-light-situations camera couldn’t have gotten anything as good as this. Being there to soak up the mood was awesome, though: the announcement of the contestant, this little girl in her “Halo Kitty” outfit — a Halo Spartan suit embellished with Hello Kitty accessories — walking out on stage, the collective gasp in the audience giving way to squeals and applause and a barrage of flashbulbs going off around the room.

Wedded bliss (June 2)

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Tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Jandoc married longtime boyfriend Zarli Win in early June. It was a pretty big deal ’round these parts. Was it a ceremony that was full of Win? But of course.

Cait Sith, art guardian (June 18)

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As it has for the past few years, the Honolulu Museum of Art School’s second-floor gallery hosted MangaBento’s annual exhibit. The 2013 edition, “Tomo-E-Ame: Friends-Drawings-Candy,” featured anime-inspired art in a wide variety of media. Among the pieces was this doll of Cait Sith hand-sewn by Heidi Shimada that, when viewed at a certain angle, looked like it was gazing over the gallery.

A master immortalized (July 27)

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Cartoonist Dave Thorne — best known around these parts for his Sunday comic strip “Thorney’s Zoo” — may have died in 2012, but he left behind a body of work that remains beloved to this day. In July, several hundred people showed up for a celebration of life at Bay View Golf Park, with samples of his cartoons posted all over the clubhouse auditorium. One of the highlights was a “chalk talk,” with Alan Low narrating scenes from Dave’s life as Jon Murakami sketched on a giant pad of paper. The last drawing, done in advance: this. A fitting tribute to someone known as “the Yoda of Hawaii cartooning.”

Taku Taku dancing dancing (Aug. 25)

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Taku Taku Matsuri, spearheaded by Yuka C. Nagaoka, debuted in August with a summer festival at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu. Games were played, art was drawn, food and other collectibles were sold, cosplayers roamed the grounds and played a round of Cosplay Chess, and everyone had a good time.

True to her word in my interview with her, Yuka showed up in a bright red kimono. She even jumped on stage with some of the other cosplayers and danced to Psy’s “Gentleman.”

Crossing cosplay (Sept. 15)

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In September, Gallery Iolani on the Windward Community College campus hosted “Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii,” an exhibit tracing the history of manga and its influence on artists in the local community that was curated by Pen & Ink Works founder/Hachi Maru Hachi contributing artist Brady Evans. Brady also led a series of curator’s tours for four straight Sundays, where he’d talk about various exhibits … like these costumes of Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist and Teddie from Persona 4, part of the section talking about Kawaii Kon.

Oh yes, if you missed the exhibit, don’t worry: Brady’s already told me it’ll be returning in 2014. Details to come.

When “aloha” means goodbye (Sept. 17)

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Toys N Joys, known for years to a certain generation as the go-to place for anime merchandise, domestic and imported video games, closed its doors for the last time on Sept. 23 after a 30-year run in Kaimuki and a 25-year run at the Westridge Shopping Center in Aiea. This whiteboard, sitting in the same display window where toys, replica swords and Airsoft guns once sat in the Kaimuki store, served as a sounding board for some customers to pay their respects.

Angelic consultation (Oct. 2)

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The time between Oct. 1 and Nov. 3 was one of the busiest I’ve seen for the local fan community in quite some time. The month got off to a hot start with two events taking place on the same day: Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library, and Kawaii Kon’s Anime Day at Windward Mall. I thought I’d be the only one crazy dedicated enough to make the drive over the Koolaus and attend both events, but it turned out there was another trio: Guardian Angels Dana Aton and Susana Choy of Cosmic Koi, makers of black and white hand-detailed angels’ wings and plasma ear pieces like these, and their adorably adorable lolita-clad daughter, Bella. Here, Bella and Susana shared a moment together at Mini Con.

The Macross miracle (Nov. 2)

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Local anime convention Oni-Con Hawaii debuted this year, and while it had its share of problems, there were some fun times to be had as well. One of those fun times was at the “Filmmaking in Hawaii” panel, where Blood of the Samurai director Aaron Yamasato and Doko Ga TV host/“Japanmania — Sugoi!” blogger Pali Kaaihue talked about some of their projects.

