Archive for the ‘manga’ Category

15 minutes of fame: A chat with "Kubo" director Travis Knight

By
August 26th, 2016



Beetle, Kubo, and Monkey emerge from the forest and take in the beauty of the landscape in "Kubo and the Two Strings." Courtesy Laika Studios/Focus Features.

Beetle, Kubo, and Monkey emerge from the forest and take in the beauty of the landscape in "Kubo and the Two Strings." Courtesy Laika Studios/Focus Features.

It was on my first day back at work after my recent Comic-Con Honolulu vacation that I got the offer from our features editor, Christie Wilson: Would I be interested in doing an interview with Travis Knight, director of Kubo and the Two Strings?

Was I ever.

I mean, it's not every day that your friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning blogger gets handed an opportunity to pick the brain of someone tied in with a major national theatrical release. And not just any someone; this was Travis Knight, CEO of Laika, the stop-motion/computer animation studio behind Coraline, Paranorman and The Boxtrolls, and the son of Nike founder Phil Knight. That's a resume that makes someone a virtual lock on my "people I will talk to no matter what, as long as the offer remains on the table" list.

That "no matter what" clause did come into play a few times. There were a few missed connections, and the publication venue shifted from print to online.  But it finally came to pass that last Thursday -- the morning after I attended the Hawaii premiere of Kubo -- I got to spend 15 minutes on the phone with Knight himself. And ... wow. If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be talking about manga and Japanese culture with an animation studio CEO and director of what would turn out to be the No. 4 movie in the nation at the weekend box office, younger me probably would have freaked the freak out. 

Kubo's certainly a great movie over which to start a conversation. The titular character is a boy who spends his days as a storyteller in a Japanese fishing village, crafting fantastic tales and enlivening origami pieces with his trusty shamisen, and his nights atop a peak, caring for his ailing mom who slips in and out of a trance that seems to be tied in to the rising and setting moon. When Kubo accidentally unleashes a vengeful spirit upon the village, it's up to the boy, a monkey charm brought to life and a quixotic insect samurai to take it out ... and perhaps solve the mystery of what happened to his fallen father along the way. It's the best movie I've seen this year to date, full of Laika's trademark eye-popping animated charm (be sure to stick around for the end credits for a cool behind-the-scenes shot!) and if you haven't seen it yet, you should correct that as soon as possible.

The film marks Knight's debut as director, the natural next stop in a 20-year career in animation that's seen him serve as a production assistant, scheduler, coordinator and producer, taking ideas from conception and development all the way through completion; work as a stop-motion and computer animator; and run a major animation studio. During that time, there was always a part of him that wanted to direct a feature -- "I think it’s sort of a cliche that every animator wants to direct something, and so I guess I am a cliche," he said.

It was just a matter of timing.

"Those early days at Laika, we were trying to get the place up and running, so a lot of the energy early on was just making sure that the place could function," Knight said. "So I’ve been involved heavily on every single film that we’ve done. But once I felt like a) the company was in decent shape, and b) I’d have enough experience that I could bring to bear to direct one of these things properly, and c) that I had enough of an emotional connection with it, that I could honor the story in the best way and bring a unique point of view and perspective to it, all of those things had to align before I was ready to take something on. And on this project, it did."

"Kubo and the Two Strings" director Travis Knight works with Kubo on the "Kubo's Village" set. Courtesy Laika Studios/Focus Features.

"Kubo and the Two Strings" director Travis Knight works with Kubo on the "Kubo's Village" set. Courtesy Laika Studios/Focus Features.

The project featured the convergence of several factors. Directing drew upon every experience Knight had in the industry to date -- "It required an animator’s eye for detail and attention, the ability to focus on the granularity of something," he said. "But at the same time, to not lose sight of the bigger picture." (Even with that, it was the hardest thing he had done in his career, he said.) The story of Kubo's epic journey is a callback to the kinds of fantasy epics Knight enjoyed during his childhood. Sometimes his mom told him those stories, like Kubo's mom shares with her son in the movie. They were tales woven by legends of the genre -- L. Frank Baum, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll. J.R.R. Tolkien was a particular favorite, perhaps owing to the fact that Knight's mom was reading Lord of the Rings while pregnant with him and during postpartum recovery.

