It looks like that cluster of Studio Ghibli movies screening at Consolidated’s Kahala 8 complex — first noticed a few weeks ago while I was looking into Regal Cinema’s Studio Ghibli Fest — has, indeed, blossomed into A Thing.
Last Monday, Consolidated Theatres promoted Facebook events for two movies — Ponyo and Whisper of the Heart — branded with a “Studio Ghibli Summer Festival” logo. Events have since been created for all the movies screening through June. It isn’t related to the Studio Ghibli Fest, and it still isn’t as comprehensive as Consolidated’s all-theater-encompassing Studio Ghibli Festival last year, but the 11 movies being shown are key pieces of Ghibli lore … with, of course, Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro included. We’re probably at the point where you’re either really tired of seeing these same movies over and over again or just can’t get enough of seeing them on the big screen. For those of you who lean toward the latter, welcome back.
Your starting lineup:
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: May 31 and June 1
Spirited Away: June 7-8
Ponyo: June 14-15
Whisper of the Heart: June 21-22
Princess Mononoke: June 28-29
The Cat Returns: July 5-6
Howl’s Moving Castle: July 12-13
The Wind Rises: July 19-20
My Neighbor Totoro: July 26-27
When Marnie Was There: Aug. 2-3
Kiki’s Delivery Service: Aug. 9-10
The English-subtitled versions of each movie will screen at 7 p.m. on the first day of their runs, followed by the English-dubbed versions at 2 p.m. on the second day. All of them are screening on Wednesdays and Thursdays, which makes it great for friendly neighborhood otaku bloggers who just happen to have those days off, perhaps not so much for people who have traditional weekday work shifts. Find out more and order tickets by visiting consolidatedtheatres.com/programs-and-events, clicking on a month and “Studio Ghibli Festival,” and proceeding from there.
A few final notes on the Regal Ghibli festival: You have until Wednesday to order Regal’s $60 series pass; the link changed since the last time I wrote about it, so you can find it here. Also, Hilo finally has confirmed screening dates! Yay!
It’s been an … interesting past few weeks since I last posted something here on the Otaku Ohana blog. The first half away was spent working on a profile of Hitbox Music Ensemble (here’s the link for you subscribers out there) in advance of Kawaii Kon. The second half has been spent a) taking time to recover the introvert life-hearts I drained socializing at Kawaii Kon (trust me, it takes a lot out of me), b) finally seeing Your Name with the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction on Wednesday, and c) rigging up what I had intended to be a travel netbook computer as my primary computer after my former primary computer died a horrible, meltdown-y death … on the day before Kawaii Kon began. Fortunately, I’ve kept multiple backups of my archive of photos from events I’ve attended throughout my blogging career, so those are safe. But it’s probably going to be slow going for a while until I get things up to speed and pull enough pennies from my couch to get a new computer.
I’m finally back, though! And I come bearing news that there’s going to be another Studio Ghibli film festival rolling through our fair state. Here, have a trailer.
(By the way, is it just me, or does it sound like the voice-over guy says “Hi-yo Miyazaki?” Hi-yoooooooooo~~~! Ahem. Sorry. Pronunciation pet peeve.)
Granted, the lineup for the GKids Studio Ghibli Fest isn’t nearly as comprehensive as Consolidated’s screen-all-the-things Ghibli Film Festival last year, but it’s still a chance to catch six favorites from the studio’s vault on the big screen. My Neighbor Totoro leads off on June 25-26, followed by Kiki’s Delivery Service July 23-24, Castle in the Sky Aug. 27-28, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Sept. 24-25, Spirited Away Oct. 29-30, and Howl’s Moving Castle Nov. 26-27. Those are all Sunday-Monday date combos; the English-dubbed versions will be screening locally at 12:55 p.m. on the Sundays, with the English-subtitled versions screening at 7 p.m. on the Mondays.
Three Regal theaters will be hosting the festivities this time around: Dole Cannery Stadium 18 in Iwilei, Makalapua Stadium 10 in Kona, and the lusciously luxe Kapolei Commons 12, with its reclining plush seating, upscale food offerings and Eating House 1849, La Tour Cafe and Gyu-Kaku just outside. Yum.
