Ice, ice buckets, baby

August 27th, 2014
By

Unless you've been living in an all-things-media-related black hole for the past few weeks (in which case, welcome back to civilization, I'm happy you've chosen Otaku Ohana as your reintroduction to society), you've probably heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It seems like pretty much everyone in the Internet-connected world, from ordinary people to celebrities like Kermit the Frog and George W. Bush, is being doused with buckets of ice water or eventually will be called out to do the same. (Some people, of course, have done it better than others.) By the time you read this, the total amount raised in the name of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, research is likely to be very close to, if not already over, $100 million.

Granted, you may already be burnt out on seeing people do Ice Bucket Challenges. The world moves at Internet speed these days, which means many of us have already moved on to discussing what Hello Kitty is if she's neither a cat nor a human girl. (I'm going to say she's the same species as the Warners, Yakko, Wakko and Dot -- cute.) But if you're still up for watching a few more videos, several members of our local community have posted some in the past week or so. Click the screengrabs to watch the videos:

A bunch of Kawaii Kon staffers took the challenge; the video is a compilation of their efforts.

kawaii kon IBC

MidWeek cartoonist / Cacy & Kiara author took the challenge as well, adding a plug for the Hawaii Foodbank in the process.

roy IBC still

And then there's "Calabash" cartoonist Jon Murakami's video, a two-minute live-drawing treat.

jon IBC still

Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger, meanwhile, has not been challenged to do the Ice Bucket Challenge. It's for the best, because (a) I usually turn into a stuttering mess on camera, ice water poured on me would only make that worse and no one would want to see that; and (b) if I was called out to do it, I'd prefer to go the Patrick Stewart route. All I can say is, if you have a favorite cause, whether it be ALS research or something else, if you have a few extra dollars to give to it, please do so. A lot of people need a lot of help out there.

 

The second second coming of Taku Taku Matsuri

August 22nd, 2014
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taku taku matsuri logoOne of the breakthrough otaku-targeted events last year was the Taku Taku Matsuri's natsu matsuri, or summer festival, where about 300 people showed up at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu on a sunny Sunday in August to cosplay, play games, buy Japanese-themed merchandise and food from a number of vendors, enjoy entertainment and just have a fun time overall. As I wrote last year, organizer Yuka C. Nagaoka started Taku Taku Matsuri to give local fans of anime and manga culture another venue where they could gather, similar to the events she took part in growing up in Japan.

This year, Taku Taku Matsuri was scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 9. It promised to be bigger -- a one-day mini-anime con of sorts being held at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii's Manoa Grand Ballroom, with a Star Trek-themed cafe, video game tournaments, a dance party featuring DJ E2D, and special guest Kyle Hebert. But the tournaments were quietly dropped, DJ E2D pulled out ... and then the dual threat of Hurricanes Iselle and Julio took care of the rest.

The show, however, will go on. Yuka said as much, announcing a new date -- Saturday, Nov. 22 -- along with a new rallying cry, "We will make it happen." But there's still the venue, activities and higher costs to deal with. As she told me before, without any sponsors, she has to pay for everything out of pocket ... and those costs add up pretty quickly.

And that's where the second Second Annual Taku Taku Matsuri crowdfunding campaign comes in. If this all sounds familiar to you, you're right; we're looking at another $2,000 funding goal to reach and more $10 pre-sale tickets and $20 ticket/T-shirt bundles available, albeit this time on the GoFundMe platform instead of Kickstarter. The change removes the nail-biting element from the first campaign -- Yuka told me she switched because she gets to keep whatever she raises regardless of whether the goal is met by Oct. 25, unlike Kickstarter's all-or-nothing approach.

But the importance of hitting her goal remains.

TTM November teaser"If I don't get enough, as before, it'll come out of my pocket and/or me trying to get a business loan from a bank," she told me via email. "Sadly for attendees, this may result in me having to hike up the entrance fee, even for people that supported us on Kickstarter and GoFund."

Those of you who bought in during the Kickstarter campaign, don't worry: You don't have to give any more during this round. Yuka will honor all tickets sold during that campaign. For those of you who chose the $100 perk, she's also trying to book a replacement guest that will be able to make a special meal appearance as well.

Which brings us to the other unknown about Summer Taku Taku Matsuri in Fall: who, if anyone, will fill the "guest of honor" slot. It's already been confirmed that Kyle Hebert will not be returning for the make-up event (stick around for a bit of Otaku Ohana-related news about that at the end of this post, though). Yuka's trying to find a replacement guest, but with three months between now and the event itself and many other conventions and events being booked with guests far in advance, she's not sure she can pull it off.

Several artists and craft vendors have had to pull out of the rescheduled event as well, most likely because the new date is in the heart of the lucrative holiday craft fair season. So if you're an artist or vendor looking for some exposure, spaces are now available.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/taku2matsuri or email taku2matsuri@yahoo.com.

