If you happen to be around Tokyo during the holidays, grab you camera (or put on your best character costume!) and head out to Tokyo Big Sight.
Cosplay is no Halloween – forget about the cheap getup you picked up at Don Quixote and the rushed faux-blood stains. Cosplay is quite serious, and the participants spend countless hours (not to mention money) on preparing their best character impersonations. Cosplay is not just a game, but an actual subculture.
The single largest event in the world featuring cosplay is the semi-annual doujinshi (self-published work such as manga or novels) market, Comiket, held in Tokyo during summer and winter. Cosplay is literally the contraption between the words ‘costume’ and ‘play’, and was coined in 1984 by Nobuyuki Takahashi while attending the 1984 Los Angeles Science Fiction Worldcon. He was so impressed by the costume masquerade that he wrote about it in Japanese sci-fi magazines, and word spread quickly about this new kind of performance art.
Today, Japan is the biggest exporter of cosplay, as it turned it into an art form and perhaps made something geeky look pretty cool… At least sometimes look cool.
Some cosplayers buy their costumes from specific shops, but many of them prefer to make their get-ups from scratch, using items such as wigs or extensions, hair dye, cloth and sewing notions, liquid latex, body paint, shoes, costume jewellery and prop weapons. Did you know that many cosplayers have their own photographer in tow for quality pictures? Regardless, they love posing for the public, so if you’re not a participant yourself you can take part in the fun and admire the brilliant costumes. Somehow, otaku doesn’t always need to have a negative connotation…
Comiket 83 (Japanese site)
When: Dec. 29-31, 10:00-17:00
Where: Tokyo Big Sight
Take a look at this amazing video of crowd control at last year’s event!
Main image: CrunchyLens on Flickr
Text by Vivian Morelli