June 5th, 2003

Anime North 2003 Report

Ninjatron is going to talk about an amazing convention.

On May 16th to the 18th 2003, I would again make the journey to the proverbial Mecca of Canadian Anime Fandom, Anime North. I attended this same convention last year and had a great time. This year promised to be just as great. However, this year I was not about to take part in this in such an important event in a passive manner. Oh no. In my typical style, I needed to be an atypical convention goer. This time, I would become an authority. I would become...

Anime North 2003

Ninja Panelist!

A panelist.

Yes, this time I helped the convention out by bringing my knowledge and interests to the people. A badge that I wore with great pride.

This convention was an amazing experience. Here's some highlights.

Friday: Legendary Rabbit Confrontation


It was a very rainy day, and I woke up much later than I intended. Getting to the Regal Constellation hotel once again required a bus ride, a subway ride, and another bus ride as it did last year. Total travel time was about 3 hours. I had wanted to get there much earlier than I did, but as it turns out, several other people I talked to also arrived late. So I paid my money and met up with Shawn. Unlike last year, which saw the both of us going to our homes at the end of each day, this time we had a room at the hotel as a base of operations


Panel #1

Almost right away I took part in a panel on publishing doujinshi, bringing my experience regarding drawing anime style and manga layouts. I unfourtunatley forget the name of the lady I did the panel with, but she had some very good advice to share. It was quite well attended and I think it went very well. I think everyone went away with a good understanding of what it takes to be a publish a comic book.

At the end of the panel, a girl asked for my autograph. That was very cool, and somewhat humbling.

Stan Sakai's Drawing Workshop

Stan Sakai Stan Sakai with Usagi

What a rare treat it was to not only see the creator of the legendary comic book character Usagi Yojimbo speak, but to also see him draw as well. He was an amazing speaker and I certainly leant a few tricks in regards to drawing, creating characters, and weaving a story line. His methods of explaining and showing us how he does his work were also very helpful to me as a teacher as well, and I'll certainly be sharing what I learned with my students.

Stan's drawings More of Stan's drawings

It was at this convention where Stan dropped a huge bombshell. 2004 will be Usagi's 20th anniversary, and there will be a lot of merchandise released accordingly. Not only that, but Usagi Yojimbo will be returning to television, by way of an guest appearance on the Fox Box's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! In the original TMNT animated series, Usagi was transported to the TMNT's world of modern-day New York. In this new crossover, it will be the Turtles who wind up in Usagi's world of funny animals. This was probably the biggest announcement of the whole convention. What great news!

Me and Stan. Stan's sketch

I lined up and got an original sketch, then I got my picture taken with Stan.


Me and 6 pals went to go see the One Piece movie, but it was starting an hour later than it was supposed to. So we went back up to the hotel room and ordered a pizza. Now, anyone that has ever attempted to order a pizza with 6 other people probably already knows the end of this story. We missed the One Piece movie.

Saturday: Attach Minicon for Ninja Action!

YTV tries to be cool.

YTV Booth Say 'I love anime!'

YTV had a very big presence at the convention and had been making a big deal of it on their programing for a several weeks. There was a big area set up where they were broadcasting their Saturday Morning lineup live from the convention. These two hyperactive people were asking anime trivia questions, which were all pretty lame. Things like " In Sailor Moon, who does Serina like?", which they asked twice. You had to answer by yelling "I love anime!" so they'd pick you. There were Beyblade tournaments and whatnot going on. I really wanted to be on camera, but I suppose they would have nothing of it.

Panel #2

I was to take part in a panel all about 80's anime. I was all prepared to talk about how cool a lot of that stuff was and rant about how it's gone unappreciated by today's anime fans and about how unavailable much of it is today. However, it was not to be as only the other panelists showed up. We stayed and talked for a bit but eventually called it off. Bummer.

Frank Miller and Stan Sakai

The legendary comic book artist Frank Miller of Batman and DareDevil fame was on hand at Anime North due to his efforts in bringing influences of Japanese manga style and sensibilities to the world of North American Comics. He and Stan had a very interesting panel. Much of the discussion centered around the Comics industry and how it could/should evolve over the years to get more readers. Several controversial ideas were thrown around.

Me and Stan.

