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New anime festival held in the name of the moon

Voice actors of widely-loved anime series booked as guests for inaugural convention

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Tabitha McLelland poses with some of the figurines sold at Raven Toys & Collectibles. McLelland is the executive director of the upcoming anime and video game event, the Wonderland Anime Festival, taking place on March 1 to 2.

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Tabitha McLelland poses with some of the figurines sold at Raven Toys & Collectibles. McLelland is the executive director of the upcoming anime and video game event, the Wonderland Anime Festival, taking place on March 1 to 2. Photo Store

Anime lovers will have a new event to look forward to this spring.

The first-ever Wonderland Anime Festival will be taking place at the Victoria Inn Hotel and Convention Centre (1808 Wellington Ave.) during the weekend of March 1 to 2.

For the inaugural event, the festival’s volunteer co-ordinator and executive director, Tabitha McLelland, announced that there will be several special guests from the hit anime series, Sailor Moon, in honour of the 20th anniversary of its television debut in North America.

"It’s going to be a Sailor Moon voice actor reunion," McLelland, who works at Raven Toys & Collectibles (214 St. Mary’s Rd.), said.

Linda Ballantyne (voice of Sailor Moon), Toby Proctor (voice of Tuxedo Mask), Katie Griffin (voice of Sailor Mars), Susan Roman (voice of Sailor Jupiter), and Ron Rubin (voice of Artemis) are the stars attending the festival. Sailor Moon director John Stocker is also expected to be there.

Other significant figures in anime that will be present at the festival are professional video gamer Kat Gunn and cosplay star Kristen Hughey.

Aside from exciting guest stars, there will also be an artist alley, panels, and video and tabletop games. Because the event isn’t for another two months, McLelland said there aren’t too many confirmed details.

"We’re hoping to get some of the (anime) clubs in Winnipeg to come out and do other Japanese-oriented things, like tea ceremonies and demonstrations on how to put on a kimono, but we haven’t had any of the clubs confirm what they want to do yet," McLelland explained.

McLelland is aware that Ai-Kon is the major anime convention in Winnipeg, but said that Wonderland Anime Festival is different because it celebrates both anime and video games.

"We’re trying to focus more on cosplay and video game crowds, because I don’t think there are any big video game conventions in Winnipeg," McLelland said.

However, because Sailor Moon is so well-known, she said it was best to start off with anime.
McLelland has read the Sailor Moon books and watched the show herself, and she believes the anime is popular because it’s relatable.

"You have these regular girls you can identify with when it comes to school and boys," McLelland said. "But then they get to go out and battle enemies."

Those interested in attending can purchase day passes or weekend passes. Day passes are $20, and weekend passes are $30, before taxes. To find out how to buy passes, visit wonderlandanime.com or contact McLelland at 204-231-8354.

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