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Ota-cool Incoming: The merry, merry month of May

April 29th, 2016
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If April was the month of anime, with Kawaii Kon and Consolidated Theaters' Studio Ghibli Festival capturing the attention of local otaku, then May has to be the month where comic culture takes center stage. The Hawaii Comic & Toy Expo kicks it off, Amazing Hawaii Comic Con puts a nice little bow on it, and there's Free Comic Book Day and a smattering of comic artist appearances in between to keep us all busy.

But that's not to say it's all comics; anime/manga fans have some events to look forward to this month as well -- a new movie, idkwhat2wear's annual clearance sale and the return of an annual festival on Maui are just some of the events to look forward to in the next few weeks. I'll go into greater detail on some of these coming attractions in future posts, but there's a really busy weekend coming up, so let's get around to that right now:

Islandwide Spring Crafts and Food Expo: Otherwise known as "the craft fair where idkwhat2wear unloads ALL THE THINGS." See, every year there's one show where Karl Miyashiro and Terri Dux blow out their discontinued T-shirt styles at $6 per shirt. These are styles that usually sell for $19-$21 apiece, so yeah, that's a pretty healthy chunk of savings change. This photo posted to the idk Facebook page reveals they have ... oh, a few shirts.

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Please save Terri from impending cotton-crushing doom and buy some shirts; they'll be at booth 705. While you're at the show, go visit Kawaii Mono with their line of origami jewelry, charms and more at booth 408. Admission: $5 general, $4 military families and seniors ages 65 and older, free for children ages 13 and younger. (Be warned: With The Book of Mormon still at the concert hall and comedian Kevin Hart in concert at the arena Saturday and Sunday, parking in the neighborhood is going to be tight.) Blaisdell Exhibition Hall (777 Ward Ave.); 4-9 p.m. today, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

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Hawaii Comic & Toy Expo: Yes, there will be comics, toys and collectibles being sold by more than 40 dealers. But there will be special featured guests in the house, too. Guest of honor Scott Williams is a local boy and University of Hawaii alumnus who's worked as an artist and inker for Marvel and DC, frequently collaborating with talents like Jim Lee and Frank Miller. Joining him at the show will be local artists Jon Murakami, Kevin Sano, Christopher Caravalho, Andy Lee and HeadShot Heroes. Admission: $3. Ala Moana Hotel (Hibiscus Ballroom), 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center; this time around, they'll be in the center court on the Downtown side of the mall. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Also worth noting: The Friends of Aiea Library will be holding a book sale at the library (99-374 Pohai Place) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; there will be plenty of parking. And where there may not be anything directly related to otaku culture at this year's Hawaii Book and Music Festival, at the Civic Grounds near Honolulu Hale downtown, it's still worth checking out anyway. Because local literature and music never go out of style. That runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Elsewhere around town

Maui Matsuri: A kickoff celebration for Maui's annual celebration of Japanese culture -- featuring taiko performances, karate demonstrations, coloring contests and Hello Kitty -- will be at the Queen Kaahumanu Center (275 W. Kaahumanu Ave., Kahului) from 6:30 to 9 p.m. today. It's just a little taste of what will be happening a little over a week from now at UH-Maui College, with food booths, entertainment, and contests for cosplayers, video gamers and artists inspired by the anime/manga art style. Maui residents, go check out mauimatsuri.com and register for some of those contests now! Presented by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui. Saturday, May 7, 2-9 p.m.

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Free Comic Book Day: It's almost time for the Annual Comic Book Summer Blockbuster Movie to be released to millions of eager American fanpeeps (*cough*goTeamIronMan*cough*), which means it's also time for your annual enticement to visit your local comic book store/distributor of choice and pick up a whole stack of free books. Various locations statewide; Saturday, May 7.

Mother's Day: Don't forget about your mom. She helped shape you into the person you are today. Also, eat your veggies and don't slouch, dear. Sunday, May 8.

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Free Isabelo appearances: The founder of Live Free Die Free (LFDF) Comics; creator of The Contraptor, a steampunk-inspired tale about a Secret Service agent looking for his brother's murderer and the conspirators behind President Lincoln's assassination; and artist behind the "Steam Royals" series of pop culture icons reimagined with a steampunk twist will be appearing at Other Realms (1130 Nimitz Hwy, suite C140) on Free Comic Book Day and on Wednesday, May 18, and Enjoy Comics in Hilo (45 Pohaku St., unit 201) on Sunday, May 15. He'll also be at Amazing Hawaii Comic Con ... see below for some more details about that show.

