Category Archives: anime

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

The week in panels and portals

Good news, everyone: The "Made in Japan, Loved in Hawaii" panel, which I talked about in my last post, went off without a hitch. Roy Bann, Brady Evans, Audra Furuichi, Jon Murakami and I talked about anime and tokusatsu series for a little over two hours, more people were sitting in the audience than were on the panel, and I didn't die of embarrassment afterward. Victories all around! Thank you to all of you who came to visit, even if you stayed for just a little while.

Since I was sitting on the panel and couldn't exactly take pictures of myself, I've been relying on what panel attendees have posted and shared with me to see what we looked like up there. Friend/coworker/Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker reviewer Christina Chun sent along a few pictures; here are me and Audra ...

... Jon and Brady ...

... and Roy, who served as panel moderator.

Here's a full shot of the panel table taken by cartoonist Roy Chang.

And here's a shot of all five of us after the panel, taken using the official Otaku Ohana Camera of Record by McCully/Moiliili Library branch manager Hillary Chang.

In case you missed it or weren't able to stay for the whole thing, not to worry: I recorded the whole thing, and the slides we used -- created through Prezi, an online app -- are publicly available for viewing. You can download the audio file (a 121 MB download via Google Drive) at http://ow.ly/uwyBr, while the slides are available at http://ow.ly/uwyTQ. Find a comfortable seat, follow along and enjoy; I hope the audio's okay throughout. (I haven't had a chance to listen through the whole thing yet, although the portions I've heard sound pretty good.)

This week -- Thursday at 6:30 p.m., to be exact -- I'll be out at Aiea Library to help my Enlightened teammates take over the library portal yet again chime in where needed with a presentation on Ingress, the massively multiplayer augmented reality mobile online game profiled in our paper (subscription required to view) a few weeks ago. (As our writer, Steven Mark, put it, it's like "'Capture the Flag' for tech geeks," using area landmarks as capture points, or "portals.") Heck, the person who set up this panel in the first place, Aiea Library young adult librarian Diane Masaki, was front and center and pretty much became The Face of Hawaii Ingress (tm) in the picture on the Today section cover:

That's her in the black shirt in the front row.

Here's the official panel description:

The world around you is not what it seems. It's happening all around you. They aren't coming. They're already here.

Our future is at stake. And you must choose a side. A mysterious energy has been unearthed by a team of scientists in Europe. The origin and purpose of this force is unknown, but some researchers believe it is influencing the way we think. We must control it or it will control us.

"The Enlightened" seek to embrace the power that this energy may bestow upon us. "The Resistance" struggle to defend, and protect what's left of our humanity.

Find out what it's all about during Teen Tech Week!

Also significant: It's the last public program at the current library location (99-143 Moanalua Road) before they pull up stakes and head to their new building on the site of the former Aiea Sugar Mill. So if you've ever been curious about the game or some of those Ingress-related jokes that I've increasingly been including in this blog, come on out. We'd love to see you.

‘Made in Japan, Loved in Hawaii,’ chatted up by yours truly

Honolulu Festival logoIt's Honolulu Festival time this weekend, which means it's time for all of the usual accoutrements that come with the annual celebration of Asian and Pacific Rim culture, including:

  • Entertainment on stages at the Hawai'i Convention Center, Ala Moana Center and Waikiki Beach Walk (here's a schedule!)
  • A display of mikoshi, decorative floats unique to various prefectures of Japan that are hoisted by celebrants during festivals and parades
  • A craft fair, children's games in the Ennichi Corner, and the Anime Corner with Kawaii Kon, MangaBento and representatives from the Doraemon exhibit at the convention center
  • The Grand Parade down Kalakaua Avenue Sunday afternoon
  • A spectacular fireworks display Sunday night
  • Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger talkin' anime during a Saturday afternoon panel WAIT WHAT

Indeed, for this 20th anniversary edition of the festival, I'm going to be part of a panel hosted by Kawaii Kon at the convention center: "Made in Japan, Loved in Hawaii," a talk-story session exploring the history of local fandom from the days of Astro Boy in the '60s to the present day and beyond. Joining me as hosts for this journey:

We'll be talking about various anime, manga and tokusatsu series that have shaped our work and our lives. I've been told that we have two hours to fill, so we hope to make it worth your while. You have options for where you could be spending your Saturday afternoon, after all; why not spend it with us, in air-conditioned comfort, learning about stuff in slides with content like this?

