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Monkey-AME members fulfilling artistic goals

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Monkey-AME members.

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

My intent with my first column on June 13, 2005, was to do much as I did with my first Star-Advertiser column last week: introduce myself and the concept of the column; explain just what I was doing wearing a Puchu hat and a soot sprite plushie; wish you all well and say, "See you next week."

But actual news presented itself, and I ran with it: A group of high-schoolers calling themselves Monkey-AME were exhibiting their artwork in the stairwell gallery at Borders Ward Centre.

In short, if that news hadn’t broken, I wouldn’t be catching up with some of them five years later to see what they’ve been up to lately.

The young women of Monkey-AME have been busy since graduating from their respective high schools. University High graduate Rachael Ing told me via e-mail that while the group’s last collaborative project was released in 2007, the members – Ing, Punahou graduates Jaymee Masui and Leslie Ann Kam, Kalani graduates Ashley Nose and Jaemi Yoshioka, and Roosevelt graduates Janice Shinoyama and Betty Lam – still keep in touch with one another and frequently reunite in Hawaii when their respective universities are on break.

I chatted a bit with Ing and Masui during my vacation at FanimeCon, an anime convention in San Jose, Calif., over Memorial Day weekend. Ing was running around shooting pictures of cosplayers, while Masui was selling key chains of characters from series such as "Final Fantasy" and "Hetalia Axis Powers" in the Artist Alley.

Ing, Masui and Shinoyama are rooming together and attending Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Ing’s majoring in visual development – a type of illustration – and is due to graduate next spring. Masui is majoring in illustration and is enjoying developing her drawing skills.

"Leaving Hawaii to go away to school on the mainland was a difficult decision for me, but I don’t think I could have progressed in any other way," Masui said.

Kam – the artist from whom I bought two art pieces at the first Kawaii Kon in 2005, and yes, they’re still quite lovely today – recently graduated from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle as a motion illustrator. An online portfolio of her work is available at lesliekam.com.

Yoshioka, meanwhile, is entering her third year at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, Calif., where her love for animation carried over into a major in character animation.

"This summer I’ll be working on a portfolio that I can show to studios in hopes of gaining an internship or job," Yoshioka said.

As for the future of Monkey-AME? While some of its members are planning to do an original manga, it likely will be published under a different group name. "Monkey-AME has collectively matured, and we’d like a new name to reflect that," Ing said.

Space prevents me from listing everything the ladies have been up to, so I invite you to check out "Otaku Ohana" at blogs.staradvertiser.com/otakuohana today for an update on the group in their own words.


Anime around town

» Aiea Library Anime Club: 3 p.m. Saturday at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. This month, librarian Diane Masaki will be screening episodes of "Sgt. Frog." For more information or to RSVP, e-mail Masaki at dianem@librarieshawaii.org.

» Oahu Anime Explorer: Meeting scheduled for Saturday has been canceled due to the death of president Kell Komatsubara’s father. Visit www.oahuanimeexplorer.com for updates.


"Cel Shaded," a weekly look at the world of Japanese anime and manga, appears Thursdays. Follow Jason S. Yadao on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ jsyadao or e-mail him at jyadao@staradvertiser.com.


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