Joe Rubenstein on Maui: The longtime artist/inker best known for his work on Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's four-issue Wolverine miniseries in 1982 and his inking on The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe for more than 20 years will be visiting Maui Comics and Collectibles in Kahului (333 Dairy Road, unit 102). Get your autographs and commissions there! Wednesday, May 18.

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Project Itoh: Harmony: In this theatrical anime being released stateside by Funimation Films, a mass suicide has rocked the globe, but there's something about the motives behind the event that seem eerily similar to what Tuan Kirie and her friends attempted when they were teens. Is her old friend Miach Mirie behind the deaths? And if so, how could she be, considering she supposedly died all those years ago? Hmm. Consolidated Ward Stadium 16 theaters, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, and Wednesday, May 18. (I must say, May 18 is shaping up to be a really busy day.)

Cosplay Figure Drawing: Join Mangabento's Devin Oishi as he leads a six-session series on figure drawing with a key twist: All of the models will be cosplayers. Students can cosplay and interact with the models as well. It's a fun, informative way to brush up on skills including visual measurement, selecting materials and anatomy. Cost: $150; preregister at https://secure.honolulumuseum.org/auxiliary/Reserve.aspx?p=260. Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St.), room 200; 6-9 p.m. Fridays starting May 20 through June 24.

Amazing Hawaii Comic Con: It's the second stop of the unofficial official Con-athon 2016! This year's edition may not have Stan Lee, but it does count among its guests Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, DC Comics everything extraordinaire Jim Lee, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman, and amazing/astonishing/uncanny/fill-in-your-own-adjective-here X-Men writer Chris Claremont. They're also targeting us otaku this year, with guests who've done voice work for Dragon Ball Z (Sean Schemmel, the voice of Goku! Chris Sabat, the voice of Vegeta! Chuck Huber, the voice of Android 17!) and Street Fighter. Hawai'i Convention Center, Friday, May 20-Sunday, May 22.

The Con-athon 2016 players, part 1: Kawaii Kon

April 7th, 2016
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Welcome to the starting line of Con-athon 2016, this year's gauntlet of six major anime/sci-fi/fantasy/comic conventions on two islands and a whooooooole buncha smaller events in between. "Con-athon," short for "con marathon," started off as an internal reference among me and a few other friends and grew to the point that Gordon Rider/Ara-Rangers/Star-Advertiser "Calabash" cartoonist Jon Murakami and his lovely assistant, Gwen, printed up some T-shirts for a bunch of us who attended most, if not all, of those events, distributing them at last year's "finish line" of Anime Matsuri Hawaii.

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So yeah, it's totally a thing.

Over the next few months or so -- I was going to try to do these profiles over a week, but holy cats, this entry's been brewing longer than the Ghibli Festival post -- I'll be profiling the key entrants in Con-athon 2016. Amazing Hawaii Comic Con, Comic Con Honolulu, HawaiiCon, Anime Ohana, Anime Matsuri Hawaii and a few other smaller events will get their turns in time. But of course, we must start with the con that's staring at us in the face right now: Kawaii Kon.

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A whole lotta Ghibli goin' on

March 30th, 2016
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Not shown: The part where Ponyo says she likes haaaaam. (Why yes, we used this same joke with Wilma's Ponyo review in 2012. We're all about the running gags here.)

Sosuke and Ponyo prepare for their magical boat ride. (Photo courtesy Nibariki-GNDHDDT)

Remember all those times I've said in the past few years that [INSERT MONTH/YEAR HERE] is going to be the best month ever for theatrical anime being screened locally? First of all, congratulations, you have a very good memory. Second, you may now forget I ever said that before, because April 2016 is claiming that title of best month ever now and forever.

The reason: Starting Saturday and running through May 5, for every day except Fridays (gotta make that new-release box office bank, after all!), Consolidated's theaters across Oahu and their Kaahumanu complex in Kahului will be home to the Studio Ghibli Festival, screening every major Studio Ghibli film ever made. That's everything from 1984's Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Hayao Miyazaki's pre-Ghibli feature that led to the creation of the studio, through 2014's When Marnie Was There, plus the live-action Kingdom of Dreams and Madness documentary for good measure. That's 22 good-to-great movies and Tales From Earthsea -- which was kind of a disappointment for me -- over roughly a month.

