April 30 through May 2, 2010…
The otaku horde descended upon Nashville, Tennessee for “3 Days of Anime.” The result: MTAC Odyssey.
The Middle Tennessee Anime Convention has been a yearly event in the mid-state for a while now, this year celebrating it 10th incarnation while keeping alive the tradition of not using whole numbers in the con’s name (started in homage to the difficulties of getting the second year’s con off and running after a short hiatus). This year was my 6th go-around, so as an “MTAku” since MTAC Go back in 2005, I was certainly looking forward to this years con. It didn’t really disappoint.
I haven’t talked much about my tastes in anime here on A Tokin 4 Your Thoughts, but I let it suffice to say for now that I have a deep appreciation for the older works in the genre, whether I’ve seen them all or not. I have a knowledge and understanding of anime’s roots both in Japan and in America, and I grew up in the midst of the massive anime boom of the 1990’s. I find it sad that many of MTAC’s rabid fans tend to skew either younger than me or toward tastes in anime less, refined, if I may use the term. Do not misunderstand, I don’t hate newer anime and the stuff that’s going mainstream nowadays, it’s just I can see the Japanese studios clamoring to pander to this super fandom that has been cultivated through the end of the 90’s into the 2000’s – the same fandom that is helping to kill the anime industry on both sides of the pond.
MTAC has consistently been on the forefront of what is popular in anime, even going out of its way to devote an entire theme indirectly to Naruto. This disturbs me. I was informed of an incident this year where an older gentleman became very upset with this year’s offerings in our video rooms. He stated that he only came to MTAC for the newer shows that had been running in these rooms, but this year there were no new shows, as in nothing from the most recent seasons in Japan. First off, if you’re paying upwards of $50 to watch anime you could be watching for FREE at home, you shouldn’t even be at an anime convention. Secondly, the video rooms this year had an excellent assortment of anime and live action (including some awesome tokusatsu) for every one to enjoy. Thirdly, there are way too many people showing up at anime cons nowadays that don’t know a good anime from their own poop in a toilet that need to see some quality animation, decent narratives, and lasting impact.
Zasa, you sound like you’re upset. Did MTAC suck this year?
No, it did not. In fact, I think this year was one of the best ever. Why? The 10th anniversary celebration works wonders on a burned out program. I think this year had the most special guests so far, many of whom are rather big names and have made MTAC almost a second home. Several guests were asked to come back as representatives of MTACs past with a very, super special guest named as lasted minute as last minute could be (as in during the opening ceremony) to represent the very first MTAC from before MTAC was really an official convention. The panels were mostly alright, at least the ones I managed to sit in on. The Toku Heroes panel, ran by my good friend and fellow blogger Niko of NikoScream, went very well despite a single unruly, rather pathetic “fan”/audience member. Of course, I was on the panel too, so that might be why it was so awesome XD…
The only negative I can think of for this year was the terrible dealers’ room. The dealers in attendance were great and always have been. It’s always great to see these people each year (even multiple times a year if you go to more than one con), and I support them in their efforts to make a bit of profit. Unfortunately, I find that the mainstream in anime culture has finally choked the life out of the commercial aspects of the convention. In past years, merchandise was far more diverse and competition among dealers kept prices interesting (not that they were ever cheap). Sadly, the mainstream anime fan is a superfan of only a few titles and/or franchises, and it of those titles that the swag was mostly of. There was just too much there that I know I could get elsewhere far cheaper. Hell, there were a few figures I could import from Japan cheaper than than dealers were selling them for. This made me sad…
Finally, the thing that made this year’s MTAC so special was the weather. If you didn’t know, Nashville was flooded Sunday and had took a beating on Saturday from heavy rains. Many con goers found themselves stranded at the Music City Sheraton as high waters blocked or shutdown many of the major roads into and out of the con area and Nashville in general. There some panic and plenty of stress, but ultimately I think many realized that they were stuck at a figgin’ ANIME CONVENTION. Things just worked themselves out. Con and hotel staff did their best for everyone and the weekend turned out just fine I think.
To all those affected by the flooding in Middle Tennessee, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. Know that you aren’t alone, my basement became an indoor pool at lest 4 feet deep and there is more water damage in the parts of the house damaged by the tree that fell on the house earlier this winter. All is well, however. Be cool, everyone, and make plans for next year’s MTAC, sans flood waters hopefully.