(Hat tip to Stella Marie Jacang Kepo'o for sharing this picture of TJ Fernandez at Amazing Hawaii Comic Con last year on my Facebook timeline.)
A few updates on memorial plans for Tristan "TJ" Fernandez, the teen I talked about in my last post:
Earlier today, Jaret Fernandez, TJ's father, posted information on the Celebration of Life Services. They will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 27-28, at Mililani Memorial Park and Mortuary in Central Oahu (take the H-2 Freeway to the Waipio exit, then turn right if you're coming from the south or left from the north, then follow the road all the way to the end), mauka chapel. On Feb. 27, visitation starts at 5:30 p.m., with services at 6:30 p.m.; visitation on Feb. 28 starts at 10 a.m., with the celebration of life at 11 a.m. Casual attire.
The University of Hawaii men's basketball team was a big part of last year's Fundraiser for TJ, showing up to give him autographed memorabilia and inviting him to be an honorary coach at the team's final home game in early March. A tweetfrom our intrepid hoops reporter / Court Sense blogger Brian McInnis noted that the team plans a tribute to TJ at an upcoming game.
One final thought: On Wednesday, Jaret Fernandez shared something TJ posted on Facebook on May 4, 2013, something to make us all cherish life a bit more every day:
"When you think that your life is worthless think again you were born in this world for a reason you may not no what that reason is yet but there is a reason you just have to find it by walking your own path."
There's no easy way for me to write this, so if this post seems a little more rambling than normal, I apologize. But I'm sad to report that Tristan "TJ" Fernandez, the teen diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in October 2014 and subsequently was the guest of honor at a benefit mini-con organized on his behalf last February, died this morning.
From a Facebook post by Jaret Fernandez, Tristan's dad:
It's with a heavy heart that we regret to say after a very hard fought battle with a brain stem tumor; TJ passed away this morning. TJ was at home among close friends and family which was his final wish. We wanted to thank all of you for your prayers this past year and will let you know about funeral services later this week. God Bless...
I took the photo above, of TJ with members of the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Legion, at that fundraiser last year. Shared it in a post soon after the event, too. To see the local fan community rally around this ailing teen and offer him support, comfort and joy — both at the event and a tribute site, Wish for TJ (wishfortj.com), which remains up to this day — was truly inspiring. Equally inspiring was the word I got during Amazing Hawaii Comic Con in September, that TJ was able to make it out to attend that convention for a few hours.
Nineteen days into this new year, there have already been a number of notable deaths -- David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Lemmy Kilmister, Glenn Frey. Not gonna lie … this one hurts the most. My condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to the Fernandez family.
There have been six major conventions this year in our state. I know I keep writing that fact in this space over and over again, but it's something that's boggled my mind all this year. It's a profound time for the local otaku community, one that's grown from roots in anime and manga to encompass general animation and sci-fi/comic culture as well.
You'd think a friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger would be having the time of his life with all these cons coming in. Yet as the year's worn on -- and it HAS been wearing on me; note how I've only had the energy to write fragments of posts about Con-athon 2015, that period between September and October where we had events going on for five straight weekends -- the storylines, and figuring out what to write about and not write about here, have become increasingly complicated.
Sure, the first half was just fine -- Kawaii Kon was Kawaii Kon, Comic Con Honolulu was a nice sci-fi/comic twist on the Kawaii Kon formula, and HawaiiCon was the vacation-with-some-con-fun of my dreams that I'd really love to return to next year. But then things took a turn for the strange. Amazing Hawaii Comic Con proved that at my age, there really IS a cap on how many attendees and lines one can tolerate before wanting to run screaming back to the safety and solitude of the Otaku Ohana home office. A few weeks after that, Anime Ohana went in the opposite direction, snatching the title of "the state's most intimate con of the year" away from HawaiiCon (albeit likely unintentionally).
