Manga through our eyes: The Art Museum talks

The Honolulu Museum of Art’s Stephen Salel, left, leads a panel discussion with artists Audra Furuichi, Jamie Lynn Lano and Brady Evans; Kawaii Kon senior administrator Roy Bann; and some dorky blogger boy who probably should’ve moved his chair closer so he could see better. Photo by Diane Masaki.

On Oct. 7, your friendly neighborhood otaku blogger joined artists Brady Evans, Audra Furuichi and Jamie Lynn Lano, as well as Kawaii Kon senior administrator Roy “Buma” Bann, for “Manga in Japan, Hawai‘i, and Throughout the World,” a series of short lectures and a roundtable discussion at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Hosted by Stephen Salel, the museum’s Japanese art curator, the event was held in conjunction with the ongoing exhibit “Visions of Gothic Angels: Japanese Manga by Takaya Miou,” on display through Jan. 15.

A handful of people showed up. Some weren’t even friends or spouses of the speakers! And whoever was there learned a fair amount about manga and our perspectives on the industry. (As far as I could tell, no one fell asleep during the presentations, which was also a big plus.) Thanks to everyone who turned out!

But maybe 4 p.m. on a Friday didn’t really fit into your schedule. It’s OK; we have you covered. I’m pleased to announce that about 90 percent of the day’s presentations have now been posted on YouTube. Sadly, Stephen told me this morning that the other 10 percent — that closing discussion, a picture of which is shown above — isn’t available due to some serious audio problems.

My presentation predominantly features my slides, which is probably a good thing, considering I was kinda squinting and tearing up during a good chunk of it. (It was probably a combination of nerves and some wayward dust particles.) The videos are conveniently broken up by speaker.


Part 1: Introduction by Stephen Salel
Part 2: “The Origin of Manga” by Stephen Salel
Part 3: “What is Manga?” by Audra Furuichi
Part 4: “Working as a Manga Artist in Japan” by Jamie Lynn Lano
Part 5: “Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of the Manga Industry in the U.S.” by me!
Part 6: “Organizing Manga and Anime Conventions in Hawaii” by Roy Bann
Part 7: “Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii” by Brady Evans

Summit of the manga mega-minds

This edition of Otaku Ohana is brought to you by two pens, an apple and a pineapple.

Because if I have to write this post about all the otaku activities going on at the Honolulu Museum of Art this month while I’m thinking about how there’s an pen, and there’s an apple, and UNH, now there’s an APPLE PEN, then I’m sure as heck going to have you, dear reader, stuck with that thought, too.

(It could’ve been worse. The Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction left me with the earworm of Pentatonix’s “Perfume Medley” during all of HawaiiCon a few weeks ago. You try walking anywhere having “Spending all, spending, spending all my time / Loving you, loving you foreeeever” lodged in your, lodged in your brain foreeeever.)

Even the exhibit entrance sign looks pretty. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Even the exhibit entrance sign looks pretty. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

But I digress. There’s a lot going on at the art museum, and much of it is tied in with a major manga exhibit: “Visions of Gothic Angels: Japanese Manga by Takaya Miou.” The exhibit, ongoing through Jan. 15, is curated by Stephen Salel, the man who also assembled “Modern Love: 20th-Century Japanese Erotic Art,” the 2014-15 exhibit that brought manga artists Erica Sakurazawa and Moyoco Anno to Honolulu. From the exhibit description:

Takaya’s artwork explores themes of femininity and female identity through fantastic imagery originating from a wide variety of artistic traditions: Italian Renaissance portraits of Christian martyrs, the intricate Art Nouveau style of British illustrator Aubrey Beardsley (1872–1898), the surreal puppets of German sculptor Hans Bellmer (1902–1975), and the whimsical street fashion of Harajuku district in Tokyo.

In addition to an overview of the artist’s 25-year career, Visions of Gothic Angels: Japanese Manga by Takaya Miou focuses upon two anthologies, The Madness of Heaven (Tengoku kyō, 2001) and Map of Sacred Pain (Seishō-zu, 2001). Illustrations and short stories from these publications will be presented in a variety of formats: original drawings, printed books (tankobon), large-scale wall graphics, and digital works that visitors can read from cover to cover on iPads installed in the gallery.

Here are a few shots I took at the opening night reception in August that give you an impression of how it all looks.

