Your anime / manga blogger’s clearing-house clearinghouse

New posts from me in this space have been rather sporadic as of late, and for that I apologize; it’s probably going to be like this probably through mid-August or so, as I take care of some projects at home and then endure … *shudder* … the primary election season at work. (Insert screams here.) I’ll try to update this blog as much as I can in the meantime — there will be some kind of coverage of the MangaBento exhibit here while it’s still up, I promise! — but if I disappear for weeks at a time, don’t worry, I’ll still be coming back. Sometime. I’ll tell you when we’re ready to abandon this blog, and we’re definitely not ready to do that yet.

One of the things I’m doing at home is some major cleaning, clearing out some of the stuff that’s been piling up to make room for new things. It’s a bit like that for news involving the local anime/manga fan community, so let’s make with the cleaning already and get to the news:

IMG_9289“Showme” the artwork: It’s time once again for the annual exhibit by MangaBento, the group of artists inspired by anime and manga, on the second floor of the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St.), with an opening reception (with refreshments!) scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday and the exhibit itself running through July 12. This year’s exhibit is called “Showme”; rendered in Japanese kanji, the sound-alike phrase “shoumi” means “relish, gusto, appreciation.” If this exhibit is anything like the group’s past exhibits that I’ve covered in this blog over the years — “Kakimochi” in 2011 (part 1, part 2), “Nakamaboko” (part 1, part 2) and “Tomo-e-Ame” (part 1, part 2, part 3) — expect a nice blend of 2-D and 3-D art in a variety of media, a giant mural in the stairwell from the first to the second floor, and a table where visitors can sketch to their hearts’ content. For more information about MangaBento, visit their website at www.manga-bento.com.

KPP in HNL: In case you aren’t familiar with the work of the 21-year-old artist currently known as Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, here, have one of her music videos.

And another one.

And yet another one.

10373038_10101024997209366_8916960168389356119_oWhen you can describe the one with the flying koi and mouse-head robot no jutsu! as the most normal of the three, that’s … saying quite a bit, actually. Here are more of her videos on YouTube, in case you’re inclined to follow up.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu — or “KPP,” to her loyal fans and lazy anime/manga bloggers who don’t want to keep typing “Kyary Pamyu Pamyu” every time they refer to her in a post — is coming to Hawaii for the first time to wrap up her “Nanda Collection” world tour, at 5 p.m. July 20 at the Waikiki Shell. Tickets went on sale Friday … and since I only started seriously working on this post around Wednesday, I held off on writing up this item in case demand hit Bruno Mars/Jack Johnson-esque “sneeze and you missed out” levels.

I suppose I needn’t have worried. Judging by those videos above, it probably takes a fan of a certain constitution to really appreciate what KPP brings to the table. Indeed, after being AWOL due to heavy server load on the first day of ticket sales, Ticketmaster’s interactive seat map finally kicked in and started working on Saturday … and here’s what it looked like as of a little after 8 p.m. Saturday. Dark dots show seats available.

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That’s about half of the $85 level seats and virtually all of the $60 level seats that are still available. $30 lawn seating’s still readily available, too, for those of you who don’t mind bringing your own mats.

So if you want to check out what all the fuss is about (and see for yourself just how much more crazy KPP can cram into a live concert), go forth and get yourself some tickets now.

My cutest as-yet-unpublished-until-now picture of the year so far: This one, taken at the “Crossing Cultures” artist meet-and-greet event late last month at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.

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Kids love their plush pups from nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi, that’s for sure.

An Oni-Con Hawaii 2014 update: Nothing to report. Let’s … just move on.

A Taku Taku Matsuri Summer Festival update: For those of you who missed the event’s recent successful Kickstarter campaign, presale tickets are now available on Ticketleap (ow.ly/ygYBF) — $13 (plus a $1.65 service charge) for anyone 16 and older, $8 (plus a $1.40 service charge) for anyone under 16. The event, which as of now features voice actor Kyle Hebert, DJ E2D, video game tournaments, a Star Trek-themed cafe and various artists and vendors, runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii (2454 S. Beretania St.). Looks like more artists and vendors would be appreciated, too, so email taku2matsuri at yahoo dot com if you’d be interested in contributing to that effort.

