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Anime North 2001 - Public Anime Number One
Core Magazine May/June 2001
by Aaron K. Dawe

This May 25-27th will be the fifth annual Anime North Convention being held at the Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel. From its humble beginnings a few years ago as Canada's first convention promoting Japanese animation, Anime North has quickly grown into a large-scale event that appeals to all anime fans of all ages. With anime (pronounced 'ah-knee-may') becoming more mainstream in North America due to the success of such films as Princess Mononoke, Ghost in the Shell, Perfect Blue and Akira (most with regular showings in Toronto's rep theatres), as well as television hits such as Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon, Cardcaptors, Pokemon and Digimon for the younger set, one cannot escape exposure from this import from the East.

The convention has been very successful in previous years and it is expected to draw well over 2,000 attendees from across Canada, the U.S. and even Europe this year. Guests from Japan as well as the US side of the industry will also be in attendance giving fans a chance to meet with the people that bring them the work that they love so much. The biggest one of all has to be Fred Ladd, the man responsible for bringing over Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion (some say the inspiration for Disney's the Lion King) to North America in the 60's. The respected Mr. Ladd will be giving a special presentation covering the work he has brought to these shores and is expected to be a convention highlight.

Another convention highlight is the masquerade. For those who have never been to an anime convention before, this can be one of the most interesting and unique things going on. Many anime lovers (like Star Trek fans) will dress up as their favourite characters (called 'cosplay', short for costume play) and the masquerade gives them the chance to strut their stuff before an appreciative audience. Since so many anime series and shows are of different stripes and colours, the costumes can be simple, complex, and cute to downright outrageous. Last year, Anime North had one of the largest turnouts of cosplayers of all the conventions in North America--and I thought Canadians were a reserved bunch!

As well as for attendees, there is a large dealers room filled with anime merchandise--video, DVD, books, models, dolls, CD etc. The dealers room is a large attraction to the convention enabling fans to find that rare item they have been hunting for--and many leave with their wallets empty and their hearts content. There are also many rooms that are dedicated just to running anime non-stop, giving people the opportunity to be exposed to shows and series that they may not be familiar with. Panels with guests and industry types insure that con-goers can hear about various subjects from the experts. Anime North also gives fan artists exposure with the art room which displays art created in an anime style or model mecha (remember the giant robot craze from the 70's?).

One of the great things about Anime North being a fan run convention (making it a labour of love, not for profit) is the amount of work they put in to raise money for charity, most notably for Toronto Sick Children's Hospital. Anime North holds various raffles, auctions and a piñata bash to raise money for a very good cause. Last autumn, Anime North assisting the Japanese Consulate in Toronto raised a substantial amount of money for the highly successful Access Japan 2000 Anime Film Festival (you may have seen the posters promoting this in TTC subway stations at that time). It is hoped that due to its overwhelming success, the festival will become an annual event in Toronto.

With so many things to do and see, Anime North promises to be a busy, fun-filled weekend. If you're curious or are interested in attending you can just show up at the Marriott Hotel at 901 Dixon Rd. by Pearson International Airport on the convention weekend or check out their web-site at www.animenorth.com for more information.

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