Here's the entrance to the exhibit. On the near wall, you can see some of Takaya's art; the far wall contains several of her manga pages. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Here’s the entrance to the exhibit. On the near wall, you can see some of Takaya’s art; the far wall contains several of her manga pages. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
An entire wall is devoted to displaying doujinshi Takaya has published over the years. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
An entire wall is devoted to displaying doujinshi Takaya has published over the years. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
"After a Poem by Tsukamoto Kunio" (1998) is one of Takaya's works on display. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
“After a Poem by Tsukamoto Kunio” (1998) is one of Takaya’s works on display. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

While Takaya won’t be appearing at the museum during the exhibit’s run — I understand she’s quite reclusive — there are those aforementioned events that the museum’s hosting. I was too busy to mention anything about last Saturday’s screening of Miss Hokusai, but here are some pictures an attendee, who wished to be identified as “fuzZz 😸,” passed along to me.

Artists hard at work at a reception held before the screening of "Miss Hokusai" Oct. 1. From left are Jon Murakami (with FIGHTING SPIRIT HEADBAND~!), Michael Cannon, Kaci Horimoto and Tara Tamayori.
Artists hard at work at a reception held before the screening of “Miss Hokusai” Oct. 1. From left are Jon Murakami (with FIGHTING SPIRIT HEADBAND~!), Michael Cannon, Kaci Horimoto and Tara Tamayori.
A fan drawn by Kaci Horimoto. It sold at silent auction for $50. (A certain blogger dork may have bid on it via proxy and won it.)
A fan drawn by Kaci Horimoto. It sold at silent auction for $50. (A certain blogger dork may have bid on it via proxy and won it.)
One of the fans drawn by Michael Cannon.
One of the fans drawn by Michael Cannon.

From 4 to 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Doris Duke Theatre, there’s going to be a roundtable discussion, “Manga in Japan, Hawai‘i, and Throughout the World,” featuring artists Brady Evans, Audra Furuichi and Jamie Lynn Lano; Kawaii Kon senior administrator Roy “Buma” Bann, and some friendly neighborhood anime/manga/comic blogger dork who may be revealing some big news about the future of Otaku Ohana during his portion of the discussion. (It’s pretty exciting!) Come get a quick primer on the industry, learn about where we draw our inspirations from, and hear why 60% of the panel adores homespun slice-of-life comedies.

Another lecture at 4 p.m. Oct. 28 will feature Bento Box artist, former curator and all-around U.S. manga community sempai Deb Aoki. In her talk, “Making a Living in Manga: Bento Box and Beyond,” she’ll discuss her artistic career, how she got interested in manga and the struggles of contemporary manga creators. Both her talk and our panel discussion are free. so swing by, enrich your manga fandom a bit and avoid a good chunk of what’s bound to be horrible afternoon rush-hour traffic.

Last but certainly not least, there’s the ongoing Japanese Cinema spotlight, which I’ve talked about in this space before (along with several other movies that are coming up in the next few weeks!). As a reminder, here are the remaining anime on the schedule, featuring a tribute to late director Satoshi Kon:

>> Tekkonkinkreet, 1 and 7:30 p.m. today

>> 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 are $10 general admission, $8 museum members.

The art museum and theater are located at 900 S. Beretania St.; admission to the museum is $10, with free admission every first Wednesday and third Sunday of every month. For more information, visit

The week in panels and portals

Good news, everyone: The “Made in Japan, Loved in Hawaii” panel, which I talked about in my last post, went off without a hitch. Roy Bann, Brady Evans, Audra Furuichi, Jon Murakami and I talked about anime and tokusatsu series for a little over two hours, more people were sitting in the audience than were on the panel, and I didn’t die of embarrassment afterward. Victories all around! Thank you to all of you who came to visit, even if you stayed for just a little while.

Since I was sitting on the panel and couldn’t exactly take pictures of myself, I’ve been relying on what panel attendees have posted and shared with me to see what we looked like up there. Friend/coworker/Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker reviewer Christina Chun sent along a few pictures; here are me and Audra …

… Jon and Brady …

… and Roy, who served as panel moderator.

Here’s a full shot of the panel table taken by cartoonist Roy Chang.

And here’s a shot of all five of us after the panel, taken using the official Otaku Ohana Camera of Record by McCully/Moiliili Library branch manager Hillary Chang.

