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The Summer of Stuff, part 2: Art with heart aplenty

June 19th, 2015
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Welcome back to the Summer of Stuff! In Part 1, I took a quick look at all the movies screening locally in the past few months. Quick addendum: When Marnie Was There will be screening for a second week at the Kahala 8 theaters, with the same schedule as the first week (see my last post for those details). The Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction and I saw the English-subtitled version Wednesday night. I thought it was a film that took a while to set up, but once it hits the major revelation of who Marnie is ... well, as they say on the Intarwebz, wow, all the feels. The Anonymous Director's verdict? "It's nice. Just ... nice."

This is why I'm the long-winded friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning blogger behind the keyboard and the Anonymous Director's the socialite in front of it.

This time around, the Summer of Stuff is taking a look at some of the major otaku art events around town ... and the best part is, all of these events feature free admission. One of the annual highlights for me on the Ota-cool Incoming calendar is the annual art exhibit by MangaBento, the group of anime- and manga-inspired artists that hosts a show in the Honolulu Museum of Art School's second-floor gallery. I've covered it rather extensively for three out of the past four years; here's coverage of 2011's "Kakimochi" (part 1part 2), 2012's "Nakamaboko" (part 1part 2) and 2013's "Tomo-e-Ame" (part 1part 2, part 3). (The coverage of 2014's "Showme," sadly, has fallen down the same black hole as many other things over the past year or so, save for a small cameo in the Best of 2014 post.)

Here, have a shot of the gallery space from last year's exhibit.

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This year's exhibit, bearing the theme "This is Fighting Spirit!" -- inspired by Shonen Jump and shonen manga artwork -- is rapidly approaching. Art submissions are being accepted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St.), room 200. Comic Jam Hawaii will also be hosting a jam around that time, where attendees can draw art for the exhibit or do their own thing. The exhibit itself, being staged in the art school's second-floor gallery, launches with an opening reception and potluck from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, June 28, and will be on display through July 12.

Meanwhile, over at the Honolulu Museum of Art's Spalding House -- once known as the Contemporary Museum for those of you who retain old-school place names like me (see also: "Daiei/Holiday Mart" for Don Quijote, "GEM store" for the Sports Authority on Ward Avenue, "Phase 1/Phase 2" for Uptown/Downtown Pearlridge Center), there's a rather novel exhibit opening in that space starting today and running through June 28. "Contempo #ArtShop" -- yes, with the hashtag; it's what's trending, after all -- features a number of pieces by local and international artists. The twist? If you like what you see, you can just buy it, with prices ranging from $30 to $45,000. Here's the catalog. I'd imagine my readers could probably afford the artwork on the lower end of that scale, but if you can afford the upper end, please contact me. I want to be your friend.

IMG_6232 (1)The exhibit has already garnered a fair amount of press for Saturday's pop-up event featuring artists connected to Giant Robot magazine, but what's relevant to our interests here is that several friends of the blog -- Brady Evans, Tara Tamayori (that's her at right), Audra Furuichi, Rose Dela Cruz and Jaymee Masui -- all have pieces available for sale in this exhibit. In addition, Tara, Audra, Brady and Jaymee will be joining artist Iolani Slate for a special "Manga Market" event from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, with a mini Artist Alley-esque setup in the entrance lanai -- prints, original artwork and other merchandise will be available for sale -- live art demonstrations and a make-and-take art table. If you can't make it on Wednesday, the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday and noon to 4 p.m. June 28.

It's a pretty busy summer for Brady, really, as his work is among pieces featured in "Emergence 2015," an exhibit at Pauahi Tower Artspace (in the second-level lobby of Bishop Square's Pauahi Tower, 101 Bishop St.; here's what the building looks like from Tamarind Park). A number of his digital paintings will be on display for the first time outside of Kawaii Kon, as well as a new drawing he did, "Ghost Plants." That exhibit will be on display through July 17; gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

IMG_8214Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a talk by cartoonist Jon J. Murakami -- Gordon Rider/Edamame Ninjas creator, Star-Advertiser "Calabash" artist, you know the drill -- and Michael Cannon of Comic Jam Hawaii at Kapolei Library at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 27. Jon and Mike will go over the process of creating a mini-comic -- character design basics, layout and story development -- and participants will be given their own materials to create their own comic right there, right then. The library is at 1020 Manawai St.; call 693-7050 if you need any assistance.

