Meta Con 2016: Panels Get Real
Merchandise and Art. Meta Con had a small merch area, however I appreciated the quality and variety of the vendors. We had standard anime merchandisers, a costume/lolita booth, cute accessories, plushies, books and more! If there was something you were looking for in the merch room, chances are you could find it, or at least something that would suffice. I went in to Artists' Alley with the intent of finding a large piece to place in my living room (we have a vacant wall). Unfortunately there were few artists that had work that fit my tastes. The few that offered pieces that I liked did not have large enough prints. Unfortunately I went home empty-handed in terms of art.
Organization. Meta con was refreshingly organized. Seldom were there tech issues during panels, and if there were, con staff was quick to fix them. Overall everything was prepared and moved along without a hitch, with the exception of the badge administration system not processing some pre-registered badges. That issue was dealt with expertly, and attendees whose badges failed to be produced were easily serviced at Con Ops by friendly staff. Meta Con also had a Con Sweet, which I greatly appreciate. People often forget to take care of their bodies at conventions, so I have to give Meta Con brownie points for offering that.
Special Events. The Fantasy ball was well put together. Unfortunately there weren't many attendees that came so it wasn't as exciting as one would hope. Friday's Anime Dance Party wasn't much better in terms of attendance. Come on, Minneapolis, don't you like to groove? The Masquerade Cosplay Contest was entertaining, and hosted 4 tiers of rewards: Novice, Experience, Masterwork, and Performance. There was also a best-in-show reward. The judges were fair, and also gave shoutouts to the cosplays that deserved it. Overall, there really seemed to not be any sort of political game behind the competition, which is good. Saturday Night's Dance was a little more lively but still didn't really capture the amount of attendance, energy, and excitement that it deserved.
Panels. Every panel I attended at Meta Con was engaging. Never did I find myself feeling bored or like I should bail, even in the panels that I went to because other people in my party wanted to go. A standout panel I attended was "Fabulous Dating Advice". The Panelists did a good job managing the crowd and keeping energy up whenever people didn't have questions. They kept everything real, and all four of them had different romantic backgrounds and sexualities. It was safe space, a happy space, a funny space, and a helpful space. By far the best panel I've ever attended.
Cosplay. Meta Con made me happy because nearly every attendee was in cosplay. That is the kind of con I like to be at. Wow. Props to everyone who came to meta in costume!