Archive for March, 2013

[Kawaii Kon 2013] The year of the "KYAAAH~!"

By
March 16th, 2013



Previously at Kawaii Kon, I wrote this:

Of course, I'm not sure if Jake the Dog and Finn the Human will show up -- the preceding few sentences having been a riff on the Adventure Time theme, for those of you not familiar with the show -- but who knows, that show is pretty popular, so cosplayers dressing up at those characters may be a virtual lock.

And sure enough, not 30 minutes into my day, these fine cosplayers showed up.

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A Finn with Jake (in his pocket), and a Princess Bubblegum to boot? That's it, I've seen all I needed to see this year, my job's done, see y'all at Kawaii Kon 2014.

But no, we must press on, because the first day of Kawaii Kon is always a whirlwind of activity, one that usually starts off at opening ceremonies and keeps on building until everyone flops over with exhaustion Sunday evening. I say "usually" because the fireworks actually started about in the hour just before opening ceremonies this year.

That's right. Crunchyroll and its representative, senior brand manager Keith Kawamura, broke the news that Sparrow's Hotel, with a Japanese premiere date and a cast announced five days ago, would be making its way to the streaming anime site.

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People in the panel thus knew about the news for several precious, precious minutes before Crunchyroll formally announced it online, Anime News Network picked it up and forums no doubt started buzzing about how good and/or bad it'll all be. Hey, several precious, precious minutes are an eternity in the Twitterverse.

But back to opening ceremonies. To say it was heavily trafficked would probably be an understatement. Here's the scene on the fourth floor of the Hawai'i Convention Center a few minutes before 12. The line to the Dealers Room formed on the left; the line to the Main Events Room and opening ceremonies, to the right.

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That's already a lot of people wanting to get into one or the other. Factor in where the end of the line was, though ...

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... yeeeeeeaaaaaah. It would take 15 minutes after the doors opened to get everyone into the room, with staffers checking that badges had those new anti-counterfeiting stickers.

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Pretty packed house, too. Certainly more full than I've ever seen opening ceremonies. Consider, too, that this wasn't even everyone at the convention at the time -- Dealers Room line, remember? -- and you could say that there are quite a lot of people here this year. And this is only Friday's crowd!

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After the customary opening video (which will not be shown here because I don't feel like dealing with copyright claims) and a performance by a Hatsune Miku hologram (which also won't be shown here because (a) that's super-tricky to photograph and (b) any photos or videos would never do the real thing justice anyway, because it's one of those things that just has to be seen in person), the parade of guests began.

And that's where one of the dominating themes of opening ceremonies -- and the title of this post -- entered into play. Flash back to last year's opening ceremonies and the corresponding post, in which I dubbed that year "The Year of the Cat" because of voice actor Lisa Ortiz's introduction of a plush kitten to beat up during the convention. This year's trend came courtesy of Lisle Wilkerson, voice of Nina Williams and Christie Monteiro in the Tekken franchise and this year's translator for the Japanese guests.

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Wilkerson told the audience that she was going to teach them how the Japanese usually scream. "I would like for you to use it when we introduce all our guests," she said. "So this is how you scream: 'KYAAAAAAAAH~!'"

And so it went. Voice actor Toshio Furukawa? KYAAAAAAAAH~!

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Fashion designer Mint? KYAAAAAAAAH~!

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Singer Iruma Rioka and guitarist Nemu? KYAAAAAAAAH~!

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Artist Noizi Ito? KYAAAAAAAAH~!

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Vocaloid DJ hachioji-P and professor Toshihiro Fukuoka? ... you get the idea.

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Worth noting with Ito: She had with her one of this year's official Kawaii Kon T-shirts with an image she designed, with all of the guests' signatures on it.

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And one lucky audience member won it, and she got to hug Ito in the process.

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The KYAAAAAAAAH~!ing didn't carry over to the guests from the mainland, but the swag giveaways certainly continued. Here are your hosts for part of these proceedings, voice actors Todd Haberkorn and Colleen Clinkenbeard.

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Here are two audience members begging like little doggies in front of Haberkorn to get some stuff.

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And yet the masses wanted more.

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Here's Haberkorn actually receiving something in return from someone about to get stuff: a ... plush crab. Yeah, I don't exactly get the connection, either. But hey. Free crab. One that's neither giant nor enemy nor requires the attacking of a weak point for massive damage.

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And then, of course, there was Johnny Yong Bosch and Eyeshine. Hugely popular.

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The masses, naturally, clamored for the stuff that they were giving away, too.