And then there was the Japan factor. When Knight was 8, his dad let him tag along with him on one of his business trips there. For a kid who'd grown up in Portland, Ore., going to Japan was a life-changing experience.

"From the moment I set foot in Japan, it really was like I’d been transported to another world," Knight said. "It was so incredibly different, but also just beautiful and breathtaking and almost otherworldly. It was so completely unlike anything I had ever experienced growing up in Portland, everything from the food to the style of dress to the music and the architecture and the art and the movies and the TV shows and the comic books. Everything about it was so totally different from anything I had ever seen before, and I was enthralled by it.

"It really was a revelation for me, and I came back home with a backpack full of manga and art and little artifacts from my journey in Japan, and it really was the beginning of a lifetime love affair that I’ve had with this great and beautiful culture."

Kubo’s story brings magic to life as Little Hanzo, an enchanted origami piece, takes center stage. Courtesy Laika Studios/Focus Features

Kubo’s story brings magic to life as Little Hanzo, an enchanted origami piece, takes center stage. Courtesy Laika Studios/Focus Features

Knight cited the samurai-and-son epic Lone Wolf and Cub and the missions taken on by the titular stoic assassin of Golgo 13 as two series that made an impression on him, the former having a huge influence on Kubo's development. Having grown up on a steady diet of American and British comics, the artistic and storytelling style of manga appealed to him, even if it was all in Japanese and widespread American familiarity with manga's right-to-left, back-to-front format was still more than a decade away at that point.

"I think that’s the mark of how extraordinary these storytellers were that it transcended language," he said. "It was something that could speak to you, even if you couldn’t speak the actual language."

The work of two of Japan's most revered filmmakers, Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki, also helped shape Kubo. Knight sees Japan as the birthplace of the modern cinematic epic, with Kurosawa -- a "pictorial Shakespeare," as labeled by Steven Spielberg and affirmed by Knight -- being the director who led the way.

"He was certainly an aesthetic muse for the film, just in terms of how he made films -- composition, cutting, lighting, movement, staging," Knight said. "You could basically take any frame of a Kurosawa film and put it on a wall, I mean, it’s that gorgeous. They look like paintings. I don’t think there’s a filmmaker alive that hasn’t been directly or indirectly influenced by Kurosawa. I mean, you could just look at all of the things … Yojimbo was a huge influence. I mean, I saw Sergio Leone’s Fistful of Dollars and loved it before I even knew that Yojimbo existed. But then of course you find out later that it’s a remake of a Kurosawa film, as so many Western films are."

There are a number of nods to the director's work throughout Kubo. Kubo's dad is modeled after frequent Kurosawa muse Toshiro Mifune, and Kubo's broken home is a callback to the ruined fortress in Rashomon. Several themes that ran through Kurosawa's films are also explored here -- "the exploration of humanism, of existentialism, the role of the ideal, what it means to be a family, what it means to stand up to family sometimes to make the world a better place," as Knight put it.

As for Miyazaki?

"I think that most modern animators ... worship at the altar of Miyazaki," Knight said. "I mean, I love his films, they’re just exquisite. Everything from My Neighbor Totoro to Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service. I mean, they’re all just lovely films that are so different from each other."

Knight applied two elements common in Miyazaki's films to Kubo. The first features characters that act in shades of gray rather than black and white. Anyone who's seen the movie might be nodding in agreement here over the character arcs, particularly when it comes to Kubo's scene in the graveyard and the moment when the Moon King reveals his motivations.

"I love how Miyazaki approaches films and protagonists and antagonists where there are shades of gray all throughout his filmmaking," Knight said. "Even the villains are not pure evil; oftentimes they’re misunderstood or they have a different perspective or they have shades of light within them. And then the heroes are not completely noble; they have problems of their own. I just love that approach, that there’s empathy toward people who may be misunderstood."

Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson from "Game of Thrones") takes in the scenery below as he sets off on a journey to his village. Courtesy Laika Studios/Focus Features.

Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson from "Game of Thrones") takes in the scenery below as he sets off on a journey to his village. Courtesy Laika Studios/Focus Features.

Those characters dwell in a Japan that certainly feels like Japan, even if it's not a direct reflection of any one time in particular. Knight compared it to Miyazaki's fascination for Europe and how it's depicted in his movies, rendering the continent more as an impressionist painting rather than a photograph or a documentary.

