It’s been more than a year since the last Metrocon anime convention in Tampa. One of the things owner and CEO Alex Craddock has missed most is seeing fans “being idiots in the hallways.”
“I miss being idiots with them,” he said. “It’s incredible how comforting it is to find common ground with somebody. I think I take that for granted sometimes of how reflective that is.”
Tampa Bay Metrocon
Friday-Sunday, July 23-25. $20-$50
Weekend passes and Masquerade upgrades are also available
Tampa Convention Center
333 S Franklin St., Tampa
Metrocon was canceled last summer because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It wasn’t the only one—nearly every other convention in Tampa Bay, Florida and the country was forced to forgo hosting tens of thousands of people in order to help slow the spread of the virus. Summer 2020 was especially quiet for local nerds since the summer and fall months are otherwise known as entertainment convention season.
With the majority of the Metrocon staff local to Florida, Craddock said he and his team made the decision early on last year to cancel the 2020 event. Though Metrocon didn’t have a virtual event because of cost, it did, however, stay in touch with its community through social media—from sharing cosplays to encouraging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We cater to a lot of high school students…(and) college students…who maybe are bullied or aren’t super safe in their own space,” Craddock said. “We had an opportunity to step up and be examples and be community leaders.”
With Metrocon set to make a triumphant return this weekend at the Tampa Convention Center, Craddock said what fans miss most is just seeing each other. He and his team are also expecting a slew of new Metrocon attendees this year after months of quarantine helped grow fanbases for anime shows and movies.
Because what better time than summer 2020 to finally binge the more than 950 episodes of “One Piece” or catch up to the hype of “Demon Slayer”?
“We’re kind of in a sweet spot; we’re one of the first big anime conventions that’s coming back,” Craddock said. “I think everyone is just hungry.”
Besides being the go-to hub for Florida anime fans, Metrocon also has a slate of celebrity voice actors, cosplayers and artists attending this weekend. These guests lend their vocal talents to shows like “My Hero Academia,” “Tokyo Ghoul,” “Attack on Titan,” “Dr. Stone, One Piece” and more.
This year’s theme is carried over from the canceled 2020 show: mortals vs. machines, which is seen in official Metrocon shows like the Anime Human Chess Match and the Metro Fire Show (stylized “METRO”). There is also a space opera anime themed Masquerade on Friday night and the wrestling-meets-pop-culture match that is the Kaiju Big Battel.
Metrocon also has cosplay contests, a lip sync battle, art competitions, tabletop gaming, Metrocade video gaming, a LARP dungeon crawl and a massive manga library.
The convention kicks off Friday, July 23, through Sunday, July 25. Single day passes are $40 for Friday, $50 for Saturday and $45 for Sunday. Children under 6 can get in for $20. Weekend passes and Masquerade upgrades are also available.
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