Get your comic on with freebies statewide

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a movie based on a comic book series, is now out in theaters on this, the first weekend of May. And you know what happens when movies based on comics get released around this time of year: It’s time to promote the heck out of comics. Woo hoo!

On Saturday, various comic shops and libraries will be giving away a wide range of comic books as part of Free Comic Book Day. Some will even be hosting special events. It’s a tradition that’s run annually since 2002, and while some of the stores locally have changed over the years, the concept remains the same: give away comic books; expose readers to a wide range of series; get people into stores to peruse their stock.

This year’s manga-related offerings include excerpts from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess, Dragon Ball Super and Boruto from Viz, and excerpts from Attack on Titan from Kodansha Comics. Here’s this year’s list of what’s available; keep in mind that not all titles will be available at all locations. And try to buy something, will ya? While the books are free for customers, they aren’t for the retailers ordering them, so a bit of paid patronage certainly goes a long way in showing your appreciation for what they do.

Anyway! To the giveaways and events!

Comic book store events

Dragon's Lair flyerDragon’s Lair in Mililani (95-1840 Meheula Parkway, space E-10) will feature five, count ’em, five artists doing free sketches: Dwayne Acoba, Andrew Gutierrez, Kaci Horimoto, Reid Kishimoto and Jon Murakami. All current comics will be 25 percent off, with trade paperbacks and hardcovers going for 15 percent off. They open at 10 a.m.

Other Realms FCBD flyerOther Realms in Iwilei (1130 Nimitz Highway, suite C-140) will feature Free Isabelo, Roy Chang, Dowyne “DJ” Keawekane and Napua Ahina doing free sketches and paid commissions. First 50 people through the door will get a free button pin featuring the Tick and his trusty sidekick Arthur. There’s also going to be keiki face-painting (featuring SkinWars season 3 contestant Kyera Dalesandro), hourly door prizes, appearances by Legion of Shadows Hawaii cosplayers … and, of course, comic specials, with double points for Member Rewards card holders. They open at 10 a.m.

As far as I can tell, Choice Comics in Pearl City (98-1268 Kaahumanu St., suite 104) has the most liberal giveaway terms: a 10-comic limit per customer. They open at 10:30 a.m.

At Westside Comics and Games out in Kapolei (590 Farrington Highway, unit 538), you can get a maximum of three books … or you can sub out books for limited-edition Funko Pop and Heroclix figures. They open at 10 a.m.

Other stores on Oahu hosting FCBD giveaways include Collector Maniacs (3571 Waialae Ave., suite 102A) and Gecko Books & Comics (1151 12th Ave.), both in Kaimuki.

Two of the biggest players in comics on the neighbor islands are bringing their A games as well. Maui Comics & Collectibles in Kahului (333 Dairy Road, suite 102), celebrating its second anniversary, will feature James Silvani, author of Draw-a-Saurus and a comic artist whose series include Darkwing Duck, The Muppets, Ducktales, How to Train Your Dragon and Animaniacs, and Todd BernardyKukui Project artist, doing free sketches and signings. Also part of the festivities: the Second Annual Bruce Ellsworth Memorial Charity Auction. You can get some free samples at Mr. Pineapple next door, too! The festivities get underway at 10 a.m.

Finally, over in Hilo, Enjoy Comics (45 Pohaku St., unit 201) will have free grab bags with comics and other goodies for the kids, as well as giveaways throughout the day, starting at 10 a.m.

Library giveaways

20170503_162206Fifteen libraries on Oahu and nine on the neighbor islands will be participating this year; just show them your library card and you can get a comic (or maybe even two at some libraries!) for free. They’ll also have bookmarks (drawn by Michael Cannon this year), and most of the libraries will feature appearances from cosplayers from the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Imperial Legion, Rebel Legion Hawaii and the Costumers Guild of Hawaii.

Your starting lineup on Oahu: (deep breath in)

And on the neighbor islands: HiloKailua-Kona and Thelma Parker Memorial Public & School Library on the Big Island; Kahului, KīheiLahaina and Makawao on Maui; and Princeville on Kauai. Lanai Public & School Library will be represented at the Saturday Market from 8 to 10 a.m. at Dole Park.

Special events

nemu*nemu cartoonist Audra Furuichi will be signing and sketching at McCully-Moiliili Library from 10 a.m. to noon…ish. She’ll also have copies of nemu*nemu books available for the taking. Don’t feel like driving all the way out there? Her books will also be part of the FCBD assortments at — deep breath in again — Aiea, Aina Haina, Kailua, Kalihi-Palama, Kapolei, Liliha, Manoa, Mililani, Salt Lake-Moanalua, Waikiki-Kapahulu, Waimanalo, Waipahu and Wahiawa libraries on Oahu, and Hilo and Kahului on the neighbor islands. There’s a limited supply, so get them while you can. Distribution methods also may vary; Aiea’s young adult librarian/Face of Hawaii Ingress ™ Diane Masaki tells me she’ll be raffling off sets throughout the day.

Mililani Library will be hosting a free screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story starting at 2 p.m. We are the Force, and the Force is in us.

James Silvani will be signing and sketching from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Kihei Library on Maui. Looks like he’ll be stopping here before moving on to Maui Comics & Collectibles in the afternoon.