We'll be in Room 301AB starting at 1 p.m. Saturday. Keep in mind that most of the festival activities are taking place on the ground level of the convention center, so you're going to want to make your way up some set of escalators, whether from that level or the second-floor parking garage. Just branch left once you get off those escalators; the room's just beyond the restrooms. Here, have a map.

hcc-map-B

Hope to see you there. And if you're on Facebook, let us know you're coming on the panel event page; it's not mandatory that you do so, but I'd just like to know how much I should freak out over how many people show up. It's my first formal panel-speaking gig, after all (that Oni-Con Ingress panel doesn't count).

This week in The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises promotional poster (courtesy Disney)The Oscars have come and gone, Frozen holds the statue for Best Animated Feature 2014, and Hayao Miyazaki's latest, last film finished out of the top 10 at the box office last week. Seems like a recipe for a gradual bow-out from theaters; I'm already seeing a drop-off in screenings at Consolidated's Pearlridge, Kapolei and Kaahumanu locations and Regal's Windward Stadium theaters. On the bright side, owing to its head start of a week over the other theaters, Consolidated Ward will accept GMT passes for screenings starting Friday.

Consolidated Ward: Sub 1:40, 7:30 and 10:25 p.m. daily; dub 10:45 a.m. and 4:35 p.m. daily

Consolidated Mililani (dub only): Friday-Sunday 11:10 a.m. and 1:55, 4:45. 7:40 and 10:25 p.m.; Monday-Thursday 12:45, 3:40, 7 and 9:50 p.m.

Consolidated Pearlridge: Daily sub 3:15 and 9:15 p.m., dub 6:15 p.m.

Consolidated Kapolei (dub only): Friday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.; daily 1:10, 3:50 and 6:30 p.m.

Consolidated Kahala: Friday-Saturday sub 4:10 and 9:50 p.m., dub 10:30 a.m. and 1:20 and 7 p.m.; Sunday sub 4:10 p.m., dub 1:20 and 7 p.m.; Monday-Thursday sub 7 p.m., dub 1 and 3:55 p.m.

Consolidated Kaahumanu (Maui): Sub daily 12:45 and 3:30 p.m.; dub Friday-Saturday 10 a.m, daily 6:15 p.m.

Regal Windward Stadium: 6:20 and 9:20 p.m. daily through Wednesday

Regal Dole Cannery: Friday-Sunday 11 a.m. and 1:50, 4:40, 7:35 and 10:35 p.m.; Monday-Wednesday 12:35, 3:55, 7:35 and 10:30 p.m.

‘Made in Japan, Loved in Hawaii,’ chatted up by yours truly

Honolulu Festival logoIt's Honolulu Festival time this weekend, which means it's time for all of the usual accoutrements that come with the annual celebration of Asian and Pacific Rim culture, including:

  • Entertainment on stages at the Hawai'i Convention Center, Ala Moana Center and Waikiki Beach Walk (here's a schedule!)
  • A display of mikoshi, decorative floats unique to various prefectures of Japan that are hoisted by celebrants during festivals and parades
  • A craft fair, children's games in the Ennichi Corner, and the Anime Corner with Kawaii Kon, MangaBento and representatives from the Doraemon exhibit at the convention center
  • The Grand Parade down Kalakaua Avenue Sunday afternoon
  • A spectacular fireworks display Sunday night
  • Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger talkin' anime during a Saturday afternoon panel WAIT WHAT

Indeed, for this 20th anniversary edition of the festival, I'm going to be part of a panel hosted by Kawaii Kon at the convention center: "Made in Japan, Loved in Hawaii," a talk-story session exploring the history of local fandom from the days of Astro Boy in the '60s to the present day and beyond. Joining me as hosts for this journey:

We'll be talking about various anime, manga and tokusatsu series that have shaped our work and our lives. I've been told that we have two hours to fill, so we hope to make it worth your while. You have options for where you could be spending your Saturday afternoon, after all; why not spend it with us, in air-conditioned comfort, learning about stuff in slides with content like this?

