Much of the flavor of Kawaii Kon, kicking off tomorrow and running through Sunday at the Hawai‘i Convention Center, comes from the local community that turns out to support it every year.
It’s a community that I’m happy to have gotten to know over close to six years of writing the only (to my knowledge) weekly column devoted to anime and manga in a major metropolitan daily newspaper, and one that I’m happy to promote one last time in this column. Here are highlights of what they’ll be doing this weekend.
Eagle-eyed readers will notice that I omitted two guests when I went over the guest roster last week: local musical groups Alt/Air and Eleven Staples.
Alt/Air will bring their electronica beats with a dash of Japanese pop flair to the convention’s main stage for an hourlong set at 8 p.m. Saturday; the duo will debut a few new songs and two cover songs. (Expect them to have a few dancers, winners of a recent Art & Flea competition, cosplaying as robots.)
Meanwhile, Eleven Staples will play an 11-song, hourlong set in the Special Events room at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow. Expect some of their favorite anime and video games songs to be part of their performance.
The Hawaii State Public Library System librarians will be back in Artist Alley. Show your library card to get free stickers and buttons and enter to win one of three anime-themed gift baskets, one for each day of the convention.
Aiea Intermediate School art teacher and MidWeek cartoonist Roy Chang will also return, wearing his artist’s coat and offering free portfolio and sketchbook reviews to aspiring artists. This year he’ll work longer hours than ever; you can catch him from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Speaking of artists, MangaBento, the local group whose art reflects anime and manga influences, will have quite a bit going on in their corner of Artist Alley. There will be art for sale and art supplies to try, and artists Yi Xian and Kigennaiteru will be taking art commissions. The Kaimuki High School Anime Club and etched-glassware artist Hi-O Kitty will also be selling items under their banner.
For the past few years, Kawaii Kon has heralded the arrival of new volumes of two popular local comic series: “Gordon Rider,” by Star-Advertiser cartoonist Jon J. Murakami, and “nemu*nemu,” by Audra Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga. By coincidence, both volumes are the fifth in their respective series.
The fifth issue of “Gordon Rider” — the largest yet — is a collaborative effort. Fans helped brainstorm ideas for the issue’s monsters on the “Gordon Rider” Facebook page, while Gordon Chan, the real-life inspiration for the comic, wrote the story and designed the monsters’ looks. You can pick up the issue, as well as T-shirts and buttons, at Murakami’s table in Artist Alley.
Furuichi and Yoshinaga, meanwhile, are celebrating the fifth anniversary of “nemu*nemu” with their first full-color collection of comic strips. The book is bigger (7.5 square inches!), longer (160 pages!) and, as a recent sneak peek Furuichi gave to me proved, gorgeous and crammed full of plush-pup adventures. Several buttons, acrylic charms, plushies and convention-exclusive Field Notes notebooks will also debut at Kawaii Kon. Find them in the dealer’s room.
Kawaii Kon passes for adults (ages 13 and up) are $26 for one day, $36 for two days and $50 for all three days; the cost for children’s passes (ages 6 to 12) are $16, $26 and $40, respectively. Visit www.kawaii-kon.org.
THAT’S A WRAP for this final edition of “Cel Shaded.” I’ll be walking around Kawaii Kon this weekend, chronicling events for our “Otaku Ohana” blog (blogs.starbulletin.com/otakuohana). That’s where I’ll continue to write about anime and manga with tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Jandoc. Immediately following the con, though? I’m going to relish a well-earned break for a little bit.
To all of you who faithfully read this column over the years — even if you didn’t quite understand what I was talking about — thank you for reading.
And to paraphrase the closing tag line of numerous episodes of the popular anime series “Cowboy Bebop”: See you, space cowboys.