And now we've come to the year's last major convention: Anime Matsuri Hawaii, the local spin-off of a convention that's been held in Houston since 2007. On the one hand, it's an anime convention with a heavy dash of professional cosplay and J-fashion. Guests include voice actors Crispin Freeman, Johnny Yong Bosch and Maile Flanagan; Masahiko Otsuka, president of Studio Trigger (Kill la Kill, Little Witch Academia); professional cosplayers Vampy, Goldy, Stella Chuu and Reika; music guests Brilliant Kingdom and DaizyStripper; Shunsuke Hasegawa, Putumayo designer; Chinatsu Taira, Metamorphose designer; and Yui Minakata, KERA and Gothic Lolita Bible model. Over in the exhibitor area, you'll see a number of familiar faces including Gordon Rider/Star-Advertiser "Calabash" cartoonist Jon J. Murakami, Crazy Shirts artist Kevin Sano, Lorenzo Trinidad and Trinigrafx Comics, Charisma Industries, the MangaBento gang, A Bit of Sugar, Crappy Kids, and ... umm ... Hen Da Ne, otherwise known as "that dealers room space with that guy who always shouts about 'fresh hot yow-weeeeeee' and stuff." Other highlights include:
Two screenings of Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade (touted as the "U.S. premiere" on the schedule, although Trigger representatives screened the finished OAV at Anime Expo earlier this year), at 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday.
The first formal Funimation industry panels at a local convention, hosted by company representative Justin Rojas.
The J-Fashion show (8 p.m. Friday) and Cosplay Showcase (4 p.m. Saturday).
DaizyStripper, with opening act Brilliant Kingdom, performs live in concert at 9 p.m. Saturday.
On the other hand, there are a number of factors that have hurt the convention. It's going up against Black Friday and the opening weekend of the Christmas shopping season. Two major craft fairs -- the Winter Craft Fair at the Hawaii Okinawa Center in Waipio Gentry, and the Islandwide Christmas Crafts and Food Expo at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall -- will also be running over the weekend, meaning some vendors who might have been all-in for AMHI are instead either selling at those craft fairs or splitting staff and merchandise among shows.
Then there are the events touted on the convention's website in March that disappeared over the next eight months and aren't on the final schedule -- Club AM (advertised as a late-night dance party for the first two nights of the convention), AM Idol (a talent competition), a formal dance, an anime music video competition and a car show among them. A few days ago, the maid cafe was converted to a cosplay recovery lounge. "Nerdlesque," a show combining burlesque performance with geek culture, morphed into "Intro to Nerdlesque," a panel in which Chuu talks about the show. Finally, while I was working on this post early Thanksgiving afternoon, it was announced that cosplayer Yuegene Fay would be canceling her previously announced appearance due to problems with her U.S. customs and immigration paperwork.
Those are easily chalked up to, and forgiven by, logistical issues. But perhaps the biggest elephant in the room, the one that's spawned an online petition calling for a boycott of everything Anime Matsuri LLC touches and a fair amount of discussion in social media, are the allegations of sexual harassment and general malfeasance levied against con directors John and Deneice Leigh based on what's happened in Houston and several other places. The Houston Press, an alternative weekly newspaper (think of it as being like the old Honolulu Weekly), ran a pair of articles on the subject; you can read them here and here. You can look up many of the main players and their blogs elsewhere on the Internet if you so choose.
It is what it is. I respect those people's views, and I can understand why they would want to boycott the show. I also know there are volunteers on the AMHI staff -- people who have joined and have stayed on despite knowing this info -- who are working hard to present the best show to their attendees this weekend. If I were a full-time blogger rather than a full-time copy editor/page designer who fits blogging in between Tsum Tsum and Ingress sessions and trying to rest and recuperate from all that editing and designing, I certainly would have liked to have had a sit-down with the Leighs to talk about the allegations. But I'm not, and as a journalist by trade, I don't feel it's fair for me to pass judgment on covering or not covering a show unless I gave them a chance to respond first.