We'll be in Room 301AB starting at 1 p.m. Saturday. Keep in mind that most of the festival activities are taking place on the ground level of the convention center, so you're going to want to make your way up some set of escalators, whether from that level or the second-floor parking garage. Just branch left once you get off those escalators; the room's just beyond the restrooms. Here, have a map.

hcc-map-B

Hope to see you there. And if you're on Facebook, let us know you're coming on the panel event page; it's not mandatory that you do so, but I'd just like to know how much I should freak out over how many people show up. It's my first formal panel-speaking gig, after all (that Oni-Con Ingress panel doesn't count).

This week in The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises promotional poster (courtesy Disney)The Oscars have come and gone, Frozen holds the statue for Best Animated Feature 2014, and Hayao Miyazaki's latest, last film finished out of the top 10 at the box office last week. Seems like a recipe for a gradual bow-out from theaters; I'm already seeing a drop-off in screenings at Consolidated's Pearlridge, Kapolei and Kaahumanu locations and Regal's Windward Stadium theaters. On the bright side, owing to its head start of a week over the other theaters, Consolidated Ward will accept GMT passes for screenings starting Friday.

Consolidated Ward: Sub 1:40, 7:30 and 10:25 p.m. daily; dub 10:45 a.m. and 4:35 p.m. daily

Consolidated Mililani (dub only): Friday-Sunday 11:10 a.m. and 1:55, 4:45. 7:40 and 10:25 p.m.; Monday-Thursday 12:45, 3:40, 7 and 9:50 p.m.

Consolidated Pearlridge: Daily sub 3:15 and 9:15 p.m., dub 6:15 p.m.

Consolidated Kapolei (dub only): Friday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.; daily 1:10, 3:50 and 6:30 p.m.

Consolidated Kahala: Friday-Saturday sub 4:10 and 9:50 p.m., dub 10:30 a.m. and 1:20 and 7 p.m.; Sunday sub 4:10 p.m., dub 1:20 and 7 p.m.; Monday-Thursday sub 7 p.m., dub 1 and 3:55 p.m.

Consolidated Kaahumanu (Maui): Sub daily 12:45 and 3:30 p.m.; dub Friday-Saturday 10 a.m, daily 6:15 p.m.

Regal Windward Stadium: 6:20 and 9:20 p.m. daily through Wednesday

Regal Dole Cannery: Friday-Sunday 11 a.m. and 1:50, 4:40, 7:35 and 10:35 p.m.; Monday-Wednesday 12:35, 3:55, 7:35 and 10:30 p.m.

Ota-cool Incoming!: EVERYTHING IS AWESOME

Today's post is brought to you by The Lego Movie. It's not a formal sponsorship (which is too bad in a way, because after seeing that movie, I want to go out and buy every last Lego Movie set out there.) Rather, it's because the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction and I caught it Wednesday night (yes, we opted for that over The Wind Rises, but hey, I already saw it and we're willing to wait until it hits Consolidated's discounted GMT list starting March 7). We enjoyed it thoroughly. And then I woke up this morning with the song lyrics EVERYTHING IS AWESOME, EVERYTHING IS COOL WHEN YOU'RE PART OF A TEAM stuck in a loop in my mind and these guys menacing my laptop.

'Sup, primary Lego Movie antagonists Lord Business and Bad Cop.

It's strangely appropriate that that song is stuck in my mind, because there are some pretty awesome events coming up starting this weekend and running ... well, into April, really. So sit back, pull up your favorite calendar-planning app, and let's dive right in:

Taku Taku Friending Party!Taku Taku Matsuri "Friending" Party: Play games and meet people at this mixer for local otaku. Non-alcoholic "mocktails" with names like "801 Breeze," "Ichigo Pantsu" and "Yuri Paradise" are being created exclusively for the event and will be available for $4 each. Tickets for $15 are available at takutaku.ticketleap.com/friending-party/; you get your choice of one of four mini-bentos included in that price. For ages 16 and up. Nagomi Japanese Teppan and Lounge (1687 Kapiolani Blvd.), noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

