Archive for the ‘artsy’ Category

The reign of Hoku Comic Kon Honolulu is nigh

July 22nd, 2015
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CCH logoThe second stop on our yearlong parade of local conventions, Comic Con Honolulu, is coming up on Friday, and ... okay, real talk: Just like how people keep calling the Don Quijote on Kaheka Street "Daiei" or "Holiday Mart," or people in Waipahu still think of the Don Quijote store there as the old GEM store, or a whole bunch of other "Remember when ______ was ______?" conversations that fill #ThrowbackThursday threads on social media every week, a lot of you out there still think of Comic Con Honolulu as Hoku Kon, right? Even though we went over why the name changed earlier this year? It's okay; I find myself switching between the two as well.

Whatever you prefer to call it, the convention launched as the all-the-things offspring of Kawaii Kon is ready to show con-goers what it has to offer. While it may not be as big as Kawaii Kon -- the entire show's only taking up the top floor of the Hawai 'i Convention Center --the enthusiast spirit of the long-running anime convention certainly remains a core element here. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend this year -- we're still working on taming the beast that is our new editorial computer system -- but if I could go, here are what would be some of my highlights.

The Anime portal keyThe intro to Ingress panel! Hear about Niantic's free-to-play massively multiplayer augmented reality game for almost every smartphone out there (sorry, Blackberry and Windows Phone users). Learn about the convoluted back story -- something about a battle for Exotic Matter, aliens that either ought to be welcomed with a platter of cookies or repelled like con attendees who forgot to shower, and a buncha researchers, shadowy types and weird artificial intelligence constructs who have died, shattered into shards and been resurrected more times than the Hawaiian Netmender portal changes hands daily. You can also learn why the Enlightened is awesome (lovely greenish hues over everything; "think green" projects a solid environmental message; noodles) and why the Resistance is … umm … equally awesome (hey, they consistently build my portal at work to level 6-8 with a multihack and heat sink that I quietly hack, happily gearing up to go blow up their portals, links and fields elsewhere, so I'm not complaining).

If you decide to attend and subsequently begin playing, I should note two things. First, apologies in advance for all the free time and gas it ends up sucking up. Second -- and I cannot stress this enough -- please sign up for the Enlightened. You don't know how many times I've talked about these intro to Ingress panels and ended up having readers join ... only for them to become my biggest in-game rivals (*waves at agent ArcturusFlyer*). Sigh. 6:30 p.m. Friday, Panel Room.

Comic Jam Hawaii represents! Some of you may remember the Sketch Improv panel during Kawaii Kon, during which artists from Comic Jam Hawaii improvised sketches based on certain themes and ideas shouted out by the audience. It's where the world first got to see a fire-breathing Slap Chop chicken ...

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... the adventures of a side job-taking samurai ...

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... Winnie the Deadpool ...

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... a Totoro/Fast and Furious mashup ...

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... and, of course, 50 Shades of Totoro.

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Sketch Improv is back for another go-round, this time with a slightly tweaked name (it's Art Improv in your programs now) and a bigger venue (the Main Events room) but likely with the same sketchy hijinks. It should be a fun morning. That's from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday.

memorabilia showcase 1Several Comic Jam artists will be over in Artist Alley as well. Roy Chang, MidWeek cartoonist and Pepe the Chihuahua's kalbi handler, will set up his art board and offer free art portfolio critiques. Jon J. Murakami, Star-Advertiser "Calabash" cartoonist and creator of Gordon Rider, the Ara-Rangers, and Edamame Ninjas, will be selling a number of new items, including prints of his work from Udon's upcoming Capcom Fighting Tribute artbook, original sketches, reusable shopping bags with customized hand-drawn art, and -- assuming the books come back from the printer on time -- Ara-Rangers issue #2. (Hopefully he gets over his cold in time for con, too ... get well soon, Jon!) Kevin Sano and Michael Cannon will each have tables and will be selling prints and original artwork as well. (By the way, to the right, you can see a set of four Minions that Kevin custom-painted in the colors and outfits of various Kikaida characters, which I stuck in my new home office showcase. Clearly I love them. Bonus points to anyone who can identify the other things in the showcase at the moment.) 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Gates McFadden and Edward James Olmos! Not gonna lie; these are the only two guests I recognize straight out without having to resort to Google, one being Dr. Beverly Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the other one being an Academy Award nominee for best actor (Stand and Deliver, 1988). I'm very much a comic/sci-fi blogger in training; heck, when NPR recently released its list of top 100 sci-fi/fantasy books as voted on by listeners, I found I had read ... exactly one of them. (Animal Farm. For school. Great book, A++++++ WOULD READ ORWELL AGAIN.) That's not to say the rest of the guest list, which includes actors Adam Baldwin, Erin Gray, Mira Furlan, Sean Maher and J. August Richards and comic artist Khary Rudolph, is anything to dismiss; it's a respectable roster that any startup convention would love to have.

