Category Archives: anime

Taku Taku Matsuri hopes for a Kickstart

One of the breakthrough otaku-targeted events last year was the Taku Taku Matsuri's natsu matsuri, or summer festival, where about 300 people showed up at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu on a sunny Sunday in August to cosplay, play games, buy Japanese-themed merchandise and food from a number of vendors, enjoy entertainment and just have a fun time overall. As I wrote last year, organizer Yuka C. Nagaoka started Taku Taku Matsuri to give local fans of anime and manga culture another venue where they could gather, similar to the events she took part in growing up in Japan.

In looking through my records, it seems that I failed to post a gallery of highlights from last year's festivities, so let's correct that now, shall we?

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taku taku matsuri logoThis year, Taku Taku Matsuri is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 9 (it's on Primary Election Day, so don't forget to vote before you go, or at least pull an absentee ballot!). It promises to be bigger -- a one-day mini-anime con of sorts being held at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii's Manoa Grand Ballroom, with a Star Trek-themed cafe, video game tournaments, a dance party featuring DJ E2D, and special guest Kyle Hebert. Yes, that Kyle Hebert, last here in the islands for HEXXP in 2011, a voice actor best known for his roles as Kiba in Naruto, Kamina in Gurren Lagann, the older version of Gohan in Dragon Ball Z and Ryu in the newer Street Fighter games. Of course, all the accoutrements from last year's event will be back as well.

With a bigger venue and more activities come higher costs. While last year's event featured free admission, there will be an admission fee charged at this year's event. Yuka told me that without any sponsors, she has to pay for everything out of pocket ... and those costs add up pretty quickly.

And that's where the Second Annual Taku Taku Matsuri Kickstarter comes in. Launched about a week and a half ago, the campaign has to date raised $130 ... a decent amount, but there's a good amount of work that needs to be done to reach the goal of $2,000 by June 7. The pledge tiers are simple enough that I can actually include them here on the blog for once:

  • A pledge of $10 and up gets you a ticket at the lowest preregistration price available. (Preregistration tickets outside of the Kickstarter campaign will be $13, while the at-the-door cost will be $15.)
  • A pledge of $25 and up gets you a ticket and a special Taku Taku Matsuri T-shirt.
  • The top tier, at $100 and up, nets you not only a ticket and a shirt, but also an invitation to a special meal (time/place to be determined) with Kyle Hebert the next day, Aug. 10. There are only 10 slots available for that perk, though, so you'll want to jump on that sooner rather than later if you're interested in that.

Of course, you could also throw a few bucks in the campaign's direction even if you can't make it, just as a way of showing your support for events like these in our community.

The thing about Kickstarter is that unless you have the built-in draw of being a known commodity like the Rifftrax trio or can go viral with a clever idea like this guy who's simply printing shirts with his final Kickstarter stats on it, it's so tricky to find enough people who believe in what you're selling to sign on. In the past few years, I've covered successful campaigns and not-so-successful ones in this space. As I understand it, the fate of whether this event takes place as planned depends on how this campaign does; here's hoping this one turns out to be a success story.

If you want to keep tabs on the Kickstarter campaign, visit ow.ly/wUtKl; general news about all things Taku Taku Matsuri can be found at www.facebook.com/taku2matsuri (Facebook login not required). Also, if you're interested in being a vendor or exhibiting artist at the event, email taku2matsuri at yahoo dot com, and Yuka will be happy to help set that up.

Ota-cool incoming!

"Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii": The Brady Evans-curated exhibit is back, this time at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii's Community Gallery. Here's my post about the exhibit. From 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Patsy Iwasaki and Avery Berido, the team behind Hamakua Hero, will be speaking; that'll be followed next Saturday by a talk by Journey of Heroes author Stacey Hayashi at the same time, while the Comic Jam Hawaii artists will be hanging out from 1 to 3 p.m. May 31. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; admission is free. Visit hawaiimanga.com. Exhibit on display through June 7.

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.

MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists usually meets every second and fourth Sunday of the month at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St., room 200). Visit www.manga-bento.com. Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. May 25.

Oni-Con Hawaii: The discussion continues

Imagine, if you will, EVERYTHING you see on this table, PLUS a good stack of Final Fantasy 14 posters and Tak Sakaguchi autographed photos, raffled off one at a time. That was 90% of closing ceremonies, folks.I'm amazed by and pleased with how much discussion my last post on the vague future of Oni-Con Hawaii generated, particularly on Facebook. It's not often that I get feedback on what I've written other than Facebook "likes" and that little widget below the post headline that shows how many times it's been shared, so it's nice knowing that there are people out there who are still checking out this humble corner of the Star-Advertiser online network.

I can't help but think that it also inspired this official statement, posted to the OCH Facebook page around 10:30 p.m. Friday:

We’re glad to see, from recent Facebook and media posts, that you’re so anxious to see what Oni Con Hawaii II has in store for y’all and that you’re eagerly awaiting the date and venue to be announced. And, while we are honored that so many of you have expectations of us that one would usually expect of a 10+ year convention, please remember that this is still only our second year. Nonetheless, we will always strive to bring you the best convention with “A” List guests, more vendors and artists, and entertaining events. Our goal is to keep growing and improving, each year. We're learning how things work in Hawaii and hope you’ll be there with us, for the journey.

We did suffer some unexpected changes, early on and that set us back a bit, so we are having make up some ground, but we should have some very interesting announcements, soon. We know you all deserve better, so although we could cut corners and get some things out faster, we’d rather take the time and do things right. We owe you that. Among the changes we’re excited about is a brand new website with a much better registration system. It’s still under construction, so please follow us for updates on Facebook and Twitter. The activity will be picking up, fairly soon.

We truly appreciate your patience and hope you’ll agree it was worth the wait!

A few thoughts:

  • Okay, so let's keep our expectations in check. It's a valid point: OCH in year two shouldn't be compared with present-day Kawaii Kon, with the latter having recently held its 10th annual show. But consider this: Kawaii Kon in year two was much further along than OCH is now, given the same six-month time frame. The first Kawaii Kon was held on April 22-24, 2005. I reported specifics on the second Kawaii Kon in Cel Shaded six months later, including the venue (the Ala Moana Hotel, and more of it!) and some guests (Robert and Emily DeJesus! Vic Mignogna! Stan Sakai! Jennifer Sekiguchi! David Williams!). And that event was held on April 14-16, 2006.
  • Last week's statement noted that the venue and date would be narrowed down "by the end of next week." This week's statement went back to using the term "soon."
  • I still have yet to be contacted directly by whoever has been posting these statements. I don't think I'm that hard to get a hold of; anyone can comment on these posts, and you don't even have to be a Star-Advertiser subscriber to do so. (Believe me, I have to clean the spam filter regularly to purge dozens of bot comments offering cheap designer-label apparel and health "supplements.") I'm on Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram, too. Swing by sometime. Let's chat. I won't bite.

