Archive for February, 2011

Taste of ‘Kakimochi,’ part 1: Welcome to the show

February 10th, 2011
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If these first six weeks of 2011 are any indication, this year is going to be a very good year for anime- and manga-inspired art. We’ve already seen the talent displayed by the students in middle and high school who entered the Liliha Library Anime Art Contest, and now there’s another collection of talent on display: the local anime- and manga-inspired artist collective MangaBento and their latest exhibit, “Kakimochi,” on display at the Academy Art Center at Linekona (1111 Victoria St.) through Feb. 19. The artists in the group range from high schoolers to adults, with a good chunk of their membership currently in college.

“But is their stuff any good?” you ask. Let’s put it this way: My folder of raw shots I took at the opening reception on Saturday has more than 150 pictures in it. Narrowed down, there are still more than 50. Posting that many at once, of course, would be an incredible slog to get through. Plus this post would’ve gone up later, and some of you out there apparently don’t like when I do things “later” *cough*likehere*cough*. To that end, I’m breaking my coverage into two parts: Part 1 will cover Saturday’s opening reception, while part 2 will take a closer look at more of the featured artwork. So here we go …

Our destination today is the mezzanine gallery, on the center’s second floor. The first thing that catches the attention once you get there: all those painted manga sound effects and comic bubbles floating around everywhere on the walls. This is the view toward the main display wall …

… a view of the left flank …

… and a view on the right.

No opening reception for an exhibit named “Kakimochi” would be complete without a table full of kakimochi (along with other snacks) for visitors to munch on, all free for the nomming. (It kinda makes me wish that future art exhibits around town would bear names like “Cookies & Milk,” “Chocolate-Covered Caramel Marshmallows” or “The All-You-Can-Eat Buffet.”) By the way, that ninja photographer behind the table? That would be MangaBento’s Devin Oishi. Here’s what he saw from his perspective.

As part of the opening-day festivities, three girls performed a dance routine on the Art Center balcony. I apologize for not getting their names — they were quite good. (I also would’ve gotten the full routine if not for my memory card running out of space a few seconds into the performance. Remember, kids, always check your equipment before heading to a big event.)

But the star of the show, naturally, was the art itself. There’s a dash of old-school anime cool in the exhibit, with Lia Rodriguez’s “Many Faces of Lum.” (By the way, speaking of Lum and Urusei Yatsura, you may want to pick up that series’ DVDs from AnimEigo very soon. Just sayin’.)

Contemporary fandom is also represented nicely with pieces like Michelle Siu’s “My World.”

And here’s Michelle posing next to her picture, complete with a “he?” sound effect. (For those of you unfamiliar with manga effects, “he?” — spoken like a sharp “heh?” — expresses incredulous surprise.) This photo actually illustrates another neat thing about this exhibit: With all the painted sound effects and comic flourishes around the room, if someone is positioned at a proper angle, it’s possible to make him or her look like he or she is in a living manga page.

It’s a point emphasized with this person looking at Jon Murakami’s “Ararangers” prints.

Also, with this very angry-looking elevator. (It was quite busy swallowing people up and spitting them out throughout the day.)

Meanwhile, Brady Evans, Tracy Hirano and Jade Clark struck a pose near their pieces.

For those of you who don’t want to strain your eyes looking at their pieces, here’s a close-up of Brady’s “Okuri” …

… along with a wide-angle shot of Tracy’s “Natsuhi,” left, and “Handle With Care,” and Jade’s “Elf.”

There was even a nostalgic link to the group’s past. Those of you who have visited MangaBento’s website no doubt have seen this logo before:

Those are MangaBento’s mascots, Sumi and her pet pig, Bento. The reason I bring them up here is because of the piece contributed by Ayumi Sugimoto. Ayumi founded the group several years ago before moving on to work professionally in Japan. When she heard about the group’s latest exhibit, she wanted to join in, too … so she sent along this updated, super-cute image of Sumi and Bento. Their expressions just made me smile and think, “Yeah. Everything just seems right with life right now.”

And speaking of things that just seem right: Every MangaBento public event in recent memory has featured some spot where people can pick up a pencil and paper and draw stuff to their hearts’ content. At the opening reception, there were two tables that were seeing a fair amount of artist traffic: this one …

… and this one. (I think the second one is the one that will be used throughout the exhibit.)