But then came their Fabulous Swag Giveaway. Now, you have to realize that in the upcoming season of Doko Ga TV, Pali talked to some really cool people, including Masako Nozawa, the Japanese voice of Goku in Dragon Ball Z, and Yoko Kanno, composer of anime soundtracks that fill me with warm fuzzies like Cowboy Bebop, Kids on the Slope, Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex, Wolf’s Rain and some of the newer series in the Macross franchise. Accordingly, one of the items Pali gave away was something from Macross Frontier. The winner? Milton Streeter, former leader of the Japanese Animation Society of Hawaii and co-host of the “Anime Clubs in Hawaii” panel that took place immediately preceding this particular panel.

As you can see, he was a tad bit enthused.

The art of library talks (Nov. 6)

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I’m not sure how many times over the years that I’ve attended talks by nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi about the creative process that goes into her thrice-weekly online comic strip, but one thing’s remained constant: Those talks are always fascinating, and fledgling artists could learn quite a bit from them. These two girls certainly took advantage of the opportunity, practicing sketching on Audra’s tablet after an evening talk at Kapolei Library.

The Journey continues (Dec. 22)

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Journey of Heroes, the graphic novel recounting the story of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II, went into a second printing toward the end of the year, with the first public sale of those new books at the Honolulu Gift Fair in mid-December. That’s author Stacey Hayashi in the background … and behind the table in the foreground, helping her sell books and other merchandise chock full of chibi soldier goodness, was MidWeek cartoonist/Cacy and Kiara author Roy Chang.

And that was 2013 in a nutshell! 2014’s already getting off to a busy start with Comic Jam Hawaii returning to Pearlridge on Sunday (1-4 p.m.!) and the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s Ohana Festival on Jan. 19. Is another fun year loaded with plenty of pictures in store? You betcha.

Season of giving, season of sales

Isle-born Stan Sakai, creator of the comic book Usagi Yojimbo and longtime letterer for Groo the Wanderer, is highly regarded as one of the Really Nice Guys in the comic industry. Tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I found this out firsthand back in 2006, when we sent him a bunch of questions for a Kawaii Kon preview article and he sent back enough material to write that article, an online-exclusive supplement with his travel journal and artwork that ended up gracing our weekend section cover for our con coverage that year. He’s been a guest at two Kawaii Kons — 2006 and 2009 — and I’m sure anyone who sat in on one of his panels would agree that he’s quite an engaging fellow. Here’s a picture of him at Kawaii Kon ’09 with a sketch of Usagi, his most famous creation.

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What many people probably didn’t know, though, was that around two years before Stan’s first Kawaii Kon appearance, his wife, Sharon, had been diagnosed with a benign meningnoma brain tumor. And while radiation treatment and regular MRIs seemed to keep it in check in subsequent years, according to Stan, it started growing aggressively again in 2010.

The story since then, from Stan’s post to his Facebook page on Tuesday:

She has facial paralysis on the left side (everything happens on the left side). The paralysis includes her throat, vocal chords, and it has even deteriorated her neck bones. She had lost almost 40% of her body weight in a year. She is undergoing chemotherapy. Doctors don’t see any end in sight for this. There are complications because of the tumor, medications, or just coincidence–diabetes, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, compromised immune system. She has a tracheostomy tube for breathing and a G-tube connected to her stomach for a liquid diet. She can take nothing through her mouth. She is bed-bound, but we try to give her daily physical therapy–walking a couple hundred feet with a walker and/or sitting in a wheelchair.

She had been in the hospital and nurse care from April to September, but we are glad she is home. She requires 24 hour care, so daughter Hannah and her family moved in with us. This includes 18 month old grandson Leo, and another grandchild due in February/early March.

While there have been regular updates on Sharon’s condition on Stan’s page, friends and colleagues have largely shown their support by sharing their thoughts, prayers and well-wishes with the couple. Now, however, a more formal campaign to help pay for the mounting medical bills has emerged: CAPS, the Cartoon/Comic Art Professional Society, is organizing a charity art auction and is now soliciting donations from artists worldwide. The actual auction itself will be announced at a later date. Artists, you can find a form that you can download, fill out and send in with your contribution at www.garageartstudio.blogspot.com/2013/11/help-stan-sakai.html. If you aren’t artistically inclined but still want to donate to the cause … well, this part of the post was where I was supposed to write that you could go to that same Garage Art Studio post and donate via PayPal, but the link is broken at the moment. Stay tuned either here or to my Twitter feed for any further updates.

To Black Friday and beyond!

