Baby, the anime/manga/toon stars shine bright

Welcome back to Otaku Ohana, the blog that I’ve had far too little time to update for one reason or another as of late. I thank you for your continued patience and readership.

One of the combined benefits/drawbacks of not having time to post for so long is that the news tends to stack up. A lot. That’s the way it’s been with guest announcements at various shows and events around town; one minute, you’re hearing that two of the voice actors from your favoritest show in the world ever as you were growing up are coming to town, then the up-and-coming sci-fi convention on another island brings in a few anime-related fan favorites of their own, then a bona fide manga artist shows up, and pretty soon you’re sitting down and writing a blog post that runs for more than 1,600 words. Heck, one of these announcements (*cough*Melissa Fahn*cough*) is so new, it hasn’t even been formally announced in public yet, but it has been confirmed and vetted for release to me by HawaiiCon, so I’m rolling with it.

You’re going to need a scorecard to keep track of everyone who’s coming in, so here’s a roundup of all the guest announcements that have been made to date. Taku Taku Matsuri, Kawaii Kon, HawaiiCon, even a Honolulu Museum of Art exhibit … they’re all here.

Jamie Lynn Lano

Princess of Tennis coverBest known for: She’s one of the rare artists from the United States who’s managed to make a go of things in the manga industry in Japan, serving as an assistant to Prince of Tennis artist Takeshi Konomi for about a year as he worked on launching The New Prince of Tennis and chronicling her experience, first on her blog at jamieism.com and then in her memoir released this year, The Princess of Tennis. She’s since moved to Oahu and has become a mainstay with the Nightmarchers, Honolulu’s Quidditch team (profiled in this story, available to Star-Advertiser subscribers). At Taku Taku Matsuri, she’ll be hosting a panel from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. as well as taking part in a demonstration with the Nightmarchers from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Appearing at: Taku Taku Matsuri, Saturday at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii (2211 S. Beretania St.) Presale tickets ($13) and ticket/T-shirt packs ($20) are available at www.gofundme.com/dbi0fc. Prices will be higher at the door, so save yourself a few bucks and order now.

Cristina Vee

cristina veeBest known for: Mio in K-ON!, Homura in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Rei/Sailor Mars in Viz’s new Sailor Moon English dub, and Alisa Bosconovitch in Tekken: Blood Vengeance — she’s voiced them all in a career that’s been going strong since she voiced Nanoha in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha in 2008. She’s also voiced various characters in video games including the BlazBlue franchise, Skullgirls and Ar Tonelico.

Appearing at: Taku Taku Matsuri, Saturday. Her panel will run from 3:30 to 5 p.m. with an autograph session to follow from 5 to 6:30 p.m. There are also seven slots still available for a special lunch with her at noon Sunday; those packages, which also include a Taku Taku ticket and T-shirt, are going for $100. Get them at the GoFundMe link above.

Erica Sakurazawa

Aromatic BittersBest known for: Remember back in the early-to-mid-2000s, when Tokyopop was at the height of its “throw all the manga and sorta-manga at the wall and let’s see what sticks” power? Among those that got largely lost in that shuffle were six standalone volumes by Erica Sakurazawa published under their “Manga After Hours” banner: Between the Sheets, Angel, Angel Nest, Nothing But Loving You, The Rules of Love and The Aromatic Bitters. As the line’s banner would indicate, these weren’t your average mass-market titles aimed at teens; instead, they were josei manga, mature stories with a target audience of women in their 20s and older. Johanna Draper Carlson has a profile of those books over at Manga Worth Reading.

Sakurazawa is appearing in connection with the Honolulu Museum of Art’s new exhibit opening Thursday, “Modern Love: 20th-Century Japanese Erotic Art,” which will feature a section on manga with one of her works, Love Vibes, translated into English. Art from Moyoco Anno (In Clothes Called Fat, Happy Mania, Sugar Sugar Rune) and Suehiro Maruo (Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show, The Strange Tale of Panorama Island) also will be featured. As the exhibit title indicates, there’s going to be a lot of imagery containing mature themes in this exhibit, so you’ll want to leave the kids at home for this one.

Appearing at: Honolulu Museum of Art Doris Duke Theater, Wed., Dec. 3, 4 p.m. Admission is free. She’s also hosting a workshop at the Honolulu Museum of Art School on Dec. 7 where she’ll be demonstrating her step-by-step process for drawing manga, but unless you already have an invitation to that, you can’t go. Sorry about that.