… yeah, I'll just leave this meme here.

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Most of the films will be screened two or three times each over the month, with English-dubbed and English-subtitled versions available. The more popular films -- Howl's Moving Castle, Kiki's Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away -- will be shown four times each.

But the real rarity in the group is Ocean Waves (Umi ga Kikoeru), the 1993 made-for-TV movie that is the only major Ghibli project never to see wide release in the U.S. now that GKids finally picked up Only Yesterday. The film's rights belong to Disney, which kinda has bigger fish to promote, so we probably won't be seeing that in wide release any time soon, either. Ocean Waves will be shown exactly once -- mark your calendars for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14, and set your GPSes for the Koolau 10 complex, across from the Valley of the Temples cemetery in Windward Oahu.

Breaking down the numbers further, the big winner in terms of number of screenings is the Kapolei 16 complex, which will be showing 15 out of the 23 movies available, all of them subtitled. The Koolau, Mililani 14 and Pearlridge 16 theaters come in tied for second with 10 apiece, in both subbed and dubbed flavors at the first two and all subbed at Pearlridge.

Here's the full screening schedule organized by theater, with GhibliWiki links in case you'd like to learn more about each movie. (Trust me, if I had to write 23 synopses and attach 23 trailers like I usually do with these previews, this post would have been posted sometime in February 2022.) Prefer to see what's on deck chronologically? Here's Consolidated's "coming soon" list. Tickets, at $10 each, are available now on Fandango (except for the April 30 Kahala screening of The Wind Rises for some weird reason). Sorry, no passes are being accepted.

Kahala 8

All films dubbed; screenings at 11 a.m. Saturdays.

Castle in the Sky: April 2

Kiki's Delivery Service: April 9

Spirited Away: April 16

Howl's Moving Castle: April 23

The Wind Rises: April 30 (note: ticket sales not available yet)

Kapolei 16

All films subbed; screenings at 7 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: April 4

Castle in the Sky: April 5

My Neighbor Totoro: April 7

Kiki's Delivery Service: April 11

Only Yesterday: April 12

Pom Poko: April 14

Whisper of the Heart: April 18

Princess Mononoke: April 19

The Cat Returns: April 21

Tales From Earthsea: April 25

Ponyo: April 26

From Up on Poppy Hill: April 28

The Wind Rises: May 2

Kingdom of Dreams and Madness: May 3

When Marnie Was There: May 5

Koko Marina 8

All films dubbed; screenings at 11 a.m. Sundays.

My Neighbor Totoro: April 3

Whisper of the Heart: April 10

Secret World of Arrietty: April 24

Tale of the Princess Kaguya: May 1

Koolau 10

11 a.m. Sunday screenings dubbed; 7 p.m. Thursday screenings subbed.

Porco Rosso: April 3, 11 a.m.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: April 7, 7 p.m.

Pom Poko: April 10, 11 a.m.

Ocean Waves: April 14, 7 p.m.

The Cat Returns: April 17, 11 a.m.

Princess Mononoke: April 21, 7 p.m.

Tales From Earthsea: April 24, 11 a.m.

Ponyo: April 28, 7 p.m.

When Marnie Was There: May 1, 11 a.m.

Tale of the Princess Kaguya: May 5, 7 p.m.

Mililani 14

11 a.m. Saturday screenings dubbed; 7 p.m. Wednesday screenings subbed.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: April 2, 11 a.m.

Castle in the Sky: April 6, 7 p.m.

Only Yesterday: April 9, 11 a.m.

Whisper of the Heart: April 13, 7 p.m.

My Neighbors the Yamadas: April 16, 11 a.m.

Tales from Earthsea: April 20, 7 p.m.

Ponyo, April 23, 11 a.m.

Howl's Moving Castle: April 27, 7 p.m.

From Up on Poppy Hill: April 30, 11 a.m.

Kingdom of Dreams and Madness: May 4, 7 p.m.

