Coming to terms with an Amazing weekend

The third entry in Con-athon 2017, Amazing Hawaii Comic Con, is this weekend. And … well, I’ll be honest: It’s the event for which I’ve held the most mixed emotions.

amazing-hawaii-comic-con-logo-ahcc.jpgOn the one hand, it’s become to the local comic fan community what Kawaii Kon has been to the local anime/manga fan community for years: the premier event at which comic fans can showcase their work. Members of the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance will be out in full force and will have a special print available for a minimum $5 purchase. (You can see what the print looks like in the featured image for this post.) A good number of the state’s comic shops, including Dragon’s Lair, Choice Comics, Westside Comics and Other Realms on Oahu, Maui Comics & Collectibles and Hilo’s Enjoy Comics will be represented there.

On the other hand … man, I am still so torn about these extra-cost, premium a la carte fan experiences. I said it last year when I wrote about this convention, and I’ll say it again: The people willing to shell out extra money are the ones likely to get the most enjoyment out of this show, from the VIP passes promising early admission, express lines and priority seating at general admission panels to the “Ultimate Fan Experiences” tailored to certain guests.

This year, there’s an added wrinkle: One of the biggest panels, a “Star Trek Generations” panel Saturday night hosted by William Shatner that features Star Trek: The Next Generation stars Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden and Brent Spiner, will cost an extra $65 to attend ($95 if you want premium seating, $200 if you want to buy it as part of an Ultimate Fan Package that also includes premium seating for the Shatner panel on Sunday, a Shatner autograph ticket, a priority pass for other autograph sessions, an exclusive lanyard and badge, and other Star Trek con-exclusive merchandise).

This wouldn’t bother me so much if I knew what kind of accessibility the general public will be getting to these stars outside of this panel. As of this writing at 8 a.m. today, with the con starting in seven hours, I’ve only seen autograph information posted for Shatner, Power Rangers star Jason David Frank and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator Kevin Eastman. I’m one of those people who likes planning where I’m going and roughly how much I’m going to be spending, and to not have this information available before I show up is pretty frustrating.

Anyway, enough from my soapbox. Let’s get to the nitty-gritty fast facts!

Amazing Hawaii Comic Con

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

It’s the one with: William Shatner. The actor. Who. Everyone knows played. Captain James. T. Kirk. In the original. Star Trek. And whose. Speaking style. Has been parodied by. Countless people over. The years.

Other notable guests (full roster at amazinghawaiicomiccon.com/guests):

Jason David Frank, the Green/White Power Ranger in the Power Ranger franchise and guy who’s lobbying hard to fight former WWE Superstar ™ CM Punk in MMA combat.

Alan Tudyk, K-2SO in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Wash in Firefly/Serenity, voice of Hei Hei the derpy chicken in Moana, and, as the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction likes to remind me, Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.

Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn, founding member of Image Comics, and guy who bought the record-breaking home run balls hit by Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds.

Anime fans won’t feel left out at this year’s show, either; scheduled to attend are Bryce Papenbrook and Trina Nishimura, the voices of Eren and Mikasa, respectively, in Attack on Titan; Bonnie Gordon, the voice of R. Mika in Street Fighter V; and anime YouTubers TheAnimeMan and akidearest.

Other notes of note: As I mentioned earlier, the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance is going to play a major role in this show. The group will be hosting a “meet the creators” panel at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by various “Making a Comic Book” panels over the weekend — part 1, “Characters and Story,” at 3 p.m. Saturday; part 2, “Sequential Art,” at 4 p.m. Saturday; and part 3, “Getting Published,” at 11 a.m. Sunday. All panels will be held in Panel Room B.

Also attending this weekend: Stacey Hayashi, author of the Journey of Heroes graphic novel about the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and its accomplishments during World War II. Stacey’s now producer/writer of Go for Broke, a movie chronicling those accomplishments, and she’ll be on a panel with director Alex Bocchieri and several local cast members to talk about the movie and preview footage at noon Saturday in Panel Room A. Visit her at booth 319 in the main exhibit hall, too!

How much? Three-day passes are $60; single-day passes are $25 for Friday, $35 for Saturday and $25 for Sunday. VIP packages and select Ultimate Fan Packages start at $150. Children under 10 are free with paying adult, as are all Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in uniform.