Todd Haberkorn

Best known for: The newest addition to this guest roundup (announced by Kawaii Kon Sunday night!), Haberkorn’s no stranger to our little rock in the middle of the Pacific, having been a guest at Kawaii Kon in 2013. He was recently added to the English dub cast of fangirl fanservice magnet Free! Eternal Summer, playing the role of Haruka Nanase. Other prominent roles include Natsu in Fairy Tail, Death the Kid in Soul Eater, Allen Walker in D.Gray Man, Italy in Hetalia Axis Powers, Keisuke Takahashi in Initial D, Keroro in Sgt. Frog and Kimihiro Watanuki in xxxHolic.

Appearing at: Kawaii Kon, March 27-29. Three-day passes are available online for $53 ($44 children ages 5-12) at www.showclix.com/event/3817763/listing. There are still a few Artist Alley tables available for sale at that link. And if you have some extra piles of cash around the house, please give me some there’s still a VIP Package for one person ($750), a VIP Package for two people ($900) and a lifetime membership pass ($3,000) available.

Jess Harnell

Animaniacs v4Best known for: He’s played a number of roles over the years — he was the voice of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Bill Clinton and Isaac Newton in the recent CGI revival of Mr. Peabody & Sherman! — but the one role pretty much anyone who grew up in the ’90s remembers him for is Wakko Warner, the baseball-cap-wearing, giant mallet-bearing Warner sibling in Animaniacs with a Ringo Starr-esque voice.

Appearing at: Kawaii Kon, March 27-29.

Rob Paulsen

Best known for: At Kawaii Kon this year, Jim Cummings filled the role of “the guy who voiced half the characters of your childhood” quite nicely. Next year? Paulsen’s bringing the other half. Consider his resume: Yakko Warner, Dr. Otto von Scratchensniff and Pinky in Animaniacs. Raphael in the classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. Donatello in Nickelodeon’s CGI Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles revival. Carl in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Arthur in The Tick. Throttle in Biker Mice From Mars. P.J. Pete in Goof Troop. Bubsy the Bobcat in those series of Mario/Sonic-esque 2-D platformer games that we’d much rather forget from the Super Nintendo era. The list goes on and on and on.

Appearing at: Kawaii Kon, March 27-29.

Bryce Papenbrook

Best known for: As the first person announced as a guest for Kawaii Kon 2015 — the news came down at this year’s closing ceremonies back in April — Papenbrook is the person we’ve known is coming to Hawaii for the longest time. He’s the voice of Eren in Attack on Titan, Rin Okumura in Blue Exorcist, Kirito in Sword Art Online and Hanabusa Aidou in Vampire Knight, which I understand are four series chock full of the new hawtness that all the young ‘uns have been flocking to in droves in recent years.

Appearing at: Kawaii Kon, March 27-29.

Steve Blum

bebopBest known for: Being the voices of two space voyagers — Spike Spiegel in Cowboy Bebop, Tom the android in countless Cartoon Network Toonami block bumpers — as well as the red-cloaked man with his trusty handgun Cerberus, Vincent Valentine, in Final Fantasy VII offshoots Dirge of Cerberus and Advent Children, and the sinister Orochimaru in the Naruto franchise. Blum’s previous convention appearance in the islands was at Kawaii Kon in 2007.

Appearing at: HawaiiCon, Sept. 10-13 at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on Hawaii island. Discounted four-day passes ($125), VIP passes ($399) and “Five-Year Mission” passes for the next five years of the convention ($500) are available through Dec. 31 at www.eventbrite.com/e/hawaiicon-2015-pre-sale-passes-tickets-13085636491. (Also, if you’re a fan of Farscape, Firefly, Dr. Who or Stargate, you might want to have a look at this Kickstarter campaign that went live Tuesday night. Just sayin’.)

Melissa Fahn

Best known for: Complementing Blum in Cowboy Bebop as the voice of — take a deep breath here — Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV, ace computer hacker aboard the Bebop. She’s also continuing the trend of Invader Zim voice actors who have visited our fair isles, being the voice of Gaz in that series. Other roles include Eri Ninamori in FLCL … and the Tachikoma in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, which links her to someone else who’ll be visiting Hawaii next year…

Appearing at: HawaiiCon, Sept. 10-13.