The Summer of Stuff, part 1: See you at the movies

June 12th, 2015
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It's never a good time to get sick, but for your friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning blogger in particular, getting sick last week came at a really inopportune time. I'm still shaking the last remnants of what was diagnosed as a viral infection (the formal medical term for "yup, you're coughing and congested; here, have some codeine and get some rest")  I missed the Mini Comic Con at Aiea Library, which saddened me. At one point, between swigs of codeine, I even considered tweeting, "Otaku community newsmakers, please hold off on breaking any juicy news until I have a chance to get better."

Naturally, otaku community newsmakers broke a lot of juicy news while I was sick.

So now I have quite a few announcements to catch up on -- movie screenings! Special events! New convention guests! -- and I'll be starting in on it with this series of posts, "The Summer of Stuff." Because let's face it: If you can't find anything that you're interested in doing in the next few months from everything I've been told about, you're doing the summer wrong.

Take this summer's lineup of movie screenings for Japanese cultural aficionados, for instance. A lot of it is being generated by GKids, working overtime with a weeks-long presentation of animated films from around the world (that is, if your definition of "around the world" is 75 percent Japan, 25 percent France/Italy) and the wide release of When Marnie Was There. There's also a pair of free screenings at Aiea Library in coming weeks.

Let's go to the calendar for some dates, synopses and trailers ...

(more…)

Festival follow-up: Something blue, something new

May 27th, 2015
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I've written quite a bit in this space recently about the flood of major conventions coming our way this year — Comic Con Honolulu, HawaiiCon, Amazing Hawaii Comic Con, Anime Ohana and Anime Matsuri Hawaii are all on deck — but the market for smaller otaku-targeted events lasting a day or shorter is developing quite nicely as well. In the past few days, two news tidbits about smaller events crossed the desk of the New and Improved Otaku Ohana Home Office — I'll have a few pictures of that soon; getting moved in and setting that up has been the primary reason why I've been so silent lately this time — one with bad news, one with good.

taku taku matsuri logoThe bad news is that the third annual Taku Taku Matsuri, which was set to take place Oct. 3 and feature voice actor Richard Epcar and his wife, voice actor/director Ellyn Stern, has been postponed indefinitely due to founder/organizer Yuka Nagaoka's continued health issues. Here's a formal statement posted to the Taku Taku Matsuri Facebook page on Saturday:

First of all, thank you to all that have supported us and myself so far with taku taku Matsuri.
With how we had to postpone last year because of hurricanes, postponing the event once again was a decisions I did not want to make. My directors and staff have been working very hard on getting ready in my absence. That is why, originally, I was planning to have the event happen, even with me not physically in Hawaii. However, it has become more and more unknown when I will be able to return.

Let me explain what is going on.
I have a congenital brain disease that was detected two months ago. Because of the danger of the disease, I was told that it is best to have it treated ASAP, so I have returned to Japan for treatment. Unfortunately, things are not going as smoothly as I want them to. 
I have gone through all sorts of MRIs and CAT scans, but the doctors are still unable to make a decision on treatment. 
Just my luck, other health issues are making the last examination they need to make a decision, high risk. That is why right now I am going through treatment for my other health issues. Once that treatment works, I will finally be able to receive the needed examination. Of course after all of that, there is still the actual treatment for the brain disease. As far as the doctors are telling me, either radiation therapy or surgery.

Being in complete medical limbo, I have made the choice to postpone the 3rd annual taku taku Matsuri. Honestly, I feel very frustrated and defeated, having to make this choice. However, I was reminded about what "taku taku Matsuri" is. As corny as it may sound, it really is an event for all Otakus, bunbun-ers, to enjoy! And with taku taku Matsuri unable to deliver 100%, we won't be able to satisfy all our bunbun-ers!!!

All of this may take more than a few months to be taken care of. I apologize for the wait. However, I will be back, healthier and with a fixed brain, to give you all the best taku taku Matsuri!!

Here's hoping and praying that Yuka will be able to get her health issues resolved fully sometime down the line.

While we may have lost one event off the calendar (for now), another one has popped up to take its place. The inaugural Aiea Library Mini Comic Con, taking place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 6, will offer, in the words of young adult librarian Diane Masaki's handy-dandy flier, "a glimpse of what a convention is like, with informative panels, vendors and activities."

Featured guests and vendors include:

  • Roy Chang, MidWeek cartoonist, Aiea Intermediate art teacher and Cacy and Kiara and the Curse of the Kii author. Roy will be selling prints all day and host a panel on creating stories with manga-style art and comic pages from 1 to 2 p.m.
  • Dasha and Dallas Cosplay — the duo of Daria Roud and Dallas Nagata White — will share their experiences and offer tips on getting into cosplaying from 2 to 3 p.m. Daria will also help kids make their own superhero mask or princess crown from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Artists Jon J. Murakami and Devin Oishi will be selling prints and other merchandise. Jon, of course, is the cartoonist best know for Gordon Rider, Edamame Ninjas, The Ara-Rangers and this here paper's "Calabash" comic strip; Devin, a longtime MangaBento adviser, has two children's books under his belt, Pualani and the 3 Mano and Da Blalas.

