By Jason S. Yadao
As of today, we're about 1-1/2 months out from the ninth annual edition of Kawaii Kon ... which means we're getting that much closer to our annual three-day celebration of all things anime and Japanese pop culture. To that end, the local anime convention has been pulling out all the stops when it comes to news as of late, releasing enough news tidbits over the past week or so to fill ... well, an entire Cel Shaded Report, really, minus the still-haven't-come-up-with-a-better-name-for-it Great Calendar of Otakudom.
Let's start with the guests. A pair of Japanese talents have been added to the roster: fashion designer MINT and singer/songwriter Iruma Rioka. MINT -- no relation to this Mint -- debuted in 2006 as S-INC and has since created two brands -- Sixh, created in conjunction with designer Ibi, and MINT NeKO, fashions that have been based on more than 200 cat character sketches. "The fashion that MINT creates starts with a gothic aesthetic that has evolved into more decorative, ornamental ventures, emerging into an essence that is simple yet high fashion," notes his bio on AnimeCons.com. This will be his second appearance at a U.S. anime convention, on the heels of Anime Boston last year.
If that last paragraph held any significance to you, then you could be a perfect candidate to serve as a model in the MINT fashion show. Male and female models of all body types are encouraged to apply. If you're more a behind-the-scenes type of person and would rather serve as a volunteer hair designer or makeup artist, there are positions open as well. Application submission details are available at ow.ly/hjUTE. (Just, umm, do it quickly. They're going to begin picking the models on Feb. 15.)
The second guest, Iruma Rioka, is another name in the ever-growing "Japanese guests that I've not heard a thing about before I started looking into their backgrounds for Otaku Ohana posts, but when I do, they turn out to be crazy awesome" file. She's a self-described "fantastic singer-songwriter" who is fond of simple triple time and ... you know what, let me just grab a portion of her bio from her official website and post it here:
She comes from a noted family (Rioka) which is down on their luck.
She was kidnapped by a witch because of her debt. While that time, she was creating music in the top of the tower and was waiting for the chance to get out for a long time.
Because of her long blond hair, people call her Rapunzel.
After she found a magical crow (named Nemu), she ran away from the tower. She sings and goes on a journey to makes her dreams come true.
... yeah. Umm. Just … have a music video.
If you want to hear more from Rioka, CDBaby has Secret Garden ~2nd Press~ for sale, while iTunes has her self-titled five-song EP. As with MINT, Kawaii Kon will be the second appearance for Rioka at a U.S. anime convention, her first being at Anime Central in Rosemont, Ill., last year.
That brings the guest count for Kawaii Kon 2013 to eight, with illustrator Noizi Ito; voice actors Colleen Clinkenbeard, Todd Haberkorn, Lisia Wilkerson and Johnny Yong Bosch; and Bosch's band Eyeshine being the others announced to date. Attendees who want to spend even more time with Clinkenbeard, Haberkorn and Bosch will be pleased to know that the Guest Dinner at Hard Rock Cafe is back and happening from 6 to 8 p.m. on the first day of the convention, March 15. Cost is $65 to preregister, $80 at the door, and includes dinner and transportation to and from the convention center.
And while we're talking abut the Hard Rock Cafe -- hooray for smooth transitions! -- another pre-con event will be returning to that venue for a second year: "Anime Rocks!" spotlighting local musical talent and the debut of this year's limited-edition convention pin, happening from 2 to 5 p.m. Feb. 17 at the restaurant, at 280 Beachwalk in Waikiki. With the retirement of Eleven Staples after last year's convention, two groups are taking the stage this year: two-time con guests Alt/Air and Emke, a quartet of youths that has been making music together since 2005. To put that in perspective, a review by this paper's esteemed John Berger of their EP last year pegged their ages as between 11 and 15.
... yeah, they're pretty awesome for their age. Go see all of them, buy a pin, and get 15% off all food and drink. There will also be preregistration discounts, games and prizes at the event.
Kawaii Kon is happening March 15-17 at the Hawai'i Convention Center; current rates for three-day passes are $48 general, $38 children ages 5-11. Two-day passes just went on sale, too, at $37 general, $27 children ages 5-11. As for single-day passes, those haven't been formally put up for sale yet, but a new rate schedule recently was publicized: $25 for Friday, $30 for Saturday, $20 for Sunday. For all your presale needs, visit kawaiikon2013.eventbrite.com; general information can be had at www.kawaii-kon.org.
The great calendar of otakudom
MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists usually meets every second and fourth Sunday of the month at the Academy Art Center, 1111 Victoria St., Room 200. Visit www.manga-bento.com. Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Open Cosplay Shoot: Got a lovely costume that you want to show off and want to capture it on film ... err, pixels? (The digital era: changing the way we think about things since time immemorial.) Come on out to the first large-scale open cosplay shoot of the year at the Aiea Loop Trail. Cosplayers and photographers, meet at the first restroom at the head of the trail, and go from there. Happy cosplaying/shooting! 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.
Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month in front of Hot Unique Imaging on the Uptown side of Pearlridge Center. And yes, this means that this upcoming meeting will be happening at the same time that the San Francisco Squared Sevens take on the Baltimore Nevermores (you'll get that reference if you've ever read Tuesday Morning Quarterback) in the Big Game With All the Cool Commercials. Fear not; there will still be people there, happily drawing away. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/147779161986428 (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
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.