Local artist, storyteller and educator Keith U. McCrary will be hosting a cartooning workshop starting at 10 a.m. at Makawao Library on Maui. The program is geared toward ages 6 and up; children must be accompanied by a parent or adult caregiver.

Kailua-Kona Library will be hosting a cosplay contest in their Young Adult section, open to students from the 4th through 12th grades. Cosplay from any source is welcome! Registration runs from 10 to 10:30 a.m., with the competition (featuring audience participation!) running from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Two winners will each get a $25 Regal Cinemas gift card, perfect for seeing selections from the upcoming GKids Ghibli Film Fest.

Ota-cool Incoming: Art and squeeeee~!

So many events! So little time. So much Pokemon! So little happiness.

To the calendar!

Special events

draw story logo

Draw Story: Art and Process of Visual Storytelling: If you’ve ever wondered about how your favorite comics develop into something you can read, or if you’re just a fan of work generated by our local community of comic artists, this is your show. The Honolulu Museum of Art is hosting an exhibit collecting work from a selection of artists from the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance (including MidWeek cartoonist Roy Chang, Con-athon 2016 standard-bearer Jon Murakami, Pineapple Man creator Sam Campos and Mana Comics founder Chris Caravalho) along with several comic-inspired artists (Brady Evans, Devin Oishi). The opening reception is at the art school from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday (be advised that the art museum will be hosting its August Moon food and wine event around the same time, and the Pacific Ink & Art Expo will be going on at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall, so neighborhood parking will probably be tight), while the exhibit itself runs through Aug. 29.

Pokemon Go Fest at SALT: Coral Street sits a few blocks away from Star-Advertiser Tower in Kakaako. It’s rather industrial in nature; there are a bunch of warehouses lining it, and you can also find Highway Inn and Hank’s Haute Dogs there. Ever since Pokemon Go launched a few weeks ago, I keep seeing a few players adding confetti-spewing lures to at least eight of the area Pokestops every night and wandering over to claim the nearby Paradise Mural Gym for the glory of Team Instinct or the other two teams that aren’t Team Instinct. (Just kidding, Valors and Mystics, you know I love ya. Mostly because I’ve given up on holding a gym for more than 20 minutes at a time.) Here’s the scene on a recent night.

Yeeeeeeeaaaaah. There are a LOT of people playing Pokemon Go. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Yeeeeeeeaaaaah. There are a LOT of people playing Pokemon Go. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

… yeah, it’s a nightly PokeStreetParty. And now SALT at Our Kaka’ako — the development that has Coral Street as its eastern border — is getting in on the action with a daytime party, featuring live music from DJ Romeo Valentine, a cosplay contest, an Instagram raffle, photo ops with the Hawaii Pokemon Go girls (wait, there are Pokemon Go girls now? Quite a world we live in these days …) and discounts at various SALT merchants. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

otaku summer festival logo

Otaku Summer Festival: This single-day event is back for a second year with food, games and vendors (including Jon!) offering items that’ll make fans of anime, manga and Japanese culture happy. Planned entertainment includes music from The Otakus and a cosplay contest (with prizes!)

Here, have a commercial.

Video Gamers Hawaii will be feeding the shrine’s Pokestop with lures regularly and, in conjunction with the Hawaii Video Gamers League, will be hosting Street Fighter V and Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator tournaments. As for that food? Look forward to five kinds of musubi (fried rice, shoyu chicken, kabayaki eel, furikake salmon and sweet sekihan) for $2.50 each, and three kinds of bentos (chicken katsu, katsu curry, salmon yakisoba) for $7.50 each. Admission is free. Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu (1239 Olomea St.), 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Kenshin Part I: Origins: The live-action adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s wandering swordsman manga starring Takeru Sato as Himura Kenshin and Emi Takei as Kamiya Kaoru is making its way back to theaters courtesy of fresh stateside licensing by Funimation. Yes, it’s the same movie that first came to town via the Hawaii International Film Festival in 2013. But a) you get to see it on the big screen again and b) there are two more movies in the series that will be making their way down here in the next few months as well. That counts for something, right? In Japanese with English subtitles. General admission: $12.25. Consolidated Ward Stadium theaters, 7:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday.

Pokemon: The First Movie: It’s the first big-screen adventure for Ash, Pikachu and the rest of their PokeBuddies, the debut of Mew and Mewtwo in animated series canon, and it’s back on the big screen once again … and it’s in a venue where you can’t play Pokemon Go. (Seriously, I’m not sure if it’s just my cell phone provider or what, but I’ve never been able to get any sort of data signal in the Doris Duke Theater. It’s just too deep underground.) You can, however, cosplay and enter a trivia contest to win fabulous prizes. Sponsored by Kawaii Kon; tickets are $10 general admission, $8 Honolulu Museum of Art members. 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15.

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’s “friends” remain the ship-gals of KanColle.) Well, it’s the end of an era, because the club will be finishing off the series at this meeting (and this running gag in the process). Oh, well. At least I can still call Diane the Face of Hawaii Ingress ™, right? At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where there’s still plenty of parking … and now a giant sugar molecule out front. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month … and this month, they’re back at Pearlridge Center! Happy day! Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: Pearlridge Downtown (Center Court area), 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The Con-athon 2016 players, part 3: Comic-Con Honolulu

We’ve made it to the midpoint of Con-athon 2016, our coverage of this year’s major local anime/manga/pop-culture conventions, and … whoof. Man. I don’t remember Con-athon 2015 being as much of a grind as we’re seeing this year. A quick recap: Kawaii Kon kicked off the convention season strong in April; Amazing Hawaii Comic Con returned in May, but while they announced a second, smaller event for October, the accounts I’ve heard seem to indicate that attendance was down this year; and Anime Matsuri retreated back to Houston. Meanwhile, planning for HawaiiCon (in September) and Anime Ohana (in November) continue apace. So while there are still six major conventions planned for this year, the faces have shifted somewhat.

