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.

“Tomo-e-Ame” part 3 + Ota-Cool Incoming: The return!

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As I promised a few days ago, it’s time now to delve into the most substantive part of Tomo-e-Ame, this year’s MangaBento exhibit: the 2-D artwork posted around the gallery. Missed my earlier posts? Here’s part 1, featuring the gallery layout, and part 2, with the 3-D pieces.

This, however, is where things get a little tricky. If you delve into the actual gallery hosted on Flickr and look at the captions (which I must admit is a more difficult task ever since the site was redesigned a few months ago), you may have noticed that the information I have is either vague or nonexistent. If you or anyone you know has any additional information on those pieces, please let me know! I’d love to give credit where credit’s due.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984

You have through Saturday to see the exhibit in person at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, 1111 Victoria St.. I’d definitely recommend stopping by if you have a chance. If you can’t make it, though? There are more art events in store in coming weeks. Which brings us to the return of …

Ota-cool incoming!

The eagle-eyed readers among you may have noticed that the last Cel Shaded Report, along with Ota-Cool Incoming!, came almost a month ago. Truth be told, there really hasn’t been all that much over the past month or so to talk about, and it just seemed like I’d be forcing myself to ramble about that not-much-of-anything every week. And that wouldn’t be fun for any of us.

So the Cel Shaded Report is in semi-retirement — maybe it’ll come back someday; we’ll see how I feel — but the Ota-Cool Incoming! calendar has been refilled with a fresh batch of upcoming events, plenty to keep local anime and manga fans busy in coming weeks.

Anime Manga Society at UH-Manoa: Meetings during Summer Session 1 are Fridays through Aug. 9 in Kuykendall Hall, room 306. Screenings TBA. 5:30 to 7 p.m.

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.

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Pen & Ink Works: Time for a summer Sketch Meet! This one, at Kaimuki Library (1041 Koko Head Ave.), will feature a short tutorial by the Hachi Maru Hachi artists, and copies of the local manga anthology also will be available for sale. A portion of the sales will benefit the Friends of the Kaimuki Public Library, so buy multiple copies. Because, y’know, we love libraries around these parts. Paper and pencils will be provided; parental supervision is advised for children under 12. Visit peninkworks.wordpress.com. 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Dave Thorne Celebration of Life: Remembering the life and work of the “father of Hawaii cartooning” with a gathering at Bay View Golf Course (45-285 Kaneohe Bay Drive). I’ve been monitoring the buzz on the Dave Thorne Tribute Page (Facebook login required), and it looks like a fair number of cartoonists worldwide will be attending. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. July 27.

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Mini Mini Taku Taku Water Gun Fight!!!: Somehow my mind wants to read this as “Mini Mini Taku Taku Water Gun Water Gun Fight!!! Fight!!!” My mind also works in really weird ways sometimes, because that revised name is also unnecessarily long. In any case, it’s a water gun fight at Ala Moana Beach Park, brought to you by the people who are organizing Taku Taku Matsuri in August (see Future Attractions). It’s also scheduled for a six-hour block of time. Better bring lots of waterproof sunscreen. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 27.

’90s Anime Art Exhibit: The Loading Zone (47 N. Hotel St.) in the Chinatown art district is hosting this artistic tribute to the days of Evangelion, Escaflowne, Sailor Moon, Cowboy Bebop and countless other series that I’ve loved that now officially qualify as “vintage” anime. Sigh. Tomo-e-Ame participating artists Julie Feied and Dennis Imoto will have work in this exhibit, as will artist Chanel Tanaka. From 7 to 11 p.m. Aug. 2, as part of First Friday, there will be music by VJ Christian Berg, a dance performance by Blank Canvas, a fashion show presented by Visual Kei Dark Castle at 9 p.m., and Aloha Beer Company specialty beer on tap. From 7 p.m. to midnight Aug. 9, you can meet the artists and enjoy an improv show by Mr. Aaron Presents from 8 to 10 p.m. and a cosplay contest at 10 p.m. Both events will feature caricatures by Andy Lee and an art workshop; cover at each event is $5. And if you can’t make either event, the exhibit itself will be up Aug. 2-26. Gallery hours are 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, or by appointment. Visit www.facebook.com/events/205760262908791 (no Facebook login required).

Aiea Library Anime Club: No meeting this month, but next month librarian Diane Masaki will be screening episodes of Hetalia at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. Stockpile your supplies of celebratory pasta until then. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Aug. 3.

