Matsuricon: Anime festival rocks Columbus

Very rarely do I get the chance to go out of state for conventions. Usually I stick to local ones, as they’re the easiest for the average college student to access.

However, I was invited by a few friends to travel to the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio, for a convention I’d always heard of: Matsuricon.

The convention badges are in the $40-50 range, so I was expecting a pretty sizable turnout. I wasn’t let down in the slightest. Friday afternoon and Sunday afternoon, the con was a bit quieter, but I found myself finding something to do most of the night.

Most everything shut down around 2 a.m. Popular events, like the electric dance, were a bit earlier than some conventions’ because of the fact that the whole building shut down.

But I found this convention made up for that by having early morning programming, unlike some conventions.

I also entered my first cosplay contest at this one, and it was very organized. I had heard horror stories about other conventions having very unorganized set ups, but it was very easy to find judging and to get my spot to do my walk on.

I will say I wish the judges were a bit stricter with analyzing costumes. A girl sitting next to me at the contest talked about how she had her aunt made her entire cosplay, and she was allowed to enter craftsmanship. At most cons, that doesn’t fly: you need to make your own outfit to enter.

I was very happy with how they took care of us competitors, though. They brought us water and made sure we had ample time to go use the restroom and get up and stretch if we needed to before the show started.

However, the rest of the convention wasn’t as easy to navigate. Thanks to construction at the venue, it was really difficult to find my way around and figure out the difference between the two different sides of the venue. I actually had to have a staff member walk me to a photoshoot, just because I really couldn’t find it. I think once the construction is over in June of next year, it will be much easier to navigate and the maps of the convention center would be more accurate.

Another thing I would wish for was maybe some security from the convention outside of the convention center. I really can’t get in to specifics, but a close friend of mine was unable to attend the last two days of the event after he got into some serious hot water after leaving the con Friday night. He’s okay now, thank heavens, but it was a bit scary to see what happened to him minutes after leaving the convention.

Another positive thing for sure was the availability of food. The con was in downtown Columbus, so it was easy to leave the convention center and get a bite to eat. And even at the convention center, a few of the food options stayed open late to accommodate con-goers.

My friends and I didn’t stay in the main convention hotel, but stayed in one of the overflows right around the corner. The Hyatt Regency was a fantastic convention hotel. The very nice worker who helped us bring our bags and props upstairs even told us where the nearest gyms, Pokéstops, and spawn points for Pokémon Go.

Speaking of Pokémon, Matsuri had a program happening all weekend where con-goers could challenge Team Aqua to Pokémon battles and collect signatures all weekend to win prizes. It was a cool way to get people to do something a bit different at the convention, apart from the usual panel, panel, guest signing, rinse and repeat.

I decided to sit out of the rave, as I wasn’t feeling too well Saturday night after one too many slices of pizza. However, everyone in my room went and told me it was a blast. It’s hard keeping up con hype when you’re rooming with two Deadpools and a dinosaur.

Speaking of which, I saw two dinosaurs dance to the “Cha Cha Slide.” For sure one of the highlights of the convention.

From what people told me, this convention is a much calmer, more relaxed version of Ohayocon in January. They are at the same venue, but I have yet to travel out for Ohayocon.

All in all, Matsuricon felt really relaxed compared to many conventions I’ve been to. Being in the middle-end of August, it was a fantastic way to wind down the summer convention scene and just relax with some of my friends.

They already released the dates for next year, along with the theme: Magical Girls. Despite it being the same theme as Shutocon 2017, I totally plan on taking the four-hour drive again next year with even more of my friends. If you can handle the long drive of nothing but corn, then I highly recommend this convention to OU students looking for conventions that are relatively close to home.