Next up to the starting block: year 2 of Comic Con Honolulu, the pop-culture con from the organizers of Kawaii Kon.

Overview

Jurassic Park cosplayers pose in front of a replica movie Jeep at Comic Con Honolulu last year. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Jurassic Park cosplayers pose in front of a replica movie Jeep at Comic Con Honolulu last year. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

Confession time: Among the six conventions that comprised Con-athon 2015, Comic Con Honolulu was the event at which I spent the least amount of time. Three hours, to be exact, enough time to sit in on the Art Improv panel, say hi to a bunch of friends, make a few quick purchases in the Dealer’s Room/Artist Alley, and then dash off to work.

Part of it was out of necessity. There’s only so much vacation time I get every year, after all, so I have to be choosy about which events I commit to visiting for the full run and which ones only get a commitment of a day or shorter. But part of it was also the fact that there wasn’t much of a “wow” factor there for me. Sure, there was a decent guest lineup over which people got excited, but nothing that really grabbed me and said that I absolutely had to go. Besides, Amazing already had Stan Lee in their corner, HawaiiCon convinced me to give them a try based on their booking of three Cowboy Bebop voice actors, and Anime Ohana and Anime Matsuri Hawaii had the whole “hey, we’re new, and we’re right in your anime/manga-loving wheelhouse, please come check us out” sparkle-sheen to them. It’s just the way things work out sometimes.

This year, though? Different story. HawaiiCon and Anime Ohana have joined Kawaii Kon in my con rotation, Anime Matsuri Hawaii went *poof*, and I felt I needed to prioritize a full weekend visit to CCH over braving Amazing again. CCH’s guest roster and the show’s smaller size certainly helped in that decision. Now, of course, the key is in holding my attention …

Basic information

Pepe the Chihuahua shows up for his daily kalbi feeding at Roy Chang's table at Comic Con Honolulu 2015. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Pepe the Chihuahua shows up via Tardis for his daily kalbi feeding at Roy Chang’s table at Comic Con Honolulu 2015. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

When/where: Friday-Sunday, Hawai’i Convention Center

Admission: Three-day passes, $65; Friday- or Sunday-only pass, $30 each day; Saturday-only pass, $40. Pass prices apply to attendees ages 5 and up.

Website: comicconhawaii.com

Social mediaFacebook page; @ComicConHNL (Twitter)

Key question for this year

How will CCH try to distinguish itself from Amazing, its biggest competition in the market, and draw sufficient numbers to remain a viable show in the process? CCH’s main advantage may lie in its programming diversity — there are far more fan panels and more activities available than just “shop,” “buy themed VIP packages and convention-exclusive comics” and “sit in giant space and listen to featured guests talk.” CCH has also been doing well promoting local talent selling their wares in Artist Alley on their social media accounts … and let’s not forget about the support they’re throwing toward neighborhood eateries with their list of con weekend discounts.

But there’s also no denying that the buzz for the show on my Facebook feed has been more muted. Or maybe that’s just because everyone on my Facebook news feed is talking about the upcoming elections and Pokemon GO and my news feed algorithm is horrifically screwed up as a result. In any case, a quick look at the Dealer’s Room and Artist Alley listings reveal only a fraction of the local vendors and artists that Amazing had in May.

Five Six guests to get hyped for

In past Con-athon roundups, I would’ve used this space for a complete roundup of all the guests appearing at a particular show. But let’s face it: Kawaii Kon had more than 20 guests. Amazing had more than 25. Faced with the prospect of writing another 22 mini-bios for this convention and another 100 gazillion for HawaiiCon, I finally tapped out and said, “OK, I’m just hitting the high points and picking five guests I’m most excited about seeing going forward.”

And then I went and picked six people anyway. Because the sixth person really deserved to be mentioned. Plus I’m writing this blog, so I get to make up all the rules and then break them, right? The full guest list is available at comicconhonolulu.com/guests.

Takei at CCH (courtesy Comic-Con Honolulu)

George Takei: Every convention has its “OMG moment” during the guest announcement phase, that one guest over whom people rub their eyes over and over again and pinch themselves and wonder, “Holy cats, is that guy really going to be part of my hometown convention?” Takei is this year’s OMG moment for Comic-Con Honolulu … and arguably the entirety of Con-athon 2016, to boot. Whether you know him as Sulu from Star Trek, a gay rights advocate, the man behind Allegiance (a musical set in the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II) or a huge social media influencer, you know who he is. And you’ll have exactly one chance to see him speak: 2:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday in Main Events (Room 316 ABC). Good luck, folks.

