The 2016 Midwest Media Expo hit Dearborn, Michigan this past weekend–with a horde of guests filling the showrooms and halls of the Edward Village Michigan Hotel. The convention (affectionately referred to as M2X) concentrated on the more pop culture media elements of so-called “Comic Cons,” with a strong emphasis on anime, video games, movies, television, and even some comic books.
And truly the presence of the anime culture was in full swing, with the grounds of the courtyards and lobbies swelling with myriad colors, bright and saccharine–teens and twenty-somethings running here and there while giggling and screaming in too often high pitches. Costumes, costumes, costumes were scattered in every direction you could look with influences ranging from Attack on Titan and Kingdom Hearts, to Mega Man and Samus Aran, or from more popular pop culture fare like Deadpool and a plethora of Star Wars characters–cosplay was king (and queen) at M2X.
The small but packed artist alley was often wall to wall with fans trying to get their hands on art prints of their favorite anime characters, hand crafted niche jewelry, or home-made plush collectibles. Making a very strong attempt to keep me from viewing the rest of the convention, the video game room was boisterous and dim like the arcades of yesteryear, with the fluorescent lights of dozens of screens and cabinets shining out to the curious passerby. Hundreds of faces locked on screens, gamepads and peripherals and controllers grasped tightly in white-knuckled hands and total focus was the typical scene, as the casual onlookers viewed what often looked like blood-sport. Tournaments were held, winners were had, and losers….well, the losers were much more plentiful than the winners, myself included. Sitting down for a quick game of Super Smash Bros. Wii U, I ask begrudgingly of my opponent for a sliver of mercy, my skills in this particular game long since dulled–and there was none to be had, with loss after loss quickly wracked up before I concede to the superior player and ran off to assuage my wounded pride.
The table-top play room was filled by lovers of analog gaming, and table by table was filled with hunched over players, working on strategy and an opening for attack. Next was the vendor floor, a larger area filled with the same colorful and bright anime sensibilities as the cosplay. Figures and trinkets and collectibles favored a heavy influence of anime, packed with kitsch and baubles. Rounding out the vendors were leather crafters and video game sellers.
Not to be forgotten at the media-centric convention that is M2X are, of course, the guests. Voice actors Billy West, Jeffrey Combs, Richard Horvitz, Jon St. John, and Steve Downes were in attendance. Rounding out the list of guests were writers, bloggers, and cosplay artists. The convention had several panels from the practical (cosplay costume creation tips) to the entertaining (lightsaber combat tips), but had something for every particular fandom, and gave those fans a closer look at some of the media guests. Finally, the convention had several larger events for all comers, such as a late night dance party, and the infamous costume contest (overseen by cosplayers Rufflebutt, Kawaii Besu, Chad Evett, and We Are Cosplay).
Overall, the Midwest Media Expo was a fun and colorful pop culture convention, that plays to the target audience with unabashed enthusiasm. It is highly suggested for the anime or general pop culture devotee, and I will most certainly be in attendance next year. For your viewing pleasure I have included a compilation of the many cosplayers at the expo!
Photos taken by Josh Mundy.