Small events shine during Kawaii Kon
And now, assorted musings from the recent weekend that was Kawaii Kon 2008.
When all was said and done and all of the heads counted, this year's attendance ended up just a tad shy of 3,500 over the three-day weekend -- the fourth straight year that attendance has increased.
What makes this trend interesting is that for a second straight year, I heard a few murmurings about how the show has grown a bit stale, relying on a core group of the same guests year after year. Some have also expressed concern over how convention marketing doesn't extend much beyond word of mouth, whatever's posted in the online forums and what gets printed in this column.
I was swinging back and forth about my feelings about the convention over the weekend it ran. But I ended up reaching the same conclusion that I reached last year: Kawaii Kon really is what the attendees make of it, rather than what the organizers present.
Besides, trust me: It could be worse. Far worse. Tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I went out to lunch one day with Ray Nagar, president of Project 760 Productions and organizer of the Little Tokyo Anime Festival in Los Angeles and JTAF in San Francisco ... and the stories he told us about conventions and would-be conventions in California alternately horrified and amused us.
Of course, what was presented on the formal program wasn't too shabby. Voice actor Vic Mignogna was a big draw as always; this year he sent out a few people to buy the nearby 7-Eleven's stock of Hi-Chews to share his favorite snack with the audience.
The first meeting of Yuuko Miyamura and Tiffany Grant, the Japanese and English voices respectively of Asuka from "Neon Genesis Evangelion," also didn't disappoint, as fans enjoyed an hour of the actresses sharing anecdotes and then waiting in line for up to three hours to get autographs from them.
It was also nice to see Bandai Entertainment President Ken Iyadori attending the festivities, and even nicer to see that he brought with him a few new-product announcements -- including plans to release the movie "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" on Blu-Ray disc, news that debuted at Kawaii Kon.
The cosplay, as always, was a spectacle in itself. Personal favorites included the young woman who dressed as the Weighted Companion Cube, a heart-emblazoned cube that plays a major role in the video game "Portal"; the girl who dressed up as Crayon Shinchan; the person in the "Transformers" Bumblebee costume; and, of course, Midweek cartoonist Roy Chang dressed as legendary manga artist Osamu Tezuka at his Artist Alley booth.
And finally, believe me when I say that you have not lived until you have gone out with Oahu Anime Explorer on one of its karaoke outings to GS Studios in Waikiki. This, of course, gives me a handy way to mention that the group is planning karaoke outings for May 11 and 25 from 3 to 5 p.m.; to sign up, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cel Shaded, a look at the world of Japanese anime and manga, appears every Monday. Reach Jason S. Yadao