Grant Imahara: Spoiler alert: Our Steven Mark got to chat with the animatronics engineer, modelmaker and Mythbuster in an interview running in Friday’s paper. Definitely worth checking out if you have a chance. Scheduled to appear at two panels: “Bustin’ Myths and Building Robots: The Story of Grant Imahara,” 11 a.m.-noon Saturday in Main Events, and “Discover Grant Imahara,” 11 a.m.-noon Sunday, also in Main Events.

Sean Astin: He’s been a Goonie and a Hobbit. He’s the son of Patty Duke and John Astin, who played Gomez in the original Addams Family. And he’s the voice of Raphael in the ongoing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. If you need any more convincing than that to see him, then man, you’re tough to please. Scheduled to appear at two panels: “Face to Face With Sean Astin,” 4-5 p.m. Friday in Main Events; and the Voice Actor Round Table (with Jennifer Hale, the voice of female Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect video games, and Phil LaMarr, the voice of Hermes Conrad in Futurama and Samurai Jack) from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, also in Main Events.

John Barrowman: Until last week, he was best known as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and the spinoff Torchwood, as well as the Dark Archer in Arrow. Since then, he’s been that guy who dressed up as Squirrel Girl, Futurama’s Zap Brannigan, Harley Quinn and a dress-wearing Kylo Ren in San Diego. Here’s hoping he has more antics planned for Honolulu this weekend. Scheduled to appear at one panel: “Getting to Know John Barrowman,” 4-5 p.m. Saturday in Main Events.

Fabian Nicienza: Rob Liefeld was a guest at Amazing, so now it’s time for Liefeld’s partner in creating Deadpool to have his say. Nicieza also helped create Shatterstar, the X-Force and Cable; has more than 1,000 comic book writing credits; and is currently working with Stan Lee on Cosmic Crusaders. Scheduled to appear at three panels: “Breaking the Fourth Wall,” 3:15-4:15 p.m. Friday in Panel Room 315; “Behind the Snark,” 5:15-6:15 p.m. Saturday in Main Events; and “Comic Editing and Character Creation,” 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Panel Room 315.

Leah Rose: The talented cosplayer and host with the most who’s been featured in this blog before deserves a mention here, as this will be her last local convention as an isle resident before she moves on to Seattle. With Dasha Cosplay, Uncanny Megan and now Leah leaving or about to leave from Hawaii in the past handful of months, all I can say is whyyyyyyyy are the cosplayers all leaving do you not love us anymoooooooore. Umm. *ahem*. You can see her doing hosting duties all weekend or offer hugs and leis at her Artist Alley table, F11.

Will cartoonist Jon Murakami be here?

Photo courtesy Jon Murakami.
Photo courtesy Jon Murakami.

Three for three, yup! Look for him in Artist Alley, table E12, with his new collection of comic strips from the Hawaii Herald, Generation Gap:Are You Sure These Are Our Grandkids (pictured above), as well as a sale on Gordon Rider back issues, original sketches, and an array of shirts, prints, books and buttons. Can’t make it to con? You still have a few more hours today to get in on the book preorder; visit www.jonjmurakami.bigcartel.com.

(Also, Jon’s still our measuring stick for Con-athon 2016, considering he’s going to almost all the things.)

Anyone else of note?

There’s a guy doing these portraits, that’s for certain.

Jason Pop by Roy Chang

That artist is MidWeek cartoonist and Cacy & Kiara / Highball & Pepe creator Roy Chang, and he drew that Funko Pop-ified portrait of me last week during a special “Get Pop-Cultured” event at Barnes & Noble Ala Moana. And now it’s my Instagram profile picture, so w00t w00t to that. You can get your own Funkofied portrait — $5 black and white, $10 color — the newest Aloha Pepe issue, and more in Artist Alley, table A3.

Elsewhere in Artist Alley, you’ll find Marisa and Carole Gee with their handmade jewelry and charms at Kawaii Mono (C1); beadspriters extraordinare Dinner Crew Crafts (C11-12); longtime comic creators/anime aficionados Lime Media Hawaii (E9), the anime/manga-inspired artist collective MangaBento (D12), comic artist Christopher Caravalho and Mana Comics (B7), and artists Andy Lee (B1), Reid Kishimoto (E2), Tara Tamayori (F4), Headshot Heroes (C7) and Michael Cannon (E12). Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Over in the adjacent dealer’s room, Terri Dux and Karl Miyashiro’s one-stop shop for local apparel with clever phrase twists, idkwhat2wear, will be at table 55 with some new cute, clever designs. Pono Comics (52), Dragon’s Lair (42) and Other Realms (46, 47, 57, 58) represent local comic shops this time around. Familiar Kawaii Kon mainstays Anime Palace (25, 36), Hakubundo (50), Michi’s Toy Box (27) and Crappykids (7) will be there, as will everyone’s favorite snack vendors, Brug Bakery (41) and Paradise Kettle Corn (44). Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Other schedule highlights

Introducing Hitbox Music Ensemble: 7:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, Main Events. An ensemble of classical and jazz instrumental and choral musicians performs music from video games, anime, TV shows and movies. Think of it like those Legend of Zelda concerts that have been coming to town, except on a wider scale.