(It should be noted that Regal’s theater list includes a fourth venue, the Prince Kuhio 9 in Hilo, but no tickets are listed for sale there on Fandango for any of the series films. It’s not listed in the GKids site listings, either. Curious.)
Tickets are $12.50 each, but if you really want to go all in and commit to seeing every movie, Regal’s offering a $60 series pass that comes with what they’re calling “an exclusive decommissioned Spirited Away 35mm film cell,” plus 6,000 bonus points for Regal Crown Club members. There is a shipping cost involved; the cheapest that I can see is $2.50 for USPS first-class shipping, which keeps the cost per ticket lower than buying each show individually.
That would be the end of the story if not for an anomaly I stumbled upon while I was poking around to see what was up with the Prince Kuhio listing: Tickets seem to be available for another Ghibli fest, this one at the Consolidated Kahala 8 theaters. Screenings of the English-subtitled movies begin May 31 and run most Wednesdays after that through Aug. 9 at 7 p.m., and include:
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, May 31
Spirited Away, June 7
Ponyo, June 14
Howl’s Moving Castle, July 12 (with the dubbed version screening July 13 at 11 a.m.)
The Wind Rises, July 19
My Neighbor Totoro, July 26
When Marnie Was There, Aug. 2
Kiki’s Delivery Service, Aug. 9
The inclusion of Ponyo thrills me, because now I can stick this picture into the post. Call it a tradition of sorts around here.
For tickets, visit ow.ly/utmN30bh0hR. Open the “pre-sale tickets” column on the right for the full listing of movies.
Keep an eye on that page and Consolidated’s social media in general, too … call it a hunch, but you’ve got to think some kind of formal acknowledgment of this is coming down the line. More theaters, perhaps? Are these the first shards we’re seeing of Consolidated Ghibli Film Festival 2017? And why is there almost a one-month gap between Ponyo and Howl’s Moving Castle? I can’t wait to find out …
Remember all those times I’ve said in the past few years that [INSERT MONTH/YEAR HERE] is going to be the best month ever for theatrical anime being screened locally? First of all, congratulations, you have a very good memory. Second, you may now forget I ever said that before, because April 2016 is claiming that title of best month ever now and forever.
The reason: Starting Saturday and running through May 5, for every day except Fridays (gotta make that new-release box office bank, after all!), Consolidated’s theaters across Oahu and their Kaahumanu complex in Kahului will be home to the Studio Ghibli Festival, screening every major Studio Ghibli film ever made. That’s everything from 1984’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Hayao Miyazaki’s pre-Ghibli feature that led to the creation of the studio, through 2014’s When Marnie Was There, plus the live-action Kingdom of Dreams and Madness documentary for good measure. That’s 22 good-to-great movies and Tales From Earthsea — which was kind of a disappointment for me — over roughly a month.
… yeah, I’ll just leave this meme here.
Most of the films will be screened two or three times each over the month, with English-dubbed and English-subtitled versions available. The more popular films — Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away — will be shown four times each.
But the real rarity in the group is Ocean Waves (Umi ga Kikoeru), the 1993 made-for-TV movie that is the only major Ghibli project never to see wide release in the U.S. now that GKids finally picked up Only Yesterday. The film’s rights belong to Disney, which kinda has biggerfishtopromote, so we probably won’t be seeing that in wide release any time soon, either. Ocean Waves will be shown exactly once — mark your calendars for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14, and set your GPSes for the Koolau 10 complex, across from the Valley of the Temples cemetery in Windward Oahu.
Breaking down the numbers further, the big winner in terms of number of screenings is the Kapolei 16 complex, which will be showing 15 out of the 23 movies available, all of them subtitled. The Koolau, Mililani 14 and Pearlridge 16 theaters come in tied for second with 10 apiece, in both subbed and dubbed flavors at the first two and all subbed at Pearlridge.
Here’s the full screening schedule organized by theater, with GhibliWiki links in case you’d like to learn more about each movie. (Trust me, if I had to write 23 synopses and attach 23 trailers like I usually do with these previews, this post would have been posted sometime in February 2022.) Prefer to see what’s on deck chronologically? Here’s Consolidated’s “coming soon” list. Tickets, at $10 each, are available now on Fandango (except for the April 30 Kahala screening of The Wind Rises for some weird reason). Sorry, no passes are being accepted.