In case you missed it or weren’t able to stay for the whole thing, not to worry: I recorded the whole thing, and the slides we used — created through Prezi, an online app — are publicly available for viewing. You can download the audio file (a 121 MB download via Google Drive) at, while the slides are available at Find a comfortable seat, follow along and enjoy; I hope the audio’s okay throughout. (I haven’t had a chance to listen through the whole thing yet, although the portions I’ve heard sound pretty good.)

This week — Thursday at 6:30 p.m., to be exact — I’ll be out at Aiea Library to help my Enlightened teammates take over the library portal yet again chime in where needed with a presentation on Ingress, the massively multiplayer augmented reality mobile online game profiled in our paper (subscription required to view) a few weeks ago. (As our writer, Steven Mark, put it, it’s like “‘Capture the Flag’ for tech geeks,” using area landmarks as capture points, or “portals.”) Heck, the person who set up this panel in the first place, Aiea Library young adult librarian Diane Masaki, was front and center and pretty much became The Face of Hawaii Ingress ™ in the picture on the Today section cover:

That’s her in the black shirt in the front row.

Here’s the official panel description:

The world around you is not what it seems. It’s happening all around you. They aren’t coming. They’re already here.

Our future is at stake. And you must choose a side. A mysterious energy has been unearthed by a team of scientists in Europe. The origin and purpose of this force is unknown, but some researchers believe it is influencing the way we think. We must control it or it will control us.

“The Enlightened” seek to embrace the power that this energy may bestow upon us. “The Resistance” struggle to defend, and protect what’s left of our humanity.

Find out what it’s all about during Teen Tech Week!

Also significant: It’s the last public program at the current library location (99-143 Moanalua Road) before they pull up stakes and head to their new building on the site of the former Aiea Sugar Mill. So if you’ve ever been curious about the game or some of those Ingress-related jokes that I’ve increasingly been including in this blog, come on out. We’d love to see you.

‘Made in Japan, Loved in Hawaii,’ chatted up by yours truly

Honolulu Festival logoIt’s Honolulu Festival time this weekend, which means it’s time for all of the usual accoutrements that come with the annual celebration of Asian and Pacific Rim culture, including:

  • Entertainment on stages at the Hawai’i Convention Center, Ala Moana Center and Waikiki Beach Walk (here’s a schedule!)
  • A display of mikoshi, decorative floats unique to various prefectures of Japan that are hoisted by celebrants during festivals and parades
  • A craft fair, children’s games in the Ennichi Corner, and the Anime Corner with Kawaii Kon, MangaBento and representatives from the Doraemon exhibit at the convention center
  • The Grand Parade down Kalakaua Avenue Sunday afternoon
  • A spectacular fireworks display Sunday night
  • Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger talkin’ anime during a Saturday afternoon panel WAIT WHAT

Indeed, for this 20th anniversary edition of the festival, I’m going to be part of a panel hosted by Kawaii Kon at the convention center: “Made in Japan, Loved in Hawaii,” a talk-story session exploring the history of local fandom from the days of Astro Boy in the ’60s to the present day and beyond. Joining me as hosts for this journey:

We’ll be talking about various anime, manga and tokusatsu series that have shaped our work and our lives. I’ve been told that we have two hours to fill, so we hope to make it worth your while. You have options for where you could be spending your Saturday afternoon, after all; why not spend it with us, in air-conditioned comfort, learning about stuff in slides with content like this?

We’ll be in Room 301AB starting at 1 p.m. Saturday. Keep in mind that most of the festival activities are taking place on the ground level of the convention center, so you’re going to want to make your way up some set of escalators, whether from that level or the second-floor parking garage. Just branch left once you get off those escalators; the room’s just beyond the restrooms. Here, have a map.


Hope to see you there. And if you’re on Facebook, let us know you’re coming on the panel event page; it’s not mandatory that you do so, but I’d just like to know how much I should freak out over how many people show up. It’s my first formal panel-speaking gig, after all (that Oni-Con Ingress panel doesn’t count).

This week in The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises promotional poster (courtesy Disney)The Oscars have come and gone, Frozen holds the statue for Best Animated Feature 2014, and Hayao Miyazaki’s latest, last film finished out of the top 10 at the box office last week. Seems like a recipe for a gradual bow-out from theaters; I’m already seeing a drop-off in screenings at Consolidated’s Pearlridge, Kapolei and Kaahumanu locations and Regal’s Windward Stadium theaters. On the bright side, owing to its head start of a week over the other theaters, Consolidated Ward will accept GMT passes for screenings starting Friday.

