Goodbye HEXXP, hello … Oni-Con Hawaii?!?

Back on Feb. 8, Ron Kaneshige, founder of the Hawaii Entertainment Expo (otherwise known as the Hawaii Entertainment Expo Experience, HEXXP, the “HEX-po,” and “the con that pretty much made only lateral progress over the years from this“),  posted the following statement to his convention’s Facebook page:

For the past 3 years I have poured my heart and all of my finances into building HEXXP. I no longer have the funds necessary to keep it going. As of today, I am officially stepping down from HEXXP.

Oni-Con Hawaii promo imageA handful of condolence messages ensued. But a proper obituary for HEXXP will have to wait for another day (and believe me, there’s much to say about the faults and ultimate failure of that con). It took all of eight days before a new challenger entered the local convention arena: This morning, a website and Facebook page launched for Oni-Con Hawaii … and unlike HEXXP and its nebulous “pop culture convention” designation, it looks like the people behind it are aiming squarely at the Kawaii Kon market, fans of anime, manga and Japanese culture. In other words, you, dear Otaku Ohana readers.

To solidify the transition, the following message was posted to the HEXXP Facebook page this morning:

Dear attendees of HEXXP,

First, we want to thank you for all your support these past three years. It has been a wonderful ride and an awesome experience for all of us. We also want to thank our great guests, vendors, and artist alley participants who have helped HEXXP grow over the years. We have had a chance to meet some amazing artist from Japan, Hawaii, and the mainland and the memories from these past three years will stay with us forever.

Unfortunately, it is time for HEXXP to say goodbye.

But, even as the sun must set on HEXXP, a new day is dawning here, in Hawaii, for fans of Japanese Pop Culture. A new convention will be coming in the Fall of 2013. A collaboration between the Hawaii, the mainland, and Japan, it promises to bring fresh energy to the fans of this genre, here in the 808. For more information please visit http://www.oniconhawaii.com as well as their official facebook page Onicon Hawaii http://www.facebook.com/oniconhawaii

And, for those who had already pre-registered for HEXXP 2013, you will be contacted in the next few days. Please watch for it in your email.

Mahalo and aloha.

There’s not much information to go on right now, but here’s what I do know about Oni-Con Hawaii so far:

  • The image above is pretty much the only official information that’s been released so far; indeed, there is no confirmation yet as to when and where Oni-Con Hawaii will be taking place. The timing of this announcement would suggest that the actual event is at least six months away … perhaps even around the old HEXXP window of sometime in the fall months of September and November.
  • This new convention does have an affiliation with Oni-Con, the Galveston, Texas, anime con that is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. How exactly this parent con will be involved, I’m not sure; I’ll be sending out a few inquiries shortly. Also involved: Babel Entertainment, the promoter that brought over many of HEXXP’s Japanese guests. It would not surprise me if other former HEX-patriates — minus Ron, of course — were part of this venture as well.
  • Yu x Me Maid Cafe & Host Club (home of the “Mune Mune Kyun!”) is the first group to officially sign on with this new venture, announcing via its Facebook page that Oni-Con Hawaii will feature its showcase cafe event for this year.

Stay tuned, folks. If Oni-Con Hawaii makes even a little bit of improvement over HEXXP, the local convention scene could get pretty interesting.

The Cel Shaded Report, 1/9: A familiar festival for the new year

It’s become a bit of a tradition here at Otaku Ohana to kick off the year talking about the annual Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s New Year’s Ohana Festival, and for good reason: Not only are there a bunch of activities that appeals to the Japanophile in all of us — mochi pounding and other cultural demonstrations! Entertainment! Games for the kids! Maximum ono grindage with food trucks and booths galore! — it also serves as the natural launching point for a number of groups and businesses with ties to the local anime and manga fan community.

There are a few notable gaps in this 20th annual edition of the festival — local art group Pen & Ink Works is taking a break until Kawaii Kon, and if the website (or lack thereof) is any indication, things aren’t looking good for another year of HEXXP (you’ll recall that Oahu Anime Explorer was handing out info at last year’s Ohana Festival … and yes, I have heard the murmurings that the show is kaput; I’m just waiting to hear confirmation on what’s next if that is, indeed, the case). But there’s still a nice lineup of people who will be attending, including:

Suicchi ON! ONE! TWO! THREE! ...Kawaii Kon: Staff members from the annual anime convention will be on hand for all your convention preregistration needs … and you may stand a good chance of winning a prize at their booth as well.

