Being the anime capital of the world, I think it’s quite obvious that Japan holds the grandest and most colorful cosplay events. There’s the Japan Cosplay Festival, the World Cosplay Summit, the summer Comiket and the two upcoming cosplay events, Tokyo Game Show in September and the Winter Comiket in December.
Anime and manga fans, cosplayers, fashionistas, photographers and tourists will surely line up to explore the world of animation come to life in these events. Now that you know, or at least have an idea of what cosplay is you may have decided that you would like to partake in this fantasy world.
There will be a lot of people and yes, a lot of stepping on your toes and half-hearted ‘excuse me’s’ at the cosplay venue. But whether it’s your first time to attend a cosplay event or if you’ve been going to such events for years, whether you’re a cosplayer or photographer, there are several dos and don’ts to keep in mind. For cosplayers, nothing can spoil your outfit than having someone step on your long costume or rip a piece of our headdress off. For photographers, tourists and first-timers, having a part of your camera chipped off or one of your lenses damaged is the last thing you want to happen. So if you’re planning to attend a cosplay event, here are some simple things to keep in mind:
For Tourists and Photographers
Japan is a colorful country to begin with–with its history, culture and of course, the festivals here and there. In fact, the addition of cosplay in Japan’s rich culture makes it more interesting to visit. Whatever reasons you have for visiting Japan, the most important thing is to plan ahead. Look for the best travel deals, read up on the places you want to visit and if you’re specifically aiming to experience cosplaying, there are plenty of events lined up almost every season, be it a small event or a major one like Comiket, this country has plenty in store. If you’re planning to attend the Tokyo Game Show this September, you should check out ANA’s “Experience Japan Fare,” where in you get flights to anywhere in Japan for only 10,500 yen.
If you’re just there to watch the cosplay parade or take pictures, be polite and friendly to the general public. Remember that you’re in a foreign land; it’s always safe to be careful with dealing or interacting with other people. You’ll never know who you’re going to bump into. Same goes with photographers. DO ask for permission before taking photos. It’s basic human courtesy and cosplayers are generally nice and will rarely refuse if you ask nicely. However, some Cosplayers have their reasons for not being able to let you take their photos and it’s probably nothing personal. Smile, thank them and just simply walk away if they refused your request. But if you’re lucky enough to have a really good shot, be sure to give credit where credit is due. A simple thank you to the cosplayer goes a long way.
Big events like Comiket have thousands of attendees; and space–personal space in particular–could be an issue especially for cosplayers and most especially for the ladies. Again, respect begets respect. If you want cosplayers to pose for you and let you take a picture with them, respect their personal space and keep your hands off the merchandise–and I’m not just talking about their costumes and props, boys.
If it’s your first time to attend and participate, be sure you know all the rules of the particular cosplay event you are going to join before signing up for the competition: register on time if needed, and be on time, come cosplay day. Event organizers will not wait for you and there are sure lots of other cosplayers they can pick to take your spot.
Also bear in mind that there will always be critics who will tear you to pieces (at least not literally) if your costume is full of mistakes. Be sure you’ve done your homework and studied your character well so that the cosplay Nazis won’t laugh and talk about how terrible your version of Son Goku’s spiky ‘do was.
Having said that, selecting the right character for your role play is very important. You should find a character whose costume you can easily make, especially if you’re on a tight budget. But as the cliche goes, “no pain, no gain.” If you’re really into this and you’re willing to spend some money, it’s your call. But you can always visit Harajuku and Akihabara for costumes, fabrics and other accessories you might need for your cosplay outfit.
Also remember that when you wear a costume, you automatically represent the cosplay community; how you behave and act reflects as such on the public perception of the community as a whole. If you’ve exerted a lot of effort to create your costume, photographers also had to carry their gear to take photos for you. Be nice and give them a break and say yes gracefully. Also remember that photography is quite an expensive hobby, so be sure to take care of your cameras and other equipment while at the event.
Lastly, while there are assigned cleaners after the event, be responsible enough to dispose your trash and keep your area clean. Even if it’s not your trash, moving a little muscle to throw papers and plastic cups in the trash bin won’t hurt. Also be sure to double check your stuff before and after leaving the event.
Cosplaying requires a lot of work, with all the costumes and traveling and stuff. For some, cosplay is just another event but for others, it’s their way of expressing themselves through art. What’s important in all these is that you need to be aware and respectful of these people’s way of expressing themselves. Be aware and respectful of other countries’ customs and practices. Cosplaying is not just as it is. Attending these events is also a great opportunity to try something new, to have fun and most importantly, to meet new friends.