Cosplayers of all ages are encouraged to attend as well; Comic Jam Hawaii artists will be on hand to sketch cosplayers, and children in the sixth grade and younger are encouraged to enter a cosplay contest from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Aiea Library is located at 99-374 Pohai Place, where, nearly a year after opening, there remains plenty of parking (and two Ingress portals to make green, whoop whoop). Call 483-7333.

A cheap convention deal, and Batou for real

May 4th, 2015
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As the competition for local otaku hearts and wallets heats up on the convention/special events circuit, there's bound to be a fair amount of talk about preregistration deals and guest announcements in the coming months. It'll certainly be busier than when I had to focus on one, maaaaaaaaybe two major shows and a handful of minor shows in a year. Which is okay with me; busy is always better than being bored and lazing around in bed playing Candy Crush Soda Saga (curse you, level 228!).

Take Sunday, for instance. It's normally a day of rest for those of you religious enough to observe it as such. But there certainly wasn't any rest around Otaku Ohana Central, where two news tidbits arrived, courtesy of HawaiiCon and Taku Taku Matsuri.

HawaiiCon logoNow, there's no denying that HawaiiCon has the highest entry cost of the state's six conventions -- $165 for a four-day pass, plus additional travel costs if you're not already on Hawaii island. It's understandable; the science/sci-fi/fantasy convention has positioned itself as a vacation destination at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel with premier guests and experiences. But those costs can add up, particularly for the cash-strapped among us (hey, those Nendoroids and Amiibos aren't going to buy themselves!).

To that end, HawaiiCon has unveiled its Kamaaina Day Pass. These $20 passes -- $10 for children ages 6-12 -- will let you in the door for the con's preview day, with events mostly running between 3 and 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10. With 21 guests announced to date, "that's less than $1 per celebrity," HawaiiCon chairman/CEO GB Hajim told me via online chat.

"Lots of locals have never been to a con," GB added. "Don't even know what it is like. We want them to see how awesome it is."

You can get those passes -- as well as single-day passes for Sept. 11-13, which weigh in at $65 general, $45 children -- at www.eventbrite.com/e/hawaiicon-2015-kamaaina-day-passes-tickets-16823407264. To recap, guests include Rod Roddenberry, son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry; actors Christopher Judge, Teryl Rothery, Tony Amendola, Aaron Douglas and Patricia Tallman; writers Brad Bell and Jane Espenson; voice actors Janet Varney, Steve Blum, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Cree Summer and Melissa Fahn; and artists Bill Morrison, Trina Robbins, Steve Leialoha and Sam Campos. Find out more about the convention itself at www.hawaiicon.com.

GitS 2 coverMeanwhile, over at Taku Taku Matsuri, founder/organizer Yuka Nagaoka may be in Japan at the moment, but planning for the third annual single-day fall festival continues in earnest. News emerged Sunday of this year's special guests: voice actor Richard Epcar and his wife, voice actor/director Ellyn Stern. Epcar is best known as the voice of Batou in Ghost in the Shell, GitS 2: Innocence and GitS: Stand-Alone Complex; Xehanort in various Kingdom Hearts games; Joseph Joestar in Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders; and Raiden in the last two Mortal Kombat games. Stern is best known as the voice of Miyuki Goto in Noein and a number of moms -- Ichigo's in Bleach, Jack's in MAR, Hiroshi's in Zenki, and Jiro's and Marumaro's in Blue Dragon. 

Taku Taku Matsuri is happening Oct. 3 at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii's Manoa Grand Ballroom; tickets -- $20 for straight admission, packages including T-shirts and special guest experiences going all the way up to $200 -- are available at www.gofundme.com/bunbun-funfun.

Hoku Kon rebrands (and other convention news)

April 29th, 2015
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It may not have seemed like it's been busy around Otaku Ohana Central, what with my general radio silence here for a little over two weeks now, but the truth is that there's a lot of stuff going on. I've just been too busy dealing with a good number of outside-of-work things that have left me too exhausted to do much of anything else. (Nothing too weighty, mind. Unless you consider tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I trading Tsum Tsum hearts back and forth a problem.)