All films dubbed; screenings at 11 a.m. Saturdays.
My Neighbor Totoro: April 2, 11 a.m., April 7, 7 p.m.
Kiki’s Delivery Service: April 9, 11 a.m., April 14, 7 p.m.
Princess Mononoke: April 16, 11 a.m., April 21, 7 p.m.
Spirited Away: April 23, 11 a.m., April 28, 7 p.m.
Howl’s Moving Castle: April 30, 11 a.m., May 5, 7 p.m.
Elsewhere around town
Aiea Library Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Anime Club: Every month, I joke with young adult librarian Diane Masaki that she ought to change the name of the Anime Club to the Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Club, seeing as how the screening schedule for the past few months has consistently been two episodes of the 2012-2013 anime followed by two more episodes of something else. (April’s “friends” are the ship-gals of KanColle.) The response this time around: Crisis! Diane’s approaching the end of the Polar Bear run! And there aren’t very many KanColle episodes left, either! What will the club screen next? And what will be the next running gag for this item?!? At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where, yes, there’s still plenty of parking. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. 3 p.m. Saturday.
Sanrio Ala Moana Anniversary Party: Head out to Ala Moana Center and take pictures (or selfies, if you’re alone) with a giant Hello Kitty mascot character and also enjoy: Special product promotions! Free face painting and Hello Kitty hat with any purchase! And a special gift with any $75 purchase! 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center; check their Facebook page for where in the mall they’ll be meeting. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii(Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
It’s Honolulu Festival time this weekend, which means it’s time for all of the usual accoutrements that come with the annual celebration of Asian and Pacific Rim culture, including:
Entertainment on stages at the Hawai’i Convention Center, Ala Moana Center and Waikiki Beach Walk (here’s a schedule!)
A display of mikoshi, decorative floats unique to various prefectures of Japan that are hoisted by celebrants during festivals and parades
A craft fair, children’s games in the Ennichi Corner, and the Anime Corner with Kawaii Kon, MangaBento and representatives from the Doraemon exhibit at the convention center
The Grand Parade down Kalakaua Avenue Sunday afternoon
A spectacular fireworks display Sunday night
Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger talkin’ anime during a Saturday afternoon panel WAIT WHAT
Indeed, for this 20th anniversary edition of the festival, I’m going to be part of a panel hosted by Kawaii Kon at the convention center: “Made in Japan, Loved in Hawaii,” a talk-story session exploring the history of local fandom from the days of Astro Boy in the ’60s to the present day and beyond. Joining me as hosts for this journey:
Roy Bann, Kawaii Kon senior administrator
Jon Murakami, freelance illustrator and Gordon Rider/Ara-Rangers/Star-Advertiser “Calabash” artist
We’ll be talking about various anime, manga and tokusatsu series that have shaped our work and our lives. I’ve been told that we have two hours to fill, so we hope to make it worth your while. You have options for where you could be spending your Saturday afternoon, after all; why not spend it with us, in air-conditioned comfort, learning about stuff in slides with content like this?
We’ll be in Room 301AB starting at 1 p.m. Saturday. Keep in mind that most of the festival activities are taking place on the ground level of the convention center, so you’re going to want to make your way up some set of escalators, whether from that level or the second-floor parking garage. Just branch left once you get off those escalators; the room’s just beyond the restrooms. Here, have a map.
Hope to see you there. And if you’re on Facebook, let us know you’re coming on the panel event page; it’s not mandatory that you do so, but I’d just like to know how much I should freak out over how many people show up. It’s my first formal panel-speaking gig, after all (that Oni-Con Ingress panel doesn’t count).
This week in The Wind Rises
The Oscars have come and gone, Frozen holds the statue for Best Animated Feature 2014, and Hayao Miyazaki’s latest, last film finished out of the top 10 at the box office last week. Seems like a recipe for a gradual bow-out from theaters; I’m already seeing a drop-off in screenings at Consolidated’s Pearlridge, Kapolei and Kaahumanu locations and Regal’s Windward Stadium theaters. On the bright side, owing to its head start of a week over the other theaters, Consolidated Ward will accept GMT passes for screenings starting Friday.
