Kawaii Kon 2013: 10 memorable moments
BY JASON S. YADAO / firstname.lastname@example.org
After three days of the annual whirlwind of activity that Kawaii Kon, Hawaii’s largest anime convention, has become, your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger is exhausted.
It’s a good kind of exhaustion, though, one that comes with days packed with reunions with old friends, opportunities to meet new friends and learn new things, and share in a common geeky love of anime, manga, gaming and other slices of pop culture.
Every year, I end up with several gigabytes worth of pictures, movies and audio recordings from over the weekend, and every year I’m left with the task of sorting through it all and sharing the best — sometimes over on my Star-Advertiser blog “Otaku Ohana” (please stop by and visit sometime), sometimes here.
In an effort to jump-start that sorting process, here are 10 moments at Kawaii Kon this year that really stood out for me. There are, however, more than 10 pictures. You’ll see why as we go along.
In no particular order:
Welcome to Kawaii Kon! Here’s your … crab?
March 15, 1:19 p.m.
Opening ceremonies was its usual energetic spectacle, with an anime music video, a “performance” by virtual holographic singer Hatsune Miku, and the year’s guests being formally introduced to the audience. The guests also gave away prizes to lucky audience members. It just happened that when voice actor Todd Haberkorn pulled someone up on stage to give him a prize, the person gave him a stuffed crab in return.
… yeah, I don’t get it, either.
But it does prove one truth about life during Kawaii Kon: Many deliciously crazy things can happen over the three-day weekend, and yet in the end it’ll all seem … normal.
What a trooper
March 16, 12:30 p.m.
Crazy things like, say, the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Legion — “the Hawaii chapter of Lucasfilm’s preferred Star Wars Imperial costuming group,” as their website states — hosting a booth where attendees could pay to pelt Stormtroopers with projectiles fired from assorted toy guns.
Proceeds benefited the Shriners Hospital for Children, so everybody won, really.
Embracing the elaborate
March 16, 12:28 p.m.
That large character in the center is Teddie, a character in the video game “Persona 4″ and its anime adaptation. The character on the right is Alphonse Elric from the “Fullmetal Alchemist” anime and manga.
They ended up hugging (well, ok, trying to hug; you can probably already tell that those costumes aren’t exactly the most maneuverable in the world).
The family that cosplays together bonds together
March 15, 11:57 a.m.
Cosplay is one of those activities that, when used correctly, can really bring a family together. Case in point: This family, portraying members of Team Rocket from the “Pokemon” franchise. Bonus: Dressing up kids always makes them look super-cute.
And speaking of cute cosplaying children …
Saturday, 5:03 and 5:23 p.m.
One often can tell how much a particular cosplayer’s costume resonates with Kawaii Kon attendees just by listening to their reactions during the Cosplay Showcase. There were more than 20 entries in this year’s showcase. Some of them won awards. Teddie and Alphonse from above? They participated, too.
But one entrant won not only an award, but also a collective “d’awwwwwwwww!” from the audience. That would be “Halo Kitty” above, a child dressed in armor from the “Halo” video game series, embellished with a large bow and a pink-and-white color scheme.
Here’s a close-up view of her costume.
So. CUTE. Right?
Drawing from experience
March 16, 12:55 p.m.
Noizi Ito is an artist best known for designing the characters in the “Haruhi Suzumiya” and “Shakugan no Shana” series of books. She usually does her illustrations on a computer, but during an hour-long panel on Saturday, Ito drew her interpretations of two of Kawaii Kon’s mascots, Ai-chan and Nami, by hand.
The Ai-chan piece was put up for sale during an art auction later in the day. The minimum bid price ended up also being the final sale price: $750. If you think that price was unbelievably cheap and you would’ve paid more had you had the extra scratch to spare, you are, indeed, a hard-core fan.
Team “nemu*nemu” in the house
March 15, 1:48 p.m.
Fortunately, there were also outlets for people to buy more affordable art. One of my local artists of choice happens to be Audra Furuichi, the artist behind the plush pup web comic “nemu*nemu” and its Star-Advertiser spinoff, “nemu*nemu: Blue Hawaii.” That’s her on the right, with her parents, who were helping out at the “nemu*nemu” booth in the Dealers Room.
Yes, I did take home all of those pieces that they’re holding. Hand-drawn, one and all, and they look even better in person than they do in this picture. There’s an interesting story behind that “Madoka Magica” piece — the largest one — but I’ll save that story for another day.
Rise and Eyeshine
March 16, 10:28 p.m.
Johnny Yong Bosch may be best known as a voice actor and the man who portrayed Adam Park in the “Power Rangers” franchise, but he’s also the front man for his rock band, Eyeshine.
The band was all over the place on Kawaii Kon weekend, starting with a pre-convention concert Thursday night, a mini set during opening ceremonies on Friday, their formal concert Saturday night, and an acoustic set and a music video shoot on Sunday.
So when Bosch invited attendees to join the band on stage for the last half of their two-song encore, they were all too happy to accept.
Never mind that the ensuing stage rush ended up knocking out Bosch’s microphone and doing other strange things to the sound mix. Everybody was just having fun up there.
March 17, 12:44 p.m.
Had you asked me going into this weekend if there was any prevailing trend in local anime/manga fandom, I would have said, “No, not really.” I just hadn’t seen anything that captured people’s attention as much as series like “InuYasha, “Naruto,” “Fullmetal Alchemist, Ouran High School Host Club” and “Hetalia” had in the past.
And then I walked into the Dealers Room on Sunday and discovered that pretty much every table selling imported Japanese plushies had a selection of these stuffed alpacas — large ones, small ones, some of them wearing hats, others holding desserts, in creamy whites and lavenders and other pastel hues. For those who didn’t feel like getting a plushie, there were head caps and wallets, too.
All of these are part of the Alpacasso line from Amuse, a Japanese company that providing prizes for UFO catcher machines (you may know them here in the states as “crane games). And they are all apparently popular — you couldn’t go anywhere all weekend without bumping into someone with some Alpacasso gear.
The beginning is the end is the beginning
March 14, 7:13 p.m. and March 17, 7:33 p.m.
Here is the line for preregistered attendees to pick up their passes on Thursday night, before the convention started.
And here is the line for people to preregister for Kawaii Kon 2014 on Sunday night, after the convention ended.
See anything similar? If you guessed “there are a lot of people willing to line up to go to this thing,” give yourself a gold star. A date for next year is already in place (hello, April 4-6) as well as the first two guests (Michael Sinterniklaas, the voice of Dean Venture in “The Venture Bros.,” and Stephanie Sheh, voice of Hinata Hyuga in “Naruto” and “Naruto Shippuden”)
It’s going to be bigger, too; during closing ceremonies, it was announced that Kawaii Kon would be moving the Dealers Room and Artist Alley to the first floor of the convention center, thus taking up all three floors for the first time.