Kawaii Kon: The King of Honolulu Geek Conventions
It’s a fact: if you are a geek and live on Oahu, you probably look forward to Kawaii Kon every year.
For many years, Kawaii Kon was the only game in town for residents of Oahu. If you wanted to attend another convention, your only choice was to hop on a plane and leave the island. Recently, however, other conventions have popped up – including Comic Con Honolulu (run by the same group of awesome geeks), Anime Matsuri, and Amazing Honolulu Comic Con. Despite the sudden rush of new cons, Kawaii Kon remains the gold standard of local geek culture. I attended every geek con on Oahu this year and, while many of my friends missed one or two, NOBODY was going to miss Kawaii Kon. Even with all the other conventions around, it’s not unusual for people to refer to it simply as “the con,” and others to just know which one they’re talking about. Which con? Kawaii Kon, of course. If we’re talking about anything else we’ll be sure to specify.
While Kawaii Kon is primarily an anime convention, it manages to pull people from all aspects of Oahu geek society. The local science fiction and fantasy club – The Last Outpost – has a booth. The table top gamers had about a third of the exhibit hall reserved entirely for them. The furries had a panel and the fanfiction writers had not one, but two workshops. Even the LARPers, who seem to be wandering between games since Dystopia Rising broke up last fall, were present – scattered throughout the con in costumes from games long since passed.
Of course the heart of the con is anime, and Kawaii Kon brought in A-list guests from the industry. Almost every major distributor, including Crunchyroll, Aniplex, and Funimation, had panels throughout the con. They pulled in voice actors from extremely popular shows like Black Butler, Ouran Host Club, Chobits, Bleach, Fate Stay Night, and many more. This con does a massive amount of anime industry programming, and it does it well.
This year’s convention boasted 11,597 unique attendees. There are only a little over 900,000 people living on our island, so that means a solid 1% of the people living here were at the con this weekend. Of course this con is so popular it does pull people from the other islands as well, but still, that’s a pretty stunning statistic nonetheless. We’re pretty isolated out here. Unlike mainland conventions, which can pull people in from a few hours drive away, we pretty much have to fly to our nearest big city. And beyond our state border, the next high density population is several thousand miles away.
Next year’s convention will be held April 7-9, 2017 at the Hawaii Convention Center. Clear your calendars, Hawaii based geeks. And for those of you on the mainland, wouldn’t this be an awesome excuse to head out here to Hawaii? Get your geek on then soak up some sun. Trust me, it’ll be worth the trip.
Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.
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