"Our version of Japan, it’s a period fantasy, it’s not a photograph," Knight said. "Even though we do incredible, extensive research into regional and historical history, it is a period fantasy. But we want to make sure that our fairy tale has one foot in the real world.

"And so, very much like Miyazaki is, the prism he applies to Europe, that’s what I wanted to do to Japan, is to effectively make an impressionist painting of Japan so that we can capture the feeling, the experience that I had when I was a kid exposed to Japan for the first time, this wondrous, beautiful, magical, breathtaking place. I wanted to try to infuse the film with that kind of spirit, and hopefully it does that."

So as we head into the movie's second weekend in theaters, why see Kubo (which I'd highly recommend you do) or see it again (which I'd highly recommend you do as well)? It's hard for me to summarize it without leaving something out, so here's his complete response:

"On one level I think it operates as just a big, sprawling epic fantasy. It’s a lot of fun, there’s action, there’s adventure, there’s humor, there’s heart. I think what I love about the movie more than the beauty of the images is what’s underneath it. I mean, it is cinematic pageantry, there’s a lot of glorious things to the whole, it does dazzle the eye. But I love the strong beating heart that it has underneath it all. That really gets to the core issue and the core themes that we explore in the movie. Fundamentally it’s a film about loss, it’s about grief. It’s about things that are typically shied away from in films geared toward family, how we confront and deal with significant loss and death and what grief can do to us.

"But at the same time it’s also a film about healing. I mean, we explore this, we have this motif of scars in this movie, where every single central character in the film is physically scarred in one way and emotionally scarred as well. And you know for Kubo, he’s ashamed of his scar. He combs his hair not because he’s trying to be a cool goth kid, he covers his eye not because he wants to have an awesome hairstyle, but because he’s ashamed of what his hair is covering. And he believes like so many of us believe, that a scar is a symbol of injury. But as we go through the film, we also get to this other notion,  come through the other side, that while a scar is a symbol of hurt, it’s also a symbol of healing, after we’ve been ripped to shreds, the scar is something that makes us whole. So by the end of the film, he’s no longer ashamed. He’s an open wound who’s been made whole by this whole experience.

"So fundamentally it’s an exploration of loss, but also of healing. It’s a meditation on compassion and forgiveness and empathy, which I think in this fractured world that we live in, we could all use a bit more of."

kubo5

And that was where our conversation ended ... or at least it would have been, had the studio's PR rep not mentioned that I had time for one last question. So I asked him: "You have the opportunity to sit down with Kurosawa and Miyazaki and talk to them about whatever you want. What do you talk about?"

Knight paused for a moment.

"Oh my goodness," he said. "I don’t even know if I can answer that! I mean, where to begin? They tell you never meet your heroes, never meet your idols, that you’ll be disappointed."

He went on to say that he'd been fortunate enough to have the opposite experience in working on Coraline with two people he admired: author Neil Gaiman -- "a master and a genius who just oozes genius out of his pores" -- and director Henry Selick, who also directed The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach.

"But that was a working relationship," Knight said. "If I met them as a fanboy for the first time, I would probably be stricken and not be able to say a word. I don’t know … I really don’t know how to answer that question. I wish I had a clever, quippy response, but it’s … when you’ve admired someone’s work for so long and you’ve been drinking it your entire life, the notion of being in the same room and talking with those guys, I don’t even know where I’d begin."

And that was my conversation with Travis Knight. Looking back on the experience a week later, I'd have to say I felt like he would in meeting his filmmaking idols -- total fanboyish glee threatening to turn me into a blubbering pile of squee-ing goo. Throughout this writing cycle, I felt a sense of "OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD ... OK, let's get to work ... OK, interview's done OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD." I hope this post captured the essence of what was really an enlightening chat with him.

Oh yeah, and go see Kubo and the Two Strings. Sometime. Definitely.

The Great Otaku Calendar of All the Things, June edition

By
June 10th, 2016



Before I get too far into this month's event roundup, a quick shout-out is in order to Joelle Lee and the rest of her Moanalua High School team -- mentioned in this space last month -- which made it to the finals of the Vans Custom Culture contest. While they didn't take home the $50,000 top prize for their school's art program, they did earn a $4,000 runner-up prize, as well as an additional $15,000 for being chosen as the Journeys "Local Attitude" award winner. Nice job, everyone!

