Seasoned vet and APSU alumna Nina LaRocca attended her fifth year at the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention.

Though it can be a bit of a whirlwind while preparing costumes and planning on which sessions to attend, MTAC is mainly a place for anime lovers to show off their cosplay skills and interact with fellow goers, and that’s exactly what LaRocca did.

After graduating from APSU in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in theater, LaRocca and her sister moved to Chicago for a change of scenery, but that never stopped LaRocca from attending MTAC.

For the past five years LaRocca has participated in the event and dressed as different cosplay characters.

“I’ve been cosplaying for about five years now,” LaRocca said. “It’s my release, my get-away from every day life, how I bond with my friends and sister. I wouldn’t have gotten into it if it weren’t for my sister Krista. I love wearing partner cosplays with her.”

She’s always growing and learning as a seamstress and craftswoman; it’s so inspiring to me. I’m so happy that I can do this with her, share something so fun with the things we love.”

Not only does MTAC offer space for anime lovers to convene, it also brings in vendors, who make or buy and sell various merchandise like stuffed anime characters, costumes, jewelry and food inspired by anime or Japanese culture.

However the biggest part of MTAC is cosplay, short for costume play, which is when people dress up as characters from movies, books or video games and take on their persona.

A large part of cosplay comes from the Japanese culture of manga and anime.

“The most difficult part of cosplay is honestly learning to just let go and let yourself not take it too seriously,” LaRocca said. “At the end of the day we’re all adults playing dress up. It’s all about fun. If you’re not having fun, what’s the point? I think a lot of people need to remember that.”