I had heard rumblings about the subject of today’s post, but it wasn’t until a visit to Windward Mall this morning (and a subsequent mad drive to Ala Moana Center) to confirm it was true.
So while I’m usually happy to pass along news of anime DVDs being marked down for whatever reason locally, this news comes with a bittersweet taste attached: Both the Suncoast Video store at Windward Mall, as well as the Sam Goody store at Ala Moana Center, are currently discounting all new DVDs by 30 percent and toys, used DVDs, and new and used Blu-rays by 20 percent.
The reason: Both stores are shutting down.
A Suncoast clerk told me the store will probably close sometime in February; I’d imagine a similar time frame is in place for Sam Goody. As is normal for these kinds of sales, for the best selection (and great last-minute Christmas gift ideas), it’s probably best to brave the crowds and go now. The best discounts, of course, will probably arrive around mid-January, but that’s also around when you can get your best look at what the store fixtures look like, what with all the empty racks and shelves that’ll be everywhere. So it’s your call.
Quick analysis time: If you’re a fan of traditional, physical media, and enjoy discovering anime that may not necessarily be in the mainstream consciousness, this will hurt. If you’re a fan of any anime put out by studios other than Funimation, Viz and (to a limited extent) Bandai, it’s just gotten a lot harder, if not virtually impossible, to get what you want locally. While the trend for a while now has been moving toward local anime fans having to get their fix online, via retailers who ship to Hawaii or through streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Crunchyroll and The Anime Network, this move makes it practically necessary to have an Internet connection to be a fan. Unless you’re willing to wait every year for Kawaii Kon or HEXXP to roll out some vendors selling anime in the dealers’ room, of course.
Suncoast was also a vital part of nurturing the local anime community locally through its Ani-mania events, where anime and related merchandise were discounted and there were cosplay and trivia contests. And lest we forget, Sam Goody was the site a few years ago where singer Utada Hikaru held an autograph session. It’s those kinds of opportunities that will be missed as well.
No, the title of this post isn’t referring to how many posts I’ve written here in Otaku Ohana. (Heck, these days it seems like I’m lucky to post nine updates in a month.) Rather, it reflects the fact that a lot of news came down the ol’ pipeline since the last time I wrote something here a little over a week ago. And a good chunk of it had ties to this mindless Dragon Ball Z-related video that’s been racking up millions of views on YouTube since October 2006:
Indeed, you’ll be seeing a lot of Vegeta at Kawaii Kon next year … or at least hearing a lot of him, as news broke early Tuesday morning that the local anime convention had added three more guests to its roster. So you’ll likely see Ryo Horikawa, the Japanese voice of Vegeta, crossing paths with Christopher Sabat, Vegeta’s English voice in the Funimation dub, sometime during the March 16-18 weekend. I can guarantee you right now that someone will ask them to say … oh, you know, that phrase. The one in the video above. I can also guarantee that it will not sound quite the same, since the video uses the original DBZ English dub from a Vancouver, Canada, studio, voiced by Brian Drummond … who will not be appearing at Kawaii Kon. And while I’m on a roll with the guarantees, I’ll promise that around the 582nd time that question gets asked, I will wish for a giant monster to appear, flog the questioner with a giant carrot and gobble him or her up, all while singing “Stand By Me.” You know, like this.
Some more fast facts on the three guests:
Horikawa: He’s definitely someone who’ll appeal to fans of the old-school; some of his other notable anime roles include Heiji Hattori in Detective Conan (that’s “Harley Hartwell” for all you Case Closed fans), Andromeda Shun in Saint Seiya and Reinhard von Lohengramm in Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Video game fans will recognize him as Edward Falcon in the Power Stone games and — for devoted importers — Dunban in the forthcoming-in-the-U.S.-but-already-out-in-Japan-and-Europe Xenoblade Chronicles. This is his third U.S. anime convention appearance; he also appeared at Anime Expo in 2005 and Sakura-con in Seattle in 2010.
Sabat: One of the more versatile voice actors on the U.S. DBZ crew, Sabat also is the voice of Yamcha and Piccolo in that series. The rest of his resume is quite impressive, too, covering a wide span of generational favorites: Armstrong in Fullmetal Alchemist, Kurogane in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, Kuwabara in Yu Yu Hakusho, Giroro in Sgt. Frog, Zoro in One Piece, and Jigen in Lupin III. This is Sabat’s second visit to Kawaii Kon; his first visit was in 2007.
Kenichi Miya: Compared with the other two, not much is known about Miya. What follows is Anime News Network’s complete encyclopedia listing for him:
Cast in: C – Control – The Money and Soul of Possibility (TV) as Entre (ep 5) Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s (TV) as Dragan
… that’s it.
Apparently he’s also had roles in Case Closed and Xenoblade Chronicles, although those roles are minor enough that no character names have been listed anywhere on the Internet. I’m curious to see how Kawaii Kon will present Miya’s panels throughout the event.
To recap the current guest roster: It’s these three guys, plus artist Yoshitaka Amano, voice actors Vic Mignogna, Johnny Yong Bosch and Lisa Ortiz, and musical guests EyeShine, Bosch’s band. Kawaii Kon is March 16-18 at the Hawai’i Convention Center; current registration rates for three-day passes are $40 general admission for ages 12 and up and $30 children ages 5-11. From now through Jan. 4, enter the discount code “december-news” and save an additional $5. Visit www.kawaii-kon.org.
More sparks for nemu*nemu Kickstarter
With 10 days left as of this writing, the Kickstarter-fueled pledge drive to fund a print copy of volume 6 of nemu*nemu stands at $5,907. A respectable number, to be sure, but still a ways to go to the goal of $10,000. Since the last time I checked in with the project in this space, Audra Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga have thrown in a few additional incentives, including:
A straight-up preorder of the new book ($20 paperback, $45 hardcover).
