Archive for the ‘anime’ Category

Anime Matsuri Hawaii schedules post-Thanksgiving treat

March 16th, 2015
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Anime Matsuri logoIt looks like 2015 will be the year you snarf down your turkey, brave the sea of humanity descending on various retail establishments for the sake of cheap TVs and bath towels ... and then turn around and attend an anime convention.

Anime Matsuri Hawaii -- they of the website countdown -- took a bit of time after that countdown expired to do some internal housekeeping, but they finally launched their website, hawaii.animematsuri.com, this afternoon. With that launch, we now know that the newest player in the local pop-culture convention scene will be operating out of the Hawai'i Convention Center during the first few days of the Christmas shopping season -- Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 27-29.

Some of the other highlights:

  • Heidi Shimada, who's been part of Yu x Me Maid Cafe & Host Club locally, is listed as Anime Matsuri Hawaii liaison. She's also been serving as Anime Matsuri's guest relations director.
  • Look for the standard anime con accouterments, including a Japanese fashion show, a tea party, a concert, a cosplay contest and a maid cafe. There's also going to be a car show; "AM Idol," a talent showcase equivalent to Kawaii Kon's Karaoke Competition; and "Club AM," a nightly rave running from midnight to 3 a.m. I just hope the car show's in a separate area from the convention proper, because the last time there was a convention/car show hybrid, it didn't really mesh well.
  • The first two guests listed on the website are cosplayers Stella Chuu and Reika.

Pre-registration prices for three-day passes have also been released; the sooner you get your passes, the better, of course. That page I linked to in the last sentence shows a table of increasing rates as the con nears, but here's what you need to know for now: Through April 15, adult passes will cost $40; the rate for groups of 10 or more people start at $35 per person; and the VIP-level Superpass, limited to 150 attendees, is $110. Passes for children ages 6-12 will be $20 through Oct. 15. Would-be vendors and Artist Alley sellers, we're still waiting for registration information for you.

Obviously, there's much more content to dig through, but I have a Kawaii Kon preview article that I need to write. Busy busy busy! A full press release is below. (3/20 note: Press release has been revised to the latest info.)

Houston, TX, March 20, 2015 – Anime Matsuri, the ninth largest anime convention in North America, is proud to announce the debut of its second convention. Anime Matsuri Hawaii (AMHI) will take place on November 27-29, 2015, at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Pre-registration will open with the launch of the new convention’s website for individuals interested in purchasing their passes in advance.

Anime Matsuri is excited to bring the production value it offers to attendees of its Houston convention, out to Hawaii. AMHI main events will include a Japanese fashion show, tea party, car show, concert, cosplay contest, and Club AM. Also featured will be a maid cafe, various panels and workshops, vendors, industry guests, voice actors, and cosplay guests from all over the world. With this expansion comes many opportunities to provide unique experiences to individuals who are unfamiliar with the company, as well as the most dedicated fans. Anime Matsuri is fortunate enough to enjoy a fantastic community of attendees that it hopes to extend to AMHI.

“My husband, John Leigh, and I founded Anime Matsuri almost a decade ago. We have been privileged to be among the pioneers promoting anime and Japanese culture over the years, connecting people and companies in the East to the West. During a work trip to Hawaii a few years ago, we were astounded by the hospitality and general care that we received from complete strangers. Our growing friendship with the local communities in Hawaii have helped connect us to networks that have allowed us to expand our event. Thank you for this opportunity to further strengthen anime and Japanese culture in Hawaii. We look forward to working with existing organizations, cultural events, charities, local businesses, and fans to bring a new and unique experience to Hawaii,” said Deneice Leigh, founder and chairman of Anime Matsuri.

Anime Matsuri is an annual anime, Japanese culture and related arts convention based in Houston, Texas. We strive to bring the latest and greatest from Japan’s catwalks, anime studios, and concert stages to our own backyard here in the United States. Anime Matsuri’s inaugural event began in 2007. Since then, the convention has grown to over 19,000 unique attendees. With so many in attendance, we have recently made the George R. Brown Convention Center our permanent home. Here we will host our three-day festival on April 3-5th, 2015.

 

Dawn of an anime con: Aloha, Anime Matsuri Hawaii

March 11th, 2015
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Today in Otaku Ohana, we're considering the countdown, that string of ever-declining numbers that leads to the launching of a spaceship, the naming of the top something of something, a victory in sports, a new year, breaking the walls doooooown, whatever you prefer. One of the first posts in Otaku Ohana version 1.0, in fact, was about a countdown. (Now that I think about it, I don't think I ever figured out what that countdown was counting down to. That's going to bother me now.)