OK! Let's take a look at what's coming up for the rest of this month:

Fighting Spirit 2015

MangaBento presents "MaidenCraft": It's the sixth eighth annual show -- one at the former Contemporary Museum, seven at the current Honolulu Museum of Art School location! -- by the group of anime- and manga-inspired artists. Some of the young artists who had pieces in the first few shows have gone on to nice professional careers elsewhere. MAN, I feel old. But I digress. Last year's show, "This is Fighting Spirit" (part of the layout of which is shown above), featured a number of pieces focused on a shonen (boys' manga) theme; it's the girls' turn with this year's show, "MaidenCraft." Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St.), second-floor gallery. Opening reception, 2-4 p.m. Sunday; show runs through June 24.

Friends of the Library of Hawaii 69th Annual Book Sale: Lovers of print media, this is your sale. (Not just books, too; there are CDs, DVDs and even artwork available.) Lovers of comics and manga, this is even more your sale this year, as one of the big promo points is a larger inventory of comics and manga, priced at the holy-cats-that's-really-low price of $1 each. There are also more cookbooks than usual, which means that if you stick my mom and I in there on the first day, we may not emerge until the last day. Heck, we may have to empty our bookshelves now so that we can fill them back up again. Free. McKinley High School cafeteria (1039 S. King St.), June 18-26.

hello kitty truck

Hello Kitty food truck in Honolulu: Sanrio may be getting more in tune with the real world's jaded/bitter tone -- consider their last two most notable characters have been Gudetama the unmotivated egg and Aggressive Retsuko, the harried red panda office lady who blows off steam with death metal karaoke -- but at least they'll always have their iconic cat-who's-not-a-cat, Hello Kitty, as the face of their company. To that end, there's been a Hello Kitty food truck touring the country, selling mini cakes, cookie sets, macarons and exclusive merchandise at every stop. This month, it's Hawaii's turn, so the truck's (presumably) hopping on a boat and floating on over here to spread its special brand of happiness. In front of the Sanrio Store at Ala Moana Center, June 17-19.

Neko Cafe: If you like your cats to be shorter than five apples tall and less cartoon-like, Mori by Art+Flea will be the place to visit for Hawaii's first cat cafe.  You know those places in Japan where you can stop off for a cup of coffee with a side of cuddles with feline friends? Same concept. Morning Glass Coffee will be providing the noms and drinks for both humans and animals, the Hawaiian Humane Society will be providing the cats -- all of which will be up for adoption, by the way, in case any of them capture your heart and refuses to let go -- and several artists from the Art+Flea community will be selling cat-inspired works. Ward Warehouse, 1050 Ala Moana Blvd., unit 1550, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. June 25.

Aiea Library Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Anime Club: Every month, I joke with young adult librarian Diane Masaki that she ought to change the name of the Anime Club to the Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Club, seeing as how the screening schedule for the past few months has consistently been two episodes of the 2012-2013 anime followed by two more episodes of something else. (June's "friends" remain the ship-gals of KanColle.) It hasn't happened yet. And it probably never will, now that she's running out of Polar Bear episodes. Sigh. At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where, yes, there's still plenty of parking. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. June 25.

Comic book Christmas has arrived anew

By
May 5th, 2016



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Congratulations, dear otaku! You've managed to survive the first four months of the year. Here, have some cookies ... err, comics.

Indeed, with all that's been happening in the real world and its cascade of bad news, we've made it to the annual national celebration of comic book culture, Free Comic Book Day. On Saturday, various comic shops and libraries will be giving away a wide range of comic books. Some will even be hosting special events. It's a tradition that's run annually since 2002, and while some of the stores locally have changed over the years, the concept remains the same: give away comic books; expose readers to a wide range of series; get people into stores to peruse what's available. Put another way, it's like a comic Christmas.

