Archive for the ‘anime’ Category

1 day, Sunday, Otaku Fest fun day

August 21st, 2015
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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!

August 18th, 2015
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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!

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…)

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.

Anime Ohana means a growing convention family

April 11th, 2015
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It was 10 years ago April 21 when I wrote the following for what was then the Star-Bulletin:

(Anime/manga fans') passion will be on display throughout the weekend as Kawaii Kon, the first anime convention to be held in Hawaii, starts tomorrow at the Ala Moana Hotel. … All of this comes courtesy of a team led by convention director Stan Dahlin. Kawaii Kon is a homecoming of sorts for Dahlin, a 1983 Radford graduate who has helped stage a similar convention, Anime Weekend Atlanta, for the past 10 years.

"It all started with a conversation with my friend David Williams of ADV Films," Dahlin said. "He knew I was originally from Hawaii and suggested that maybe there should be a show there. I dismissed his suggestion at first, but then I really gave it serious thought."

Since then, Kawaii Kon has grown into the first name people have thought about when considering local anime conventions. Heck, the show drew more than 10,000 people this year. While there's been a competing event here and there these past few years, it's a reign that's gone pretty much unchallenged.

And then came this year.

If you've been reading this blog for a considerable amount of time, you already know that this year has been the most remarkable one I've ever seen in terms of incoming conventions. Kawaii Kon's in the books, but to recap, there's still Hoku Kon in July, HawaiiCon (on Hawaii island) and Amazing Hawaii Comic Con in September, and Anime Matsuri Hawaii in November. That's five conventions that we knew about before Kawaii Kon kicked off in late March.

Soon after Kawaii Kon ended, though, tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. alerted me to some buzz making the rounds during con weekend. A sixth major convention -- and the third anime-related one, to boot -- had emerged as a new challenger on the local scene. And after a few weeks of looking at the website, monitoring some of the social media chatter about it and securing a contact from within the organization, I finally have enough confirmed information to pass along to you, dear Otaku Ohana readers.

Anime Ohana logoMeet Anime Ohana, a convention that's happening Oct. 9-11 at the Pagoda Hotel. As someone who posted a confirmed registration receipt noted, the event is being presented by Hawaii Anime Fairs LLC, a business partnership that formed in Texas in December with two names on the paperwork: Stan Dahlin and David Williams. That's right: The founder of Kawaii Kon, who left that con's leadership team in 2013, has created a new convention for local fans, and will be running and managing it with help from the longtime ADV/Sentai Filmworks producer.

"It is amazing how great things can grow out of something as simple as a phone call." Williams told me via email. "I was very happy to see what has become of my small comment to Stan. We have long felt Hawaii deserved a good second convention later in the year and had hoped one would come along, but finally decided to start our own. We have some exciting plans to cover what we think are some neglected areas in the future that will make Anime Ohana stand apart but for now are focused on a general first-year convention to get ourselves established and the ball rolling."

Along for the ride are Anime Ohana's first confirmed guests, voice actresses Jessica Calvello and Monica Rial. This will be the first isle convention visit for Calvello, known for her roles as Hange Zoe in Attack on Titan, Yuri in Dirty Pair, and the voice of Excel for 13 episodes of Excel Saga before she had to withdraw due to vocal chord damage. Rial, best known as Kaede Kayano in Assassination Classroom, Bulma in Dragon Ball Z Kai, Hyatt in Excel Saga and about a bazillion other roles (seriously, look at her Anime News Network encyclopedia page) was a guest at the first five Kawaii Kons but has not been back since 2009.

"Our guest list, both currently announced and possible announcements, is focused on people who haven’t been to Hawaii before or haven’t been back in many years," Williams said.

There's also been a bit of discussion on social media on whether the event is, indeed, legitimate, with conflicting reports on whether the Pagoda had even been locked up as a venue in the first place. Williams reassured me on that front as well.

"The Pagoda Hotel is indeed the confirmed venue for Anime Ohana," Williams said. "We are looking forward to working with the people there, and they are excited to have our event at their facilities. As we are starting off with a smaller first-year convention, it doesn't make sense to jump into as large a space as, say, the (Hawai'i Convention Center). Thus we looked around for a location that would have the space we needed and was available during the times we wanted as well. The Pagoda Hotel fit both needs wonderfully."

Interested? If you preregister before May 1, you can get a three-day pass for $25. VIP passes -- which include a free T-shirt, head-of-the-line autograph privileges, early entry/seating to all con events and the dealers room, and special one-on-one events with con guests -- are also available for $150. And you can order a T-shirt for $25. All of that is available at animeohana.ticketbud.com/anime-ohana.

"We are working hard to put on a good show for the fans, and we hope they enjoy our events and meeting our guests and just have a good time," Williams said.

To keep up with the latest Anime Ohana happenings, visit the website at animeohana.com, "like" their Facebook page, and/or follow their Twitter feed.