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.
So while I quietly mourn the loss of a few more brain cells — and so early in the new year, too! — here’s what you ought to know about this annual celebration of all things Japanese.
From an anime- and manga-related standpoint, you’ll want to check out one corner of the center’s Manoa Grand Ballroom on the fifth floor, where Oahu Anime Explorer, Kawaii Kon and MangaBento will have tables.
At the Kawaii Kon table, representatives will be selling three-day passes for this year’s event, happening April 29 to May 1. They’ll also have a special guest in tow: "nemu*nemu" artist Audra Furuichi, who will be hosting drawing workshops throughout the day. Newly anointed convention co-administrator Roy Bann will host an hourlong panel, "Cultural References in Anime," in the center’s Gallery Theater, focusing on the only-in-Japan quirks in the slice-of-school-life comedy "Azumanga Daioh."
MangaBento, the group of anime- and manga-inspired artists, will have several make-and-take craft projects, including "ema" (small plaques on which people write their prayers and wishes for the new year) and "fukuwarai" (where different parts of the face are stuck onto a blank face a la Pin the Tail on the Donkey). This event replaces the group’s regularly scheduled meeting, so don’t show up at the usual Victoria Street location on Sunday.
Finally, Oahu Anime Explorer will be screening anime at its table and in the Gallery Theater, as well as handing out information about HEXXP 2011, happening Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. And, of course, I’d be remiss in not mentioning all the other Japanese cultural activities and displays, including calligraphy, shogi and go, and ikebana, as well as food and entertainment.
The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the center, 2454 S. Beretania St., and nearby Moiliili Field. Admission is free; parking, as well as a free shuttle, are available from the University of Hawaii-Manoa lower campus parking structure on Dole Street. Visit www.jcch.com.
COMPANIES ADD ONLINE ANIME STREAMS
The new year also means it’s as good a time as any for companies to introduce new series to their online broadcasts or reintroduce classic series.
In following with the recent past, Crunchyroll (www.crunchyroll.com) will offer new anime from Japan’s winter TV season. Highlights so far — at least based on the plot synopses I’ve seen — include "Canvas 2: Rainbow Colored Sketch," following a former art student who gave up on his dream, and his chance encounter with a young woman whose love he rejected back in high school; and "Rio — Rainbow Gate!" about a casino dealer who is competing to be the world’s most valuable by collecting 13 legendary cards. These are available now to paid subscribers and Tuesday for other users.
Another show, "Beelzebub," tells the story of a teen delinquent forced to take care of the infant son of Beelzebub, king of demons, debuting Saturday.
Meanwhile, Funimation will begin offering subtitled and English-dubbed episodes of "Dragon Ball Z" online starting Jan. 15 at 3:30 p.m. — a half-hour before online simulcasts of the latest "One Piece" episode fresh from Japan begins. Get your classic fix of anime goodness at www.dragonballz.com, www.dragonballzkai.com, www.funimation.com and www.hulu.com.