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I understand Eyeshine played a mini-set to close out opening ceremonies. I'd already moved on, though. Far too much else to see and do. A whole bunch of con-tent, you could say.

More from Kawaii Kon, coming soon...

[Kawaii Kon 2013] Day 0: With a twist!

By
March 14th, 2013



IMG_1145Day 0 of Kawaii Kon is when you really start to feel the electricity, the energy, of another year's convention having finally arrived. It may be logistical stuff -- badge pick-ups, vendors and artists moving into the Dealers Room and Artist Alley, final technical kinks being worked out in the other rooms -- but all of it means that tomorrow morning, those of us who are into the whole anime and manga scene are going to party like it's X/1999 (well, without the whole death and destruction and end-of-the-world apocalypse stuff).

It's also the first chance you get to see this year's designs for the convention program and badges. You can see a picture of what I got to the right. The program's certainly the largest I've seen over Kawaii Kon's history, an 8.5-inch-by-11-inch book, with lots of colorful pages contained within. (There's also 100 percent more giant bunny robot content on the cover than I've ever seen before.) This year's badge also has a anti-counterfeiting hologram, another first.

Of course, to get all of that, you had to wait in line first. And so, here was the registration scene 15 minutes before the scheduled start time of 7 p.m.

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... that is, of course, if you were expecting preregistration to be in this area, where it's always been since 2007, with the line of booths at the front and the line extending back around the corner and toward Kalakaua Avenue. But hey, guess what, curveball! This year, for the first time, general registration was located in a room -- the room where some of you may recall the video game room was located in previous years.

There's also a spiffy new, very pink banner.

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Also new to this year: names were divided up into individual letter stations. It seemed to make things go faster.

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And yet there were still familiar touches here and there. The fact that there are a lot of badges to process, for starters.

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Which, of course, meant that the lines for general attendees -- one for people with last names beginning from A through I, the other for people with last names from J through Z -- was still long.

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... no, no, long-enough-to-not-be-able-to-see-that-pink-banner-up-front long.

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... no, no, that J-Z line went around the corner and into ... hey, did you guys know there's a children's courtyard at the convention center?

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Six years of attending Kawaii Kon, and I've never had a chance to actually see this courtyard until now. The artwork tiles are cute! Check it out if you have an opportunity to take a breather this weekend.

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But I digress. My destination was the professional registration table, which, aside from being outside of the general registration room, also had a handy sign pointing out where general attendees could go. The staffers, of course, were hard at work.

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It was also nice to meet one of my few dozen readers for the first time tonight -- Bridget, I believe, was her name? And sitting near her there was also ... oh, gosh, I forget his name, John? Jeff? Something with a J? I do remember that he had a coworker named Scott who joined him as I was leaving, and that he was playing Fire Emblem: Awakening on one of those lovely royal blue limited-edition Fire Emblem: Awakening Nintendo 3DSes. If any of you whom I met would like to clarify anything in comments, please do! My mind has admittedly been a bit frayed all week.

Coming tomorrow: Convention time! Come on and grab your friends! We'll go to very distant lands (for our meals, because man, Blazing Steaks, Subway and 7-Eleven get crazy crowded busy during the weekend)! Of course, I'm not sure if Jake the Dog and Finn the Human will show up -- the preceding few sentences having been a riff on the Adventure Time theme, for those of you not familiar with the show -- but who knows, that show is pretty popular, so cosplayers dressing up at those characters may be a virtual lock.

Or the "Let Us Tell You About Homestuck" panel could just end up breaking out and taking over the entire convention.

Either way, something's bound to happen, right?

[Kawaii Kon 2013] The final countdown! (dada daaah da, dadadada daaah)

By
March 14th, 2013



For optimal effect, please press "play" on this video and let the audio play as you read through this post. (Please note, this should only be done in your personal space or with headphones.)

... how about that '80s hair? Umm. Anyway.

kawaii-kon-logoSo. Kawaii Kon. Those of you who preregistered can pick up your passes at the convention center from 7 to 10 p.m. today; the convention itself runs from Friday through Sunday; and then you won't have to read about it again here until some point in the future when there's either a con-related announcement or your friendly neighborhood tag team in fandom, Wilma J. and/or myself, get around to writing about this year's con experiences, whichever comes first. (We're really hoping for the latter, but considering I'm usually exhausted by the end of the weekend and poor Wilma is also caught up in the whirlwind that is wedding planning, all bets are off at this point.)