Website: amazinghawaiicomiccon.com

Ota-cool incoming: November rain, cinematic reign

After the flurry of activities that was Con-athon 2015 — five straight weekends between September and October, five convention or convention-like festivals — you’d think we’d be getting a breather with the holidays approaching.

You’d be wrong. Ohhhhhhh so very wrong.

From the beginning of this month’s free-movie roster at Kahua Cafe through Anime Matsuri Hawaii at the end of this month, this has become yet another “want something to do THIS week? Here ya go!” month in an endless parade of such months. This edition of the Ota-cool Incoming calendar starts off with a roundup of all the movies screening in the next few weeks, starting with …

Ponyo

Wednesday Family Nights at Kahua Cafe: All this month, Kahua Cafe will be screening Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli favorites. It’s a family-friendly event, so the movies will be the English-dubbed versions, and they’ll be screening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The lineup:

  • Wednesday: Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Nov. 11: Ponyo
  • Nov. 18: Spirited Away
  • Nov. 25: Howl’s Moving Castle

Kahua Cafe is in the back of Na Mea/Native Books Hawaii, on the first floor of Ward Warehouse below The Old Spaghetti Factory. They have a pretty yummy-looking menu, too. Questions? Hit them up on their Facebook event page (they were prompt in answering my questions!) or call 990-0384.

(And if that photo above looks familiar, you have a very good memory.)

Anthem of the Heart: There’s one more screening of this tale from the Anohana creative team of a girl with words sealed away in her heart: noon Saturday at the Consolidated Ward Stadium 16 theaters. Here’s a trailer.

I already mentioned this in my last post, but since then a new review has popped up on Fandom Post. Spoiler alert: It gets an A+. A home video release can’t arrive soon enough for me.

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Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie: Not to be confused with Ghost in the Shell: The Original Movie, Ghost in the Shell 2: The Kinda Confusing Sequel to the Original Movie, or Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society: And This One’s Based on the TV Seriesthis particular installment follows up on the events of the four-part Arise OAV. The prime minister of Japan is dead, the Fire-Starter virus continues to infect Ghosts, and Major Motoko Kusanagi and the members of Section 9 must untangle the complex web of government corruptions and shadowy figures to figure out what’s going on.

Here, have another trailer.

The movie has a limited run at the Consolidated Ward theaters before moving to the Honolulu Museum of Art for nine, count ’em, nine screenings. Your showtimes:

  • Consolidated Ward Stadium 16: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10, 11 and 16
  • Doris Duke Theater (Honolulu Museum of Art): 4 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15, 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21, 1 p.m. Nov. 22, 1 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 27

Tickets are available on Fandango for Ward ($12.25 general, $9 seniors, $8.75 children) and the art museum website ($10 general admission, $8 museum members) for the Doris Duke screenings.

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Hawaii International Film Festival: There’s only one anime in this year’s HIFF Fall Showcase (Nov. 12-22). Fortunately, it’s the latest project from one of the best creators still around since Studio Ghibli went dormant: Mamoru Hosoda, director of the great The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, the sublime Summer Wars and the sounds-great-but-it’s-still-on-my-pile-of-things-to-watch Wolf Children. His latest movie, The Boy and the Beastfeatures loner Kyuta (side note: I seem to be writing a lot of synopses these days where the main character is described as a loner of some sort, aren’t I?) embarking on an adventure-filled journey with Kumatetsu, a supernatural beast also isolated in an imaginary world.

Third trailer time!

The Boy and the Beast screens at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 21 and 5 p.m. Nov. 22, with both screenings at the Regal Dole Cannery theaters.

Also, for those of you who enjoyed Journey of Heroes, the comic book recounting the achievements of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 100th Infantry Battalion with chibi characters, author Stacey Hayashi has a pair of projects screening as part of this year’s “Made in Hawaii Shorts” roundup: “The Surrender Call,” based on Military Intelligence Service linguist Herbert Yanamura’s actions to save civilians during the bloody Battle of Okinawa, and “The Herbert Yanamura Story,” in which he shares his story and reunites with someone whom he saved from that battle nearly 70 years later. “Made in Hawaii Shorts” screens at 5:45 p.m. Nov. 16 and 10:45 a.m. Nov. 21 at the Dole Cannery theaters, and 3 p.m. Nov. 22 at the Consolidated Koko Marina theaters. If anyone reads this blog on Kauai, you guys can see these shorts, too, at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 21 at the Waimea Theatre.

