Saturday, May 3, 2008

Post-MTAC Infinity Recap

For some reason, largely due to the overwhelming nature of what had only just occurred, I guess I just couldn't sit myself down to type my description of MTAC. However, after finally resting and relaxing I believe I will now commence with my post-MTAC account of the whole con and my experiences there in.

Day 1 - Friday

MTAC Or Bust!

First of all, MTAC was the first convention where I had ever stayed in the hotel, since I'd been lucky to have several local cons, so that and the fact I was going to see Greg Ayres, Johnny Yong Bosch, and Eyeshine already had my interest peak. One 2.5 hour drive later and let's just say that, even as a walk-in, I was just glad to be standing again (last time I'd say that), and frankly the walk-in line wasn't bad at all which was nice. I immediately purchased a t-shirt, then ran into some of my friends, including some who I know count as new friends, and they were going to wait around for a room to open up while I got in contact with MTAC's media relations and got my press pass.

My Con Badge and Press Badge for MTAC Infinity

That was quite an easy process, so I took care of that quickly and returned to wait with my friends. They were a bit unhappy when our requested time past without us having a room, but thankfully the hotel told us 3PM and we got a room at 1:30PM, which was only a half hour past the expected time. During this wait I got to get some quick shots of the dealers room line and the lobby, which was already brimming with otaku especially those in cosplay. Once we got to the room my friends joined the fray, as I stayed in non-cosplay for the entire weekend.

My Friends @ MTAC

So then we left our room and walked around and got a gist for the layout of the convention. Having not been to MTAC before, I heard that the hallway was substantially wider than last years, but in all honesty I felt a bit cramped especially when passing by the dealers room and its respective line. Many of the rooms seemed a bit small too, but I'll get to that when the issues arose. All in all, I did understand rather quickly where everything I wanted to see was going to be, and that was all that mattered to me.

My friends and I took a quick look around artist alley, and we also made sure to check out the dealers room, which was an exciting sight to see because, as opposed to some of the more seasoned con goers, there was plenty I hadn't seen before. Especially exciting was the snack booth, for obvious reasons, and the booth that had the J-Rock posters, cd's, & magazines. I saw a poster signed by The GazettE I believe and I thought about picking that up, but actually during my first runaround I didn't grab anything, although my friends actually did most of their shopping on this trip. Afterwards, we tried to go to the AMV Contest but aside from being packed into the main room, which was probably a bit too small for such an event, the music was frankly just too loud. Maybe on my own I would've at least stayed a bit longer, but we decided we'd keep checking around what was going on.

Final Fantasy VII Advent Children @ MTAC

After fighting the crowds, we finally decided to try to check out the opening ceremonies. As was common with many of the main events the line was quite long, and going over, as events tend too, my friends convinced me to check out the event with my press pass power while they would either wait some more or just head back to the room. So I did, and I was pleased how accessible everything was to me as I just sauntered in, found a seat, actually got redirected to a better seat for press, dead center by the way, and was pretty much just allowed to take pictures and video. Realizing that the opening ceremonies lent themselves more to video, I prepared my video camera and as everything started I just captured as much as I could.

Con Director & Opening Ceremonies @ MTAC

The Opening Ceremonies began with a song by the Land Barons, the Godzilla theme which they did quite a good job on. Since apparently Kaiju was sort of the theme of MTAC Infinity, this was a rather fitting opening. After that, the executive con staff strutted in to music, and Lucas the con director was welcomed by Con Kitty with a kiss, and then left to MC the ceremonies. He said he'd keep the talk short, and he lived up to that, as he discussed the various activities occurring throughout the weekend, with great thanks as well to us, the fans, and the guests who came to MTAC Infinity. Then the guest walked out, briefly waving some humorously on the phone, with Peelander-Z and Kaiju adding a little extra, and lastly Con Kitty, in her own Kaiju suit, decided to join in the fun and stomp out a little cardboard city. Destruction was rampant, but we all enjoyed the experience and the Land Barons played us out. At this point, I hung around for about 3 more songs but, having to get ready for later, I decided to return to the room.