It should be noted that the autograph policies were released Wednesday afternoon, and for those of you accustomed to lining up for free autographs and photo ops at Kawaii Kon, there's going to be a bit of sticker shock involved -- if you want a complete collection of Year One Comic-Con Honolulu guest autographs, it's going to cost you $290. Olmos is the highest at $60, followed by McFadden at $50; Baldwin, Maher and Richards at $40 each; and Furlan and Gray at $30 each. (Rudolph will offer free autographs all weekend.) Want pictures of your experiences? It's going to cost even more. Welcome to the modern-day convention economy, folks. Strap in your wallets and prepare for the ride.

IMG_8501_editCosplay cosplay cosplay! I'll readily admit cosplay has become the modern-day equivalent of "Hey! Manga's a thing! OMG, girls are reading comics now!" in modern-day con culture, the go-to topic mainstream media chooses whenever they want to talk about all those anime/manga/sci-fi/fantasy/comic book/whatever fans converging on Big Convention Spot for the Weekend. Heck, our paper covered that angle on Sunday (premium content; subscribers, please read that article, Mike Gordon and Jamm Aquino did a good job with the words and pictures, respectively). That said, people love to dress up, and cosplayers of all skill levels will be showing up during the weekend, from average fans all the way up to our most prominent local cosplayers (Uncanny Megan, shown above with tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. at this year's Kawaii Kon! Leah Rose!). For you do-it-yourselfers, I count at least six cosplay-related panels, from Megan and Leah's Cosplay Q&A (10-11 a.m. Saturday, Panel Room) to cosplay photography (3-4 p.m. Friday, Panel Room) and a whole variety of topics in between. And that doesn't even take into account the Cosplay Competition, running from 6-7 p.m. Saturday in Main Events.

Interested in attending? Online registration has ended, but you can buy three-day passes ($55) and single-day passes (Friday, $35; Saturday, $40; Sunday, $30) starting at 9 a.m. Friday on the fourth floor of the convention center. Pre-registered attendees can pick up their passes at the same place starting at 8 a.m. Friday; it's worth noting that unlike Kawaii Kon, passes will not be available for pickup Thursday night.

Want more information? Visit the con site at comicconhonolulu.com. Questions? Lob 'em at the con's Facebook page.

The Summer of Stuff, part 2: Art with heart aplenty

June 19th, 2015
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Welcome back to the Summer of Stuff! In Part 1, I took a quick look at all the movies screening locally in the past few months. Quick addendum: When Marnie Was There will be screening for a second week at the Kahala 8 theaters, with the same schedule as the first week (see my last post for those details). The Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction and I saw the English-subtitled version Wednesday night. I thought it was a film that took a while to set up, but once it hits the major revelation of who Marnie is ... well, as they say on the Intarwebz, wow, all the feels. The Anonymous Director's verdict? "It's nice. Just ... nice."

This is why I'm the long-winded friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning blogger behind the keyboard and the Anonymous Director's the socialite in front of it.