Pearlridge 16

All films subbed; screenings at 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

My Neighbor Totoro: April 5

Grave of the Fireflies: April 6

Kiki's Delivery Service: April 12

Porco Rosso: April 13

Spirited Away: April 19

My Neighbors the Yamadas: April 20

From Up on Poppy Hill, April 26

Secret World of Arrietty: April 27

The Wind Rises: May 3

Tale of the Princess Kaguya: May 4

Ward Stadium

All films subbed; screenings at 7 p.m. Mondays.

Grave of the Fireflies: April 4

Only Yesterday: April 11

Spirited Away: April 18

Howl's Moving Castle: April 25

When Marnie Was There: May 2

Kaahumanu (Maui)

11 a.m. Saturday screenings dubbed; 7 p.m. Thursday screenings subbed.

My Neighbor Totoro: April 2, 11 a.m., April 7, 7 p.m.

Kiki's Delivery Service: April 9, 11 a.m., April 14, 7 p.m.

Princess Mononoke: April 16, 11 a.m., April 21, 7 p.m.

Spirited Away: April 23, 11 a.m., April 28, 7 p.m.

Howl's Moving Castle: April 30, 11 a.m., May 5, 7 p.m.

Elsewhere around town

Aiea Library Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Anime Club: Every month, I joke with young adult librarian Diane Masaki that she ought to change the name of the Anime Club to the Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Club, seeing as how the screening schedule for the past few months has consistently been two episodes of the 2012-2013 anime followed by two more episodes of something else. (April's "friends" are the ship-gals of KanColle.) The response this time around: Crisis! Diane's approaching the end of the Polar Bear run! And there aren't very many KanColle episodes left, either! What will the club screen next? And what will be the next running gag for this item?!? At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where, yes, there's still plenty of parking. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

Sanrio Ala Moana Anniversary Party: Head out to Ala Moana Center and take pictures (or selfies, if you're alone) with a giant Hello Kitty mascot character and also enjoy: Special product promotions! Free face painting and Hello Kitty hat with any purchase! And a special gift with any $75 purchase! 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center; check their Facebook page for where in the mall they'll be meeting. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Con-athon 2016: The Forces Awaken

March 19th, 2016
By



These are truly ... interesting times here at Otaku Ohana Central. If you've been following along on my social media feeds as of late, you know that I recently spent close to a week in the hospital being treated for complications related to pneumonia. This, of course, juuuuuuust as Only Yesterday was on the cusp of opening at the Kahala 8 theaters, the Honolulu Festival was ready to present its annual weekend craft fair/parade/fireworks combination, and Kawaii Kon was maneuvering and getting its final ducks in a row before kicking off Con-athon 2016 next month.

Well. It's a good thing that I'm feeling back to some semblance of normal, because HOLY CATS ALL THE THINGS ARE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. Consider what we've seen in the span of just the past 48 hours:

George Takei will be a featured guest at Comic-Con Honolulu July 29-31. (Image courtesy Comic-Con Honolulu)

George Takei will be a featured guest at Comic-Con Honolulu July 29-31. (Image courtesy Comic-Con Honolulu)

>> Comic-Con Honolulu announced its latest guest for its show in late July, and he's a doozy: George Takei, the man who arguably owns the Internet (or at least the corner of it that generates those popular "ohhhhhhh myyyyyy" memes). Of course, he's also known for being Sulu on the original Star Trek, an outspoken advocate for equal marriage rights and the man behind Allegiance, a musical that recounts the experiences of Japanese Americans interned at camps during World War II.

Anime Ohana logo

>> Anime Ohana is coming back. Nov. 4-6, to be exact, once again at the Pagoda Hotel. That much we've known for the past few weeks. What we didn't know was who would be showing up, but as of Saturday, we now have our first official guest trio: Akame ga Kill dub actors Christina Marie Kelly, Molly Searcy and David Wald.

>> With less than three weeks remaining until Kawaii Kon opens and the full schedule already posted, you'd think convention staff would be more than happy to rest on their laurels and just get ready to let whatever happens happen. Nope! Sorry. There are still announcements to be made and final arrangements to tie up, and they're going to be making them. Do you like Good Smile Company, makers of all those cute Nendoroids and Figma figures? Representatives from that company will be hosting a collecting panel on Sunday from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. April 10. (Psst ... GSC's also going to be hosting a there's also going to be an unofficial "Naughty Figures" panel for those of you 18 and older from 10 to 11 p.m. April 9.) Those of you who are interested in taking part in the Karaoke Kompetition will want to know that the final set of preliminaries will be held at Nocturna Lounge -- just downstairs from the Star-Advertiser editorial offices at Restaurant Row! -- starting at 3 p.m. Sunday. And of course, for those of you who really want to procrastinate and wait until the very last second to get your three-day passes online, you have until March 26 to do that at www.showclix.com/event/KawaiiKon2016.

