Located in the port area of Tampa lies one of the largest anime cons that you will encounter in the state of Florida -- whoopee. Based on my experience with Florida cons, Florida is not the best place to go if you are looking for a great anime con experience (At least in my opinion.). Anime Supercon was mediocre due to its small size and lack of interesting activities and panels. Megacon may be the largest convention in Florida, but it is more a comic book convention (It's not a bad con, it's that the anime stuff tends to be less of a priority there.). With that said, I made sure to come into Metrocon 2012 with low expectations. However, the con manages to impress me with what it has to offer.
Surprisingly enough, Metrocon manage to give me somewhat of a good impression as they began their opening ceremony. The team behind the convention unveiled various trailers that were covering most of the main events in the con, such as their Anime Human Chess Match, and a few skits performed by most of the staff members cosplaying as the cast of Cowboy Bebop and Nerima Daicon Brothers. I am not sure if this is a normal theme that goes on with other anime conventions, but Metrocon was holding a theme known as Agents vs Outlaws. In this theme, Metrocon had a group of people that were cosplaying as the con's original mascots for this year, which happens to change each year. While the characters relied too much on specific tropes from sci-fi shows and anime series, I could see them having some sort of appeal with most of the people attending the con. Other than that, the guests that were attending the con came in as they showed their enthusiasm to the audience. Some noteworthy ones were the likes of Scott Mc Neil, Crispin Freeman, Mary Elizabeth Mcglynn, Richard Epcar, and Takayoshi Tanimoto the man behind the Dragon Ball Z Kai opening. And let's not forget PikaBelleChu, who actually allowed the people at the con to display her Pikachu car in the convention grounds.
Following up on the energetic opening, the main events at the con were quite the spectacle. One neat event was the Metrocon Fire Show, which consisted of a group of people performing fire dancing as the flames burned throughout the night sky. Their method of manipulating the flames involved having torches strapped to staffs, sashes attached to sticks, and various other items that would cause any normal person to burn up. Perhaps one of the most ridiculous things out of the event was that there were around five or more dancers performing as they were at a distance where anyone of them could burn the other if something went wrong. To put in simple words, those people were literally real life fire benders. Especially during the parts where it looked like they were making the torches levitate around their hands.
If one night event was not enough, Takayoshi Tanimoto's concert was an uplifting experience as he starts off the night by singing Dragon Soul as the first song on the list. During the concert, he brought up Power Rangers during the intro of one of his songs (In reality, it was a Super Sentai song, but most non-toku fans would only get pumped if it was referred to as Power Rangers.), which I knew where this was going. As he called out to the audience in regards to the name of the series that he sang the opening for, I was actually one of the few people that knew the answer. Being the Sentai fan that I am, I made sure to shout it out with my maximum guts and passion. Having the opportunity to hear Takayoshi sing Juken Sentai Gekiranger live on stage practically made my night. As the night went on, he also sang songs from one of the later Digimon shows, Transformers Super Link aka Transformers Energon, Zatch Bell, along with some other songs that just happen to leave my mind at the moment. Finishing off in a full circle, Takayoshi delivers the final technique as he sings the ending theme for Dragon Ball Z Kai, which got the entire crowd to form Kamehameha Waves.
Speaking of shouting out attacks, the Anime Human Chess Match featured a showdown that involved Captain Harlock leading a rebellion to overthrow Solidus Snake from his US presidency. On Harlock's side you had characters such as Shenhua and Frederica Sawyer from Black Lagoon, Freeman from the Half Life series, Nathan Spencer from Bionic Commando, Cody from Final Fight and the Street Fighter series, Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series, Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII, and Zack from Final Fantasy VII and Crisis Core. And of course, Solidus had to include Vamp and Gray Fox as his cohorts, but he also has some more agents joining him in the battle. From the ones that I can recall, he had Alice from Pumpkin Scissors, C. Viper from Street Fighter IV, Guile from the Street Fighter series, Cabal and Stryker from the Mortal Kombat series, and two characters that were probably from Chrome Shelled Regios. Besides the random battles between both parties, the chess match had its own story that unfolded during the main match, which brought about drama, random twists, and Phoenix Wright throwing out objections!