Consolidated Ward: Sub 1:40, 7:30 and 10:25 p.m. daily; dub 10:45 a.m. and 4:35 p.m. daily
Consolidated Mililani (dub only): Friday-Sunday 11:10 a.m. and 1:55, 4:45. 7:40 and 10:25 p.m.; Monday-Thursday 12:45, 3:40, 7 and 9:50 p.m.
Consolidated Pearlridge: Daily sub 3:15 and 9:15 p.m., dub 6:15 p.m.
Trying to figure out what’s going on with the upcoming screening schedule for The Wind Rises, Hayao Miyazaki’s final film expanding into more theaters on Friday, could be a fitting metaphor for the movie itself: There’s a certainly a thing of beauty in there, but trying to find it may take repeat viewings. Fandango sorts Consolidated theater listings into ill-defined “VIP Room” and “Five-Star Lounge” categories, some screenings listed on Fandango aren’t reflected on Consolidated’s site, and Regal’s Windward Stadium listing actually changed completely between Tuesday and Wednesday … and remains incomplete, to boot.
It took a fair amount of staring — this post has been in the works for three days now! — but I think I finally have a handle on the schedule. As I noted in my last post, the film’s expanding to more theaters starting Friday. Three of those — Consolidated’s Pearlridge and Kahala complexes on Oahu and the Kaahumanu complex on Maui — will be joining Consolidated Ward in offering both the subtitled and English-dubbed versions. Consolidated’s Mililani and Kapolei theaters (and as far as I know, the Regal Windward and Dole Cannery theaters) will be showing the dub exclusively.
As for that whole “VIP Room” and “Five-Star Lounge” thing on Fandango? It seems like the “room” listings match up with the subbed screenings, while the “lounge” listings match up with the dubbed screenings. Weird, I know, especially considering “English dubbed” and “English subtitles” headers are on the Consolidated Ward listings, but it is what it is.
Without further ado, here are your local screenings, for the most part starting Friday and running through Thursday, March 6:
Consolidated Ward: Sub 1:10, 7:30 and 10:25 p.m. daily; dub 10:45 a.m. and 4:35 p.m. daily
Consolidated Mililani (dub only): Friday-Sunday 11:05 a.m. and 1:50, 7:30 and 10:15 p.m.; Friday 4:35 p.m; Monday-Thursday 12:45, 3:40, 7 and 9:45 p.m. (4:35 p.m. Saturday/Sunday listings on Fandango are not available.)
Consolidated Pearlridge: Sub Friday-Sunday 4:50 and 10:20 p.m., Monday-Thursday 4:35 and 10 p.m.; dub Friday-Sunday 11:20 a.m. and 2:05 and 7:35 p.m., Monday-Thursday 11:15 a.m. and 1:55 and 7:20 p.m.
Consolidated Kapolei (dub only): 11:30 a.m. and 2:10, 4:50, 7:30 and 10:10 p.m. daily
Consolidated Kahala: Sub 4:15 p.m. daily, Friday and Saturday 9:45 p.m.; dub 1:30 and 7 p.m. daily, Friday-Sunday 10:45 a.m.
Consolidated Kaahumanu (Maui): Sub 11:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily; dub 10:45 a.m. and 1:30, 4:15, 7 and 9:45 p.m. daily
Regal Windward Stadium: Friday-Sunday 1, 4:10, 7:20 and 10:20 p.m.
Regal Dole Cannery: Friday-Sunday 11 a.m. and 1:50, 4:40, 7:30 and 10:20 p.m.; Monday-Wednesday 12:40, 3:50, 7:15 and 10:20 p.m.
If you’re curious as to how the English dub turned out, the Wall Street Journal’s “Speakeasy” blog posted an exclusive clip.
That would be the end of today’s cinematic anime update if not for the fact that another feature quietly showed up on the schedule. Short Peace from Katsuhiro Otomo (the man behind Akira and Steamboy) is actually a package of four short films:
In the 2013 Oscar-nominated short “Possessions (Tsukumo),” a lone traveler meets some unusual spirits at an abandoned shrine.
In “Gambo,” a mysterious white bear protects the royal family from an advancing demon. Featuring character designs from Evangelion designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto.
