Archive for May, 2011

The Cel Shaded report, 5/19: Discotek’s rise, Borders’ fall

May 19th, 2011
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The powers that be have finally deleted the “Cel Shaded” link from the Star-Advertiser home page.

An inevitable sign of progress? Yes. Am I a bit sad about that happening? Sure. But I’ve come to accept that that part of my writing career is over, and that it’s only onward and upward from here. (In case you’re still interested in revisiting the past, though, I’m pleased to report that the archive still exists, albeit a bit buried now.) You’ll notice that I’ve tried to have a post up every Thursday since Cel Shaded ended, just to keep up the habit. I may even keep tagging these weekly posts as “The Cel Shaded report,” although that idea (like pretty much every other idea I’ve had here) will be in flux. We’ll see how things go.

And now, some comments on news that’s caught my attention as of late:

Discotek picks up the DNAngel anime: I know I can’t be the first person who saw the announcement that Discotek had set a price and release date for their new DNAngel box set — Sept. 20, $49.99! — on Chris Beveridge’s new Fandom Post website and thought, “Wait, what? Who? DISCOTEK has DNAngel?!?

But yes, it’s true: Waaaaaaay back on May 3, when I was still in my post-Kawaii Kon recovery phase, the very niche, can’t-remember-any-time-I’ve-ever-seen-one-of-their-DVDs-in-the-wild home of classic anime (Fist of the North Star, Crying Freeman, Puss in Boots, Taro the Dragon Boy) and live-action what-the-heck-ness (A Chinese Torture Chamber Story, SARS Wars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis, Star of David: Hunting for Beautiful Girls) managed to license-rescue one of ADV’s more popular series back in the day.

The news makes for a rather promising dynamic in the anime industry now. There’s no long-term trend yet of Discotek picking up more recent series yet, but if they do, they’d join Sentai Filmworks and NIS America in my “up-and-coming anime publishers” mental file (although yes, I know, Discotek’s been around for a while and Sentai is, for all intents and purposes, a streamlined ADV 2.0). More competition is always a good thing. Of course, more competition could also end up shaking out like the manga industry over the past few years, but we’ll see how things go.

Borders on the brink: On Saturday, Oahu bid aloha to the Borders store in Waikele. (An aside: If any of you were curious about the fate of that store’s “Manga and Gaming” sign, the one that hung over that particular section of the store, you’re now reading a blog post written by the person who has that sign. I’ll post a picture as soon as I can figure out where the heck I’m going to hang the thing.) Now the question seems to be whether more of the 225 remaining stores will follow suit.

If you thought Barnes & Noble would be the savior in this situation, think again; Bloomberg reported Sunday that the rival chain would only want 10 stores, along with the customer database and the dot-com presence. Publishers Weekly adds that the publishers are unhappy — they have been for a while, really — and a deal with Seattle’s Best Coffee to run the in-store cafes has ended.

As much as we like going to a bookstore to see any books from the recent past that we might have missed, new books are what draws in a good chunk of customers. For manga in particular, we want to see the latest volumes from our favorite series stocked in a timely manner. I know I can walk into a Barnes & Noble store after work — hello, Ala Moana branch, thank you for staying open until 11 p.m. — and scoop up much of what I need. I haven’t felt that way about Borders for a while now. Just the other day, tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. was pining for Vampire Hunter D novel 16, which I believe was formally released on the 10th. Barnes & Noble had it in stock and available for store pickup a few days later. Borders? Haven’t seen it cross into “in stock” locally yet.

My prediction: I think Borders stores will be gone by the end of this year. I really want to be wrong about this. I know people who work at various stores, and I pray that they don’t lose their jobs. But I think it’s just a matter of time.

Anime around town

>> Aiea Library Anime Club: 3 p.m. Saturday at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. This month, librarian Diane Masaki will be screening episodes of Slayers Revolution, the 2008 anime adventures of Lina Inverse, Gourry Gabriev and the gang. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com.

>> MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists meets from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Academy Art Center, 1111 Victoria St., Room 200. Visit www.manga-bento.com.

Drawing on inspiration all over again

May 16th, 2011
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It’s Liliha Library Anime Art Contest time again. But before I get into the details of the summer edition of this contest, there’s one loose end from the last contest that some of you may be curious about.

When last we left our 2010 grand prize winner, Kamehameha-Maui sophomore Kaili Mossman, she had received a whole pile of goodies, including a three-day pass to the Kawaii Kon recently concluded. It was to be her first trip ever to the convention. So I zipped off an email to her shortly after the con ended, asking how she enjoyed it. I got my answer from her after a few days’ wait … ever the diligent student, she replied after she had studied for her final exams.

Although I had the three-day pass, I was only able to go for one day. I had a piano recital on Friday and I was going to spend time with my family on Sunday.  Although I only went for one day, it was a fun experience. True, it would have been more fun if I had gone with a bunch of my friends, but it was fun anyway.

Some of the cosplays were amazing and the magic show was magnificent.  The Artist Alley and the Dealer’s Room were wonderful as well.  I went in with a $20 budget and was able to stick with it, but I was unable to purchase anything from the nemu*nemu corner in the Dealer’s Room.  However, I did purchase nine buttons from various booths, a (Soul Eater) keychain, and a deck of (Kuroshitsuji) cards.  If I’m able to attend again, I will definitely raise my budget to at least $30.

Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures.  I left my camera at home and a vast majority of the pictures on my phone were so blurry, I had to delete them.  :(

Next year, I will be president of the Japanese Club and will be trying to get the club to go to Kawaii Kon.  If everything works out, I may be able to meet you next year with the rest of my club.  :)

I’m really hoping I can meet Kaili next year in between my customary headless-chickening at the con. She seems like the type of person that parents dream their children will be as they grow up: super-talented, yet humble about it all.