And I must say, there were some cute sketches on that second table, too.

See you tomorrow with part 2 …

Weekend in preview: Art, a carnival and a karaoke contest

February 3rd, 2011
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Time once again for a “today’s edition of Cel Shaded was nice and all, but ahh, fishsticks … I still missed a few items coming up this weekend” catchup-post edition of Otaku Ohana.

This isn’t necessarily anime-related, but worth noting anyway: Star-Advertiser cartoonist Jon J. Murakami and nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi, both friends of Cel Shaded (and by extension Otaku Ohana), will be two of the many artists participating tomorrow in “Draw the Line,” a benefit for Kumu Kahua Theatre being held as part of First Friday. From 6 to 7:45 p.m. the artists will be doing drawings on the theater’s lanai at 46 Merchant St.; as each work is completed, it will be hung up for display and available for sale for $20. Seeing as how Kumu Kahua has had its share of financial struggles as of late — while the theater has received enough donations since that linked story ran to finish out the season, the future’s still quite cloudy  — anything that helps keep an outlet for the local performing arts alive can only be a good thing.

Update, 2/4: Just got word a few minutes ago via Twitter that another Star-Advertiser cartoonist, Deb Aoki, will be participating in “Draw the Line” as well. This is a rare opportunity to see Deb in action locally — she’s based out of the San Francisco Bay Area for most of the year — so go go GO!

Also, the Punahou Carnival is tomorrow and Saturday. I’m not just saying this as an alumnus who’s ready to make his annual return to his alma mater to make his contribution to the school’s scholarship fund (in exchange for bags of malasadas and yummy chicken plate lunches), but also as a devoted bargain seeker. See, the carnival’s White Elephant tent is also where I found one of the coolest things a manga collector like me could find: a copy of the Japan Times’ bilingual edition of Osamu Tezuka’s Crime and Punishment. Another year, the video game collector in me cackled after finding a boxed original NES that came packed with R.O.B., the most famous useless Nintendo peripheral this side of, I don’t know, the Power Glove or something like that. Who knows, maybe you’ll find your own otaku treasure there as well.

Finally  – and this one completely slipped under my radar, sorry about that — the first of two preliminary rounds for the Kawaii Kon Karaoke Kompetition is being held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at Orvis Auditorium on the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus. Bring a karaoke version of the song you want to sing on CD (or your MP3 player with a copy of said karaoke version, because hey, new-media savvy is also welcome), or brave it a capella — it’s your call. Judges will evaluate contestants based on technique, stage presence, vocal quality and appearance; the top three contestants will move on to the semifinals (date and time to be announced). It’s recommended that you fill out and bring an entry form from the Kawaii Kon site, although there will also be a limited number of forms available at Orvis on Sunday.

To the Anime Art Contest victors go the spoils

February 2nd, 2011
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Okay, I admit it, this post probably should’ve come out more than a week ago. You’ll have to forgive me, but after the busiest period of activity for Otaku Ohana since I was crazy enough to blog through all three days of Kawaii Kon 2010, I needed to step back, take a breather and rediscover the wonders of Little Big Planet. Yeah, I know, there are even more wonders to be discovered in Little Big Planet 2 — I have the game, the download code for more cute little Sackboy costumes, a somewhat meh Sackboy plushie with an even more meh expression on his face, and some halfway decent bookends to prove it. But hey, a little bit of old-school Sackboy hopping never hurt anyone.

No, this isn’t a post about the adventures of my Sackboy. (It would be the worst post ever, with multiple accounts ending with “… and he fell into the pit for the umpteen-billionth time, and that’s when I finally gave up.”) This is, however, a recap of the recent Liliha Library Anime Art Contest awards ceremony — because while we’ve already seen the artwork in this blog, the people behind the artwork ought to be recognized as well.

And so it came to pass that on the beautifully clear morning of Jan. 22, tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. (the camerawoman on this particular trip, whose handiwork you’ll see in the pictures throughout this post) and yours truly (tagged as a “celebrity judge” along with nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi in the official press release … I know I’ve been working the otaku beat for more than five years now and wrote an internationally published book, but that label still makes me blush) made our way to Liliha Library for the presentation.

So let’s journey back to the library’s conference room, the same room where Audra and I, a little over a week earlier, had judged the contest entries, now filled with chairs awaiting whoever wanted to show up — the winning artists, family and friends, curious passers-by, maybe even one or two of the millions thousands hundreds tens cherished handful of devoted Cel Shaded readers.