The statement's already generated its fair share of comments, but I think the one that nailed some of the sentiment out there was posted by user Ming Chi, who ... well, here's the post:

If we want to be more involved, with some of the initial planning, volunteer recruitment and training, and helping Onicon move forward, what exactly would we need to do? I attended as an Artist Alley vendor last year and thought, over all, it was a good experience for my crew and I. However, there did seem to be some miscommunication initially (e.g. I was e-mailed information that became outdated and was updated on Facebook, which I did not know existed at the time), and the conference staff seemed very confused at points with little or no answers as to the overall leadership of the con.

Amanda Maguire brings up a good point, who was running the convention? Folks from Hawaii or folks from Texas? What happened to some of the Hawaii leadership last year? Some of the volunteers seemed very miffed by the whole experience and thought Onicon was not coming back.

Likewise, at least one local gaming/comic store was really put off by their experience at Onicon last year. Instead of staying all three days, they packed up Saturday night and called it quits. Damaging the relationship with a local store probably did not do well for Onicon's reputation here in Hawaii.

It was unfortunate that Hexx-Con disbanded. There were issues there that were not handled in time, and it was starting to bud as a promising con. I do know folks are planning Hawaii Con around the same time, but unfortunately, it's held on the Big Island (Hawaii, not Oahu), and seems to be geared more for mainland/continental attendees as opposed to locals. It is quite cost prohibitive, especially for the younger folks here locally.

I'm commenting here because I do believe that folks in Hawaii would love to have another anime/sci-fi/nerdy/geeky con run tandem of Kawaii Kon annually. Where as Hexx-Con once existed, and Hawaii Con is probably too cost prohibitive for folks on Oahu, Onicon had a good fit when it was hosted last year (although Halloween might not have been the best weekend for it). I want something better, as with many others that are posting. We are concerned based on what we experienced and heard. And we would like to improve on that.

And thus, I am wondering in what ways can we help, and have possible input into Onicon here in Hawaii.

I'm interested in seeing if any of this generates another official response. Let's keep the conversation going, folks.

The search for clarity amid Oni-Confusion

The last time I wrote anything about Oni-Con Hawaii (OCH) in this space, I was stressing the importance of communication for the fledgling anime convention, particularly for the people who believed in it enough to buy into this.

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That was more than six months ago. The fact that I'm addressing this here for the first time since then ought to say a fair amount about how much the story has advanced: not much at all.

onicon screenshotSee, after the end of last year's event, OCH just kind of ... disappeared. The website became a single placeholder page (seen at right) that has offered the same message: "A very heartfelt 'Mahalo gozaimasu, y'all!' to everyone who attended and participated in Oni-Con Hawaii 2013 and to our awesome volunteer, staff, and friends who made our first year a big success!! We'll see you all next year, at Oni-Con Hawaii 2014!" Several opportunities to promote OCH at other events -- the New Year's Ohana Festival and Kodomo no Hi at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, the Honolulu Festival and Kawaii Kon immediately come to mind -- have passed without a peep. We know more about Taku Taku Matsuri 2 (Aug. 9, Manoa Grand Ballroom at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii; voice actor Kyle Hebert attending, monthlong Kickstarter preregistration campaign underway) and Kawaii Kon 2015 (March 27-29; first announced guest: voice actor Bryce Papenbrook) than we do about OCH 2014.

Only two official statements have emerged from the OCH camp, both posted within the past few weeks. This statement went up on the OCH Facebook page on April 20:

Sorry all for the long wait. Unfortunately the venue and time frame we wanted is not available. However we are currently looking at different venues and time frames. Which now comes to you. Where would you like to see OCH be next? We look forward to hearing from you! Also updates to the website will be done shortly! Thanks for all your patience!

And this on May 1:

Had some great meetings all this week, and should have narrowed down to a venue and date by the end of next week. Thanks again for all your patience! We are currently already getting our guest all lined up and once the date and venue are secured, announcements will be made!

There was already some buzz on social media about the fate of OCH soon after Kawaii Kon ended early last month, before that first statement was posted. I emailed inquiries to info@oniconhawaii.com and the "parent" convention, Oni-Con in Galveston, Texas, around then; neither have responded as of this posting. Whoever's running the Facebook page has been sporadic in responding to posted comments as well; responding only to say that yes, it won't be long before a date is posted, and no, there's no truth to the rumor that someone ran off with the preregistration money.

There were, as far as I know, three men involved locally in putting together OCH 2013. On Jan. 7, Kell Komatsubara announced on his Facebook page that he would be stepping away from OCH and Babel Entertainment, wishing the volunteer Babel staff well in their future endeavors. Shion Francois, head of Babel Entertainment, told me via email that Oni-Con has been booking guests through his company but couldn't tell me more than that.

It was the third person and one of the most public faces of last year's convention, Steve Okubo, who shed the most light on the matter. Steve told me via email last week that he hasn't had access to the convention's social media accounts and email since December, "so I assume that my services are no longer required with OCH." He believes the Oni-Con Texas board is running those communication channels now and has expressed his concerns to Shion that someone take charge in answering inquiries.

A few other answers from Steve follow. On the matter of why the Facebook page sprung to life only now, and in general, why the information coming from it since last year's event ended has been so vague:

I do not know. I tend to be the naturally trusting type, so my initial thought would be that it is as they said, that they are having trouble finding a venue the right size to accommodate the dates they need for whatever guests they might have lined up, as I understand.

In regards to what happened to the preregistration money:

All the pre-reg money taken in at OCH was collected by JSHOXX/Babel Entertainment, because they had staff available to take care of this at their table and they had the means to take credit card payments. Babel will still be working with OC Texas, booking guests for both Texas and Hawaii. In a conversation I had with Babel, they said that OC Texas told them they will be honoring all the pre-reg sales made at OCH 2013.

And as for whether OCH 2014 will go off as intended:

Again, since I've have no access and have had no communication with whomever is calling the shots, I can't say, for sure, but it is my understanding that they plan to hold the event in the later part of the year.

So that's the story as best I know it at this point.Will any new news show up as promised toward the end of this week? We are in that time frame right now, so we shall see, I suppose.

