Middle Tennessee Anime Convention, or MTAC, is a long-running staple of Tennessee Otaku life. Beginning in 1999, with the only exceptions being the years 2000 and 2020-2021 due to the pandemic, MTAC has steadily increased in both convention size and attendance with each subsequent year. Admittedly, this was the first anime convention I had ever attended and, while I am a huge ner and lover of anime, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Needless to say, I was not disappointed! The event was held in two different hotels in the suburban Nashville area and there were shuttles to transport people between the two very regularly, it would have been nice if everything was in one central location. The main venue was the Sheraton Music City while the Analog Gaming section of the convention was housed in the Embassy Suites just down the road. I arrived later in the evening of the first night (Friday) and while there were already quite a few cosplayers and plain-dressed attendees, it wasn’t jam-packed or at the height of its bustle so it was fairly easy to ramble around and get an idea of where everything was and what the vendors had to offer.

The Vendors

There was plenty of merch for sale to appease almost any Nerd or Otaku. From anime hoodies to….questionable…posters/wall scrolls to imported video games and consoles, if you wanted something to remember your visit to MTAC you would be able to find it. As a small souvenir of my experience, I picked up some very nice melted bead art of a Pokeball and both Megaman X and Zero for a very modest price. There were plenty of other collectibles and clothing for sale as well as anime and tokusatsu movie posters and a PLETHORA of model kits of, mainly, Gundam. The one thing that caught my eye was the retro game kiosk and I wasn’t disappointed, I nabbed the Famicom carts of Dragon Quest 1 and 3 in good condition for a good price. I am all about video game collectibles! The only “complaint” I have is in addition to a bar/restaurant in the hotel they had a buffet of pre-made sandwiches, drinks, and other finger foods that were fairly overpriced. I can understand wanting to make a profit on a venture but I think $14 for a turkey and provolone on loaf bread is a little excessive. However, I suppose it’s better to offer a child something rather than potentially letting them go hungry.

The Panels

MTAC always has a wide variety of panels from just as wide a variety of speakers who were knowledgeable but also passionate about the panel that they were giving. Everything from Gunpla to how to decide what kind of anime you might enjoy, to reliving the glory days of the 16-bit Sega Genesis, there was something for everyone. The upside was MTAC has an app to help you make a schedule of what you want to see and where and tells you how popular any given panel or event is. The downside is people line up EARLY. I never felt like I was waiting around with nothing to do as the event staff kept the lines orderly and flowing.

The Cosplay

The most obvious reason many people go to conventions such as this is to see or participate in Cosplay! For anyone who may not know Cosplay is an abbreviated form of Costume Play, you dress up as your favorite character or just make your own, the possibilities are endless! MTAC 2023 was no exception either as every genre and character you could possibly think of was wandering around somewhere. I even ran into a cosplay of the mascot of the Buc-Ees line of convenience stores and more than one Waldo. I have always said it’s not how much money you put into a hobby or passion but what’s in your heart, and I can say that the cosplayers I saw put quite a bit of heart and soul into their outfits and it was heartwarming to see. There was also a cosplay contest that attendees could enter and while I thought they all looked great there could only be one winner but attendees and participants seemed to very much enjoy themselves and that’s what counts.

The Gaming

In a separate venue down the road was the analog gaming portion of MTAC. There were numerous rooms set up for PC gaming, Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart, Rock Band, and many more. Trading Card Game, or TCG, tournaments held on days 1 and 2 of MTAC featuring Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic The Gathering, Pokemon, Digimon, and Dragon Ball Super TCG to name a few. There were also many tabletop games to rent out or tables to set up your own to start a session. I was very happy to see this as, back in my day, all we had was analog gaming and couch co-op on consoles and I think that there is a certain magic to it that cannot be replicated with online gaming, as much as I like the convenience of it. The analog portion didn’t seem to get as much attention as the anime side so that could be something MTAC could work on for next year in my opinion.

The Conclusion

Overall, I had a blast at MTAC 2023. All the cosplayers, event, and hotel staff were very nice and outgoing, and more than happy to answer any questions I might have had. I highly recommend anyone who is interested in going absolutely should. The attendance has steadily increased every year and I don’t see that changing, which is good since events like this basically feed off themselves I.E. more people means a better convention, more panels in the following years, bigger venue, etc. Thank you for reading my rambling adventure throughout MTAC 2023 and check out http://www.thegameofnerds.com for any other nerd-related reading itches you might want to scratch. If retro gaming is up your alley hop over to our youtube channel and if you like what you see give us a like and subscribe.