Another Anime Convention Lands in Hawaii


More than a year in the making, the inaugural Anime Matsuri Hawaii convention kicks off on Friday. One of the nation’s largest Japanese animation conventions arrives at the Hawaii Convention Center on the same day Black Friday bargain hunters will descend on Ala Moana Center a couple of blocks away.

Anime Matsuri Hawaii is a spinoff of the original Anime Matsuri, which was born in Houston in 2007 and has grown into the ninth-largest anime convention in North America. Founders and organizers Deneice and John Leigh announced the Honolulu event in March.

“During a work trip to Hawaii a few years ago, we were astounded by the hospitality and general care that we received from complete strangers [and] our growing friendship with the local communities in Hawaii have helped connect us to networks that have allowed us to expand our event,” Deneice Leigh said at the time. “We look forward to working with existing organizations, cultural events, charities, local businesses, and fans to bring a new and unique experience to Hawaii.”

Ensuring things go well on the ground are local team leaders Heidi Shimada and Steve Okubo. It’s good to see Okubo back in action after the collapse of Oni Con Hawaii last year, another mainland spinoff that left many local organizers and fans in the lurch.

The three-day program includes a “JFashion Show” on Friday (featuring design houses like Putumayo, Metamorphose, and Triple Fortune), a cosplay contest on Saturday, followed by live music by Brilliant Kingdom and DaizyStripper. Scattered throughout are panels and presentations by famous cosplayers (like Reika, Stella Chuu, and Yuegene Fay), voice actors (like Maile Flanagan, Crispin Freeman, and Johnny Yong Bosch), and several other special guests.

There will also be several themed photoshoots and fan panels and meetups for specific Japanese animation franchises, like the “Touken Ranbu” card game, “Hetalia” comics, and “Shokugeki no Soma.”


“The convention here will be very special,” John Leigh wrote. “It is the half way point between Houston and Tokyo, and that’s as close as Anime Matsuri will get to Japan without being in Japan… for now.”

“I don’t know what this adventure holds but I know I will love it,” he added. “I can’t want to bring Anime Matsuri to everyone in Hawaii, connect our cities and expand our communities.”

Barring any last minute additions to the calendar, Anime Matsuri Hawaii rounds out the most convention-rich year in Hawaii in recent memory. It follows Kawaii Kon in March and its spinoff Comic-Con Honolulu in July, the Comic & Toy Expo in May, HawaiiCon (and MiniCon) in September, and Anime Ohana in October. And I didn’t even write about the first Keiki Con in Mililani earlier this month.

To learn more about Anime Matsuri Hawaii, visit the official website, follow @animematsurihi on Twitter or on Instagram, or connect with organizers on Facebook. There’s also a Facebook group and a Facebook event page showing more than 500 people saying they will attend.

Advance on-line ticket sales have ended, but admission passes will be available at the door: $60 for all three days, or $30 for Friday, $35 for Saturday, or $25 for Sunday.


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