Speaking of Taku Taku Matsuri: There’s a water gun fight (or more specifically, a WATER GUN FIGHT!!!!!) scheduled for July 19. No details yet. But I’m fairly confident there will be more info posted at the event page somewhat sorta soonish.

And while we’re (probably) at the beach: Any good WATER GUN FIGHT!!!!! has to take place outside … which brings us to a few other beach events being held this summer. On July 3, Jason David Frank — otherwise known as “the  tri-named Power Rangers actor not named Johnny Yong Bosch that everyone goes crazy over” — will be hosting a beach day at Duke Kahanamoku Beach starting at 11 a.m. He’ll also be shooting footage for the second season of My Morphin Life.

Kawaii Kon recently announced plans for its annual beach day as well — mark your calendars for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 16 at Ala Moana Beach Park, and get ready for a day that already promises to include sand castle building and a game of Capture the Flag (“now with water balloons!” as the event page proclaims, seemingly giddily). Keep up with how that develops over on the anime con’s event page.

Midnight milestone: Taku Taku Matsuri hits Kickstarter goal

taku taku matsuri logoIt looks like the local anime/manga fan community will have something to do on Saturday, Aug. 9 (besides voting in the state primary election, of course) after all.

A shade before midnight Friday — and with about four hours left in the campaign, at that — a $15 pledge nudged the Taku Taku Matsuri Kickstarter campaign to its $2,000 funding goal. The monthlong campaign ultimately closed with $2,070. It was close, but we’ll indeed be getting our second edition of the summer festival with voice actor Kyle Hebert, a Star Trek-themed cafe, video game tournaments and a dance party featuring DJ E2D.

Just how close was it? Via Kicktraq, a website that offers handy-dandy Kickstarter campaign breakdowns for stat geeks and friendly neighborhood anime/manga bloggers looking for something more meaty to write about than just “Yay! This campaign got funded,” here’s a graph that breaks down donation amounts by day, taken from its overall analysis of the Taku Taku Matsuri campaign. Click on the image to get a larger version (which still is a bit hard to read, so sorry, older folk).

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Here’s what’s interesting about this graph: In most of the campaigns I’ve followed over the past few years, there’s an initial burst of enthusiasm among the hard-core faithful, a loooooooooong period of little movement where pledges trickle in, and a last-minute push where people pile on, most likely because they see the goal is within reach and are more than happy to back a winner. Sometimes, the property’s popularity is enough that it’ll blow past its goal in a matter of hours — the oft-cited Double Fine Adventure and Order of the Stick reprint campaigns are among those, as are the more recent Anime News Nina graphic novel and Megatokyo visual novel campaigns. Others, like the campaigns for Sweet Revenge Honolulu’s pie press, Tommy Tallarico’s Video Games Live! project and a new Amplitude game from Harmonix, needed that last-minute push to carry them over the top.

At least all of those performed rather decently at the outset, though. We never did see that initial enthusiasm for the Taku Taku Matsuri campaign; it raised only $100 a week in and hadn’t even reached $800 by the time I wrote of it again last week. Which made that last push to the finish even more remarkable — something clicked somewhere that made more people want to give.

Consider also:

  • The last $1,225 — 59 percent of the total! — was contributed over the last six days of the campaign.
  • Going by straight-up backer stats — that is, assuming someone who contributed to a particular tier paid exactly that amount and nothing more — the campaign would have raised only $1,160. That means backers straight-up donated $910, or close to 44 percent of the amount raised.

Kicktraq’s funding progress trend chart also shows just how crazy it was tracking this campaign. The green line shows the amount the site estimated the campaign would raise based on the funding trend at the time; the blue line tracks actual funding progress.

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Note that the only time the green line ever went above the goal line is when the blue line met it … on the very last day. It’s a frenetic pace that I have to admit I didn’t see coming about a week or so ago.