Unconventional jobs for superheroes? Yeah, the Art Improv artists can tackle that. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.
Unconventional jobs for superheroes? Yeah, the Art Improv artists can tackle that. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

Art Improv, 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Panel Room 312. One of my must-see panels of the con, it’s what happens when you take a group of Comic Jam Hawaii artists and throw crazy ideas at them in the style of the classic comedy improv show Whose Line is it Anyway? Plus as a bonus, the sketches they draw are up for grabs at the end — you can nab some pretty cool free artwork that way. If you have some time to fill afterward, stick around for a series of drawing tutorials, including Kaci Horimoto on drawing (11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.), Reid Kishimoto on inking (12:15-1 p.m.), Rich Rodriguez on drawing from basic shapes (1-1:45 p.m.) and Wynette Sabalburo on coloring with markers (1:45-2:30 p.m.).

Ingress: It’s Time to Move! 6-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Panel Room 312. Learn how to play the augmented reality game that I like to think of as the Pokemon GO beta beta as a noble agent of the Enlightened! (oryoucouldjointheResistanceIsuppose) Things that will be discussed at this panel: how the game works, the convoluted backstory that hardly anyone pays attention to, and how the game’s brought together agents from both factions at large events worldwide. Things that will not be discussed at this panel: triangles (lots and lots of them), creepy vans, and Pokemon GO. Seriously, the panelists would like to focus on Ingress, so no PoGo questions, please. Besides …

Pokemon GO Hawaii: 8-9 p.m. Saturday, Panel Room 315. … you trainers who’ve taken the parts of the world where Niantic actually has servers up and running (for the most part, *crosses fingers*) by storm get a panel all to yourselves. Meet other players, wave a virtual banner for your team (Instinct! The other two teams who aren’t Instinct!), share your stories, and catch the occasional Rattata or Pidgey or Zubat that happens to wander into the area. Note: Panel will be called off if a 1,000+ CP Mewtwo suddenly spawns down the street. Just kidding; I doubt anything short of the usual “circumstances beyond our control” is going to be canceling this party.

Cosplay Contest: 7:30-9 p.m. Saturday, Main Events. You know the drill by now: People show off their craftsmanship with fabulous costumes; the audience oohs and ahhs (and awwwws if the cosplayer happens to be a really cute child); prizes are awarded. And a good time is had by all.

Cardcaptor Sakura: A 20-Year Celebration: 1:30-2 p.m. Sunday, Panel Room 312. You thought all the anime/manga panel ideas were exhausted at Kawaii Kon? You were wrong. The fact that this panel is covering one of CLAMP’s classic series makes it even more appealing.

Ota-cool incoming: Sale-abrate good times, come on!

If someone were to write a book about local otaku culture — don’t look at me; I’ve already written my one book of a lifetime, and I doubt I’ll ever have enough free time to properly update that one, never mind writing another one — one of the chapters would have to be about how we manage to accumulate so much stuff. Plushies, figures, statues, toys, video games, assorted show merchandise, books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays — you name it, we all have some sort of stash stored somewhere. Some of you may be sighing over how you have waaaaaaay too much; others may be lamenting about how you don’t have enough. For those of you in the never-ending pursuit of managing and accumulating more stuff, these next two weekends — along with the ongoing 20%-off sale at Book Off Ala Moana that I talked about in my last post — offer several chances to score some sweet bargains.

One sale is part of the 26th Annual Hawaii Collectors Expo, happening Friday through Sunday at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. Saturday (from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) are what matter for our discussion, as that will be when a bunch of people like tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I will be selling off surplus parts of their collections at … well, depending on where you go, it’s either the Anime Swap Meet or the All-Genre Swap Meet, presented by Kawaii Kon and Comic-Con Honolulu, respectively. And when I say “a bunch of people like us,” I really do mean to say that in the interest of full journalistic disclosure, Wilma and I have purchased a space where we will be selling things. Here is a preview of my stuff.

Jason's ASM things

And here is Wilma’s.

Wilma's ASM things

… she always was more organized than me. (You can probably expect many more DVDs and even a few Blu-rays from me, for starters.)

Want to join us in selling? As far as I know, there are a few spaces remaining. One 5-square-foot space costs $25, with a maximum of two spaces shared by two people; the cost remains the same regardless of whether you apply to sell for one or both days, so if you can spare an entire weekend, by all means do so. Deadline for applying is midnight Thursday, check out the rules and apply at kawaiikon.com/anime-swap-meet/ or comicconhonolulu.com/all-genre-swap-meet-feb-20-21-2016.

If you’re in the market for buying, we love you! Please buy our stuff. (And everybody else’s, too, of course.) Kawaii Kon representatives will be on hand to sell three-day general-admission passes to this year’s show for $50 — $5 off the current online price! Keep in mind that admission to the Collectors Expo is $5, but if you present your badge from last year’s Kawaii Kon or Comic Con Honolulu at the box office, the cost drops to nothing.

The other sale worth noting here is the Nerds’ Garage Sale, which has proven to be the hottest ticket in town for sellers in recent weeks. (For the record, there is no more space for sellers, so stop asking on the Facebook page already.) Organized by cosplayer extraordinare Leah Rose, the sale will feature about a dozen self-described “cosplay nerds” selling off their extra supplies, costumes and other things. You can also check out Other Realms’ sizable collection of comics, games and other happy nerdy collectibles for sale as well. That’s happening from 3 to 7 p.m. Feb. 27 at the store, which is at 1130 N. Nimitz Highway, suite C-140. (It’s actually not visible from the highway; you have to go behind the buildings with New Eagle Cafe on one end and AAA Hawaii on the other end to find it.)

