Sunday, October 4, 2015         

Cel Shaded

Much of the flavor of Kawaii Kon, kicking off tomorrow and running through Sunday at the Hawai‘i Convention Center, comes from the local community that turns out to support it every year.

With eight days to go until Kawaii Kon kicks off at the Hawai‘i Convention Center for a weekend of fun, there's still a lot to discuss about the anime convention's seventh annual edition.

Kawaii Kon might be 15 days away and dominating everyone's attention right now — and, yes, I'll have plenty of details about that in my final two "Cel Shaded" columns — but the Hawaii Entertainment Expo (HEXXP) is planning a few things worthy of mention as well.

One of the most successful series to have reached the coveted “so mainstream that people don’t really think of it as anime” level in the U.S. is the multimedia children-playing-card-games juggernaut “Yu-Gi-Oh.”

A recent Facebook post from Sean Akita, owner of Sean’s Shop (formerly Mechahawaii), convinced me that I needed to stop by his store in Kaimuki and catch up on recent events.

When you see a book that continues to circulate in the state library system despite being held together by many layers of tape and several metal bolts, you know it has to be popular — and difficult to find a replacement.

Lots to talk about this week, but I’d be remiss in not addressing the top Japan-related topic on everyone’s mind: the earthquakes and tsunami that struck the country last week.

You know it's time to start thinking about Kawaii Kon in earnest when the Honolulu Festival, the annual celebration of Asian and Pacific Rim culture, rolls around in March.

Those of you who are fans of movies from Studio Ghibli will be pleased to know that two films spotlighting the debut Ghibli works of two generations of Miyazakis will bow on home video on Tuesday — and one of them is actually worth buying.

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about how we anime fans are getting our fix of legal anime.

Back in 2006, when this paper was known as the Star-Bulletin, Gary Chun wrote an article about local artist Jon Murakami and his then-new comic parodying Japanese live-action superheroes, "Gordon Rider." In that article — available at — Murakami detailed his process for drawing the comic: He draws each installment on the erasable white board at Sean's Shop (back then known as Mechahawaii), takes a picture of each board's layout, then redraws it for the comic book.

Today's edition of "Cel Shaded" leads off with something from the "wow, I'm surprised I haven't heard about something like this before" file: A program has been launched to donate anime to U.S. troops serving overseas.

MangaBento, the local group of anime- and manga-inspired artists, is serving up some "Kakimochi" this month at the Honolulu Academy of Arts' Linekona Art Center.

January has been a busy month as far as the local convention circuit is concerned, with both Kawaii Kon and the Hawaii Entertainment Expo Experience (HEXXP) announcing guests for their shows.

It was a task that would be daunting for anyone to carry out: Take more than 100 pieces of artwork drawn by 50 or so teen artists, then decide which four pieces are worthy of lavishing with praise and fabulous prizes.

Local anime fans — particularly those in West and Central Oahu — are about to lose a major source of DVDs on the island.

At the end of last week's column, I wrote that this week's column would be about the trends to watch in the upcoming year ... completely forgetting in the process about the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii's New Year's Ohana Festival coming up Sunday.

With Christmas in the rearview mirror and 2011 looming on Saturday, it's time to put a big red bow on the year that was 2010 for anime and manga, both here and abroad. And what a year it was.

Manga fans have been waiting for several months now to see what moves Square Enix and Kodansha Comics would make in the U.S.

I don't mean to send anyone into a panic, but counting today, there are only nine more shopping days until Christmas.

A big disadvantage of getting sick and missing a column, as I did last week, is not being able to get around to talk about certain events as quickly as I'd like.

It has been a shade over five months now since "Cel Shaded" moved to its new home on Thursdays, but today's more special than many that have come before. It's the first time this column has been published on Thanksgiving.

During one of my recent chats with tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Jandoc, I half-jokingly lamented that "Cel Shaded" had become a weekly look at the world of anime and manga publisher cutbacks, obituaries and the occasional local convention announcement.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not sure what to expect from the inaugural Hawaii Entertainment Expo Experience (HEXXP), the six-pronged pop culture convention happening this weekend at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall.

Shunsuke Ikeda, who died June 11 at the age of 69, was rather prolific in Toei's tokusatsu (live-action superhero) series, with roles in such shows as "Return of Ultraman," "Condorman: Symbol of Justice" and "Silver Mask."

It seems that whenever I've considered what to write about regarding the state of the anime and manga industry as of late, two topics tend to jump out: piracy and publishers leaving the market.

If you've read this column for some time, you know by now that anime conventions come in all shapes and sizes. Kawaii Kon gets mentioned regularly here as Hawaii's annual local convention, while HEXXP, the Hawaii Entertainment Expo Experience, will be including an anime component next month. I've even talked about "Baltiport," the impromptu "convention" assembled by a handful of fans and industry figures in an airport terminal.

Back in July, MangaBento, the group of young artists inspired by anime and manga, hosted Manga Mayhem, an event where attendees could get art advice from club members, try out pens and markers, and take part in drawing contests.

Optimism would appear to be in increasingly short supply, as far as the U.S. manga industry circa 2010 is concerned.

One of the happy traditions I've maintained through the years of writing this column rolls in around this time of year, when the Hawaii International Film Festival releases its program and I scroll through to pick out everything that anime fans might be interested in seeing.

It was a mystery that could only be called "The Disappearance of 'The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya.'"

A quick glance at the calendar on my desk shows there are more than seven months to go until late April and the next edition of Kawaii Kon, the local anime convention. It's never too early to start buzzing about what's going on to prepare for next year, though. And there are several tidbits already worth talking about.

The world lost one of the contemporary masters of animation last week.

"Next big things" in anime and manga have been in short supply lately, but there seems to be one series in particular that has captured the hearts of fans (particularly female ones): "Hetalia Axis Powers."

The heyday of Del Rey Manga, Random House's mecca for manga fans, several years ago brings its current decline into stark contrast.

Anime fans have been known to come up with some crazy, clever things to do with their downtime, but something that happened after Otakon, an anime convention held a few weekends ago in Baltimore, certainly caught my attention ... as well as a bunch of people who followed along on the Anime News Network forums.

For more than 14 years now, millions of people worldwide have recited a common mantra: "Gotta catch 'em all."

We're deep in the heart of summer convention season, which means just one thing to your friendly neighborhood anime columnist: It's time for me to feel insanely jealous toward anyone who got to attend Anime Expo in Los Angeles earlier this month and/or Comic-Con International in San Diego last weekend and subsequently filled my Twitter feed with squeals of delight over everything going on there.

The four-year wait in the U.S. for the Studio Ghibli film "Tales from Earthsea" is almost over.

Every pop culture convention has its "coming out" moment, a defining event that signals to fans that it's setting up shop in town soon.

MangaBento's taking over the Contemporary Museum in Makiki Heights and bringing some talented local artists along for the ride.

When last we left our discussion of online manga last week, I was talking about manga you shouldn't be reading online: scanlations, manga either fan-translated from the original Japanese or copied outright from the U.S.-published books.

One of the common elements of series featuring giant robots and the teams of humans (or human-like aliens) that pilot them is the part where the individual robots unite to form one giant super-robot ready to smite anything the forces of evil throw at it.

Had things gone the way I had planned five years ago, this "Cel Shaded" fifth-anniversary column would look very different.

Welcome back to "Cel Shaded," your weekly dose of anime and manga news and commentary. Or to be more precise for today's column, it's scheduled to be a weekly dose unless two newspapers merge into a single, take-on-all-comers unit like those mechanized Voltron or Power Rangers creations. When that happens, a rare opportunity to fit two columns into one week arises as schedules get tweaked.

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