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.

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