Metrocon 2017 – Sunday

Being a geek has its payoffs. For example, I’ve had to become a pretty dedicated person to hang onto my geek cred—scoring 100% completion runs, exploring every installment in my favorite series, and making four-hour roundtrips to Florida’s biggest anime Con, Metrocon, each year.

Since its inception, this Floridian Con giant has certainly spread its wings into other wares—including superheroes and the indie gaming scene. Unlike Megacon, however, which has always been a jack-of-all-trades in geekery, Metrocon’s Dragon Ball-shaped heart is firmly fixed on all things otaku—meaning that you’re never quite out-of-sight of a Karasuno jersey or Tokyo-dwelling ghoul.

This year marked my third time at Metrocon, alongside the event’s 15th anniversary. And despite a few significant bumps along the way, I had a “plus ultra” time.

The Scoop:

What – A for fans, by fans anime convention featuring celebrity guests, exhibitors, and the most unique and exciting convention entertainment in the multiverse!

When:

Thursday, August 3rd (12:00PM – 12:00AM)
Friday, August 4th (10:00AM –1:00AM)
Saturday, August 5th (10:00AM – 12:00AM)
Sunday, August 6th (9:00AM – 6:00PM)

Where – Tampa Convention Center

Who – Steve Blum, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Scott McNeil, Christina Vee, Vic Mignogna, Max Mittleman, Ray Chase, Robbie Daymond, Paul St. Peter, Kyle Rowling, NoFlutter, Caleb Hyles, Jonathan Young, Pikabellechu, Oliroux, TeppyBAKA, Mew21, Erin Hurst, TJ Omega, Dei Cosart, Duy Truong, and Papanotzzi

Price – $30-$40 (single-day), $85 (weekend)

Perks – Costume Content, Picture This! Contest, AMV Contest, Anime Idol, Lip Sync Battle, Illustration Content, Metrocade Video Gaming, Tabletop Gaming, Panels and Workshops, 600,000 square feet of convention space

With Metrocon crammed into one of my busiest weeks in August, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make the drive this year and knew I’d only be able to attend on Sunday. But I was absolutely determined to go to the ends of Eos to obtain an autograph from Ray Chase and Robbie Daymond, voices of two of the lead characters in Final Fantasy XV (the number of hours I’ve clocked into that game is almost as uncomfortable as the length of time I waited for its release). Sweetening the deal were appearances by Steve Blum (voice of my favorite, phoneless, vampire-gunner-monster hybrid), Paul St. Peter, and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn.

The ride couldn’t have been smoother (with the total lack of traffic near the heart of Tampa nearly leading me into the uncanny valley). The parking fee: fair and affordable at a mere $10.

I woke up extra early and arrived about an hour before the autograph session with Chase, Daymond, and St. Peter—which, from past Con experience, has always been more than enough time. Unfortunately, the press pass reserved under my name had been given to someone else on accident, meaning I got held up in the ticketing line a bit too long, missing the only scheduled slot to meet with the voices of the FFXV bros. The autograph line had apparently been cut off about an hour early. On a Sunday.

It was disheartening, given all that I’d done to prepare for the moment. I spent my first few hours at Metrocon standing in the next autograph line as early as possible in order to ensure a meeting with Blum and McGlynn. The line cut off after being open a mere 15 minutes, about two hours prior to the scheduled meet-and-greet period. Because I had not been given a “free autograph” card when I checked in, I nearly missed obtaining autographs altogether—if not for a kindly attendee standing in front of me who offered me hers.

That’s not to dismiss Metrocon as a whole. Events this size require almost inhuman amounts of synchronization, and people were likely growing tired and short on supplies by the final day. Special guests had flights to catch, and that unfortunately meant not everyone would be able to meet them within an allotted time. Even so, I’d like to see reconsideration given to the autograph lines, perhaps allowing simple walk-ups like Megacon or spreading the guests’ appearances throughout the day rather than concentrating them into a single timeslot (as was the case on Sunday).

To their credit, the staff were very sympathetic of my plight. I was given a free pass for the day, handed more “free autograph” cards than I could ever use, and graciously allowed the chance to meet Ray Chase before he left. Many of my friends had an unabashedly smashing time at the event this year, so I can only call my experience an outlier. Even so, it was mine.

Rather than be pessimistic about these mishaps, I chose to enjoy the rest of Metrocon’s offerings—and, boy, am I glad I did. Being in line for three hours meant that I missed the Anime Chess Match and most of the panels that evening, but the vendor’s hall—which, might I add, was monstrous this year—completely turned the rocky start upside down.

I can’t remember the last time I purchased so much in so little time at a Con. I could hardly pass an artist or vendor without holding out a fistful of dollars in my best Futurama meme impression.

Many of Metrocon’s merchandise vendors were manned by familiar faces, focusing on clothing, figurines, keychains, and wall scrolls, primarily. The scarcity of imported snacks and savories from Japan seemed a bit out-of-place with Metrocon’s focus, but whatever diversity or unpredictability the merchandise lacked was more than made up for with the total joyride that was Artist’s Alley.

Simply put: there were a lot of prints and other homemade wares that grabbed my interest—and when I say “grabbed,” I mean like a shinigami grabs a stray apple. Fan-made acrylic keychains and standees—novelties I’ve seen little of elsewhere—were such a common sight that they almost seemed collaborated (I snatched a chibi Kotomine Kirei before the day was done). There were hologramic prints that transitioned between archenemy’s faces, pixelized bead statues, and some incredible close-out deals. (Vash the Stampede print by SamDelaTorre for a single double-dollar? You bet your doughnuts!)

My Hero Academia was a “super” common sight, both among the cosplayers that day and the art prints for sale. I purchased one print of All Might in particular (drawn by the gifted MuddyMelly) that I hope to bestow with Christopher Sebat’s signature someday. Overwatch and Final Fantasy XV unsurprisingly held significant representation in-between all the quirky superheroes.

And that’s saying nothing of the live-action medieval duels, the wristband-checking Master Roshi, and the literal hordes of cosplayers—who, despite it being Sunday, came out in such force and with such fantastic style that I couldn’t help but feel pride as an otaku.

My spirits lifted with each new booth I explored and costume I photographed, until, by day’s end, I left with a trunk full of loot and a Sora-like smile plastered to my face—not least of which can be credited to a Gladio cosplayer wielding a sword made of cup noodles. (You, sir, are the hero Eos deserves.)

Metrocon is a for fans, by fans, four-day anime convention featuring celebrity guests, exhibitors, and the most unique and exciting convention entertainment in the multiverse, located annually at the Tampa Convention Center.

Visit the Metrocon Official Website

Follow Metrocon on Facebook

Photography by Amy Covel

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Author: Casey Covel View all posts by
Casey Lynn Covel (known online as “Cutsceneaddict”) is an award-winning, published writer, avid reader, and aspiring author. She runs a nerdy writing blog called Meek-Geek and founded PROJECT: Magic Kingdom Hearts in 2012. When she’s not writing for Geeks Under Grace, Florida Geek Scene, Beneath the Tangles, or FROM JAPAN, she enjoys cosplaying, and has won several awards for her work. Follow her on Instagram for her latest cosplay endeavors. #meekischic

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