HIFF tickets are $14 general, $12 students, seniors and military members. Memberships are also available for those of you who really love your movies. Visit hiff.org.

Elsewhere around town

“Short Story: Drawings by Brady Evans”: I’ve been covering the work of Brady Evans for quite a while now, from his days winning MangaBento art contests to starting art groups to curating an exhibit about manga in Hawaii to buying pretty artwork by him on display in art shows downtown, and probably a whole bunch of other things in between. Now Brady’s going to have an exhibit of his drawings on display at my alma mater, Punahou School, and I’m thrilled not only because I get to swing by there and see his work, but also because I can stop by the lily pond near Thurston Chapel. Fishies! Turtles! The occasional confused duck! I usually only plan on visiting once a year during the school’s annual malasada fundraiser for scholarships — you know, the Punahou Carnival — so this is a bonus visit for me. Kirsch Gallery (next to Cooke Library); opening reception 3:30-6 p.m. Thursday, exhibit on display through Nov. 19 (gallery hours 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays). Call 943-3247.

keiki con

Keiki Con: KYAAAAAAAAH IT’S ANOTHER CONVENTION-TYPE EVENT IN THE HANDY PETITE SIZE *runs away*

… just kidding. I’m just feeling guilty that I have yet to do any write-ups for the events that were part of that five-week Con-athon 2015 I mentioned earlier in this post. This event up in Central Oahu seems like it’s going to be a really fun time for keiki of all ages, with food trucks, games, various activities, a cosplay contest (register by 1 p.m. the day of the event); the Hawaii Game Truck; and an Artist Zone featuring make-and-take activities and Pineapple Man artist Sam Campos, Gordon Rider/Ara-Rangers/Edamame Ninjas/Star-Advertiser “Calabash” artist Jon Murakami, and Aumakua: Guardians of Hawaii artist Christopher Caravalho. Kawaii Kon will be on hand to give away free three-day passes (update 11/6, 5:30 p.m.: a pass will be awarded to the winner of the cosplay contest), too. Mililani Recreation Center 7 (take the H-2 Freeway to the Mililani Mauka exit, then shoot pretty much close to the top of Meheula Parkway; it’s at 95-1333 Lehiwa Drive, for you GPS types), 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: It’s the holiday season, which means this group of collaborative cartoon artists, ousted by preparations for Santa Claus and giant holiday trains at Pearlridge, is hitting the road this month. They’ll be at Aiea Library — home of the monthly Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Anime Club and the Face of Hawaii Ingress ™ — on Saturday and Nov. 21, from 1 to 4 p.m. The library is at 99-374 Pohai Place … and have I mentioned there’s still plenty of parking? What’s that? I mention that every time I mention there’s something at Aiea Library? Well, then. Call 483-7333.

Local manga exhibit crosses over to JCCH

One of the highlights of last year’s otaku calendar was “Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii,” an exhibit curated by Pen & Ink Works founder Brady Evans that traced the history of manga locally, from its origins in Japan to its influences on the local fan community. I spotlighted it twice in this space during its run, once before it opened, once before it closed. It was a great opportunity to look at original artwork from the featured artists and learn about their creative processes.

I’m still trying to figure out how they let this dork in the building to be part of the exhibit, though.

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CrossCul-JCCH-Invitation-1But let’s say you weren’t able to make it out to see the exhibit last year. It happens; maybe you were too busy during the time it was up between Sept. 6 and Oct. 2, or maybe the drive over the Koolaus to the Windward side didn’t agree with you. Fortunately for you, there’s a second chance coming up to see it, as the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii over in Moiliili hosts its revival starting Saturday. (Members and invited guests can get a sneak peek at 5:30 p.m. Friday, with Brady leading a walkthrough at 6 p.m.)