So what to do for an encore? Simple: Take what made the first contest so great — invite students in grades 6 through 12 to submit anime/manga/video game artwork, stick a panel of esteemed judges (namely, nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi and your friendly neighborhood Otaku Ohana blogger) into a room full of that pretty art and some yummy chocolate-covered cookies, watch them slowly go insane trying to choose the creme de la creme — and do it all over again, except make it bigger and stretch it over a longer period of time.

So here’s the deal, kids: Starting from now and running through July 15, Liliha Library will be accepting original artwork done in anime style, both hand-drawn and digital art, submitted on white, unlined 8 1/2-by-11-inch paper. (Fan art of existing characters is okay; tracings are not.) Ten entries are allowed per person. Keep it family-friendly, too, as any pieces depicting violence, nudity, drug and alcohol use or smoking will be disqualified. We’re looking for the same things we were looking for last time: adherence to anime/manga style, creativity and originality, technical ability, quality of composition and design and overall impression.

Winners will be announced in July and be accordingly showered with swag. The grand prize winner this time around will receive:

  • From Sakura of America: A Manga-Comic Pro Sketching and Inking set, a red pen case and a Canson comic & Manga Artist Trading Cards
  • From Smith Micro Software: A copy of Manga Studio Debut 4
  • From Wacom Technology Corp.: A Bamboo Pen
  • A set of Copic markers
  • Other lovely things from fellow contest sponsors Right Stuf, Kawaii Kon, DC Comics and Tokyopop that we haven’t even seen yet (but we’re sure they’ll be freakin’ sweet)

First-prize winners will receive a Pigma Sensei kit, a red pen case, a Canson comic and Manga Artist Trading Cards and more mystery swag, and second-prize winners will receive the case and — you guessed it — even more mystery swag. The first 100 entrants will also get a free Sakura of America manga instructional booklet.

You can submit your entries at the library, located at 1515 Liliha St. Questions? Call Linda Mediati at 587-7577. And spread the word offline, too! Here’s the official contest flyer.

Weekend in preview: Kikaida party on Maui

May 12th, 2011
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There exists in my mind a list of events that I’ve always wanted to attend, but for various reasons — the schedule doesn’t quite work out (Sakura-Con in Seattle, which has always been scheduled too close to Kawaii Kon for me to consider it … there’s only so much vacation time I have available to me, after all, and I’d like to space it out), a fear of having to deal with so many people and wait in long lines (Anime Expo, Comic-Con International in San Diego, and Otakon being prime examples of those), language and cost barriers (anything happening in Japan) — I haven’t been able to do so.

Every year around this time, I get a press release from JN Productions that reminds me of another of those events that I’d always love to attend but always seem to forget about until that press release arrives: the Maui Matsuri, presented by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui, which is this weekend’s best bet even if it isn’t on Oahu. (Besides, it was either that or promote the last day of Borders Waikele’s existence on Saturday … and most of the good manga are gone already. Unless you haven’t picked up volumes of Mushishi, 7 Billion Needles or Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy! yet, in which case GO GO GO, OMG WHY HASN’T ANYONE PICKED THOSE UP YET, THAT BORDERS ON CRIMINAL NEGLECT.) But by the time I usually remember that the Maui Matsuri is coming up, it’s too late for me to schedule vacation time, never mind booking a flight out for it.

Oh well, maybe next year. Hopefully I can actually remember.

For those of you who might be in a position to attend, though, here are the details: Most of the events will be taking place from 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday on the University of Hawaii-Maui College campus. JN Productions and Generation Kikaida will be kicking off its celebration of 10 years of producing DVDs of all those live-action Japanese superhero series that many local people loved in small-kid time — Kikaida, Kikaida 01, Kamen Rider, Inazuman — at the festival. Helping them celebrate will be some friends and frequent island visitors over those years: Ban Daisuke, the actor who portrayed Jiro in Kikaida, will make a guest appearance, and the Kikaida Brothers will be showing up to fend off Hakaida and the DARK androids in a stage show.

There also will be a tribute to Shunsuke Ikeda, the star of Kikaida 01 who died last year at the age of 69. JN Productions also promises to have three generations of “superfans,” their families and children present and in the audience. And over in the Kodomo Corner, amid the various Japanese craft projects and games, kids can color, cut out and wear their own Kikaida masks.

If Kikaida isn’t your thing, perhaps looking at pretty art and colorful costumes would be more your style. The seventh annual Manga and Art Contest, open to students on Maui between third and 12th grade, will be highlighting the best manga-style and traditional artwork, with a certificate and cash prizes — $75 for first place, $50 for second, $25 for third — going to winners in the third to fifth grade, sixth to eighth grade and ninth to 12th grade divisions. Judging begins at 3 p.m., with the winners announced at 4 p.m.

There also will be two cosplay contests: a hallway contest, where cosplayers can get their photos taken and then put to a vote among festival attendees, and the Showcase Cosplay Contest, where cosplayers parade on stage and are evaluated by a panel of five judges. In that contest, participants will be judged on character choice, costume and character details, audience appeal and stage presence. Registration for both contests will be from 2 to 5 p.m.; the hallway contest votes will be tallied at 5:45 p.m. with the winner announced on the entertainment stage at 6 p.m., while the Showcase kicks off afterward at 6:10 p.m. Prizes include gift baskets from Omochaya, a nice little anime shop in Pukalani that I really ought to visit again and profile here one of these days.

And finally, for you gamers, there will be a Super Smash Brothers Brawl tournament starting at 3:30 p.m., with registration from 2 to 3 p.m. It’s limited to 40 participants, so you’ll want to go sooner than later.

Maui College is at 345 Kaahumanu Ave. in Kahului. Visit www.mauimatsuri.com.