Calvin Kim, JOURN 150
When thousands of people with elaborate, colorful costumes, funky hair and intense makeup pour into the Hawaii Convention Center, it can only mean one thing: Kawaii Kon is here. Kawaii Kon is an annual 3-day celebration of Japanese culture, anime, and pop culture held in at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu. This year’s Kawaii Kon’s 13th anniversary took place on April 7-9 and had over 10,000 attendees.
The rise of anime in the United States is seen through the popularity of mainstream children’s TV cartoons such as “Sailor Moon,” “Dragon Ball Z” and “Pokémon.” There are anime-influenced movies, too, most notably the recent Disney animated feature Big Hero 6.
For many attendees, Anime Expo is a time to show off costumes celebrating their favorite characters and each costume takes several months to complete. The cosplay environment at Kawaii Kon might be fun and lighthearted, but there’s a competitive aspect with the annual cosplay contest.
Cosplay is just one of the many activities that attendees can engage in. Kawaii Kon offers shopping for collectibles, independent art vendors, speaking panels and autograph sessions from anime voice actors, videogames testing, tabletop games, theaters for new movie releases and music concerts.
One of this year’s biggest attractions was the Sword Art Online movie screening, which recently debuted in select theaters across North America. What made it even more special was that the Sword Art Online movie screening was hosted by the North American debut of Kannae Ito, Japanese voice of Yui from “Sword Art Online”. Also in attendance were Zach Callison and Deedee Magno Hall, both voice actors in the “Steven Universe” cartoon.