Thankfully, my kind friends had decided to grab me some Chinese food to eat, and they had made some excellent sandwiches earlier, so food for that day was quite superb. But, tired from the drive and dealing with some mean allergies, a welcome rest was just that, very welcome. Anyways the only item I had scheduled for myself was the Karaoke, and that turned out to be American songs, and my friend James was planning on singing "Happy People" by Skoop On Somebody (from Bleach), which was not an American song. So, we continued to walk around some more but in general aside from some picture taking and hilarious room conversations with my con mates, I basically called it a night relatively early.

Pre-MTAC Idol

Day 2 - Saturday

With strange wookie sounds coming from one of my hotel neighbors, I awoke and prepared for the busiest day of the convention, Saturday. Already on schedule, I'd planned to attend the voice actor panel that began at 10:30 that morning. So, I ate one of the left over sandwiches we had, and headed with cameras in hand down to see what strange stuff both Greg and Johnny would have to share. As predicted, they had some rather humorous stories, including Greg's near fight with a fan and Johnny's band getting kicked out for "dancing too hard" from a Con DDR room, but they also had some more insightful words, including Greg Ayres comments on the anime industry at present and fansubbing, and Johnny's own demonstration of how he voices Hollow ichigo. All this I was able to catch on video, so for the full experience just hop on over to and check out the 6 part Q&A.

Johnny Yong Bosch & Greg Ayres Q&A Panel @ MTAC

Afterwards, my friends and I returned to the room, where some had stayed, and they prepared for the later activities. My friend James had spent Friday evening though learning how to enter MTAC Idol, which was focusing on Japanese songs, and having done so he actually headed down to compete. I decided to pop in my head for a little bit, and I saw one song and then was hoping James would be next only to get, amazingly enough, to hear James announced as the next contestant. Since I was already filming the act before I was able to film his whole performance, which can be found here. I'd always heard James was a good singer, but seeing as how he had to do acappella, and more then pulled it off, I knew he truly was. I didn't stay to see whether he won or not (and he didn't), and I also missed Shukaku's performance, but I enjoyed what I saw and moved on with the con.

After Karaoke, we hung around in the room some more and prepared, a bit late too, for the Bleach panel. We made it to the line and there were already approximately 40 people in front of us. I used the power of the press to take some quick shots of the panelists setting up and also get a feel for the room which, considering the line was probably 100 people by the start of the panel, was way too tiny. The cut-off line though just happened to be behind me though, and I was able to get a seat in the center aisle close enough to take a couple pictures. The panel itself was divided into three tiers of spoiler, current with Cartoon Network's run of the dub, current with Bleach sub releases, and current with the manga. Since I wanted to keep taking pictures I stayed through all three levels and got to see all the contests (which are too spoiler for this post), but I enjoyed being with other Bleach fans and hearing all the discussion and hypotheticals that we brought up regarding Bleach future.

Bleach Panelists @ Bleach Panel

This was followed immediately by the Bleach photo shoot, which was quite a sizeable venture into itself, because I ended up spending at least an hour taking pictures with a variety of cameras from all my friends. I quite enjoyed the photo shoot, although by the end people were getting restless, and my feet were a bit tired, but I just shot and shot so now I have really the only cosplay photos I took the whole con. I've got some of these posted up and others Jai, one of my con roommates, kindly held onto (so I'll post those up later).

Many Bleach Cosplayers @ Bleach Photoshoot

I believe that at this point I deserved some rest, so I and many of my friends headed back to our room where we sort of just hung out. Many of my friends switched into their other costumes, while I, still-non cosplaying, merely checked my batteries and charged them for later press ventures. This was a great idea on my part because my next activities would be both the 1st half of the Slants concert and the entire Eyeshine concert.

