Shawn's Canadian National Expo 2002 Report.

This is a report of the Canadian National Expo 2003 written by Shawn Allison, friend of SykoGrafix. SykoGrafix is not respinsible for any statments made in the following articles. Contact your pediatrition before use.
-Ninjatron

FORWARD

This is a tale about lines - many lines. And people - a lot of them. Itís also about three days and what occurred over them. Itís also about pain. Pain in my feet, and pain from standing around like a fool for too long. Itís also a story of anime, and downtown-ness (even though itís not a real word). This is a tale about CNAnime 2002.

Friday, August 23rd: Day 1

I left my home, in Aurora, at 1:30 PM to go to the subway. I then took the subway all the way to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, which is where the con is held each year. I arrived at about 3:00 PM.

As luck would have it, as I walked into the lobby of the convention centre, I almost immediately found Dylan, already in line, and very close to the front.

Cosplayer 1
Thus, magically, I was in line too - next to him. There were also some people from the CBC (The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which is located right across the street) interviewing people in costumes. In sheer randomness, someone knocked over a piece of fencing for the line up. Everyone laughed and cheered.

So not too long after, Dylan and myself got out of line, and had our tickets. We were happy, as any successful con-goer would be. We then decided that since not too much was open yet, and of what was, there wasnít too much we wanted to see, that we would line up for the dealerís room.

So we got in a line. Then we had to un-get in line (as apposed to just getting out of line, which would have been easier) because a staff person, in a flashy t-shirt, told us we had foolishly stood at the front of the line, not the end. It defies my logic why no one at the real front of the line yelled at us for doing this. Suffice to say, we then had to walk outside. Yes, outside! The line was that long. It was actually a pretty good thing we got there when we did, as the line got insanely long a few minutes later. There were also many people in the dealerís room line who did not realize they were, in fact, in the dealerís room line. They thought they were in the registration line. If only that had been smart enough to ask me, a totally stranger, what line this was, I could have aided them, but alas, they did not.

So Dylan and I waited in line for a long while. The dealerís rooms was suppose to open at 4:00 PM, but at 4:20 PM we were starting to wonder, though it seems such delays are very normal for cons.

On a funny side note, Dylan was admiring a cute Asian girl who was a staff volunteer at the con, watching over the line. I thought it would be a wise and practical idea for him to engage this woman in conversation. Dylan said he wanted her phone number. I implored him to go talk to her, so I could take photos of his inevitable rejection and possible humiliation, but he declined. I think that was very foolish of him.

Haley
Then, at some point in time, the line actually started moving. We then headed up to the dealerís room, which was located on the 2nd floor. After a fun escalator ride, I found myself in the pandemonium of the massive room, so chocked full of anime, comic books, and sci-fi paraphernalia; it is simply recorded as a massive blur in my mind. There was a lot of stuff, and an even greater number of people attempted to view and buy all the stuff. I didnít take long for the dealerís room to become excessively busy.

After a very brief walk around the entire floor, to see what was what, I received a phone call on my cellular phone. Who could it be? It was Michelle Dadoun! Finally she, as well as her brother, Ryan, and cohort in fan-girliness, Haley, had entered the building. Or had they? It turned out they were somewhere, but not the lobby downstairs. So I went downstairs to attempt to find and meet them.

I wandered warily around the first floor for a while, vainly trying to find them. In retrospect, I probably should have stayed in one spot. Then magically I found them - at the end of a very long line. I stress the very part. They all had to line up go get registration and such. So guess what I did / was forced to do? I, being the gentleman I am, and good friend, as well, stood in line with them the whole time. This began at about 5:00 PM. I didnít see the end of the line, and their eventual purchase of tickets until 7:00 PM. So two [fun?] hours spent in a line, which for all purposes had no real need to have me in it!

So it was then 7:00 PM. The con ends at 8:00 PM on Friday. That left me with lots of time.

Jeff
So, we all went up to the dealerís room and everyone viewed fun merchandise. I procured two compact discs during this outing. One being the Cowboy Bebop OST 2: No Disc, by Yoko Kanno & the SEALBELTS, the other being a DVD of the crazy wonderful J-Rock band, Malice Mizer. I was happy with my purchases.

Basically after that it was some more aimless wanderings and then the girls and Ryan had to go home. After thye fled the scene, I met up with Dylan, as well as fellow associates Shane and Jeff, and we made a [perilous?] journey to Union Station so they could consume the fine taste of a Harveyís brand hamburgers.

Dylan, at that time, was very happy, as he had just bought a real stainless steel samurai sword from the dealerís room. (Yes, they were actually selling weapons there. I stayed well away from that booth, out of fear for my very life.) I can only imagine what joy the sword will bring to him and his family, as he wields is mercilessly around his home, possibly in a vain attempt to cut vegetables and other foods for cooking.