The books this year run the gamut from summer blockbuster source material (Avengers, Suicide Squad, Captain America) to pop culture icons (Archie, Doctor Who, Strawberry Shortcake, Sonic the Hedgehog) to cool little niche titles that you might not recognize now but might just end up being the next series that you slavishly follow every month. Manga fans, the books you'll want to look for are Kodansha Comics' Attack on Titan Anthology preview and a pair from Viz, Pokemon Pocket Comics and the One-Punch Man/My Hero Academia combo sampler. You can find a complete list of what's available here; just remember that the sites celebrating Free Comic Book Day rarely, if ever, have every book in stock. Don't forget to patronize your local stores and stick a few dollars in their cash registers, too; while the books are free to readers, they aren't for the stores.

So where can you go? With six stores and 14 libraries on Oahu and a smattering of locations on the neighbor islands, you certainly have options this year.

Comic book stores

The biggest celebration in the state looks to be at Other Realms (1130 Nimitz Highway, suite C-140) in Iwilei, with cosplayers, gifts for children in cosplay, discounts, door prizes and a FCBD Spongebob Squarepants pin for the first 100 customers. Special guests include Free Isabelo, founder of Live Free Die Free (LFDF) Comics and creator of The Contraptor; Gary Turner, a local TV commercial producer and creator of I, Mage; and the creative team behind Kipaku Kai. Midweek cartoonist, Cacy & Kiara creator and Pepe the Chihuahua kalbi wrangler Roy Chang's also going to be there, drawing caricatures of people as Funko Pop figures. You know, kind of like this.

roy chang funkofied drawings

... and yes, that is your friendly neighborhood otaku blogger in the upper left corner with a convention badge, funny cosplay hat and phone running Ingress at the ready. I love it.

Dragon's Lair (95-1840 Meheula Parkway, suite E-10) in Mililani will be hosting artists Jon Murakami, Michael Cannon and Reid Kishimoto, who'll be doing sketches throughout the day and handing out bookmarks drawn by Comic Jam Hawaii members. I don't think I've ever spotlighted Reid's artwork in this space before, so here, have some Disney Princess bookmark samples drawn by him.

fcbd bookmarks

Over on Hawaii island, Enjoy Comics (45-201 Pohaku St.) is teaming up with Hilo Public Library and using the day as an opportunity to promote literacy through comics. Comics will be available at the store and at the library, and the library has a special display showcasing local and national comics that will be up all month.

Also giving out comics: Choice Comics (98-1268 Kaahumanu St., suite 104) in Pearl City; Westside Comics and Games (590 Farrington Highway, #538) in Kapolei; and Collector Maniacs (3571 Waialae Ave., suite 102A) and Gecko Books (1151 12th Ave.), both in Kaimuki. Maui readers can visit Maui Comics & Collectibles (333 Dairy Road, suite 102) in Kahului.

FCBD 2015

Various cosplayers and one Face of Hawaii Ingress (tm) gather for a picture at Free Comic Book Day 2015 at Aiea Library. Photo by Jason S. Yadao.

Libraries

If getting to a comic book store is too much of a haul for you, your neighborhood library might be able to help. Participating libraries include Aiea, Aina Haina, Hawaii Kai, Kailua, Kalihi-Palama, Kapolei, Manoa, McCully-Moiliili, Mililani, Salt Lake-Moanalua, Waianae, Waikiki-Kapahulu, Waimanalo and Waipahu on Oahu; Princeville on Kauai; Kahului, Kihei, Lahaina and Makawao on Maui; the Lanai Library booth at the Saturday Market in Dole Park on Lanai; and Hilo, Kona and Thelma Parker on Hawaii island.

The libraries will have Comic Jam Hawaii bookmarks, and they'll have a selection of the following comics:

  • Archie #1
  • Assassin's Creed
  • Avengers #1
  • Bongo Comics Free-For-All (Simpsons)
  • Boom! Studios Summer Blast (featuring Mouse Guard, Adventure Time and Lumberjanes)
  • Captain America #1
  • Dark Horse All-Ages Sampler (featuring The Legend of Korra, How to Train Your Dragon and Plants vs. Zombies)
  • Suicide Squad #1
  • DC Super Hero Girls
  • Doctor Who: Four Doctors Special
  • Grumpy Cat
  • Pokemon Pocket Comics
  • Dark Horse Serenity/Hellboy/Aliens
  • Spongebob Freestyle Funnies
  • Strawberry Shortcake #0

