POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 27, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 02:33 a.m. HST, Jan 29, 2011
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.
A pair of veteran voice actors is coming to Kawaii Kon for the first time. Wendee Lee has been acting in English-language dubs since the mid-1980s, her first role being Vanessa Leeds in "Robotech." She's since been involved with either voice acting or directing in a bazillion anime series, video games and films — well, OK, the actual number is closer to 300, but she's been busy no matter how you measure it. Many anime fans will recognize her as the voice of Faye Valentine in "Cowboy Bebop"; other notable roles include Konata in "Lucky Star," Haruhi Suzumiya in "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya," Yui Hotaru in "Fushigi Yuugi" and Kaolla Su in "Love Hina."
Kappei Yamaguchi, the first guest from Japan announced for this year, has an equally impressive resume — his most famous roles include Ranma in "Ranma 1/2," Usopp in "One Piece," Inu-Yasha in "Inu-Yasha," Shinichi Kudou (known as Jimmy Kudo in English) in "Case Closed" and L in "Death Note." Yamaguchi is one of the more prolific Japanese voice actors on the U.S. convention circuit, appearing at Otakon in Baltimore, Sakura-Con in Seattle and Animazement in Raleigh, N.C., over the past three years.
Several guests from past years have also been confirmed for another go-round this year. Included among them are the two local bands that debuted at Kawaii Kon last year, Alt/Air and Eleven Staples. Alt/Air, comprising singer Aly Ishikuni and DJ Kowai Kowai (also known as Brandon Udani), recently released their debut three-song EP on iTunes and Amazon.com. Eleven Staples, meanwhile, will be performing cover versions of the band members' favorite anime and video game songs.
Also returning is David Williams, the U.S. anime producer who formerly worked with ADV Films and is now at Sentai Filmworks. Previously announced were Scott McNeil, the voice of Koga in "Inu-Yasha" and Duo Maxwell in "Mobile Suit Gundam Wing," and Jonathan Tarbox, owner of Arashi Productions.
Kawaii Kon is April 29 through May 1 at the Hawai'i Convention Center; special convention rates are now available at the nearby Ala Moana Hotel. Visit www.kawaii-kon.org for details.
Meanwhile, while HEXXP might not be for another nine months, two guests have been announced: voice actor Kyle Hebert and Japanese rocker Takashi O'Hashi, both of whom are making their first appearances in Hawaii.
Hebert, ranked among the top 10 in AnimeCons.com's list of guests making the most appearances at U.S. anime conventions, is best known as the voice of Kiba in "Naruto," Kamina in "Gurren Lagann," the narrator in various "Dragon Ball Z" projects and Ryu in the "Street Fighter IV" video game. O'Hashi, known as "Jail O'Hashi" during his stint as guitarist with Seikima II, also played with Cats in Boots and the Outsiders before rocking out as a solo act.
Also debuting at HEXXP will be the AniMaid Cafe, a maid cafe staged by a group that has held similar events at several conventions in California, including Anime Los Angeles, Anime Expo and AM2 (formerly Club 2 the Max).
HEXXP is Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall; visit www.hexxp.com.
» Oahu Anime Explorer: 6 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday at HMC Academy, 555 N. King St. Visit www.oahuanimeexplorer.com.