Brady recently told me that there’s been a healthy chunk of new content added to the exhibit to make a visit worthwhile to those of you who did visit last year. The highlights:

  • Kyunyo, the doujinshi artist featured in the Kawaii Kon section last year, is getting her own spotlight space this year. Pages from her latest work, “Define” — inspired by the anime series Magi — and a copy of the book itself will be on display.
  • Last year’s exhibit had a “Guide by Cell” feature, where visitors could call a number and hear some of the artists talk about their work. New recordings have been added, so this year, you can listen to Audra Furuichi (nemu*nemu), Jordan Takemoto and Tara Tamayori (Hachi Maru Hachi) and Stacey Hayashi (Journey of Heroes) along with last year’s lineup of Brady, Rose Dela Cruz (exhibition label illustrator), Jon Murakami (Gordon Rider), Roy Chang (Cacy & Kiara and the Curse of the Ki’i) and Patsy Iwasaki and Avery Berido (Hamakua Hero).
  • Roy and Audra have painted new murals. Here, have some photos Brady took of their work in progress.

  • The Kikaida section has been beefed up, with more memorabilia — including vintage Kamen Rider, Go-Ranger and Kikaida figurines! — from Scott Shinsato on display.
  • The Alphonse Elric and Persona Teddy costumes have been retired in favor of Voltron, also by the same artist. You might have seen it walking around Kawaii Kon last month.
  • “Meet the Artist/Author” sessions include Patsy and Avery (both of whom are flying in from Hawaii island!) to talk about Hamakua Hero (May 17. 2-3 p.m.) and Stacey talking about Journey of Heroes (May 24, 2-3 p.m.) There’s also going to be a Comic Jam & Artists Showcase with the artists from Comic Jam Hawaii from 1 to 3 p.m. May 31.

The exhibit runs through June 7 at JCCH (2454 S. Beretania St.), The community gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; admission is free. Ingress players, there’s a portal on site as well as several others within walking distance (all of which consistently hit max-level 8 under Resistance control, sigh). For more on the exhibit, visit hawaiimanga.com.

Ota-cool Incoming!
(special weekend of May 3-4 edition)

The return of “Crossing Cultures” is just one of the events happening in what’s turned out to be a really busy weekend not just for events with an element of otaku-ness in them, but in general. Unrelated to our discussion here, there’s Spam Jam, AARP’s paper-shredding event in Aiea, a craft and gift fair at Recreation Center 5 in Mililani, a neighborhood garage sale in Waipahu mauka of the Leeward Y, near Waipahu Uka Neighborhood Park … yeah, there’s a lot of stuff going on. And that doesn’t even count the fact that Sunday’s Star Wars Day (May the 4th, get it?). Here are the highlights.

Ninth Annual Hawaii Book & Music Festival: It’s going to be a busy weekend for Brady and some of the other “Crossing Cultures” artists/authors, as Hawaii Manga — with Brady, Stacey, Roy and the Hachi Maru Hachi gang — will have a booth as part of the annual celebration of local authors and musicians. Swing by the festival’s Author’s Pavilion around 4 p.m. Sunday and you can see Brady, Stacey and Jon talking about the exhibit and manga in Hawaii, too. On the Civic Center grounds near Honolulu Hale; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

FCBD_nodateFree Comic Book Day: Stefanie Nakasone did a good job in our print edition (subscription required) summarizing what’s going on, but for those of you who don’t want to click through, here’s a quick, Twitter-attention-span summary: Saturday. Free comics. Four stores (Westside Comics and Games, Gecko Books, Collector Maniacs, Other Realms), 17 libraries (12 on Oahu, plus Hilo and Thelma Parker Memorial on Hawaii island, Kihei and Lahaina on Maui, and Princeville on Kauai). Go get some (keeping in mind that not all of these books will be available at all locations).

And now, courtesy of The Face of Hawaii Ingress ™, Diane Masaki, here’s who’s showing up where for Free Comic Book Day at the libraries. Unless otherwise noted, all appearances will be at 10 a.m.:

Aiea: Hellboy, Powergirl, Supergirl, White Power Ranger, maybe Cyclops
Aina Haina: Batman and Kamen Rider
Kalihi-Palama: Angel (X-Men: First Class edition), Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, maybe Cyclops
Mililani: Wolverine (plus two surprise guests), Batman, maybe Luigi
Lahaina: Scout Trooper from the 501st Imperial Legion
Kapolei: Members of the 501st Imperial Legion (2-4 p.m.)
Salt Lake: Member of Team Rocket, Jubilee, maybe Cyclops

idkwhat2wear T-shirt blowout: The (take a deep breath here) 17th Islandwide Spring Crafts and Food Expo for Mother’s Day (aaaaaand exhale) is also happening this weekend. I mention this here is because frequent anime con exhibitor/friend of the blog idkwhat2wear will be clearing out T-shirts at this event for $5 each. To drive this point home, this picture appeared on the idk Facebook page late Wednesday afternoon.