One of the highlights of the match was when they created a live Marvel vs Capcom 3 match when Nathan Spencer and C. Viper fought, which involved the actual character selection screen and versus loading sequence appearing on the big screens next to the stage. Thor, Captain America, Iron Fist, and X-23 joined in the battle as well, which had both sides utilize MvC 3's rules when fighting. All in all, the Anime Human Chess Match had some well choreographed battles, and you got to see aerosol bullets during the gunfight segments of the match. You have to give the team mad props, since they had to perform the event twice during the weekend of Metrocon 2012.
Now that events are out of the way, let's get into some of the panels that I got to go to during the convention. One that I manage to catch a quick glimpse of was a panel that challenges the audience to guess the name of an RPG game by listening to the first few minutes of a tune. Surprisingly enough, there were songs from Castlevania Symphony of the Night, the Persona series and other MegaTen games, the Wild Arms series, Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, and some of the classics such as Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and the older Final Fantasy games. While there were other songs mentioned, I am not going to waste your time and list every song that was heard there. However, I would like to mention that those who got the answer right were rewarded with random pieces of candy.
I was not expecting this, but there was a tokusatsu panel that was done by a group that go by the name of Toku Talk Tampa. Long story short, the people hosting the panel talked about Super Sentai, Power Rangers, Akibaranger, various Americanized toku shows, and Kamen Rider while allowing the audience to interact with them during the panel. Despite the accidental spoilers (There were warnings but no one objected.) that came out during the panel, it did give some people an idea of what to expect out of tokusatsu shows. Perhaps my one minor complaint about the panel was that they forgot to talk about other toku shows such as the Ultra series, the Metal Heroes series, or the Garo series. But then again, there is only so much that one can cover within an hour.
As I was walking around the convention floors, I was actually impressed with the variety of cosplayers that were walking around. For one, I did not come across a series that ended up having a gazillion people cosplaying as one or two themes. If there were a few that were done a lot, it would be Pokemon, My Little Pony, and the Vocaloids, which still did not feel overused. I even manage to come across some cosplays of characters from Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger, Samurai Sentai Shinkenger (I actually confirmed it with both groups.), Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, and Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters, which made me happy to witness people cosplaying tokusatsu characters. To those who are into Doctor Who, there were a group of Weeping Angels wandering around the con, and their costumes were so well done that they resembled they actual creatures from the show. Overall, there was quite an amount of great cosplayers that were wandering around, which exceeded my expectations of what I was going to encounter.
Regardless of the good time that I had, one cannot forget the issues that were present during Metrocon. The first one I would like to point out is the organization behind the video rooms that were showing animes. In one room, the HD TV screen (Yes they were using TVs instead of projection screens.) was all black with only subtitles, and this was occurring when I was trying to check out Hyouka and Zetman during two separate times frames. You could say that those TV were in fact 4D TVs, since our eyes could not comprehend the images that were happening on the screen (As quoted by the con attendee known as Bart.). Then I decided to check out the video room next door to see if things were okay there, but I was in store for a new surprise. It turns out that the room next door had the subtitles turned off during their viewing of Revolutionary Girl Utena, and the subtitles only appeared during the opening and closing theme songs. As I was discussing this with one of the con attendees, it turns out that this was an issue that was always present since Metrocon was first established. Other than that, most of the events were running 30 to 40 minutes late due to the Anime Human Chess Match ending up being longer than the time specified.
Despite the minor disorganization, Metrocon 2012 was quite a blast. It may not be as big as the well known cons such as Anime Expo, Otakon, and Sakura Con, but you could see that the people running the convention put a ton of effort to make sure that each person was having fun during the con. While I might not recommend people who live outside of Florida to go out of their way to fly to Tampa, I think that Metrocon is perfect for fans in Florida that can't afford to fly to the areas where the big cons are held. Even though the con lacked any sort of press announcements, it still manage to stand out with the way they played out the Agents vs Outlaws theme. Because of the fun that I had, I would not mind attending Metrocon again when 2013 arrives.
[As a few final words, I would like to thank the cosplayers for taking their time to allow me to photograph them. I would also like to apologize for the quality of some of the photos shown here, since I was experimenting with my camera at the time.]Photo Gallery: (32 images)
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