This time around, the Summer of Stuff is taking a look at some of the major otaku art events around town ... and the best part is, all of these events feature free admission. One of the annual highlights for me on the Ota-cool Incoming calendar is the annual art exhibit by MangaBento, the group of anime- and manga-inspired artists that hosts a show in the Honolulu Museum of Art School's second-floor gallery. I've covered it rather extensively for three out of the past four years; here's coverage of 2011's "Kakimochi" (part 1part 2), 2012's "Nakamaboko" (part 1part 2) and 2013's "Tomo-e-Ame" (part 1part 2, part 3). (The coverage of 2014's "Showme," sadly, has fallen down the same black hole as many other things over the past year or so, save for a small cameo in the Best of 2014 post.)

Here, have a shot of the gallery space from last year's exhibit.

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This year's exhibit, bearing the theme "This is Fighting Spirit!" -- inspired by Shonen Jump and shonen manga artwork -- is rapidly approaching. Art submissions are being accepted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St.), room 200. Comic Jam Hawaii will also be hosting a jam around that time, where attendees can draw art for the exhibit or do their own thing. The exhibit itself, being staged in the art school's second-floor gallery, launches with an opening reception and potluck from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, June 28, and will be on display through July 12.

Meanwhile, over at the Honolulu Museum of Art's Spalding House -- once known as the Contemporary Museum for those of you who retain old-school place names like me (see also: "Daiei/Holiday Mart" for Don Quijote, "GEM store" for the Sports Authority on Ward Avenue, "Phase 1/Phase 2" for Uptown/Downtown Pearlridge Center), there's a rather novel exhibit opening in that space starting today and running through June 28. "Contempo #ArtShop" -- yes, with the hashtag; it's what's trending, after all -- features a number of pieces by local and international artists. The twist? If you like what you see, you can just buy it, with prices ranging from $30 to $45,000. Here's the catalog. I'd imagine my readers could probably afford the artwork on the lower end of that scale, but if you can afford the upper end, please contact me. I want to be your friend.

IMG_6232 (1)The exhibit has already garnered a fair amount of press for Saturday's pop-up event featuring artists connected to Giant Robot magazine, but what's relevant to our interests here is that several friends of the blog -- Brady Evans, Tara Tamayori (that's her at right), Audra Furuichi, Rose Dela Cruz and Jaymee Masui -- all have pieces available for sale in this exhibit. In addition, Tara, Audra, Brady and Jaymee will be joining artist Iolani Slate for a special "Manga Market" event from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, with a mini Artist Alley-esque setup in the entrance lanai -- prints, original artwork and other merchandise will be available for sale -- live art demonstrations and a make-and-take art table. If you can't make it on Wednesday, the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday and noon to 4 p.m. June 28.

It's a pretty busy summer for Brady, really, as his work is among pieces featured in "Emergence 2015," an exhibit at Pauahi Tower Artspace (in the second-level lobby of Bishop Square's Pauahi Tower, 101 Bishop St.; here's what the building looks like from Tamarind Park). A number of his digital paintings will be on display for the first time outside of Kawaii Kon, as well as a new drawing he did, "Ghost Plants." That exhibit will be on display through July 17; gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

IMG_8214Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a talk by cartoonist Jon J. Murakami -- Gordon Rider/Edamame Ninjas creator, Star-Advertiser "Calabash" artist, you know the drill -- and Michael Cannon of Comic Jam Hawaii at Kapolei Library at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 27. Jon and Mike will go over the process of creating a mini-comic -- character design basics, layout and story development -- and participants will be given their own materials to create their own comic right there, right then. The library is at 1020 Manawai St.; call 693-7050 if you need any assistance.

[Kawaii Kon 2015] Dawn of a new con era

March 26th, 2015
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Day 0 program and badgeWell, folks, we made it to the fireworks factory. Again. We're standing here on Kawaii Kon Day 0, preregistration and dealer/Artist Alley load-in night, ready for another three-day weekend packed full of cosplay, entertainment, special guests from the animation industry and music world, panels, games and pretty much what you'd imagine otaku heaven to be like without actually moving to Japan itself. And there's your annual look at the convention guide and your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger's press credentials at right.