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… yeeeeeaaaaah, that’s a lot of shirts.

Find them in booth 705 at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. $4 general admission, $3 military members and seniors 65 and older, free for children ages 13 and under. 4-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Kodomo no Hi: Sure, Children’s Day is technically on Monday, but Sunday’s as good a time as any to welcome back a JCCH event that skipped last year. Jon will be exhibiting at this event, and MangaBento will have a booth set up with various activities for the kiddies. Audra’s also going to be there to promote the Crossing Cultures exhibit from 11 a.m. to noon. They’ll be part of a day that will also feature entertainment, cultural and martial arts demonstrations, the traditional children’s kimono dressing and a keiki kendama tournament. (Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger once tried one of those kendamas at the behest of the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction. It … didn’t go very well.) At the center, 2454 S. Beretania St.; admission is free. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Hawaii Comic & Toy Expo: More than 20 dealers will be on hand to happily take all the money you have … umm, I mean, heartily encourage and nourish your various collectible and comic passions. Also in attendance will be artists Sam Campos, Andy Lee, Theodore Lee, Kevin Sano and Kanila Tripp. Admission is $3; children under 5 are free. Visit www.hawaiicomictoyexpo.com. Ala Moana Hotel (Garden Lanai room), 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

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). 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

[Kawaii Kon 2014] Once more into the fray

It’s a liiiiiittle past midnight as I’m writing this post here at Otaku Ohana Mobile HQ, a room here at the Ala Moana Hotel with a lovely view of the yacht harbor between the Hawaii Prince Hotel and another building, the name of which I wouldn’t be able to tell you without Googling it first.

Yup. It’s definitely Kawaii Kon time again. Here’s my traditional Day 0 “look at how many people who preregistered and showed up to pick up their badges on Thursday!” picture.

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And here’s my usual “Yay! I have my credentials! MY EXISTENCE IS VALIDATED” picture of what my press badge this year looks like.

But seeing as how I took a look back at Kawaii Kon #1 in 2005 in my last post, I thought it would be fun to look at the convention program from Kawaii Kon #10 to see just how much things have changed from then to now. The proper answer, of course, is “a lot.

Here’s the cover of this year’s program, full-color and glossy.

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Here’s are two pages of the guest list. Not shown but also in the program: no one, because these are all the guests that are at this year’s show.

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Here’s the con’s full schedule of events for Friday, Saturday and Sunday… not counting the video screenings, which are on a second two-page spread. Each page of this year’s program measures 8-1/2-by-11 inches, which means this year’s schedule would have taken up half of the 2005 program.

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And for fun? Here’s are this year’s maps of where everything is located in the Convention Center and in the newly expanded, ground-floored Artist Alley/Dealers Room exhibit hall.

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If I’m already achy from walking all around Ala Moana Center and to and from the Convention Center, you can pretty much guarantee that my legs will fall off by the time Kawaii Kon is over. Yes, kids, getting older is as awful as they say.

Some other con-related news of note coming in to Otaku Ohana Mobile HQ:

  • Hachi Maru Hachi is back with issue #3, and it’s their biggest issue yet — four stories over more than 150 pages. Tara Tamayori’s ongoing series, “Eternal Blade,” is joined this time by three new stories: “Death in Numbers” by Kaci Horimoto, “Refraction” by Caitlin Slattery, and “You’re Not Alone” by Jonathan Pinches. Pick up your copy at Artist Alley table 78. If you can’t make it to Kawaii Kon, order a print-on-demand version at www.createspace.com/4562129.
  • nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi will be selling original sketch cards featuring her interpretations of characters from Ghibli films — somebody better buy that Totoro card before I do! — and the hot anime of the past season, Kill la Kill. Find them in the Dealers Room, booth 51.
  • Speaking of original sketches, Comic Jam Hawaii coordinator Michael Cannon will be selling original sketch bookmarks of characters from anime, other cartoons and comics — somebody better buy that Yuki Nagato bookmark before I do! (Alas, this is the classic quandary of yours truly, the anime blogger who wants to save money yet buy everything he promotes.) Find him at Artist Alley table 57.
  • 10173560_10201156088739349_722823190_nArtist Kevin Sano has been known in the past for great-looking prints of characters from tokusatsu (live-action Japanese superhero) days like Kikaida, Hakaida and Kamen Rider V3. but the last two times I’ve seen him, at McCully-Moiliili Library’s Mini Con and Oni-Con Hawaii, he’s brought several Kikaida Minions, toys of those adorable yellow Despicable Me characters all painted up in tokusatsu gear. To your right, you can see his latest batch that he’ll have this weekend. Have your drool buckets handy, people. Find him at Artist Alley table 100.
  • Erika Engle is at Artist Alley table 14. Yes, that Erika Engle. She’ll be selling handmade jewelry with her daughter, Cassidy Gravitt.
  • If you remember my highlights roundup from my article in Thursday’s paper, you’ll recall that I mentioned that Stacey Hayashi, author of the “Journey of Heroes” graphic novel about the 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, would be hosting a panel at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. What I didn’t mention was that (a) she’ll be bringing 442nd vet Eddie Yamasaki with her to that panel and (b) she’s also going to be selling books, shirts and chibi soldier kokeshi dolls in Artist Alley. She’s splitting space with Smurphy Graphics, so you can find her at Artist Alley tables 90 and 91.
  • Those of you of a certain age may remember Jon Murakami’s first published comic strip “The University of Diverse City,” published in UH-Manoa’s paper of record, Ka Leo. This year marks 25 years since it was first published in 1989, and to celebrate, Jon’s produced an 11-by-17-inch print that features that landmark first strip, both as it first appeared in Ka Leo and a freshly redrawn version that shows how it would’ve looked had he drawn it today. Find him at Artist Alley table 58.
  • And last but certainly not least, freebies abound this con season! Sony will be giving away these Sony/Kawaii Kon-branded bags outright to the first 50 people who visit their booth, then with a purchase of $20 afterward. Meanwhile, over at the 7-Eleven across the street on Atkinson Drive, the first 50 people to show their con badges on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will receive a free copy of the Shinji Aramaki-directed Appleseed CGI film from 2004 on DVD.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya (March 17)

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

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

Spartan assault on our hearts (March 17)

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

Wedded bliss (June 2)

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

Cait Sith, art guardian (June 18)

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

A master immortalized (July 27)

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

Taku Taku dancing dancing (Aug. 25)

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

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

Crossing cosplay (Sept. 15)

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

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

When “aloha” means goodbye (Sept. 17)

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

Angelic consultation (Oct. 2)

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

The Macross miracle (Nov. 2)

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

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

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

The art of library talks (Nov. 6)

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

The Journey continues (Dec. 22)

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

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

“Anohana”: The flower we’re seeing on Maui

anohanaIt’s been a while since tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. has raved to me about wanting to see any anime, so when she does, you bet I’m going to perk up and take notice.

In this particular case, it’s Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, an 11-episode series that aired in Japan in 2011 and is currently available for free on Crunchyroll. In the series, a girl’s death ends up being the wedge that drives a group of childhood friends apart, but her ghostly return — and her haunting of the group’s leader — could end up being the key to them coming to terms over the guilt they felt about that tragic day. And a flower is probably involved. (Hey, I only saw the first episode of Kill La Kill on Wednesday. I have a lot of anime series catching-up to do.)

A feature-length film retelling the story was released in Japan in August; a few months later, in November, Aniplex of America announced it would be bringing the film to U.S. theaters, with Eleven Arts distributing. If you remember my first post on Evangelion 3.0 a few weeks ago, your sixth sense should be tingling right about now, considering that I said that pretty much anything with Eleven Arts attached to it has shown up locally as of late.

Well, an Aniplex press release announcing that a theater list was now available rattled into my inbox this morning … and there’s good and bad news. The good news is that the Anohana movie is, indeed, coming to Hawaii. The bad news? As of now, if you’re reading this somewhere that isn’t Maui, it’s going to cost you, at a bare minimum, round-trip airfare, a round-trip cab ride and a ticket to see it. That’s because, for the first time that I can remember this happening in all my years on this beat, Anohana is skipping Honolulu entirely and screening exclusively at the Kaahumanu 6 theaters in Kahului.

