Archive for April, 2010

[Kawaii Kon 2010] Day 1: Family reunion

April 17th, 2010
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kawaii con

A sign at the MangaBento booth yesterday summed up what the Hawaii Convention Center has turned into for the weekend.

When I sat down to write the Kawaii Kon wrap-up edition of Cel Shaded in the past, my thoughts invariably would turn toward how fun the social element of the annual anime convention was. This year seems to be proving that rule once again.

ichigos

Sure, it was thrilling sitting in on the first meeting between Masakazu Morita and Johnny Yong Bosch, shown above, watching them compare notes on playing Ichigo in Bleach (and believe me, if there was anything that made me think I should probably get cracking and catch up on those several hundred episodes of that series, it was that … somehow, my experience with the series, watching the first six or seven episodes, pales in comparison to all those later-arc questions everyone was asking at the panel). Daisuke Kishio, the voice of Kaname in Vampire Knight, also ought to get a medal of valor for sticking it out through his panel with Morita and Hideo Ishikawa — all of whom are appearing at a U.S. convention for the first time — despite coming down with a sore throat on his flight to Honolulu. And Kishio, Morita and Ishikawa were beyond entertaining, keeping the audience laughing throughout their 90-minute panel.

But again, it was those moments outside the panel rooms that resonated the most with me, the chance to meet up with some old friends. I’ll get around to the more formal panels in time, but for now, here are some of my favorite pictures from the first day.

jon gordon

Artist (and Star-Bulletin cartoonist) Jon J. Murakami was at his table, neat stacks of the new Gordon Rider fan art book at the ready. It’s gorgeous, with a range of artists both famous and not, young and … umm … young at heart. Go buy one already.

yotsuba and nemu

McCully-Moiliili young adult librarian Hillary Chang was back cosplaying as Yotsuba this year and instantly fell in love with this giant Nemu plushie at the nemu*nemu table, staffed as always by Audra Furuichi, Scott Yoshinaga and family members galore. (Sorry, kids, the giant Nemu isn’t for sale.)

domo guard

Sometimes it’s easier to leave a plush Domo in charge of security and watching the Dealers Room entrance than to have a human watch it. (At least, that’s what it looked like from this angle; there actually was a staff member on the other side of this door frame.)

vic line

Say what you will about voice actor Vic Mignogna — the guy still manages to consistently draw fans year after year. This was the view from the fourth floor of the convention center down to the third floor, where Mignogna was signing autographs … and a long line formed, as always.

majin boo

Attendees’ cosplay ideas are always amazing to see every year, with the skill evident in costumes like this Majin Boo here.

hetalia

With so much costume-making talent on display, it’s only natural that some cosplayers would organize meet-ups and photo shoots. Here, the Axis Powers Hetalia crew strikes a pose.

pw01

And then there was the Phoenix Wright meet-up. Poor Gumshoe … he took the brunt of all the (photographic) wrath, here avoiding a whipping by Edgeworth. But you may notice someone else familiar in the shot: tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Jandoc, dressed up as Lana Skye.

Another busy day ahead … what memories will today’s events create? Stay tuned …

[Kawaii Kon 2010] Our time is now

April 16th, 2010
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Today is one of those days that feels like Christmas and Halloween rolled into one package for anime fans: opening day for Kawaii Kon, a weekend sure to be filled with shambling zombie marches, impromptu “Hare Hare Yukai” and “Caramelldansen” dance sessions and several bazillion people dressed up as Vampire Knight characters in honor of Vic Mignogna’s latest voice-acting role. This year, though, is different and special from other years for Wilma and I for one simple reason: We have a blog, and we’re not afraid to use it.

