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MTAC celebrates 25 years of Anime Excitement

by Cass Teague

Spring is here! The vernal equinox at 10:06 PM CDT on Thursday, March 19 officially heralded the return of the sunshine and longer days as we entered the season of new hopes and bright futures. For cool people of all ages who like anime, and geeky stuff of all kinds, spring also means the return of Nashville’s favorite convention, MTAC. Since 1999, the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention has been sunshine for the soul.

MTAC Dueling Dragons runs Friday, March 29 through Sunday, March 31, 2024 in Nashville, TN. MTAC is Tennessee’s largest fan-run convention, focusing on Anime, Manga & relevant Popular Arts.

With humble beginnings of about 300 folks in the Days Inn Nashville Airport December 10 and 11, 1999, growing to almost 10,000 in the Nashville Convention Center and Renaissance Nashville Hotel in 2013, the con (short for convention) has settled into an annual Easter weekend event, usually at the Sheraton Music City Hotel and Embassy Suites Airport for a few thousand.

The experience is one that is eagerly anticipated by “Con Newbies”, or first-time attendees, especially those like Mika, who says, “To be honest I haven’t heard very much about MTAC, and don’t have any idea what to expect. My only experience with conventions is what I’ve seen online. So, mostly funny videos people film while there, and all kinds of cosplays. I’ve never been to any kind of convention before; I’d say I’m mostly excited to see everyone else! When I say I’m not sure what I’m expecting I really do mean it.”

Over the years, MTAC has been host to dozens of special guest artists and voice actors, beginning with Tiffany Grant, Sonny Strait, Bill Timoney, and Kira Vincent-Davis at MTAC 2 ½ in 2001 at the Clarion Hotel. Tiffany Grant is best known for voicing Asuka Langley Soryu in the iconic Neon Genesis Evangelion anime, while Strait is best known for voicing Lupin the Third, among many hundreds of other characters these actors have voiced. Guests announced at press time so far include Justin Cook, David Matranga, Chris Wehkamp, Bryce Papenbrook, and SungWon Cho.

The convention typically features an AMV (Anime Music Video) contest, artists alley, charity auction, cosplay contest, dealers room, gaming (arcade, board, card, console, tabletop), Japanese Fashion Shows, Lolita Tea Party, a ramen eating contest, rave, and panels. Table Top and Video Gaming runs 24 hours a day during the convention. A fan-favorite is the Risque Cosplay adults-only event.

“MTAC 2023 was a great experience all around,” says Gray, a first time attendee at last year’s con, entitled MTAC Blackjack. “Everyone was welcoming and friendly, overall it was a place I could feel like I could be myself and not be judged for such. The events planned did amazing at making sure you as a bystander felt immersed in the whole event. It was a fun safe place in which I’m looking forward to attending again! With my very short lived experience I’m expecting much of the same feeling from this year; love, acceptance, and overall fun. I’m looking forward to making some more like minded friends this year and hopefully in years to come.”

MTAC Blackjack in 2023 followed MTAC Score! In 2022. Due to COVID-19, cons were not held in 2020 and 2021, thus Blackjack was the 21st, as no cons were held in 2000 or 2003. MTAC Score!, was the 20th MTAC, styled around sports featured in anime and gaming, coinciding with the Summer Olympics scheduled for 2020, which were hosted in Japan from July 23 to August 8, 2021 due to a pandemic delay.

Previous MTAC cons include MTAC Lunar – April 19-21, 2019; MTAC 18th Battalion – March 30-April 1, 2018; MTAC Haiku – April 14-16, 2017; MTAC 16-Bit – March 25-27, 2016; MTAC 15 to Life – April 3-5, 2015; MTAC In Love – April 18-20, 2014; MTAC Devil’s Dozen – March 29-31, 2013; MTAC Omega – April 6-8, 2012; MTAC Goes To 11 – April 22-24, 2011; MTAC Odyssey – April 30-May 2, 2010; MTAC Ninja – April 3-5, 2009; MTAC Infinity – April 25-27, 2008; MTAC Prime – April 13-15, 2007; MTAC 6th Period – April 21-23, 2006; MTAC GO – April 1-3, 2005; MTAC 4.01 Beta – April 2-4, 2004; MTAC Pi – August 9-11, 2002; MTAC 2-1/2 – November 2-4, 2001; and MTAC – December 10-11, 1999.

Check back online in a month or so, and we will revisit the experiences of Gray and Mika at MTAC Dueling Dragons.

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