Ota-cool incoming!

10636109_561435233979790_6832920851635999729_nArashi in concert: Judging by my Facebook friends' timeline, the arrival of five-member boy band Arashi for concerts at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 19 and 20 at Ko Olina's Naia Lagoon 3 is a Pretty Big Deal. Is it worth paying $150 per ticket ($75 for children under 15)? Or would we be better off heading over to Shirokiya and its pop-up Arashi Shop to get CDs "and other items not normally available in Hawaii" and calling it a day? We'll find out starting Saturday, when tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. exclusively at Ticketmaster.com. Be sure to check out Tom Moffatt Productions' Facebook event page to see all the rules and procedures involved; the key elements to note are that there's a four-ticket limit, sales are limited to customers in the United States and Canada, and you're going to have to bring the credit card you used to order the tickets to the show itself.

Aiea Library Anime Club: It's back! The new conference room is really nice! And as I'll probably point out until the library moves to a new location, there's plenty of parking! This month, young adult librarian Diane Masaki is screening Appleseed: Alpha, the latest computer-animated film in the franchise directed by two-time Kawaii Kon guest Shinji Aramaki. At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

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.

Random Ingress portal of the post: With Ingress arriving on iOS, it's now available to almost everyone with a smartphone (sorry, Windows Phone and Blackberry users). I think it's about time to introduce this new recurring feature to the Ota-cool calendar.

Let's start with this portal.

Ringy Dingy

Yes, ol' Ringy Dingy is actually Pass Loop Doraemon from my statue cat-alog earlier this year, located on the third floor of Ala Moana, in the Nordstrom wing. Please note that while Doraemon is blue, his portal should be green. Just sayin'.

Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie: Screening Sunday, Aug. 31 at noon and Monday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Ward Stadium 16 theaters on Oahu and the Kaahumanu 6 theaters in Kahului. Tickets are available on Fandango.

Anime Day at Windward Mall: Kawaii Kon is back for its third year of mini-con craziness across the Koolaus. I'd imagine more details will be released in coming weeks, but I'd expect art events, cosplay contests, free anime screenings and a mini Artist Alley to be part of the day. Also, it's coinciding again with Star Wars Reads Day, which makes Diane sad because she can't go again this year. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11.

Coming up in Otaku Ohana

As I mentioned earlier, Kyle Hebert won't be coming back for Summer Taku Taku Matsuri in Fall. He did, however, make it down to Hawaii. Two people got to sit down with him for formal interviews while he was here. One of them was Kell Komatsubara, as part of his ongoing "Ramblings About Something Close to Nothing" video blog series.

The other? Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger.

Kyle Hebert: The Otaku Ohana interview. (Still) coming somewhat sorta soonish. (Hey, transcribing audio recordings are hard when you have a bazillion other things to do. Sigh. Sob.)

[UPDATED] Taku Taku Matsuri postponed

August 7th, 2014
By

taku taku matsuri logoIn case you're wondering what happened to my post from earlier this morning previewing the Taku Taku Matsuri Summer Festival, scheduled for Saturday at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii: I've pulled it from the blog on account of the event being postponed due to possible effects from Hurricanes Iselle and Julio. Here's the formal statement from organizer Yuka C. Nagaoka, posted earlier this afternoon:

!!! Attention !!!

With public transportation becoming transportation to emergency evacuation locations, Hospitals shutting down, and all the chaos happening,
I have made the decision to cancel taku taku Matsuri on August 9th, 2014.

I have thought this through for the pass few hours, and I find that, for everyone's safety, this is the best decision. 

BUT DO NOT WORRY!!!!

I have rescheduled with the venue.
I will make this happen.

So, you know what??
STAY TUNED FOR MORE UPDATES!!!!!

Please everyone, please be safe.
With many many Mahalos and Alohas,
Yuka C. Nagaoka

I'll repost any updates here as I get them. For now ... well, people in-state (particularly those of you on Hawaii island), shelter in place and stay safe. Those of you out of state ... pray for us.

Former Oni-Con Hawaii chairman speaks out about show

August 4th, 2014
By

With 149 days left in the year and no news on where, if anywhere, Oni-Con Hawaii 2014 will be held since the last time I wrote about it, the chances of the convention actually taking place this year are becoming increasingly remote, if not entirely unlikely.

Now comes word that Steve Okubo, former Oni-Con Hawaii chairman, posted a statement both to the Oni-Con Hawaii Facebook page and his personal page this morning. The statement, uncut and unedited, is reproduced below.

Regarding Oni Con Hawaii.
My apologies for the length.

I have remained largely silent about Oni Con Hawaii and the Hawaii Japanese pop culture convention scene for the past many months, partly because of a personal family loss, partly because I've had no official access to the various social media sites and email channels we setup for OCH 2013, and partly at the request of intermediaries who told me that a second year of OCH was being planned.