There are far more stories to tell going in to Kawaii Kon than I have time to write up. One of them, about the three-year journey between the first and second issues of local manga anthology Hachi Maru Hachi and the creative talents behind its revival -- Jordan Takemoto, Tara Tamayori, Rose Dela Cruz and Brady Evans -- is in today's paper. (For those of you checking out Otaku Ohana for the first time from that article, welcome! Here's hoping I can update this blog enough times in the future to hold your interest and keep you reading it.) You can get what Brady, Pen & Ink Works, idkwhat2wear, Jon Murakami and the Hawaii State Library people have planned for the convention in that preview, too.

But there were other things that I just didn't have the place or the space to properly fit into the preview. News stories are by their nature evolutionary creatures, the final product sometimes bearing little to no resemblance to the original idea. So there are fragments lingering with no real place to go, like these comments from one of this weekend's guests, voice actor Todd Haberkorn:

Most exciting things I'm looking forward to:

-- Fresh sushi
-- Fans at the con that I haven't seen before! Fans have expressed their interest in wanting to meet me face to face one day and I'm glad that is finally getting to happen.
-- Swimming with sea life -- Sharks! Dolphins! I've got my chain mail ready to go and partly, its an excuse to get to enjoy the beautiful, crystal clear blue waters of Hawaii!
-- Fresh coconut juice -- Not coconut milk, juice! I was a fan of coconut juice before it was hip! And to get it from one of coconut's HQs is gonna be rad.

And here's a comment from Johnny Yong Bosch, answering the same question of what he's looking forward to:

This time around we didn't get a chance to extend our stay, but a stop at the beach is mandatory. I don't recall the name of the pancake place we stopped at, but we'll have to make a trip there again. ... The Hawaiian fans are very generous and supportive, we've made a few friends for life there.

There was also something Tara said during our recent interview that I thought was cute, so I'm including it here. Those of you who are either artists in Artist Alley or who have to tend to some kind of table during the convention will probably be able to relate to what she said when I asked about their con experiences every year:

I’m just stuck at my table. Like a mushroom. Slaving away, cutting out, laminating, coloring … everything I should have done beforehand.

So here we are, on the brink of the ninth annual edition of what's become the premier celebration of the local anime and manga fan community. While there may be a bit of last-minute flailing around as everyone gets ready and gets settled, it's shaping up to be a fun weekend -- albeit a bit wet, if the weather forecasts hold true.

As promised, here are a few more of those last-minute tidbits that have gotten my attention over the past few days:

  • Today is the final day to get stamps in the Kawaii Kon Stamp Rally at 7-Eleven stores statewide. (I finished mine with a post-work store-hopping run through Kalihi and Iwilei a few nights ago!) If you're leaving your stamping to the last minute, I'd recommend not getting a stamp from the 7-Eleven nearest to the convention center as there is one clerk there who seems to think that the stamps only should be given out with purchase of a Red Bull product. (No purchase is actually necessary.) And if you happen to end up at the same 7-Eleven in Aiea where one of my readers asked for a new stamp card and the clerk proceeded to stamp all six spaces before handing it over, well, lucky you.
  • MangaBento, one of two local groups of anime/manga-inspired artists around town these days, will be stationed in their usual corner of Artist Alley -- tables 9-12, to be exact -- and they'll be bringing their usual array of art materials and sketch sheets to the convention. Join them and draw all three days!
  • Life Wallets! Courtesy idkwhat2wear.The UH-Manoa Anime and Manga Society will be demonstrating their new app for Android phones and tablets -- an electronic guide to memorable anime quotes, with handy translations and explanations. It's a work in progress, with a beefier version targeted for completion by 2014. (It already looks pretty spiffy, though.) Members will also be helping Jayson Chun and UH-West Oahu students with their annual Cosplay Cafe, which of course was the featured topic of last year's Kawaii Kon preview.
  • I've already profiled much of what idkwhat2wear will be selling, but Terri Dux introduced a new piece of merchandise Wednesday night that's certainly worth noting as well: Life Wallets, fabric wallets with silk-screened sketches by Karl Miyashiro lining the insides. You can see a sample of one to the right. They're cute, they're $9, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward helping family member Pam Dux in her continuing struggle against breast cancer. Get the full Life Wallet story at lifewallet.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/6/

Internet connection willing, I'll try to update this blog throughout the weekend. Follow me on Twitter, too, at @jsyadao, if that's your social media cup of tea. Here we go!

Ota-cool Incoming!: The Cel Shaded stopgap edition

By
March 8th, 2013



No Cel Shaded Report this week -- right now most of my free time is going toward writing my annual Kawaii Kon preview article, which you'll see both in print in the Star-Advertiser and online on Friday. I'm pretty happy with the focus of this year's article, and I hope you'll enjoy reading about what I learned about it next week. Time willing, I'll have a few final notes about Kawaii Kon here next week after I wrap up that project.

