Archive for the ‘video games’ Category

HEXXP 2010: Modest beginning, shaky missteps

November 16th, 2010
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The Hawaii Entertainment Expo Experience — HEXXP for short — was a convention that, from the time I and some others first heard about it several months ago, made us think, “Hmmmm … an anime convention that’s not really an anime convention per se, but more a pop culture convention incorporating sci-fi, theater and other things? Sounds interesting, and we’d like for it to succeed, but … will it really work?”

It did work. Sort of. But perhaps what the inaugural HEXXP will be remembered for the most was the stealth “seventh spoke,” one that people buying into the six-spoke convention structure of contests, gaming, film and theater, sci-fi, anime and cosplay would never have realized they were also buying into had they bought their tickets online.

So welcome also to the inaugural edition of the Extreme Machines Car Show, organized as a complement to HEXXP, headquarters to hot cars (like the one pictured above) and motorcycles, hotter scantily clad women (not pictured above, because we’d like to keep our PG rating), and owners eager to show off their sound systems with enough power to replicate the decibels generated by a sold-out Aloha Stadium in the space of, say, a VW Bug. It’s not exactly the perfect complement to the generally cross-generational appeal that anime conventions like Kawaii Kon generate. The vehicles and related displays took up two-thirds of the hall floor space, with the other third occupied by HEXXP.

In talking with several people who were on the HEXXP side on Saturday, a common story emerged: On the car show side, there was a war of sound systems going on, the sides gradually escalating their volume to a point where there were no clear winners, but several “casualties” on the convention side. In fact, the first I actually heard about anything substantive going on at HEXXP — it was a rather quiet Twitter traffic night on that front, particularly when compared to the continual tweeting that emerges during Kawaii Kon weekend — came from a late-night message from William “Doc” Grant and the Hawaii Star Manga Project account, cross-posted to Twitter and Facebook:

“Hex Day 1: super loud carshow DJ drove out droves of fans and made sales all but impossible, shared venues FEH! Still great to see many old familiar faces and friends! The security and volunteers went out of their way to do a GREAT job despite the 120dB BGM from the carshow next door! Round of applause to the little guys!”

The noise was enough for Theatricus, an interactive theater troupe, to pull out of a planned Sunday performance of its play, “The Ghosts of Aragos,” because no one could hear the actors at the Saturday performance. Also packing up after Saturday, never to return, was a business offering five-minute deep-tissue and healing-point massages.

Tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I missed all that. We had to serve our regular, mild-mannered-for-the-most-part-unless-particularly-heinous-copy-comes-through-15-minutes-before-deadline duties as copy editors on Saturday. We did manage, however, to drive past the Blaisdell 15 minutes before the show opened, where two things caught our attention:

  • The respectable crowd that had gathered outside the Galleria entrance to the exhibition hall, some of them dressed in bright, colorful costumes. (I think I saw two Pokemon.)
  • The volunteer teens across the street for some kind of “luxury car slasher sale” who were advertising 50-cent jumbo hot dogs with giant arrow signs … which they were using on occasion to point at their own, umm, “jumbo hot dogs.”

So the first time we stepped onto the floor of HEXXP was about 45 minutes after the convention opened on Sunday. That we weren’t assaulted with a wall of sound soon after arriving was already a positive sign. But what we also noticed was … this.

Yes, that is a Back to the Future replica DeLorean in the foreground. But for the purposes of our discussion, I’d like to point out the attendee traffic in the background … or rather, the lack thereof. This picture was taken close to two hours after the show opened to the public, around 11:50 a.m.

This picture was shot close to 3 p.m. I’d have to call attendance modest at its peak, sparse in general. And when things were starting to wind down around 5 p.m. …

… umm, yeah. Let’s just say navigating the aisles was never a problem.

It also meant we saw a lot of this: people sitting in the corridor of what was being termed as the “artists alley,” a handful of visitors visiting them every now and then, but mostly left to working on their crafts or talking among themselves.

The panels — what few we attended or tried to attend, anyway; there were two things on the entire schedule that interested us — also were somewhat disappointing. Wilma attended a panel advertised in the program as “Ken Maeda – Anime/Game Drifting in Real Life: D1GP Professional Drift Driver” that turned out to be a straight Q&A session, with only one of those questions addressing the supposed panel topic. (For the record: The difference between video game drifting and real-life drifting is that real-life drifting has real-life feedback.) A second panel, the stealth, off-the-schedule-then-suddenly-on-it panel hosted by Manga University’s Glenn Kardy and discussing his experiences interviewing various anime and manga industry notables in Japan, was quietly dropped with no explanation. Although there were a few announcements made over the Blaisdell PA system, they were difficult to hear, and it would have been nice to have some more clear advance notice about the panel’s fate.

That’s not to say that everything was a wash. There was a fascinating display of film props and replica weaponry, including helmets from Sam Campos’ new fantasy martial arts drama Dragonfly and various daggers.

