Your Complete Guide to Comic Con 2015 Events in Hawai‘i
Whether you like comics, anime or just pop culture, there’s a fan convention coming to Hawai‘i for you.
Photo: Odeelo Dayondon
Comic Con Honolulu debuts this weekend at the Hawai‘i Convention Center and, with no fewer than five additional anime/comic/pop culture conventions planned through the end of the year, local fans, geeks, costumers, gamers and otaku are here to stay.
Here are some of the upcoming events on the horizon—and how to prepare for them.
Comic Con Honolulu
Organized by the creators of Kawaii Kon as a way to connect with fandoms outside their traditional anime or manga audiences, such as with science fiction (the Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who crowds) and fantasy (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and so forth), Comic Con Honolulu was created as an all-genre convention with a focus on Western comics, films, television, video games and novels.
“We want everyone to leave the convention with fond memories and smiling faces, and to have a weekend filled with awesome,” says Comic Con Honolulu coordinator Roy “Buma” Bann. “And we’re hoping that the community comes together to support the only local show run by volunteers where every dollar goes back into the event; hopefully the fans flood our social media pages with comments and photos, suggestions on guests, and make plans and costumes for next year.”
More than 3,000 guests are expected to turn out for this year’s event, and convention guests include Adam Baldwin from TV’s Firefly and Chuck and Star Trek: The Next Generation’s doctor, Gates McFadden.
Hawai‘i Convention Center, comicconhonolulu.com
Otaku Summer Festival
As the only single-day event on this list, the Otaku Summer Festival is a pop-up party celebrating local Japanese culture. Featuring Dragon Ball anime voice actor Kyle Hebert, live art with Hawai‘i illustrators Jon J. Murakami, Andy Lee and Devin Oishi, performances from Crimson Apple, Ryusei Taiko and Hanayagi Dancing Academy, photo booths, food vendors and more, the Otaku Summer Festival is perfect for families looking for a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon, with a portion of proceeds benefitting the Hawai‘i Kotohira Jinsha Shinto shrine.
“We’ve brought together a lot of what summer festivals are like in Japan, and added local flavor to it,” Otaku Summer Festival manager Irene Takizawa says. “With live music, carnival games and more, there’s a lot to do and also a chance to gain attention for the Hawai‘i Kotohira Jinsha shrine.”
Hawai‘i Kotohira Jinsha, facebook.com/otakusummerfestival
Hawai‘i Con (Big Island)
Billing itself as the “world’s first Sci-Fi, Science, Fantasy, Tropical Beach Convention,” the second annual Hawai‘i Con occurs this September with more than two dozen guests, including Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s son, Rod Roddenberry, an avid diver and environmentalist. Events include a mix of panel discussions, gala dinners, cosplay contests, workshops and signings. But for an event of this large size, why host it on the Big Island and not O‘ahu?
“We try to keep the convention experience intimate. At larger conventions, you might have hundreds of people packed into rooms but, at Hawai‘i Con, there’ll be 30 or 40. People often have a relationship with characters from films and television shows that have been on the air for years. By having smaller gatherings, fans can meet guests on a different level,” says Hawai‘i Con chief overlord octopus GB Hajim. “And, because Hawai‘i Con’s held at a hotel and not a convention center, you have the opportunity to see guests and celebrities outside of just a single talk or event. They’re enjoying meals or having drinks with fans, you see them at the beach or the pool, and you can go ziplining or snorkeling with them.”
Hāpuna Beach Prince Hotel, hawaiicon.com
The Amazing Hawai‘i Comic Con
Five years ago, the Amazing Arizona Comic Con debuted in Phoenix, and its success each year has spawned franchises in Houston, Las Vegas, Oklahoma and, now, Hawai‘i. Attracting arguably the biggest name on this list, the first annual Amazing Hawai‘i Comic Con will feature Marvel Universe creator Stan Lee, among other comic book writers, illustrators and voice actors.
News about programming for the upcoming September event has been minimal so far, although usual convention elements, such as guest panels, an artist alley, concert performances and areas for tabletop and video games are expected.
Hawai‘i Convention Center, amazinghawaiicomiccon.com
On a trip to Anime Matsuri, a 9-year-old convention in Houston, Texas, for the World Cosplay Summit costume contest, local anime enthusiast Heidi Shimada met event founders Deneice and John Leigh. Impressed with Shimada and the teams from Hawai‘i, the Leighs traveled to Hawai‘i to learn more about the Islands’ costume and anime scenes, and decided to expand Anime Matsuri to O‘ahu.
“[The Leighs decided to] create a Hawai‘i event where people could learn from some of the best cosplayers in the world, watch a band from Japan, attend a Japanese fashion show and interact with industry guests from the U.S. and Japan,” says Shimada, since promoted to Anime Matsuri Hawai‘i manager. Fans of anime and Japanese culture can look forward to an event with a heavy emphasis on live performance and fashion.
Hawai‘i Convention Center, hawaii.animematsuri.com
Anime ‘Ohana is another first-time event, created by Kawaii Kon founder Stan Dahlin and Sentai Filmworks producer David Williams. The convention will be held at the Pagoda Hotel as a smaller, first-year event. Although few details have so far been released about the event, guests include voice actors Monica Rial and Jessica Calvello.
Pagoda Hotel, animeohana.com