Here’s What You Need to Know to Survive Comic Con in Hawai‘i

Want to attend the Comic Con convention in Honolulu? Local experts share tips to prepare.
Photo: Diane Lee 


Whether you’re a regular attendee to fan conventions, planning on going to your first event soon or just con-curious and wondering what it’s all about, con-goers say there’s something for everyone and provide tips about how best to attend events.


Interested in building a costume inspired by your favorite film, television show, anime or cartoon?

Cosplay, a portmanteau of “costume” and “play,” is a hobby for many fans and gives these entertainment conventions a distinctive look: thousands of people, elaborately dressed as characters from fiction.


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“Use your Google-fu and research everything you can about the character you’d like to cosplay,” says cosplayer Ayame Takahara. “Learn building techniques from YouTube videos and asking local cosplayers for tips. Don’t expect perfection the first time; it’s about learning and having fun.”


This isn’t Halloween; cosplay outfits are often carefully handmade, and many are painstakingly detailed. But, for cosplayer Jesse Bali, the effort is worth it: “I personally love when a child sees their hero, princess or cartoon character in person for the first time. Nothing comes close to the joy on their faces.”


Curious about who’s popular to dress up as these days, from television shows, films or anime?

“Anything that’s really popular now is the mainstream, so Avengers, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Marvel Universe and DC,” says cosplayer and photographer Dani De Wald. “Star Wars will see an uptick in the next few years, so prepare to see a lot of Jedi, Storm Troopers, Darth [Vaders] and the like. Video game costumes to keep an eye out for: Halo 5, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Gears of War, Resident Evil and Tomb Raider.”


“Love Live and Touken Ranbu for the anime scene,” says Anime Matsuri Hawai‘i manager Heidi Shimada. “Also a resurgence of classic video games and anime, such as Final Fantasy, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball and even Mortal Kombat.”


Worried about having to navigate through crowds of hundreds?

Con enthusiast Jayson Semetara says research is key. “Honestly, plan to catch what you’re into. Look at all the panels and photo-shoot gatherings that they schedule on the convention handouts. Also, check out online forums, group pages and social media event pages for more info.”


Cosplayer and photographer Gina Maeda-Caluya agrees that planing ahead is important: “What can you not live without? Are seeing cosplays and taking pictures your priority? Or is getting autographs more important? Keep in mind when planning your con schedule that popular events and guests at larger conventions will have people lining up hours ahead.”


Still not sure if visiting a convention is for you?

Shimada says it’s neat to try, even if people are unfamiliar with all the media or characters. “First time con-goers may feel overwhelmed since they aren’t used to the culture, but just go with the flow,” Shimada says. “You’ll be going to a place where you’re surrounded by fans [of the genre], so just enjoy yourself!”


“It’s a way for people with these similar interests and hobbies to come together, meet new people and to not have to worry about being judged or criticized,” says cosplayer and anime enthusiast Grant Yamada. “Go with friends and have fun!”