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New pop culture convention hopes to recruit volunteers

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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.

I remember that coming-out moment five years ago for Kawaii Kon: a news item posted online at Anime News Network stating that some of the people behind Anime Weekend Atlanta were bringing Hawaii its first anime convention. Pretty thrilling news back then, to be sure, and it’s partly thanks to that event that this column exists today.

Now it looks like that moment is approaching for an effort I’ve been keeping an eye on for the past few months: HEXXP, the Hawaii Entertainment Expo Experience. The event, scheduled for Nov. 13-14 at Blaisdell Center, is being spearheaded by Ron Kaneshige, who’s no stranger to either tag-team partner Wilma Jandoc or myself. He was one of the people we profiled in our Kawaii Kon 2007 preview article focusing on local cosplayers. (He was quite the dashing figure dressed as Uryu Ishida, the bespectacled bow-wielder in the "Bleach" anime and manga.)

Now Kaneshige and his team are ready to recruit volunteers during three orientation meetings, the first of which is happening at 3 p.m. Saturday at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu, 1239 Olomea St. in Kalihi.

But I’ll get back to that in a bit. Right now you’re probably wondering, "What’s this HEXXP thing, and why would I want to volunteer for it?" While it would be tempting to call HEXXP "Hawaii’s second anime convention," to do so would be oversimplifying. The "hex" in HEXXP is reflective of Kaneshige’s approach — a hexagon of activities, if you will.

So call it more a pop culture convention in which anime and Japanese culture are among those components, the others being sci-fi, contests and tournaments, film and theater, cosplay and gaming. For instance, at any given moment there could be a Gundam model-building contest, a "World of Warcraft" meet-up, a talk on a replica "Back to the Future" DeLorean and an interactive theater performance.

Saturday’s orientation will offer a peek at what’s going on behind the scenes at the convention, and staff will be on hand to answer any questions. Applications and parental consent forms (for any prospective applicants under 18) also will be available.

If you can’t make it to that session, there will be two others on Aug. 14 and Sept. 18. From there a panel will review the applications and pick the best candidates.

Of course, if you’d rather forgo the whole volunteering thing and just want to have some fun in November, pre-registration is open online — $12 for a one-day pass, $24 for both days. Have a group of friends? Buy five passes and get a sixth for free.

For more information, visit


iTunes store discounts anime

Every time I glance at my Twitter feeds these days — often, appropriately enough for this item, via iPod Touch — it seems like someone’s mentioning something about the iPad or iPhone. So this item’s for all those iFans out there who’d like to have some cheap or free anime from the iTunes Store.

Through Aug. 3, Funimation is offering the first episodes of "Ouran High School Host Club," "Fullmetal Alchemist" and "Soul Eater" for free on the service. Subsequent episodes of those series, as well as "Samurai Champloo" and "Afro Samurai," are 99 cents. And if you want full series, those are available at 30 percent off, as are the "Robotech: Shadow Chronicles" and "Afro Samurai: Resurrection" movies.


"Cel Shaded," a weekly look at the world of Japanese anime and manga, appears every Thursday. Follow Jason S. Yadao on Twitter at or e-mail him at


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