Otaku Ohana
June 10th, 2016

Before I get too far into this month's event roundup, a quick shout-out is in order to Joelle Lee and the rest of her Moanalua High School team -- mentioned in this space last month -- which made it to the finals of the Vans Custom Culture contest. While they didn't take home the $50,000 top prize for their school's art program, they did earn a $4,000 runner-up prize, as well as an additional $15,000 for being chosen as the Journeys "Local Attitude" award winner. Nice job, everyone!

OK! Let's take a look at what's coming up for the rest of this month:

Fighting Spirit 2015

MangaBento presents "MaidenCraft": It's the sixth eighth annual show -- one at the former Contemporary Museum, seven at the current Honolulu Museum of Art School location! -- by the group of anime- and manga-inspired artists. Some of the young artists who had pieces in the first few shows have gone on to nice professional careers elsewhere. MAN, I feel old. But I digress. Last year's show, "This is Fighting Spirit" (part of the layout of which is shown above), featured a number of pieces focused on a shonen (boys' manga) theme; it's the girls' turn with this year's show, "MaidenCraft." Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St.), second-floor gallery. Opening reception, 2-4 p.m. Sunday; show runs through June 24.

Friends of the Library of Hawaii 69th Annual Book Sale: Lovers of print media, this is your sale. (Not just books, too; there are CDs, DVDs and even artwork available.) Lovers of comics and manga, this is even more your sale this year, as one of the big promo points is a larger inventory of comics and manga, priced at the holy-cats-that's-really-low price of $1 each. There are also more cookbooks than usual, which means that if you stick my mom and I in there on the first day, we may not emerge until the last day. Heck, we may have to empty our bookshelves now so that we can fill them back up again. Free. McKinley High School cafeteria (1039 S. King St.), June 18-26.

hello kitty truck

Hello Kitty food truck in Honolulu: Sanrio may be getting more in tune with the real world's jaded/bitter tone -- consider their last two most notable characters have been Gudetama the unmotivated egg and Aggressive Retsuko, the harried red panda office lady who blows off steam with death metal karaoke -- but at least they'll always have their iconic cat-who's-not-a-cat, Hello Kitty, as the face of their company. To that end, there's been a Hello Kitty food truck touring the country, selling mini cakes, cookie sets, macarons and exclusive merchandise at every stop. This month, it's Hawaii's turn, so the truck's (presumably) hopping on a boat and floating on over here to spread its special brand of happiness. In front of the Sanrio Store at Ala Moana Center, June 17-19.

Neko Cafe: If you like your cats to be shorter than five apples tall and less cartoon-like, Mori by Art+Flea will be the place to visit for Hawaii's first cat cafe.  You know those places in Japan where you can stop off for a cup of coffee with a side of cuddles with feline friends? Same concept. Morning Glass Coffee will be providing the noms and drinks for both humans and animals, the Hawaiian Humane Society will be providing the cats -- all of which will be up for adoption, by the way, in case any of them capture your heart and refuses to let go -- and several artists from the Art+Flea community will be selling cat-inspired works. Ward Warehouse, 1050 Ala Moana Blvd., unit 1550, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. June 25.

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. (June's "friends" remain the ship-gals of KanColle.) It hasn't happened yet. And it probably never will, now that she's running out of Polar Bear episodes. Sigh. 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 aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. June 25.


June 6th, 2016

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One of the biggest burning questions of Con-athon 2016 -- aside from "Can our otaku community really support six major conventions in one year?" and "Should I get the Cardcaptor Sakura Blu-ray box set or four Nendoroid figures?" -- has been "What's going on with Anime Matsuri Hawaii?"

Sure, there was the promise that they would be back this year, made -- as these promises usually are -- at the end of last November's show. But while Kawaii Kon, Amazing Hawaii Comic Con, Comic Con Honolulu, HawaiiCon and Anime Ohana were announcing dates and/or fleshing out their guest lists, AMHI had ... well, that promise, along with a few occasional "hi, this page is still being updated, at least!" types of updates on the Facebook fan page. And people were starting to wonder about what was going on. And wonder some more. And some more. And ... well, let's just say I broke out the popcorn (with mochi crunch and furikake!) for the most recent flare-up. I was getting a lot of behind-the-scenes, off-the-record buzz speculating on what was going on, but there really wasn't anything formal.

