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.
Then there is the music, and while many in Honolulu Hawaii may be unfamiliar with the Japanese singer Luna Haruna, a rising star in the anime song industry, performed a special music concert and participated in an interactive panel and autograph session. Other guests include band Hanafugetsu (who are also members of Wagakki Band), band Bless4 (Izetta: The Last Witch), band LOVERIN TAMBURIN (Disgaea), singer Luna Haruna (Fate/Zero, Sword Art Online), singer Joe Inoue (Naruto Shippūden), singer and voice actress Mai Aizawa (Lucky Star’s Ayano Minegishi), and voice actress Ryoko Shiraishi (Hayate the Combat Butler’s Hayate). The convention will also host the following voice actors and actors: Zach Callison, Janet Varney, Dante Basco, Erica Mendez, David Vincent, and Vic Mignogna.
Kawaii Kon may not appeal to many people that are unfamiliar with Japanese culture and animation, but with all the fun activities, there is sure to be something there for everyone. It is a wonderful way to engage with other fans or learn a bit about a popular culture that is growing throughout the United States every year. Don’t miss your chance your chance to attend Kawaii Kon next year in 2018!
Kawaii Kon 2018 Information
When/where: KAWAII KON DAYS (March 2-4, 2018), Hawaii Convention Center
$57.69 through Oct 31, 2017
$59 + fee through Feb 16, 2018
All 3 days: $65
Photo by Chris Garcia, Ka La staff writer
Social media: Facebook page; @KawaiiKon (Twitter); @kawaiikonofficial (Instagram)