So here’s the deal, Mauians: There will be two showings, one at 2 p.m. on Wed., Jan. 22, the other at 7 p.m. Sat., Jan. 25. Fandango ticket links are embedded in that last sentence; tickets cost $15 each. Ticketholders will have an opportunity to score cool gifts, including “Letters From Menma” replicas and movie posters. And in case you’re still on the fence, here, have a trailer.

For more information on the movie, visit www.AniplexUSA.com/anohanamovie. In the meantime, I’ll be sitting over here, alternating between being jealous of those of you on Maui and seriously contemplating whether I should hop over for a day and indulge in Komoda Store cream puffs, guri guri from the Tasaka shop, and pretty much everything Sam Sato’s in Wailuku serves up. That’s good eatin’.

Evangelion 3.0, update 3.0

eva3_posterB_B1_org_OK_RGBWhile I was poking around on Fandango, I decided to check in on whether the Eva 3.0 screenings for the Kaahumanu 6 and Ward Stadium theaters finally materialized. And they have! Ticket links and prices are below. (Note: “Seniors” refers to anyone ages 60 and older; “children” refers to anyone ages 3-11.)

Those screenings are more than two weeks earlier than the Doris Duke Theatre screenings at the Honolulu Museum of Art that I’ve written about before, so if you’re really itching to see Eva 3.0 sooner rather than later, here’s your chance. If not, tickets are still available for all those screenings. As far as I know, tickets are also still available for the Kawaii Kon screening at 7:30 p.m. Thurs., Jan. 30, for free to those who have a three-day badge from 2013 or who already preregistered for 2014. Details for that offer are in this post.

Ota-cool incoming!

Unless some major news breaks in the next few days, I expect this will be the last Ota-cool Incoming! update for 2013. It’s been a very fruitful year for the local anime/manga fan community … and the first few months of 2014 are already shaping up to be fun ones as well. So let’s get to it!

journey of heroes 2Honolulu Gift Fair: We already knew that Stacey Hayashi, author of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team graphic novel Journey of Heroes, would be one of the vendors in attendance. Now comes word that she’ll have copies of the fresh-off-the-press second printing of the book as well. The new edition contains four additional pages — featuring letters from veterans and a list of donors to schools — and a redesigned cover. Well, okay, so the title bar just changed from red to blue, as you can see in the picture to the right. But hey, it’s something. Stacey will also have shirts featuring the chibis and buttons available for sale as well. Admission is free. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall; 3-9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Aiea Library Anime Club: This month, librarian Diane Masaki is screening … well … something holiday-themed, that’s for sure. Could be polar bears. Could be something about three homeless friends and an abandoned baby. Just show up and act pleasantly surprised, okay? At the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

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

Future attractions

New Year’s Ohana Festival: Kick off 2014 with the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii in an event guaranteed to be filled with food, games, entertainment, cultural activities and a Kawaii Kon booth, where preregistrations will be taken and Eva 3.0 tickets will be given away. At the center (2454 S. Beretania St.) and nearby Moiliili Field. Jan. 19, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Honolulu Festival: It’s the 20th anniversary edition of the festival promoting harmony between Hawaii and the Asia-Pacific region; the theme: “Jubilation, One Heart, One Pacific, One World.” Just as in previous years, Kawaii Kon will have an exhibit, and the Nagaoka Fireworks display will put a bow on the proceedings. Hawai’i Convention Center and other venues around Waikiki, March 7-9.

Kawaii Kon 2014: Guests for the 10th anniversary edition include voice actors Jim Cummings, Grey DeLisle, Ayumi Fujimura, Quinton Flynn, Richard Horvitz, Tetsuya Kakihara, Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh; professional cosplayer Leah Rose; and local comedian Augie T., serving as emcee. Preregistration open now; $37 for a three-day pass for children ages 5-12, $42 general admission. Hawai’i Convention Center, April 4-6.

Next time in Otaku Ohana

This.

Indeed, a Kawaii Christmas is the only Christmas for me.

And there are a lot more pictures from where that came from, too.

Season of giving, season of sales

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Black Friday and beyond!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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