And so, the show goes on, and I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now. If I hear anything otherwise, though ... we'll see. If you'd like to join me at the show, prices at the door are $60 for general-admission 3-day passes; $25 for children's 3-day passes; $30 for Friday passes; $35 for Saturday passes; and $25 for Sunday passes.
After the flurry of activities that was Con-athon 2015 -- five straight weekends between September and October, five convention or convention-like festivals -- you'd think we'd be getting a breather with the holidays approaching.
You'd be wrong. Ohhhhhhh so very wrong.
From the beginning of this month's free-movie roster at Kahua Cafe through Anime Matsuri Hawaii at the end of this month, this has become yet another "want something to do THIS week? Here ya go!" month in an endless parade of such months. This edition of the Ota-cool Incoming calendar starts off with a roundup of all the movies screening in the next few weeks, starting with ...
Wednesday Family Nights at Kahua Cafe: All this month, Kahua Cafe will be screening Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli favorites. It's a family-friendly event, so the movies will be the English-dubbed versions, and they'll be screening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The lineup:
Wednesday: Kiki's Delivery Service
Nov. 11: Ponyo
Nov. 18: Spirited Away
Nov. 25: Howl's Moving Castle
Kahua Cafe is in the back of Na Mea/Native Books Hawaii, on the first floor of Ward Warehouse below The Old Spaghetti Factory. They have a pretty yummy-looking menu, too. Questions? Hit them up on their Facebook event page (they were prompt in answering my questions!) or call 990-0384.
Anthem of the Heart:There's one more screening of this tale from the Anohana creative team of a girl with words sealed away in her heart: noon Saturday at the Consolidated Ward Stadium 16 theaters. Here's a trailer.
I already mentioned this in my last post, but since then a new review has popped up on Fandom Post. Spoiler alert: It gets an A+. A home video release can't arrive soon enough for me.
Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie: Not to be confused with Ghost in the Shell: The Original Movie, Ghost in the Shell 2: The Kinda Confusing Sequel to the Original Movie, or Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society: And This One's Based on the TV Series, this particular installment follows up on the events of the four-part Arise OAV. The prime minister of Japan is dead, the Fire-Starter virus continues to infect Ghosts, and Major Motoko Kusanagi and the members of Section 9 must untangle the complex web of government corruptions and shadowy figures to figure out what's going on.
Doris Duke Theater (Honolulu Museum of Art): 4 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15, 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21, 1 p.m. Nov. 22, 1 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 27
Tickets are available on Fandango for Ward ($12.25 general, $9 seniors, $8.75 children) and the art museum website ($10 general admission, $8 museum members) for the Doris Duke screenings.
Hawaii International Film Festival: There's only one anime in this year's HIFF Fall Showcase (Nov. 12-22). Fortunately, it's the latest project from one of the best creators still around since Studio Ghibli went dormant: Mamoru Hosoda, director of the great The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, the sublime Summer Wars and the sounds-great-but-it's-still-on-my-pile-of-things-to-watch Wolf Children. His latest movie, The Boy and the Beast, features loner Kyuta (side note: I seem to be writing a lot of synopses these days where the main character is described as a loner of some sort, aren't I?) embarking on an adventure-filled journey with Kumatetsu, a supernatural beast also isolated in an imaginary world.
The Boy and the Beast screens at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 21 and 5 p.m. Nov. 22, with both screenings at the Regal Dole Cannery theaters.
Also, for those of you who enjoyed Journey of Heroes, the comic book recounting the achievements of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 100th Infantry Battalion with chibi characters, author Stacey Hayashi has a pair of projects screening as part of this year's "Made in Hawaii Shorts" roundup: "The Surrender Call," based on Military Intelligence Service linguist Herbert Yanamura's actions to save civilians during the bloody Battle of Okinawa, and "The Herbert Yanamura Story," in which he shares his story and reunites with someone whom he saved from that battle nearly 70 years later. "Made in Hawaii Shorts" screens at 5:45 p.m. Nov. 16 and 10:45 a.m. Nov. 21 at the Dole Cannery theaters, and 3 p.m. Nov. 22 at the Consolidated Koko Marina theaters. If anyone reads this blog on Kauai, you guys can see these shorts, too, at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 21 at the Waimea Theatre.