This special holiday shopping edition of the Ota-cool Incoming! calendar, spotlighting one special anime-themed shopping event and craft fairs where regular local anime con vendors like idkwhat2wear, Bit of Sugar and Team nemu*nemu, Audra Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga, will be selling stuff over the next few weeks, is unofficially brought to you by “Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday,” a classic nemu*nemu comic strip from 2009.

Can’t make it to any of these events? Vendor websites are linked in the paragraph above. It should be noted that nemu*nemu has their holiday sale running through Dec. 16 (might I recommend the $25 e-book bundle with all six volumes, freshly recolored volumes 2-4 and introductions by industry luminaries including a certain friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger?). Audra’s taking commission requests, to boot; I’ve always had to restrain myself from buying every single piece Audra’s ever drawn, so now’s your chance to have that very same conundrum of choosing what you want to buy. Meanwhile, over at idk’s site, you can only buy their shirts at the moment, but every order comes with two randomly chosen buttons.

BLACK_FRIDAY_FrontArt+Flea Presents “Totoro Black Friday”: The monthly “destination for creatives, by creatives” takes a Ghibli turn this month. Shop for one-of-a-kind handcrafted items from dozens of vendors. and celebrate the works of Hayao Miyazaki, to boot. Swing by the Photo Ops Hawaii photo booth or watch Andy Lee of Charisma Industries work his drawing magic live, too! Admission: $3, but you can take $1 off if you come dressed as your favorite Ghibli character and another $1 if you bring a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots. Fresh Cafe (831 Queen St.); 5-10 p.m. Friday.

27th Islandwide Christmas Crafts and Food Expo: With idkwhat2wear and Bit of Sugar. Admission: $4 general, $3 military families and seniors 65 and older, free for children 12 and under. Neal Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall; 4-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Hawaii United Okinawa Association Winter Craft Fair: With idkwhat2wear (yup, it’s a split-squad weekend for them!), the nemu*nemu crew and all the fresh-out-of-the-fryer andagi and other tasty Japanese treats that you can afford to eat. Admission: Free, but $5 will get you into the banquet hall (where idk and nemu*nemu are) 30 minutes before the formal opening time. Hawaii Okinawa Center (94-587 Ukee St., Waipio Gentry); 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

“An Evening in Waipio”: With idkwhat2wear. Think of it as like the Winter Craft Fair mentioned above — right down to the $5 early-bird offer — except in the dark of night. Hawaii Okinawa Center; 5:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 11.

Moanalua High School Winter Craft Fair: With idkwhat2wear, the nemu*nemu crew and Bit of Sugar. Admission is free, but bring your walking shoes if you’re not there at the crack of dawn waiting for parking, because you’ll probably be hiking from somewhere in the surrounding Salt Lake neighborhood. At the high school, 2825 Ala Ilima St.; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 14.

Honolulu Gift Fair: Stacey Hayashi, author of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team graphic novel Journey of Heroes (now heading into a second printing!), will be one of the vendors in attendance. Admission is free. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall; 3-9 p.m. Dec. 20, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 21 and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 22.

The Cel Shaded Report, 5/17: Rock the cosplay or comic vote

Ahhh, Anime Expo. Largest anime convention in the U.S., usually held Fourth of July weekend in Los Angeles, tons of people lining up for everything, enough that I’ll probably never go to it (Fanime’s probably the largest show I’ll ever willingly visit, thankyewverymuch … and after last year’s experience, even that is a bit iffy now).

This year is AX’s 22nd year, and along with the usual pre-con activities — guest announcements! Room expansions! Preregistration deals! — they’re currently hosting a cosplay photography contest on their Facebook page. The winner will receive $250 and a badge for AX 2014 and have their photo reprinted in the AX 2013 program guide, while the top 15 photos will be on display at this year’s convention.

Normally this wouldn’t be of much interest save for the hardest of hard-core AX devotees, but there’s a local angle to this contest: The fourth picture in the gallery was taken at Kawaii Kon, with a bunch of local cosplayers, in the Hawai’i Convention Center parking garage. Here’s the picture and the listed description:

Via the Anime Expo Facebook page. Click on the photo to jump over to Facebook and vote!

