Cosplay Mania 2016 or “How I Spent My October 2 With Spectacular Epiphanies”
Colorful doesn’t even begin to describe it. But then again, aren’t all Cosplay events rich in colorful characters and theatricality? Each offers you a spectacle that would make you forget, at least even for a couple of hours whatever existential or millennial crap life throws at you. Yeah, it’s an escape. And what a most thrilling escape Cosplaying can be!
Held last October 1 and 2 at the SMX Convention Center at the SM Mall of Asia, Cosplay Mania 2016, was indeed a fun-filled visual experience for those who attended. Costumes produced by participants seem to be getting better and grander to the point of perfection. Each Cosplay gives great attention to detail, projecting character authenticity to the participant’s chosen persona.
Upon gracing the SMX Hall at the second floor, one is welcomed by a slew of youths who seem to pop right out of Western comic books, Manga and Anime. And I am not complaining.
But seeing them parade around in different personas, echoing predominantly Anime characters, brings to memory what professors of Philippine History kept telling us: That we are a youth of historical and social amnesia; that the Japanese soldiers had turned a lot of Filipinas back in the Japanese-American War of the 1940s into Comfort Women. Yes they were very vehement about it.
For my part, I was a fan of only a few Anime. Fact of the matter is, it didn’t matter much to me if it had been Anime or American Cartoons. As long as the material is good, I allow myself to get hooked by it. Truth be told, I find the Japanese to be really good storytellers.
Their vision of the future always offers depth to the present psyche of the Japanese people. They are bold in terms of project and do not shy away from presentation that would justify their story. There is a certain darkness that looms at the back of even the simplest storylines. You would find it to be really riveting as there is something really familiar that you just can’t seem to put your finger on. While Junji Ito is a master of his dark and almost sickening craft, who would not flinch at the end of “Neon Genesis Evangelion”? Who would in their right mind think that the Titans in “Attack on Titan” be anything spectacular – aren’t they sickening at mere sight? Doesn’t the end of “Psycho Pass” put to question the frightening machinations of the state?
The Japanese are indeed well-aware of their social decay and are not afraid to depict it through their visual literature. That is admirable. If we keep going back to the dark past that the Japanese had given the Philippines, then we are only giving credit to what their government, in its insatiable play of power, had done. We thus recognize that the enemy is not their culture; let alone their people.
Cosplay events such as “Cosplay Mania 2016”, along with its forerunners, is a good venue to familiarize with the culture. The demography of the Filipino youths who attend these events seem to come primarily from the Middle Class who are more attuned to a greater variety of Anime, Manga, Western Comic Books and even video games. My head keep turning from side to side with Cosplays ranging from cutesy little Conan from “Detective Conan” to a group assemblage of assassins from “Assassin’s Creed”. Keeping themselves in character, they rid themselves of their coyness that they usually have in real life as they do poses upon being photographed by wide-eyed comic book geeks like me.
It takes guts I gather and I have nothing but admiration.
I went through the bustling and swarming Anime/Manga/DC/Marvel/Video game-costumed folk to get the skinny on why Cosplayers do what they do. I was fortunate enough to interview three young Cosplayers who shared with me what makes them tick and why Cosplaying keeps their forever young hearts beating.
May Ilagan, a youth in her early teens had this to say about what got her into Cosplaying,
“I see it as an escape from real life. . .I see it as a break every now and then. I have been Cosplaying for a year already and I see it as something I’d be doing for a long time.”
Carisse, a 4th year college student from the Pamatansan ng Lungsod ng Maynila has been Cosplaying for two years. She said she got into it to boost her self-confidence.
“Nag-start ako mag-Cosplay actually to gain confidence kasi masyado akong mahiyain.”
I went on to ask her what the advantages of being into the hobby were; Carissa said,
“Marami po akong name-meet na mga bagong kaibigan, and masaya po syempre. Nae-enjoy kong talaga and sobrang fulfilling!”
While Carisse puts her studies first, she expressed that she’s into Cosplay for the long run, stating that apart from really enjoying it, it is her ultimate stress-reliever. She adds that she would want to one day Cosplay as Sakura from the hit Anime, “Cardcaptor Sakura” as this had been the series that got Carisse loving Anime. However, she still doesn’t feel that confident with playing that persona.
Arsenio Buaron, who went out as Shiho Kimizuki of “Owari No Seraph” or “Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” had been Cosplaying since 2013. He said that a sibling got him into it. When Arsenio was asked if he would be Cosplaying for a long time, he answered,
“Yes! Marami akong kilalang beterano talaga sa paggawa ng props, then gumagawa ng costumes. . .then mayroon na ring may mga pamilya na nagko-Cosplay pa rin hanggang ngayon.”
Indeed, pseudo-intellectuals would be quick to judge and put labels, conveniently using terms such as, “decadent” or “frivolous”. But there is something captivating upon spectatorship of Cosplayers and Cosplay events themselves. Here are a group of people, young and old thinking that physical reality is malleable and that all things in it are mere manifestations of the mind’s perception. I do not see it as mere escape. I never have. I see it as an authorship of new worlds where anyone can cease being mundane and mediocre.
In the worlds created, contained in venues such as Cosplay Mania 2016, we can all be heroes.
Frames 1 and 2 images courtesy of Myke Dela Paz