One cool thing I saw while looking over these props was this giant suit being wheeled in by three guys. It’s quite an impressive piece of work when you see it from the front and up close.

See?

There were also video gaming and PC gaming rooms available. The video gaming room hosted by the Hawaii Video Gaming League had the usual faithful standbys, like Super Street Fighter IV, Tekken 6, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Rock Band, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 and NBA Jam.

And, of course, a guy in a panda suit playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

The PC gaming side, run by PC Gamerz, had terminals with people playing Starcraft II, as well as the cushy rumbling gaming chairs shown above with Xbox 360s running first-person shooters.

I also had a wonderful interview with Glenn, one which I’ll be transcribing and posting here sometime in the near future. Stopping by to visit the Manga University table during our chat was friend of the column (and Star-Advertiser cartoonist) Jon J. Murakami, seen here chatting with Glenn’s wife, Mari.

Truth be told, though, this is what held our attention the longest … and it wasn’t even on the HEXXP side. Drifting radio-controlled cars … they are rather cool, and infinitely mesmerizing.

Overall, I’m willing to forgive the show’s faults this year. It’s difficult to get everything right out of the gate, and fixes do exist. (One thing I’d suggest: Give the car show its own venue.) To its credit, it was a show that provided more diverse opportunities than a straight anime convention can in showcasing different elements of pop-culture fandom — sci-fi and filmmaking being the most prominent. I’ve heard about big things in store for next year, and I hope organizers aren’t promising more than they can actually deliver.

Cosplay coolness at Sand Island

October 30th, 2010
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Timeliness in writing blog posts, as I’ve emphasized time and time again in this space, hasn’t exactly been one of our strengths in recent months. Blame it on the additional duties we’ve been handed as caretakers of Honolulu’s only daily newspaper of record or a general case of the writing blahs, but I haven’t been as quick to turn around some of these posts as I’d like. As proof of this, I could walk into one of the rooms in my house right now and point at a stack of Del Rey Manga first volumes about two feet high that I haven’t gotten around to reviewing yet. (Of course, that became a moot point as of earlier this month. But I digress.)

One of the items that’s been sitting in the Otaku Ohana inbox for a little while now is a small pile of pictures from a cosplay photo shoot hosted by local photography group 808Photos Aug. 21 at Sand Island Beach Park. These photos were provided to us by Zarli Win, who — full disclosure –  is the Official Fiance to Tag Team Partner in Fandom Wilma J. And since this weekend contains National Cosplay Recognition Day Halloween, I thought now would be a good time to put this up.

Shown in order are cosplayers Misa, Dominiya, Dan and Shaughnessy, and also shows just what would happen if an intergalactic bounty hunter were to meet an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper from the Haloverse. (In two words: Epic coolness.)

Kinda puts my modest attempt at cosplaying to shame, don’t you think?

Full disclosure, part 2: We also asked the other photographers if they wanted to contribute to this point. They declined to do so.

Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!

HEX(XP)-n-effect: What’s shakin’?

October 8th, 2010
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A recent note in my e-mail box reminded me that it’s been a while since I’ve checked on what’s going on with the upcoming Hawaii Entertainment Expo Experience, aka HEXXP. Almost three months ago, to be exact. With a little over a month away from the pop culture convention’s debut (Nov. 13-14 at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall), things have seemed quiet on that front — aside from a few volunteer orientation meetings — but a quick peek at the show’s website reveals several events have popped up on the schedule that may be of interest to readers of this blog, particularly cosplayers and cosplay fans.

But first, the contents of that note, a reminder to anyone who signed up to volunteer at the event: The first of what I’m told are two mandatory training meetings will be held tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu, 1239 Olomea St. in Kalihi. Food and drinks will be provided, the organizational and communications structure among volunteers will be detailed, and the various departments will discuss what needs to be done.

Now, about that schedule.For the 19 hours HEXXP will be open — 12:30 to 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 13, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 14 — there are a lot of cosplay events planned. Highlights of the first day includes Bleach, Naruto and Hetalia photo shoots, three fashion shows held back-to-back-to-back and a panel on “How to Build a Mecha Costume on a Limited Budget.” The second day features photo shoots for gothic lolita fashions, Chobits, Halo and other first-person shooters, One Piece and Kingdom Hearts. Fans who aren’t into cosplaying or watching other people cosplay — and if you’re one of these types of fans, I just have to say, really? Are you serious? What kind of fan are you? — can watch the Initial D: Third Stage movie, take in a panel by professional drift driver Ken Maeda about the difference between how drifting is depicted in anime and video games and how it is to do it in real life, or learn more about the Hawaii Star Manga Project.

I’ve noted before that HEXXP isn’t a full-fledged anime convention per se, so that’s all I’ll discuss here … but the full schedule of events to date is posted right here. Standard disclaimers about things possibly changing between now and showtime certainly apply, but I will say this for now: It looks like a rather intriguing mix for a debut effort. I’m interested in seeing how this all plays out.