In “Combustible (Hi-no-Youjin),” love, honor and firefighting come together in a tale from ancient Japan.
“A Farewell to Weapons” features men battling robotic tanks in apocalyptic Tokyo.
Sound interesting? You’ll have all of one shot to see it in a theater (as long as that theater is at Consolidated Ward or Kaahumanu), on Monday at 7 p.m. Prices are standard non-matinee rates. Here’s the Ward ticket link; here’s the Kaahumanu ticket link. If you miss that, the shorts will be available exclusively on the PlayStation Network later this year.
I was shuffling between the Mililani Town Center gazebo and a Jamba Juice store on Monday — why, exactly, is not really important to this discussion (*cough*takingoverIngressportals*cough*) — when I spotted something in the window of the Mililani Stadium 14 theaters that I’ve been waiting to see for a while now.
There was a poster for The Wind Rises, director Hayao Miyazaki’s feature film swan song (or maybe not, who knows) and Oscar-nominated animated historical drama about airplane designer Jiro Horikoshi.
And a sign underneath: “ADVANCE TICKETS NOW ON SALE.”
Indeed, for those of you who like preparing ahead for such things, tickets are now available on Fandangofor screenings starting Friday, Feb. 21, at least through Sunday, March 2, at most theaters. The bulk of the screenings available are for Feb. 21-27 at the Consolidated Ward Stadium complex, but shows are also available Feb. 28-March 2 at the aforementioned Mililani theaters as well as Consolidated’s Pearlridge West and Kahala 8 theaters and the Regal Dole Cannery 18 complex. Consolidated’s Kaahumanu 6 theaters in Kahului have tickets available for Feb. 28-March 6.
For the first week, at least, the Ward theaters will be switching between the English-subtitled and dubbed versions, so for those of you who don’t care about Joseph Gordon-Leavitt’s take on Jiro and would much rather prefer to hear the voice of Evangelion director Hideaki Anno in the role, you’ll have the option to watch that version. Catch the dubbed version at 10:45 a.m. and 4:35 p.m. or the subbed version at 1:40, 7:30 and 10:25 p.m. daily through Feb. 27.
It’s unknown as of now whether the subtitled version will make an appearance at the other theaters, but here’s the rundown of screenings available. Unless otherwise noted, the times shown cover the weekend of Feb. 28 only:
Mililani: 11:05 a.m. and 1:50, 4:40, 7:30 and 10:15 p.m. Pearlridge: 11:15 a.m. and 2, 4:45, 7:30 and 10:15 p.m. Dole (Feb. 28 only for now): 11 a.m. and 1:50, 4:40, 7:30 and 10:20 p.m. Kahala: 10:45 a.m. and 1:30, 4:15 and 7 p.m. (9:45 p.m. showing on Feb. 28 and March 1 only) Kaahumanu: 10:45 a.m. and 1:30, 4:15, 7 and 9:45 p.m. (Feb. 28-March 6)
Here’s the official trailer to get you ready to see it, where not a single word is spoken. See you at the theater.
As far as anime-related movie screenings are concerned locally, this week belongs to Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day: The Movie, showing at the Ward Stadium theaters on Oahu and the Kaahumanu 6 theaters on Maui at 7 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Saturday.
But here at Otaku Ohana, we like looking forward to the Next Big Thing. And if October’s sellout of a single showing in two large auditoriums at the Dole Cannery theaters during the Hawaii International Film Festival was any indication, that Next Big Thing is the wide release of The Wind Rises, the latest Studio Ghibli movie to be localized for American audiences. As director Hayao Miyazaki’s feature film swan song (or maybe not, who knows), the historical drama about airplane designer Jiro Horikoshi has already garnered raves from most people who have seen it and an Oscar nomination for best animated feature. (Confession: I felt a little “meh” about it after that initial October viewing. It may take another viewing for me to come around on that.)
It was never a question of if The Wind Rises would make it back here. Disney picked up distribution rights again after ceding From Up on Poppy Hill to GKids and brought in an all-star cast — that all-grown-up guy from Third Rock From the Sun! That actress from The Devil Wears Prada who isn’t Anne Hathaway or Meryl Streep! Frodo! Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride! A bunch of others! — and already promised it would release the film nationwide. It was more a matter of where it would show up and how Disney would market it, considering (a) there isn’t too much of the fantasy/whimsy that has given many Ghibli releases widespread appeal, (b) it’s a mature story that encompasses the Great Kanto Earthquake, the tuberculosis epidemic and Japan’s march toward World War II, and (c) Jiro and his friend, Honjo, suck back enough cigarettes to make any anti-tobacco movement cringe.
