Dressing up is often considered a girls’ thing to do. Putting on nice make-up and accessories. A regular activity in most societies. Well, not any longer. We have the original Japanese culture taking the world by storm since 1984, according to the best supported origin story on the Internet.
A culture call Cosplay, a combination of the words ‘costume’ and ‘play’, termed for the performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent specific characters from comics, video games, anime, manga, and television. It’s a favorite ritual of the Comic- Con culture. As a hobby to some or lifestyle to others. It’s a form of expression for playing the part of the favourite character, associating, representing and embodying. Building confidence in oneself and building a strong sense of community.
Such events have taken place at most developed cities in the nation and few Northeast Indian states, like Mizoram and Nagaland being already avid fans of the culture. Cosplay festivals/Anime Cons/ Comic cons are a kind of a festival which are in trend and it’s only getting bigger and bigger regardless of where it is held. Such events held annually at Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore Comic cons and more. While at North-east India, there are various organisations mainly Nagaland Anime Junkies, Project Z.E.R.O and Arunachal Anime Con hosting annual events as such.
(Hopong Chang Photography) 3rd Annual Cosfest July 2015, Kohima. Left to right : Cosplays-Portgas D ace(One piece) , Ghost Bride Morgana(League of Legends ), Saito Hajime
In Shillong, the people witnessed a cosplay competition for the first time held at the 18 degree festival in the year 2014 with over 20 competitors. Many did not get to join the competition due to various reasons, yet still came to the event in their costumes for the love of the culture. This is when, with the reason to host a Cosplay event within the state to a far wider audience, the organisation NEOtakus was formed in the same year. Being an active online page with the intention of bringing together anime fans around Meghalaya and the neighboring states. Their first art event rounding up 21 Sketches competing for a T-shirt design contest.
The term NEOtakus represents ‘North-east Otakus’, wherein ‘Otakus’ meaning a person obsessed with anime, games,computer programs and tech related. NEOtakus is a non-profit organisation also concerned about various social issues, initiating an Online Cosplay competition against Racism. The first and only of its kind in India, turning out to be a massive event with over 40 plus contestants from India and beyond, reaching 20,000 plus people. With the ambition of hosting an annual Cosplay festival in Shillong, fusing the local cultures with Anime/Comic culture. NEOtakus are hosting their first of a kind event, Shangri-la Cosplay Festival to be held for two days, 20th and 21st January 2016 with workshops, quiz competitions, performances and games, to be held at Asian Confluence, Laitumkrah, Shillong. In partnership with the international organisation- World Cosplay Summit (WCS), the winner of the event gets to represent India at WCS in Japan.
World Cosplay Summit is organized in Japan Nagoya every year since 2003 and more than 30 countries take part in this summit. World Cosplay Summit is an annual international Cosplay event that promotes friendly international exchange through Japanese pop culture.
Hopong Chang Photography – 3rd Annual Cosfest July 2015, Kohima. Left to right : Cosplays-Madam Red(black Butler),Ciel &Sebastian Michaelis(Black Butler) , Cosplayer and Host of the Cosfest-Liden Longchari.
Two girls from Arunachal, Juno Pinggam and Chiichi Gichik were recently selected to represent India in the upcoming World Cosplay Summit 2017, to be held at Nagoya, Japan this July. The preliminary competition in India was organized by Project Z.E.R.O. under the sponsorship of Air India, Anime Pop Mall India and Brother India at Aizawl recently. The two girls are being invited to judge at the Shangri-La Cosplay Festival to inspire and further promote the culture at the festival.
Shangri-La is considered a remote imaginary beautiful place where life approaches perfection. Therefore as definition goes, it is based on fictional characters, stories, etc and having this kind of event is like their utopia. . . a reason for the name of the festival event.
If one is looking forward to participate in the growing culture, win and be lucky to represent the country with the opportunity to visit Japan or simply to witness the colourful, energetic and full of personalities get together. One can visit the event and probably win for just being in character.
Therefore, boys and girls, dress up for exciting visuals, imagination personified or just a good time at the two day festival.
– Nocy Rangsa Marak
Featured image courtesy: Event poster on right and Cosplayers – Kurumi Tokisaki – Hotaru Juno and Itsuka Kotori – Chiichi