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn

GitS SACBest known for: Ten years ago this past September, the long-awaited sequel to the Ghost in the Shell movie, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, made its U.S. debut. A quick search on Rotten Tomatoes shows that it wasn’t nearly as well-regarded as the first one. Looking back now, it was notable for one reason: It marked Mary Elizabeth McGlynn’s debut as the voice of Motoko Kusanagi, a role she held throughout the franchise’s Stand-Alone Complex phase.  She’s also voiced a number of anime roles under the alias of Melissa Williamson, including Julia in Cowboy Bebop, Urd in Ah! My Goddess: The Movie, Nuriko in Fushigi Yugi and Hilda in Outlaw Star.

And voice acting isn’t her sole talent in the industry; she’s served as ADR director for everything Naruto-related in the United States as well as Cowboy Bebop, and she’s sung a number of tracks on the soundtracks for Silent Hill 3, 4 and Origins. (Also, “Your Rain (Rage Mix)” and “You’re Not Here” in your Dance Dance Revolution playlists? That’s her singing.)

Appearing at: HawaiiCon, Sept. 10-13.

[Kawaii Kon 2013] The final countdown! (dada daaah da, dadadada daaah)

For optimal effect, please press “play” on this video and let the audio play as you read through this post. (Please note, this should only be done in your personal space or with headphones.)

… how about that ’80s hair? Umm. Anyway.

kawaii-kon-logoSo. Kawaii Kon. Those of you who preregistered can pick up your passes at the convention center from 7 to 10 p.m. today; the convention itself runs from Friday through Sunday; and then you won’t have to read about it again here until some point in the future when there’s either a con-related announcement or your friendly neighborhood tag team in fandom, Wilma J. and/or myself, get around to writing about this year’s con experiences, whichever comes first. (We’re really hoping for the latter, but considering I’m usually exhausted by the end of the weekend and poor Wilma is also caught up in the whirlwind that is wedding planning, all bets are off at this point.)

There are far more stories to tell going in to Kawaii Kon than I have time to write up. One of them, about the three-year journey between the first and second issues of local manga anthology Hachi Maru Hachi and the creative talents behind its revival — Jordan Takemoto, Tara Tamayori, Rose Dela Cruz and Brady Evans — is in today’s paper. (For those of you checking out Otaku Ohana for the first time from that article, welcome! Here’s hoping I can update this blog enough times in the future to hold your interest and keep you reading it.) You can get what Brady, Pen & Ink Works, idkwhat2wear, Jon Murakami and the Hawaii State Library people have planned for the convention in that preview, too.

But there were other things that I just didn’t have the place or the space to properly fit into the preview. News stories are by their nature evolutionary creatures, the final product sometimes bearing little to no resemblance to the original idea. So there are fragments lingering with no real place to go, like these comments from one of this weekend’s guests, voice actor Todd Haberkorn:

Most exciting things I’m looking forward to:

— Fresh sushi
— Fans at the con that I haven’t seen before! Fans have expressed their interest in wanting to meet me face to face one day and I’m glad that is finally getting to happen.
— Swimming with sea life — Sharks! Dolphins! I’ve got my chain mail ready to go and partly, its an excuse to get to enjoy the beautiful, crystal clear blue waters of Hawaii!
— Fresh coconut juice — Not coconut milk, juice! I was a fan of coconut juice before it was hip! And to get it from one of coconut’s HQs is gonna be rad.

And here’s a comment from Johnny Yong Bosch, answering the same question of what he’s looking forward to:

This time around we didn’t get a chance to extend our stay, but a stop at the beach is mandatory. I don’t recall the name of the pancake place we stopped at, but we’ll have to make a trip there again. … The Hawaiian fans are very generous and supportive, we’ve made a few friends for life there.

There was also something Tara said during our recent interview that I thought was cute, so I’m including it here. Those of you who are either artists in Artist Alley or who have to tend to some kind of table during the convention will probably be able to relate to what she said when I asked about their con experiences every year:

I’m just stuck at my table. Like a mushroom. Slaving away, cutting out, laminating, coloring … everything I should have done beforehand.

So here we are, on the brink of the ninth annual edition of what’s become the premier celebration of the local anime and manga fan community. While there may be a bit of last-minute flailing around as everyone gets ready and gets settled, it’s shaping up to be a fun weekend — albeit a bit wet, if the weather forecasts hold true.

