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Anime North 2001
Glenda Fordham, myTO.com

Astro BoyCanada's biggest fan-run convention spotlighting the unique art form known as anime takes place Fri., May 25, through Sun., May 27, at the Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel and promises attendees an exciting look into the world of Japanese animation, comics and cartoon characters.

What is Anime?
Cartooning and animation has come a long way from the early celluloid incarnations of Mickey and Donald, Betty Boop and World War II's Kilroy who was here, there, everywhere. In fact, Japanese cartoons are among the first such illustrations, tracing back nearly a thousand years through ink block prints depicting humorous images of animals and caricatured samurais and merchants. Manga, the Japanese form of comic books, has also developed into a cross-generational outlet for storytelling of the everyday lives, loves and dreams of the Japanese people. They are read and collected with passion by schoolchildren, businessmen, farmers, housewives and grandparents, and incorporate distinctive and stylized cartoon illustrations. Unlike their North American counterparts, such as the Marvel comics depicting daring heroes and evil villains, manga deal with the daily routine of life where the main character of a story could be a simple "salary man" or deal with kids' classroom pranks or a mother's search for the perfect tempura recipe.

During the '60s and '70s, most young North American TV viewers would be glued to their sets watching the adventures of Astro Boy, Speed Racer and Kimba, the White Lion, on which Disney's The Lion King has been loosely based, and since the mid-'90s, another generation has made Sailor Moon one of the biggest fashion trends for the pre-teen & tween sets, with clothing and accessory sales in the billions.

Anime North 2001 offers fans the opportunity of discovering heroes, villains and assorted characters from this mysterious realm during the three-day extravaganza featuring special guests from Japan and the US in seminars, exhibitions and fan meet-and-greet sessions. Confirmed guests include Fred Ladd, the grandfather of anime in North America, who helped Americanize many Japanese creations including Astro Boy, The Space Explorers, Gigantor and Kimba over 30 years ago. Also confirmed is Ben Dunn, creator and artist of the famed manga-styled Ninja High School series who will be on hand to answer fans' questions, as will Van Partible, artist and creator of the coolest weekly cartoon series Johnny Bravo (Hanna-Barbera).

I Am A Cartoon!
Get into the action by taking part in a wild Piñata Bash for charity. A loonie buys you a chance to take a swing at paper mache images of cartoon villains, or buy raffle tickets with proceeds going to the Hospital for Sick Children.

And in the spirit of Japan's annual legendary New Year's Eve TV special, Anime North 2001 presents their own version of "The Red & White Show," pitting contestants against each other in a variety show where players sing, dance or demonstrate martial arts in an attempt to win the big prize. But no-one gets voted off this contest!

For Sailor Moon fans of all ages, don't miss the "Sailor Jamboree," a regular favorite at past Anime North conventions. Famous for re-enacting production numbers from Japanese shows complete with complex choreography, exquisite costumes and live singing, the cast of Sailor Jamboree will present their fabulous stage show plus host panel discussions on costuming and exhibit rare and exclusive memorabilia. No Sailor Moon fan should miss this!

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