Kawaii Kon Beach Day: Watermelon smashing! Sand-castle building contests! Watermelon smashing! The Cosplay Runway! Watermelon smashing! A game of Capture the Flag! And did I mention the watermelon smashing? Indulge your inner Gallagher and have some fun in the sun at Magic Island Beach Park. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 3.

Summer Smash 2013: It’s the island’s biggest Airsoft shoot-em-up event of the summer, presented by Impact Games and Ash Bash Productions at Hawaii All-Star Field off Nimitz Highway (someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that’s the patch of land just after the entrance to the Disabled American Veterans Hall). So how did this make it into Ota-cool Incoming!? Kawaii Kon will be there, preregistering attendees for the 2014 convention (preregister at Summer Smash, get an exclusive patch!) and hosting a cosplay contest, to boot. (I’m kinda hoping one team shows up as Social Welfare Agency Special Ops Section 2. Just because.) For more information on the event and where to register, visit www.facebook.com/events/357207584390708/ (no Facebook login required). Aug. 4.

Future Attractions

Taku Taku Matsuri: A summer festival with an anime/manga slant at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu. Aug. 25.

Oni-Con Hawaii: With guest Yuko Ashizawa, a fashion designer with Atelier Pierrot. Also featuring the Cosplay Chess Brigade and Yu x Me Maid Cafe & Host Club. Preregistration open now; $45 for a three-day pass. Hawai’i Convention Center, Nov. 1-3.

Kawaii Kon 2014: Guests include voice actors Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh and professional cosplayer Leah Rose. Preregistration open now; $37 for a three-day pass for children ages 5-12, $42 general admission. Hawai’i Convention Center, April 4-6, 2014.

MangaBento’s “Tomo-e-Ame”: The second handful

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You remember the drill from last time — this week we’re looking at MangaBento’s Tomo-e-Ame exhibit; part 1 is here — so let’s jump right back into things with a look at some of the 3-D pieces in the exhibit. They’re certainly outnumbered by pieces done in 2-D media, but they have their charms.

Here’s the Flickr gallery. Watch for part 3 … mmmmm, probably around Friday morning at the latest.

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MangaBento’s “Tomo-e-Ame”: The first handful

Tomo-e-Ame through the eyes of Cait Sith. Or someone behind Cait Sith with a camera, anyway.

It’s summertime, which means it’s time for what’s become an annual ritual of sorts for me: visiting the Honolulu Museum of Art School and its second-floor gallery to chronicle MangaBento’s exhibit and share what this group of anime- and manga-inspired artists created with the Intarwebz at large.

This year’s exhibit, Tomo-e-Ame: Friends-Drawing-Candy, is up through the end of this week at the art school, located at 1111 Victoria St., just around the corner from the museum proper. In case you can’t make it out there by then, though, no worries — your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger is here to showcase all the exhibit highlights. And just like last year’s roundup, it’ll be presented in three parts. Part one, featuring the gallery layout itself, is in this post; parts 2 and 3, spotlighting the 3-D and 2-D pieces, respectively, will arrive later this week.

So! Let’s get Flickr-ing! To start the slideshow, just press the “play” button in the middle of the frame below. Pause and restart using the button on the lower left. If you want a larger view, click on the icon on the lower right; in that full-screen view, you can also see the captions I’ve written for each picture (using the “Show Info” link) or slow down the automatic scrolling (using the “Options” link). Finally, if you’re viewing this blog on an iOS device (iPad/iPod Touch) and can’t view Flash plug-ins, or if you just want to skip all the slideshow fiddling and go straight to the gallery, here’s the direct gallery link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sumiyoshi/sets/72157634422614006/with/9099046928/

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984

The Cel Shaded Report, 6/14: Bento box weekend

To get the obvious first thought out of your mind right away: No, Bento Rakugo is not, as I first thought when the offer came in from my freshly minted Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction, a new place in town where you can pick up a plastic box with some teriyaki chicken, assorted tsukemono and rice with a nice dusting of furikake and an ume stuck in the middle.

What Bento Rakugo is, though, is a nifty local troupe that shares humorous stories in the style of traditional Japanese rakugo. In rakugo, a single storyteller sits on a pillow before an audience and creates a compact narrative world — sometimes with multiple characters — with just a few intonation shifts and a paper fan and a cloth as props.

Here’s what it looked like at Waipahu Library on Wednesday.

