(Photos provided by Heart's Exposures: Cosplay and Photography. Check back soon for Chibi Media's additional photos of the convention!)
It’s been years since any of our members have had the chance to attend Florida’s Largest Anime Convention: MetroCon, but this year we were able to see how it’s progressed over the years.
MetroCon has really made a name for itself in the Sunshine State. With over 11,000 people in attendance (a 1,000 person jump from the previous year), the convention never saw a dull moment. The convention of course had its regulars, as well as newcomers from across the states, and even overseas!
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The Westin was very accommodating despite hosting a wedding party and attendees for two different conventions. They even gave me a toothbrush because of all the things I could forget, that was it. (I later learned that this is fairly common of larger hotel chains, but seeing as it was my first experience with not having an essential toiletry, I was extremely impressed.) The hotel staff was super friendly and showed genuine interest in the cosplays. The bikers that were also staying at the hotel for their own convention were super chill and gave us high fives for “being true to who we are.” Hell yeah! You go, biker friends!
Equipped with a mini fridge, iron and ironing board, hair dryer, and coffee maker, our room at the Westin offered plenty of seating for the guests that came and went from our room as well as supplied us a seriously rad view of the convention center and harbor. The five-to-ten-minute walk from the hotel to the convention was totally worth not having to wait double the amount of time for an elevator that wasn’t crammed full of people. Definitely will use them again in the future, and I would recommend them to anyone else who isn’t a fan of the rowdy bunches of convention goers.
Registration for the convention moved along fairly quick, at least for us. We can’t speak for anyone else, but despite opening a few minutes late Friday morning, we were still back to our hotel within twenty minutes after getting our badges and tickets to the Masquerade.
Speaking of the Masquerade…that was a thing.
This was the first time any of our team members attended the masked ball, and it will likely be the last. The skit was cheesy and subpar at best (not that we were expecting professional quality, but with a storyline so out there it was really hard to get into or taken seriously, especially with all of the A/V issues). The costumes were pretty great, (looking at you, Lord Zedd!), but overall, we got all dressed up to dip out in the first forty-five minutes with our greatest highlight being the Arno and Elise cosplayers that weren’t even a part of the show dancing on the big screen. Thankfully, the rave was better.
We have to give some serious hand-claps to the security at the entrance to the rave both nights. Bag checks, even hat checks were conducted before you ever entered, and they were as forceful as they needed to be. Many people will probably disagree, but we at Chibi Media greatly appreciate the extra effort (at least since 2010) that they’ve put into keeping the convention and its attendees safe. Also, bounce house. Enough said.
Where we found ourselves mostly was hanging out in and outside of the Game Room. While I personally would have loved to have seen some good, old-fashioned Mortal Kombat machines (where oh where will I have to go to scissor-kick some fools with Sonja Blade?), other members of our team tore it up on one of the two DDR machines. Of course, there were the standard Mario Kart and Smash stations, as well as a couple of Project Diva tables, but what was probably the coolest part of the whole room was the fact you could give the volunteers running the room your debit card and in exchange get quarters for the machines that required them. This is the first time I’ve encountered that kind of system, and I was mildly impressed at how well it seemed to go over.
The real fun, however, was outside the room with the crowd of people playing the musical game of Joust. If you’ve never heard of it, check out the game’s website as well as a video of the game being played at a convention. We spent a good part of our Saturday night playing the game with a good group of people and getting to know a few more faces on the Florida convention scene.
As for the shopping, I have to say that MetroCon’s Vendor’s Hall/Artist Alley have really come a long way since the last time any of us were there. Despite being sold a knock-off G.E.M. Series Yamato Ishida and Gabumon (it IS a really good knock-off, though), we were really impressed at the selection that was offered at this convention. It is unfortunate, however, that we’ve heard across the board from various artists and vendors that many of them barely broke even because no one was really spending any money, and may not return in future years. We hope that this year was just a fluke, or that maybe they can move Artist Alley into an area that those without badges can still purchase items from them. Just a thought.
In summation: this is one of the better conventions that we’ve been to this year in the south. Anyone looking to steep their toes into the world anime and conventions should experience this one first-hand. We think this will be a yearly convention for us in the future.