Archive for January, 2012

The Cel Shaded Report, 1/20: Let us entertain Yuu

January 20th, 2012
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The news was up all over the place within several minutes of the press release landing in media inboxes Tuesday: Kawaii Kon had landed another top-shelf Japanese voice actor as a guest for this year’s show, Yuu Asakawa. This will be Asakawa’s second visit to a U.S. anime convention; her first was Anime Expo in Anaheim, Calif., in 2010.

If you’ve ever heard the Japanese voice of Sakaki in Azumanga Daioh, Motoko in Love Hina, Priss in Bubblegum Crisis 2040, or Rider in Fate/Stay Night, you’ve heard Asakawa’s work. She’s also played major roles in Boogiepop Phantom (Nagi Kirima), Gravion (Mizuki Tachibana), Hikaru no Go (Yuki Mitani), Rahxephon (Shinobu Miwa), School Rumble (Itoko Osakabe) and Vandread (Jura Basil Elden). She’s also sung the theme songs for Boys Be …, Bubblegum Crisis 2040, the Love Hina Christmas special and Majikoi – Oh! Samurai Girls!, and serious fans also know her vocal samples were used as the basis for synthetic Vocaloid singer Megurine Luka.

Asakawa also hosts the biweekly Web show Otaku-Verse Zero with Otaku USA editor-in-chief and Japanese pop culture expert Patrick Macias. Yes, it’s in English; here’s the latest episode, featuring Asakawa running around the Tokyo Game Show, posted last Saturday.

To my knowledge (“my knowledge” meaning “this is the first time I’ve ever seen this information posted on an Anime News Network biographical page about an upcoming Kawaii Kon guest”), Asakawa is also the first Japanese guest to have a bilingual Twitter account that engages both Japanese and English followers, @julia320. “A voice actress in Japan try tweeting in ENG to have fun with fans in overseas:) Thank u for following!” her Twitter bio reads. She’s even posted a few tweets in English since the announcement:

“I’ll make a guest appearance for http://www.kawaii-kon.org/ BTW,I really don’t like this photo of me!! It’s taken bout 10 years ago. Why chosen..” — Jan. 17, 9:30 p.m.

“Well,we have no choice sometimes.lol” — Jan. 17, 9:41 p.m.

“Anyway! Really glad to inform you this news! Can’t wait to meet you in Hawaii:D #kawaiikon” — Jan. 17, 9:44 p.m.

“So,Which anime character I acted is the most popular in Hawaii?#kawaiikon” — Jan. 17, 10:27 p.m.

“This is gonna be the first trip to go abroad for my manager. Is this good news or not for me? I have to manage my manager? Lol” — Jan. 17, 10:29 p.m.

“Thank you for having me:) RT @KawaiiKon more on Yuu Asakawa! fb.me/1dfr3Zu7i” — Jan. 19, 12:37 p.m.

She also apparently really loves the character of Leon Kennedy from the Resident Evil franchise and is looking forward to Resident Evil 6 later this year. But that’s not what’s important for our discussion. You may have noticed that one of Asakawa’s tweets asked which of her characters is the most popular in Hawaii. The question got all of two responses … one of which actually answered the question. (And if Twitter’s geolocation service is accurate, that person tweeted from Ampang, Kuala Lampur.)

Let’s do some math here. I’m going to estimate that more than 5,000 people will attend Kawaii Kon this year. If we factor out attendees going only to see the guaranteed crowd magnets of Vic Mignogna/Johnny Yong Bosch/Eyeshine, those who’ve only watched anime in its English-dubbed form, those who don’t really know who Yuu Asakawa is, those who aren’t on Twitter, and those who don’t realize Otaku Ohana and the Cel Shaded Report exist, we’re left with … well, okay, not too many people. Low double digits? Maybe? (It’s that last factor that really cuts the numbers down.) In any case, I know it’s possible to rally more of a response than what she’s gotten.