Suffice it to say that this is only the beginning, and that I have a lot of news to catch up with. Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning/conventioning blogger is just warming up, so if you haven't seen anything about your convention of choice, don't worry ... I'll be getting around to it soon! Just fasten your seat belt and get ready to enjoy the ride ... I'll try to guide you as best I can through it.

The boys, the beasts and the dystopian societies

March 1st, 2016
By



Last week was supposed to be the week that we here in the 808 state would get to see the English dub of one of the last Studio Ghibli films yet to see wide release in the United States, Only Yesterday. If you looked at the official website's theater listing through last week, it insisted Feb. 26 would be when the movie opened at the Consolidated Kahala 8 theaters, followed by a March 18 opening at the Palace Theater in Hilo.

Well, the Hilo date remains the same. Tickets ($8 general, $7 students and seniors) for the five-day run are on sale now, in fact. Oahu, though? Apparently you're going to have to wait until March 11 at the earliest to see it. And that's not even factoring in how, as I was looking up the ticket information for Only Yesterday early last week, I found out the movie will also be part of Consolidated Theaters' Studio Ghibli Festival, where every Ghibli movie ever will be playing across all of Consolidated's theaters on Oahu and Maui for about a month starting in April.

So we'll save our discussion of the Ghibli stuff for my next post. For now, though, let's turn our attention to the other anime-related movies of March. It was already shaping up to be a busy month with three movies on the docket -- two from Funimation, one from Aniplex.

Kizumonogatari Part 1: Tekketsu

Those of you who follow anime closely -- or at least more closely than I've been able to as of late -- know that there have been a lot of series with the -monogatari suffix attached to them as of late: Bakamonogatari. Nisemonogatari. Nekomonogatari Black. Hanamonogatari. And so on. All of them focus on Koyomi Araragi, a nondescript high school student who was once bitten by a powerful vampire and is only now regaining most of his humanity. Now, however, there are a number of girls afflicted by "oddities" whom he must help.

The franchise is based on a series of light novels by Nisio Isin; the third novel in the series and the one that recounts Koyomi's origin story of sorts, Kizumonogatari, is available now in English from Vertical. The book is now being adapted into a movie trilogy, and that's the journey we're embarking on starting with Part 1: Tekketsu.

Consolidated Ward Stadium 16 and Mililani 14: Japanese with English subtitles, 7:30 p.m. today and 11 a.m. Saturday

The Boy & the Beast

This movie, the latest project from director Mamoru Hosoda (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, Wolf Children) to be translated and released in the United States, appeared at the Hawaii International Film Festival in November. It features Kyuta -- yet another loner anime protagonist! -- embarking on an adventure-filled journey with Kumatetsu, a supernatural beast also isolated in an imaginary world.

Consolidated Kahala 8: Friday and Saturday -- English dubbed, 11:10 a.m. and 1:50 p.m.; Japanese with English subtitles, 4:30, 7:10 and 9:50 p.m. Sunday -- dub 1:50 p.m.; sub 4:30 and 7:10 p.m.

Regal Dole Cannery: Friday-Monday -- English dubbed, 12:30 and 3:50 p.m.; Japanese with English subtitles, 7 and 10 p.m.

Psycho Pass: The Movie

You've seen two seasons' worth of Akane Tsunemori fighting crime in a dystopian future society while rising from being a rookie inspector in Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau's Criminal Investigations Division to leading the unit. (Or maybe you haven't. Just roll with me here.) In this movie, set two years after the end of the second season, Japan has begun exporting the technology used to power the society-monitoring Sibyl System to countries worldwide. There's certainly nothing that could go horribly wrong with that to spur Akane and her unit to action ... right?

Consolidated Mililani, Ward, and Pearlridge: English dubbed, 7:30 p.m. March 15 and 16

Elsewhere around town

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center; for their next meeting, they'll be on the Downtown side of the mall, Center Court. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.