By Jason S. Yadao
If I wasn't writing this blog for a respected media outlet like the Star-Advertiser, the following would likely have been my entire post about the flurry of Kawaii Kon guest announcements for next year's show, made over the course of a little over an hour on Friday:
THE VOICE OF DARKWING DUCK IS COMING TO KAWAII KON NEXT YEAR
AND SO ARE THE VOICES OF VICKY, ALPHA-5, SIMON, CHIHARU AND KON
... and that would have been it.
That wouldn't be much of a post, though. The several dozen of you who have stuck around this long to read this blog expect a certain degree of quality and analysis along with our blinding fanboy/girl-ishness, after all.
Looking at this batch of guests, one thing that stands out right away is that half of them are more known for their voice-acting work in mainstream cartoons than anime. Before you start lamenting the tainting of the sanctity of an anime convention, though, relax. "Anime" is just the Japanese way of shortening the word "animation." Besides, it seems like anime cons in general are trending more toward anime-with-a-healthy-dose-of-other-animated-series cons -- just look at the influx of Adventure Time, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Homestuck fans that have shown up at these events.
It should also be noted that, as someone pointed out on my Facebook page, all of the guests have some kind of "otaku connection," something that actually links each guest to our beloved anime and/or video game worlds. To that end, I've included a guide with each guest bio pointing out that link (or, in the case of the Japanese voice actors, some sort of non-otaku-based role they've had in the past, just to keep things interesting).
Jim Cummings: You want accomplishments? Cummings probably has enough to coat your entire cartoon-loving childhood. He's the voice of Darkwing Duck, the terror that flaps in the night, pin that will burst your bubble, current of vengeance gurgling through your sewer, rhinestones on the jumpsuit of justice, etc. He was a pretty big part of the 1990s Disney Afternoon cartoon block, as he also voiced Officer Bonkers D. Bobcat in Bonkers, Don Karnage in TaleSpin, and Monterey Jack, Fat Cat and Professor Nimnul in Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers. Shredder in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? That was him, too. He's also had roles that have lasted for years; he's been the voice of the Tasmanian Devil since Taz-mania aired in the early 1990s and Disney's voice of Winnie the Pooh (since 1988), Tigger (since 1990) and Pete (since 1992). And if you knew that he was the voice of Professor Otto von Schnitzelpusskrankengescheitmeyer in the Animaniacs episode "Schnitzelbank," you're either really sharp on your 'toon trivia, or you're an anime/manga blogger who happened to unearth that little trivia nugget while researching Kawaii Kon's new guests.
- Otaku connection: He played a general in Castle in the Sky. And, of course, any appearances by Pooh, Tigger and Pete in the Kingdom Hearts series were his work.
Grey DeLisle: While Cummings rose to prominence with the cartoons of the 1990s, DeLisle's signature roles started piling up in the 2000s. Vicky the twisted teen babysitter in Fairly OddParents, Mandy in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. Azula in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Francis "Frankie" Foster in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. She's also been the voice of Daphne Blake in the Scooby Doo franchise since Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase in 2001.
- Otaku connection: She was Yumi in the *taptaptaptap* *1! 2! 3! 4!* Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Show! Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Show! Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Show! Anything is possible! She's also had roles in Afro Samurai and Afro Samurai: Resurrection, as well as Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Final Fantasy X-2.
Ayumi Fujimura: Perhaps the lesser-known of the two Japanese voice actors announced in this round of guests, Fujimura nevertheless has several notable roles in her resume, including Chiharu Harukaze in Hayate the Combat Butler, Ibuki in Super Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter X Tekken, Haruka Uehara in Lagrange — The Flower of Rin-ne, and Misaki Ayuzawa in Maid Sama! Kawaii Kon will mark her second U.S. anime con appearance; she appeared at Sakura-Con in Seattle this year.
- Non-otaku connection: She was the voice of Katie Bell in the Japanese dub of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Quinton Flynn: As the saying goes, you can't have a Kawaii Kon without a kawaii Kon ... you know, the Modified Soul who inhabits a stuffed lion in Bleach. Sure, there's been that giant Kon cosplay wandering around the con and related events in recent years, but this is the first year that the man who is Kon's English voice will be in attendance as well. But Bleach isn't the only fan-favorite series in which Flynn has played a prominent role; he's also the voice of Iruka in Naruto, Axel in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, Reno in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and Crisis Core and Raiden in the Metal Gear Solid franchise.
- Otaku connection: Duh.
Richard Horvitz: Back in 2008, Rikki Simons, the voice of Gir in Invader Zim, came to Kawaii Kon. Six years later, those of you who got stuff from that series signed by Simons finally have a chance to get it signed by the other half of the quirky duo, Horvitz, who was the voice of Zim himself. He also was the voice of Alpha 5 on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Billy on The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy (hello, likely panel with Grey DeLisle).
- Otaku connection: He's the voice of Kanchome in Zatch Bell and also had some minor roles in Pom Poko, Howl's Moving Castle and From Up on Poppy Hill.
Tetsuya Kakihara: Natsu in Fairy Tail. Simon in Gurren Lagann. Those are two of the signature roles Kakihara has had in his 10-year career so far, and those are already two pretty big deals in the world of anime fandom. He's also Mercutio in Romeo X Juliet, Shima in Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan and Koichi in Linebarrels of Iron. He has one prior U.S. anime con appearance, at Otakon in Baltimore in 2012.
- Non-otaku link: Remember the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series in 2003? He was the voice of Leonardo in the Japanese dub.
These six voice actors join three previously announced guests: voice actors Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh and cosplayer Leah Rose.
The 10th anniversary edition of Kawaii Kon is happening April 4-6 at the Hawai'i Convention Center. Three-day adult passes are $47 through Nov. 1, while three-day passes for children ages 5-12 are $37. Visit www.kawaii-kon.org.