Truth be told, I'm not sure how this post will be taken by whoever is running OCH. If it gets me blacklisted from attending their future shows, I can live with that. I just think I, as well as anyone who has a stake in whatever they have planned, deserve better treatment, as well as more concrete information, than what's been demonstrated in these past six months.

Local manga exhibit crosses over to JCCH

One of the highlights of last year's otaku calendar was "Crossing Cultures: The Art of Manga in Hawaii," an exhibit curated by Pen & Ink Works founder Brady Evans that traced the history of manga locally, from its origins in Japan to its influences on the local fan community. I spotlighted it twice in this space during its run, once before it opened, once before it closed. It was a great opportunity to look at original artwork from the featured artists and learn about their creative processes.

I'm still trying to figure out how they let this dork in the building to be part of the exhibit, though.

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CrossCul-JCCH-Invitation-1But let's say you weren't able to make it out to see the exhibit last year. It happens; maybe you were too busy during the time it was up between Sept. 6 and Oct. 2, or maybe the drive over the Koolaus to the Windward side didn't agree with you. Fortunately for you, there's a second chance coming up to see it, as the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii over in Moiliili hosts its revival starting Saturday. (Members and invited guests can get a sneak peek at 5:30 p.m. Friday, with Brady leading a walkthrough at 6 p.m.)

Brady recently told me that there's been a healthy chunk of new content added to the exhibit to make a visit worthwhile to those of you who did visit last year. The highlights:

  • Kyunyo, the doujinshi artist featured in the Kawaii Kon section last year, is getting her own spotlight space this year. Pages from her latest work, "Define" -- inspired by the anime series Magi -- and a copy of the book itself will be on display.
  • Last year's exhibit had a "Guide by Cell" feature, where visitors could call a number and hear some of the artists talk about their work. New recordings have been added, so this year, you can listen to Audra Furuichi (nemu*nemu), Jordan Takemoto and Tara Tamayori (Hachi Maru Hachi) and Stacey Hayashi (Journey of Heroes) along with last year's lineup of Brady, Rose Dela Cruz (exhibition label illustrator), Jon Murakami (Gordon Rider), Roy Chang (Cacy & Kiara and the Curse of the Ki'i) and Patsy Iwasaki and Avery Berido (Hamakua Hero).
  • Roy and Audra have painted new murals. Here, have some photos Brady took of their work in progress.

  • The Kikaida section has been beefed up, with more memorabilia -- including vintage Kamen Rider, Go-Ranger and Kikaida figurines! -- from Scott Shinsato on display.
  • The Alphonse Elric and Persona Teddy costumes have been retired in favor of Voltron, also by the same artist. You might have seen it walking around Kawaii Kon last month.
  • "Meet the Artist/Author" sessions include Patsy and Avery (both of whom are flying in from Hawaii island!) to talk about Hamakua Hero (May 17. 2-3 p.m.) and Stacey talking about Journey of Heroes (May 24, 2-3 p.m.) There's also going to be a Comic Jam & Artists Showcase with the artists from Comic Jam Hawaii from 1 to 3 p.m. May 31.

The exhibit runs through June 7 at JCCH (2454 S. Beretania St.), The community gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; admission is free. Ingress players, there's a portal on site as well as several others within walking distance (all of which consistently hit max-level 8 under Resistance control, sigh). For more on the exhibit, visit hawaiimanga.com.

Ota-cool Incoming!
(special weekend of May 3-4 edition)

The return of "Crossing Cultures" is just one of the events happening in what's turned out to be a really busy weekend not just for events with an element of otaku-ness in them, but in general. Unrelated to our discussion here, there's Spam Jam, AARP's paper-shredding event in Aiea, a craft and gift fair at Recreation Center 5 in Mililani, a neighborhood garage sale in Waipahu mauka of the Leeward Y, near Waipahu Uka Neighborhood Park ... yeah, there's a lot of stuff going on. And that doesn't even count the fact that Sunday's Star Wars Day (May the 4th, get it?). Here are the highlights.

Ninth Annual Hawaii Book & Music Festival: It's going to be a busy weekend for Brady and some of the other "Crossing Cultures" artists/authors, as Hawaii Manga -- with Brady, Stacey, Roy and the Hachi Maru Hachi gang -- will have a booth as part of the annual celebration of local authors and musicians. Swing by the festival's Author's Pavilion around 4 p.m. Sunday and you can see Brady, Stacey and Jon talking about the exhibit and manga in Hawaii, too. On the Civic Center grounds near Honolulu Hale; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

FCBD_nodateFree Comic Book Day: Stefanie Nakasone did a good job in our print edition (subscription required) summarizing what's going on, but for those of you who don't want to click through, here's a quick, Twitter-attention-span summary: Saturday. Free comics. Four stores (Westside Comics and Games, Gecko Books, Collector Maniacs, Other Realms), 17 libraries (12 on Oahu, plus Hilo and Thelma Parker Memorial on Hawaii island, Kihei and Lahaina on Maui, and Princeville on Kauai). Go get some (keeping in mind that not all of these books will be available at all locations).

And now, courtesy of The Face of Hawaii Ingress (tm), Diane Masaki, here's who's showing up where for Free Comic Book Day at the libraries. Unless otherwise noted, all appearances will be at 10 a.m.:

Aiea: Hellboy, Powergirl, Supergirl, White Power Ranger, maybe Cyclops
Aina Haina: Batman and Kamen Rider
Kalihi-Palama: Angel (X-Men: First Class edition), Neil Gaiman's Sandman, maybe Cyclops
Mililani: Wolverine (plus two surprise guests), Batman, maybe Luigi
Lahaina: Scout Trooper from the 501st Imperial Legion
Kapolei: Members of the 501st Imperial Legion (2-4 p.m.)
Salt Lake: Member of Team Rocket, Jubilee, maybe Cyclops

idkwhat2wear T-shirt blowout: The (take a deep breath here) 17th Islandwide Spring Crafts and Food Expo for Mother's Day (aaaaaand exhale) is also happening this weekend. I mention this here is because frequent anime con exhibitor/friend of the blog idkwhat2wear will be clearing out T-shirts at this event for $5 each. To drive this point home, this picture appeared on the idk Facebook page late Wednesday afternoon.

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... yeeeeeaaaaah, that's a lot of shirts.

