By Jason S. Yadao
We'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).
Food: 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.
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.