There's a bit of a different feel to this year, though ... and not just because registration ops has moved to the ground floor, next to the hall with the dealers room and Artist Alley. It's because this year, Kawaii Kon isn't just the big event on the local otaku community calendar, but the first event in a string of big events. As I mentioned in my post introducing Anime Matsuri Hawaii, it's a remarkable time to be a local fan of anime, manga, science fiction and/or comics, with Hoku Kon (July), Amazing Hawaii Comic-Con (September) and Anime Matsuri Hawaii (November) all on deck on Oahu, and HawaiiCon (September) on Hawaii island. I mean, heck, Amazing Hawaii Comic-Con unveiled its first four guests -- living legend Stan Lee and artists George Perez, Mark Kubert and Adam Bagley -- on Wednesday, and the shares pretty much lit up my Facebook feed all day.

But the people still show up at Kawaii Kon. Ohhhhhh, do they ever show up. Here's the sea of otakuness that descended on the convention for preregistration tonight, as seen from the escalators leading to/from the second-floor parking garage.

Day 0 lines

A final number will probably come at closing ceremonies as it has in previous years. By my estimates, though, there are about a bazillion people attending this year. Some of whom are even carting around replica basketball backboards.

Some last-minute notes as we head into this year's event:

  • The policy change that's generated the most social media discussion: For the first time, convention center staff will be checking for con badges on the ground floor, near the escalators to the third floor. That effectively ends the practice of nonpaying attendees lounging around the public areas outside the panel rooms, soaking up the atmosphere and taking pictures of their favorite cosplayers. It also makes complete sense from a security standpoint; as much as we'd like to think that the convention environment is a bubble world that protects us from all the bad things that go on outside, there are trolls out there who just want to come in and disrupt things for their own amusement, Besides, if you really wanted to socialize with your non-con-going friends, there's always Ala Moana Center down the street.
  • The Great Hawaiian Rubber Duckie Race, the annual fundraiser for United Cerebral Palsy of Hawaii that sends a swarm of yellow ducks down the Ala Wai Canal, is happening Saturday. (The ducks launch at 1:28 p.m. from the Kalakaua Avenue bridge, if any of you want to head down from the convention center and watch.) So is the Prince Kuhio Day Parade in Waikiki, traveling down Kalakaua Avenue between Saratoga Road and Kapiolani Park between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Expect heavy traffic congestion if you're aren't already at an area hotel and are going to be driving.
  • Kawaii Kon flyerI'm pleased to note that despite a vehicle plowing into the 7-Eleven at the corner of Atkinson Drive and Kapiolani Boulevard Wednesday evening, the store remains open (albeit a bit boarded up) and ready to sell completely out of all their bentos, nori rolls, musubis, hot dogs and whatever other prepared foods you can think of to hungry, budget-conscious con-goers on all three days. (If you go late, hope you like chewing on breath mints for your dinner!) As a bonus, if you have your badge, go to that store starting at 10 a.m. and are one of the first 200 people to do so on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you'll get a free limited-edition Kawaii Kon lanyard. Look for the flyer in-store that looks like the one at right -- psst, look above the hot-foods warmer! -- and scan the QR code for a chance to win a trip for two to Las Vegas. Winner will be announced at closing ceremonies on Sunday. (Bonus trivia note: The artwork for this flyer was drawn by none other than Jamie Lano. You might have heard of her.) There is also a large Naruto wallscroll hanging over the ice cream freezer, so you know they're into the mood.
  • Buy all the things in Artist Alley. All. The. Things. To go through and list-link everything I've seen crossing my Facebook news feed over the past few days would probably last me well past midnight, and I'd kinda like to get some sleep before stopping in at Jamie's drawing panel around 10 a.m.-ish Friday. Also of note: nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi's limited-edition 10-card set, the "Modern Kitsuke" series (color drawings of girls in kimono) for $25, which 39 of you must go out and buy immediately. Maybe fewer of you, if some of you buy multiples. But the 40th set must be miiiiiiiine.

Time to rest up. See y'all tomorrow for Day 1. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, too (both @jsyadao) for all my spur-of-the-moment updates over the weekend ahead. It's gonna be crazy. But fun! But crazy.

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).

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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.