After three long years, Matsuricon is finally back! It’s one of Ohio’s flagship anime conventions, so we were ecstatic to return to Columbus for a fresh dose of concentrated nerdy fun. Let’s see what we found at Matsuricon 2022!
|When it Established||April 2006|
|Length of Event||August 12-14; three days, with pre-registration on Thursday night|
|Place/Location||Hyatt Regency Columbus and the Columbus Convention Center – Columbus, OH|
|Cost||A pass for the entire weekend costs $70 at the door, but pre-registration prices go as low as $51 and individual day passes are also available.|
|Hotels||The Hyatt Regency, Hilton, Crowne Plaza, and Drury Inn & Suites are all connected to the convention center, allowing easy access to con facilities. Matsuricon offers a room block at the Hyatt, although it tends to sell out quickly. There are also several other hotels within a five-minute walking distance.|
|Event Message for Attendees||Matsuricon’s goal is to promote the cultural awareness of Japanese pop culture through related events, special guest speakers and cultural presentations.|
What to Expect
Covid Policy – First and most importantly, let’s talk about Matsuricon’s Covid safety policy. With over 5000 people visiting, it’s important to limit the spread of disease, so the con requires that every attendee present a vaccination card or recent negative Covid test in order to receive their badge. Masks aren’t required while walking the halls, but are enforced within any enclosed space like a panel room or the dealer’s hall. About 2/3 of people wore their masks even when it wasn’t required, though, so we were glad everyone seemed to be taking the situation seriously.
Chill Vibes – This convention is a great size for those who have trouble with crowds. It’s big enough that there’s plenty to do over all three days, but not so choked with people that you feel like you’re forever in someone’s way. There aren’t any other events going on at the same time either (at least there weren’t this year or in 2019), so you can comfortably have fun without worrying about getting weird looks from uninformed passers-by. There’s also a specially designated “chill room” if you need to get away from it all for a bit. It’s as low stress an environment as a large anime convention can have.
What to Bring
External Phone Battery – If you’re going to be walking around a convention center all day, you’re probably going to drain your phone’s battery quite a bit. This goes double for Matsuricon, since this year they didn’t have paper schedules to hand out. Hopefully the printouts return next year so we don’t have to worry about our phone batteries dying.
ID, Vaccination Card, and Masks – As mentioned before, make sure to bring your vaccination card and/or a recent negative test, as well as a few masks to wear while walking around. Something else people often forget is an official ID (such as a driver’s license), which you need both to pick up your badge and to get into any 18+ panels. Forgetting little things like this can cause headaches at the worst of times, so double check that they’re on your packing list!
Snacks – The Columbus Convention Center has its own food court with many different affordable options (like a really good gyro place), but it can get crowded at peak mealtimes and cons can be very exhausting, so it’s a good idea to bring some granola bars or trail mix to keep your strength up. There’s a small convenience store within the building if you need to replenish your stock, too.
What to Do
Dealer’s Hall, Artist’s Alley, and Tana’s Night Market – For us, our favorite attraction at any anime convention is the dealer’s hall. So much amazing merch to get all shoujo starry-eyed over! We were particularly impressed by the artist’s alley section, which was full of all kinds of creative pieces: stained glass, perfume, omamori charms, prints with holographic details, and so much more. There was also a separate area only open after 5:00pm called Tana’s Night Market, which housed other independent artist booths (including some adorable pastel jewelry) and a used cosplay consignment store. Overall, a fantastic variety of options for the discerning anime merch collector!
Panels – Naturally, Matsuricon had a wide variety of panels as well. The standout for us was a Fruits Basket AMA event with Aaron Dismuke (Hiro in the original and Kakeru in the remake), Cieran Strange (young Ayame in the remake), and Jerry Jewell (Kyo in both versions). Their unique perspectives on Fruits Basket and the voice acting business made for some fantastic discussion, especially when they talked about their favorite moments in the show. Aaron Dismuke’s choice was the “classy” (his words) way that Haru proved his two-toned hair was natural. That was definitely a highlight for us, too!
Concerts – Two musical guests attended this year: Caleb Hyles and Professor Shyguy. Hyles is well known for his high-energy covers of anime and Disney songs on YouTube, while Shyguy is a chiptune and electronica legend in the nerd community. Voice actor and musician Cieran Strange even joined in with Professor Shyguy’s dance party, performing a set with him for the first time in six years! Along with the Friday night rave and numerous karaoke opportunities, this con had tons to offer for music fans.
Idol Showcase – Speaking of music, sometimes just wandering the halls aimlessly will lead you to something great that you wouldn’t have found otherwise. Close to the grand staircase in the middle of the convention center, we found a showcase concert of local amateur idol groups. Some sang on their own, while others performed choreographed routines to background tracks. Audience members even brought their own penlights to cheer their friends on! It was very wholesome and sweet.
You simply can’t have an anime convention without cosplay, and Matsuricon attendees didn’t disappoint with their fervor for their favorite characters. The two most popular series were, as you might expect, Genshin Impact and Demon Slayer; and while many of these costumes were purchased due to their complexity, it was still heartwarming to see how excited fans were to see each other.
Pokémon also made a strong showing, both with classic characters like Team Rocket and newer ones like the Wardens from Legends Arceus. One inventive fan even dressed as a professor and handed out starter Pokémon cards to anyone who asked.
We also attended a special event called the Friday Night Cosplay Fashion Show, which was a small competition for cosplays that are beyond the scope of the regular Masquerade. This included fan creations like Bowsette, characters from non-Japanese properties like Critical Role and My Little Pony, and original designs like a magical girl Moogle. The Masquerade judges ran the event and handed out prizes for “Best Detail Work” and “Best Creative Vision”. It’s grown substantially since its inception several years ago, with a wide variety of costumes and so much creativity on display!
Matsuricon’s first year back after the pandemic lockdown wasn’t without a few hiccups, but it was a wonderful experience overall and everyone was happy to see their old friends again. We’re looking forward to next year!
Did you attend Matsuricon 2022? Or even if not, what looked the most exciting to you? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!