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)


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)


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)


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)


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)


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)


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)


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)


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)

Test caption goes here.

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)


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)


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)


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)


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.

[Kawaii Kon 2013] The surprise cover debut of Noizi Ito

It was a no-brainer that I’d be attending the live-drawing panel of Noizi Ito, the Haruhi Suzumiya and Shana character designer who’s been the target of fanboy squeeing in this space as well as KYAAAAAH~!ing at opening ceremonies. She certainly didn’t disappoint, drawing pictures of Kawaii Kon mascots Ai-chan and Nami during the hour-long panel.

This one's Ai-chan!


I’ll post a gallery showcasing more of Ito’s drawing process sometime in the (hopefully) near future. It’s rare that Ito does hand-drawn stuff in the first place; she usually works in digital media. (The Ai-chan piece would later sell at the Art Auction for the minimum bid of $750.)

But the real surprise in the panel came in the last five minutes, when translator Lisle Wilkerson started talking about a new book of Ito’s Haruhi Suzumiya-related illustrations being released May 1 in Japan and Ito took out … this.


An audible gasp could be heard from the crowd when the color page proof popped up on the screen.

“She is just putting in the final touches on this project, on this book,” Wilkerson said. “In fact, you guys are the first — at this convention — the first to ever see the final draft of the cover.”

She paused to chat with Ito in Japanese.

“In Japan, the three girls, that part has already been seen,” Wilkerson said. “But here we see the two boys and also Shamisen, the cute little cat. This has just been added, so people in Japan have not yet seen this.”

Applause followed, and the panel ended a little while later.

There’s just something thrilling about being in an audience when something’s revealed to the world for the first time. The fact that it was something associated with one of my favorite franchises made it all the more special.

Holiday weekend? Not for anime con news!

Look! It's a new, not-Kawaii Kon-logo image to illustrate this story! It's the con's limited-edition pin for 2013, to be exact. Via the Kawaii Kon Instagram feed.)It took less than 24 hours for my attention to shift from Oni-Con Hawaii’s debut back to Kawaii Kon with the convention’s unveiling of this year’s events schedule, which is always a fascinating read for an anime blogger getting ready to run back and forth between the Ala Moana Hotel and the Hawai’i Convention Center for four days. Download your copy at goo.gl/PBeoJ. Standard disclaimers apply — schedule subject to change, keep checking back for any changes between now and March 15, consult the official program that you’ll receive at the convention as well as the vast Kawaii Kon social media network for the most up-to-date information.

Two of the panels also tie in to announcements made in the past few days. Noizi Ito — the artist over whom I FANBOY SQUEEEEE~~~~~d over a few weeks ago, will be hosting an art portfolio review from 3 to 4 p.m. March 15 in Panel Room 3, and applications are now being accepted to be one of the three artists whose work she’ll review. Just email events@kawaii-kon.org by Friday and await further instructions.

The second panel — “Vocaloids Live,” from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. March 17 in the Main Events room — will bring those popular virtual idols to life in a concert at Kawaii Kon for the first time, courtesy of a fan group from Japan. Refresh your memory on how the technology works with my earlier post on DJ Livetune and Hatsune Miku.

I’ve been told that more detailed panel descriptions are coming soon, but here are a few other quick observations for now:

  • The Kawaii Lounge, the new panel room at the Ala Moana Hotel that I’ve talked about in the past, is coming into play much more than I originally thought. Not only is there the late-night programming that I talked about, there are daytime and evening panels being held there as well throughout the convention, making it the convention’s fifth panel room.
  • The anime industry will be represented with panels by Crunchyroll (11 a.m-noon March 15, Panel Room 1); Aniplex of America (1-2 p.m. March 16, Panel Room 2) and Sentai Filmworks (1:30-2:30 p.m. March 16, Panel Room 3).
  • Panels featuring groups and/or individuals I’ve been following here in Otaku Ohana include the Visual Kei Dark Castle panel (11 p.m. to midnight March 15, Main Events); “Yume no Teien Host Club” (hosted by Yu x Me Maid Cafe & Host Club, 4-5 p.m. March 16, Ballroom); a nemu*nemu panel (1-2 p.m. March 17, Panel Room 3); and “Otaku Pictionary” (hosted by MangaBento, 4-5 p.m. March 17, Kawaii Lounge).
  • And the “Best Title for a Panel That Really Makes You Wonder What It’s About” award goes to … “Kawaii Kon Trail: You Have Died of Dysentery,” happening in the Kawaii Lounge from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m.March 16.