In any event, countdowns build anticipation. We see them all the time. And hey, there just happens to be one with local implications running right now.

Here's what you'll see right now at hawaii.animematsuri.com (albeit with more time off the clock).

Screen shot 2015-03-10 at 2.15.54 PM

Indeed, as this and a teaser video posted on Anime Matsuri founder/chairman Deneice "Trinity" Leigh's Facebook page have revealed, we're getting another anime convention in Honolulu: Anime Matsuri Hawaii, an offshoot of a Houston-based con that, since it began in 2007, has grown into the city's largest anime con and the ninth largest in North America. Here's what we know so far:

  • It'll be held sometime in November
  • It has a website, dedicated Twitter and Facebook accounts and links to the parent con's YouTube and Instagram accounts

... that's pretty much it for now. The countdown for the website's formal launch leads to 9 p.m. Sunday, when I'd expect we'd see the when and where and maybe even who's showing up to this shindig.

It remains to be seen on which end of the convention spectrum Anime Matsuri Hawaii will land. Kawaii Kon, of course, has been around for a decade, and HawaiiCon, the sci-fi convention on Hawaii island, is looking very strong going into its second year. (I mean, heck, they announced Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's son, Rod, as a guest on Tuesday.) But on the flip side, the Hawaii Entertainment Expo (HEXXP) lasted only three years with modest attendance before folding. And we can't forget about the last longtime anime con from Texas that showed up in Hawaii, Oni-Con, which staged one event before dissolving into a haze of mysteries and silence. With the arrivals of Hoku Kon in July and the Amazing Hawaii Comic Con in September, we're also about to see whether the crossover fan base for anime/manga, comic and sci-fi culture can support five conventions in a year, four on one island. If you're one of those people who can attend all five, I salute your enthusiasm (and humbly ask if you can send me some reports and pictures, because I certainly don't have the time/money/energy to do so).

I'll see about getting some answers from the people involved in the weeks ahead. For now, though? I have some interviews I need to transcribe. Pretty good ones, too. It's the crazy busy season here at Otaku Ohana Central, and we're trying our best to get stuff out to y'all.

Hop on the express lane to Kawaii Kon

March 6th, 2015
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kawaii-kon-logoAs of this post, we are now exactly three weeks away from opening day for Kawaii Kon 2015. That heavy sighing, whimpering and sobbing in the corner that you might be hearing right now? That's coming from anyone directly involved with the anime con -- staff members, vendors, Artist Alley artists, photographers, cosplayers, friendly neighborhood anime/manga bloggers -- who read that first sentence and realized that they are so very much not ready.

But it's coming, this song is playing in the backs of our minds, and someone out there, someone has to be looking forward to March 27, when our anime addiction as a crazed community united flares anew for three days at the Hawai'i Convention Center. So let's take a deep breath and take a look at some recent con-related news highlights:

A new guest! A famed Animaniacs trio is now complete with an announcement that came earlier this week. Sorry, it's probably not that trio that you're thinking of ... Tress Macneille, the voice of Dot Warner, still isn't coming. But the writer behind a bunch of classic Animaniacs episodes and songs, Randy Rogel, is coming. Not only is this Rogel's first visit to Kawaii Kon, he's also the first Emmy award-winning guest to attend; he won Daytime Emmys for Animaniacs in 1996 and 1997, and Batman: The Animated Series in 1993. I'd expect live performances of "Yakko's World" and "Wakko's America" are pretty much locks now.

Honolulu Festival graphicA preview of what's to come! The Honolulu Festival, the annual showcase of Pacific Rim cultures, is happening this weekend, and Kawaii Kon, as always, will be sharing space among the kids' games, entertainment, food and craft booths and art displays at the convention center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. This is your final chance to pick up a three-day pass at a discounted rate ($50 general, $40 children ages 5-12). MangaBento will bring art activities and photo booth cutouts; there will also be games, activities and prizes galore. Stick around Waikiki on Sunday for the Grand Parade down Kalakaua Avenue starting at 4 p.m. and the offshore Nagaoka Fireworks show starting at 8:30 p.m.