Find them in booth 705 at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. $4 general admission, $3 military members and seniors 65 and older, free for children ages 13 and under. 4-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Kodomo no Hi: Sure, Children's Day is technically on Monday, but Sunday's as good a time as any to welcome back a JCCH event that skipped last year. Jon will be exhibiting at this event, and MangaBento will have a booth set up with various activities for the kiddies. Audra's also going to be there to promote the Crossing Cultures exhibit from 11 a.m. to noon. They'll be part of a day that will also feature entertainment, cultural and martial arts demonstrations, the traditional children's kimono dressing and a keiki kendama tournament. (Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger once tried one of those kendamas at the behest of the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction. It ... didn't go very well.) At the center, 2454 S. Beretania St.; admission is free. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Hawaii Comic & Toy Expo: More than 20 dealers will be on hand to happily take all the money you have ... umm, I mean, heartily encourage and nourish your various collectible and comic passions. Also in attendance will be artists Sam Campos, Andy Lee, Theodore Lee, Kevin Sano and Kanila Tripp. Admission is $3; children under 5 are free. Visit www.hawaiicomictoyexpo.com. Ala Moana Hotel (Garden Lanai room), 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

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). 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The great cat-alog of Oahu’s Doraemon statues

It was Jan. 20 -- around when word was just starting to trickle out about "Meet Doraemon: Japan's Time-Traveling Cat" opening at Bishop Museum a little less than a month away -- when MidWeek cartoonist/Aiea Intermediate art teacher Roy Chang posted this picture to his Facebook timeline.

Where a cat and a dog can coexist together.

Random life-size Doraemon statue at Ward Warehouse was truly random! And there was nothing around at the time to indicate what it was for, who put it there, or why Doraemon was hanging around with a determined-looking dog under the escalators to and from The Old Spaghetti Factory. Since I was working on the museum exhibit preview with tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J., I asked my contact at the museum whether they had anything to do with it; she replied that they did not.

A few days passed before a picture of a second Doraemon statue popped up on my Facebook timeline, this one at Kahala Mall … along with a sign explaining that it was part of something called the "Doraemon Wakuwaku Stamp Rally." I knew right then that I had to pay that statue, along with the Ward statue, a visit.

What I learned on that trip was twofold. First, that Kahala statue was really tucked away in a corner.

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That's the stairwell in the theater wing of the mall, next to Kuru Kuru Sushi. You'll note that to the right of the statue, there's a black table with something on it. Here's what it looks like close up:

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It turned out that this statue, along with the Ward statue, were both part of the aforementioned "Doraemon Wakuwaku Stamp Rally," a promotion hosted by HIS Hawaii's Lea Lea Trolley. As  I understand it -- sadly, I haven't been able to get anyone from HIS to formally comment on what's going on -- Japanese visitors who sign up for a certain tour package get a stamp card and go around town collecting seven stamps at various locations. (That's one of the stamp pads on the table.) Here's what some of those stamps look like.

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They can turn in the stamp card for some cool Doraemon-themed prizes, as seen on a table at the HIS Hawaii office at the Waikiki Beach Marriott. (For the record, I REALLY wish I could have a box of Doradamia Nuts. I know they're just regular Hawaiian Host chocolates, but still! That box!)

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Sadly, I don't think we regular folk are eligible to win these prizes, but HIS is currently running a contest via social media: Through April 30, you can post pictures of the statues around town to Instagram and use the hashtag "#doraemonhi" to be eligible to win gift certificates to Ruth's Chris Steak House, the Prince Court Restaurant at Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki, and the Magic of Polynesia.

It took me a few months (and repeat visits; you can't imagine how I felt when I learned that (a) some of the statues later had informational placards added to them and (b) three more statues had appeared when I thought I had found all of them), but I've managed to track down the locations of at least 13 statues that are part of this promotion, placed between downtown and Kahala Mall. They really are all over the place, next to information booths ...

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...tucked away in shopping malls ...

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... and, of course, in HIS Hawaii offices.

009-HIS DQ Kaheka B

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Add in the 10 that will be on the Bishop Museum campus through Sunday, and the number of Doraemon statues on the island rises to 23. Without further ado, here are the Doraemon 23; while each Doraemon is holding a different gadget, they aren't always identified or explained fully. I've tried to include whatever information was available nearby in the captions.

Doraemon #1, "Man's Best Friend." Location: Ward Warehouse, base of the escalators to/from Old Spaghetti Factory. Doraemon #2, "Tester Badges." Location: Kahala Mall, under the stairwell near Kuru Kuru Sushi. Doraemon #3, gadget unidentified. Location: Lea Lea Lounge, Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, third floor. Doraemon #4, gadget unidentified. Location: HIS Hawaii office, Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, third floor. Doraemon #5, gadget unidentified. Location: HIS Hawaii office, Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, third floor. Doraemon #6, "Leaftector." Location: Market City Shopping Center, next to Upnext Wireless, between Anyplace Cafe and Duck Lee Chinese Express. Doraemon #7, "Honest Thomas." Location: King's Village Shopping Center, Waikiki; second floor, in front of Pipeline Leather. Doraemon #8, gadget unidentified. Location: HIS Hawaii downtown office, Executive Center, 1046-A Bishop St. (street level). Doraemon #9, "Say & Obey Cap." Location: HIS Hawaii office at the Don Quijote on Kaheka Street, near Yummy's Korean BBQ. Doraemon #10, "Pass Loop." Location: Ala Moana Shopping Center, Nordstrom wing, third floor, near the information booth. Doraemon #11, gadget unidentified. Location: HIS Hawaii office, Hilton Hawaiian Village, across from Diamond Head Tower and next to a Lanikai Juice store. Doraemon #12, gadget unidentified. Location: HIS Hawaii staff office, Waikiki. Doraemon #13, gadget unidentified. Location: HIS Hawaii office, Waikiki Beach Marriott, Paoakalani Tower, first floor. Doraemon #14, "Super Gloves" -- "These pair of gloves will make you super-strong." Location: Bishop Museum, near the ticket booth. Doraemon #15, "Translation Gummy" -- "When you eat this, the language you speak will automatically be translated into the listener's native language and vice versa." Location: Bishop Museum, near Hawaiian Hall. Doraemon #16, "Sonic Solidifier" -- "Your voice becomes solid when you drink this potion. Effects will last until the next day." Location: Bishop Museum, near the Native Hawaiian Garden. Doraemon #17, "Ace Cap" -- "This cap can make even the worst pitcher become an instant ace, letting them strike out any batter." Location: Bishop Museum, outside Castle Memorial Hall. Doraemon #18, "Time Kerchief" -- "People or animals wrapped in this cloth will turn younger or older. If it's an object, it becomes new or old." Location: Bishop Museum Doraemon exhibit. Doraemon #19, "Maximizer Ray" -- "Any object will get larger, simply by shining this light on it." Location: Bishop Museum Doraemon exhibit. Doraemon #20, "Instant Wardrobe Cam" -- "Insert the picture or drawing of the fashion design you like into the camera and press the shutter button toward the person, and you can instantly change their clothes to the one in the camera." Location: Bishop Museum Doraemon exhibit. Doraemon #21, "Air Cannon" -- "A gadget that you put on your forearm to emit a powerful blast of air." Location: Bishop Museum Doraemon exhibit. Doraemon #22, "The Tripinator" -- "By inserting 10 yen into its back and stating the name of the person you want to get revenge on, this gadget will go and trip your target up to three times. Canceling your request will require you to pay an additional 100 yen." Location: Bishop Museum Doraemon exhibit. Doraemon #23, "Memory Bread" -- "This bread lets you memorize anything." Location: Bishop Museum Doraemon exhibit.