Some really funny moments came before Stan arrived and Frank was up there goofing around a bit with the audience:

Frank Miller: "So What do you want me to talk about?"
Audience member: "Elektra!"
Frank Miller: "Elektra? She's dead."

Audience member: "How'd you get so old?"
Rest of audience: "Oooooooooh!"
Frank Miller: "How'd I get so old? How'd you get so ugly?!"

Voice Actors

Almost the entire cast from Gundam Wing were there as guests. Mark Hildreth (Heero), Kirby Morrow (Trowa), Brad Swaile (Quatre), David Kaye (Treize), Saffron Henderson (Noin), Scott McNeil (Duo), and Brian Drummond (Zechs) were in the house for the biggest meeting of Gundam Wing voice actors ever in a convention. Unfourtunatly, Ted Cole (Wufei) was unable to make it, otherwise that would have been all of the pilots.

3 Scott McNeils?

Before things got underway, Scott posed with this fan, who had dressed up just like him, and this doll, who had also dressed just like him. Now, you may ask what the chances are of the 3 matching up like this. I would say that since Scott usually wears the same thing all the time, the chances are pretty good.

Voice Actors

The voice actors panel was INSANE. All sorts of screaming and yelling by the fans. There were several moments where several of the guys were actually pandering to the fangirls of the audience, who were the majority in loudness if nothing else.

I know that there was some interesting information disclosed through this panel, but for the life of me I can't remember a whole lot. All of the screaming going on must have erased my brain. But it was a huge audience and the voices must have felt like royalty to receive that much attention.

Voice Actors

Panel #3

Aww yeah! The Transformers panel! I had actually enquired about there being such a panel via e-mail weeks before the convention. I was told that there weren't any plans for a Transformers panel, so I offered to do it myself. I must say, due to the great turnout this panel had, I'm surprised that I had to be the catalyst in making it happen. Lots of TransFans were there. I was joined by the gentleman who's large toy collection is often on display at Anime North, who was very knowledgeable on how the toy business works. We all had a great discussion regarding the G1 reissues, Armada, Beast Wars, RiD, and all kinds of other things. I had a great time, and I think everyone else did as well. It was fun to be an "expert", of sorts. I'll be doing it again next year.


Masquerade 1 Masquerade 2 Masquerade 3

Unfourtunatley I do not have very many photos from the masquerade this year, which is too bad since there were some interesting costumes. It was generally a lot of fun and there was much more diversity than last year's Canadian National Expo Masquerade.

Masquerade Gundam Masquerade Best In Show

On the left is my favourite, the Gundam Prototype. It gets points on the original comedy scale from me. And here on the right is your best in show, from Card Captors.


Back to the hotel room again. This type, after much deliberation, we ordered subs. As soon as they arrived, I took mine back downstairs, for there was a very special even taking place at midnight - Transformers: The Movie! Earlier at the Transformers panel, I encouraged everyone to be loud and yell at the screen and have some fun, since we've all probably seen the movie a hundred times. That's exactly what we all did, and it was hilarious. Even though I know all the words, and even though it's full of mistakes and retroactive continuity, it was so much fun seeing the movie with a big bunch of fans like that. I had forgotten exactly how much fun this movie is. Definitely the highlight of the convention. Also, seeing it projected on a large screen was awesome. It looked great.

Transformers Movie

It was fairly late when the movie ended, but I went back down to the general convention area to check out what was going on. Who should I see standing there? My old buddy Scott McNeil. He shook my hand and next thing you know, we were talking like old pals again.

That's when he told me that he was surfing around the Internet one night and had found some of the articles I had written about he and I hanging out at conventions.

Wow. Scott McNeil has been to my website.

Wow. Scott McNeil might actually be reading this!

Man, I think that is so freakin' cool. That just totally blew me away. I didn't quite know what to say.

As the night went on we were lounging at a bar and then standing outside the hotel shooting the breeze with a few other fans, talking about Masters of the Universe, Battle of the Planets, Mega Man, Transformers Armada, and so on. Too bad I didn't have the camera on me. He even asked me when I cut my hair. I suppose this was my first public appearance with my new haircut, that is to say that I had no hair and wore a bandana.