So! I can write this part with much more confidence now: The second annual Taku Taku Matsuri summer festival will be taking place in the Manoa Grand Ballroom of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii (2454 S. Beretania St.) Non-Kickstarter preregistration tickets, at $13, will go on sale … ummmm … sometime sorta soonish; I’ll have more information as that becomes available. For the latest information, visit www.facebook.com/taku2matsuri.

Stretching toward home

CrossCul-JCCH-Invitation-1The month of May is winding down, and so too are a pair of events that I’ve talked about in this space in recent weeks: the “Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii” exhibit at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, and the Kickstarter campaign for the second Taku Taku Matsuri summer festival. Both of them are wrapping up on June 7, and both of them have some new news tidbits emerging that make them worth mentioning here again.

The last event being held in conjunction with the “Crossing Cultures” exhibit is also the biggest one yet, a live drawing session featuring much of the island’s top talent — and perhaps you, too, if  you’re artistically inclined. That’s because the cartoonists from Comic Jam Hawaii, the group that usually gets together every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center, will be setting up shop at JCCH from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday outside the gallery, drawing manga-themed pieces and offering inspiration for attendees to do so as well. Drawing materials will be provided.

Joining them will be some of the artists featured in the exhibit — Roy Chang, Audra Furuichi, Jon Murakami and Kyunyo. They’ll be taking a limited number of commissions for $15 each — come early to secure your spot. Or if you consider yourself a lucky person, just show up, and you can enter a raffle to win original artwork from them. Roy’s piece features his characters, Cacy and Kiara, on paper fans:

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Audra has a watercolor piece with her plush pup creations — Anpan, Nemu, Enchilada and Blue — with a giant Pollo:

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Jon’s marker piece features Gordon Rider, sidekick Steve the Monkey, and a whole bunch of Edamame Ninjas and Geckos:

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And Kyunyo has a lovely Kuroko’s Basketball print:

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There also will be other prizes up for grabs, including a Chewbacca backpack. Yup. That’s apparently a thing. If you ever wanted to bear the burden of a Wookie on your back, this is your time.

If you haven’t had a chance to take in the exhibit yet, you can do so as well, with curator Brady Evans, Journey of Heroes author Stacey Hayashi and the Hachi Maru Hachi gang participating in a gallery walk-through. And yes, you’ll probably see your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger around as well — I couldn’t possibly miss the biggest celebration of local manga culture since Kawaii Kon last month, could I?

JCCH  is located at 2454 S. Beretania St.; again, the event runs from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. If you can’t make it, 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. For more on the exhibit, visit hawaiimanga.com.

Taku Taku Matsuri’s last stand

taku taku matsuri logoOver in Taku Taku Matsuri land, the news is … well, a bit more sobering at this point. With a bit less than eight days left, the Kickstarter campaign has raised less than 40 percent of its goal, sitting at $735 out of $2,000. The $100 “meal with voice actor Kyle Hebert” tier has gotten a bit sweeter with the addition of a $20 gift certificate for Correct Distortion, purveyors of kimonos, contemporary Japanese fashion and accessories like wigs and jewelry.

But at this point, it would take a lot more than a sellout at that tier to push this campaign over the top … and it’s definitely running out of time. As an official comment posted May 23 on the Taku Taku Matsuri Facebook page noted:

Remember~ even if you pledge, if we don’t get fully funded, won’t happen~ SO! Share the link and get more people interested!! (≧▽≦)

… so in keeping with Kickstarter’s “all or nothing” approach, if this campaign fails, that’ll be the end of the discussion about this year’s event, and I’ll have to find something else to talk about that month, like … I dunno … episode-by-episode reviews of Cardcaptor Sakura on Blu-ray or something like that. While that may be fun, it also won’t be quite the same. Visit ow.ly/wUtKl to check out the campaign.

Ota-cool incoming!

