Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Cosplay Special: The Event

Cosplay Special!!!

Finally the JAPAN COSPLAY EVENT! 28th November (Saturday)

Something should be noted about Japanese cosplay events, which you may have realised from comparing my cosplay experience with the Japanese cosplayers experiences. Normally cosplay in England (and the US and other places) is done at conventions, or organised by groups to do a photo shoot. They are very much opportunities to have fun and run around and be crazy and creative. Japanese cosplay in very much not socially accepted in the public eye, it’s considered strange and alien and it is very much frowned upon for people to walk around in public in strange costumes. So events are often organised which focus just on cosplay rather then conventions which advertise products etc. This event is held every Saturday and Sunday every weekend at a shopping mall in the port in Osaka.

Not only is it very much not accepted in public but the general Japanese mentality has created a very different way of cosplay. Japanese people are brought up in their school and home life focusing on the in group. They are very much this is my group and people on the outside don’t matter, only this. So when Japanese people cosplay they cosplay in little groups of other people who have the same interest (often people they’ve met online on sites whom they know under pseudo-names as described in the interview) and they very much stay in those groups at events. People really did not break away and talk to other cosplayers or photograph other cosplayers. They staying in their groups (which are all characters from the same anime) taking photos of themselves. Often they’ll have a professional looking photographer who volunteers from the social networking sites to take photos of the single group for the whole day.


So, on with the story ^-^

This all started when Aya, Gabe, Areal, Gilli, Amy and I went to Mandarake in Osaka. Mandarake is a magical shop of second hand manga, figurines, dvds, games, and cosplay. Aya, Amy, Areal and I are all cosplayers and I was determined to get a cosplay to it was up to the 4th floor. So after browsing through the cosplay Amy and Aya found some Macross Frontier cosplay of Ranka, and because Aya already had a Sheryl cosplay then why doesn’t Amy do Ranka? She’s small and cute enough. I was kinda feeling left out until I found an Alto cosplay. I jokingly suggested it to Aya but she got so excited (it was so cute) that I just couldn’t not get the cosplay. So I bought the costume (and a Working!! costume) but decided to leave the wig for later (so I could afford the second coplay). A day of awesome geek filled shopping followed.

A week or so later Aya contacts me and Amy and we arrange a day to go the event she normally goes to, and Areal and Gabe decide to come along. This means I need a wig. So another week later and I return to Mandarake with Amy and Areal and my friend Yuka to get a wig. Now there was the choice of one wig was the right colour but the wrong length and the shop keeper suggests I get a longer one so I can do Alto’s pony tail, even though it’s not quite the right colour. So after umming and ahhhing I go with her advice.

So a few days later, before the weekend of the event, I try to style the cosplay…it did not go well…wigs do not like ponytails…at all…one little bit…So I made a horrible horrible mess of my cosplay and after someone pointed out what a bad job I’d done I just broke down. It was messy, rats nest looking that was top heavy. So I resided to giving up altogether because I felt sooo bad. BUT the following day Areal and Amy turned around and convinced me to give it another go. They helped me get back into the cosplay mood so I decided to borrow some trousers and go hunting for a t-shirt and other accessories to finish the cosplay. I looked up on the internet how to fix the wig and fixed it as best as I could the day before the event. Phew!

Morning of the event and we get up early, cosplay in bags and dressed in normal wear, we work our way through Osaka. What I found really cool was how you got closer to the event you could tell who cosplayers were, event if they weren’t wearing costumes. This is pretty awesome because when you go to an event you can tell who cosplayers are because they’re dressed up. Japanese cosplayers tend to be young girls with cases on wheels (it’s in these cases the cosplay is) and there were a lot of them. Aya said that normally about 500people attend the event but on that day there’d be about 250 (found out from her cosplay site).

We arrived at this mall by the port by the sea and had to go all the way up to the 12 floor where there was a lobby where we signed up and got split into guys and girls changing rooms. Japanese shop assistants said “irashyamase~” (welcome) as we went in. The changing room was just a big room with tape to indicate places you could change in. So we all got changed in public (which is fine because I’ve been to onsen and those are worse for ‘public displays’) and then dumped our bags in a bag section and met the boys (who weren’t cosplaying).

As I said, Japanese people don’t cosplay in public, and as pointed out in the interview there’s a strong sense of animosity. As a result you couldn’t photograph in the lobby, especially of anyone not in costume. And the boys had to pay an extra charge to sign up because they weren’t in cosplay, they had their photo taken, contact details and a blacked out membership card. No joke, it was BLACK so that people couldn’t see what it was a membership card for.

We then headed down and began testing out the cosplay (while I was frantically scribbling down everything I was because this was hot stuff for my dissertation). Areal was in charge of my camera and it was so WEIRD being out of control of my own photos. It was not a nice feeling, especially because he wasn’t using automatic but manual focus. Ahhhh >_< onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_y2pPBaDXZKU/TPz2i4x3PqI/AAAAAAAAAM8/cPrxgvdM1-4/s1600/IMG_1525.JPG">ke South Park (translated into Japanese). He said he’s like to do cosplay but doesn’t have the body for it. I can understand that all too well…there’s just some cosplay you can’t do -_-


So we then, as they say, did as the locals do, and spent from 11-4 taking photos of ourselves. Now and then Areal and Gabe would wander off to get a few snap shots of other cosplayers (and sometimes I’d order them too, like of the awesome good K-On group). And we had two people come and ask to take photos of us, both times was of other Macross Frontier cosplayers. I felt so…inadequate compared to these Japanese Cosplayers. When you see their photos online they are amazingly good and now I can understand why. They just spend hoooouuuurs taking photos so of course they’re going to be really good at posing and photography…that and they’re Japanese and just suit anime characters way better. Although ironically the few I talked to said they thought Western faces were more like anime because their eyes are so big. I guess the one side will always wish for what the other one has.


At 4:00 approached we were getting stupidly tired. We sat for a bit while Aya went to find her friend and a girl who was working at the event came up and talked to us about cosplay and stuff. It was really nice ^^ She was the first person to come up and actually properly talk to us. I made a few more notes as a sight report and then we got changed and ate ramen for dinner. Ahhhhhh it was good ^_^ Summary: Cosplay in Japan is incredibly unique and fingers crossed the next one will be even better then this one >8D


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