hall cosplay photos
cosplay contest photos
anime idol contest photos

How much is that cosplayer in the window?

The folks who put together METROCON did an amazing job considering this was their first time. Two of the coordinators tied the knot in a Friday evening ceremony at the convention hotel. Putting a con together is hard enough without having to worry about the details of a wedding, but everything went off without a hitch; except for the couple that got hitched - heh heh. I don't have the official stats for attendance just yet, but everyone is guessing it was comparable to Anime Festival Orlando in attendance. I'm also pleased to report that a huge percentage of those that attended were in costume!

I was only able to attend Saturday, but I hear Friday and Sunday had good attendance. Registration moved at a steady pace and was assisted by a nice hotel floorplan. Everything was on one level and easy to find. The dealer room was a healthy size, with room to breathe and a decent selection of items. I finally decided to break down and buy an animation cel I've had my eye on for over a year now from the good folks at Anime Collectibles.

The Gaming

The game room was nice and cool. Surprisingly it lacked that familiar fan-boy smell. The layout was a little tight on the sides, so if you wanted DDR, you had to be somewhat pushy to get there, or climb under equipment in the middle ( not that I tried ). I finally managed to play DDR Extreme. Nothing beats playing the real arcade system. It's gotta be cheaper to rent the real game than all the soft pads that get ruined at cons. I didn't mind the wait and having to pay 50 cents to play 3 songs. Friendly staff personnel kept your belongs whilst you enjoyed a round of Guilty Gear, or classic Sailor Moon fighting games among other favorites.

The fact that the convention was at a hotel was a good and bad thing. Good is the fact that everything is right there. You can play in the pool after you spent all your money buying Pocky and manga, or you can hang out in your hotel room to change into another costume, or just relax. The bad of course is having to pay money to stay an extra night because they split the contests across Saturday and Sunday. I would really like to see a con where all the cosplay-related events were on one day. I've heard others suggest running the prejudging in the morning, followed by the costume contest, then the cosplay contest, and then the fashion show ( to allow judges time to make their decision for cosplay).

Give the Gong the Gong

One of the more controversial things done at METROCON was using the gong during the cosplay contest. It's purpose was to give the judges a way to tell the contestant their skit sucked. It was used 3 times for individuals who were either singing solo or doing a martial arts routine. Granted, there was an Anime Idol contest that was better suited for the singing skits, but I feel the gong should only be used to indicate when their time is up, or if a skit is getting really out of hand. Like Anime Express where anything goes, METROCON allowed multiple skits from the same group as well as inviting anyone to join in who had not previously registered. While I had an enjoyable time with no other complaints, I'm glad I left the kiddies at home this time. It's odd when the second skit a group does is better than the one they actually practiced. >.<

Speaking of Anime Idols

The Anime Idol contest Saturday night was great. It was the perfect venue for aspiring singers and performers to get on stage and entertain. There was a lot of passion displayed by each performer. You could really feel the connection the singers had for their song. All of the acts did a tremendous job, especially those that won and I hope to see this event done at other cons. It's made me decide I need a professional camera to capture the action. No more dark and blurry stage shots for me. ^_^

Cosplayers in General

I mentioned there was a fantastic turnout of costumed attendees at METROCON, with a surprising number of first-timers. I think that is great. I never get tired of seeing a well done Vash or Inu Yasha character, and at the same time, I can still get enjoyment seeing the efforts of a newbie trying their hand at sewing. If you're new to cosplay, there is no such thing as an overdone character - you just choose a character that you like and run with it. METROCON was the first time I wore a costume that I made from scratch and sewed myself using a sewing machine. Thanks to my creative wife for making the craft foam wig.

I felt better about taking more pictures too because I didn't feel like a *plain clothes* anime fan, rather a part of the scene and I really enjoyed getting to talk with everyone. There was a huge range of anime series represented here as well. The spirit of cosplay is alive an well at this Tampa con.

Final Thoughts

What would I change? Nothing really. Sure a bigger dealer room with more selection is nice, as is more space for taking photos and such, but the only real thing I'd like to see is having the cosplay-related contests be on the same day. Everything else can stay the same. Congrats to the AnimeMetro staff for pulling off an awesome first con. It was truly impressive.

Here are some links to other sites with info about METROCON:

St.Petersburg Times - Online Tampa Bay

If you have a con report or pics from METROCON and you would like to be linked here, send us feedback