So where are all these statues coming from? A quick Internet search found a handful of posts about "100 Years Before the Birth of Doraemon," an exhibition that showed up in Hong Kong in 2012 and Taiwan in 2013 that featured 100 Doraemon statues. It's very likely our visiting friends came from that exhibit; see if you can find some of them in this Alvinology II post.

A few other notes and pictures I picked up while I was running around finding all of these statues:

>> The trickiest ones for the general public to get to are #3 and #12. #3 is in the Lea Lea Lounge, which is technically open only to visitors using HIS Hawaii's services, but ask someone at the counter really nicely, and they'll probably let you in. #12, meanwhile, is actually located inside an HIS Hawaii staff office; if you were to walk past, you can see its feet behind a frosted "STAFF ONLY" door. Again, I asked nicely and was allowed to take a few pictures, but I really don't feel comfortable about sending a bunch of people who read this post to do the same, which is why I left the exact location intentionally vague.

>> The most abused statue easily has to be Leaftector Doraemon at Market City Shopping Center. Shopping center patrons, you should be ashamed of yourselves for doing this to poor Doraemon. Fortunately, it's been cleaned up before, and it'll be cleaned up again, but this is just embarrassing:

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>> Photo ops with the statues abound, as it did when a family with a baby was taking pictures with Honest Thomas Doraemon and a group of Japanese tourists showed up. Much cooing and cuteness ensued.

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>> There was also a bit of photo traffic over at Pass Loop Doraemon when I visited.

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As I mentioned earlier, the Doraemon exhibit at Bishop Museum closes on Sunday, but the remaining 13 statues will be around through the end of the HIS Hawaii promotion on Nov. 30, so you'll have plenty of time to visit those.

A trek through Bishop Museum’s Anywhere Door

And now, the post that's taken far too long for me to write.

Waaaaaaaay back in mid-February, "Meet Doraemon: Japan's Time-Traveling Cat" took up residence at Bishop Museum. In the time it's been here, this town has gone robo-cat crazy, partly because of the exhibit, partly because of an unrelated visitor stamp rally hosted by HIS Hawaii. So sure, you'll come across a banner heralding the exhibit's presence at the museum's campus in Kalihi ...

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... but you may also see Doraemon and friends on the side of a LeaLea Trolley on streets near Ala Moana and Waikiki.

Doraemon trolley

Or, if you were watching the Honolulu Festival's Grand Parade last month, you could see him being wheeled along the parade route.

parade

It's been a fun past few months, but you only have nine days left to see it -- the Doraemon statues, Fujiko F. Fujio artwork, Anywhere Door and a whole bunch of other stuff will be packed up and head back to Japan after April 20.

I could go into excruciating detail as to why it's taken so long for this post to be written -- the cold! the writer's block! Kawaii Kon prep! But the main point is that time is running short, there's another museum free-admission day right around the corner -- YMCA Healthy Kids Day on Saturday; kamaaina and military with valid ID, step right up -- and I wanted to get something posted on the record before then.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention that if you sign up to be a museum member now, you'll get a special Doraemon-edition membership card. Annual memberships start at $50 general, $45 seniors and $35 students and net you admission to the museum, along with a number of other perks that pile up at higher tiers. But c'mon, is this not the coolest museum membership card you've ever seen?

membership card

It should be noted that it's possible to see Doraemon at a number of points between Kalihi and Kahala right now. I'll go into that in more detail in my next post (along with details about a contest this month that's quietly unfolded on Instagram), but today's post focuses more on what's on display at the museum. Whether you've already visited, have yet to do so or can't make it out here before it closes, I hope you'll enjoy this virtual tour of 67 percent of the exhibit.

Super Gloves Doraemon here greets visitors as they enter the museum campus from the admission window. He's quite photogenic, sitting in front of the recently remodeled Hawaiian Hall. Speaking of photogenic, there's a second statue that, if angled juuuuust so, offers a nice view of the Honolulu skyline in the background. These two statues are along the walkway leading to Castle Memorial Hall, where the exhibit is located. Hey, Sonic Solidifier Doraemon in the foreground looks familiar ... Sonic Solidifier Doraemon has a nice view of Punchbowl and the Nuuanu area, too. The four Doraemon statues also apparently had problems with people climbing all over them. These warning signs went up somewhat late in the exhibit's run. A sign at the entrance provides an overview for the exhibit, talking about Doraemon's cultural significance and the influence of artist Fujiko F. Fujio. And here's the first thing you see when you enter the exhibit hall -- five Doraemon statues, the Anywhere Door, a giant banner hanging from the ceiling, and character cutouts on the walls. The Anywhere Door, that portal to other places that's been a starting point for many of Doraemon and Noby's adventures, is the focal point of the exhibit (and a great place for photo ops, too!). Memory Bread Doraemon gets a prominent place at the center of the exhibit. Many of the characters are identified by the names used in the official English translation of the manga. So while Doraemon is still Doraemon ... Nobita is now "Noby" ... Suneo is now "Sneech" ... Gian is now "Big G" ... ... and Shizuka is ... well ... Shizuka. One wing of Castle Hall has tables for drawing and coloring, a display about the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum in Japan, and the F Theater, screening an exclusive Doraemon anime episode. This wall spotlights the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum and its exhibits. You'd think that this would have been a static display for the duration of the exhibit, but you'd be wrong ... Here's the original poster I saw, the same one seen on the left in the previous picture. And here's the poster that I saw when I visited the museum on Thursday. WAUGH COMPLETELY DIFFERENT The rest of the display has remained the same throughout, though. Here's the first panel, with a Fujio timeline and some information about visiting the museum. The facility guide is presented in two parts. Here's part 1. with a panel that talks about seeing the "pretty Gian." See? "Pretty Gian." Here's the second part of the facility guide, in which visitors can explore the "slightly wondrous world" of the Fujio museum. See? "Slightly wondrous world." Not ALL the way wondrous, mind. SLIGHTLY wondrous. Here's what one of the tables in the drawing/coloring area looks like, along with one of the handouts available to color. Near the drawing/coloring tables, an original Doraemon anime plays on loop in the "F Theater" corner. A sign nearby notes the title of the 10-minute feature: "Doraemon & Perman Have a Close Shave!?" Naturally, the anime prominently features Doraemon. Yay happy Doraemon! This scene, shown before the actual feature begins, shows Fujio's characters parading past a screen showing highlights In "Doraemon and Perman Have a Close Shave!?" Doraemon uses a gadget that eventually sucks him and Noby into a TV program they're watching. ANOTHER gadget -- that pink phone to the left -- is what they use to get help. I actually missed these the first few times I visited the exhibit, but off to the side of the drawing/coloring tables are a set of three motion boxes. Slide a lever on the bottom of two of them and watch the characters -- in this case, Doraemon -- come to life. The museum also set up this lightbox. Twirl it and look through the slots on the side, and you can see an animated Doraemon scroll past. Over in another wing of Castle Hall sit more statues as well as the Manga Library. The Manga Library features several iPads with the English translation of Doraemon volume 1 loaded onto them (available now at the Kindle store!) as well as volumes of translated Doraemon manga from all over the world. Visitors are invited to browse through the books. A close-up of one of the iPads with Doraemon volume 1. That's Time Kerchief Doraemon in the background. Close-up view of some of the translated Doraemon manga available to read. More of the translated Doraemon manga available to read. It's times like these that I wish I could read more foreign-language material. No visit to a limited-run museum exhibit would be complete without a selection of souvenir swag to choose from, and Bishop Museum's gift shop has a lot of that, most of it shipped in from Japan. The first shipment sold so well, Bishop Museum asked for -- and eventually got -- a second shipment. Get your plushies, T-shirts and other Fujio museum gifts now! Here's a close-up of one of the T-shirt designs available (and the only one available in adult sizes). There are other shirt designs for kids, too. And here's a close-up of one of the oh-so-adorable giant plushies. Sorry, but you're going to have to sew your own aloha shirt and haku lei -- only the display plushie gets to look this good.