CCH logoOne of the things I did during this recent hiatus, though, actually had something to do with this blog: On Friday, I had a chance to sit down and chat with Faisal Ahmed, co-chairman of Kawaii Kon and Hoku Kon with Marlon Stodghill, about a number of things related to the two conventions. I'll have more of that conversation posted ... umm ... eventually (the resolution of that outside-of-work stuff is still very much up in the air), but the biggest thing to emerge from it came at the very end. In a move confirmed on Hoku Kon's Facebook page last night, the convention has rebranded itself and is now going by the name Comic Con Honolulu.

There's been a fair amount of discussion following the announcement, much of it centered around possible confusion between this event (happening July 24-26; key guest so far is actress Kelly Hu) and Amazing Hawaii Comic Con (Sept. 18-20; key guest so far is Stan Lee). Here's what Faisal said about the name change and why they decided to go this route:

People just don't know what Hoku Kon is, and they're just like, "Is there any way you can add in the words 'comic con?'" It's just one of those things of getting the word out there and getting the people to understand what the show is about. Like, "comic con," people think of San Diego Comic Con. And as somebody who actually studies trademark law, I think they have a very strong right to the word "comic con," but unfortunately they don't. People basically know what it means. It's become a generic term that everyone goes, "Oh, you're gonna have comics, sci-fi, fantasy, you're going to have this giant thing, people dress up." Everyone knows instantly what it is. And a lot of the radio stations and TV stations I talked to are just like, "If you're able to add the word 'comic con' into your name, I can actually get coverage for it, I can let people know that it's happening, we can actually make it a bigger deal."

Which then ... with dealing with sci-fi guests, is what they care about. Even if you're willing to pay a lot of sci-fi guests, they're not willing to come out unless the show has 7,000 people, 10,000 people, 20,000 people. Because it's just not worth it to them. And ultimately ... my dream for Hoku Kon or Comic Con Honolulu would be to have studios come out, to have Marvel come out and have a presence, have HBO, have Cartoon Network, have all these people come out and basically give people the opportunity to have this interactive experience without having to spend the $10,000 to actually go  to San Diego Comic-Con or go to another show on the mainland, or buy a ticket that's $300.

The goal is to keep prices low. I'm sure as time goes on they'll inch up slightly, just as everything in the world does. I really don't want it to be a show where we have to charge $250 for the opportunity to even show up and then pay more money to do stuff. Everyone I talked to who isn't a nerd basically is just like, "You need to add the word 'comic con' in there and we'll understand."

This is actually the first time we're actually talking about it or announcing it. We're working on kind of finalizing how it's gonna happen, just because rebranding is always an arduous task. So we're going to start having it called Comic Con Honolulu, just so people (a) know where it is and (b) know what it is. We'll keep the name Hoku Kon as a byline, just because … we have to remember that "hoku" means "star" in Hawaiian, it is a local show. It's gonna be run by locals, the events are gonna be done all by locals, and again the only mainlanders to do anything are Marlon and I, and our job is support, is to make sure that we can provide all the tools necessary for the show to happen.

... We have to get people kind of used to the name, and used to understanding that Hoku Kon is the exact same thing, it's run by the same people. It's just going under this new name to make sure people know what the event is. And the reason we didn't call it "Hawaii Comic Con" or "Comic Con Hawaii" was just because there's already HawaiiCon, there's Amazing Hawaii Comic Con. And we wanted to show that we're doing something, again, more local. And so that's why we picked the city.

Three-day passes for Comic Con Honolulu ($45) are now available; applications are also being accepted for Artist Alley tables. For more information, visit www.comicconhonolulu.com. (Or you could plug in hokukon.com for old time's sake; both addresses will get you to the same destination.)

Meanwhile, at the other conventions:

  • Amazing Hawaii Comic Con is sending down several staff members for an informal meet-and-greet starting at 7:30 p.m. today at Dave & Busters (1030 Auahi St., in the Ward Entertainment Complex). Come down and chat with them; they'll even buy you your first drink.
  • Anime Matsuri Hawaii's Artist Alley table registrations are now live; cost is $170 (plus a $5.24 Eventbrite processing fee) and includes a 6-by-2-foot table, one three-day pass and limited electrical power. Read up on all the rules and sign up at ow.ly/MiE7s. The convention also recently announced its first anime industry guest: Maile Flanagan, the English voice of Naruto Uzumaki (who now follows me on Twitter, *squee*). Three-day passes are $45 through June 15; visit ow.ly/MiGCt to get that set up.
  • Anime Ohana still has their three-day pass for $25, but you'll have to act fast; that special ends tomorrow. Visit animeohana.ticketbud.com/anime-ohana.
  • And for those of you who really want to plan ahead, Kawaii Kon has opened online preregistration for 2016 -- three-day passes are $45 general, $40 ages 5-12. Get started at ow.ly/MiJds.