Before the ceremony, Audra and I worked on personalizing a Black Butler notebook that we were sending to grand prize winner Kaili Mossman, who couldn’t make it to the ceremony. Audra did a quick sketch of Anpan and Anise. (No, that money in front of Audra wasn’t to pay her for that sketch … that was for a completely different transaction.)

I, meanwhile, utilized my artistic talent of … umm … writing … stuff.

A few friends also joined us for the ceremony. There was Kawaii Kon’s newly minted co-administrator Roy Bann, on hand to present the convention’s prizes.

Anpan, Nemu and Pollo, meanwhile, just sat around and looked cute all day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Those prizes were pretty sweet. You can see Kawaii Kon’s contribution in the foreground — a T-shirt, a lanyard, a tote bag and some limited-edition pins, for the winners and honorable mentions. Beyond that you can see the original prizes that were at stake before the pot was sweetened — the art supplies donated by Sakura of America.

I also brought in some extra review copies of anime to add to the prize pot.

Finally, at a few minutes after 10, it was time to let our eager audience in for the presentation.

It was a good turnout. Remember all those chairs from earlier? A good number of them were filled within a few minutes.

After librarian Linda Mediati took a quick roll call to see which of the winners had arrived and which may have been en route, she invited everyone to look at the display she had set up of the winning artwork on the library floor, to give some of the winners who hadn’t shown up some more time to arrive.

… at which point pretty much everyone adjourned to do just that.

This left us presenters alone to take a lovely promo shot.

After everyone returned, it was time for the formal awards presentation, starting from the grand prize winner, then the divisional winners and the honorable mentions. As I noted in an earlier post, the big winner, Kaili Mossman, was unable to join us because she had to take her chemistry SAT test. Accepting the awards on her behalf was someone who identified himself as her uncle. Audra went first, giving him the art supplies and Copic markers from Sakura.

My contribution was a complete season set of X: The TV Series (if you’ll recall my interview with Kaili earlier, you’ll remember that she loves CLAMP’s work) and the aforementioned Black Butler notebook.

And Roy handed over a Kawaii Kon prize pack along with her special prize: a full weekend pass to this year’s convention.

We then moved on to the others who were able to make it. (I’m also including shots of their winning artwork here as a reminder of what they did. As a bonus, if you click on those photos, you can also see the comments Audra and I made on each piece.)

Grades 6-7 winner: Nicole Nguyen, “Bleach in Hawaii”

Grades 8-10 winner: Madeline Bess, “My Faves Fan Art”

Grades 8-10 honorable mention: Marin Yoshino, “Miimii Works”

Quick aside: I just had to include this shot of Marin with her mom. As it turns out, her mom was the one who entered her sketches on her behalf, successfully carrying out a ninja mission to grab pages from her sketchbook. Good one, mom!

Grades 8-10 honorable mention: Joelle Takayama, “On the Roof”

Grades 11-12 honorable mention: Schyler Lai Shinde, “Monster Hunter”

A few artists were unable to make it to the ceremony: Jasmine Wong (grades 6-7 honorable mention), Chery Wong (grades 11-12 winner) and Kimberly Ing (grades 11-12 honorable mention). Linda accepted the awards on their behalf.

And there you have it … your first-ever Liliha Library Anime Art Contest winners and presenters!

There’s a rather humorous postscript to our story, though: After the ceremony, Kaili’s uncle and sister came up to chat with us about the contest, Kaili’s art, and the talent level of the young artists in general.

After they left, Marin and her mom came to chat with us as well. Apparently Marin’s mom and Linda have been friends for a while now.

“You do know who that was, right? Kaili’s uncle?” Marin’s mom said.

“No … who?” Linda replied.

“Mike Chun. You know, the president of Kamehameha Schools?”

Our collective jaws dropped. I mean, I probably should know such things, seeing as how my main duty at the Star-Advertiser is as a copy editor who regularly reads stories in the local, business and features sections, but really, none of us had any idea.

So where do we go from here? Linda’s already shared her intent to do another art contest during the summer (dates to be announced) and open it up to the entire state. So if you’re a teen (or know one) and missed out on this go-round, there will be another chance! We’re all looking forward to seeing your work.