The four-year wait in the U.S. for the Studio Ghibli film "Tales from Earthsea" is almost over.
To the casual fan, it might not seem like there was a gap between films. "Spirited Away" debuted in the U.S. in 2002; "Howl’s Moving Castle" bowed three years later; and "Ponyo" arrived last year, after a four-year stretch.
But "Earthsea" was indeed delayed in the U.S., as the exclusive rights to the Ursula K. Le Guin novels on which the film was based were tied up with the Sci-Fi (now Syfy) Channel. Those rights are expiring, giving Disney the go-ahead to release it domestically.
Disney’s limited release plans include screenings at the Consolidated Ward Stadium 16 theaters next month. Pre-sale tickets for those screenings recently went on sale at the theater chain’s website. You can visit www.hsblinks.com/2k2 to get tickets for showings between Aug. 13 and 19 at 11:30 a.m. and 2, 4:30, 7 and 9:30 p.m.
Truth be told, though, I have mixed feelings about "Earthsea." On one hand it’s a Ghibli film, and my first instinct is always to say, "Yay, new Ghibli film! Must watch!" On the other hand, this adaptation of Le Guin’s stories about the trials and tribulations of Earthsea’s greatest sorcerer has received lukewarm reviews everywhere it’s opened. Goro Miyazaki, in his directorial debut, already had a nigh-impossible task living up to the legacy of his more famous father, Hayao; the advance buzz makes it that much harder for the film to succeed.
Sun and fun with Kawaii Kon
When you watch as much anime and read as much manga as I do for this column and for the "Otaku Ohana" blog, you tend to start noticing certain patterns developing. Case in point: Any lighthearted series focusing on a group of students inevitably will have an episode or a few chapters devoted to a summer trip to the beach, where many pleasant memories of youth are made. (Well, OK, so it’s also an excuse for the character designers to draw everyone in swimsuits, but work with me here.)
It looks like we’ve reached that "episode" in Kawaii Kon lore, as the local anime convention will be sponsoring its first Summer Beach Day, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 7 at Magic Island. You bring the food; Kawaii Kon will bring the drinks and games for both individuals and teams. There will be a sand-art competition, a beach dash, a tug of war and — one of the staples of those beach-trip episodes — the watermelon-splitting contest.
RSVP by Sunday with the number of people in your group either on the Kawaii Kon message boards (www.hsblinks.com/2k0) or on the convention’s events page on Facebook (www.hsblinks.com/2k1). Sign-ups for the competitions begin online on Monday.
Anime around town
» Oahu Anime Explorer: 6 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday at HMC Academy, 555 N. King St. Visit www.oahuanimeexplorer.com for more information.
» 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. For more information, visit www.manga-bento.com.
Suncoast Video stores at Pearlridge and Windward Mall will be hosting "Anime Spectacular" on Sunday, with discounts and general anime-related fun on the schedule. Buy one anime-related item — DVDs, wall scrolls, T-shirts, toys, stuff like that — and get a second item at half price. Trivia contests will be held throughout the day, and a cosplay contest will begin at 3 p.m.