Photographer’s Name: Chris Kwock
Photo Title: Wolf Pack
Cosplay Model’s Name: Kim Mazyck, Jon Minami, Shaughnessy Birgado, Gina Maeda-Caluya, Anthony Ragil, Jolene Kanesaki
Character and series: Bertha, Beltway, Spectre, Lupo, Vector, Four Eyes / Resident Evil

As of Thursday night, when I was writing this post, Team Wolf Pack was running in 11th place with 251 votes — 15 behind Kirito & Silica from Sword Art Online in 10th, 24 ahead of the Onceler from The Lorax. Now, I freely admit that this blog can’t muster up enough votes to push Team Wolf Pack into the top spot, with this Diablo 3 Demon Hunter already at 1,241 votes. We have only a few dozen loyal readers, plus I’ve had experience pushing for something in the past, only to have it fall way, way, way, way, waaaaaaaay short of its goal. But if this post can help nudge our local cosplayers up a space, I’ve done my job.

To vote, just go to the contest page on Facebook — I’ve direct-linked the photo above to their page, or you can click here — and “like” it. You have until May 22 to vote, so have at it.

Phantom Ice Cream truckMeanwhile, over in the world of kids’ comics, Audra Furuichi’s nemu*nemu is up for a pair of awards in the 2013 Kids Comic Revolution comic awards: “Favorite Webcomic” and “Special Award for Excellence in Drawing Delicious-Looking Food” (the latter for the Phantom Ice Cream Truck strip in February 2012). Babymouse and Squish artist Matthew Holm — in town a few months ago as a guest at McCully-Moiliili Library — is also up for a few awards, including “Favorite Graphic Novel” (for Squish volume 4), “Favorite Cartoonist/Author” (with his sister Jennifer) and “Cutest Comic Character” (Babymouse).

Now, I would say to go out and vote for Audra and Matt just as I voted for them, but there’s just one small problem: I’m not a kid. Perhaps my mental age is such, what with all these anime and manga and video games and other firmly-young-adult material surrounding me at the moment, but physically, I haven’t been a kid in years. And that’s the thing: The Kids Comic Revolution awards can only be voted on by kids. And I’m not sure if anyone regularly reading this blog — save, perhaps, the librarian faction — has access to anyone in that valuable voter demographic. But if you do know any kids, send them over to mlatcomics.com/krc/kcrawards13 to vote. You can also find a PDF version of the ballot there, which you can fill out and mail in; details on where to send it are available on the site.

Poppy Hill: The saga continues

poppy hill newYup, From Up on Poppy Hill is still here, screening for a sixth week at the Kahala 8 theaters and a second at the Koolau Stadium 10. The question is whether you’ll be able to see it in Japanese; your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger tried on Wednesday, visiting both the Koolau theaters and the Laie Palms Cinemas, and the net result is that he has now seen it four times in English. It’s probably a good thing that Anime News Network reported on Thursday that Amazon has listings for DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo packs from Cinedigm, the home video branch of Poppy Hill distributor GKids. (Main takeaways: Release date is Sept. 3; retail price is $29.95 for the DVD, $34.95 for the combo pack, but you can save 30 percent by preordering now; and if you’re a Blu-ray guy or gal, while you’re at it, why not throw in orders for Howl’s Moving Castle and My Neighbor Totoro, out on Tuesday.)

On the bright side, watching it that many times, one starts noticing certain subtle things about the movie. More details on that after the weekend.

Fandango showtimes!

Kahala
Friday-Saturday: 11:45 a.m.
Sunday: 12:30 p.m.
Monday-Wednesday: Noon

Koolau Stadium 10
Friday-Wednesday: 11:05 a.m. and 1:05 and 3:20 p.m.

And as always, you can buy your tickets in advance here.

Ota-cool incoming!

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.

Anime Manga Society at UH-Manoa: Meetings during Summer Session 1 are every Friday starting May 24 through June 28. in Kuykendall Hall, room 306. Screenings TBA. 5:30 to 7 p.m.

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., room 200). Visit www.manga-bento.com. Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. May 26.

Tomo-E-Ame: Friends-Drawings-Candy: We’re now in the submissions period for MangaBento’s 2013 exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, with 2-D piece that are 11 inches by 17 inches or smaller now being accepted during MangaBento meetings. Larger 2-D pieces and art in other media will be accepted on June 9 in the art school’s mezzanine gallery. As for the exhibit itself? That’s June 16-July 14.

Summer Reading Program at public libraries: Register. Read books. Win prizes. Yay! I’m pretty sure more details will emerge about special programs at the various branches in coming days, but if I may just offer this initial thought: McCully-Moiliili branch manager Hillary Chang’s already claimed the prize for coolest regular Summer Reading Program incentive EVER. LOOK AT THESE:

mccully exclusive buttons

Five nemu*nemu pins. Exclusive designs. Exclusively at McCully-Moiliili. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant. General program runs June 2-July 6, with registration beginning May 28; check your local library for exact dates.

