Archive for August, 2015

1 day, Sunday, Otaku Fest fun day

By
August 21st, 2015



OSF-2015 flyerWe've reached that part of the otaku calendar where we won't be able to go more than three weeks without a major event popping up. Starting with the Otaku Summer Festival on Sunday, we have HawaiiCon (kicking off in three weeks), Amazing Hawaii Comic Con (the week after HawaiiCon), McCully-Moiliili Public Library's annual Mini Con (the week after AHCC) and Anime Ohana (two weeks after Mini Con).  Whew! I really hope I don't get sick again during that stretch; because that ... would not be good. It seems like I've had colds during the most inopportune times this year.

But I digress; there's an Otaku Summer Festival being hosted by Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu (1239 Olomea St.; it's that shrine you see off the freeway approaching the Vineyard Boulevard exit going eastbound) that needs to be discussed. It's seven hours on Sunday crammed with stuff fans like to see. Let's run down the lineup:

Special guests: Headlining the event is Kyle Hebert, the actor best known as the voice of Kiba in Naruto, Kamina in Gurren Lagann, the older version of Gohan and the narrator in Dragon Ball Z and Ryu in the newer Street Fighter games. He'll host an hourlong panel starting at 10:30 a.m. and be available for autographs and photos throughout the day at the Hawaii Video Gaming League table. Also scheduled to appear is author Ryter Rong, who will be talking about her new book, Ireland Calls My Name, from noon to 12:30 p.m.

A number of performers will be on hand throughout the day as well; Ryusei Taiko will help kick off the festivities, and the Hanayagi Dance Academy comes in to perform around 10 a.m. Closing out the festival will be Crimson Apple, the local band with a debut album Kickstarter, which is less than $2,000 away from their goal with six days left (come on, people, let's make this happen).

OSF-animaid cafe logoFood: The festival marks the formal return of The AniMaid Cafe, where servers dressed as maids and butlers serve patrons snacks and drinks and even play tabletop games for a small fee. (They'll also do a dance routine around 11:30 a.m.) If that's not your thing, Simply Ono will have a truck parked outside serving up ramen burgers, shoyu pork, kalua pig, poke bowls and more, and a second truck will have yakitori and takoyaki available.

Tons o' merch: Charisma Industries, Sewing Dragon (hand-sewn plushies) and Shironekoya (kimono and collectible miniature dolls) will be selling their wares, and artists Jon J. Murakami, Devin Oishi, Dennis Imoto and Andy Lee will have tables as well. There also will be a "swap meet" table, so surely there's something you'll want to buy, yes?

Competitive opportunities: Cosplayers will want to get in on the cosplay contest at 1 p.m. -- register with the AniMaid Cafe by noon! -- with prizes in categories including Best Craftsmanship and Best in Character. The grand prize winner will get a photoshoot with Canaan Kutzen of Adept Productions at the Byodo-In Temple at Valley of the Temples Memorial Park in Kaneohe.

Not into cosplay? There will be other festival games to play (including goldfish scooping!), with a good reason to play all of them: the official Otaku Summer Festival Stamp Card Rally.

OSF-2015 stamp card

Fill out a card and turn it in, and you could be eligible for fabulous prizes, including the official banner hanging outside the shrine right now signed by all the guests and invitations to the staff-only after-party.

The Otaku Summer Festival runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; parking will be available both near the shrine and at Damien Memorial High School. We'll see if The Cold That Refuses to Die (one week and counting, *sigh*) allows me to attend; right now I'd say the chances are looking pretty remote, but then again I did say in this space that I wouldn't be at Comic Con Honolulu and I ended up showing up there anyway, so we shall see, I guess. For the most up-to-date information, visit fb.com/otakusummerfestival.

Movies and myths and meanings, oh my!

By
August 18th, 2015



Throw me a good story rooted in Japanese mythology, and I will make every effort to try to watch or read it. It worked with Studio Ghibli favorites like Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Pom Poko and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, other series/movies like Mushi-shi, Summer Days With Coo and (GeGeGe no) Kitaro, and probably countless other series that I'd love to get around to eventually.