Consolidated Ward: Sub 1:40, 7:30 and 10:25 p.m. daily; dub 10:45 a.m. and 4:35 p.m. daily

Consolidated Mililani (dub only): Friday-Sunday 11:10 a.m. and 1:55, 4:45. 7:40 and 10:25 p.m.; Monday-Thursday 12:45, 3:40, 7 and 9:50 p.m.

Consolidated Pearlridge: Daily sub 3:15 and 9:15 p.m., dub 6:15 p.m.

Consolidated Kapolei (dub only): Friday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.; daily 1:10, 3:50 and 6:30 p.m.

Consolidated Kahala: Friday-Saturday sub 4:10 and 9:50 p.m., dub 10:30 a.m. and 1:20 and 7 p.m.; Sunday sub 4:10 p.m., dub 1:20 and 7 p.m.; Monday-Thursday sub 7 p.m., dub 1 and 3:55 p.m.

Consolidated Kaahumanu (Maui): Sub daily 12:45 and 3:30 p.m.; dub Friday-Saturday 10 a.m, daily 6:15 p.m.

Regal Windward Stadium: 6:20 and 9:20 p.m. daily through Wednesday

Regal Dole Cannery: Friday-Sunday 11 a.m. and 1:50, 4:40, 7:35 and 10:35 p.m.; Monday-Wednesday 12:35, 3:55, 7:35 and 10:30 p.m.

13 for ’13: The Liliha Library Anime Art Contest winners

Last time in Otaku Ohana: This was happening.

OK, this picture was actually after we had already figured out who won and were trying to figure out what we liked about each of the winners. But it DOES look like we're still evaluating the pieces, right?

That’s Kawaii Kon senior administrator Roy Bann on the left, nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi on the right. Behind the camera taking this picture was your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger. And the three of us were busy picking winners for the 2012 Liliha Library Anime Art Contest … which, as we established in the last post, would be the last one.

A comment from Audra to someone last night on Facebook reminded me that I haven’t said in this space why the contest is going three-and-out. It’s a combination of factors, really — it takes a lot of work for Liliha young adult librarian Linda Mediati to coordinate and run the event, sponsors aren’t as generous as they used to be, and the number of entries declined between the second and third contests. Three cheers for Linda for putting this together these past few years, though, and here’s hoping that someone else picks up the ball and runs with it sometime down the line (hint, hint, people reading this blog who have the power to organize such things — there are a lot of eager young artists out there, and you know you already have three candidates as judges … *points at myself, Audra and Roy*).

But let’s get back to the matter at hand, celebrating the talented students whom the three of us picked as this year’s winners. As I noted on one of the pictures in the contest gallery that went up yesterday, there was a theme  that contestants were supposed to follow this year: “Books: Imagination at Work.” Some did. Many more did not.

We ended up creating four divisions: “General, Grades 6-8”; “Comic Page”; “General, Grades 9-12”; and “Theme.” There were three winners in each category for a total of 12, plus one lucky 13th entrant, the grand prize winner, picked out of the “theme” pool.

I’m not going to draw out the suspense any longer than I have to, so here it is: this year’s grand prize winner, by eighth grader Isabella Iwasaki.

The 2012 Liliha Library Anime Art Contest winner, a hand-drawn piece by eighth grader Isabelle Iwasaki.

There were a lot of great entries, but this particular one stood out to the three of us for its simple elegance, how it embodied the theme just with two figures: the girl reading the book, and her imagined self as a glammed-up rock star. It’s a simpler composition than the grand prize winners that Audra and I have picked in the past, but certainly just as effective.

A few other trivia notes before I launch into the standard Flickr photo gallery: Two people earned the distinction of winning honors in all three contests — Nicole Nguyen, who won the Grades 6-7 division in seventh grade for her piece “Bleach in Hawaii” and took first place in the “Best Color, Grades 6-8” division in eighth grade with “Miss Alice“; and Joelle Takayama, who earned an honorable mention as a sophomore with “On the Roof” and took first place in the “Best Color, Grades 9-12” division as a junior with “Magician.” Here’s Nicole’s piece from this year’s contest, which took third place in the “General, Grades 9-12”  division.