As promised, here are a few more of those last-minute tidbits that have gotten my attention over the past few days:

  • Today is the final day to get stamps in the Kawaii Kon Stamp Rally at 7-Eleven stores statewide. (I finished mine with a post-work store-hopping run through Kalihi and Iwilei a few nights ago!) If you’re leaving your stamping to the last minute, I’d recommend not getting a stamp from the 7-Eleven nearest to the convention center as there is one clerk there who seems to think that the stamps only should be given out with purchase of a Red Bull product. (No purchase is actually necessary.) And if you happen to end up at the same 7-Eleven in Aiea where one of my readers asked for a new stamp card and the clerk proceeded to stamp all six spaces before handing it over, well, lucky you.
  • MangaBento, one of two local groups of anime/manga-inspired artists around town these days, will be stationed in their usual corner of Artist Alley — tables 9-12, to be exact — and they’ll be bringing their usual array of art materials and sketch sheets to the convention. Join them and draw all three days!
  • Life Wallets! Courtesy idkwhat2wear.The UH-Manoa Anime and Manga Society will be demonstrating their new app for Android phones and tablets — an electronic guide to memorable anime quotes, with handy translations and explanations. It’s a work in progress, with a beefier version targeted for completion by 2014. (It already looks pretty spiffy, though.) Members will also be helping Jayson Chun and UH-West Oahu students with their annual Cosplay Cafe, which of course was the featured topic of last year’s Kawaii Kon preview.
  • I’ve already profiled much of what idkwhat2wear will be selling, but Terri Dux introduced a new piece of merchandise Wednesday night that’s certainly worth noting as well: Life Wallets, fabric wallets with silk-screened sketches by Karl Miyashiro lining the insides. You can see a sample of one to the right. They’re cute, they’re $9, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward helping family member Pam Dux in her continuing struggle against breast cancer. Get the full Life Wallet story at lifewallet.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/6/

Internet connection willing, I’ll try to update this blog throughout the weekend. Follow me on Twitter, too, at @jsyadao, if that’s your social media cup of tea. Here we go!

The Cel Shaded Report, 3/22: Countdown 358 days

If you wanted any indication of how wildly successful Kawaii Kon was this year, all you needed to do was look at the closing ceremonies.

Yes, this means we’re continuing our ongoing Kawaii Kon retrospective by jumping straight to the end of it. Yes, I realize that this is a bit like reading part of the beginning of a book, then flipping ahead to see how it all ends, then going back to where you left off to see how everything unfolds. But when you get a turnout like this, you can understand why I’d want to get to talking about this right away.

closing crowd

That’s a view of the audience at this year’s closing ceremonies. What you have to realize is that past ceremonies have been rather staid affairs — the guests say their final goodbyes, there’s a Q&A/feedback session that’s either quick and painless (“We have online forums! Please share your opinions there!”) or long and excruciatingly painful to sit through (“Can you repeat the question? We can’t hear you from up here!”), and, in recent years, con co-administrator Angel Rumbaoa and some staff members have done a dance number. Here, in fact, is a picture of Rumbaoa getting ready to perform in this year’s number.

angel

There were, indeed, animal costumes involved. And K-pop.

This year, though, felt more like a party, the crowning celebration of a whirlwind weekend. There were 6,077 people who attended Kawaii Kon this year, an attendance increase for the seventh straight year. Think about it: Ever since the convention began in 2005, attendance has never dropped. This despite the fact that the anime industry’s down, the manga industry’s down, there really isn’t any single overwhelmingly popular series that people are following at the moment, and the number of places where fans can buy anime and manga locally has dropped off dramatically. Shows you what kind of community we have here out on a rock in the middle of the Pacific that can perpetuate itself like that.

kawaii-kon-logoTo keep the party going, there were two announcements made:

  • Kawaii Kon 2013 will be held March 15-17, once again at the Convention Center. If memory serves, this is the first time we’ve ever known the date of next’s year’s con immediately coming out of this year’s con. The timing has once again been placed to coincide with spring break — why change what served so well this year, after all?
  • The first guest for next year is voice actor and Kawaii Kon first-timer Todd Haberkorn, who’s had a number of prominent roles over the years: Allen Walker in D.Gray Man, Italy in Hetalia Axis Powers, Keisuke Takahashi in Initial D, Keroro in Sgt. Frog and Kimihiro Watanuki in xxxHolic among them.

Online preregistration isn’t available yet, but keep checking back at www.kawaii-kon.org for whenever that goes live. I’ll also post a heads-up on my Twitter feed and here on the blog when that happens.

Anime around town

Aiea Library Anime Club: 3 p.m. Saturday at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. This month, librarian Diane Masaki will be screening Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com.

MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists meets from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Academy Art Center, 1111 Victoria St., Room 200. Visit www.manga-bento.com.