So here’s the deal. Since the original tweet is several days old — an eternity in Twitter time, enough to encompass several bazillion SOPA protests, pleas to Justin Bieber from teen girls to get him to notice them, and random hashtag memes — I’ve retweeted it over on my Twitter account, @jsyadao. Let’s see if we can get at least a few more tweets welcoming Asakawa to Hawaii and letting her know that we’re paying attention to her.

In other news, those of you looking for a place to stay during Kawaii Kon will be happy to know that special room rates at the Ala Moana Hotel during convention weekend (March 16-18) have been posted, and they’re $10 cheaper than the published online kamaaina rates — $109 per night for the Kona Tower, $139 per night for the Waikiki Tower. Call 955-4811 locally or 800-446-8990 elsewhere and mention Kawaii Kon when making your reservation; you have until March 9 to do so.

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.

>> Aiea Library Anime Club: 3 p.m. Saturday at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. This month, librarian Diane Masaki will be screening Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or e-mail aiealibraryanimeclub@yahoo.com.

The Cel Shaded report, 1/12: Kon-versation pieces

January 12th, 2012
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The first quarter of the year for fans of Japanese culture locally has been pretty reliable over the past half-decade or so — coming off the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s New Year’s Ohana Festival in January, there’s the Honolulu Festival in March followed by Kawaii Kon in April.

Those fans are just going to have to adjust their timetables, because this year’s Kawaii Kon is the earliest one ever — March 16-18, to be exact. That’s just two weeks after the Honolulu Festival on March 2-4. Given the shrunken timetable, you can imagine that the news coming out of the Kawaii Kon camp has been flying fast and furious since the beginning of the year. Here’s what I have listed, in the order that they’re happening:

Ongoing: Ever wanted to break bread (and spring roll appetizers, and a choice of cheeseburger/bacon cheeseburger/veggie burger with side salad/honey mustard grilled chicken sandwich/barbecue pork sandwich/Caesar salad with chicken, and a hot fudge sundae) with voice actors Vic Mignogna, Johnny Yong Bosch, Lisa Ortiz and Chris Sabat? Then you’re going to want to register now for the newly announced Kawaii Kon guest dinner, happening from 6 to 8 p.m. March 16 at the Hard Rock Cafe in Waikiki. For $65 (plus a $2.62 online booking fee) — and if you’re interested, you’re definitely going to want to get on it now; the price rises to $80 at the convention — you’ll get a chance to mingle with the guests, enjoy that menu, and get complimentary transportation to and from the Hawai’i Convention Center. Registration is available through March 10 at the same site as regular Kawaii Kon passes, https://kawaiikon2012.eventbrite.com/.

Ongoing: Of course, if you’re hungry and want to meet the guests, you’re going to want a Kawaii Kon pass to go with that. It just so happens that two free three-day passes are up for grabs — one on the Kawaii Kon forums, one on the convention’s Facebook page. And all you have to do for a chance to win either one of those is answer this month’s poll question: For the forums (at http://www.kawaii-kon.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=7305), it’s “What was your favorite event from past Kons and why?” Over on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/kawaiikon/posts/325921127432525), it’s “What is your best Kawaii Kon memory?” You have until Jan. 31 to contemplate and write your answers. Good luck.

Saturday: An orientation meeting for volunteer staff members will be held at 11 a.m. at Kakaako Waterfront Park. This is also the third of four meetings, and you have to attend two meetings to qualify as a volunteer, so if you’ve been on the fence about putting in your 15 hours of work during convention weekend, you’re going to want to make your decision on that very soon. For a complete set of guidelines, a parental consent form (if you’re going to be 15 to 17 years old at the time of the convention) and an application form, visit http://www.kawaii-kon.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=7083.