JN Productions and Generation Kikaida: Autograph sessions with Kikaida star Ban Daisuke and performances by Kikaida & Friends (at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.) are the order of the day, along with the University of Hawaii Pep Band and the other usual trimmings that come with a Generation Kikaida party: picture-taking, Kikaida-oke and discounted merchandise. Spend $100 or more and get the Kikaida vol. 1 DVD for free; spend $200 and up and get a Kamen Rider V3 case for your iPhone 4 as well (sorry, cutting-edge iPhone 5 adopters and all of you with Android phones).

MangaBento: This group of anime/manga-inspired artists will be holding their first meeting of the year at the festival, sketching activities and photo booth props likely in tow.

Yu x Me Maid Cafe & Host Club: The group formerly known as Animaid Cafe Hawaii will have their giant Jenga set and other casual games set up at their booth. Also, I’ve said this before about them and I’ll say it again until the end of this blog, but as inevitable as death, taxes, and President Obama and his family vacationing in Kailua in late December, this dance will probably show up sometime as well.

This is a promotional image Audra shared on the nemu*nemu Facebook page. It is also the CUTEST THING EVER (until her next drawing, of course).nemu*nemu: Artist Audra Furuichi and her husband, Scott Yoshinaga, will be selling their line of super-cute plush pups and other assorted swag from the popular webcomic. (Side note: Read Audra’s “Heyo 2013! State of the Comic” post on the nemu*nemu website. Then support them in whatever way you see fit. It’s not easy to provide “free” entertainment in this day and age, and with their strategy of staying local save for the Toronto Comics Art Festival in mid-May, they need all the backing they can get.)

Journey of Heroes graphic novel: Author Stacey Hayashi will be bringing books, chibi T-shirts and other chibi goods based on the characters in this manga-style chronicle of the achievements of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team/100th Infantry Battalion in World War II.

Interested? It’s all happening from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the center at 2454 S. Beretania St. and nearby Moiliili Field. Parking is available at the UH-Manoa lower campus parking structure, with a free shuttle running between UH and the center. (Tip: Get there before 1 p.m. to take advantage of free parking; there’s a Wahine basketball doubleheader at the Stan Sheriff Center starting at 2:30 p.m., and I believe the 1 p.m. cutoff is to allow the parking guards a 90-minute window to swoop in and charge the attendees for those games.)

For more information, visit www.jcch.com.

The great calendar of otakudom

New this year to the Cel Shaded Report is this weekly feature that will highlight all of the events on my radar that may be of interest to local fans. It’s kinda like “More From the Anime Desk,” except featuring events that are more than a week out (and with more of an emphasis on events, period). Don’t be surprised if the title of this feature changes next week, by the way; I’m … not exactly enthusiastic about it.

Otaku Fair at Shirokiya: Hosted by Hakubundo Bookstore with volunteers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa Anime Manga Society. Pick up art books, Japanese-language manga, posters and assorted character goods.  (I swung by there on Wednesday, and it looked like there were a lot of things related to One Piece, Dragon Quest slimes and Hatsune Miku.) Now through Jan. 27.

Liliha Library Anime Art Contest 2012 Winners Reception: Fifty-five entries, 13 winners. Join Liliha young adult librarian Linda Mediati, Audra, Kawaii Kon senior administrator Roy Bann and myself as we honor those winners in a ceremony at the library, 1515 Liliha St. (And if you want to see the pretty artwork that we saw in this year’s contest, stay tuned … I’m going to be working on that two-part post immediately after I put this post to bed.) 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Aiea Library book sale: Book sales are really a media treasure hunt — you never know what you’re going to find. There could be an out-of-print manga volume that you need to complete your collection, or a Pokemon strategy guide in Japanese, or something completely different that you totally want right now. Find your passions here. Presented by the Friends of the Aiea Library and the Aiea Community Association at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 19.

“Friends, Books, Music … The Sale!”: You know all that stuff I wrote about the Aiea Library sale above? Apply it to this sale, presented by the Friends of the Library of Hawaii, except on a waaaaaaay bigger scale. Visit the Friends’ warehouse in Kakaako, which is ewa (west) of the UH medical school; just go makai (south) on either Forrest Avenue or Keawe Street to the end, and you’ll be there. Visit www.friendsofthelibraryofhawaii.org. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 19-20 and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 21.

Madoka Magica double feature: Watch the magical girl saga unfold in one big four-hour, two-film chunk comprising Beginnings and Eternal, Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Tickets are $20 general admission, $18 museum members. Visit http://www.honolulumuseum.org/events/films/13340-puella_magi_madoka_magica_parts_1_2 4 p.m. Feb. 27 and 28.