As for that other 33 percent: You're going to have to figure out some way to see that for yourself. The gallery portion of the exhibit, featuring manga pages drawn by Fujio, is off-limits for photography and video recording. This much can be said about it, though: In that section, there's a timeline of Fujio's career, a giant photo of his desk, and five themed galleries, each one based on a Doraemon movie: Nobita's Dinosaur (1980), Nobita's Great Adventure Into the Underworld (1983), Record of Nobita's Spaceblazer (1980), Nobita and the Steel Troops (1985) and Nobita and the Haunts of Evil (1981).

It's a pretty even split between Fujio originals and reproductions on display — 36 of the exhibit's 70 pages are originals, 34 are copies — but it takes a really close look at each piece to tell which is which.

That, of course, and the assistance of the handy Copy Robot icon.

Copy Robot

Next time in Otaku Ohana: Noticed all those statues sitting around the exhibit? There are 10 at the museum ... and another 13 (that I know of so far, anyway) out in the wild. I'll have a guide to where you can find all of them ... if you're as obsessed as I am about such things, anyway.

[Kawaii Kon 2014] A few more words from our guests

So far this year, Kawaii Kon's been its usual blend of exhilarating and exhausting. So many photos and video clips shot on Friday -- 432 files, to be exact. So many fun experiences -- I've already gotten a hug from voice actor Vic Mignogna; said hi to Kawaii Kon founder Stan Dahlin; gotten something signed the Japanese voice of Dragon Ball Z's Goku, Masako Nozawa; and caught up with sooooo many friends.

And that's why I came back to Otaku Ohana Mobile HQ, had something to eat, social-media'd something and promptly passed out on my bed. Hey, I'm not as young as I used to be at Kawaii Kon 1, after all.

It's going to take a while for me to sort through all those photos. So in the interest of having something fresh posted here today, here are some outtakes from the interview questions I sent out to voice actors Jim Cummings, Quinton Flynn and Mignogna. Some of the quotes from the answers they sent back ended up in Thursday's preview, but others ... well, they didn't quite fit into the narrative. So here they are, along with some pictures of them from Friday's opening ceremonies.

Janet Varney, left, Richard Horvitz and Jim Cummings at Kawaii Kon '14 opening ceremonies.

Janet Varney, left, Richard Horvitz and Jim Cummings at Kawaii Kon '14 opening ceremonies.

Cummings on keeping his career fresh after voicing hundreds of characters over the years: "To answer how I keep my career fresh is easy. There is always a new character on the horizon, always a new song to sing, and always a new project to do my best on."

Cummings on favorite characters: "Well, Pooh and Tigger are in their own categories, however Darkwing Duck will always be a prime favorite of mine. Ray from Princess and the Frog is huge in my heart as well. Also Don Karnage from Tailspin, Mr. Bumpy, Taz and Catdog are way up there. Love Hondo from Star Wars: The Clone Wars for certain! Gotta stop cuz it's like picking amongst yer kids!"

Quinton Flynn, left, and Vic Mignogna at Kawaii Kon '14 opening ceremonies.

Quinton Flynn, left, and Vic Mignogna at Kawaii Kon '14 opening ceremonies.

Flynn on what he's looking most forward to seeing/doing while he's here: "I'm looking forward to meeting fans and friends, new and old, in your tropical paradise! I wish to be enlightened by local customs and culture. Perhaps some tasty culinary cuisine. And if there's time, scuba diving and/or parasailing would be a dream come true. I've been told that Hawaii is full of every kind of beauty imaginable. I'd like to take that in as well as what I understand to be a more easygoing and laid-back approach to living.

"I also look forward to performing for all of you. I love Q&A panels and doing a combination standup/improvisational comedy set; if given the time and opportunity. In my experience, education through entertainment is a delicious dish! And I delight in the laughter and smiling faces of fans when I deliver one of their favorite characters or celebrity impression by request."

Flynn on anime dubbing work: "The work I've been fortunate enough to do has not been affected. As far as my career track goes, I am constantly laying down NEW track through diversifying in the entertainment industry. I'm acting both on- and off-camera. I'm currently pitching original live-action and animated show ideas for the networks, cable and Internet. I also have two original screenplays written by Brad Schreiber and Christian Klemash I'm very excited about getting green-lit for production. And if that's not enough, I'm also writing and performing original compositions and cover songs in the pop-rock arena of music, here in Los Angeles. All of that plus comedy, conventions and California living, keeps my motor running and creative artistry alive. I live in the now with my eyes looking forward to what wonders shall be revealed."