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’s “friends” are the ship-gals of KanColle.) This month didn’t garner much of a reaction, probably because Diane, the Face of Hawaii Ingress (tm) that she is, is really really close to becoming a max-Level 16 agent. The friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning blogger in me is cheering her on, while the Enlightened side of me wants to put AXA Shields on every portal in Pearl City and Aiea. But I digress. At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where, yes, there’s still plenty of parking. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

Mori & Steam

Mori & Steam: Steampunk Family Sunday: If you haven’t had a chance to check out the “Harajuku: Japanese Street Fashion” exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art yet, by all means try to stop by before it closes April 3; it’s a fascinating snapshot of contemporary Japanese fashion trends. And with the museum’s Family Sunday coming up, you can swing by to see it absolutely free, and enjoy some activities and entertainment, to boot. Kids can make a set of steampunk goggles at one station, at another, visitors can make their own Harajuku- or steampunk-inspired pins. Roy Chang, MidWeek cartoonist, Cacy & Kiara author and Pepe the Chihuahua’s kalbi feeder, will be doing live sketches of Harajuku fashion models from noon to 3 p.m., and featured bands include Hook + Line and Gypsy 808. There also will be a complimentary shuttle running between the museum and Spalding House, so you can check out the exhibits at both locations. Oh hey, and before or after you go, perhaps you might like to visit a certain Collectors Expo with an Anime/All-Genre Swap Meet going on down the street? *hint hint* *wink nudge* The museum’s at 900 S. Beretania St. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Kawaii Kon Karaoke Competition preliminary round #2: So you think you can sing, and you’re planning to go to Kawaii Kon this year? Give the annual Karaoke Competition a try. This year, the preliminary rounds will be held at Nocturna Lounge, the video game/karaoke bar just downstairs from our editorial/advertising offices here at Waterfront Plaza/Restaurant Row. Top three singers from each preliminary round move on to the semifinals at the convention itself. The fun starts at 3 p.m. Sunday; full details on what you need to do to prepare are available at kawaiikon.com/events/karaoke-kompetition/

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.

The reign of Hoku Comic Kon Honolulu is nigh

CCH logoThe second stop on our yearlong parade of local conventions, Comic Con Honolulu, is coming up on Friday, and … okay, real talk: Just like how people keep calling the Don Quijote on Kaheka Street “Daiei” or “Holiday Mart,” or people in Waipahu still think of the Don Quijote store there as the old GEM store, or a whole bunch of other “Remember when ______ was ______?” conversations that fill #ThrowbackThursday threads on social media every week, a lot of you out there still think of Comic Con Honolulu as Hoku Kon, right? Even though we went over why the name changed earlier this year? It’s okay; I find myself switching between the two as well.

Whatever you prefer to call it, the convention launched as the all-the-things offspring of Kawaii Kon is ready to show con-goers what it has to offer. While it may not be as big as Kawaii Kon — the entire show’s only taking up the top floor of the Hawai ‘i Convention Center –the enthusiast spirit of the long-running anime convention certainly remains a core element here. Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend this year — we’re still working on taming the beast that is our new editorial computer system — but if I could go, here are what would be some of my highlights.

The Anime portal keyThe intro to Ingress panel! Hear about Niantic’s free-to-play massively multiplayer augmented reality game for almost every smartphone out there (sorry, Blackberry and Windows Phone users). Learn about the convoluted back story — something about a battle for Exotic Matter, aliens that either ought to be welcomed with a platter of cookies or repelled like con attendees who forgot to shower, and a buncha researchers, shadowy types and weird artificial intelligence constructs who have died, shattered into shards and been resurrected more times than the Hawaiian Netmender portal changes hands daily. You can also learn why the Enlightened is awesome (lovely greenish hues over everything; “think green” projects a solid environmental message; noodles) and why the Resistance is … umm … equally awesome (hey, they consistently build my portal at work to level 6-8 with a multihack and heat sink that I quietly hack, happily gearing up to go blow up their portals, links and fields elsewhere, so I’m not complaining).

If you decide to attend and subsequently begin playing, I should note two things. First, apologies in advance for all the free time and gas it ends up sucking up. Second — and I cannot stress this enough — please sign up for the Enlightened. You don’t know how many times I’ve talked about these intro to Ingress panels and ended up having readers join … only for them to become my biggest in-game rivals (*waves at agent ArcturusFlyer*). Sigh. 6:30 p.m. Friday, Panel Room.

Comic Jam Hawaii represents! Some of you may remember the Sketch Improv panel during Kawaii Kon, during which artists from Comic Jam Hawaii improvised sketches based on certain themes and ideas shouted out by the audience. It’s where the world first got to see a fire-breathing Slap Chop chicken …

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… the adventures of a side job-taking samurai …

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… Winnie the Deadpool …

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… a Totoro/Fast and Furious mashup …

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… and, of course, 50 Shades of Totoro.