That changed tonight, when AMHI co-chairman Deneice Leigh posted this statement:

In the interest of the restructuring and expansion of Anime Matsuri Houston, we have decided not to host Anime Matsuri Hawaii this year. This was an extremely difficult decision to make. However, with our anticipated growth and changes this year, it is necessary for us to give our full focus to the Houston show in order to provide our attendees with the best experience possible. We are incredibly grateful for the support and enthusiasm from our Hawaii fans and staff, and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience. John and I were honored to host our show in beautiful Honolulu, and we look forward to potentially returning in 2017.

As a thank you to everyone who has been with us, we are offering a 15% discount to Anime Matsuri Houston 2017. The discount code will be sent out to all who registered to AM Hawaii last year.

More historical perspective and analysis to come ...


May 19th, 2016

It's race day once again.

To recap: Throughout the year, I'm going to be previewing the participants in Con-athon 2016, this year's gauntlet of six major anime/sci-fi/fantasy/comic conventions on two islands and a whooooooole buncha smaller events in between. Kawaii Kon was first out of the gate in early April, and they set a rather impressive pace for the other shows to follow: an 11th straight year of attendance growth (11,597 unique attendees!) and three guests already announced for next year (voice actors Vic Mignogna and David Vincent, and manga publisher Vertical Comics).

Since then, the remaining participants have continued to make progress toward their start dates (well, most of them, anyway; no one's quite sure what to make of the continued silence on the part of Anime Matsuri Hawaii, which has yet to even announce when their show's taking place nearly half a year after their last event ended). Next up to the starting gate is the convention that made the biggest splash last year: Amazing Hawaii Comic Con.

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May 13th, 2016

Save the animals. Always. Screen grab from Summer Games Done Quick 2015 video.

Donate to a good cause. And save the animals. Always. Screen grab from Awesome Games Done Quick 2015 video.

So you know that we here at Otaku Ohana love our video games. And gamers don't often have the greatest reputation -- you know the stereotypes, which I won't deign to repeat here. You also know we love our charity gaming events -- see our past coverage of Child's Play Charity, which helps children's hospitals worldwide.

But the idea of using video games as a fundraiser has been around for years, and lately it's been getting more mainstream recognition. A subgenre of this is the speedrunning category, in which gamers finish games as fast as they can -- exploiting things like glitches and technical aspects of games to complete them in mere minutes to several hours instead of the, say, 80 hours we mere mortals probably spent. (Yeah, that was me with Final Fantasy III/VI. But only because I was trying my darnedest to get Economizers for everyone so they could all cast spells for a measly 1 magic point! Anyway, I digress.)

Admittedly, I'd never heard of speedrunning until just a few years ago when I stumbled across a particular video game marathon for charity. Seeing the insane skills and the vast knowledge that the gamers had to employ to effortlessly whip through these games like Simon Belmont through Dracula, the same games that I loved and sweated and cursed over and spent wayyyyy too much of my life -- that got me COMPLETELY hooked. And the fact that this was being done to benefit a worthy cause was a big, big bonus.

It's only in the past few months that I became aware of various other video game marathon charity events, both speedrunning and otherwise, and I'd like to spread the word about them by sharing them here. These broadcast live online, usually via Twitch, and they're listed here in generally chronological order. (Please note that the months listed are only an estimate based on when they occurred last year and that they may change.) Check them out and, if you can, please donate to their cause! Remember, even a dollar is a big help. Even if you're not able to donate, you can help by talking about them on social media and raising awareness about them and the causes they support.

With most of these events, your money goes directly to the chosen charity and is tax-deductible. But be sure to check with the charity for information for tax purposes.

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May 5th, 2016

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Congratulations, dear otaku! You've managed to survive the first four months of the year. Here, have some cookies ... err, comics.

Indeed, with all that's been happening in the real world and its cascade of bad news, we've made it to the annual national celebration of comic book culture, Free Comic Book Day. On Saturday, various comic shops and libraries will be giving away a wide range of comic books. Some will even be hosting special events. It's a tradition that's run annually since 2002, and while some of the stores locally have changed over the years, the concept remains the same: give away comic books; expose readers to a wide range of series; get people into stores to peruse what's available. Put another way, it's like a comic Christmas.

The books this year run the gamut from summer blockbuster source material (Avengers, Suicide Squad, Captain America) to pop culture icons (Archie, Doctor Who, Strawberry Shortcake, Sonic the Hedgehog) to cool little niche titles that you might not recognize now but might just end up being the next series that you slavishly follow every month. Manga fans, the books you'll want to look for are Kodansha Comics' Attack on Titan Anthology preview and a pair from Viz, Pokemon Pocket Comics and the One-Punch Man/My Hero Academia combo sampler. You can find a complete list of what's available here; just remember that the sites celebrating Free Comic Book Day rarely, if ever, have every book in stock. Don't forget to patronize your local stores and stick a few dollars in their cash registers, too; while the books are free to readers, they aren't for the stores.