Sunday, at midnight: It’s deadline time for the annual Mascot Art Contest, where you artistic types out there can draw con mascots Nami, Takeshi and/or Ai-chan in whatever nice (and family-friendly) situations you see fit. While you can use either traditional or digital media in crafting your masterpiece, you’re going to have to submit it digitally (in JPG, PNG, TIF, BMP, or PSD formats). Find a complete set of rules and a submission link at http://www.kawaii-kon.org/community/kawaii-kon-2012-art-contest-rules/.

Jan. 22, 1 p.m.: The first of three preliminary rounds for the Karaoke Kompetition will be held at Orvis Auditorium on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. As in past years, contestants are asked to bring a CD with the instrumental track of their desired song (or just go acapella). Pick any song, as long as there’s no excessive swearing. Three contestants will be chosen as semifinalists. More information, as well as a link to an entry form, is available at http://www.kawaii-kon.org/index.php?cID=121.

Feb. 25: Something will happen for the first time. Don’t ask me what. All I have to go on is this forum thread. But apparently something will happen.

Feb. 29: Last day to register for three-day passes at the discounted rate of $40 (plus online $1.99 booking fee) general, $30 (+$1.74) children ages 5-11 at https://kawaiikon2012.eventbrite.com/. The prices rise to $50 and $40 at the door, so if you know you want to go, pull the trigger now.

One final trivia tidbit: As of the date of this post, there are 63 days left until preregistration night; 64 until Kawaii Kon 2012 officially begins. And those days will pass by before you realize it.

The Cel Shaded Report, 1/6: Ohana Festival fun time

January 6th, 2012
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After a brief hiatus — well, okay, maybe calling a 21-day space between reports a “brief” hiatus is relative — the Cel Shaded Report is back, baby, and ready for a whole new slate of weekly news reports for 2012.

Of course, we have to kick off the year in Cel Shaded the same way local fandom’s traditionally started it in recent years: with the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s New Year’s Ohana Festival. Spread out between the JCCH facility at 2454 S. Beretania St. and Moiliili Field, the festival features entertainment, food (with a food truck rally this year, ooh), games, activities for attendees of all ages and all sorts of lovely trinkets to purchase.

Several groups with anime/manga ties will be taking part in the festivities. Out on Moiliili Field, you’ll find:

  • Oahu Anime Explorer: The local anime club will be sharing information on the Aiea Library Anime Club, the Liliha Library Manga Club and the Hawaii Entertainment Expo. Addendum, 1/7, 8:30 p.m.: You can also enter at their table to win a PC Gamerz party pass for 10 people, or one of 10 day passes to PCG’s Aiea and Kaneohe locations.
  • Mangabento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists will be joining forces with Oahu Anime Explorer this year, offering pages of line art to color and giant props perfect for photo ops.
  • Kawaii Kon: It’s hard to call any celebration of local Japanese culture complete without having these guys as a part of it. Learn more about the 2012 edition of the local anime convention and sign up for a chance to win some cool prizes … including a three-day pass to this year’s event. Oooh.
  • Pen & Ink Works: The other group of anime- and manga-inspired artists will be joining forces with Kawaii Kon, manning a table where anyone can stop by and write or draw in a paper ema wish tablet. In traditional Japanese culture, ema are the small wooden plaques on which Shinto worshipers write their prayers and wishes and hang them up for the gods to receive them. (At this event, you get to keep your wish tablet, though.) Bring your own art, and you can have it critiqued by the artists, too.

Also attending will be the nemu*nemu crew, Audra Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga. Fresh off their recent Kickstarter fund drive success — you’ll see a print edition of volume 6 of their plush pup comic in mid-March at Kawaii Kon, yay! — they’ll be selling their plushies, prints, charms, buttons and other swag at the JCCH building, in the fifth-floor ballroom, near the entrance. And speaking of cute things, Hello Kitty will be roaming around the JCCH gift shop. That’s right. Hello. Freakin’. Kitty. If that doesn’t get you out there, I’m not sure what will.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Your best bet for getting there is to park in the UH-Manoa lower campus parking structure and catch the shuttle in front of the law school, on Dole Street. Or just take the bus. Public transit’s always good.