Mignogna on anime dubbing work: "To be honest, I haven't noticed a huge decrease in anime dubbing. I do know that Japanese companies are asking a lot more for their shows than they used to, and many American companies simply cannot pay that much. But I do several things professionally besides voice acting, so it hasn't affected my career much."

[Kawaii Kon 2014] Once more into the fray

It's a liiiiiittle past midnight as I'm writing this post here at Otaku Ohana Mobile HQ, a room here at the Ala Moana Hotel with a lovely view of the yacht harbor between the Hawaii Prince Hotel and another building, the name of which I wouldn't be able to tell you without Googling it first.

Yup. It's definitely Kawaii Kon time again. Here's my traditional Day 0 "look at how many people who preregistered and showed up to pick up their badges on Thursday!" picture.

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And here's my usual "Yay! I have my credentials! MY EXISTENCE IS VALIDATED" picture of what my press badge this year looks like.

But seeing as how I took a look back at Kawaii Kon #1 in 2005 in my last post, I thought it would be fun to look at the convention program from Kawaii Kon #10 to see just how much things have changed from then to now. The proper answer, of course, is "a lot."

Here's the cover of this year's program, full-color and glossy.

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Here's are two pages of the guest list. Not shown but also in the program: no one, because these are all the guests that are at this year's show.

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Here's the con's full schedule of events for Friday, Saturday and Sunday... not counting the video screenings, which are on a second two-page spread. Each page of this year's program measures 8-1/2-by-11 inches, which means this year's schedule would have taken up half of the 2005 program.

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And for fun? Here's are this year's maps of where everything is located in the Convention Center and in the newly expanded, ground-floored Artist Alley/Dealers Room exhibit hall.

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If I'm already achy from walking all around Ala Moana Center and to and from the Convention Center, you can pretty much guarantee that my legs will fall off by the time Kawaii Kon is over. Yes, kids, getting older is as awful as they say.

Some other con-related news of note coming in to Otaku Ohana Mobile HQ:

  • Hachi Maru Hachi is back with issue #3, and it's their biggest issue yet -- four stories over more than 150 pages. Tara Tamayori's ongoing series, "Eternal Blade," is joined this time by three new stories: "Death in Numbers" by Kaci Horimoto, "Refraction" by Caitlin Slattery, and "You're Not Alone" by Jonathan Pinches. Pick up your copy at Artist Alley table 78. If you can't make it to Kawaii Kon, order a print-on-demand version at www.createspace.com/4562129.
  • nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi will be selling original sketch cards featuring her interpretations of characters from Ghibli films -- somebody better buy that Totoro card before I do! -- and the hot anime of the past season, Kill la Kill. Find them in the Dealers Room, booth 51.
  • Speaking of original sketches, Comic Jam Hawaii coordinator Michael Cannon will be selling original sketch bookmarks of characters from anime, other cartoons and comics -- somebody better buy that Yuki Nagato bookmark before I do! (Alas, this is the classic quandary of yours truly, the anime blogger who wants to save money yet buy everything he promotes.) Find him at Artist Alley table 57.
  • 10173560_10201156088739349_722823190_nArtist Kevin Sano has been known in the past for great-looking prints of characters from tokusatsu (live-action Japanese superhero) days like Kikaida, Hakaida and Kamen Rider V3. but the last two times I've seen him, at McCully-Moiliili Library's Mini Con and Oni-Con Hawaii, he's brought several Kikaida Minions, toys of those adorable yellow Despicable Me characters all painted up in tokusatsu gear. To your right, you can see his latest batch that he'll have this weekend. Have your drool buckets handy, people. Find him at Artist Alley table 100.
  • Erika Engle is at Artist Alley table 14. Yes, that Erika Engle. She'll be selling handmade jewelry with her daughter, Cassidy Gravitt.
  • If you remember my highlights roundup from my article in Thursday's paper, you'll recall that I mentioned that Stacey Hayashi, author of the "Journey of Heroes" graphic novel about the 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, would be hosting a panel at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. What I didn't mention was that (a) she'll be bringing 442nd vet Eddie Yamasaki with her to that panel and (b) she's also going to be selling books, shirts and chibi soldier kokeshi dolls in Artist Alley. She's splitting space with Smurphy Graphics, so you can find her at Artist Alley tables 90 and 91.
  • Those of you of a certain age may remember Jon Murakami's first published comic strip "The University of Diverse City," published in UH-Manoa's paper of record, Ka Leo. This year marks 25 years since it was first published in 1989, and to celebrate, Jon's produced an 11-by-17-inch print that features that landmark first strip, both as it first appeared in Ka Leo and a freshly redrawn version that shows how it would've looked had he drawn it today. Find him at Artist Alley table 58.
  • And last but certainly not least, freebies abound this con season! Sony will be giving away these Sony/Kawaii Kon-branded bags outright to the first 50 people who visit their booth, then with a purchase of $20 afterward. Meanwhile, over at the 7-Eleven across the street on Atkinson Drive, the first 50 people to show their con badges on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will receive a free copy of the Shinji Aramaki-directed Appleseed CGI film from 2004 on DVD.

[Kawaii Kon 2014] Every story has a beginning

It was one of those announcements that quietly came and went without much notice. Heck, the 10th anniversary of that announcement came and went on Monday with nary a peep; heaven knows I missed it.

But there it is, in black and white and blue from 2004, archived at Anime News Network for as long as their database is up for public viewing:

posted on 2004-03-31 11:12 EST

Kawaii Kon, Hawaii's own anime convention and conference is coming to Honolulu, Hawaii on April 22-24, 2005. More information can be found on their website at kawaii-kon.org and representatives from the show will be present at Anime Boston, Metrocon, Anime Festival Orlando, DragonCon and AWA.

And with that, the ball started rolling on what would become the state's first anime convention ... and with all due respect to other conventions that have tried to carve a chunk of local fandom for themselves in recent years like Oni-Con and the now-defunct HEXXP, Kawaii Kon has remained largely unchallenged as the local anime convention of record. Since we're on the eve of the nice-round-number 10th edition of Kawaii Kon, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at Kawaii Kon #1 aaaaalllll the way back in 2005, using a few things that I recently unearthed from my archives (read: found while I've been doing some sorely needed housecleaning).