If you’re reading the blog this morning as you’re getting ready to head out to the Hawaii Convention Center, welcome. Here are highlights of what I’ve written about Kawaii Kon over the past few months, from the first guest profiles to today’s coverage of Alt/Air and Eleven Staples in HILife, as a handy guide for what you can expect in the days ahead:

  • Cel Shaded 12/29: Introduction to voice actors Johnny Yong Bosch, Wendy Powell, Vic Mignogna also artists Robert and Emily DeJesus, anime producer David Williams, and animation instructor/voice actor Samantha Inoue Hart
  • Otaku Ohana 1/23: Introduction to director Shinji Aramaki and voice actor Daisuke Kishio (Vampire Knight)
  • Cel Shaded 2/16: Introduction to voice actors Masakazu Morita (Bleach, Final Fantasy games) and musical guests Alt/Air
  • Cel Shaded 3/28: What to expect, part 1: A bigger Artist Alley, the return of the UH-West Oahu Maid Cafe, the Lolita Tea Party, the Moonlight Magic Ball and autographs for Morita, Kishio and limited to 100
  • Cel Shaded 4/11: What to expect, part 2: The return of Roy Chang’s art tutorials and the Hawaii State Public Library table, the debut of Hanabi Studio’s Hachi Maru Hachi anthology, and new books from Kimonokitsy Studios and Jon J. Murakami
  • In HiLife today: Meet your musical talent for the weekend: Alt/Air and Eleven Staples (two home-grown groups!)

This year’s convention is already notable for having its opening ceremonies later than in previous years — where the festivities officially kicked off at 10 a.m. for the past five years, this year’s ceremonies will take place at 3 p.m. I was chatting about it earlier this week with Kawaii Kon Vice Chairman Chris Macedonio, who told me that the kickoff was pushed back to allow more school-age attendees to come out to the festivities and have a chance at seeing the meeting between Masakazu Morita and Johnny Yong Bosch, the Japanese and English voices of Ichigo in Bleach, in a panel at 4 p.m. following the ceremonies.

Yet it’s never too early to get the party started. Take last night, for instance.

Hawaii Convention Center

Take a good look at the picture above … this will be the last time the area around the convention center looks this peaceful this weekend.

lineup

This was the view last night on the third floor of the convention center, about 20 minutes before preregistration for people who bought three-day passes in advance began. That’s … a lot of people there just to pick up badges and their “swag bags” (which this year contained a bunch of flyers … and no programs; those will be available today). While only a few people chose to cosplay, there was still a feeling of excitement in the air. People cheered when an announcement was made about preregistration opening … in 15 minutes. A group of guys RickRolled everyone. Someone offered to sell a giant panda. Other people were toting around giant Pikachus, penguins, Yoshi backpacks.

prereg

Here we have preregistration in full swing. (Here we also have an example of why the pictures I take end up here in Otaku Ohana, and why we love our staff photographers who take far better pictures than I do. Sorry about the image quality.) It seemed to me, walking with Wilma as she picked up passes for herself and her  fiance, that the lines were moving relatively quickly … except, perhaps, for those people whose last names began with the letters A through J, which seemed to have the longest line of all. I should also mention the hat that guy to the right is wearing is representative of quite intelligent, refined taste.

passes

And this is what it’s all about: the first look at what this year’s passes for three-day attendees (like Wilma!) look like. They’re quite spiffy. And pink. I’ll get a chance to look at what the press passes look like tomorrow.

Check back here throughout the weekend and on my Twitter feed for periodic coverage — “periodic” meaning “whenever I can break away from the panels and running around chatting with friends to type up something … and don’t feel like flat-out collapsing in bed in the process,” but frequent enough that those of you who can’t attend for whatever reason can get a taste of what’s going on down here. And for those of you attending this weekend, don’t be shy … come up and say hi. I will say that Wilma and I are planning on cosplaying this weekend  and leave it at that. I may even have the photographic proof to back it up…

Character education, powered up

April 15th, 2010
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Wilma and I are always happy to promote causes that take our favorite hobbies and use them to enhance the greater good in the community — the annual Cel Shaded column promoting Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play charity benefiting Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, for instance, or First Book-Oahu’s efforts to distribute books to children in low-income families.