The film’s been given a PG-13 rating and is being released under the Touchstone Pictures banner, so at least the distinction that this movie is for older audiences is there. As for where it’s playing, Consolidated Theatres’ website quietly added some insight into that over the past few days. Mark your calendars now, because The Wind Rises is currently listed to open at the Ward Stadium complex on Friday, Feb. 21, then expand out to the Kahala, Mililani and Pearlridge theaters on Oahu and the Kaahumanu 6 theaters in Kahului a week after, on Feb. 28.
No showtimes listed yet, but I’m sure those will show up in due time. The fact that it’s on Consolidated’s radar in and of itself is a good sign, so get excited, Hawaii anime fans.
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.
Kawaii Kon Karaoke Kompetition: The road to KKX continues with this, the first of three preliminary rounds for the anime convention’s annual karaoke contest. Aspiring singers, read up on the rules at http://kawaiikon.com/events/karaoke/karaoke-preliminary-rounds/ (and don’t forget to submit your form by 11 59 p.m. Saturday!) then make your way to Orvis Auditorium on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. Check-in starts at 12:30 p.m. Sunday; the singing itself takes place from 1 to 3 p.m.
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. Feb. 2.
DJ Append promotional video shoot: Did you go to the Oni-Con Hawaii dance party on the first night and enjoy the vibe? Did you not go, yet don’t mind actin’ the fool while a camera’s rolling? DJ Append, the deejay mixing the tunes at that dance party, will be filming his first video, and you’re invited to attend. Free food and drinks, too! RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/1394457884137527. 609 Keawe St., Sat., Feb. 8.
“Meet Doraemon: Japan’s Time-Traveling Cat”: Yup, the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum’s created a traveling exhibit about the blue guy and decades-old Japanese icon, and Bishop Museum is where it’s going to make its first stop. You know I’m going to have much, much more to say about this down the line, but for now, here, have the museum’s official preview. Bishop Museum (1525 Bernice St.), Feb. 15-April 20.
Anime Swap Meet: Hosted by Kawaii Kon, this opportunity for local otaku to buy and sell assorted preowned collectibles from one another will be part of the the 24th Annual Hawaii Collectors Expo on Sat. Feb. 22 and Sun., Feb. 23. Interested in selling? Check out http://www.kawaii-kon.org/index.php?cID=263 for all the details; registration deadline is Feb. 12 at midnight. (Worth noting: It’ll cost $25 to sell on Saturday, $20 on Sunday; one person per 5-square-foot space; everything must be displayed on the ground.) Interested in buying? Start saving your pennies now. (There’s also a $5 admission charge, but it’s free for members of the military with valid ID … and for those of you who cosplay, too!)
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, Vic Mignogna, Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh; musical guests Kagemaya Hironobu and Yoko Ishida; professional cosplayer Leah Rose; the Chalk Twins, traveling performance artists who will be crafting a giant chalk mural; 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.
Let’s get the lead item out of the way: The Wind Rises, one of the Hawaii International Film Festival’s showcase Opening Night films and the Studio Ghibli production that is purportedly Hayao Miyazaki’s filmmaking swan song, is sold out online.
That’s not to say that you’re completely out of luck. It remains to be seen how many “rush,” or standby, tickets will be available, or whether there will be any encore screenings later in the festival. There’s also the prospect of sometime around next February, when Disney — picking up Ghibli film distribution again after letting From Up on Poppy Hill go to GKids — will likely send the film to theaters in wide release. (Just, y’know, prepare yourself for the two leads, Jiro and Naoko, to be played by the young stars or relatives of stars from current Disney Channel programming, like Noah Cyrus and Frankie Jonas in Ponyo or Bridgit Mendler in The Secret World of Arrietty.)
