As far as anime-related movie screenings are concerned locally, this week belongs to Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day: The Movie, showing at the Ward Stadium theaters on Oahu and the Kaahumanu 6 theaters on Maui at 7 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Saturday.
But here at Otaku Ohana, we like looking forward to the Next Big Thing. And if October's sellout of a single showing in two large auditoriums at the Dole Cannery theaters during the Hawaii International Film Festival was any indication, that Next Big Thing is the wide release of The Wind Rises, the latest Studio Ghibli movie to be localized for American audiences. As director Hayao Miyazaki's feature film swan song (or maybe not, who knows), the historical drama about airplane designer Jiro Horikoshi has already garnered raves from most people who have seen it and an Oscar nomination for best animated feature. (Confession: I felt a little "meh" about it after that initial October viewing. It may take another viewing for me to come around on that.)
It was never a question of if The Wind Rises would make it back here. Disney picked up distribution rights again after ceding From Up on Poppy Hill to GKids and brought in an all-star cast — that all-grown-up guy from Third Rock From the Sun! That actress from The Devil Wears Prada who isn't Anne Hathaway or Meryl Streep! Frodo! Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride! A bunch of others! — and already promised it would release the film nationwide. It was more a matter of where it would show up and how Disney would market it, considering (a) there isn't too much of the fantasy/whimsy that has given many Ghibli releases widespread appeal, (b) it's a mature story that encompasses the Great Kanto Earthquake, the tuberculosis epidemic and Japan's march toward World War II, and (c) Jiro and his friend, Honjo, suck back enough cigarettes to make any anti-tobacco movement cringe.
The film's been given a PG-13 rating and is being released under the Touchstone Pictures banner, so at least the distinction that this movie is for older audiences is there. As for where it's playing, Consolidated Theatres' website quietly added some insight into that over the past few days. Mark your calendars now, because The Wind Rises is currently listed to open at the Ward Stadium complex on Friday, Feb. 21, then expand out to the Kahala, Mililani and Pearlridge theaters on Oahu and the Kaahumanu 6 theaters in Kahului a week after, on Feb. 28.
No showtimes listed yet, but I'm sure those will show up in due time. The fact that it's on Consolidated's radar in and of itself is a good sign, so get excited, Hawaii anime fans.
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.
Kawaii Kon Karaoke Kompetition: The road to KKX continues with this, the first of three preliminary rounds for the anime convention's annual karaoke contest. Aspiring singers, read up on the rules at http://kawaiikon.com/events/karaoke/karaoke-preliminary-rounds/ (and don't forget to submit your form by 11 59 p.m. Saturday!) then make your way to Orvis Auditorium on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. Check-in starts at 12:30 p.m. Sunday; the singing itself takes place from 1 to 3 p.m.
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. Feb. 2.
DJ Append promotional video shoot: Did you go to the Oni-Con Hawaii dance party on the first night and enjoy the vibe? Did you not go, yet don't mind actin' the fool while a camera's rolling? DJ Append, the deejay mixing the tunes at that dance party, will be filming his first video, and you're invited to attend. Free food and drinks, too! RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/1394457884137527. 609 Keawe St., Sat., Feb. 8.
"Meet Doraemon: Japan's Time-Traveling Cat": Yup, the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum's created a traveling exhibit about the blue guy and decades-old Japanese icon, and Bishop Museum is where it's going to make its first stop. You know I'm going to have much, much more to say about this down the line, but for now, here, have the museum's official preview. Bishop Museum (1525 Bernice St.), Feb. 15-April 20.
Anime Swap Meet: Hosted by Kawaii Kon, this opportunity for local otaku to buy and sell assorted preowned collectibles from one another will be part of the the 24th Annual Hawaii Collectors Expo on Sat. Feb. 22 and Sun., Feb. 23. Interested in selling? Check out http://www.kawaii-kon.org/index.php?cID=263 for all the details; registration deadline is Feb. 12 at midnight. (Worth noting: It'll cost $25 to sell on Saturday, $20 on Sunday; one person per 5-square-foot space; everything must be displayed on the ground.) Interested in buying? Start saving your pennies now. (There's also a $5 admission charge, but it's free for members of the military with valid ID ... and for those of you who cosplay, too!)
Honolulu Festival: It's the 20th anniversary edition of the festival promoting harmony between Hawaii and the Asia-Pacific region; the theme: "Jubilation, One Heart, One Pacific, One World." Just as in previous years, Kawaii Kon will have an exhibit, and the Nagaoka Fireworks display will put a bow on the proceedings. Hawai'i Convention Center and other venues around Waikiki, March 7-9.
Kawaii Kon 2014: Guests for the 10th anniversary edition include voice actors Jim Cummings, Grey DeLisle, Ayumi Fujimura, Quinton Flynn, Richard Horvitz, Tetsuya Kakihara, Vic Mignogna, Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh; musical guests Kagemaya Hironobu and Yoko Ishida; professional cosplayer Leah Rose; the Chalk Twins, traveling performance artists who will be crafting a giant chalk mural; and local comedian Augie T., serving as emcee. Preregistration open now; $37 for a three-day pass for children ages 5-12, $42 general admission. Hawai'i Convention Center, April 4-6.