I don't want to let the blog languish in the meantime, so here, have this week's edition of "Ota-cool Incoming!" This week, one event gets canceled, while a new cosplay party for the 18-and-over set pops up on Kawaii Kon Friday. A few other new things popping up on the radar, too!

"How to Draw Manga Faces": This MangaBento workshop originally scheduled for 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday has been canceled. Please don't show up. Of course, considering only one person signed up, the chances are pretty high that you weren't planning on going anyway. Still sad, though.

"Journey of Heroes" graphic novel: If you have yet to pick up this this manga-style book chronicling the achievements of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team/100th Infantry Battalion in World War II -- and you really should get it; author Stacey Hayashi and artist Damon Wong did a great job with it -- it'll be available for sale at the Bishop Museum gift shop. It's a tie-in with the exhibit "American Heroes: Japanese American WWII Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal," which also looks like it's worth checking out. Now through April 17.

812587_328719173911738_1727988771_o"Court of Hearts": Visual Kei Dark Castle has been around for just a few months, but this themed dance party presented by Nephilim Hall Productions has already made inroads in courting local fans of visual kei, J-rock and goth loli fashion. This event at The Loft Gallery & Lounge (115 N. Hotel St., #2) features an Alice in Wonderland theme, a lolita/kodona fashion show and contest, and special guests Yu x Me: Maid Cafe & Host Club. $10 for ages 21 and up; $15 ages 18-20. Visit www.facebook.com/pages/Visual-kei-Dark-Castle/301847309932258?fref=ts (no Facebook login required). 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday.

Kawaii Kon's Karaoke Kompetition preliminary round: Show off your vocal chops for a chance to be one of nine participants in Kawaii Kon's annual karaoke contest, with a chance to win … well … something. Presented by the University of Hawaii Anime & Manga Society. 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

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.

"The Gibson Ball": Speaking of Nephilim Hall Productions, they're also presenting this party, named in honor of sci-fi author William F. Gibson and celebrating his contributions to steampunk and cyberpunk, at SoHo Mixed Media Bar (80 S. Pauahi St.). There will be an alcove for cosplay photo shoots, and DJs Nightfox, Dark Cloud, Shadowfaxxx and Black will be playing the very best in dark electro, industrial and EBM beats. Normal entry fee is $10; bring your Kawaii Kon pass and save $5. 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. March 15.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month on the Uptown side of Pearlridge Center. This month, with Easter displays up, they'll be meeting in the first floor center court area, conveniently located near cupcakes, caffeine and soft-serve ice cream. (This is for real this time. The last meeting was in the old place due to a communications mix-up.) Visit www.facebook.com/groups/147779161986428 (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. March 17.

Aiea Library presents Wreck-It Ralph: Because any movie that (a) spawned a retro arcade cabinet in Fix-It Felix Jr., (b) resurrected Q*Bert and his friends and foes for a supporting role and (c) has AKB48 on the soundtrack (before, of course, this happened and pretty much ruined AKB48 for me forever) is must-see cinema. Free screening at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. Plus with free popcorn and juice? Bonus! 5:30 p.m. March 21.

Aiea Library Anime Club: This month, you wanted more Black Butler, so you're getting more Black Butler from librarian Diane Masaki. Club meets 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. March 23.

The Cel Shaded Report, 3/2: 2 weeks to Kon-sanity

By
March 2nd, 2013



The official Kawaii Kon Stamp Rally flyer!Every time I think I've finally covered every last bit of pre-Kawaii Kon information that there is to cover, something else comes merrily skipping down the path, commanding my attention and ultimately becoming the lead item in the Cel Shaded Report every week, forcing me to come up with yet another play on "Kawaii Kon" for each blog post title. So if you're getting tired of all the pre-con talk, apologies ... perhaps you could just skip ahead to this week's installment of "Ota-cool Incoming!" All of this will be over in a few weeks, at which point we'll either shift gears to post-con talk or the Cel Shaded Report will go on a weeks-long hiatus because there won't be as much fun stuff to talk about anymore.