While the announcement in spring 2004 may have been reasonably quiet, word of mouth was certainly enough that by the time April 2005 rolled around, I had picked up on it, writing a profile of the con, director Stan Dahlin and a fledgling young artists' collective known as MangaBento. Meanwhile, Derek Paiva at the Advertiser profiled the McKinley High School Anime Club. More than 1,900 people ended up packing the friendly confines of the second floor of the Ala Moana Hotel that year ... sharing space with Chabad of Hawaii and its Passover observance on April 23, which made for its fair share of odd meetings in the hallways that night. While I was doing some research for this post, I also discovered this post by one of the staff members that year, Timmy Gonsalves, that offers keen insight into some of the behind-the-scenes stuff going on.

The first year's program was a 16-page pamphlet; take four 8-1/2-by-11-inch sheets of paper and fold them in half, and you have a sense of how big that program is. Here's the cover.

KK program cover-orig

Here are two pages of the guest list. Not shown but also in the program: S. Kai Bovaird, executive director and co-founder of digital effects studio Cause & F(X) Pictures, and artists Robert & Emily DeJesus. Not shown and not in the program but also in attendance: voice actor Mariela Ortiz and David Williams' wife/fellow ADV producer Janice Williams.

KK program 6-7-orig

And here's the con's entire schedule of events for Friday and Saturday. Contrast it with this year's schedule, which had to be broken up into an events schedule and a video screening schedule, yet can fit on your phone (get the Eventbase app and look up Kawaii Kon, by the way; it works quite well).

KK program 8-9-orig

As for pictures of the event itself: I shot a bunch of them. Unfortunately, since 2005 was also the last year I used film before switching to a digital camera, I have no idea what happened to most of those physical prints. Which is kinda too bad, because two shots stand out in my mind's eye right now: one of a cosplayer in a giant Domo costume -- yes, a giant brown brick of a costume -- playing Dance Dance Revolution in the video game corner, and Audra Furuichi, who'd go on to draw nemu*nemu, in what I think was cosplay of Riza Hawkeye from Fullmetal Alchemist and Scott Yoshinaga in an Azumanga Daioh-inspired cat cafe outfit. But good news, everyone: A small handful of pictures turned up while I was cleaning the other day! So here, seeing the light of day for the first time ... I think ever, is a Year One Kawaii Kon gallery.

Cofounders Marlon Stodghill, left, Stan Dahlin and Scott Richardson. Monica Rial, foreground, David Williams and Jennifer Sekiguchi sign autographs. Trivia note: 2005 and 2006 were the only years to feature all the guests signing in a single line. Emily DeJesus and David Williams. Janice and David Williams and Mariela Ortiz at the ADV panel. Yes, that's David Williams' famed "suck bunny" in front of him. Tables in the Kawaii Kon dealers room. Robert DeJesus talks about drawing during a workshop on the final day of Kawaii Kon. Attendees browse through artwork in the Artist Alley. InuYasha cosplayers during the masquerade. Sentai superhero cosplayers in an Ala Moana Hotel hallway.

Will there be more memories like these made this year? Undoubtedly. Will I have time to post a few more classic pictures from years past? Maybe. Will I post highlights from this year in a timely manner? Man I hope so, especially considering those poor Doraemon posts have been languishing, and that exhibit closes later this month.

All I know for sure is, it's Kawaii Kon time again. Let's have some fun with it, shall we? And I'll do my best to bring a little of that fun to those of you who can't make it out in person.

Springing forth with HIFF and anime

HIFF_HKU_logo_BLUEHaving covered the Hawaii International Film Festival in both its spring and autumn incarnations for a number of years now, I can pretty much recite the mantra by heart: There's always something for fans of anime and anime-related films to love at HIFF.

Now usually, when a fresh film schedule is released, I take a few minutes to scan through it, note everything that might be of interest to you, dear Otaku Ohana readers, then research them and post a handy-dandy guide to what's available. This year's Spring Showcase, running April 4-10, is a little different: HIFF Programming Director Anderson Le emailed me with a list of two films worth highlighting -- Ghost in the Shell: Arise -- Border 1 & 2 and Blue Bustamante -- as well as a ticket discount code, which we'll get to in a little bit.

Shorewood Blu-ray OcardLet's tackle the obvious choice first. Ghost in the Shell: Arise is the latest in a long line of adventures for Motoko Kusunagi, with this OAV series serving as a prequel to her later exploits and chronicling the beginning of her career with Public Security Section 9. Border 1 & 2 comprise the first two parts of the four-part series. Funimation licensed the series last year; these two episodes are actually available on what they're calling the "Japanese Blu-ray Collector's Edition," each episode available with a slew of special features and retailing for ... brace yourself ... $69.98 each. Sure, discounts are available at the usual Internet retail sites, and a cheaper release is coming sometime later this year, but let's face it: A HIFF ticket will probably be the cheapest way you'll be able to legally watch this for now. Plus you get it on the big screen! Ghost in the Shell: Arise will screen in Japanese with English subtitles at 9 p.m. Thurs., April 10, at the Regal Dole Cannery theaters.

Blue Bustamante, by contrast, is probably not something I would have picked up on first glance, being a film from the Philippines. A closer look at the plot, though, has Japanese culture at its core: George Bustamante and his family move from the Philippines to Japan hoping it'll improve their lives, but when he gets fired from his job, he's forced to take a job as a stuntman in a tokusatsu (live-action superhero) series ... and he has to hide his new job from his family to save face, to boot. The film will screen in Tagalog with English subtitles at 6 p.m. Sun., April 6 (perhaps something to see to cap off your weekend at Kawaii Kon?) and 4 p.m. Mon., April 7, also at the Dole theaters.

Tickets are usually $12 each, but as I mentioned earlier, Anderson also sent along a ticket discount code for your online purchasing convenience. Use the code "SPRING2014" at checkout, and you can get your tickets for these shows (or anything screening at the Dole theaters, I believe) for $8 each. Better hurry and use that, though ... it expires at midnight April 4.

For more information on the HIFF Spring Showcase, visit www.hiff.org.

Longer stay for Short Peace

If you blinked and missed the one-night-only screenings of Short Peace, the four-short-film package presented by Katsuhiro Otomo, earlier this month, no need to despair: Distributor Eleven Arts recently added a few more dates to the schedule. Short Peace will return to Consolidated's Ward theaters on Oahu and Kaahumanu theaters on Mon., April 21, at 7 p.m., then moving on to the Doris Duke Theater at the Honolulu Museum of Art on Thurs., May 1, and Friday, May 2.

Ticket links for all screenings and times for the Doris Duke screenings aren't available yet, but you may as well go ahead and mark your calendar now in case you're interested. And again, if you can't make those dates, the shorts will be available exclusively on the PlayStation Network later this year. You can catch up on what Short Peace is all about by reading the tail end of my earlier post about the film or visiting shortpeace-movie.com.