Kawaii Kon highs and lows
Things learned after spending a weekend at Kawaii Kon 2006: God bless the Ala Moana Hotel for being the gracious host to hundreds of anime fans over the weekend. An early estimate posted by director Stan Dahlin on the Kawaii Kon message boards was that at least 2,152 people attended this year, with the expectation that the number will grow as the count continues. According to Dahlin, the count on the first day alone surpassed the three-day total of 1,904 for last year.
But it was clear that after just two years, Kawaii Kon has outgrown that venue, with long waits for registration, the dealers' room and showcase events like the Yoko Ishida concert and the costume contest.
Not that anyone really minded, as far as I could tell. The fans were gracious, as were the guests of honor, who often commented about how Hawaii has some of the politest fans. (Although seeing that male fan run up and kiss voice actor Vic Mignogna during one of his panels was incredibly freaky.)
Fan generosity particularly shone through during closing ceremonies, when artists Robert and Emily DeJesus auctioned off four cardboard cartoon cutouts signed by all the guests as a benefit for Hawaii's homeless. Bidding went as high as $150 for one piece. Even voice actor Michael Sinterniklaas got in on the action, taking home what he called "my own little piece of Hawaii sunshine" for $100.
To the Kawaii Kon directors' credit, the convention is looking for a new home next year. Possible locations mentioned include the Hilton Hawaiian Village and the Hawai'i Convention Center, although nothing has been finalized as of press time.
And for those who want to get a head start, three-day passes for Kawaii Kon 2007 are now available online for $30. Granted, the date, location and guests haven't been announced yet, but hey, that never stopped anyone before. Check out www.kawaii-kon.org, and let the cycle begin anew ...
Cel Shaded, a look at the world of Japanese anime and manga, appears every Monday. Reach Jason S. Yadao