"Anime Rocks!": It's Kawaii Kon's third annual pin launch party, and they're pulling out all the stops to make sure anyone who shows up is suitably entertained. EMKE is back to rock the house; this time they're being joined by Streetlight Cadence, a local quartet with a cellist and accordionist, which automatically makes them one of the coolest groups ever in my book. Augie T, the official emcee of all things Kawaii Kon, will be on hand to ... umm ... emcee. And if the specialty drink-loving side of you didn't get enough at Saturday's "Friending" Party, there's one to try here as well: Kawaii Kon Punch, in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions. (Drink responsibly, people.) Hard Rock Cafe Waikiki (280 Beachwalk Ave.), 2-5 p.m. Sunday.

Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists has just one official public gathering in March so far, and it's coming up Sunday at Pearlridge Center. If you're really want to see some of this group's work, though, head out to Honolulu Hale, where there's an exhibit in the first-floor courtyard spotlighting their work as well as that of MangaBento and late cartoonist Dave Thorne through March 13. I'll be swinging by there and chronicling that exhibit in a future post. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Kawaii Kon Karaoke Kompetition: The road to KKX continues with this, the last of three preliminary rounds for the anime convention's annual karaoke contest. Aspiring singers, read up on the rules at kawaiikon.com/events/karaoke/karaoke-preliminary-rounds/, then make your way to Orvis Auditorium on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. March 9.

Honolulu Festival: It's the 20th anniversary edition of the festival promoting harmony between Hawaii and the Asia-Pacific region; the theme: "Jubilation, One Heart, One Pacific, One World." Just as in previous years, Kawaii Kon will have an exhibit, and the Nagaoka Fireworks display will put a bow on the proceedings. And there may be a special announcement involving your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger next week, too ... Hawai'i Convention Center and other venues around Waikiki, March 7-9.

Ongoing

The Wind Rises screenings: Of course, you knew about these already.

photo-main"All Eyes on Me": If there's one thing I feel guilty about not covering until now, having been up to my eyeballs in stuff related to The Wind Rises and Doraemon in recent weeks, it's this Kickstarter project by Saki Kashimura, a local artist who's sold some of her work in the past in Kawaii Kon's Artist Alley. She's looking to publish a 32-page art book with pieces she's done from 2012 to now. With nine days left, she's already surpassed her goal, but there's still room to jump on board. You can see what she's done in the past at www.pixiv.net/member.php?id=676479; check out the project at www.kickstarter.com/projects/880144282/artbook-all-eyes-on-me.

"Meet Doraemon: Japan's Time-Traveling Cat": Fujiko F. Fujio's most beloved creation is here and cute-ing up the Bishop Museum campus, as you can see here.

A Doraemon statue with the Honolulu skyline in the background. Pretty cool, really.

Ten statues, a replica of the Dokodemo (Anywhere) Door, sketching and coloring stations, a manga library featuring Doraemon manga volumes from around the world and samples of the new English-language digital edition on iPads, a 10-minute animated short playing on loop, and an exhibit of original Fujio manga art ... do you really need more reasons to visit? If you consider yourself an anime/manga fan, you must go. I'm even working on a photo tour of the exhibit for a future post as further proof. Admission is $19.95, $16.95 for seniors, $14.95 for ages 4-12; $12.95, $10.95 and $8.95, respectively, for Hawaii residents and military. Visit www.bishopmuseum.org. Through April 20.

Future attractions

Kawaii Kon 2014: Guests for the 10th anniversary edition include voice actors Jim Cummings, Ayumi Fujimura, Quinton Flynn, Richard Horvitz, Tetsuya Kakihara, Vic Mignogna, Nicki Rapp, Michael Sinterniklaas, Stephanie Sheh and Janet Varney; musical guests EMKE, Kagemaya Hironobu and Yoko Ishida; professional cosplayer Leah Rose; Misako Aoki, Lolita model and official Japanese kawaii ambassador (really, it's a formal title); the Chalk Twins, traveling performance artists who will be crafting a giant chalk mural; and local comedian Augie T., serving as emcee. Online preregistration is open through March 22; $42 for a three-day pass for children ages 5-12, $52 general admission. Hawai'i Convention Center, April 4-6.