Dylan, Jeff, and Shane also talked important business, and I made myself appear to be intelligent by nodding at pivotal points of the conversation, and saying things like "Yes", "Yes, I agree." and "Thatís good." Etc. etc. etc.

Then we went on the subway, and then later I was home. At that time, it was 12:00 AM!

Saturday, August 24th: Day 2

I arrived downtown at the convention centre early that morning, at about 10:00 AM, as we were all planning to see a show called Nigh Hunters at that time. I arrived just on time, sat down, only to stand up again and leave, as the people running the theatre room we were in had -lost- the tape!

Michelle
So after that disappointment, we wandered up to the dealerís room yet again! We had planned to see the Fushigi Yuugi OVA at 11:00 AM, but some how or another, myself and Ryan got separated from Haley and Michelle! Horror! So we went downstairs to the theatre room on our own, in hopes they would follow.

Now, letís bare in mind something, shall we? Fushigi Yuugi is classified as a shoujo anime. Now there is nothing wrong, per se, with people of either gender watching shoujo, but itís understandable that a larger part of the audience is going to be female. With this fact in mind, I really should have thought a little harder about going to see this or not. You see, what happened led me to become mildly annoyed. Having never see Fushigi Yuugi before, I was unfamiliar with the plot of the series, and due to the fact that this was the OVA series, which takes place after the series, I found it a little hard to follow what was going on. What made is even harder was this annoying group of fangirls sitting in the front row, who would scream and yell every time a bishounen entered onto screen, stated something, fought a battle, made a joke, etc, etc! I cringed with fear and annoyance every time it looks like a major plot twist was about to occur, as I knew it would only usher in more inane yelling. I honestly donít even know, if by the end, I even liked the series or not. It was just too distracting in there. I remember there was a part with a talking baby. Good times.

Kirby Morrow
After some more time had past, and more insane wandering here and there occurred, we all ventured to see a Q & A with American voice actor, Kirby Morrow, known for doing the voice of Goku in Dragon Ball Z, and Trowa in Gundam Wing, among other things. Again, this panel was mostly filled with girls, luckily, for the most part, under control. So Kirby Morrow answered a lot of questions, told many humorous anecdotes about his life and the shows he worked on, voice acting in general, and yelled Gokuís famous Kame-hame-ha line a few times at request.

After that was over, the girls and Ryan just had to have food. Obviously, unlike Dylan and myself, they had still not developed what we like to call - Con-mode -, in which during the event of a con, your bodyís natural function lie dormant until the day is over. That means no food, drink, or bathroom breaks the entire day. Dylan and I can achieve this, yet everyone else Iíve met canít, it seems. Itís rather disappointing.

So foolishly, hours were wasted as everyone ate the food they had to have, so desperately, at a local food court across the street. It was actually rather amusing, as there was a large group of cosplayers at a table near us, dressed as various Final Fantasy characters. It was easy to spot who was not part of the convention by the bemused looks across the faces of people sitting at other tables.

Ryan
Then, in a moment of sheer oddness, I had to take Ryan to the subway, so he could go home, as he had suddenly become deathly ill.

After that, we ventured back, having missed lots of quality showings, most notably Hellsing! At that point, we arrived back just in time to see the Anime Music Video competition.

Now, I could just have poor memory, but I watched the music video contest last year too, and I seem to remember it being a lot better than this year, though I could be wrong. Not to say this yearís sucked horribly, but I just didnít feel any one of the videos they showed were anything special, by fan-made music video standards. Now, in a biased opinionated view, what I cannot seem to understand is why for something called ANIME music videos no one used any anime or Japanese music, but instead opted to use [crappy] American music? Perhaps this is just me feeling jilted, as I am a big J-Rock fan, and felt my particular field of music was left out, but regardless, I just find the whole idea of anime music videos, personally, to be something that reflects anime, not just in terms of video clips, but audio, as well.

The second the music videos were over, we rushed outside the theatre room, to line up for the very room we came out of. Why? Because next up was the masquerade, the biggest event at the con. Luckily Dylan was already waiting, and saved us a good place in line, but we still had to wait two whole hours before the show started. The masquerade is so big and so well attended, you seriously have to get in line at this point in time if you want a decent seat.

So we waited, and waited, and waited, for two hours. It was pretty darn tedious and boring being in that line. The only interesting thing was that we were right near the area were all the cosplayers were getting ready, so we could peak down the hallway and see what was going on.

Eventually, we got in and got seats. Even though we were quite close to the front, I had a rather hard time seeing, due to the fact that there were a lot of tall people in front of me, as well as a large support pillar, and a man from the con filming. Basically this caused me to get no decent pics of the cosplay.

As usual, the crowd was in - good spirits - very good spirits. Gordon Rose was the host, as he was last year, and it seems everyone loves him dearly, especially the man from the audience who jumped up and kissed him. That was something. There were also a lot of people in the audience endorsing Pockys. That tasty candy treat from Japan we all love. By the end, they had Gordon Rose hooked on them.