Future attractions

Taku Taku Matsuri: A summer festival with an anime/manga slant at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu. Aug. 25.

Oni-Con Hawaii: With guest Yuko Ashizawa, a fashion designer with Atelier Pierrot. Also featuring the Cosplay Chess Brigade and Yu x Me Maid Cafe & Host Club. Preregistration open now; $35 for a three-day pass. Artist Alley applications also being accepted (it’s $110 per table, which includes two three-day passes). Hawai’i Convention Center, Nov. 1-3.

Kawaii Kon 2014: Guests include voice actors Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh. Preregistration open now; $37 for a three-day pass for children ages 5-12, $42 general admission. Hawai’i Convention Center, April 4-6, 2014.

The Cel Shaded Report, 4/26: Shirt tales

One of the things I was sadly negligent in talking about in this space in the past few weeks was the nemu*nemu custom Gelaskins order that Kimonokitsy Studios — artist Audra Furuichi and husband Scott Yoshinaga — was running. I actually bought a few — some for technology I don’t even have yet, but which I’m planning to buy in the next few weeks! — and threw one of ’em on when it arrived earlier this week, and then … well, if you saw what happened over on Facebook when the nemu*nemu plushie foursome arrived at the office, you can kinda guess what happened next.

Yes, Anpan and Nemu got their paws on a Gelaskinned Nintendo DSi XL.

Anpan & Nemu with DSi XL

Anpan & Nemu with DSi XL-interior

And yes, that’s the camera app that they’re playing with. Here’s the proof from their perspective.

Heyos!

… and yes, I am such a dork for taking the time to take pictures like this. But that’s okay. My inner child and I have been BFFs for … well, pretty much my entire otaku journalism career.

The reason I bring up this story is because Audra and Scott are gathering orders for another custom print job — not Gelaskins this time, but Spreadshirt T-shirts. That design above, their “7th Anniversary” style? That’s the newest design to be added to a stack that also includes King of Pizza Anpan, Danish Donut King Nemu and Galaxy Explorer Enchilada. Those join several other online-exclusive designs in a variety of colors, in styles for men, women, children and toddlers. So you definitely have options.

Group orders will be accepted through May 3; visit ow.ly/ksUwn for details on how to order. In case you’re reading this post after May 3, you can order directly at nemunemu.spreadshirt.com.

The last days of ‘Poppy Hill’

New movie poster image! This is hanging in the hallway outside the Kahala 8 Theaters. And yes, that really IS a "Coming Soon" sign underneath. Even though, y'know, it's been playing for almost a week now.I’ve been talking about From Up on Poppy Hill for several weeks now, encouraging people to go out and see it before, well, they can’t, considering the only legitimate home video option for the film to date is a Region 2 DVD with English subtitles, currently selling for about $47 on CDJapan. (Then again, considering how much Aniplex USA wants $89.98 for the Madoka Magica movies on Blu-ray at Right Stuf and Namco Bandai wants $54.99 for each one of three Idolm@ster games on iOS, perhaps that’s a relative bargain.)

We’re heading into week 4 of Poppy Hill screenings at the Kahala 8 theaters, and given the sharp cutback in the number of screenings, I feel fairly confident in saying that these will probably be your last chances of seeing this movie for a while. There are only 14 screenings over the week — less than half the number we saw these past three weeks — and if you were hoping to catch it at night, it looks like you’ve missed that opportunity.

Courtesy of Fandango, here are the showtimes:

Today and Saturday: 10:30 a.m. and 12:40 p.m.
Sunday: 12:40 p.m.
Monday through Thursday: 12:30 a.m. and 2:40 p.m.

As usual, here’s your online ticket link. I’m running a bit short on time in writing this post, so my full reflections on Poppy Hill and where it stands in the grand Ghibli canon are going to have to wait a few days. They are coming soon, though! (I hope, anyway. If office workloads are favorable. Fingers crossed.)

Ota-cool incoming!