But Wind Rises aside, there are other films to keep local otaku happy, some with anime/manga roots, others that just seem … interesting. Here’s what’s on my list of highlights. Tickets are still available for all of these; hiff.org has information on how you can pick them up, whether online or in person. Unless otherwise noted, all films will be screening at the Regal Theatres Dole Cannery 18 complex:
Animation Maestro Gisaburo: Gisaburo Sugii has worked in the anime industry for longer than many (if not all) of you reading this have been alive. Consider this: He was an in-between animator for Hakujaden. Hakujaden, which was released in Japan in 1958, was the first Japanese feature-length animated film in color. And when Globe Pictures localized it as Panda and the Magic Serpent in 1961, it became the first anime to be screened for American audiences.
So yeah, he’s been around for a long time. He’s had a hand in directing installments in a number of notable franchises over the years, including Captain Tsubasa, Lupin III, Glass Mask, Street Fighter II and Touch. His latest movie, Guskou Budori no Denki, was released in Japan in July 2012. And this movie chronicles all of his career highlights.If that doesn’t make for a fascinating documentary, I don’t know what does. (Pair it with Night on the Galactic Railroad for the optimal Gisaburo weekend experience.) Screening Oct. 20 at 4 p.m.
Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo: Shinji, NERV and the Angels are back in the third of director Hideaki Anno’s planned quadrology, and they’re doing what they do best: giving fans reasons to buy more variations of Rei, Asuka and Makinami toy figuresfueling another round of Shinji x Kaworu yaoi fanfics bringing us one step closer to finding out if this version of Evangelion will give fans the definitive ending they’ve been looking for since 1996. Looking at HIFF’s promo images and this line of the synopsis:
Trapped in a harrowing cycle of death and rebirth, Shinji continues to courageously battle the angels, even as the world hurtles towards what could ultimately be its tragic end.
… it looks like we’re firmly in original-canon Evangelion: Death and Rebirth territory. You know, the movie that a Newtype USA reviewer once summarized as “Asuka goes crazy, Rei gets big, everyone dies.” And there’s still one more movie to go! Monday at 9 p.m. and Oct. 20 at 1:45 p.m.
The God of Ramen: Stick a steaming-hot bowl of freshly made ramen in front of tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J., and she is one happy gal. Stick a Japanese documentary about food in front of me — see Jiro Dreams of Sushi — and I’m definitely up for seeing it. So a film about a longtime ramen shop owner which plays out, as HIFF’s synopsis says, “like a 90-minute episode of Soko Ga Shiritai“? Yeah, we’re in for that. (It also helps that our schedules are such that we can actually clear time to watch it.)
I’ve also included this film in this guide because it’s the only one that’s screening for our neighbor island friends on Kauai and Hawaii island. (Yes, Parv, I saw your lament in the Ota-cool! October part 1 comments. I feel your pain.) Tuesday at 6:15 p.m., Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. at Consolidated Koko Marina, Oct. 19 at 5 p.m., Oct. 26 at 11:30 a.m. at Waimea (Kauai) Theater and Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. at Palace Theater in Hilo.
Harlock: Space Pirate: When director Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed, “The Package” in Halo Legends) was a guest at Kawaii Kon in 2010, he screened some super-spiffy CGI footage of this movie. Three years later, we’re finally getting to see his take on Leiji Matsumoto’s iconic intergalactic pirate and crew and their quest, aboard the battlecruiser Arcadia, to restore humans’ rightful place on Earth. But will he be able to overcome the corrupt Gaia Coalition standing in his way? Friday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m.
Hentai Kamen: Forbidden Superhero: It’s been about 10 years since I first began writing about anime and manga for what was then the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. I’ve seen a lot of weird things in Japanese live-action movies along the way —killer sushi, murderous baseball teams, giant wrestling cephalopods, a Lolita and a biker befriending each other, Hibari Misora appearing in a musical about a tanuki princess 16 years after her death, mecha-geisha assassins, stuff like that. And yet, taking all of that into account, here I am, marveling over how I never thought I’d ever be writing something about a sadomasochistic superhero who wears women’s panties as a mask and thong suspenders as a costume. Yup, this is Hentai Kamen. It’s based on a six-volume manga by Keishu Ando, published by Shueisha in Weekly Shonen Jump(!) in 1992-93, never formally translated for U.S. audiences (probably for very good reasons). Just … hide the children. Oct. 19 at 9:30 p.m. and Oct. 20 at 4:30 p.m.
