Kawaii Kon Brings Out the Best in Local Artists


Brad Angelo

Kawaii Kon’s Artist Ally packed with countless people.

Kawaii Kon is Hawaii’s own local convention that focuses on anime, manga, and all aspects of Japanese’s culture. It takes place annually during ether March or April and is always held at the Hawaii Convention Center. 2017’s Kawaii Kon was from April 7-9. Kawaii Kon offers a huge variety of events and activities to attend during the 3 days. From panels featuring special guests, to an open table-top gaming room, to a large manga library with over a thousand different manga to read, there’s something that everyone can enjoy.

One of the many big events that go on every year is the Dealer’s Room and the Artist Alley. The Dealer’s Room featured over 70 different vendors. Each of them was selling different types of merchandise ranging from t-shirts and hats, to full box sets of anime and figures of people’s favorite anime and manga characters. You could even buy a replica katana (the cheapest were $80) if one is so inclined. With the huge selection goods all in one place, it’s very easy to lighten one’s wallet very quickly.

On the other side is the Artist’s Alley. This side had over 100 different booths featuring independent artists, each one of them displaying their self-made pieces of art. Many of them had hand-drawn pictures of well-know anime and video game characters, while others had more unique items. Phone charms and stickers were rather common as well, with wearable items like bracelets and necklaces being more rare.

The more stand out booths had types of art that no one else was selling. One example of this was a small group of women selling clear glass orbs with Pokémon on a landscape. Each one of them was about the size of a baseball and had a different Pokémon in a different environment.

“Each one of them took about 10 hours to each… we had to craft each part of the orb by had and put them together. It’s quite a lot of work,” said Erica Sato, one of the women manning the booth. She went on to say that even though it’s a whole lot of work, it’s definitely worth it.

These types of events aren’t just for the customers; it greatly helps the artist get their work out there. Being able to see art online can only go so far. Having the artists able to talk to their audience’s really helps them connect and make a lasting impression.

Kawaii Kon had grown exponentially over the years, going from almost two-thousand people in 2005, to almost twelve-thousand in 2016. This helps out not only the ones that host the convention, but the artists and dealers that pay to be there every year just so they can show people the hard work they put in to what they love. Next year’s Kawaii Kon will take place from March 2-4 and will probably be even bigger than the last.