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Plans drawn for Japanese animation fest
By Norman Wilner, The Toronto Star, Thursday, August 7, 1997
MOON SHINES: Kid's show Sailor Moon started as out as anime.

You've rented all the tapes, you've seen all the shows and you've visited all the websites. What's the next step for the die-hard Canadian fan of Japanese animation?

Well, how about meeting some other die-hard Canadian fans?

Organized and supported by anime appreciation clubs from Ottawa, Hamilton and Toronto, Anime North is a new fan-run convention for devotees of modern Japanese animation known to connoisseurs as anime (pro-nounced "annie-may").

The convention, which will be held this Saturday at the Michener Institute (222 St. Patrick St.), is the result of months of collaboration and planning between seven anime appreciation clubs from Ottawa, Hamilton and Toronto. Its simple goal: To bring anime awareness to the Toronto faithful.

In the early days, ultraviolent horror-porn entries like Urotsukidoji: Legend OfThe Overfiend lurked in the shadows of the Toronto Film Festival's Midnight Madness program. After the arrival of Katsuhiro Otomo's breakthrough feature Akira, which nudged Japanimation closer to the mainstream, anime found a home in North American pop culture features like Lensman and Ghost In The Shell received theatrical exposure and became major hits on tape.

Even the hit children's TV series Sailor Moon started out as pure anime before it was co-opted and redubbed by its American syndicators.

It wasn't long before fans began to cluster around the shows and tapes they most enjoyed, forming clubs and Internet discussion groups dedicated to the art of Japanese animation.

"Basically, we got a little tired of having to go down to the States for the good conventions," explains Donald Simmons, an Anime North organizer.

The Toronto convention will feature all the standards of a U.S. convention a dealer room, an art show, gaming, costume competitions and panels and a live Anime Jeopardy contest.

The gaming events will include a tournament built around the new roleplaying game Bubblegum Crisis: Before And After, based on the charac-ters from the popular anime series and run by the game's author, David Pulver.

Scheduled guests include animator Geri Bertolo of Disney's syndicated hit Gargoyles and the new Flash Gordon series; artist Christian Morrison, a graduate of Sheridan College's prestigious animation program; and cult costumers Christina Carr and Martin Hunger, who will be holding two costume-design workshops.

Two video rooms will run all-day anime programs, featuring brand-new releases fresh from the drawing table. Scheduled at press time were the premieres of Crusher Joe and Volume One of the anticipated El Hazard television series, known in North America as The Wanderers.

Panels will address such concerns as anime fan fiction ("Do-It-Yourself Fandom," or what to do when the series you're craziest about runs out of new stories), the state of cyberpunk ("Digital Tokyo Dance," focusing on the new wave of "hard SF" programming) and the delicate issue of "User Friendly Anime" or, as the panel notes put it, "What anime do you show a friend to introduce them to the hobby, and what do you not show to a girl you're trying to impress?"

Doors open at 9 am. .For further de-tails, including the panel schedule, check the Anime North website: www.interiog. coml~dfslanime. north

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