Night on the Galactic Railroad: Back in 2001, Central Park Media released this 1985 Gisaburo Sugii-directed film on DVD. You probably missed it, because, well, if CPM stuff actually sold at retail in the early 2000s, they’d probably still be around today. Besides, CPM stuff didn’t exactly have visual pop sitting on retail shelves — have a look at that cover at right for proof. I certainly missed out on it. Which is too bad, because the concept behind it — boy with a fractured family life and a tough social life is invited to come aboard a universe-traversing train — certainly sounds interesting. Almost Galaxy Express 999-ish, if you will, just without Maetel. The film has a fresh remastering sheen to it, too, so if anything, it’ll probably look better than that DVD release. Oct. 19 at 1 p.m.
Nuiglumar Z (Gothic Lolita Battle Bear):I’ve repeatedly said in my HIFF mini-previews that it takes a lot for a movie from Noboru Iguchi — the man responsible for those killer sushi and mecha-geisha assassins I alluded to above — to be upstaged in my pantheon of what-the-heck-ery. Yet Hentai Kamen managed to do just that this year. Still, a movie about a gothic Lolita superhero — played by cosplay/singing idol/blogger Shoko “Shokotan” Nakagawa — battling hordes of zombies with her teddy bear is still a pretty wacky concept, even if it doesn’t seem to reach the pulp-fiction heights of Iguchi’s previous works on the surface. Oct. 18 at 9:30 p.m., and Oct. 19 at 9 p.m. at Consolidated Koko Marina.
Rurouni Kenshin: The anime and manga versions of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s story of a former assassin-turned wandering protector is fairly well-known among longtime fans. And if you loved those, you’re probably going to head out to see this regardless of what I say about it, just for the sheer curiosity factor to see how well Takeru Sato and Emi Takei pull off Kenshin and Kaoru. So here’s my Rurouni Kenshin story: Whenever I think of the anime, the Judy & Mary song “Sobakasu” always pops to mind, mostly because I learned of its existence after the Tiggy song “Freckles,” part of the DDR MAX soundtrack. “Sobakasu,” as I learned, translates into “freckles.” The translated lyrics of the former are quite different from the English lyrics of the latter, though. Saturday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at noon.
It took a few weeks for me to confirm the news, but now that all the players have been properly notified and the signs printed, I can now type this with authority: Both Toys N Joys stores — the store in Kaimuki, as I noted in the September Ota-cool Incoming! calendar, and the Aiea store, at 98-150 Kaonohi St. in the Westridge Shopping Center — will be closing on Sept. 23.
The Aiea store hasn’t been around as long as the Kaimuki store — 25 years compared to Kaimuki’s 30 — and it only had a fraction of the selection, but it’s always held a closer, more cherished spot in my heart. Part of it is because it’s physically closer to where I’ve lived all my life (central Oahu represent!). But it’s mostly because back in the days before one-click Internet shopping and a GameStop in every large neighborhood, it was the place to go to feed a budding local otaku’s ever-growing hunger for video games (both domestic and import) and anime collectibles. There’s a clerk there, Steve, who’s also been there for what’s seemed like forever. I don’t think he’s been there all 25 years — kinda hard to remember who was behind the counter when you’re 11 or 12, which is how old I would’ve been when the store opened — but it’s most assuredly been a long time. Friendly smile, always chats with me whenever I come in … great guy to know, really. I wish him and the other staffers nothing but the best in their future endeavors.
Here’s the current Aiea clearance sale breakdown:
All toys 25 percent off (plushies 50 percent off)
All video games 10 percent off
All DVDs 15 percent off
All Airsoft guns 20 percent off
All replica swords 25 percent off
There’s a good chance that the percentages will go higher the closer we get to closing day, so if you want to gamble on your preferred item of choice still being around for an extended period of time, it’s your call. You aren’t going to find anything super popular — it doesn’t seem like the merchandise mix has been updated for several months — but hey, you can think of it as your last chance to have a vintage otaku treasure hunt of sorts.
After the jump: some additional notes on events in September and October that have hit my radar after I published that Ota-cool calendar.