Photography and Written by: Zach Martin
I’ve been personally going to MTAC or The Middle Tennessee Anime Convention for the past eight consecutive years, and with every year it’s been a completely different experience. From “Infinity” to “Flood-Con” to now “15 To Life” it’s almost been a chapter of my life and sadly I feel as though its time to close that chapter. The reason for this is I now feel as though I’m too old to go to cons like this where the main demographic of attendees is in high school or some older. I just feel like there wasn’t much to accommodate my age bracket of people and, as such, I felt bored for a majority of the con. That’s not to say that the con was bad by any means, especially when one considers last year’s debacle. I feel as though the “con life” era is slowly closing for me, and maybe I should attend higher age bracket cons such as Dragon Con or San Diego Comic Con. With that being said, here are the seven things that made MTAC so memorable this year.
Panels this year ranged wildly from, impromptu to professional and definitely varied from subject matter with no subject being too overbearing. In previous years, I remember there being somewhere around four or five separate panels about Homestuck, but I digress. The few panels I went to were funny and definitely had a great crowd to get differing opinions, which always brought a spice to the conversation. If I had one complaint, it would be that due to the size of each panel room, it was very easy and almost always filled up with people, making it very difficult to decide which lines to stand in. Oh yes, the lines were back this year.
2. Musical Artists
If I had one genuine complaint this year, is that the musical selections this year were VERY limited and felt extremely underwhelming. To be honest there were only two main musical guests and everything else was either impromptu or felt impromptu. One of my favorite things about previous years was finding and listening to a new band I had never heard before. You never know what you might find or like, and I really liked going in, listening to a new band perform with no expectations and always enjoying myself. I had to say my favorite moment, musically was Con Kitty’s Courtyard mini rave. It was nice to be in an open-air environment where it wasn’t a hundred and fifty degrees and to where the crowd was really into it.
3. The Gaming Scene
The gaming scene this year was much more back to its roots in not only its location, but in terms of how often the digital gaming room was heavily packed. If there is one thing I hate about digital gaming it’s the smell of so many bodies in a single room, that have been in there for hours. To get a full idea of what I mean, stick your head in that room on Sunday morning and it will surely wake you up. Analogue gaming on the other hand had a much more open-air environment that made it great for thinking under stressful situations and laugh at the card combinations of Cards Against Humanity and Apples to Apples.
4. Friendly Atmosphere and Laughter
One thing I can very clearly remember from last year’s convention was the general unhappy mood and tone from the attendees and why they were so upset with the new location and other issues that were prevalent. This year its almost the complete opposite with many people being happy back where it all started, with the only complaints being that there are too many people again, even though it is stretched across multiple hotels. Many games of “Ninja” and cosplay battles were being held and luckily no one really had any spacing issues. Ok, so something like friendly atmosphere sounds dumb on a list like this, but it can seriously affect the attitude of the con in general.
Cosplay this year was a little hard to find in terms of the amazing category or just in general. I found that this year not that many people did it within comparison to previous years. I myself did cosplay (as Biker from Hotline Miami) and got my picture taken with my friend (who was Jacket from Hotline Miami) so for me it was a complete new experience that I had not done before. The cosplay contest was where the best cosplays came out to play and, good lord, some of them were just fantastic. Special highlight goes out to the couple who created everything from scratch and were original characters, using everything from leather to real cat and dog bones.
6. The MTAC Dance Party
Alright everyone, here’s my one major complaint with the con this year: The line for the MTAC “Dance” party (or Rave). There was a serious two and a half hour wait time, which is….unbelievable to say the least. Personally I love going to raves and just completely being myself and having a good time dancing while not caring about how dumb I may look and enjoy the colors. Every single person was being patted down at the door by security for some reason, which slowed the line down considerably. I’m not really sure why they decided to go about doing it this way, but I tried waiting two or so hours before checking on the line again and it was literally out the door and around the hotel. I never got into the party and I found this really disappointing, I can only imagine what it must have been like for those who waited so long only to be in there for thirty or so minutes. This is the only part of the con I just found completely unacceptable.
7. The Tornado Situation
Ok, so this is more of a story than an actual event.
So it was Friday afternoon somewhere around four or five pm when I looked outside of my hotel room when I saw some really dark clouds and some great lightning. Thinking well a storm is on its way, lets get dressed up and go downstairs. My friend and I were walking around the convention in our cosplay getting a feel for the con seeing the windows get darker by the minute. We were making our way towards main events when all of a sudden the entire security was telling everyone to go into the main ballroom NOW. We walked in, and a Voice Actors panel was going on, I remember them saying how happy they were that everyone was starting to walk in and told everyone to have a seat. It was at this moment they realized that something was wrong since four to five hundred people are rushing into the main ballroom for no reason. My friend and I got a seat and was trying to figure out what was wrong outside. After some quick research on our phones, we saw the title “TORNADO WARNING IN YOUR AREA” flash on our screens. I checked with all my friends to see if they were safe and then had no other choice but to wait it out. The voice actors made the best of the situation by having everyone remain cool and answer some questions about if they’ve ever been in a situation like this before. Some of their responses were quite hilarious to say the least. After about fifteen minutes we were given the “all clear” and allowed to leave, but I really felt it was a moment where a bunch of strangers wearing all types of differing clothing and fandoms could come together in the hot, crowded room and laugh and remain calm during what could have been a worse time. After all, “We’ve survived a flood, we can survive this. Tornado-con 2015!”