News of the cause I’m writing about today, however, came to me from a somewhat unusual source: the spam filter in place for comments on this blog. If some of you reading this are wondering why your comments might not be posted right away, it’s because we get to have final say on everything that gets posted. It’s quite helpful when you have Russian-speaking bots offering way-off-topic advice and really generic praise in bad English (“Terrific Blog. Niftier then the simillar post I seen last Tuesday on AOL. Maintain the good work.) rampaging through the Internet, not so much so if you’re an adviser of a video game club trying to get in touch with me.

But something struck me as sincere and not-so-spammy when I noticed Sean Hamamura’s comment, seen at the end of this recent post about Shirley. The link checked out as legit; I sent an e-mail to Hamamura to verify its legitimacy, and he promptly responded. As it turns out, ChipChipChurrah, the Mililani High School video game club being advised by Hamamura (who’s a teacher at the school),  is trying to earn a $5,000 Pepsi Refresh grant to pay for a daylong trip to a YMCA leadership training camp and ropes course, but they need your votes, dear readers, to do it.

I sent Hamamura a few questions about the club and what he’s trying to accomplish with the grant; his answers are below:

JSY: How many years have you been advising this video game club? (Were you around when it started, and if so, how did it start?)
Sean Hamamura:
We started the club last year.  Some students wanted to start a video game club and I was excited to help.

JSY: Whose idea was it to call the club “ChipChipChurrah,” and what’s the story behind that name?
SH:
Josh Batenhorst and his friends came up with the name “chipchipchurrah.” It was a sound a character in a game they were playing was making … or at least it sounded like that to them. On our Web site I used it to describe the fun we have when we are having fun and doing good deeds. We are trying to make a name change to the MHS Video Game Club so that people know what our club is about.

JSY: When most people see “video game club,” the first thing they probably think of is a bunch of teens huddled around TVs playing Modern Warfare 2, Rock Band, Street Fighter IV, etc. with pizzas and sodas on the side. How does your club go beyond that stereotype, and how does community service fit in to the equation?
SH:
We have worked really hard to change that perception. We do a lot of service projects. We’ve done campus cleanups and children’s fairs. We go to the Olaloa retirement community twice a month. We have also incorporated the Character Counts program, which the Mililani Complex uses to teach character education. Students learn trustworthy, responsibility, respect, fairness, caring and citizenship. We have also worked with our school behavior specialists to help students with disabilities and behavior problems join our group. We’ve won the support of our administration and parent organization.

JSY: How did you hear about the Pepsi Refresh program, and why did you apply for a grant from there?
SH:
I received an email from the Character Counts organization about the grant. It seemed like a good way to pay for a camp emphasizing character education.

JSY: What do you hope to accomplish with this grant?
SH:
I want to take kids to a YMCA Ropes course to teach them character education and leadership skills. We will be losing a lot of seniors next year. I want to make sure we continue to emphasize character education and service projects. Because of furloughs, our meetings have been thrown off. Our meetings were always on Fridays.  We’ve tried meeting on other days, but academics always come first. We had to move or cancel several meetings. Last year we had an average of 20 students at service projects. This year we average around seven students. Without the emphasis on character education, the turnout for anything non-video game related has been low. We have 45 students registered in our club, and over 100 students who have indicated interest in our club. My goal is to get 30 students to attend two campus cleanups.

We are trying to specifically target students who are not involved in any extracurricular activies and are at home playing video games by themselves.  We want to get them involved in school through our club.  We believe that when students are active members of their school, they feel a sense of belonging and investment which will lead to a more positive experience.

JSY: And finally … what kinds of games do you like? Are there any you’re playing through now?
SH: I like playing with and against people. I play MW2 more than I should. If I had time I would play a lot more and I would also play Madden. Madden is a big time commitment so I’ve hardly played this year.

Ready to vote? Start the process here. (You do need to provide your name and an e-mail address, but you can certainly opt out of all the promotional e-mails that Pepsi serves up.) Voting closes April 30th and only the top 10 in each category get funded — Hamamura’s group was in 59th when last I checked last night, but I think we can help push them higher.