In addition, cosplayers from the 501st Imperial Legion, Rebel Legion Hawaii and Hawaii Cosplayers Guild will be showing up at Aiea, Aina Haina, Kapolei, Manoa, Mililani, Salt Lake-Moanalua, Waikiki-Kapahulu, and Waipahu libraries on Oahu, Makawao on Maui and Thelma Parker on Hawaii island. Lawrence Muleh, a Maui teacher, artist, illustrator, creator, and children's book author, will be teaching a drawing workshop at Makawao Library at 2 p.m. But the luckiest library in the state has to be Kihei, who'll be hosting comic artist James Silvani from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Among his credits: artwork on Darkwing Duck and Animaniacs comics. Seeing as how those are two of my favorite series ever, I am so jealous of you right now, people of Kihei.

Ota-cool incoming: Sale-abrate good times, come on!

By
February 17th, 2016



If someone were to write a book about local otaku culture -- don't look at me; I've already written my one book of a lifetime, and I doubt I'll ever have enough free time to properly update that one, never mind writing another one -- one of the chapters would have to be about how we manage to accumulate so much stuff. Plushies, figures, statues, toys, video games, assorted show merchandise, books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays -- you name it, we all have some sort of stash stored somewhere. Some of you may be sighing over how you have waaaaaaay too much; others may be lamenting about how you don't have enough. For those of you in the never-ending pursuit of managing and accumulating more stuff, these next two weekends -- along with the ongoing 20%-off sale at Book Off Ala Moana that I talked about in my last post -- offer several chances to score some sweet bargains.

One sale is part of the 26th Annual Hawaii Collectors Expo, happening Friday through Sunday at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. Saturday (from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) are what matter for our discussion, as that will be when a bunch of people like tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I will be selling off surplus parts of their collections at ... well, depending on where you go, it's either the Anime Swap Meet or the All-Genre Swap Meet, presented by Kawaii Kon and Comic-Con Honolulu, respectively. And when I say "a bunch of people like us," I really do mean to say that in the interest of full journalistic disclosure, Wilma and I have purchased a space where we will be selling things. Here is a preview of my stuff.

Jason's ASM things

And here is Wilma's.

Wilma's ASM things

... she always was more organized than me. (You can probably expect many more DVDs and even a few Blu-rays from me, for starters.)

Want to join us in selling? As far as I know, there are a few spaces remaining. One 5-square-foot space costs $25, with a maximum of two spaces shared by two people; the cost remains the same regardless of whether you apply to sell for one or both days, so if you can spare an entire weekend, by all means do so. Deadline for applying is midnight Thursday, check out the rules and apply at kawaiikon.com/anime-swap-meet/ or comicconhonolulu.com/all-genre-swap-meet-feb-20-21-2016.

If you're in the market for buying, we love you! Please buy our stuff. (And everybody else's, too, of course.) Kawaii Kon representatives will be on hand to sell three-day general-admission passes to this year's show for $50 -- $5 off the current online price! Keep in mind that admission to the Collectors Expo is $5, but if you present your badge from last year's Kawaii Kon or Comic Con Honolulu at the box office, the cost drops to nothing.

The other sale worth noting here is the Nerds' Garage Sale, which has proven to be the hottest ticket in town for sellers in recent weeks. (For the record, there is no more space for sellers, so stop asking on the Facebook page already.) Organized by cosplayer extraordinare Leah Rose, the sale will feature about a dozen self-described "cosplay nerds" selling off their extra supplies, costumes and other things. You can also check out Other Realms' sizable collection of comics, games and other happy nerdy collectibles for sale as well. That's happening from 3 to 7 p.m. Feb. 27 at the store, which is at 1130 N. Nimitz Highway, suite C-140. (It's actually not visible from the highway; you have to go behind the buildings with New Eagle Cafe on one end and AAA Hawaii on the other end to find it.)

Elsewhere around town

Aiea Library Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Anime Club: Every month, I joke with young adult librarian Diane Masaki that she ought to change the name of the Anime Club to the Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Club, seeing as how the screening schedule for the past few months has consistently been two episodes of the 2012-2013 anime followed by two more episodes of something else. (This month's "friends" are the ship-gals of KanColle.) This month didn't garner much of a reaction, probably because Diane, the Face of Hawaii Ingress (tm) that she is, is really really close to becoming a max-Level 16 agent. The friendly neighborhood anime/manga/cartooning blogger in me is cheering her on, while the Enlightened side of me wants to put AXA Shields on every portal in Pearl City and Aiea. But I digress. At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where, yes, there's still plenty of parking. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.

