As usual, this year’s Middle Tennessee Anime Convention proved a fantastic outlet for geeks from all over the Southeast. 2013 marked MTAC’s 13th show, with this year’s theme called “Devil’s Dozen.” The theme brought out the darker side of fandom, and played on the traditional “baker’s dozen.” They welcomed 9,691 people, more than any previous year. The event was held in Nashville’s downtown Renaissance Hotel and the Nashville Convention Center, just a few minutes from the 1.2 million square foot Music City Center which is scheduled to open next month. The venue provided some great places for cosplayer photos and easy gathering, in addition to easily accessed panel rooms and a better dealer room than I’ve ever seen at that convention. There were vendors selling everything from wigs and completed costumes to comic books and cell phone charms. It’s truly amazing what you can find in the dealer room of an anime convention.
Don’t restrict yourself to the dealer room, though! MTAC’s Artist Alley featured some fantastic talent and was bigger than I ever remember it being. During the 2012 event, Artist Alley was spread throughout the convention center’s hallways. While that may have made the artists more accessible, it surely crowded the corridors and made photos almost impossible. I really thank MTAC for giving Artist Alley its own centrally located, dedicated space. Despite high attendance and a great number of vendors, neither the dealer room nor Artist Alley were too crowded. For the most part I was able to freely walk amongst the tables and see everything I wanted to see. Both those areas saw vast improvement over previous years.
Press registration saw some great improvements too, thanks to new Media Relations Coordinator Rusty Greer. Despite being new to the job, Rusty was able to manage press relations with ease and made getting my badge a breeze. I know he faced some scheduling difficulties, but thanks to him for making MTAC stress-free for the press.
General registration, on the other hand, didn’t seem to go quite as smoothly. While I didn’t experience it myself, the word among convention attendees was that the lines were just too long and slow moving. Everyone I’ve spoken with hopes for more registration lines and a speedier check-in next year, both for preregistered attendees and those registering on-site. Registration isn’t an easy thing to handle for any convention, and record-setting attendance certainly makes it even tougher.
This year’s MTAC featured some really fantastic guests, including the voices of the title characters in Panty and Stocking, Jamie Marchi and Monica Rial. The two are also known for their roles in a few of my favorite anime, including Ouran High School Host Club, and Sergeant Frog. Anime icons Eric Stuart and Chris Cason made appearances as well, in addition to several fantastic musical guests like Eric Stuart’s own group, The Eric Stuart Band. We also got to see The Slants, who have played MTAC several different years, and were not to be missed in 2013. The Symphonic Anime Orchestra, a somewhat impromptu musical group, made their second MTAC appearance. SAO takes applications for convention performances ahead of time and never has the exact same members. They put together a great symphonic concert with just three rehearsals! They welcome nearly all instruments and experience levels, so check them out next time they’re in your city! Cosplay guests included Lee “Fev” Camara and my personal cosplay idol, Ana Aesthetic. She has been featured in magazines around the world and was Dragon*Con’s first cosplay guest. As a cosplay enthusiast, it was great to get to see some cosplay guests making their way to MTAC!
The Full Moon Tattoo and Horror Festival was held alongside MTAC again this year, also in the Nashville Convention Center. They featured some great guests too, especially Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead. With all I had going on at MTAC I didn’t get a chance to go visit, but check out their website here!
MTAC’s sister convention, Geek Media Expo (GMX), hosted a Pub Crawl through Nashville’s downtown area. For the older convention attendees, this was a great way to let loose after a long day of conventioning. It was really fun to see the looks on people’s faces when they saw us wearing crazy costumes all down Broadway and through the honky tonk bars. The Crawl started at Paradise Park, a trailer park themed bar, and headed for a few other Nashville landmarks before returning to the Renaissance, just in time for the famous MTAC rave. The rave is never to be missed, whether or not you actually like dancing. This year had some really great music and all the strobe lights you could ask for.
This was my 7th year attending MTAC, and I don’t see me stopping anytime soon. It’s a fantastic convention for people of all ages and interests, especially with the Tattoo and Horror Festival so close. If you haven’t attended MTAC before, I definitely recommend you check it out next year!