Archive for January, 2010

Evangelion 2.0 at UH-Manoa

January 27th, 2010
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This image was originally supposed to go with a "Shinji Ikari Raising Project" review. Which is still coming. Eventually.While doing some poking around the Internet researching subjects to write about for the next edition of Cel Shaded (certain to come Feb. 2 now that I’m not sick; sorry for the lack of a column on Tuesday), I came upon a recent announcement from the University of Hawaii at Manoa Anime and Manga Society. If you don’t have any plans Friday evening — and enjoy the Evangelion franchise, to boot — you may now have something to do.

From 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at Moore Hall room 119, the group plans to screen the movie Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance, the second film in the “Rebuild of Evangelion” re-imagining of the TV series. Everything I said about the film when it came to the Hawaii International Film Festival in October still applies: Shinji and Rei battle Angels, Asuka shows up with a new last name, Gainax makes millions licensing more crazy Evangelion merchandise.  Or something like that, anyway.

Pizza and soda will be served, and a raffle will be held for a pass for Kawaii Kon later this year. For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page.

Kawaii Kon guest watch, round 2

January 23rd, 2010
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Shinji Aramaki: Here in 2009; here again in 2010.Kawaii Kon announced its second round of guests for this year’s event this morning; without further ado, here are those announcements, this time with the distinctive flavor of the Japanese side of the anime industry:

  • Shinji Aramaki (shown at right), director of the CGI Appleseed (2004) and its sequel, Appleseed: Ex Machina (2007) and character/mechanical designer on shows old and new, from Bubblegum Crisis and Megazone 23 to Soul Eater and Fullmetal Alchemist. This is Aramaki’s second visit to Kawaii Kon.
  • Daisuke Kishio, Japanese voice actor whose most notable roles are in three highly coveted series that have yet to be formally released in the United States: Kaname Kuran in Vampire Knight, Soichi Negishi in Detroit Metal City, and Cody in Super Street Fighter IV. Among series released in the U.S., he’s the voice of Imadori Kyousuke in School Rumble and Pinocchio in Gunslinger Girl ~Il Teatrino~.

Kawaii Kon is April 16-18 at the Hawaii Convention Center; get a discount on three-day passes by using the discount code “celshaded2010″ when registering.

U-TA-DA! U-TA-DA! U-TA … oww.

January 16th, 2010
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In the flesh ... Utada! (Or Hikki, for the hard-core fan.)She sang.

She danced.

She played the piano AND the drums.

And in the end, the audience gave Hikaru Utada a standing ovation. Most of her fans had no choice, really, some — your intrepid otaku blogger among them — having stood nonstop for MORE THAN FIVE  HOURS.

Such was the nature of Utada’s concert Friday night at Pipeline Cafe, the kickoff show in her 2010 “In the Flesh” tour, the last show she said she’d do as a 26-year-old (she turns 27 on Tuesday, just in time for her second show in Los Angeles), and her first concert since the end of her “Utada United” tour in September 2006.

Enjoying the show, however, turned out to be a test of endurance for her fans. From some of the Twitter reports I’ve seen, if you want to know how long the line got by the time the doors opened at 7 p.m., try this exercise:

  • Plug “805 Pohukaina St.” into Google Maps.
  • Plop the little Google guy onto the map to open Street View.
  • Send him down Koula Street and turn onto Auahi (the non-Office Max side).

That’s … quite a distance.

I arrived in Kakaako around 5:15 p.m., which placed me at a spot in line around the Hawaii’s Natural High entrance; nemu*nemu’s Scott Yoshinaga and Audra Furuichi came later and ended up on Auahi. It was a bit over two hours before I got into the building, at which point I discovered, to my dismay, what everyone would soon discover as they entered: there were no chairs. Well, okay, so there were a few booths in the back and a few stools here and there, but those were long claimed by people ahead of me in line.  There was also a second-level VIP lounge, but … come on, you want me to pay an additional $50 to pay for the right to sit down? Really? Maybe if I saw more Pipeline shows or went there to schmooze more often, perhaps, but otherwise, I don’t think so.

I lucked out, managing to find a spot at a set of four small bar tables directly behind the sound booth that gave me a direct line of sight to the stage (not to mention a peek at the official set list sitting on top of one of the sound boards — granted, I couldn’t see much on that list, but I was still thrilled that I could make out some of my favorite songs). But I’d estimate 95 percent of the sold-out audience wasn’t so lucky, being trapped in a (foot/knee/back-)throbbing sea of humanity. Granted, there were screens around the place, but really, what’s the point of seeing someone live if you’re watching him or her on a giant screen? You may as well be at home watching TV.

I felt sorry for DJ Mike Rizzo, the warmup turntablist who was trying to pump up the audience but, from what I noticed, only mustered a few people bouncing here and there and an occasional scream of delight. (Results may vary based on where you were in the human sea.) Audience members — seemingly split between local fans and Japanese visitors — just didn’t seem all that into the music. That the show started close to an hour after the promised 8 p.m. start time also may have played a role. And then there were those steam geysers that went off twice, impressive visually but with a deafening roar, one of which smothered a poor young woman who happened to be positioned right underneath it.

But then the lights dimmed, Utada popped on stage (decked out in an oversized white T-shirt with a giant red heart and a smaller glittery blue heart and red pants) singing the prelude from “Exodus,” her first English-language CD, and all was right with the world.

For about 100 minutes, Utada gave her all — an 18.25-song set (the 0.25 coming from an impromptu a capella “Boku wa Kuma”) plus a two-song “encore” (“encore” in quotes because I could see the final two songs, “Simple and Clean” and “Me Muero,” listed on the official set list, so I knew she was coming back). The bulk of the songs came from her second English-language CD, “This is the One,” and there was also a gentle emphasis on “Exodus,” but the rest was a quick tour through some of her Japanese-language hits over the years: “First Love.” “Automatic.” “Can You Keep a Secret.” “Sanctuary” (a special bilingual Japanese/English version, at that). Her backing band was superb, although it probably would have been nice to get a spotlight on some of the soloists. Her voice, while showing some noticeable strain in her inability to hit the highest notes in “Sakura Drops” and the lowered octave ranges on some other songs, was still lovely to hear live.

Perhaps the biggest endorsement for the night’s proceedings, though, may have come from Lorenzo, our head office clerk whom I saw after the show. He went with his sister, who’s the bigger Utada fan of the two, not really knowing what to expect. “I’m definitely a convert,” he said.

Thanks for the experience, Utada. I was entertained and thrilled to see you live. But, umm … next time, you might want to seriously consider of our state’s other, larger concert venues. Just a thought.