What caught my attention this week was the news that the con's stamp rally -- usually contained within the walls of the Hawai'i Convention Center, with people bouncing from one event to the next to fill their stamp cards for a chance to win fabulous prizes -- is bursting out to envelop every single 7-Eleven store across the state, thanks to a new alliance formed with 7-Eleven Hawaii, Red Bull and Star 101.9. And all you have to do starting on Monday is visit six different stores, get a stamp at each store, turn it in to the Red Bull table (fourth floor of the convention center, near the dealers room) during the convention, and attend closing ceremonies on March 17. Easy peasy ... if you live on Oahu or the eastern part of Hawaii island, that is. Those of you on Maui with its one store in Kahului; Kauai with its two stores; and living anywhere that's not within the Keaau/Hilo/Pahoa/Kurtistown zone on Hawaii island will probably have to find some way to make up the difference when you come over for con. (I'd imagine that the 7-Eleven at Atkinson Drive and Kapiolani Boulevard -- which is already a war zone during con; ever tried getting their usual assortment of ready-made food there? -- will see even more traffic as a result. That one's pretty much a slam dunk for stamp seekers.)

What's at stake? The grand prize winner -- and a friend! -- gets to go to Anime Expo in Los Angeles in July, with round-trip airfare and a five-night hotel stay also included. (In case you're wondering, guests announced so far include voice actors Johnny Yong Bosch, Kyle Hebert, Chris Sabat and Eric Vale; Bosch's band, Eyeshine; and anime writer Mari Okada.) Those of you not fortunate enough to be the grand prize winner or the winner's friend have a chance to win Kawaii Kon passes and T-shirts or other cool swag like posters and gift cards. For more details (and an additional chance to win), visit www.star1019.com/cc-common/contests/index.html?id=218070.

Also tripping my "hot Kawaii Kon news" alert this week was the announcement that Dante Basco -- the voice of Prince Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender, General Iroh in The Legend of Korra and Jake Long in American Dragon: Jake Long, will be stopping by the convention from 6 to 8 p.m. March 16. Basco's in town to help promote three Kinetic Films productions -- Paradise Broken, Hang Loose and 6B -- that will be playing at the Pearlridge West 16 theaters for one week starting March 15. Look for him at a table on the main concourse (the third floor of the convention center).

So. Thirteen days left. Getting excited yet? Visit www.kawaii-kon.org to preregister.

Ota-cool Incoming!

Honolulu Festival: The 19th annual edition of this festival celebrating the cultures of Asia and the Pacific rim promises to feature all the elements that have made it so much fun for local anime/manga fans in the past: Kawaii Kon's anime corner, the UH-West Oahu Cosplay Cafe, MangaBento's photo booth and games for the kids at the Hawai'i Convention Center; the parade down Kalakaua Avenue late Sunday afternoon; and to top it all off, the Nagaoka Fireworks from Niigata, Japan, on Sunday night. It's also your last chance to preregister in person at a discounted rate for Kawaii Kon in a few weeks. And don't forget about the cultural displays -- the mikoshi are always impressive -- and entertainment at the convention center, DFS Galleria and Waikiki Beachwalk, too! Visit www.honolulufestival.com. Today and Sunday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month on the Uptown side of Pearlridge Center. This month, with Easter displays up, they'll be meeting in the first floor center court area, conveniently located near cupcakes, caffeine and soft-serve ice cream. If the drawings end up predominantly food-themed, you'll know why.Visit www.facebook.com/groups/147779161986428 (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

"How to Draw Manga Faces": If you can't figure out what participants are going to be learning at this workshop at Treehouse (250 Ward Ave., suite 233) presented by MangaBento, you're really reading the wrong blog. Recommended for ages 8 and older; cost is $10, art materials included. Feel free to bring your own, too, if you prefer. Details and a link to register are at treehouse-shop.com/how-to-draw-manga-faces-workshop. 10 to 11 a.m. March 9.

"Court of Hearts": Visual Kei Dark Castle has been around for just a few months, but this themed dance party presented by Nephilim Hall Productions has already made inroads in courting local fans of visual kei, J-rock and goth loli fashion. This upcoming event at The Loft Gallery & Lounge (115 N. Hotel St., #2) features an Alice in Wonderland theme, a lolita/kodona fashion show and contest, and special guests Yu x Me: Maid Cafe & Host Club. $10 for ages 21 and up; $15 ages 18-20. Visit www.facebook.com/pages/Visual-kei-Dark-Castle/301847309932258?fref=ts (no Facebook login required). 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. March 9.

Kawaii Kon's Karaoke Kompetition preliminary round: Show off your vocal chops for a chance to be one of nine participants in Kawaii Kon's annual karaoke contest, with a chance to win … well … something. Presented by the University of Hawaii Anime & Manga Society. 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. March 10.

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. March 10.

Aiea Library Anime Club: This month, you wanted more Black Butler, so you're getting more Black Butler from librarian Diane Masaki. Club meets 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. March 23.

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