GR 10th coverA 10th anniversary preorder! Has it really been 10 years since the adventures of Hawaii's hapless hero Gordon Rider, drawn by Star-Advertiser "Calabash" cartoonist Jon Murakami, debuted on a whiteboard sitting in Mechahawaii in Kaimuki? Yes, it has, and time flies, and I'm starting to feel really old again. To celebrate the milestone, Jon's releasing a 10th anniversary art book -- 100 full-color pages filled with tributes by 70 artists including "Luann" artist Greg Evans, "Winged Tiger" artist Phil Yeh, and "Heavy Metal" and "Elephantmen" artist Axel Medellin. (Lorenzo Trinidad, son of late great Star-Bulletin cartoonist Corky Trinidad, showed me what he submitted for the book the other week. It looked pretty sweet.) Copies are $30 and will be released on the con's first day, March 27; preorder now at www.jonjmurakami.bigcartel.com, and not only can you pick up the book at Jon's Artist Alley table, you'll also get a bonus 2.5-by-3.5-inch sketch card. Also available for preorder there: Issue 8 of the Gordon Rider comic, for $5. (Can't make it to con? You can also have those mailed out to you.)

A free-stuff reminder! You have a state library card, right? Of course you do, because while you're doing the newish-media thing and reading this blog, you also appreciate good old-school print media as well. Anyway, do not forget to bring your card to con, because you can bring it to the library table in Artist Alley -- it'll be in the same area as Jon's table and Michael Cannon's Artildawn offerings! -- and get free stuff. You'd think it would be a no-brainer by now, but you would not believe how many people I've seen that don't have one while I've been sitting in with Aiea young adult librarian Diane Masaki at that table. Kids these days, I tell ya.

Why we do what we do

February 28th, 2015
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It's been said that a picture's worth a thousand words. Many of our Otaku Ohana posts weigh in around a thousand words.

With that in mind, here's today's post: short on actual words, crammed full of picture-words. It's a shot I took at today's Fundraiser for TJ, which I talked about in my last post.

TJ with 501st

That's TJ Fernandez with members of the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Legion. Now, I didn't get a chance to talk to him. Felt too shy about doing that. But I'd like to think that having members of the 501st, as well as the other cosplayers at the event, stop by to say hi helped brighten his day a bit.

And that's what our fandom should be about: finding the little things that make us happy. Enjoying them. And enjoying life.

 

Flash mini con to benefit ailing anime fan

February 26th, 2015
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TJ fundraiser bannerWhenever an event pops up for anime/manga fans, it doesn't spring forth fully formed overnight. It takes a number of people -- staff members, volunteers, vendors, individuals/groups within the fan community -- to make something happen. Sometimes, one has the luxury of having many months to prepare for an event. Other times, one has to turn around an event in a matter of days.

This is a post about the latter kind of event. Last Friday, Kawaii Kon senior administrator Roy Bann sent along word to several groups that there was going to be a fundraiser to help a terminally ill anime fan, Tristan "TJ" Fernandez. The date for the event: this Saturday.

TJ, 14, has an inoperable brain stem tumor. From the Fernandez family's GiveForward page for TJ:

In October 2014, after a checkup with his pediatrician, TJ was rushed to Kapiolani Hospital for Children to undergo an immediate CAT scan. Results showed he had a mass at the base of his brain. The next day, he had an MRI done. Tears flowed as it showed the mass was on his brain stem. The word "inoperable" repeated over and over. No biopsy possible, no removing, no stopping, only slowing it down. TJ went through 30 days of radiation and 10 chemotherapy sessions thereafter. Even after suffering many seizures, a tracheostomy, and enduring countless check ups, he is still braving the pain and continuing to fight.

TJ's only wish was to go home to his room. His parents were finally allowed to do so but along with taking their son home, they also needed to take home all the machines he needs to stabilize his body. They now have the worry of not only their son's health but, the hospital bills, a home care nurse, and all the machines needed for him to remain home.

TJ loves anime; his favorite shows include Terra Formars, Naruto and Bleach. Hospice Hawaii approached Kawaii Kon officials with the idea of hosting event similar to the con's annual Windward Mall Anime Day as a way of raising funds for the family, and the deal was sealed rather quickly.

So here we are: The Fundraiser for TJ Fernandez, an impromptu mini-con on the road to Kawaii Kon in about a month, is happening from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Pearl City High School Cafeteria. Games, entertainment (including music, a dance troupe and taiko drummers), food and giveaways will be the fare for the day. There's also going to be a silent auction, and artists from Comic Jam Hawaii will be there with drawing activities. Cosplayers, as always, are welcome (family-friendly attire, please); there's a group photo shoot scheduled for 1 p.m.

The school is located at 2100 Hookiekie St. in upper Pearl City; here is a handy campus map I took from the PCHS website, to which I added a few annotations. (Click through for a larger version of the map.)

PCHS map revised

I'll probably stop by for a bit; hope to see at least some of you whom I know there. Can't make it? Please consider donating a few dollars to the GiveForward donation drive, which hit its $10,000 goal earlier today but could always use some extra love. Visit www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/5xk7.