YO_headshot 8 (2015)Japanese mythology also happens to be at the core of a new book by Yoshiko Okuyama, an associate professor of Japanese studies at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The book, Japanese Mythology in Film: A Semiotic Approach to Reading Japanese Film and Anime, takes a scholarly approach of analyzing films with such themes, including anime like Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence and the aforementioned Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, and the live-action Onmyoji, Onmyoji 2, Dororo, Mushi-shi and Departures. But before you click away to go watch, say, Himouto! Umaru-chan, scared off by the phrases "semiotic" and "scholarly approach" in the last sentence, I should note that the book's written for pretty much anyone who knows anything about Japanese films and mythology. If that's your thing, then you'll probably want to check out this book. Here's a link; you can get 30 percent off cover price by using the code "LEX30AUTH15" at checkout.

book cover (color)But let's say paying $60-$85 for a book is a tad out of your price range at the moment. No worries; you can still get a taste of what she wrote about through a series of talks she's going to be giving on four major islands in the next few months. Her first talk is actually coming up … ummmm … Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Hilo Public Library. Which is less than 24 hours from when this post is going live. Apologies for the really late notice; I've been dealing with (yet another) cold these past few days. Here's the list of other confirmed appearances to date:

Kauai

  • Sept. 19: Hanapepe Public Library, 10-11 a.m.; Princeville Public Library, 3-4 p.m.
  • Sept. 21: Kauai Community College, Office of Continuing Education and Training (OCET), room 106 C/D, noon-1:30 p.m.; Lihue Public Library, conference room, 5-6 p.m.

Maui

  • Sept. 22: Kahului Public Library, 6-7 p.m.
  • Sept. 23: Wailuku Public Library, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 24: UH-Maui College, noon-1 p.m.

Oahu

  • Oct. 2: UH-Manoa Center for Japanese Studies Seminars, Moore Hall, room 319, 3-4 p.m.

There are a few other tentative dates as well; I'll add them to the Ota-cool Incoming calendar as I receive them.

By the way, while I'm talking about Ms. Okuyama, let me throw in this quiet announcement and see if anyone notices: I recently accepted her invitation to speak for an hour at UH-Hilo about things related to the local anime/manga fan community. It'll be on Tuesday, Sept. 15 — a few days after HawaiiCon wraps up, and on the last birthday of my 30s, to boot! Exact time and location have yet to be determined. It'll either be fun or a total train wreck ... hopefully more of the former than the latter. Fingers crossed!

Revisiting the legacy of 'Barefoot Gen'

By
August 6th, 2015



Today in Otaku Ohana, your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger is going to do something he hasn't done in a long time: actually write about manga. Gasp!

barefoot gen coverToday also marks 70 years since the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing tens of thousands of people. It's a story that was told in Barefoot Gen, a manga by Keiji Nakazawa that relied on many of his personal experiences in telling the story of Gen Nakaoka, a boy who survived the blast.

I've talked about Barefoot Gen twice in my career on the otaku beat -- once in February 2011, in an essay in an earlier version of this blog that was part of a larger Manga Movable Feast effort, the other as part of The Canon, a roundup of 50 essential manga series to read, in The Rough Guide to Manga (available at a library or secondhand bookstore/website near you). Since Last Gasp is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to put copies of Barefoot Gen in schools and libraries across the United States (19 percent funded as of this writing, come on, people, start giving more already), I thought it would be nice to resurrect what I wrote in the Rough Guide.

And by "resurrect," I mean "reprint the entire section, right here, for free."

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this in print before, but the full rights to the text of the manga guide legally reverted to me about three years ago, when Rough Guides shut down its reference guide division. I'd love to write more on this topic down the line -- particularly given how Andrea Lipinski at the School Library Journal recently was kind enough to include it as one of her picks for essential reading in her "Manga 101" article -- but the bottom line is that I now have an entire pile of text that I can distribute however I see fit. Seeing as how I'll probably never have enough free time to properly update the whole thing in one go -- as you've probably seen by my erratic update schedule here, I barely have enough time/energy to update this blog, never mind 265 pages or so of text -- I felt the best way to use it would be to publish excerpts here, whenever relevant, every so often.

So let's jump right in, shall we? (more…)

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