ARTafterDARK: Rakugaki: A blend of graffiti and traditional Japanese art makes its way to the Honolulu Museum of Art’s monthly evening art party, and four of the “Crossing Cultures” artists — Roy, Jon, Brady and Rose Dela Cruz — will be part of it as well. Use their drawings, add in a few of your own, and you can create your own souvenir manga to take home. You can also enjoy the Light from Shadow: Gold in Japanese Art exhibit currently on display, sample Japanese foods, and sip on shochu from Iichiko, event sponsors touting “Japan’s best-selling genuine shochu.” Yum. Learn more about the event at www.honolulumuseum.org/events/art_after_dark/
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 The museum is at 900 S. Beretania St. General admission $10; free for museum members. 6 to 9 p.m. Friday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: Too much drawing over the weekend? Naaaaaaaah. The Comic Jammers will be reconvening for their regular first-Sunday-of-the-month meeting at Pearlridge Center. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

“Otsukare-sama” Party: Regardless of whether Taku Taku Matsuri reaches its funding goal, organizer Yuka Nagaoka already has another event lined up: a party to let off some steam following the long slog of the academic year. Some of the musical acts who would be performing at Taku Taku Matsuri if the event takes place will be showing up; activities include … ummm … table flipping. Hopefully not with the pupus and drinks still on them. That would be kinda bad. For ages 18 and older. Visit www.facebook.com/events/443091685828142/ (no Facebook login required). Ong King Arts Center (184 N. King St.), 5 to 9 p.m. June 7.

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.comNext meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. June 8.

Taku Taku Matsuri hopes for a Kickstart

One of the breakthrough otaku-targeted events last year was the Taku Taku Matsuri’s natsu matsuri, or summer festival, where about 300 people showed up at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu on a sunny Sunday in August to cosplay, play games, buy Japanese-themed merchandise and food from a number of vendors, enjoy entertainment and just have a fun time overall. As I wrote last year, organizer Yuka C. Nagaoka started Taku Taku Matsuri to give local fans of anime and manga culture another venue where they could gather, similar to the events she took part in growing up in Japan.

In looking through my records, it seems that I failed to post a gallery of highlights from last year’s festivities, so let’s correct that now, shall we?

taku taku matsuri logoThis year, Taku Taku Matsuri is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 9 (it’s on Primary Election Day, so don’t forget to vote before you go, or at least pull an absentee ballot!). It promises to be bigger — a one-day mini-anime con of sorts being held at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s Manoa Grand Ballroom, with a Star Trek-themed cafe, video game tournaments, a dance party featuring DJ E2D, and special guest Kyle Hebert. Yes, that Kyle Hebert, last here in the islands for HEXXP in 2011, a voice actor best known for his roles as Kiba in Naruto, Kamina in Gurren Lagann, the older version of Gohan in Dragon Ball Z and Ryu in the newer Street Fighter games. Of course, all the accoutrements from last year’s event will be back as well.

With a bigger venue and more activities come higher costs. While last year’s event featured free admission, there will be an admission fee charged at this year’s event. Yuka told me that without any sponsors, she has to pay for everything out of pocket … and those costs add up pretty quickly.

And that’s where the Second Annual Taku Taku Matsuri Kickstarter comes in. Launched about a week and a half ago, the campaign has to date raised $130 … a decent amount, but there’s a good amount of work that needs to be done to reach the goal of $2,000 by June 7. The pledge tiers are simple enough that I can actually include them here on the blog for once:

  • A pledge of $10 and up gets you a ticket at the lowest preregistration price available. (Preregistration tickets outside of the Kickstarter campaign will be $13, while the at-the-door cost will be $15.)
  • A pledge of $25 and up gets you a ticket and a special Taku Taku Matsuri T-shirt.
  • The top tier, at $100 and up, nets you not only a ticket and a shirt, but also an invitation to a special meal (time/place to be determined) with Kyle Hebert the next day, Aug. 10. There are only 10 slots available for that perk, though, so you’ll want to jump on that sooner rather than later if you’re interested in that.

Of course, you could also throw a few bucks in the campaign’s direction even if you can’t make it, just as a way of showing your support for events like these in our community.

The thing about Kickstarter is that unless you have the built-in draw of being a known commodity like the Rifftrax trio or can go viral with a clever idea like this guy who’s simply printing shirts with his final Kickstarter stats on it, it’s so tricky to find enough people who believe in what you’re selling to sign on. In the past few years, I’ve covered successful campaigns and not-so-successful ones in this space. As I understand it, the fate of whether this event takes place as planned depends on how this campaign does; here’s hoping this one turns out to be a success story.