Eventually he went back inside and was swamped by fangirls, so I thought it best to take my leave for the night. But what a great night that was.

Sunday: Victory's Endless Wander

Charity Auction

UDON Street Fighter Poster

I checked out the charity auction, mostly because the voice actors were entertaining as the auctioneers. Nothing really struck my fancy except for this amazing Street Fighter poster, made for the upcoming comic book my UDON studios. It had probably every Street Fighter character ever on it. It went for $85, so I probably didn't even have a chance even if I hadn't spent all of my money. The winner really wanted it.

David Kaye and Ninjaton Mark Hildreth and Ninjaton

Got my picture taken with a few guests. That's me with David Kaye on the left and with Mark Hildreth on the right.

Panel # 4

This was a panel about Kaiju Monsters! Godzilla, Ghidorah, Gamera, and all the rest of that stuff that I love so much. Again, I was all ready to have some fun with a spirited discussion, but only two people showed up. I did, however, meet a nice guy named Phil who is a huge monster fan. Despite the low turnout, he, the two audience members, and I stayed the whole hour and had a great time talking about kaiju movies.


Here's some of Phil's vinyl monster collection. Expensive stuff, this is.


So I was in the lobby area talking with my friend from school Neko-chan, who was there with a group of others when I suddenly realized that one of those others was Gordon Rose. Gordon is, of course, the host of the CNExpo Masquerade and does the stage-ninja thing at Anime North. I bowed to him, then I was introduced as Ninjatron and he bowed to me. I've been a big fan for awhile and it was quite the unexpected thrill to meet him like that.


Here's a picture of him with a few of his fellow stage ninjas. There's Neko on the far left.

The End

As things were winding down I met up with some pals, most of whom I know from school. My good friend Rin, who runs Scott McNeil's fan club, had wanted to get a picture that I drew of Silverbolt signed by him, but we were not able to get it to work out. All hope seemed lost when Scott walked through the door. He was in a rush and wasn't supposed to be signing anything, but when he saw this picture, he just had to stop.

"Who's the artist of this?" he exclaimed.

"I am!" I proudly say.

"Wow, I forgot how good you are!" he said.

So Rin got her's signed, and Scott just loved the picture so much that the extra copy that I had in my portfolio ended up going home with him. I was lucky enough to get this photo of us with it.

Me and Scott!

If I do say so myself, this is the greatest picture ever taken.

Scottie, if you just so happen to be reading this, thanks so much for doing that, and for hanging out with me. I always have a great time. Enjoy that Silverbolt picture, because I'm going to do my best to someday make it a bit more valuable.

Then he said "I'm gonna hug you whether you like it or not!" I would definitely describe it as a guy hug, which is only slightly more friendly than, say, a punch in the arm. Now I know he usually hugs the girls but I think that puts me in some pretty elite company when it comes to the guys.

And thus this awesome convention came to its end. But what awaits the ninja next year?

Stuff I bought

Well, yes, there was much in the way of capitalism during the show, and I had some good luck in finding deals.

There was an awesome dealer, separate from the main room, that had a long line up to get in, but amazing prices once you got inside. It was there that I bought the entire Record of Lodoss Wars anime series on DVD. Both the original series 2 disk set and the TV series 4 disk set. Cost me $185. That was over $300 worth of anime just about anywhere else. While waiting in line I won a free Animatrix poster for having a birthday on the 17th. That was great, but since that meant my birthday was in a month from that day, it made me feel old.

Record of Lodoss War

Ironically enough, even though this was an anime convention, I left with my hands full of Live Action movies as well. I got 2 of the 90's Gamera movies, and the 2 American released Ultraman movies. Hard to find this stuff just anywhere. They were all on my short list of things to look out for, so I was glad to have gotten all of that.

Gamera and Ultraman

I also got a Transformers: Heroes of Cybertron Thundercracker figure, completing the Decepticon jet ranks of my collection.

All of my swag.


What more is there to say? I had an amazing time at this convention. I was able to do some cool things and bring my insight of the fandom to the fandom itself. I had fun hanging out with some great friends and even made some new ones. Best convention ever? This ninja says yes.


See the Photo Gallery for more pictures, including Cosplayers!

Check out the Anime North official webpage!

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