If this message is deleted from the OCH page, please share with others that it is also posted on my personal Facebook page.

First, I want to give a long overdue thank you to all of those who worked so hard to make OCH 2013 successful beyond everybody's expectations. I know you all sacrificed a lot and I truly appreciate everything you did. It was a great honor and privilege for me to, literally, work along side such awesome people as the members of our "Team O.H.A.Y.O."! I wish I could have done something for you, but unfortunately, the needed support from the mainland that I was promised never materialized. OCH has cost me, personally, in several ways, just to insure the inaugural convention happened at all, and unfortunately, I can currently do no more than offer you my humble, heartfelt, and long overdue thanks. Not being able to do more than that is one of my biggest regrets.

It is unfortunate that OCH never received the resources and support that were promised us and should have been provided at the outset, from Texas, but despite the lack of that support, our Hawaii 'ohana came together to create a first-year convention that was incredibly successful. Of course there were issues and things that could and should have gone better, but all things considered, we did what most thought couldn't be done. We were told by the convention center that OCH went much more smoothly in it's first year than others did after several years. This I attribute to our awesome staff, our wonderful partners, vendors, and artists, but mostly because of all the great fans who attended. I've been told that a convention is only as good as the fans make it, and I truly believe that to be the case. In my opinion, Hawaii has the best fans, anywhere, bar none!

I wish I could tell you exactly what was up with OCH, but I do not know what Texas has planned, as I've had no direct contact from them. I had heard, a couple of months ago, that they would be having another event and would honor the pre-registrations taken at OCH 2013, however, you may want to consider seeking a refund. That's up to you. I had heard of one case where someone tried to get a refund from a credit card company (I believe it was VISA) who refused to refund them, citing the reason that the "event had already occurred." Of course that is not the case, and if it would help anyone at all who wishes to have their charges reversed on the credit card they used to pay for the $20 pre-reg, I would be more than happy to speak with your credit card company, as the chair of the first year of OCH and verify with them that the event you paid for, OCH 2014, never happened.

Hawaii really needs another Japanese pop culture convention to bring our local fans what they deserve. We've grown far beyond one annual event for this genre. The unprecedented success of OCH 2013 proved how true this is. Although there are some visionless people who, unfortunately, can't understand this and continue to foster an "us or them" mentality, I feel the exact opposite is true.

Diversity fosters creativity and growth. As chair of OCH 2013 and the "new kid on the block", I reached out to try to make this happen, but ultimately, my efforts were fruitless. My philosophy, from the beginning, was for conventions here to work together for the common good of all. First and foremost, these events should be for the benefit of Hawaii's fans; the fans shouldn't be used for the benefit of the event.

We deserve better and shouldn't always have to go to the mainland to get it. It can be a total win-win situation, if you have leadership that has the clarity of vision to see it and understand it. I am hopeful an established mainland convention with local name recognition that gets it, one with commitment and integrity to make this happen, will emerge and bring Hawaii what it deserves. I know our fans will support any event done right. Hawaii is the perfect place for better such events and I can totally see us having conventions that offer our local fans, as well as those from our Asian, Pacific, and mainland neighbors, exactly that.

I look optimistically towards a better and brighter future. See you out there!

"Mahalo gozaimasu",
Steve.

This would normally be the part where I say "I've reached out to OniCon for a response," but seeing as how they never responded to my prior inquiries, I feel any further outreach from me would be moot. But if I see any formal response comes from OniCon in coming days, I'll post it in this blog.

A month of super-duper Saiyans, Totoros and ninjas

August 1st, 2014
By

Back when I was in my formative years as an anime fan in the early 2000s and wanted to get out to watch anything animated coming out of Japan, it wasn't easy to catch anime in theaters. The Hawaii International Film Festival had a few, and on occasion one or two might have shown up at the Varsity or Wallace's Restaurant Row art house complex (anyone remember when those were actual things?) (of course you do; I mean, wow, some of you reading this are old enough to remember the older Japanese theaters, which is way cool), but those were few and far between.

The month we're entering now shows just how much things have changed. This month brings word of three anime features screening in local theaters this month, including -- whoa! -- the first time I can recall in a long time, if ever, that several Hawaii island theaters are included in a limited-run anime screening.

The film that's getting this relatively widespread distribution is Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, otherwise known as "that Dragon Ball Z movie for which they were carrying around the poster everywhere Ryo Horikawa, the Japanese voice of Vegeta, appeared during Kawaii Kon 2013." Here he is with panelists Lisle Wilkerson and Pali Kaaihue ... and that poster.