The Cel Shaded Report, 11/30: Kawaii Kon ‘cross the Koolaus

anime dayThe reasons for me to visit Windward Mall have admittedly dwindled over the past few years. First, the Borders store closed last year; then the Suncoast Video store followed suit earlier this year. Earlier this month, we learned that the Marukai Discount store there will be shutting down as well. That pretty much leaves Ben & Jerry’s, Ono Cheese Steak, the theaters and a GameStop … and it would take something reeeeeaaally good going on at one of those to convince me to make my way out there.

Or, of course, you could just put on an Anime Day, like the one that Kawaii Kon is hosting on Sunday.

“Basically, the idea is taking just a small ‘slice’ of Kawaii Kon and bringing it to the Windward side,” Roy Bann, Kawaii Kon senior administrator, told me in an email. Looking at the lineup of activities, it’s a small slice all right … if you think of it like a small slice of the lemon crunch cake at the Alley Restaurant at Aiea Bowl, which is a thick wedge packed chock full of awesome. And even better, it’s absolutely free to attend! Here’s a list of what you can see and do on Sunday:

  • A mini dealers room/Artist Alley will feature stuff for sale from idkwhat2wear and steampunk accessories from Mad House Mind Works, among others.
  • A stamp rally with select Windward Mall merchants will give you the opportunity to win special prizes, including a three-day pass to Kawaii Kon 2013.
  • Local artist group MangaBento will be hosting a photo booth with props to help you look like you’re in a living manga panel.
  • The other local artist group, Pen & Ink Works, will be offering a “make your own manga” activity as well as drawing contests throughout the day.
  • Comic Jam Hawaii will have artists collaborating on cartoons from 10 a.m. to noon.
  • The Hawaii Video Gaming League will be hosting a Tetris tournament.
  • Yu x Me: Maid Cafe & Host Club, freshly rebranded from their former identity as Animaid Cafe Hawaii, will be hosting a panel at 11:30 a.m. and performing several dances on stage. (“Mune Mune Kyun” performance? Probably a lock.)
  • Also on stage: “Cosplay Runway,” a showcase of several talented cosplayers in these fair islands of ours.
  • Kaneohe Library will be showcasing some of the anime and manga available to borrow there.

Add to that an anime theater where you can watch a few series and games to play throughout the day, and you have a whole bunch of activities guaranteed to please any anime fan and regular Kawaii Kon attendee. Special rates for con passes will be available, too. It’s all happening from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the mall, at 46-056 Kamehameha Highway in Kaneohe.

More from the anime news desk

cacy coverCacy & Kiara on tour: Author/Aiea Intermediate art teacher/MidWeek cartoonist/friend of the blog Roy Chang will be promoting his book Saturday on the Perry & Price Show live from Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant. Your friendly neighborhood blogger confesses that he had no idea that Perry & Price moved to Jade Dynasty, having last listened to their live show regularly back when it was in the Hanohano Room, 30 stories above the beach in the Sheraton Waikiki, then noting their subsequent moves to John Dominis and Jimmy Buffett’s in Waikiki. But I digress. No word on exactly when in the show Roy will be on, so you’ll just have to listen to the show on KSSK 590 AM or 92.3 FM between 8 and 11 a.m. and hope for the best.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists is going to be everywhere this weekend. Anime Day aside, they’re also going to be at Liliha Library (1515 Liliha St.) from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, and they’re going to be holding down their regular slot in front of Hot Unique Imaging, on the Uptown side of Pearlridge Center, from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. My hand would be falling off after just an hour of drawing, if not sooner, so I really have to give props to the artists who end up showing up at all three events. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/147779161986428 (Facebook login required).

Hello Kitty designer visits: Swing by Shirokiya at Ala Moana between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. today through Sunday, and you can meet, and get an autograph from, lead Hello Kitty designer Yuko Yamaguchi. Take pictures with Hello Kitty, learn how to make cute lunchboxes, get a cute character manicure and just bask in the glory of super-sugary Sanrio CUTE. Be one of the first 50 people in line each day, and you could even get a $5 gift card for Hello Kitty beauty products at Sephora.

idkwhat2wear: Terri Dux, Karl Miyashiro and the gang are sitting out this weekend’s batch of craft fairs. (So are nemu*nemu‘s Audra Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga.) But they’ll be back in action Tuesday at Wabi Sabi’s Christmas in Honolulu Craft Fair from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, 2454 S. Beretania St., in the fifth floor ballroom. Adopt a “musubi angel,” and you can get in early at 4 p.m.