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Celebrating pop culture

LIHU‘E — The island of Kaua‘i held its second-ever Comic Con over the weekend, as cosplayers, fans, vendors and entertainers came out for a day full of celebrating pop culture.

The convention, which was held at Royal Sonesta Kaua‘i Resort Lihu‘e, first took place in 2019. It was meant to return in 2020, but was delayed for a couple of years due to COVID-19.

Filmmaker Aaron Yamasato, Kaua‘i Comic Con’s founder and producer, was excited to finally be able to bring the event back to the island.

“It’s great. Everybody showed up,” he said in an interview with The Garden Island.

Yamasato came up with the idea for a Comic Con on Kaua‘i with one of his daughters a few years ago.

“My daughter and I, we’re like Comic Con geek fans — ‘Doctor Who,’ ‘Star Trek,’ that kind of thing,” he said.

After spending a long time hoping that a Comic Con would come to Kaua‘i, they eventually decided to take on the challenge themselves.

“We were like, ‘you know what? Why don’t we just try to make one on our own,’” Yamasato said.

The itinerary included a performance by professional violinist Kimberly Hope, who kicked off the event with a variety of songs from popular movies and TV shows.

That was followed by a panel discussion by two other special guests: Ming Chen, an actor and podcaster, and Nicole Laeno, a 17-year-old dancer and social media celebrity. Laeno also led a lively dance class on the event’s main stage that saw many attendees join in.

“I was really excited that somebody had the great idea to put a comic con on Kaua‘i,” said Chen, who most recently appeared in Kevin Smith’s “Clerks III.”

“I expect to see this Comic Con go on for many years,” he said, noting the event’s strong turnout.

Featured guest Ban Daisuke, famed for being Kikaida, a beloved superhero from a 1970s Japanese television series, traveled all the way from Tokyo for the event.

“He loves the idea that everyone seems to go back to their childhood and relive the fun days. He loves seeing that,” said Jean Yamasato, who translated for Daisuke.

Elijah Kim was one of many event attendees to ask for a photo and autograph with Daisuke. Kim told The Garden Island that he wanted the photo because his parents were big fans.

“They grew up with it, and it’s like a really big part of their lives and their childhood,” Kim said.

“But I’m still watching it and trying to see what the hype is about from when they were little kids.”

Comic Con also included live music from Console, a rock band known to play classic video game music.

But aside from the events, attendees said that a major highlight was being able to cosplay and come out in costume.

A wide range of pop culture genres were represented at the event, which also had a cosplay contest for both kids and adults.

Attendee John Schoffstall dressed as Linguini from the 2007 Pixar film “Ratatouille.”

“It kind of makes me happy knowing that I can make other people happy, too, by dressing up as a funny character. I think it’s very rewarding,” he said.

Rachel Fitzpatrick and Annabella Marie Elmore came as the Pink Ladies from “Grease.” Fitzpatrick was one of many who hoped the event would come back again.

“This is so awesome,” Fitzpatrick said. “Please keep these coming every year and make them bigger and better because these are amazing,” she said.

Cody Iwasaki, who came as Ash Ketchum from Pokemon, was also happy that the Comic Con was bringing anime culture to the island.

“If they can keep building each year, it’ll be great for the nerd community on Kaua‘i,” he said.

Yamasato said he has no plans of slowing down. He also hopes that Comic Con will keep growing each year.

“Fingers crossed,” he said.


Emma Grunwald, reporter, can be reached 808-245-0441 or
Source: The Garden Island

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