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Sketch Improv is back for another go-round, this time with a slightly tweaked name (it’s Art Improv in your programs now) and a bigger venue (the Main Events room) but likely with the same sketchy hijinks. It should be a fun morning. That’s from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday.

memorabilia showcase 1Several Comic Jam artists will be over in Artist Alley as well. Roy Chang, MidWeek cartoonist and Pepe the Chihuahua’s kalbi handler, will set up his art board and offer free art portfolio critiques. Jon J. Murakami, Star-Advertiser “Calabash” cartoonist and creator of Gordon Rider, the Ara-Rangers, and Edamame Ninjas, will be selling a number of new items, including prints of his work from Udon’s upcoming Capcom Fighting Tribute artbook, original sketches, reusable shopping bags with customized hand-drawn art, and — assuming the books come back from the printer on time — Ara-Rangers issue #2. (Hopefully he gets over his cold in time for con, too … get well soon, Jon!) Kevin Sano and Michael Cannon will each have tables and will be selling prints and original artwork as well. (By the way, to the right, you can see a set of four Minions that Kevin custom-painted in the colors and outfits of various Kikaida characters, which I stuck in my new home office showcase. Clearly I love them. Bonus points to anyone who can identify the other things in the showcase at the moment.) 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Gates McFadden and Edward James Olmos! Not gonna lie; these are the only two guests I recognize straight out without having to resort to Google, one being Dr. Beverly Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the other one being an Academy Award nominee for best actor (Stand and Deliver, 1988). I’m very much a comic/sci-fi blogger in training; heck, when NPR recently released its list of top 100 sci-fi/fantasy books as voted on by listeners, I found I had read … exactly one of them. (Animal Farm. For school. Great book, A++++++ WOULD READ ORWELL AGAIN.) That’s not to say the rest of the guest list, which includes actors Adam Baldwin, Erin Gray, Mira Furlan, Sean Maher and J. August Richards and comic artist Khary Rudolph, is anything to dismiss; it’s a respectable roster that any startup convention would love to have.

It should be noted that the autograph policies were released Wednesday afternoon, and for those of you accustomed to lining up for free autographs and photo ops at Kawaii Kon, there’s going to be a bit of sticker shock involved — if you want a complete collection of Year One Comic-Con Honolulu guest autographs, it’s going to cost you $290. Olmos is the highest at $60, followed by McFadden at $50; Baldwin, Maher and Richards at $40 each; and Furlan and Gray at $30 each. (Rudolph will offer free autographs all weekend.) Want pictures of your experiences? It’s going to cost even more. Welcome to the modern-day convention economy, folks. Strap in your wallets and prepare for the ride.

IMG_8501_editCosplay cosplay cosplay! I’ll readily admit cosplay has become the modern-day equivalent of “Hey! Manga’s a thing! OMG, girls are reading comics now!” in modern-day con culture, the go-to topic mainstream media chooses whenever they want to talk about all those anime/manga/sci-fi/fantasy/comic book/whatever fans converging on Big Convention Spot for the Weekend. Heck, our paper covered that angle on Sunday (premium content; subscribers, please read that article, Mike Gordon and Jamm Aquino did a good job with the words and pictures, respectively). That said, people love to dress up, and cosplayers of all skill levels will be showing up during the weekend, from average fans all the way up to our most prominent local cosplayers (Uncanny Megan, shown above with tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. at this year’s Kawaii Kon! Leah Rose!). For you do-it-yourselfers, I count at least six cosplay-related panels, from Megan and Leah’s Cosplay Q&A (10-11 a.m. Saturday, Panel Room) to cosplay photography (3-4 p.m. Friday, Panel Room) and a whole variety of topics in between. And that doesn’t even take into account the Cosplay Competition, running from 6-7 p.m. Saturday in Main Events.

Interested in attending? Online registration has ended, but you can buy three-day passes ($55) and single-day passes (Friday, $35; Saturday, $40; Sunday, $30) starting at 9 a.m. Friday on the fourth floor of the convention center. Pre-registered attendees can pick up their passes at the same place starting at 8 a.m. Friday; it’s worth noting that unlike Kawaii Kon, passes will not be available for pickup Thursday night.

Want more information? Visit the con site at comicconhonolulu.com. Questions? Lob ’em at the con’s Facebook page.

Festival follow-up: Something blue, something new

I’ve written quite a bit in this space recently about the flood of major conventions coming our way this year — Comic Con Honolulu, HawaiiCon, Amazing Hawaii Comic Con, Anime Ohana and Anime Matsuri Hawaii are all on deck — but the market for smaller otaku-targeted events lasting a day or shorter is developing quite nicely as well. In the past few days, two news tidbits about smaller events crossed the desk of the New and Improved Otaku Ohana Home Office — I’ll have a few pictures of that soon; getting moved in and setting that up has been the primary reason why I’ve been so silent lately this time — one with bad news, one with good.

taku taku matsuri logoThe bad news is that the third annual Taku Taku Matsuri, which was set to take place Oct. 3 and feature voice actor Richard Epcar and his wife, voice actor/director Ellyn Stern, has been postponed indefinitely due to founder/organizer Yuka Nagaoka’s continued health issues. Here’s a formal statement posted to the Taku Taku Matsuri Facebook page on Saturday:

First of all, thank you to all that have supported us and myself so far with taku taku Matsuri.
With how we had to postpone last year because of hurricanes, postponing the event once again was a decisions I did not want to make. My directors and staff have been working very hard on getting ready in my absence. That is why, originally, I was planning to have the event happen, even with me not physically in Hawaii. However, it has become more and more unknown when I will be able to return.