Slants Pre-Show @ MTAC

I was planning on going with at least somebody to the concerts, but everyone in my room was tired and, with Code Geass' first episode releasing and the new Bleach episode on, they decided they'd rest and watch instead, which works fine. I ended up heading down then and, with the power of the pass, caught the Slants sound check and took some pictures and then stayed for the 1st half of the show, which was quite good, before I went back to the room to take care of some things to prepare for the Eyeshine concert. Upon returning, I barely made it in before the doors opened so I don't really have any shots from their sound check; however, I got some nice pictures of the band from my position up front, which wasn't too loud at all, and then I slunk back to the back of the room and shot some video alongside the other videographers. Sadly, due to some disturbances with my computer situation now, uploading those videos will still take a while.

Eyeshine Concert 8 @ MTAC

After the concert, I headed immediately down to the Bleach panel room and I set myself up to get a nice picture taking position in the back. Having figured out the hotel at this point was a big help, because I beat the mass rush. Being so late, I think that many of the younger kids who came for only Saturday had already begun to leave; but even so, the Q&A was well attended. Johnny and the others were unsure what to do, since they said bands don't often have Q&A's, but they talked about the origin of their name, which came from a Crocodile Hunter episode, their future music plans, which simply put would be more events then before, and then they signed autographs and sold merchandise, of which I bought 2 cd's, one for my friend and con roommate Liz, and one pin, and one picture which they signed along with the 2 cd's. Since there were so many people this did take awhile, but I hung around especially to see if Johnny and Eyeshine would perhaps do some drops for the radio station, and they were quite willing to do so, and actually we got 3 drops right after the panel. (Thanks!!!)

Eyeshine Q&A 9 @ MTAC

Upon returning to the room, the time was about 1:30 and I returned to a dark room, but Jai, Joe, James, and I stayed up talking for a bit more, cracking ourselves up till we all fell asleep.

Day 3 - Sunday

This morning we woke up with intent, and the realization that with checkout we probably needed to get our stuff together. This took up a substantial portion of the morning, but thankfully for me I didn't have too much stuff to carry, since I was sans a cosplay, and James and Liz rode up together, and James and I had briefly gone out to Kroger the night before only to return to an amazingly close parking spot, so at least as much stuff as they had, they were quite close to the car. By about 10:30/11 we had packed up everything and headed down for some last minute dealers room / artist alley activity. The day before I had picked up some amazing Pocky that we all tried, and Eric, also one of my con roommates, and I made sure to grab us some more. James found a Kon plushy dressed up as Nell that was quite cool, and Liz purchased a Saiyuki poster too. Artist alley was more of a browse for us, since I'd stopped by quickly yesterday and bought a couple cool portrait style drawings of Sakura and Naruto, from Naruto, and Re-l Mayer from Ergo Proxy.

Having taken care of that, my main goal at this point was to meet with Greg Ayres sometime before 2PM, because he said at the autograph session I went to that if I found him then I'd be able to get a radio drop with him, but it'd have to be early Sunday. However, by the time I found him he was just minutes late for an autograph session and people were already hounding him, so I thought I'd just leave enough alone and, being too tired to wait much more, find him at the next con we're both at. James and Liz were hanging around to pick up some swords for James' 'Lazy Taichou' cosplay, but that didn't end up happening since we couldn't find the guy, so we, all quite tired, decided just to head back to Chattanooga.

Greg Ayres & I @ MTAC

Funny enough I actually left a few minutes after and caught up with them on the road, and we caravanned for at least 1 hour, but aside from that I returned to rest and relax, and try to upload pics and vids, all of which I have done for the former, and some which I have done for the latter.

All in all, I had a great con experience and MTAC is definitely a con I'd love to return to. I had no problems with public safety, which I can't say was true for my friends. Also, Christi Binkley the Director of Media Relations for MTAC was quite helpful, getting me set-up with a press pass and, when I was at my peak of tired on Saturday, she checked in on me to see how I was doing, which was very nice of her.

So to summarize what MTAC is for those who have yet to go, you've got a lot of fun panels and events, some featuring some key anime voice actors and exciting bands/musical acts, while the environment itself is still sizeable enough to where you don't feel too overwhelmed, as you would at AWA (another awesome con), but there are enough people still to where you can truly see some amazing cosplayers too! All in all MTAC was great fun, and I already can't wait for the next one.


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