If you want to keep tabs on the Kickstarter campaign, visit ow.ly/wUtKl; general news about all things Taku Taku Matsuri can be found at www.facebook.com/taku2matsuri (Facebook login not required). Also, if you’re interested in being a vendor or exhibiting artist at the event, email taku2matsuri at yahoo dot com, and Yuka will be happy to help set that up.

Ota-cool incoming!

“Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii”: The Brady Evans-curated exhibit is back, this time at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s Community Gallery. Here’s my post about the exhibit. From 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Patsy Iwasaki and Avery Berido, the team behind Hamakua Hero, will be speaking; that’ll be followed next Saturday by a talk by Journey of Heroes author Stacey Hayashi at the same time, while the Comic Jam Hawaii artists will be hanging out from 1 to 3 p.m. May 31. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; admission is free. Visit hawaiimanga.com. Exhibit on display through June 7.

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.

MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists usually meets every second and fourth Sunday of the month at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St., room 200). Visit www.manga-bento.com. Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. May 25.

Ota-cool Incoming!: EVERYTHING IS AWESOME

Today’s post is brought to you by The Lego Movie. It’s not a formal sponsorship (which is too bad in a way, because after seeing that movie, I want to go out and buy every last Lego Movie set out there.) Rather, it’s because the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction and I caught it Wednesday night (yes, we opted for that over The Wind Rises, but hey, I already saw it and we’re willing to wait until it hits Consolidated’s discounted GMT list starting March 7). We enjoyed it thoroughly. And then I woke up this morning with the song lyrics EVERYTHING IS AWESOME, EVERYTHING IS COOL WHEN YOU’RE PART OF A TEAM stuck in a loop in my mind and these guys menacing my laptop.

‘Sup, primary Lego Movie antagonists Lord Business and Bad Cop.

It’s strangely appropriate that that song is stuck in my mind, because there are some pretty awesome events coming up starting this weekend and running … well, into April, really. So sit back, pull up your favorite calendar-planning app, and let’s dive right in:

Taku Taku Friending Party!Taku Taku Matsuri “Friending” Party: Play games and meet people at this mixer for local otaku. Non-alcoholic “mocktails” with names like “801 Breeze,” “Ichigo Pantsu” and “Yuri Paradise” are being created exclusively for the event and will be available for $4 each. Tickets for $15 are available at takutaku.ticketleap.com/friending-party/; you get your choice of one of four mini-bentos included in that price. For ages 16 and up. Nagomi Japanese Teppan and Lounge (1687 Kapiolani Blvd.), noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

“Anime Rocks!”: It’s Kawaii Kon’s third annual pin launch party, and they’re pulling out all the stops to make sure anyone who shows up is suitably entertained. EMKE is back to rock the house; this time they’re being joined by Streetlight Cadence, a local quartet with a cellist and accordionist, which automatically makes them one of the coolest groups ever in my book. Augie T, the official emcee of all things Kawaii Kon, will be on hand to … umm … emcee. And if the specialty drink-loving side of you didn’t get enough at Saturday’s “Friending” Party, there’s one to try here as well: Kawaii Kon Punch, in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions. (Drink responsibly, people.) Hard Rock Cafe Waikiki (280 Beachwalk Ave.), 2-5 p.m. Sunday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists has just one official public gathering in March so far, and it’s coming up Sunday at Pearlridge Center. If you’re really want to see some of this group’s work, though, head out to Honolulu Hale, where there’s an exhibit in the first-floor courtyard spotlighting their work as well as that of MangaBento and late cartoonist Dave Thorne through March 13. I’ll be swinging by there and chronicling that exhibit in a future post. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Kawaii Kon Karaoke Kompetition: The road to KKX continues with this, the last of three preliminary rounds for the anime convention’s annual karaoke contest. Aspiring singers, read up on the rules at kawaiikon.com/events/karaoke/karaoke-preliminary-rounds/, then make your way to Orvis Auditorium on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. March 9.

