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“Cosplay” enthusiasts number 100,000. Active exchanges and world events

7, 03. 2009

   "Cosplay" derives from "costume playing" meaning to dress up as characters from anime and video games. The people engaged in this play seem to have obtained the "citizenship" in the ordinary society of late. Cosplay-related events are conducted on weekends at various places across the country, and world cosplay events are also held. There are websites especially designed for the cosplayers, where they enjoy uploading their photos after the events.

Cosplay events every weekend across the country

   Worth-Technology Co. inaugurated the community site, "L's Salon," for cosplayers on June 23, 2009. Cosplay enthusiasts can freely upload and share their photos to the site. They can also exchange their messages and diaries, and they may also form "circles" among the like-minded" as they do on the SNS mixi community.

   The site was worked out at the suggestion of a staff of the company, who is a cosplayer, according to the person in charge of public relations at the company. In opening the site, it was found out that cosplay-related evens are taking place on weekends at various places in the country. This encouraged the company to provide the site for the cosplay enthusiasts, he said.

   The "Cure" operated by Livedoor is also a community site designed for cosplayers. This site was opened in 2001, and it is now actively used by 64,682 people. The ratio of the male users to female users is 2 to 8, the women far over-numbering the men. According to the editorial department of the company, the cosplay became widely known when the drama "Densha Otoko (electric train man)" was widely talked about around 2005. The drama sparked the "Akiba" culture, and many people came to know a bout the cosplay. It is said that there are about 100,000 cosplayers.

   "Cosplay dresses were mostly hand-made 10 years ago. But an increasing amount of ready-made dresses are sold lately, and the prices for wigs, color contact lenses and others items are getting cheaper lately. It's easier now to dress up as the characters. 'Keion' and 'Ryomiya Haruhi' are pouplular recently. These characters can be imitated easily only by putting on school uniforms, and this seems to be the reason for them to be popular," he said.

   The cosplay-related events are being held on every weekend mainly in the three major city areas in the country. They are mostly attended by 500 to 1,000 people. Some of them attract 5,000 to 10,000 attendants. The attendants show the cosplaying they are proud of and take photos. And then they upload and share the photos on the site. This is the basic way of enjoying the events. For this reason, uploads on the site are more frequent on Mondays and Tuesday than on Saturdays and Sundays, according to the editorial department.

World cosplay event attended by 15 countries

   As a worldwide cosplay event, there is the "World Cosplay Summit." It has been conducted annually in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, since 2003. As of 2009, 15 different countries of the world are participating in this event. This has expanded to such a big event that preliminaries have to be conducted to select the delegates of each of the countries to take part. An official of Aichi Television, the host of the event, said:

"The event is intended to introduce the Japanese culture through manga and anime. It began, of course, because we knew cosplay events are actively conducted throughout the world. We worked out the event because we thought it would be interesting to see cosplayers gathering together in one place. We had about 3,000 spectators at first, but now the number has risen to about 12,000. We can feel the people who are interested are increasing. We began with three countries participating, and now the number of the participating countries has expanded to 15 countries."

   In the event, the competition is conducted among pairs dressed like characters of Japanese anime. Each pair is allotted a time period of maximum three minutes, during which the pair would show its act. The 2008 champion was the pair from Brazil, who dressed as the characters from the anime "Bakuretsu Tenshi." The pair played out the woman gunslinger "Jo" and the fighter Saibot "Jango."

"The foreign participants act very well. They are so pleased to show their acts in Japan, the country where manga and anime originated, they act with full spirit. In fact, I understand that in Brazil only one pair out of about 1,000 pairs can win the preliminaries."

   On the other hand, only about 20 Japanese pairs are participating. There are so many in Japan who are enjoying the cosplay individually, but the "culture of performance" does not seem to have yet penetrated in the public. At the event, the judges totally evaluate the attraction of the performance and the arrangement of the act, as well as the perfection of the costumes. The 2009 world event will be held on Aug. 1 and 2.

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