Access to one of the most closely guarded secrets of the nemu*nemu universe: the revelation of the real name of Anise’s Hanshin Flyer-loving rival, to this point known only as Nemesis. Also comes with a PDF of the book, a digital wallpaper set, a thank-you email from the pups and your name in the credits ($25).
A portrait of you drawn by Audra in any media and any style. You get the original drawing as well as digital files suitable for use as your Twitter and Facebook avatars. Also comes with PDF and paperback copies of the book, the wallpaper, the email and the acknowledgement ($100).
There’s plenty of cool swag available for devoted nemu*nemu fans, at a variety of price points. Heck, there’s enough here to convert anyone who happens to love cute things into a fan, too. But it’s going to take a group effort for everyone to get everything, so stop by http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nemunemu/nemu-nemu-collection-2011 and give whatever you see fit to give. Deadline’s Dec. 26 at 11:49 p.m. Hawaii time, so get cracking.
Other news and notes
The Aiea Library Anime Club meets at 3 p.m. Saturday at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. This month, librarian Diane Masaki will be doing what an (admittedly feeble and probably doomed from the start in retrospect) Eventful write-in campaign couldn’t accomplish: screening Trigun: Badlands Rumble here in Hawaii. And for free, to boot! And with free pizza, salad, drinks and cookies! Take that, theatrical run meanies! For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
I missed talking about this the first time it happened earlier this month, but I’m not going to let it pass without mention again: Cartoonist Jon Murakami (friend of the blog, draws “Calabash” for our fair paper) and a bunch of local artists will be at Whole Foods Market at Kahala Mall from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday for TOMS Style Your Sole, where you can buy pairs of TOMS shoes for $49.99 and have the artists draw on them. Wearable original artwork … now that sounds like a fun Christmas gift. As a good karma bonus, for every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS will donate a pair to a child in need. Stop by the Whole Foods Market Kahala Facebook page for pictures of the last event and details.
We’re counting down the final days of the existence of Sean’s Shop (formerly Mechahawaii) in Kaimuki, which is scheduled to shut down Dec. 28. I’ll have more about this next week, since I sat down for an extended conversation with owner Sean Akita earlier this week, but for now, I’ll mention that he’s holding a 20 percent off sale on everything remaining in the store. (If you haven’t been there in a while and have a picture in your mind of what was there, though, be warned: There’s much less than you remember.) Sean’s Shop is at 1126 12th Ave., Unit 105.
All Viz digital manga available on vizmanga.com and the Viz iOS app (for iPod Touches, iPads and iPhones) are up to 20% off through Jan. 8. Now might be a good time to pick up a few favorites digitally for cheap, including as-yet-unavailable-in-print volumes of Bleach, Naruto and One Piece. Of course, if you have an Android device, feel free to grouse over the lack of an official Viz app.
On Wednesday night, I did something I have to admit I haven’t done in a while: I picked up and started reading some manga just for the heck of it. Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka, to be specific. Pretty good stuff so far. That’s remarkable for the fact that I wasn’t doing what I’ve usually done during my days off lately: poking around the Internet for hours on end.
Naturally, the one night I took off from the Internet was the one night that BIG LOCAL ANIME COMMUNITY NEWS broke.
I woke up this morning to find a lengthy Google Talk message left overnight by tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J., part of it expressing sheer “WHOA! HUGE NEWS! EXCITEMENT! BLISS!”-ness over the latest guest announcement from Kawaii Kon. (That by the way, was the sanitized, safe-for-family-websites-like-this-one version of what she said. What she ACTUALLY said contained the word “holy” in it. And we’ll leave it at that.)
And for good reason. In its latest newsletter, the house of Hawaii’s first anime convention unveiled its newest guest for next year, and the first Japanese guest on the roster: Yoshitaka Amano, the artist known most for his work on Wilma-favorite series including Final Fantasy and Vampire Hunter D. He’s also worked on a few American comics, collaborating with Neil Gaiman on Sandman: The Dream Hunters in 1999 and Greg Rucka on Elektra and Wolverine: Redeemer in 2002. His current project, marking his film directorial debut, is Deva Zan, an animated film about a samurai with no memories taking on the forces of darkness, scheduled to open worldwide next spring.
As far as I can tell, this will be Amano’s first appearance in the United States since February 2010, when he attended the opening of an exhibit in Los Angeles. His last North American anime convention appearance was at Fan Expo Canada’s CNAnime event in August 2010.
Amano joins a guest list that already includes voice actors Vic Mignogna, Johnny Yong Bosch and Lisa Ortiz, as well as Bosch’s band, EyeShine. Kawaii Kon is March 16-18 at the Hawai’i Convention Center; current registration rates for three-day passes are $40 general admission for ages 12 and up and $30 children ages 5-11. From now through Jan. 4, enter the discount code “december-news” and save an additional $5. Visit www.kawaii-kon.org.
Craft fair conclusion
The Moanalua High School Winter Craft Fair is on Saturday, and with it brings the final craft fair appearances this season by plush pup purveyors Audra Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga of nemu*nemu and the T-shirt/button/apparel-toting gang at idkwhat2wear. They’ll be selling stuff this weekend at the school, 2825 Ala Ilima St., from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. … but as someone who successfully attended that fair last year, my advice is to get in line for parking a lot earlier than 9 a.m. (Things can get a bit crazy out there.) For more information, visit www.nemu-nemu.com or www.idkwhat2wear.com.
Anime around town
>> 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.