HIFF tickets are $14 general, $12 students, seniors and military members. Memberships are also available for those of you who really love your movies. Visit hiff.org.
Elsewhere around town
"Short Story: Drawings by Brady Evans": I've been covering the work of Brady Evans for quite a while now, from his days winning MangaBento art contests to starting art groups to curating an exhibit about manga in Hawaii to buying pretty artwork by him on display in art shows downtown, and probably a whole bunch of other things in between. Now Brady's going to have an exhibit of his drawings on display at my alma mater, Punahou School, and I'm thrilled not only because I get to swing by there and see his work, but also because I can stop by the lily pond near Thurston Chapel. Fishies! Turtles! The occasional confused duck! I usually only plan on visiting once a year during the school's annual malasada fundraiser for scholarships -- you know, the Punahou Carnival -- so this is a bonus visit for me. Kirsch Gallery (next to Cooke Library); opening reception 3:30-6 p.m. Thursday, exhibit on display through Nov. 19 (gallery hours 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays). Call 943-3247.
Keiki Con: KYAAAAAAAAH IT'S ANOTHER CONVENTION-TYPE EVENT IN THE HANDY PETITE SIZE *runs away*
... just kidding. I'm just feeling guilty that I have yet to do any write-ups for the events that were part of that five-week Con-athon 2015 I mentioned earlier in this post. This event up in Central Oahu seems like it's going to be a really fun time for keiki of all ages, with food trucks, games, various activities, a cosplay contest (register by 1 p.m. the day of the event); the Hawaii Game Truck; and an Artist Zone featuring make-and-take activities and Pineapple Man artist Sam Campos, Gordon Rider/Ara-Rangers/Edamame Ninjas/Star-Advertiser "Calabash" artist Jon Murakami, and Aumakua: Guardians of Hawaii artist Christopher Caravalho. Kawaii Kon will be on hand to give away free three-day passes (update 11/6, 5:30 p.m.: a pass will be awarded to the winner of the cosplay contest), too. Mililani Recreation Center 7 (take the H-2 Freeway to the Mililani Mauka exit, then shoot pretty much close to the top of Meheula Parkway; it's at 95-1333 Lehiwa Drive, for you GPS types), 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Comic Jam Hawaii: It's the holiday season, which means this group of collaborative cartoon artists, ousted by preparations for Santa Claus and giant holiday trains at Pearlridge, is hitting the road this month. They'll be at Aiea Library -- home of the monthly Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Anime Club and the Face of Hawaii Ingress (tm) -- on Saturday and Nov. 21, from 1 to 4 p.m. The library is at 99-374 Pohai Place ... and have I mentioned there's still plenty of parking? What's that? I mention that every time I mention there's something at Aiea Library? Well, then. Call 483-7333.
Those of you who are J-pop fans probably mourned a little bit when local FM radio content went from 24/7 to a few hours every week on the K-pop station with DJ Chikapin's "J-Morning Saturday" (woo-hoo!). I was sad, but I eventually adjusted; K-pop does have its fair share of catchy tunes, after all (and equally weird music videos, too; hello, Orange Caramel). It's only when I was writing this Halloween edition of the Ota-Cool Incoming calendar that I realized the biggest void KORL 97.1's conversion from J-pop to hip-hop left on the local radio landscape.
Namely, we aren't getting Halloween Junky Orchestra's "Halloween Party" played several times a day, every day, during this month anymore.
But we will soldier on, dear readers. Mostly because in the Year of All the Things, there's not much time to sit around and mourn — there's just too much to do. This particular round starts with what I like to call National Cosplay Recognition Day on Saturday, and Halloween Comicfest. Think of it as being exactly like Free Comic Book Day, except with more orange and spooooooky motifs in the promotional logos.