Ryo Horikawa at Kawaii Kon 2013

One of the gods of Battle of Gods is Beerus, the God of Destruction who has the power to make everyone drunk and post incriminating selfies of themselves on various social media outlets. (A portion of that last sentence may be more what I imagine a character described as "Beerus, the God of Destruction" to be and not reflect reality.) Beerus is on his way to Earth, which means it's up to you-know-who to input his "God mode" cheat code and face him.

That's right.

Krillin.

... no, of course it's Goku. Much screaming and KAMEHAMEHA~!-ing and sock-biff-powing and explosions will likely ensue, and ... well, you probably know what you're in for with a Dragon Ball Z-series movie, so you're either already eager to check it out or moved ahead to look at the details of the My Neighbor Totoro screenings a bit further down.

So when can you see Battle of Gods? The first big day is Tuesday, when four theaters -- Consolidated's Ward Stadium 16 complex on Oahu and the Kaahumanu 6 complex in Kahului, and Regal's Makalapua Stadium 10 complex in Kona and Prince Kuhio 9 complex in Hilo -- will be showing it at 7 p.m. The Kona and Hilo theaters will also have screenings at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets for those screens are available on Fandango.

The film then moves on for an longer run starting Aug. 9 at the Honolulu Museum of Art's Doris Duke Theatre. The showtimes:

  • Sat., Aug. 9: 1 p.m.
  • Sun. Aug. 10: 5 and 7:30 p.m.
  • Tues., Aug. 12 through Thurs., Aug. 14: 1 and 7:30 p.m.

Tickets -- at $10 general, $8 museum members -- are available at www.honolulumuseum.org/events/films/14523-dragon_ball_z_battle_gods.

Around the middle of this month, Consolidated's Kahala 8 theaters will host screenings of My Neighbor Totoro as part of the ongoing "GKIDS: Animated World" series of animated features "for kids of all ages" ... which I just learned about while writing this post Thursday night, so I'm a bit sad about missing features like The Secret of Kells, A Cat in Paris and Tales of the Night. Totoro will screen Sat. Aug. 16, at 11 a.m., Mon., Aug. 18, at 3:30 p.m. and Tues., Aug. 19, at 11:30 a.m.; presale tickets are available now on Fandango.

Finally, for you Naruto fans, your favorite orange jump-suited ninja and his friends are back for their latest big-screen adventure, Road to Ninja -- Naruto the Movie. It's a movie that seems to hearken back to his roots; here's the synopsis:

RoadToNinja NarutoTheMovieLong ago, a mysterious masked shinobi unleashed the Nine-Tailed Fox onto the Village Hidden in the Leaves to spread chaos and destruction. But the Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze, and his wife Kushina Uzumaki sealed the Tailed Beast into their newborn son Naruto to save the village, foiling the shinobi’s plan.

Years later, Naruto and his friends succeed in driving away the infamous Akatsuki, who have mysteriously returned from the dead. Upon returning to the village, the young shinobi are praised by their families for completing a dangerous mission. Reminded of how alone he is, Naruto begins to wonder what it’s like to have parents, when a strange masked figure appears before him – the same masked shinobi responsible for the death of his parents!

Road to Ninja has thus far been confirmed for screenings at the Ward Stadium 16 theaters at noon Sun., Aug. 31, and 7 p.m. Sept. 1; tickets for the Aug. 31 showing are already available on Fandango.

Also this weekend

Get Pop-Cultured at Barnes & Noble: Another weekend, another set of artist appearances and Kawaii Kon-hosted activities at the Ala Moana store. The fun kicks off Saturday at 1 p.m. with appearances by MidWeek cartoonist/Cacy & Kiara and the Curse of the Ki'i author Roy Chang and artist Theo Lee (one of the featured artists in our Sakai Project profile (subscription required to read) on Sunday!). That will be followed by cosplayers dressed as Marvel Comics characters at 2 p.m.; Kawaii Kon's "Iron Cosplay" costuming-on-the-fly event at 3 p.m.; and Comic Jam Hawaii's Marvel sketch session at 5 p.m., where artists will draw various characters and the pieces will be raffled off to lucky patrons at the end of the hour.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center; locations within the mall may vary. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

As for last weekend ...

Remember that Kids Inc. Business Showcase I wrote about in my last post, where I highlighted Joelle Lee and her "Joelle's Custom Artwork" booth? I swung by Windward Mall and commissioned her to draw a caricature of me, and boy, did she ever deliver. I happened to be wearing a chibi Attack on Titan shirt at the time, so she drew me as one of that series' soldiers.

Joelle Lee caricature 7-26-14

And here's Joelle herself with the finished product.

Joelle Lee at Windward Mall

I liked the drawing so much, I've been gradually uploading it as my new avatar on pretty much all the social media networks I've been frequenting. (Except Instagram. I kinda like that "me with Doraemon plushie" look.) I would highly recommend getting something from her if she sets up another booth sometime in the future ... I'll definitely try to keep tabs on when/if she makes another appearance.