Women carrying papier-mache swords, men wearing breastplates, and basketball players with bleached blue hair gathered in Singapore on Sunday (November 10) for an annual cosplay festival.
Cosplay is a combination of the words “costume” and “play.” In cosplay, people dress mainly as characters from Japanese anime, as well as graphic manga novels and video games.
Fans flock to a growing number of events around the world to show off their elaborate costumes, the products of hours of loving work, and enjoy their shared passion.
Festival organiser Shawn Chin said this type of performance art, which originated in Japan, is seen as a wholesome activity in Singapore.
“So I’ve seen some cosplayers where the whole family gets involved, where the mother actually sews the clothes, the father drives them around to get the props and things like that, I don’t think that will happen in Japan, because traditionally cosplay would have been seen as something weird, although it did originate from Japan, but here in Asia, people have a more open mind and it’s a positive thing actually, cosplay,” he said.
Although scores litter the convention hall grounds in their costumes to pose for photographers, only five finalists from Asia, excluding Japan, got to perform in front of professional cosplayers, who were tasked with picking out a winner.
Two Indonesians, 21-year-old university student Rian Cahyadi and 25-year-old sales marketing worker Wijaya, played out a battle between the hero and villain of Metal Gear Rising.
They won the judges over with their intricate use of technology that was woven into the storyline.
“Costume, I would say, is very important, that’s what makes cosplay popular, it’s about the costume. And the performance and technology, (this) is in the performance, and that brings out the character even more. So I guess this goes hand in hand and when you have a good costume you have to present it with technology,” said judge Clive Lee, himself dressed as villain Ren Kouen from manga Magi.
Cahyadi and Wijaya share S$700 ($560) and both receive flight tickets to and from Japan.
“I love this character, Raiden, because this (character’s) costume is very detailed and (it’s a) cool character,” said Cahyadi.
Both said the most difficult part was fixing in the LED lights in their foam costume.