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It’s a show that can appeal to audiences young and old, people who may wander into the room just curious about what’s going on and friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger trying to huddle incognito in the back alike. If the format holds for future performances, artistic director/group co-founder/emcee Yasu Ishida will introduce the concept of rakugo and perform some magic tricks, then the storytellers will go up and perform three to four stories, all within the span of an hour that passes way too quickly. They’re a bit like long-form jokes building up to a big punch line, but the storytelling aspect adds so much more depth to it.

Here’s what it looks like in action with one of the Bento Rakugo players who also showed up at the Waipahu performance, Serina Dunham.

Love her voice. I feel like she could be a great anime voice actor, in the vein of, say, Hilary Haag. But I digress.

Bento Rakugo has two more performances this weekend on Oahu — 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Aiea Library (99-143 Moanalua Road) and 3 p.m. Sunday at Kaneohe Library (45-829 Kamehameha Highway). Then it’s the neighbor islands’ turn — Molokai Library on Monday, Mountain View and Kona libraries on Hawaii island on June 26, Lanai Library on June 27, and Keaau and Naalehu libraries on Hawaii island on July 17. Check with those libraries for times. And if you want to learn more about the group, visit bentorakugo.wix.com/home.

By sheer coincidence, this weekend is a big one for another group with “bento” as part of its name: MangaBento.

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Sunday — which also happens to be Father’s Day, so best wishes to all you dads out there — is opening day for the anime/manga artist collective’s annual exhibit, Tomo-E-Ame: Friends-Drawings-Candy. I’ve seen some of the setup pictures that the group’s been posting to its Facebook page, and the display area looks very similar to previous years. (You can find my recap of last year’s Nakamaboko exhibit here, here and here.) I, for one, can’t wait to see the new artwork and share it with you in my annual series of Flickr galleries

The group will be hosting an opening reception from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Art School’s mezzanine gallery … and as those of you who are veterans of the opening reception circuit know, such events mean there will be food. In this case, your servers will be coming from Yu x Me: Maid Cafe and Host Club, cosplaying as characters from Adventure Time. And they will be serving, among other delectables, bacon-wrapped meat “cupcakes” with a mashed potato “frosting.” If that doesn’t say “perfect food item to share with Dad on Father’s Day afternoon,” I don’t know what does.

If you can’t make it to the reception, you have through July 14 to see the exhibit. As I mentioned in last week’s Cel Shaded Report, you can visit Tomo-E-Ame as a free complement to the Lethal Beauty: Samurai Weapons and Armor exhibit over in the Honolulu Museum of Art. For more information, visit www.manga-bento.com.

Ota-cool incoming!

Anime Manga Society at UH-Manoa: Meetings during Summer Session 1 (through June 28) in Kuykendall Hall, room 306. Screenings TBA. Fridays, 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Aiea Library Anime Club: This month, librarian Diane Masaki is screening Summer Wars at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists is on the road again for its second meeting in June, heading to Aiea Library (99-143 Moanalua Road) to put their own spin on the young adult summer reading program theme, “Beneath the Surface.” They’re taking July off, so this will be your last chance to jam with a bunch of talented artists for a while. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 22.

Friends of the Library of Hawaii 66th Annual Book Sale: Every summer for about a week, the McKinley High School cafeteria turns into an oasis for fans of classic media like books, CDs, DVDs, videotapes … you know, all that stuff that people say the digital age is steamrolling over. Cherish the classics and support the Friends, I say. FLH members get two days’ worth of preview sales, June 20 and 21; Hawaii State Federal Credit Union members can join in on the preview sale fun on June 21; for the rest of us, the sale runs June 22-30. Visit www.friendsofthelibraryofhawaii.org/index.php/fundraising/annual-booksale and start planning your trip.

Future attractions

Dave Thorne Celebration of Life: Remembering the life and work of the “father of Hawaii cartooning” with a gathering at Bay View Golf Course (45-285 Kaneohe Bay Drive). July 27, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Taku Taku Matsuri: A summer festival with an anime/manga slant at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu. Aug. 25.

Oni-Con Hawaii: Featuring guests Yuko Ashizawa, a fashion designer with Atelier Pierrot, and the return of Nobuo Uematsu and the Earthbound Papas in concert. Also featuring the Cosplay Chess Brigade and Yu x Me Maid Cafe & Host Club. Preregistration open now; $40 for a three-day pass. Artist Alley applications also being accepted (it’s $110 per table, which includes two three-day passes). Hawai’i Convention Center, Nov. 1-3.

Kawaii Kon 2014: Guests include voice actors Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh. Preregistration open now; $37 for a three-day pass for children ages 5-12, $42 general admission. Hawai’i Convention Center, April 4-6, 2014.