Masquerade 1 Masquerade 2

There was so much randomness and fun insanity occurring during the masquerade, I can barely remember it. Suffice to say, it was a lot of fun. I think the only disappointing aspect was that far too many people dressed up from Final Fantasy X, especially, so there wasnít as much originality and diversity as there could have been.

That concluded the events for Saturday, and by that time, I was glad to go home and lie down.

Sunday, August 25th: Day 3

The last day of the con! Events didnít start until 11:00 AM that day, so I was allowed some brief resting time before I headed downtown again.

Basically Sunday was this: stand in lines.

Kirby Morrow and the Girls
Stand in line to see some Dragon Ball Z voice actors. Stand in line to see Kirby Morrow. Stand in line to see Kia Asamiya. Stand in line to stand in line! Frankly, I wasnít interested in waiting in line to see any of these people and get their autograph, etc., yet certain people were very insistent and threatening in their forcefulness of making sure I suffered through the whole affair with them!

After all that -fun- of lining up, certain people were then weak, and again, time had to be utterly wasted on eating food.

Then we got back late from eating, missing a lot of the stuff I personally wanted to see. We were lucky enough to catch the last episode of Mini-Goddess, but seeing as an episode of that show is only 5 minutes long, it didnít seem like it was entirely worth it.

At that point, most events were wrapping up, and not wanting to brave the dealerís room yet again, to wander aimlessly, I went home.

GENERAL HIGHLIGHTS

Cosplayer 2
- On Saturday I wore my hide: ever free t-shirt, and not one, but two people actually stopped and remarked about it, and both were able to correctly pronounce hide. It made me so happy to realize I was not alone in all my J-Rock-ness.

- Saturday afternoon, someone was nice enough to bring their PSOne, and a soft pad, and people were able to play Dance Dance Revolution in the hallways. Any money you gave to play would be donated to charity, which was nice. It was funny to actually get a little exercise, other than walking, to loosen up your legs, though it was tough to play on a small LCD screen with a soft pad that slide around on the carpet, but fun, nonetheless.

- My various purchases. As stated I got two CDís, but I also purchased three hide key chains, and most importantly, a hide UFO catcher doll, which for some reason, Iíve always wanted to get a hold of. Now I have one, and it bravely protects my computer and desk from evil.

- The Masquerade, overall. As stated, there were far too many little stories that occurred to properly write down, but the audience is basically one of the main reasons to go to this event. Itís like close to 1000 utterly hyperactive anime fans confined to a small room. Obviously chaos ensues. Everyone just laughs and cheers, and yells, makes strange remarks and basically you just have a great time.

-The dealerís room. As usual, if youíre looking to purchase goods, this is the con to do it at. There is such a wide selection, and tons to choose from and browse. I saw some really impressive and rare items there that Iíve not seen anywhere else. Itís just a matter of how much you want to spend. While it was always busy and crowded, I think it was still a decent sized area.

IMPROVEMENTS

While I can say overall, I had a very fun time at CNAnime there were some things that could have been better.

Cosplayer 3
Among these were first and foremost, the lines. This convention really attracts a lot of people, one, because itís downtown, and two, CNAnime is also just 1/3 of what is the Canadian National Expo, the other two parts being sci-fi and comic books. Fitting literally three cons into one location makes for over congestion, and the sheer scale of people and activity is tiring, and at times, overwhelming. The registration line on Friday was just absurd. A 2-hour wait is just stupid. This was in part due to poor planning, and just lack of people hired to sell tickets, in my opinion. The people running this con have to realize and anticipate things like this in advance, and take appropriate measures. In my opinion, this was not done.

As well, there was the selection of anime being shown this year. While there were some things I wanted to see, (though as you know, I barely made it to any) there was really, overall, not a great deal of must-see showings, or events. I felt, this year, the programming was a little lacking.

So in closing, yes CNAnime 2002 was a good con, though an extremely busy one. If youíre looking for a good place to shop, and meet a large portion of the Toronto anime community, this is the place to go. If youíre looking for a closer knitted, more solid anime get together, that focuses more on showing anime and discussing it on a more intimate scale, Anime North in May, is the better con.

IN CLOSING

To compare, CNAnime to Anime North, the two major Toronto cons, I would say Anime North is far superior for the hardcore and veteran Otaku that wants more substance - that being myself. Anime North is on a smaller scale; itís more personal, and more driven not by money, but by the medium itself. CNAnime, however, is more the opposite. As it falls under the Canadian Nation Expo, it lives up to that name, being more a commercial expo of anime goods than a con for the Otaku to meet and greet. Depending on what you want, and what you like, CNAnime is and always will be a great three-day event, regardless. You just have to learn to deal with the traffic.

Shawn's Art Tribute to CNAnime!
Shawn's Convention Art

Check out Shawn's Webpage.

On to Dylan's Report

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