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. And there may be a special announcement involving your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger next week, too … Hawai’i Convention Center and other venues around Waikiki, March 7-9.

Ongoing

The Wind Rises screenings: Of course, you knew about these already.

photo-main“All Eyes on Me”: If there’s one thing I feel guilty about not covering until now, having been up to my eyeballs in stuff related to The Wind Rises and Doraemon in recent weeks, it’s this Kickstarter project by Saki Kashimura, a local artist who’s sold some of her work in the past in Kawaii Kon’s Artist Alley. She’s looking to publish a 32-page art book with pieces she’s done from 2012 to now. With nine days left, she’s already surpassed her goal, but there’s still room to jump on board. You can see what she’s done in the past at www.pixiv.net/member.php?id=676479; check out the project at www.kickstarter.com/projects/880144282/artbook-all-eyes-on-me.

“Meet Doraemon: Japan’s Time-Traveling Cat”: Fujiko F. Fujio’s most beloved creation is here and cute-ing up the Bishop Museum campus, as you can see here.

A Doraemon statue with the Honolulu skyline in the background. Pretty cool, really.

Ten statues, a replica of the Dokodemo (Anywhere) Door, sketching and coloring stations, a manga library featuring Doraemon manga volumes from around the world and samples of the new English-language digital edition on iPads, a 10-minute animated short playing on loop, and an exhibit of original Fujio manga art … do you really need more reasons to visit? If you consider yourself an anime/manga fan, you must go. I’m even working on a photo tour of the exhibit for a future post as further proof. Admission is $19.95, $16.95 for seniors, $14.95 for ages 4-12; $12.95, $10.95 and $8.95, respectively, for Hawaii residents and military. Visit www.bishopmuseum.org. Through April 20.

Future attractions

Kawaii Kon 2014: Guests for the 10th anniversary edition include voice actors Jim Cummings, Ayumi Fujimura, Quinton Flynn, Richard Horvitz, Tetsuya Kakihara, Vic Mignogna, Nicki Rapp, Michael Sinterniklaas, Stephanie Sheh and Janet Varney; musical guests EMKE, Kagemaya Hironobu and Yoko Ishida; professional cosplayer Leah Rose; Misako Aoki, Lolita model and official Japanese kawaii ambassador (really, it’s a formal title); the Chalk Twins, traveling performance artists who will be crafting a giant chalk mural; and local comedian Augie T., serving as emcee. Online preregistration is open through March 22; $42 for a three-day pass for children ages 5-12, $52 general admission. Hawai’i Convention Center, April 4-6.

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.

Ota-cool! October, part 3: Kickstart-a-gogo

Crowdfunding, the Internet-connected notion where people contribute to a big pot of money to help a particular project go from someone’s idea to reality, has really become popular as of late. Local otaku-centered events have been become more popular as well, with events from traditional anime conventions like Kawaii Kon and Oni-Con Hawaii to what I’m calling “micro-cons,” convention-like experiences on a smaller scale like the recent Mini Con at McCully-Moiliili Library, Kawaii Kon’s Anime Day at Windward Mall and Taku Taku Matsuri, dotting the calendar.

But is there room for a crowdfunded micro-con in Honolulu? The University of Hawaii Anime Manga Society thought so when they launched a Kickstarter campaign for M.O.E., the Manoa Otaku Experience, on Sept. 4. And with a little over a week to go before the funding campaign ends, the answer is: Yes. Yes, there is. At $2,066, the total raised so far is a shade over the fundraising goal of $2,000, which means there will be an event on some Saturday down the line.

MOE Matsuri logoSo tomorrow’s MOE Matsuri, a collaboration between UH AMS and Taku Taku Matsuri meant to give an extra promotional/funding boost to the campaign, has turned into a celebration of sorts as well. Appropriate, because when you look at elements of the M.O.E. proposal and compare them to what happened a few months ago at Taku Taku Matsuri, the two events share similar traits. MOE Matsuri will feature a cosplay cafe, vendors (including friends of the blog Jon Murakami and idkwhat2wear, along with annastetic x candy, CAS Crafts & Collectibles, The Rambling Scholar, Bryan + Pueo, Studio Mind Ore, By Thought and Sydney & Max), games and Taku Taku Matsuri organizer Yuka Nagaoka rocking a schoolgirl uniform. (Yes, that won out over “cross-dress,” “Lolita” and “nekomimi maid” in a recent poll of … umm … one person, it would seem.) That’s all happening on the third floor of the UH-Manoa Campus Center, rooms 307-310, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Manoa Otaku Experience logoAs for MOE itself, here’s what else the organizers are hoping to incorporate:

  • Cosplay events — contests, a fashion show and Cosplay Chess
  • Karaoke contest
  • Video game room
  • AMV (anime music video) contest

Admission to MOE won’t be free, but if you contribute to the Kickstarter campaign, you can pre-register for $8-$10. (There are 95 slots available at the lower price, so best get in on that now if you want to save a few bucks.) If you’d like to have a meal at the Cosplay Cafe as well, there are still 39 $30 funding packages up for purchase. Other funding options are also available. And let’s not forget about stretch goals that include T-shirts and more days for the event (which admittedly seem out of reach at this late date, but who knows, maybe the several dozen of you who still read this blog will surprise me somehow and really push this thing higher). You have until 10:37 a.m. Oct. 19 to contribute, so visit ow.ly/pJYNF if you’re interested.

While I’m talking about crowdfunding campaigns, there are two others of note going on at the moment:

  • The Chalk Twins, sisters from Florida who have drawn chalk art at conventions nationwide, is running an Indiegogo campaign to fund trips to 16 anime cons next year … and Kawaii Kon is on that list. Perks include bookmarks, signed prints, T-shirts and original sketches and artwork. The funding period runs through Oct. 31; visit ow.ly/pJZSn.
  • Here locally, 11-year-old Mariana Agena, daughter of Twitterite Lance Agena, is selling her manga, Code: Flower Fairys, as a fundraiser for a trip to this year’s Pop Warner National Cheer Competition in Orlando, Fla. $6 gets you a 110-page PDF, and while it may not have a professional sheen to it — it’s basically scans from a sketchbook — it’s still incredibly cute. Besides, buying it gives you instant karma points for helping nurture the artistic and literary creativity of an 11-year-old girl. The campaign is ongoing at gumroad.com/l/POUq.

More for the month

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 202). Visit www.manga-bento.com. Meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday and Oct. 27.

Kawaii Kon volunteer meeting #2: You’ve seen that there are going to be a number of great guests coming to next year’s show, and you know there are going to be thousands of people who are going to show up to see those guests. So why not help out a bit? It’s time for the second of several volunteer staff meetings over the next few months. Prospective volunteers must attend two meetings, so why procrastinate? Start now. Learn more about volunteering and download the proper forms at www.kawaii-kon.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=7788; the meeting, at Kakaako Waterfront Park, will be from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 19.

Aiea Library Anime Club: Young adult librarian Diane Masaki will be screening episodes of I Don’t Know What My Young Adult Librarian Will Be Showing At Club, But I’m Sure It’ll Be Really Neat! at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. Never heard of that series? It’s a romantic comedy featuring an awkward teenager surrounded by a bevy of moe-blob girls. Or I may have just made that up on the fly because the actual series has yet to be determined. But anyway. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Oct. 19.

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. Oct. 20.

Oni-Con Hawaii: Guests include Yuko Ashizawa, a fashion designer with Atelier Pierrot; Final Fantasy series composer Nobuo Uematsu and his band, the Earthbound Papas; Hiroshi Takahashi, voice of Ryu in the later Street Fighter games, Eiji Kikumaru in Prince of Tennis and Japan in Hetalia; Sana, visual kei musician; and J. Michael Tatum, voice of Sebastian in Black Butler and France in Hetalia. Also featuring the Cosplay Chess Brigade and Yu x Me Maid Cafe & Host Club. Preregistration open now; $45 for a three-day pass, or buy a la carte: $20 for Friday, $30 for Saturday, $25 for Sunday. Three-day passes are also available at MiniQ (98 Kauhale St., Aiea) and all Big City Diner locations. Hawai’i Convention Center, Nov. 1-3.