Archive for April, 2010

[Kawaii Kon 2010] Train of memories

April 25th, 2010
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It’s been a week already since Kawaii Kon ended, yet here at Otaku Central it feels like the memories haven’t really stopped flowing yet. Part of it is because tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Jandoc and I are still sharing little moments here and there; part of it is because of all of the video and picture galleries that are popping up around the Internet; and part of it is because I still have hours and hours of panel audio to sort through. I’m hoping to get a few panel write-ups posted by the time I fly off to FanimeCon next month — yes, people of San Jose, Calif., I’ll be vacationing in your fair city around Memorial Day weekend. So buy up those Super Eurobeat CD compilations from the Bay Area Kinokuniyas now, because in all likelihood they won’t be there after I leave. Just sayin’.

When I returned to the office on Thursday, I heard a common question from a number of coworkers: “Hey! We read your blog! We saw the pictures! So where’s the picture of you and Wilma cosplaying?” I kept everyone happy by showing them this then-unpublished picture on my laptop. But for those of you who don’t work here, here’s that heretofore missing piece of our con-going story:

That would be Wilma in a lolita-style dress and me dressed up as Maxwell, the main character in the Nintendo DS game Scribblenauts. Upon seeing this picture, Gary Chun, the official editor of Cel Shaded and Drawn & Quartered, told me, “Umm, no offense, but Wilma looks cuter.” I … would have to agree.

As far as I can tell, the LoLpups! Flickr stream from nemu*nemu‘s Audra Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga is the only online source I know of to capture all three of the outfits I wore over the weekend. For the record, the costumes were a loose tribute to their plush pup creation Nemu on Friday; Maxwell on Saturday; and … ummm … cosplay photographer Jason Nishi on Sunday. Umm, yeah. That’s it.

A few more examples of cosplay better than mine:

Giant Totoros wandering the hallways are always awesome.

As are giant Final Fantasy cactaurs.

And so are couples who dress up as Pokemon’s Team Rocket and dress up their uber-cute baby as Meowth.

In fact, let’s just confirm this right now: On the heels of the recent release of Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver, and a future with Pokemon Black and White in store, we love our Pokemon. And our Ash and Misty cosplays.

Also, when your cosplay’s good enough to have no less than Appleseed director Shinji Aramaki want to take a picture of it, you chose a really nice outfit.

Then there was a cute moment that I missed seeing in person but heard about at closing ceremonies. At the “Ask an Anime Character” panel on Saturday, Derick Ching proposed to his girlfriend, Tina Harwood. The big moment, shown above, was captured by YouTube user straytracer and shared with the world with their blessing. Congratulations, Derick and Tina!

Speaking of things missed, if you weren’t able to attend Friday’s opening ceremonies, embedded above is a high-quality version of the opening AMV (anime music video). Just insert fangirlish screaming at the beginning with Vic Mignogna’s turn as Vampire Knight’s Zero and when Pikachu and Edward Elric show up in the video, and it’ll be just like you were watching it live in the main events room!

Another moment from the opening ceremonies that doesn’t seem to have been posted on YouTube — until now, by yours truly! — was this quick Vic Mignogna-led audience tribute to voice actress Wendy Powell, who was celebrating her birthday over the weekend. I certainly hope this clip meets with her approval, as she spent most of her panel Saturday repeating the assertion that she hate hate hate hate hates YouTube because of the way some of her not-for-YouTube stories have nevertheless made their way to the video service. (That was also the reason she cited for pulling out of the “uncensored” 18-and-older panel with Johnny Yong Bosch later that Saturday.) She said it often enough that some enterprising video editor could have started an entire YouTube meme around it. (No one has. Yet.)

While it was Powell’s first time in Hawaii, artists Robert and Emily DeJesus returned to Kawaii Kon after taking a year off due to the death of Robert’s sister. It was great to have them back — they raised money for the Hawaii Foodbank throughout the weekend, and I had a nice chat with Robert on Sunday about various video games. And while they took home one passenger — that is, indeed, a plush panda from PMBQ Studios that Emily was clutching during Sunday’s closing ceremonies — they’ll probably bring another passenger next year. Emily’s pregnant.

Finally, I have to compliment the various artists who contributed once more to the annual art auction and banner. There were some nice pieces available for anyone who wanted to bid on them, as seen above …

… and for those who wanted to create their own memories for free, there was that option as well.

And I must say, there were some really nice memories from this year.

[Kawaii Kon 2010] Day 3: Twin billing

April 19th, 2010
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Dear Otaku Ohana readers: Your friendly neighborhood anime/manga columnist has a twin.

Yeah, I know, it came as a surprise to me, too. All my life, I was raised to believe that I was an only child. But until this, the third and final day of Kawaii Kon, I had no idea that anyone could look like me.

And then nemu*nemu co-creator Audra Furuichi introduced me to this guy.

0418 twins

That’s Jason Nishi on the left. He’s a southern California native, computer programmer by day, cosplay photographer in his spare time … and uncanny doppleganger. Furuichi knew him from when she lived in California some years back. I had to laugh when I saw him. He did, too. As did the other nemu-nemu co-creator, Scott Yoshinaga. We spent several minutes chatting about our respective jobs, chuckling about our similarities and passing cameras around to capture the moment, and it was all incredibly fun.

A few other highlights and photos from the final day:

0418 kishio self

Daisuke Kishio’s panel was rather informal. So informal, in fact, that a good chunk of it was discussing which loco moco is Hawaii’s best. (Kishio expressed a desire to eat loco moco during a panel on Friday and did get a chance to do so over the weekend.)