In other con news, fans of the Johnny Yong Bosch-led band Eyeshine will want to keep an eye on the Kawaii Kon Facebook page on Monday, as the convention is promising to post a link for tickets to the band’s pre-con gig at the Oceanic Time Warner Cable VIP Music Hall at Dole Cannery (650 Iwilei Road, suite 400). Buying a ticket will grant access to the band for autographs, first crack at buying their new album, and (for preregistered con attendees) a chance to avoid the lines and pick up badges and programs early. You’ll want to get on that quickly, though, as only 35 tickets will be available. (Update 2/18, 7:30 a.m.: Here’s the ticket sale link. Concert starts at 8 p.m. March 14. Good luck.)

The Cel Shaded Report, 1/19: Noizi Ito? FANBOY SQUEEEEEEEE~~~

Yep, Noizi Ito designed all of these characters. Taken in front of the New People complex in San Francisco's Japantown district in May 2010, when this movie was playing there and I actually had thoughts of reviewing it. (Never did.)Last week, while I was in the middle of working on assorted posts related to the Liliha Library Anime Art Contest (and yes, part 3, featuring pictures from the awards ceremony last Saturday, is still coming — probably in the next week or so), Kawaii Kon made one of the most awesomest guest announcements EVER.

You’ll have to excuse me for dropping any veneer of journalistic objectivity in favor of pure fanboyish glee, because that announcement just happens to involve Noizi Ito, illustrator and character designer for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Ito also did the character designs for Shakugan no Shana, but OMG WHO CARES THIS IS THE WOMAN WHO CAME UP WITH THE LOOKS OF HARUHI, MIKURU, YUKI, KYON AND EVERYONE ELSE IN THAT SERIES. The few dozen of you who’ve stuck around to read this blog regularly know that I have a thing for anything related to Haruhi and will mention that fondness in this space pretty much every chance I get. (It’s been just as much of a running punchline here as, you know, that book.) I love how recognizably distinct she made each of the characters look in that series. This will be Ito’s second American anime con appearance; her first was at Sakura-con in Seattle in 2010.

Here’s a “Drawing With Wacom” video of her in action.

Ito joins voice actors Johnny Yong Bosch (who’ll also be bringing his band, Eyeshine), Todd Haberkorn, Colleen Clinkenbeard and Lisle Wilkerson as guests for this year’s show, scheduled for March 15-17 at the Hawai’i Convention Center. To register, visit kawaiikon2013.eventbrite.com.

I should also note that the Kawaii Kon room rates at the Ala Moana Hotel for this year have been posted, and they’re quite favorable: $125 per night in the Kona Tower, $149 in the Waikiki Tower. The lowest kamaaina rates you’ll get on the hotel’s website at the moment by contrast are $165 Kona, $195 Waikiki, so that’s quite the deal, I must say. You can find a reservation link at www.kawaii-kon.org/hotel/

The great calendar of otakudom

A bit delayed this week — blame a combination of “mental health preservation holiday”-related lethargy and the usual big horking pile of stories to copy-edit and/or lay out at work — so some of these events may either be going on right now or be finished by the time you read this.

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.  (I swung by there on Wednesday, and it looked like there were a lot of things related to One Piece, Dragon Quest slimes and Hatsune Miku.) Now through Jan. 27.

Aiea Library book sale: Book sales are really a media treasure hunt — you never know what you’re going to find. There could be an out-of-print manga volume that you need to complete your collection, or a Pokemon strategy guide in Japanese, or something completely different that you totally want right now. Find your passions here. Presented by the Friends of the Aiea Library and the Aiea Community Association at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. today.

“Friends, Books, Music … The Sale!”: You know all that stuff I wrote about the Aiea Library sale above? Apply it to this sale, presented by the Friends of the Library of Hawaii, except on a waaaaaaay bigger scale. Visit the Friends’ warehouse in Kakaako, which is ewa (west) of the UH medical school; just go makai (south) on either Forrest Avenue or Keawe Street to the end, and you’ll be there. Visit www.friendsofthelibraryofhawaii.org. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Sunday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday.

Aiea Library Anime Club: This month, librarian Diane Masaki is screening the always popular Black Butler, which beat out Summer Wars in a fan poll. (Quick blogger commentary: Don’t get me wrong, I love Black Butler, but over Summer Wars? Are you kidding me? Boo, you heathens. Boooooo.) For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. next Saturday 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. Jan. 27.

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.