Archive for March, 2011

A festival, two murals and some retro-gaming

March 12th, 2011
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Another day, another pile of links and events to point to … with thoughts and prayers, of course, still going out to the people of Japan. I understand there’s a movement afoot among Facebookers to wear red on Monday in support of the people of Japan. Here’s the link — note that you’ll need to be logged into your Facebook account to be able to see it. Also, if you didn’t see my post from yesterday on the topic, please take a moment to check it out.

Today’s best bet — and for the entire weekend, really — is the Honolulu Festival, with performances and events taking place at multiple venues around the Ala Moana/Waikiki area, including the Hawai’i Convention Center, Ala Moana Center, Waikiki Beach Walk, Waikiki Shopping Plaza and DFS Galleria. Here, have a clip of what you can expect to see on the Convention Center main stage, shot at last year’s festival:

You can find my roundup of events taking place at the festival’s Anime Corner in this week’s Cel Shaded. Sadly, the situation in Japan has muted the celebratory mood somewhat, with the biggest change being that the Nagaoka fireworks show scheduled for tomorrow night has been canceled.

By the way, if you’re in Waikiki for the Honolulu Festival, why not swing by the Outrigger Reef on the Beach at 2169 Kalia Road? That’s where Star-Advertiser cartoonists Jon J. Murakami (“Calabash”) and Dave Thorne (“Thorney’s Zoo”) will be joining visiting artist Phil Yeh (who worked with Jon on The Winged Tiger & the Dragons of Hawaii) to paint a mural from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today … and you can join in on the fun, too. It’s part of Cartoonists Across America & the World, an initiative that Phil created to promote children’s literacy and art. The organization has already done more than 1,800 murals in 49 states and 14 countries.  Can’t make it today? They’ll be painting another mural tomorrow at the Kahala Mall main stage from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Video-game buffs craving a healthy dose of nostalgia will want to go to Aiea Library (99-143 Moanalua Road) today. From noon to 2, there will be classic Atari games set up to play as part of the library’s celebration of Teen Tech Week. Since your tag-team partners in fandom have to work this afternoon, this may be the only event we’ll have time to check out today … and we’ll try to stop by for a bit, although we’ll see how things go due to the always-dicey parking situation in the neighborhood. Because we love classic games. Heck, Wilma was regaling me with tales of Adventure, Combat and Haunted House on the drive home last night. We’ll have to share those in this space sometime.

Pray for Japan

March 11th, 2011
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Two things have been on my mind this morning: the tsunami warning in Hawaii and the sheer devastation from the magnitude 8.9 earthquake and subsequent tsunamis in Japan. While we managed to dodge another bullet locally — and major props to everyone, from emergency response to state Civil Defense to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, for making everything run so smoothly — just watching YouTube amateur footage of what’s going on in Japan is heartbreaking.

A few otaku-related tidbits I’ve gleaned from Facebook and Twitter:

  • This weekend’s Honolulu Festival will go on as scheduled, although today’s preview day is apparently canceled.
  • All simulcasts streaming on Crunchyroll from today through Sunday have been suspended.
  • MangaBlog mom Brigid Alverson has a nice roundup of comic creators and their responses to the earthquake and tsunami over at Comic Book Resources. (Of note: Apparently Marvel uber-artist Brian Michael Bendis and his family are in town.) J-List’s Peter Payne, manga translator William Flanagan and singer Utada Hikaru also checked in and are all okay, albeit a bit shaken.
  • Several efforts to donate to tsunami relief efforts have already been heavily promoted. To donate $10 to the Red Cross, text REDCROSS to 90999. GlobalGiving.org has also launched the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund on its site. USA Today lists more causes.

The search for signs of Ghibli life in the local universe

March 8th, 2011
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Tuesday was new release day for DVDs and Blu-rays … and, as I noted in my last Cel Shaded column, the day in the U.S. that Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind arrived on Blu-ray for the first time and Tales From Earthsea also came home to the horror of all but the most hard-core Studio Ghibli collectors. This meant one thing for me: Time to hit the road and see where I could snag copies of each movie for myself.

I know, I could’ve just preordered it online and saved myself the hassle. But I’m admittedly an old-school kind of guy, the type who wants to have his physical media in hand on the day and date of launch and not have to pay an extra arm and leg to get it shipped over here by some faster means other than “guy with package sitting atop giant lazily swimming turtle.” Plus I had a spiffy coupon for $10 off, an official Disney Movie Rewards coupon that has an expiration date of March 20 but already seems to have expired from the Disney site, so no link for you, sorry. Those things are easy to redeem at regular stores, but online? Fuhgeddaboutit.

As this week approached, I was cautiously optimistic. Everything Ghibli released in recent years received a decent push from retailers — Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo could all be considered “tent pole releases,” titles that would draw fans in and get them to buy the studio’s other films released on DVD on the same day. And all of those DVDs grabbed at least a small portion of the Sunday ad circular real estate. Granted, Disney’s recent re-release of My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service passed a bit more quietly, but at least they were still sitting near Ponyo at Target when the time came.

Tales of Earthsea, of course, isn’t on the same level as those movies, a point I’ve emphasized over and over and over again. It’s hardly a tent pole release. Heck, it’s debatable whether Earthsea is worthy of being the dirt on the ground where those other tents are set up, pretty scenes notwithstanding. Nausicaa, though … that held a bit more promise for me. It’s a Hayao Miyazaki film! On Blu-ray for the first time! Surely “Academy Award-winning director” and “sexy hi-def Blu-ray” are good enough bullet points to warrant broadcasting to the world, right?

This is the part where you say, “Wrongo, easy breezy Japanese-y fanboy. Now step aside, we’ve got these Hannah Montana final season sets and Jackass 3 to sell. But if you’re interested, we do have Pokemon Black and White in stock now …” Indeed, Sunday’s ads came and went, and no one advertised that those films were being released. Heck, a quick check of Target’s and Walmart’s websites Tuesday morning listed those films as not even available in their stores.

But I’m not easily convinced. And when I’m not easily convinced, you know what that means: Time to make that aforementioned road trip mean something.

Good thing I did go on that fact-finding mission, too, because it turns out that Target (the Salt Lake store, anyway; didn’t have a chance to check out the Kapolei store, although I can’t see there being any difference) does have a healthy stock of Nausicaa and Earthsea, in their section with new children’s releases. (I should add this quick disclaimer: Parents, please don’t buy Earthsea for your young children. You will probably scar them emotionally for life, what with the blood spilling everywhere at the beginning and end.) Best Buy in Aiea and Iwilei have them in stock as well. Walmart stores in Royal Kunia and Mililani, as advertised online, did not.

So what’s the best deal? Target has Nausicaa available for $27.99 and Earthsea for $19.99; Best Buy has Nausicaa for $29.99 and Earthsea for $24.99 (although it seems that they’ve discounted Earthsea to $19.99 for the time being). If you don’t mind waiting, though, Amazon.com lists Nausicaa for $24.99 and Earthsea for $17.99.