Monster Drawing Workshop: April has been the month to learn how to design your own manga characters (courtesy of Hachi Maru Hachi artist Tara Tamayori) and how to add manga faces to them (courtesy of MangaBento). To put a neat little bow on things, perhaps you’d like to learn how to create your own monsters to harass your manga creations (or befriend them, because hey, it’s your story)? Comic Jam Hawaii has you covered in this free workshop at Aiea Library. Paper, pencils and crayons will be provided, or bring your own art supplies if you wish. Recommended for ages 8 and older. 1 to 3:30 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., room 200). Visit www.manga-bento.com. Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Anime Manga Society at UH-Manoa: Meets every Thursday and Friday in Kuykendall Hall, room 305. Catch Cyborg 009, Kuroko no Basket and Hanasaku Iroha on Thursdays, or Magi, Psycho Pass and Toriko on Fridays. Social time/announcements 4:30 p.m.: screenings 5 to 7 p.m.

Free Comic Book Day: The name pretty much says it all. Full details coming in next week’s Cel Shaded Report, but for now, let’s just say that there will be costumed characters aplenty, possibly at a library near you. May 4.

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. May 5.

Future attractions

Maui Matsuri: Annual Japanese festival held on the University of Hawaii-Maui College campus. May 11.

Tomo-E-Ame: Friends-Drawings-Candy: MangaBento’s 2013 exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, June 16-July 14.

Taku Taku Matsuri: A summer festival with an anime/manga slant at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu. Aug. 25.

Oni-Con Hawaii: With guest Yuko Ashizawa, a fashion designer with Atelier Pierrot. Also featuring the Cosplay Chess Brigade and Yu x Me Maid Cafe & Host Club. Preregistration open now; $35 for a three-day pass. Hawai’i Convention Center, Nov. 1-3.

Kawaii Kon 2014: Guests include voice actors Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh. Preregistration opens Wednesday. Hawai’i Convention Center, April 4-6, 2014.

The Cel Shaded Report, 1/26: Catalog of cute

Hi! You’ve reached the desk of Jason S. Yadao, anime/manga/cartooning blogger for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Jason is currently away wrapping his head around the scholarly treatise that is Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek Across the Pacific, the book by UH-Manoa anthropology department chairwoman Christine R. Yano due out from Duke University Press this April, and is not able to produce a formal Cel Shaded Report at this time. (Nor will he be able to produce an entry for this month’s Manga Movable Feast on the works of Moyoco Anno, for that matter, although he would certainly encourage you to go check it out.)

In lieu of a formal Cel Shaded Report, Jason would like to highlight the work of someone else who’s on a hiatus of sorts: Audra Furuichi, who’s taking a month-long break from drawing cute plush pup online comic nemu*nemu to regroup and is instead composing lovely 4×6 watercolors of whatever catches her fancy and posting them to the site, whether it be classic characters like Red Riding Hood …

Red Riding Hood

… more modern pop culture like Celes from Final Fantasy VI or Adventure Time’s Flame Princess …

Flame Princess and Celes

… or her own characters like Mayer and Mackenzie from Pizza Hero, from the Henshin Rider/Yellow Jacket story arc.

Meyer and Mackenzie

All of these originals — and more! — are available for sale at the Nemu Shop, where Audra’s using the proceeds to pay for her lone out-of-state nemu*nemu trip for this year, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival in May. New pieces are being added regularly (and prices were recently cut on what’s been posted, too!) so Jason encourages you to check it out.

After all of that, if you would still like to leave a message, please do so at the beep. However, it is recommended that you not make any references to certain footwear, headphones, designer handbags, music players and/or pharmaceutical aids, as they will be marked as “spam” and disposed of accordingly.

*beeeeeeeeep*

The great calendar of otakudom

Otaku Fair at Shirokiya: Hosted by Hakubundo Bookstore with volunteers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa Anime Manga Society. Pick up art books, Japanese-language manga, posters and assorted character goods. Through Sunday.

Aiea Library Anime Club: This month, librarian Diane Masaki is screening the always popular Black Butler. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. today at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road.

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

Open Cosplay Shoot: Got a lovely costume that you want to show off and want to capture it on film … err, pixels? (The digital era: changing the way we think about things since time immemorial.) Come on out to the first large-scale open cosplay shoot of the year at the Aiea Loop Trail. Cosplayers and photographers, meet at the first restroom at the head of the trail, and go from there. Happy cosplaying/shooting! 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 2.

Madoka Magica double feature: Watch the magical girl saga unfold in one big four-hour, two-film chunk comprising Beginnings and Eternal, Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Tickets are $20 general admission, $18 museum members. Visit http://www.honolulumuseum.org/events/films/13340-puella_magi_madoka_magica_parts_1_2 4 p.m. Feb. 27 and 28.