So where can you go? With six stores and 14 libraries on Oahu and a smattering of locations on the neighbor islands, you certainly have options this year.

Comic book stores

The biggest celebration in the state looks to be at Other Realms (1130 Nimitz Highway, suite C-140) in Iwilei, with cosplayers, gifts for children in cosplay, discounts, door prizes and a FCBD Spongebob Squarepants pin for the first 100 customers. Special guests include Free Isabelo, founder of Live Free Die Free (LFDF) Comics and creator of The Contraptor; Gary Turner, a local TV commercial producer and creator of I, Mage; and the creative team behind Kipaku Kai. Midweek cartoonist, Cacy & Kiara creator and Pepe the Chihuahua kalbi wrangler Roy Chang's also going to be there, drawing caricatures of people as Funko Pop figures. You know, kind of like this.

roy chang funkofied drawings

... and yes, that is your friendly neighborhood otaku blogger in the upper left corner with a convention badge, funny cosplay hat and phone running Ingress at the ready. I love it.

Dragon's Lair (95-1840 Meheula Parkway, suite E-10) in Mililani will be hosting artists Jon Murakami, Michael Cannon and Reid Kishimoto, who'll be doing sketches throughout the day and handing out bookmarks drawn by Comic Jam Hawaii members. I don't think I've ever spotlighted Reid's artwork in this space before, so here, have some Disney Princess bookmark samples drawn by him.

fcbd bookmarks

Over on Hawaii island, Enjoy Comics (45-201 Pohaku St.) is teaming up with Hilo Public Library and using the day as an opportunity to promote literacy through comics. Comics will be available at the store and at the library, and the library has a special display showcasing local and national comics that will be up all month.

Also giving out comics: Choice Comics (98-1268 Kaahumanu St., suite 104) in Pearl City; Westside Comics and Games (590 Farrington Highway, #538) in Kapolei; and Collector Maniacs (3571 Waialae Ave., suite 102A) and Gecko Books (1151 12th Ave.), both in Kaimuki. Maui readers can visit Maui Comics & Collectibles (333 Dairy Road, suite 102) in Kahului.

FCBD 2015

Various cosplayers and one Face of Hawaii Ingress (tm) gather for a picture at Free Comic Book Day 2015 at Aiea Library. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

Libraries

If getting to a comic book store is too much of a haul for you, your neighborhood library might be able to help. Participating libraries include Aiea, Aina Haina, Hawaii Kai, Kailua, Kalihi-Palama, Kapolei, Manoa, McCully-Moiliili, Mililani, Salt Lake-Moanalua, Waianae, Waikiki-Kapahulu, Waimanalo and Waipahu on Oahu; Princeville on Kauai; Kahului, Kihei, Lahaina and Makawao on Maui; the Lanai Library booth at the Saturday Market in Dole Park on Lanai; and Hilo, Kona and Thelma Parker on Hawaii island.

The libraries will have Comic Jam Hawaii bookmarks, and they'll have a selection of the following comics:

  • Archie #1
  • Assassin's Creed
  • Avengers #1
  • Bongo Comics Free-For-All (Simpsons)
  • Boom! Studios Summer Blast (featuring Mouse Guard, Adventure Time and Lumberjanes)
  • Captain America #1
  • Dark Horse All-Ages Sampler (featuring The Legend of Korra, How to Train Your Dragon and Plants vs. Zombies)
  • Suicide Squad #1
  • DC Super Hero Girls
  • Doctor Who: Four Doctors Special
  • Grumpy Cat
  • Pokemon Pocket Comics
  • Dark Horse Serenity/Hellboy/Aliens
  • Spongebob Freestyle Funnies
  • Strawberry Shortcake #0

In addition, cosplayers from the 501st Imperial Legion, Rebel Legion Hawaii and Hawaii Cosplayers Guild will be showing up at Aiea, Aina Haina, Kapolei, Manoa, Mililani, Salt Lake-Moanalua, Waikiki-Kapahulu, and Waipahu libraries on Oahu, Makawao on Maui and Thelma Parker on Hawaii island. Lawrence Muleh, a Maui teacher, artist, illustrator, creator, and children's book author, will be teaching a drawing workshop at Makawao Library at 2 p.m. But the luckiest library in the state has to be Kihei, who'll be hosting comic artist James Silvani from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Among his credits: artwork on Darkwing Duck and Animaniacs comics. Seeing as how those are two of my favorite series ever, I am so jealous of you right now, people of Kihei.