Hand-drawn piece by Nicole Nguyen.

And here’s Joelle’s piece, which earned first place in the “Theme” division.

Hand-drawn piece by senior Joelle Takayama.

Also triggering my “hey, this name looks familiar!” senses: Ming Qi Vinci, the girl who organized “Anime for Charity: A Mini-Convention” in Kaneohe back in October 2011. She’s actually entered several times as well, but this is the first time she’s actually won — second place in the “General, Grades 9-12” division, for this piece.

Digital piece by senior Ming Qi Vinci.

Three familiar names out of 13 winners … that tells me there’s a lot of fresh talent out there. An encouraging sign, to be sure.

And now, the gallery of winners’ artwork.

Again, congratulations to all of the winners! A reminder: If you’d like to come meet these talented students — and the panel of judges, including myself — you can do so today (Saturday) at the library, 1515 Liliha St., at 10:30 a.m. If you can’t make it, though, sit tight — I’m bringing tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. along for the ride, and we’ll be chronicling what happens at the winners’ ceremony in this blog soon.

The Anime Art Contest’s last roundup

The flyer for the 2012 Anime Art Contest.Back in the days when music used to be awesome — you know, the ’80s — there was a popular song that had the line “If this is it, please let me know.”

Last Thursday, when nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi, Kawaii Kon senior administrator Roy Bann and I were looking at the entries for the 2012 Liliha Library Anime Art Contest, young adult librarian Linda Mediati, let us know that … well … that was it. After this third go-round of getting to evaluate some of the  best anime-inspired student art in the state (well, okay, mostly on Oahu, with a few glorious exceptions), our services would no longer be needed. This edition of the contest would be its swan song.

“Well, it was a good run,” Audra said. Indeed, it was. Sure, the number of entries received was down from previous years — 55 total. But at least it was much better than the number I had heard when I posted my appeal for more entries a few weeks ago — 12.

Thus, while the tables weren’t completely covered in entries as in the past, it still looked pretty darned impressive.

This is what 55 entries looks like. This is also what Audra, left, Linda, Audra's husband Scott Yoshinaga, and Roy look like looking at 55 entries.

It took 2-1/2 hours for us to choose what ended up being 13 winners. Once again, the quality of entries made it difficult for us to pick. This post, in fact, highlights all the entries that didn’t win, yet still deserve to be seen.

But before we get to the by-now-standard Flickr photo gallery, I should mention that this year’s contest ended up being a bit more … personal for me.

It’s because of this picture.

And yet no one ever does any pictures of people reading the Star-Advertiser. Le sigh.

It was a bit personal for all of us, really. I believe the exact words spoken were, “Look, they’re trying to butter us up!” Indeed, that picture was the only one out of all the entries to prominently feature Audra’s creations, plush pups Anpan and Nemu. So as I had all afternoon, I dutifully troddled over to take a picture, then flipped it over to record the name and grade of the artist.

That picture was done by eighth grader Sieri Kuranishi. Sieri loves drawing, lovebirds, her black yowling scratchy kitty, Choco Babies candy, Vocaloids and playing Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F on the PlayStation Vita. And I know all of these intricate details about her because I’m her cousin.

Now, before anyone cries foul, full disclosure: I did reveal my conflict of interest to the others, and I pretty much let them decide the fates of that picture and the other two that she entered. Well, OK, this was actually her formal second entry:

Sieri Kuranishi (8th)-02

But I couldn’t help but notice that this was on the back as well.

Pretty good for a "rough sketch," if you ask me.

So you could say that fandom now officially runs into another generation in my family. Of course, if you ever asked her if she’d take over writing Otaku Ohana for me down the line, she’d probably just roll her eyes and walk away. Because, you know, I’m old and weird and like to have all of my anime and manga on physical media instead of just downloading everything off the Internet and all that. (Also, she’s totally tsundere. Still adore her, though.)

But enough of my rambling; let’s get to the other highlights from the non-winning entries in this year’s contest, presented in handy Flickr gallery form.

Next time in Otaku Ohana: The winners! Also, a reminder: If you want to come meet the winners and see their winning entries in person, stop by Liliha Library, 1515 Liliha St., at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. We’ll be there handing out the prizes, too!