Mori & Steam

Mori & Steam: Steampunk Family Sunday: If you haven't had a chance to check out the "Harajuku: Japanese Street Fashion" exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art yet, by all means try to stop by before it closes April 3; it's a fascinating snapshot of contemporary Japanese fashion trends. And with the museum's Family Sunday coming up, you can swing by to see it absolutely free, and enjoy some activities and entertainment, to boot. Kids can make a set of steampunk goggles at one station, at another, visitors can make their own Harajuku- or steampunk-inspired pins. Roy Chang, MidWeek cartoonist, Cacy & Kiara author and Pepe the Chihuahua's kalbi feeder, will be doing live sketches of Harajuku fashion models from noon to 3 p.m., and featured bands include Hook + Line and Gypsy 808. There also will be a complimentary shuttle running between the museum and Spalding House, so you can check out the exhibits at both locations. Oh hey, and before or after you go, perhaps you might like to visit a certain Collectors Expo with an Anime/All-Genre Swap Meet going on down the street? *hint hint* *wink nudge* The museum's at 900 S. Beretania St. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Kawaii Kon Karaoke Competition preliminary round #2: So you think you can sing, and you're planning to go to Kawaii Kon this year? Give the annual Karaoke Competition a try. This year, the preliminary rounds will be held at Nocturna Lounge, the video game/karaoke bar just downstairs from our editorial/advertising offices here at Waterfront Plaza/Restaurant Row. Top three singers from each preliminary round move on to the semifinals at the convention itself. The fun starts at 3 p.m. Sunday; full details on what you need to do to prepare are available at kawaiikon.com/events/karaoke-kompetition/

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center; locations within the mall may vary. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Book Off moving out of Ala Moana

By
February 13th, 2016



This year has already proven to be one of upheaval in the local used-book/movie/music market. It was just about a month ago that I was talking about Jelly's Aiea closing; turns out that when the Aiea store closed, the Kakaako Jelly's immediately renamed itself Idea's Music and Books, relegating the "Jelly's" name to the bargain bins of history.

And now, our attention must turn to Book Off, tucked away in the back corner of the first level of Shirokiya at Ala Moana. Back when Shirokiya announced last year that it was going to be moving into a new $35 million Japan Village Walk in the shopping center's Ewa wing, two thoughts came to mind:

>> "Yay! There's going to be more room for all those cramped food stalls to breathe! And more space to sit (in theory, although it'll probably always be full, *sob*)!"

>> "...wait, but what's going to happen to Book Off? Is the Pearlridge one going to be all that's left? What about all those lovely import Japanese manga, DVDs and games? OH NOOOOOO"

We're coming up on the targeted June 1 opening date for the Japan Village Walk. And thanks to a tip Saturday afternoon from Facebook friend Kele Miranda, I now know what's happening to Book Off Ala Moana.

bookoff

They're leaving Ala Moana.

But before you go into mourning and/or load up everything you can carry to sell it back to them before they stop accepting items, you should know the bright side to this story: They're not disappearing from the local scene completely. They're just moving a few blocks up to the Don Quijote on Kaheka Street. Opening day is April 1 (no fooling!).

So consider Book Off's final sale at its old location more of a "see you later" statement than "goodbye forever." It's still pretty good, though: 20 percent off almost anything in their section. Brand-new electronics and iPads are excluded from the sale, but pretty much everything else is fair game. Heck, I picked up an Xbox One -- the spiffy 1 TB Elite edition, no less! -- for under $290 after discounts immediately after I heard about the sale.

Indeed, there are bargains to be had. There will be a better selection the earlier you go, of course. Just keep in mind the various closing dates: The book section closes March 10 (which will be your last chance to sell anything back at that location), while the media section (with music, movies and games) shuts down on March 25. Get your used anime, manga and other goodies at cheaper prices while you can.

Book Off's hours are 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday; call 952-9115.

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