There's quite a bit of anime/manga-fan-friendly stuff being handed out this time around, including "Birth of Kitaro"from Drawn & Quarterly (hey, more translated GeGeGe no Kitaro is being released! Yay!), Junji Ito's "Fragments of Horror" from Viz, and a mini Yo-kai Watchcomic, also from Viz. Fans of more traditional comics have Archie, Harley Quinn, Doctor Strange, Batman, Spider-man and Avengers stories to look forward to, among others.
Participating stores around the state include:
Other Realms (The Nimitz Center, 1130 N. Nimitz Highway, suite C-140, Iwilei)
Gecko Books & Comics (1151 12th Ave., Kaimuki)
Dragon's Lair (95-1840 Meheula Parkway, space E-10, Mililani)
Westside Comics and Games (590 Farrington Highway, #538, Kapolei)
Maui Comics and Collectibles (333 Dairy Road, #102, Kahului)
Selection will vary depending on what each individual retailer orders, so don't get too upset if what you're looking for isn't available. Make sure to buy something else from the store, too; they may be free to you, but they certainly aren't free for the people providing them.
In the afternoon, there's the AMHI Halloween Walk. Anime Matsuri Hawaii and KZOO Radio are co-hosting this stroll through Ala Moana Center. Dress to impress in your finest cosplay or J-fashion coordinates, and you could win an upgrade to a Superpass -- the convention's VIP pass -- or a free autograph session with a guest who'd normally have a paid session. The fun starts in front of the KZOO studio in Shirokiya at 2 p.m. Saturday and runs through 4 p.m.
Or if you prefer (or live closer toward west or central Oahu and don't feel like driving aaaaaaaaall the way into town), you could hop into your vehicle of choice and head on over to attend the Halloween Cosplay Runway at Pearlridge Center. Kawaii Kon and Comic Con Honolulu are hosting this kickoff to Pearlridge Center's Trick-or-Treat Extravaganza. Talk about your costume, then just work it on stage, baby. That's taking place at the Pearlridge Uptown Center Court from 5 to 6 p.m.
Have fun and stay safe out there, folks. And don't eat too much candy. You'll rot your teeth out.
Elsewhere around town
Anime Matsuri Hawaii: I'll have a full update on all the upcoming cons in my next post, but for now I should mention that the deadline for online preregistration for AMHI is fast approaching; cutoff time is 11:59 p.m. local time Saturday. So if you've been on the fence about attending this convention on Thanksgiving weekend, now's the time to decide if you're going to pay $55 for a three-day pass for it (or $20 if there's a child ages 6-12 involved, or $150 if you'd like to go the VIP Superpass route). Tickets for the Grand Tea Party at the Ala Moana Hotel ($35; Sunday, Nov. 29, noon-3 p.m.) are also running scarce. Guests include voice actors Maile Flanagan, Johnny Yong Bosch and Crispin Freeman; Justin Rojas from Funimation; Masahiko Otsuka, Studio Trigger president; professional cosplayers Vampy, Goldy, Yuegene Fay, Stella Chuu and Reiko; Yui Minakata, fashion model featured in KERA and the Gothic Lolita Bible; and fashion designers Shunsuke Hasegawa (Putumayo) and Chinatsu Taira (Metamorphose). Visit hawaii.animematsuri.com.
The Anthem of the Heart: From the makers of Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day: The Movie: The One Based on the Anime Series: Which They Also Did comes another tale of emotionally scarred youths which, judging by the official synopsis, seems like it could be another tearjerker:
Jun is a girl whose words have been sealed away. She was once a happy girl, but because of a certain thing she said when she was very young, her family was torn apart. One day, the egg fairy appeared in front of her and sealed away her ability to talk in order to stop her from hurting anybody else. Since this traumatic experience, Jun lives in the shadows away from the limelight. But, one day she is nominated to become an executive member of the "community outreach council." On top of that, Jun is also appointed to play the main lead in theirmusical...