Less than a month now separates us from this year’s edition of Kawaii Kon, the anime convention that’s brought a growing number of great guests from the anime and manga industry, both in Japan and the United States, to this giant rock in the middle of the Pacific since 2005. And while some of us (your friendly neighborhood Otaku Ohana blogger, tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J., pretty much anyone directly connected with the convention) will be running around like headless chickens getting ready for it, many of you out there are probably getting seriously excited about what’s coming up in a few weeks.
It’s going to be difficult to ignore the countdown this year, with two out of the next three weekends featuring events with some link to Kawaii Kon. There’s the Honolulu Festival, which I’ll discuss more next week, but there’s also an event happening from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday that’s a pre-convention first: “Anime Rocks,” the official Kawaii Kon 2012 pin launch event at the Hard Rock Cafe in Waikiki (280 Beachwalk Ave.). Cosplayers, dress up in your finest rocker costumes, and you could win prizes that include a free three-day pass to Kawaii Kon. Pin collectors, this is your chance to pick up this year’s pin for cheap — $10.20, to be exact, a savings of $1.80 off the regular price. Savings also await for non-pin collectors — those of you who’ve procrastinated until now in preregistering will be pleased to know that you’ll be able to do so at a cost of $35 for general admission and $25 for children ages 6-12. (That’s cheaper than even the current online “valentine” promo code will get you!) And while admission to “Anime Rocks” is free, it would certainly be nice if you could support the Hard Rock Cafe for being such gracious hosts; to that end, all food and drinks will be 15 percent off during the event. (Get the nachos. They’re delish.)
Of course, any event called “Anime Rocks” has to feature a group that’ll bring the beats, so taking center stage will be a band familiar to recent convention attendees: Eleven Staples, the six-member group that thrilled audiences at the 2010 and 2011 conventions. I wrote a profile of the band in 2010, one that also featured my favorite picture of vocalist Erin Tamura, keyboardist/vocalist Megan Teruya, drummer Ryan Teruya, bassist Nolan Teruya and guitarist Jennifer Nose, which was taken by staff photographer Cindy Ellen Russell. And here’s a more recent photo of the group from last year, including sixth member Kyla, the rhythm guitarist.
While we’re talking about music and rocking out, I’d be remiss in not mentioning the final guests named to the Kawaii Kon 2012 roster: bless4, the four-member sibling group from Japan by way of Utah and Arizona. Akino is the featured singer on “Sousei no Aquarion” (“Genesis of Aquarion”) the theme song from Aquarion. Anyone who’s watched the Disney Channel for a considerable amount of time (yay Phineas and Ferb!) will also recognize the group as the Japanese representatives on Pass the Plate, 3-to-5-minute-long segments that discuss the health benefits of foods like bananas, fish and rice. Disney’s Stitch! anime also featured two bless4 songs, “Stitch is Coming” and “Hitori Ja Nai” (“You Are Not Alone”). To my knowledge, this is bless4’s first appearance at a U.S. anime convention.
Kawaii Kon is March 16-18 at the Hawai’i Convention Center; visit www.kawaii-kon.org.
After posting a $6.4 million opening weekend — good enough for ninth place at the U.S. box office, the best opening ever for a Studio Ghibli movie in the United States — The Secret World of Arrietty is charging headlong into another week at local theaters. This means it’s time once again for the Cel Shaded Report Obligatory Pretty Arrietty Promotional Film Still of the Week:
Tiny but tenacious Arrietty (voice of Bridgit Mendler) comes face to whiskers with the menacing household cat, but won't allow herself to be intimidated by this fussy feline, in "The Secret World of Arrietty." (Courtesy Disney & GNDHDDTW)
No theaters have dropped off the list yet, so here’s the full list of showtimes, according to Fandango (please note that times are subject to change):
Dole Cannery: 10:45 a.m. and 1:15, 3:45, 6:55 and 9:25 p.m. (Tuesday and Thursday: Open-captioned screenings at 1:15 and 9:25 p.m.; Wednesday: open-captioned screenings at 10:45 a.m. and 6:55 p.m.)
Kaahumanu (Maui): 10:20 a.m. and 12:30, 2:40, 4:50 and 7 p.m; 9:10 p.m. (Friday-Saturday)
Kahala: 11 a.m. and 1:15, 3:30, 5:45 and 8 p.m. (Friday-Sunday); 11:30 a.m. and 1:40, 3:50, 6 and 8:10 p.m. (Monday-Thursday); 10:15 p.m. (Friday-Saturday)
Kapolei: 10:40 a.m. (Friday-Saturday); 12:50, 3, 5:10, 7:20 and 9:30 p.m.
Makalapua (Hawaii): 11:45 a.m. (Friday and Sunday); 2:05 and 4:25 p.m. (Friday and Sunday-Thursday); 6:45 and 9:15 p.m.
Mililani: 11:05 a.m. and 1:15, 3:25, 5:40, 7:55 and 10:10 p.m. (Friday-Sunday); 12:30, 2:45, 5:05, 7:35 and 9:45 p.m. (Monday-Thursday)
Pearlridge: 10:55 a.m. and 1:05 p.m. (Friday-Sunday); 3:20, 5:35 and 7:50 p.m.; 10:15 p.m. (Friday-Sunday); 10 p.m. (Monday-Thursday)
Ward: 11 a.m. (Friday-Sunday); 1:20, 3:40, 5:55, 8:10 and 10:25 p.m.
Windward Mall: 12:45, 3:05, 5:25, 7:45 and 10:10 p.m.
Anime around town
MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists meets from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Academy Art Center, 1111 Victoria St., Room 200. Visit www.manga-bento.com.
KZOO Radio: Kell Komatsubara of Oahu Anime Explorer chats with the gals with AniMaid Cafe during a live taping at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at KZOO’s Shirokiya studio at Ala Moana Center. Can’t make it to watch the taping? The interview will be broadcast on KZOO — 1210 AM on your radio dial — at 11 p.m. Tuesday. It’ll be all in English, too, so no need to worry about that.