0418 kishio water

Oh, yes, and they also drank water. (A significant development, especially if you were at Saturday’s panel.)

0418 aramaki

Shinji Aramaki, accompanied by Pali Kaaihue and Sachi Uchida of Doko Ga TV, showed off the Space Pirate Captain Harlock “test film” for a second time this weekend, a trailer-like proof of concept for the upcoming film that looked absolutely gorgeous, like it could hit a movie theater screen tomorrow. (The truth is the actual film will probably take at least two more years.)

0418 winner01

At the end of Aramaki’s panel, Kaaihue and Uchida gave away some cool swag they got from visiting anime studios as part of Doko Ga TV. This person won a black Roy Focker jacket. But wait a minute … this winner also looks awfully familiar …

0418 winner02

Yes, that would be tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Jandoc who won that jacket. I forgot to ask her what she’s going to do with it, but I’m sure I can get an answer from her somewhat soon. (We chat often.)

0418 zombies

Meanwhile, outside of the panel rooms, the annual Zombie March brought together a large number of cosplayers for a good old-fashioned shambling along, with a valiant group of survivors trying to fight it. Say it with me now: “Only at an anime convention.”

0418 roy chang

Art teacher and MidWeek cartoonist Roy Chang was back for another year, offering his art tutorials and advice once again. Here he is drawing a sketch and adding his autograph for someone who asked for one.

0418 sketch

And here’s the final product. The character is one that will be appearing in Chang’s upcoming book.

0418 bosch bye

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and another Kawaii Kon goes into the history books. Some attendees may feel like Johnny Yong Bosch may have felt here in this picture, trying to linger and sign just one more autograph yesterday morning even as convention founder Stan Dahlin was waiting for him so he could take him to the airport for his flight home.

But for those people sad that another Kawaii Kon has come and gone, there was a sign that went up on the registration booths sometime late in the day that ought to offer encouraging words:

0418 sign

Indeed.

Panel write-ups will be coming up later … for now, I’m going to enjoy something I haven’t had much of a chance to do over Kawaii Kon weekend: sleep.

[Kawaii Kon 2010] Day 2: Lessons learned

April 18th, 2010
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Some thoughts that have been brewing in my head with just one day left in Kawaii Kon 2010, presented with some pictures I took yesterday:

ishikawa and morita

  • I noticed a bit of a difference between the panels for the most popular Japanese guests and U.S. guests this weekend. It’s a difference that I hope to elaborate on in another post in the near future (after I’ve had a chance to digest all the panel recordings I’ve made over the weekend), but I’ll say this for now:¬† There were more odd questions and a “dance, monkey, dance!” mentality prevalent for the U.S. voice actors than the Japanese. Also, there were more people who showed up for the Johnny Yong Bosch panel yesterday than the panel on Friday featuring Hideo Ishikawa (above left), Masakasu Morita (above right) and Daisuke Kishio in their first panel appearance at a U.S. convention. That may make more sense if I think about it some more — it’s definitely hard to think complex thoughts late at night after about 10 hours of conventioneering — but right now, it’s not making too much sense to me.

kishio and translator

  • Speaking of Kishio, shown above with one of his translators, no one drinks water with more panache than him. So much so, it even turned into a bit of a running joke during his panel last night: He’d look toward the translator to his right, she’d take a drink and he’d lead a polite round of applause; he’d look toward the translator to his left, she’d take a drink and he’d lead a polite round of applause; then he’d chug some of his own bottle. Definitely a crowd-pleaser.

kk aerial

  • I’m ready to declare that this year’s trend in cosplay is that … well, there is no real trend in cosplay this year. (You can see it in this random crowd shot from yesterday afternoon.) Whereas in previous years one could point out at the masses and declare, “Oh, this is a Naruto year,” or “hey, those powder blue Ouran High School Host Club suits are really popular this year,” diversity reigns this year (although I will say there were quite a few people wielding Kingdom Hearts-series Keyblades). Not that that’s a bad thing, of course, particularly when you have things like this running around:

deku

Yes, folks, that is a guy in a Legend of Zelda-series deku scrub costume. And it is awesome. [JSY EDIT 4/22: Tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Jandoc has been nudging me to say that it’s actually a woman in this costume. The awesomeness factor still remains, of course.]

doc grant

  • While I was chatting with William “Doc” Grant at the Hawaii Star Manga Project booth last night — that would be him at left, along with Wendell Hong — we learned that there are designs entered from an art class at Moanalua High School in the Vans (shoes) Custom Culture contest. The class is hoping to advance out of the Southwest division and advance to the contest finals. As of a little before 11 p.m. HST yesterday, Moanalua had opened up a 242-vote lead — which is definitely good news; they were in second place and closing when we learned of this a few hours prior — but it’s always good to offer them an extra cushion. Voting lasts through today (Sunday); you can vote at www.vans.com/customculture.
  • Eleven Staples and Alt/Air were great, and I wish them nothing but the best in their future endeavors. It was really fun interviewing them, and I hope anyone who came out to their performances yesterday as a result of my article left satisfied. Here’s a shot of Eleven Staples performing:

staples

And while it was difficult getting shots of Alt/Air because of the dance party it became, here’s a shot of Aly Ishikuni singing one of the group’s two songs:

altair

So what’s in store for tomorrow? Is it possible for Wilma and I to go even more batty with anime convention fever?¬†Check back here later for the thrilling conclusion …