Let me explain what is going on.
I have a congenital brain disease that was detected two months ago. Because of the danger of the disease, I was told that it is best to have it treated ASAP, so I have returned to Japan for treatment. Unfortunately, things are not going as smoothly as I want them to. 
I have gone through all sorts of MRIs and CAT scans, but the doctors are still unable to make a decision on treatment. 
Just my luck, other health issues are making the last examination they need to make a decision, high risk. That is why right now I am going through treatment for my other health issues. Once that treatment works, I will finally be able to receive the needed examination. Of course after all of that, there is still the actual treatment for the brain disease. As far as the doctors are telling me, either radiation therapy or surgery.

Being in complete medical limbo, I have made the choice to postpone the 3rd annual taku taku Matsuri. Honestly, I feel very frustrated and defeated, having to make this choice. However, I was reminded about what “taku taku Matsuri” is. As corny as it may sound, it really is an event for all Otakus, bunbun-ers, to enjoy! And with taku taku Matsuri unable to deliver 100%, we won’t be able to satisfy all our bunbun-ers!!!

All of this may take more than a few months to be taken care of. I apologize for the wait. However, I will be back, healthier and with a fixed brain, to give you all the best taku taku Matsuri!!

Here’s hoping and praying that Yuka will be able to get her health issues resolved fully sometime down the line.

While we may have lost one event off the calendar (for now), another one has popped up to take its place. The inaugural Aiea Library Mini Comic Con, taking place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 6, will offer, in the words of young adult librarian Diane Masaki’s handy-dandy flier, “a glimpse of what a convention is like, with informative panels, vendors and activities.”

Featured guests and vendors include:

  • Roy Chang, MidWeek cartoonist, Aiea Intermediate art teacher and Cacy and Kiara and the Curse of the Kii author. Roy will be selling prints all day and host a panel on creating stories with manga-style art and comic pages from 1 to 2 p.m.
  • Dasha and Dallas Cosplay — the duo of Daria Roud and Dallas Nagata White — will share their experiences and offer tips on getting into cosplaying from 2 to 3 p.m. Daria will also help kids make their own superhero mask or princess crown from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Artists Jon J. Murakami and Devin Oishi will be selling prints and other merchandise. Jon, of course, is the cartoonist best know for Gordon Rider, Edamame Ninjas, The Ara-Rangers and this here paper’s “Calabash” comic strip; Devin, a longtime MangaBento adviser, has two children’s books under his belt, Pualani and the 3 Mano and Da Blalas.

Cosplayers of all ages are encouraged to attend as well; Comic Jam Hawaii artists will be on hand to sketch cosplayers, and children in the sixth grade and younger are encouraged to enter a cosplay contest from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Aiea Library is located at 99-374 Pohai Place, where, nearly a year after opening, there remains plenty of parking (and two Ingress portals to make green, whoop whoop). Call 483-7333.

And the Windward skies bring cosplay vibes to me

anime dayI’ll get back to part 2 of the otaku film feast-ival next week, but for now there are more pressing matters at hand: namely, there’s an Anime Day coming up at Windward Mall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and, aside from how I’ve said that a) it’s totally a thing and b) those of you who preregistered for Oni-Con Hawaii will want to bring proof of registration to pick up your free DVD, I haven’t had a chance yet to fill in some of the finer details about it.

As has been the norm for the past forever now, I don’t think I got around to posting pictures from last year’s festivities, so here are a few images that show off what you can probably expect to see this year. Here’s the crowd gathered around the mall’s center stage …

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… some Naruto charms being sold by our columnist following the business buzz around town, Erika Engle …

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… someone playing Dance Central on a Kinect-enabled Xbox 360 …

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… the always busy art wall …

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… and participants in the Iron Cosplay contest.

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This year, professional cosplayer Leah Rose will be presiding over the festivities at center stage, with activities including:

11 a.m.: Anime ID
11:30 a.m.: Iron Cosplay
1 p.m.: Pose-Off Challenges
1:30 p.m.: Spin-the-Wheel!
2:30 p.m.: Cosplay Runway
3:30 p.m.: Stamp Rally winners announced and final announcements

KK stamp cardMany of those games/events have been run at various other events; Anime ID, however, is debuting here. As for that Stamp Rally: Pick up a card (a facsimile is at right), collect stamps from the six retailers listed (Gyu-Kaku, Animation Magic, Hot Topic, Gamestop, Journeys, Spencer Gifts) and turn it for the chance to win fabulous prizes! (What those prizes are haven’t been mentioned yet, but I’d be very surprised if one wasn’t a free three-day pass to Kawaii Kon 2015.)

Other Anime Day notes of note:

  • The vendors room — again across from Glow Putt Mini Golf on the second floor, in what I think was the old Suncoast Video space — will feature a number of local crafters, including Gordon Rider/Star-Advertiser “Calabash” cartoonist Jon Murakami and idkwhat2wear.
  • Artists can participate in a number of activities as well. Roy Chang, MidWeek cartoonist, Aiea Intermediate art teacher and keeper of Pepe the chihuahua, will offer tips on improving art at his portfolio review booth. Comic Jam Hawaii is hosting the sketch wall, while MangaBento will have tables with coloring and craft worksheets.
  • You can preregister for Kawaii Kon 2015, too!

For the latest info on all things Kawaii Kon, visit www.kawaii-kon.org or www.facebook.com/kawaiikon.